THE GIFT OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT
Christine Bradley can't believe the situation she stepped into during the hubbub of the Christmas season. Adopted as an infant, and with both her natural and adoptive mothers dead, all she wants to do is meet her maternal grandmother.
Now she's been mistaken for a housekeeper for the elderly Esther Daniels, a feisty, embittered widow whose daughter (Christine's natural mother) ran away from home and never returned. Hungry to know more about her biological family, Christine allows the deception to continue, though it goes against her Christian beliefs.
Soon she's caught up in family intrigue that stretches back before her birth. Why did her natural mother flee her well-to-do home? The answer seems to go deeper than an unwanted pregnancy. But does anyone, especially Esther and Christine, want to know the truth? Or will the truth allow God to bring a healing beyond what anyone could imagine?
Carlson pens an engaging story that showcases human nature in moving detail. But this short novel seems hastily written and is not up to her usual stellar standard of craft. (Sep., 208 pp., $16.99)
Jill Elizabeth Nelson