Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review

Cedar Creek Seasons

by Eileen Key, Becky Melby, Rachael Phillips & Cynthia Ruchti

Romancing America
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Ulrichsville, Ohio

350 pages
ISBN: 978-1-61626-645-5

The elections were over, and I was ready for a vacation. As God would have it, I met Rachael Phillips at the autumn ACFW-Indiana Chapter luncheon on the north side of Indy. Post-meeting, we lingered over coffee and a sweet treat with fellow writers Ramona K. Cecil and Millie Nelson Samuelson. As we were saying our farewells, Rachael offered me an all-expense paid getaway trip to Cedarburg, Wisconsin!

All right. I must tell the truth and shame the devil. What she actually said was, "Would you be an influencer for this book?" I hesitated ever so briefly. I occasionally review books, but I'm choosy. I will not write a negative review. Though I may point out what I perceive to be a weakness, the general tone of my reviews will be positive--or I'll abstain from writing it.

We've all heard, "You can't judge a book by its cover," but I disagree. The cover of Cedar Creek Seasons has several things going for it. It's appealing. It features an autumn scene; fall is one of my four favorite seasons. (Yeah, I know. That doesn't make sense. What can I say? I love Indiana where each season struts its own beauty.) It has a covered bridge. (Who doesn't love covered bridges?) Then there are the writers: Eileen, Becky, Indiana's own Rachael, and Cynthia--all solid scribes with whom I am familiar, having read their previous novella collection, A Door County Christmas, and Eileen's Dog Gone.  With all that going for the book, I eagerly accepted her invitation and soon was on my way to Cedarburg.

"Love Blooms in Every Season of Life," the back cover blurb headline, has a duo-meaning since the novellas of Cedar Creek Seasons feature protagonists in four life seasons, and each story gives the reader opportunity to enjoy Cedarburg in a different season.

A Contest of Wills by Becky Melby

It's winter when Cedarburg holds a contest. The entrant who garners the most votes from shoppers will win space in the town's historic district rent free for a year. Forty-something Willow Miles finds herself in fierce competition with artist Wilson Woodworth. Willow builds unique children's furniture and has outgrown her present area. A spot in the historic district would give her the room she needs and place her wares on the path of Cedarburg's many tourists. Wilson wants the space as a gallery for his paintings. The contest goes from friendly to fierce as the day draws near for the winner to be announced.

In Tune With You by Rachael Phillips

Chesca Appel, the twenty-five-year-old part-time choral director at Christ the King Church, is ready to begin rehearsals for the Easter cantata. She has carefully selected the music to ensure a magnificent worshipful performance. All is well until the pastor requests that she add drama and children to the program. To help out, he brings in Seth Amundsen, the tone-deaf school football coach, who loves both drama and kids. Seth, in turn, introduces his own cast of characters: several members of the football team, an obstinate donkey, and sheep. Amid all the chaos, enter one beguiling ex-fiancée and her brassy mama. This cantata is to be one Chesca will never forget.

Silvery Summer by Eileen Key

It's not personal. It's business. Recently retired Claire Parsons returns to Cedarburg with daughter Melissa simply as a vendor, to sell her pottery during the Strawberry Festival. She has no intentions of rekindling the embers of a long-dead romance with Eli Mueller. He broke her heart once. She wouldn't let it happen again. Besides, who knew if he was even still around? He is. Banners and flyers proclaiming his role in sponsoring the festival abound. His face is everywhere she looks--older than the face that haunts her memories, but just as handsome. Once he realizes she is in town, he tries to woo her again. But can cold embers be revived?

Eileen proved in Dog Gone she has a way with writing romance that features mature characters, so I knew I would thoroughly enjoy her contribution. Silvery Summer lives up to my expectations.

Maybe Us by Cynthia Ruchti

(I love word plays, and the title of this novella is that, since the main character knits and sells moebius scarves. Moebius, if slightly mispronounced, sounds like maybe us.)

Beth Schurmer, just five years out of college, can't be bothered with love. It has gotten in the way too many times in the past, and she won't let herself get sidetracked again. Her plate is full, thank you, what with caring for her beloved Oompa and managing his Yarn Shop (which, by the way, is another play on words, since her grandfather revels in telling stories to all who will listen--and many come in to do just that). When chocolatier Derrick Hofferman, who is nearly seven feet tall, sets up shop just two doors down, he enlists Beth as his official brownie sampler. She loves chocolate, so that works out well. Derrick and Oompa hit it off immediately. Derrick often leaves his own business unattended to listen to Oompa's tales. As autumn progresses, Beth, Oompa, and Derrick form a strong yarn of three strands. How far will the metaphor extend? Will the yarn be knitted into an unending moebius?

I thoroughly enjoyed my post-election getaway to Cedarburg, Wisconsin, which is near Milwaukee. I checked out the town online and vicariously walked the historic district and the path to the rustic covered bridge pictured on the cover, the only one still standing in Wisconsin.

Christmas gift suggestion: Couple Cedar Creek Seasons with A Door County Christmas.

Review by Sharon Kirk Clifton

Know any young writers and readers? Invite them to visit Quirky Quill.


  1. Absolutely delightful review, Sharon, and not just because you mentioned yours truly! At first I groaned a bit when I saw the HI was another book review, but then I saw your name and read on. Now I have to decide if I have time to read a book outside my guidelines for the next few months. . . hmmmmmmm. . . very tempting. . . :-)

  2. Millie, I understand. Time is precious, and as writers, we really do have to juggle reading time, writing time, and "life" time. Rachael offered this opportunity at just the right time. I so needed a romantic romp around a lovely spot like Cedarburg. The nice thing about a novella collection such as this is that the reads are short. You don't have to read them all at once. Sometimes I want a long, meaty book that I can immerse myself in for a couple or three weeks, but at others, short and fun is just the ticket.

    Write on!
    Because of Christ,

  3. Sharon,

    Good job on the book review. I found it very interesting. And I agree with Millie's groaning on reviews, but I find it more interesting if I have some knowledge of the author (in this case, fellow HI contributor Rachael Phillips). And I'm glad you got to go to Cedarburg. Would love to hear more about the trip.


  4. Thank you, Jeff! Albeit, the "trip" to Cedarburg was a vicarious one through the delightful pages of CEDAR CREEK SEASONS. :-) I love the Romancing America books because it's such fun to visit, and feel as though I get to know, places I may never be able to go.

    Write on!
    Because of Christ,

    P.S.: We sure missed you at the ACFW luncheon in Indy!

  5. Sharon, Thanks so much for taking that trip to Cedarburg with me :-) It was a delight to see you and my other ACFW Indiana writing buds at the Indianapolis luncheon!