Review by Lisa Norato
A Christmas Novella
Christmas Traditions Book 3
by Carrie Fancett Pagels
The Fruitcake Challenge is a cozy Christmas read, but a romance to enjoy for all seasons!
In her lifetime, “Jo” Josephine Christy has had to put up with the shenanigans of many different fellows—big, hulking lumberjacks with everything from humble to aggressive personalities, men from all over the world. She was raised in a logging camp and grew up working alongside her now-deceased mother in the camp kitchen. But in all that time, no man has ever annoyed her so much as their new axeman, Tom Jeffries.
He’s an arrogant, smooth talker who flaunts his intelligence and devilishly handsome looks like one who has never known rejection. Jo would like nothing better than to take the proud rooster down a peg. Especially when he issues a challenge: “I have decided I’ll marry any gal who can bake a fruitcake just like my mother makes every Christmas.”
The audacity! The workers in the cookhouse rise to the challenge, and the men are caught up in the excitement. Obviously, Tom has instigated this challenge just to irk her. But could he be serious? Why does something in Jo’s heart wish it to be true? And why does she keep baking fruitcake after fruitcake just to prove she’s not one to back down from a challenge, even though everything within her longs to be freed of a life tied to a lumber camp. She wants a life beyond the one she’s always known and that most certainly does not include marriage to a lumberjack. She’s twenty-five years old and time is running out on her dreams.
She’s about to discover there’s more to Tom Jeffries than what meets the eye. . . .
I loved this story! The Fruitcake Challenge is a well-written novella with warmth and humor. I enjoyed all the characters but especially Jo and Tom, in their confusion about their futures, looking for God’s guidance. I really enjoyed the unusual Victorian setting of a wintry, rugged logging camp in northern Michigan. There’s lots to enjoy in this heartwarming story—romance, family, yummy food, the scent of the pines and a crackling fire to warm you in the cold woods!
Carrie Fancett Pagels of the popular "Hearts Overcoming Through Time" blog is a Christian historical romance author. She is a finalist in the Maggie Awards for Excellence for 2014. In July 2014, Carrie won in the Historical Genre for Family Fiction's "The Story 2014" contest, with her short story, The Quilting Contest. Carrie is the founder of the Colonial Christian Writers and our administrator for the Colonial Quills blog.