Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway: "The Spirit of Christmas" by Lauraine Henderson
About the Book
George Stone can’t wait for the Christmas season to be over and his employees, especially his executive assistant, Kathryn Gleason, focused once again on their work. When a missing report requires George to stop in at Kathryn’s parents’ home the day before Christmas Eve, he ends up as an unexpected guest. Between the haunting journals of his late grandfather and the unsettling dream of an unhappy future, George is swept away by the magic of Kathryn’s charm and her family’s love.
Will the Spirit of Christmas show George the happiness he’s missing and will Kathryn’s warmth and beauty melt his cold heart?
Lauraine lives with her husband, dog and cat on 68 acres of woodland 40 miles north of Portland, Oregon. After growing up in Oregon, they moved their family of three children to Utah. From there they moved to Hawaii and Arizona, finally coming back to Oregon in 2015. Their three children, two girls and a boy, are all grown and live across the United States. After being a professional bookkeeper for over twenty years, she turned her hobby of writing into her first published novel in 2016. She loves to write inspirational romance and hopes her readers will be both entertained and uplifted by her stories. When she’s not writing, she loves to paint (watercolors, oils, and acrylics), sew, knit, crochet, and read (of course!).
1. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Here are some of my favorite authors: Cindy Roland Anderson, Rachael Anders on, Cami Checketts, Diane Darcy, Regina Duke, Shannon Guymon, Shanna Hatfield, Heather Horrocks, Victorine Lieske, Lucy McConnell, Jennifer Peel, Regina Scott, Brooke St. James, Staci Stallings, and Amy Vastine to name a few! I am always trying out new authors in the genre I like to read and write.
Do they inspire your own writing? I’ve been told that to be a good writer, you should read good authors in your own genre. In that sense, yes, the authors I read inspire me. I believe the high quality of their craft rubs off on me when I write. At least, I hope so.
2. If you were to go to lunch with one of the characters of your book, who would you go with and why?
I love my leading characters, but I already know them inside and out. So, I would go to lunch with Katherine’s mother, Mary. She is a positive-thinking woman who isn’t blind to the sparks flying between her daughter and George. I would love to talk to her about her faith, attitude, and peace as she deals with the difficult circumstances in her family’s lives.
3. Which character in the book was the easiest to write and why?
The easiest character to write was Katherine. She is a beautiful person inside and out. I could see her sense of spirit and confidence in her own faith as she gently works on George. The hardest and why? The hardest would be George, because he is the other leading character and I didn’t really delve into the supporting characters much. His character was more difficult because I needed to see things from the perspective of a life filled with disappointment, which isn’t my life. I drew on my imagination more when deciding the natural reaction he would have to the events of the story.
4. What inspired the idea for The Spirit of Christmas?
I love the story of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Because I am always “listening” for the next inspiration for a new story, I pondered the idea of a Scrooge who would not only find the spirit of Christmas at the end of his holiday, but find love as well. From there, when I changed the Bob Cratchit character to a young woman, the story came to me quickly.
5. What do you want readers to take away from reading The Spirit of Christmas?
Beyond the normal hope for readers to feel that they have spent a pleasant couple of hours reading about two people who found each other in the end, I want to evoke a feeling of the beauty of Christmas and the idea that people can change their attitudes when they’re exposed to positive, uplifting people (even when their lives aren’t perfect). Yet, in the end, I just want them to close the book with a smile and then tell their friends…
6a. What is your current WIP?
Daisies in the Driveway
6b. What can you tell us about it?It’s the story about two un-related grandchildren who are offered the opportunity to take over their respective grandparents’ Bed & Breakfast/Campground. They have a disjointed combined history connected to the bed and breakfast. Besides the tumultuous events as they learn to manage the business over the course of the summer they take over the inn, they find additional trouble by making erroneous judgment calls, temporarily preventing them from exploring their growing feelings for each other.
Kathryn awkwardly squeezed past George to leave the room. The electricity between them was almost palpable and he would have bet money she felt it as much as he did. The buzz while she passed him emphasized the emptiness he felt at Kathryn’s departure and added to his emotional strain.
It wasn’t until he started undressing that he realized how out of place his shirt and slacks from work appeared. The elegant cut of his business wear shouted ‘stranger’ in the make-shift bedroom of the back pantry of an old farmhouse. And until this very moment, George would have agreed and embraced the ‘stranger’ label. Now he wasn’t so sure he liked it for himself.
Loosening his tie, he slid it off his neck and rested it on the end of the bed. Pulling his shirt tail out of his pants, he unbuttoned a few buttons and then unhooked the waistband of his slacks. He looked around for a hanger, but the cupboard in the wall held only shelves and he couldn’t see anywhere to hang his pants and shirt.
“Oh!” Kathryn’s voice surprised George and he grabbed the wall to keep from falling over while his heart jumped around in his throat.
“I’m so sorry. I should have knocked. I didn’t know you would get ready so fast,” she said. The merry twinkling in her eyes as she looked him up and down in his disheveled state brought back that crimson rush.
“Did you want something?” George asked in his most boss-like manner.
Kathryn swallowed and her eyes burned into his. He hung his hands to his side, feeling exposed, even though he was still completely dressed. Had he said that wrong?
Kathryn recovered before George could answer himself. “I brought you these,” she said, holding out a pair of plaid pajama pants. “They belong to my brother-in-law so they should fit. I thought you might be more comfortable in case you had to get up in the night…or something.”
George couldn’t stop the smile as he watched Kathryn’s embarrassed face match his own for color. “Oh, uh, thank you.”
Kathryn turned away quickly, letting him know how to find the bathroom as she hustled through the kitchen.
Two hours later, George laid on his back, his arms crossed behind his head and stared at the ceiling. Visions of Kathryn sitting at the dinner table, tucking her nieces and nephew into bed, and bringing him pajamas refused to fade away and let him sleep. The memory of her uncontrollable laughter echoed in his heart. Rolling over, he buried his face into the pillow and groaned. The scent of her soft floral perfume infiltrated his defenses until he gave in and relaxed. It was only then that he finally succumbed to a fitful sleep.
I had never heard of Lauraine Henderson before this book tour. I enjoyed reading the contemporary retelling of The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I thought it was clever how Lauraine Henderson worked in the "ghosts" that visited Scrooge in the original story so that George in The Spirit of Christmas experiences similar glimpses into the past, present, and future of his life. It was a very quick read so the romance happens quickly, but when you factor in the fact that they'd known each other for three years, it makes it less rushed. The true reason for Christmas is clearly given. I look forward to reading more books by Lauraine Henderson.