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Elizabeth Camden’s Christmas at Whitefriars

Christmas at Whitefriars: A Novella by [Camden, Elizabeth]

Mary Beckwith lives in a magnificent English castle during the twilight years of the gilded age. With the help of an American millionaire, she has succeeded in renovating her beloved Whitefriars castle into a splendid estate just in time for Christmas.

From across the ocean, millionaire Everett Wooten has spent a fortune propping up Whitefriars to add modern conveniences and rebuild crumbling old walls. Even though he’s never met Mary, they have enjoyed a lively business correspondence over the nine years they have been working toward a renovation. Now he has finally come to see Mary and the castle in person, but nothing is as he was led to believe.

Mary and Everett try to find a way forward, but red-blooded American entrepreneurship doesn’t always mingle with blue-blooded English tradition. Can a Manhattan business tycoon and an English lady come to an accord, or will their joint venture in Whitefriars result in heartbreak for them both?


I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Camden and I’ve read the other books in this series, of course I had to read the novella!

What I liked

Characters. This book may have been a novella, but at no point did I feel like I didn’t know the characters. Some of it is helped by the fact that half the cast in the novella are characters from previous books, but some of it is because Camden doesn’t write caricatures. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: Camden writes the most fascinating heroes. They’re never cookie cutter and I appreciate that she takes the time to really flesh out who they are, flaws and all. She managed to make me curious about Everett long before he appeared on the pages. Everett has one of those personalities that makes social interactions a bit difficult for him, but at the same time, he doesn’t let his personal hang-ups keep him from going after exactly what he wants. Like Everett, Mary too is very well described in the book and Camden always writes smart, knowledgeable heroines. While Mary may not be particularly relatable, you definitely walk away from the story knowing exactly who she is. Unlike Everett, Mary doesn’t have difficulties with interacting with different ones, but she does have a particular psychological issue that she too has to deal with. Except that Mary has let it run her life more than Everett. Watching two people who are the same sides of a flipped coin fall in love was lovely.

Location. Location is a big deal in this book. Through Whitefriars, you see the history of Mary’s family and her world, but also the limitations. There’s definitely a clash of old world/new world that Camden is exploring here and it really shows in the castle. Whitefriars itself almost becomes a character in the novella as the characters learn more about it, explore it, and what on earth to do with it.

Spiritually, the characters pray and have to trust God.

What I didn’t like

The only problem with this book—and  I’m not sure it’s a problem per se—but I feel like with a novella you either go after plot or you go after characterization. There is typically very little space to do both. Here, Camden seemed to go after characterization more so than plot. This is not a page turner. You’re not on the edge of your seat. But it is a lovely romance between two unusual individuals that will draw you in and make you want to read more.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, for a person like me who generally avoids novellas, I’m glad I read it!

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Roseanna M. White’s On Wings of Devotion

On Wings of Devotion (The Codebreakers Book #2) by [White, Roseanna M.]

All of England thinks Phillip Camden a monster–a man who deliberately caused the deaths of his squadron. But as nurse Arabelle Denler watches the so-dubbed “Black Heart” every day, she sees something far different: a hurting man desperate for mercy. And when their paths twist together and he declares himself her new protector, she realizes she has her own role to play in his healing.

Phillip Camden would have preferred to die that day with his squadron rather than be recruited to the Admiralty’s codebreaking division. The threats he receives daily are no great surprise and, in his opinion, well deserved. What comes as a shock is the reborn desire to truly live that Arabelle inspires in him.

But when an old acquaintance shows up and seems set on using him in a plot that has the codebreakers of Room 40 in a frenzy, new affections are put to the test.


Roseanna M. White is one of my favorite authors, so of course I requested her new book. My thoughts:

What I liked

The premise. I’m going to be honest. I was not especially excited about reading about Phillip. But, it’s Ms. White, so I decided to get the book anyway. And I’m so glad I did. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a book as much as this one. And the thing that I loved, was that the book never went in the direction that I expected. Almost every single time I thought I knew where this book was going, it would venture off into a completely different direction. Kudos to the author for keeping me on my toes! While this book does have suspenseful elements and a mystery, it was actually the personal life events in the story that really moved it along. I was invested in the story all the way.

Arabelle Denler. It’s been a long time since I so related to a heroine. And I’m not saying that Arabelle and I are in any way alike. It’s just that she became so real, that her pain was my pain and her joy my joy. Arabelle is lady of grace and wisdom and kindness. And she is not afraid to confront the truth. That is not to say that she doesn’t have flaws—she does. But they made sense and they were a part of her without being her.

Phillip. I thought Phillip would be dark and depressing the whole book. But he isn’t. He’s funny and charming even as he’s trying to cope with some pretty weighty moments in his past. But he was so well-developed that I found myself rereading different passages with him in it.

Romance. This book definitely had my favorite kind of romance: one built on a solid foundation of friendship. There is an honesty and openness and such a lack of deceit in their story that I could really root for them.

Historically, the novel takes place during World War I. White introduces a particularly fascinating facet of the war that I had never considered: diving.

Spiritually, the characters pray for themselves and for one another. There are some really lovely moments about facing one’s past and a message of salvation that I thought was presented well. I always find White’s books to be very encouraging.

What I didn’t like

Truthfully, I could have cared less about the villain in this book. The villain did not detract from the story. I was just so invested in Arabelle and Phillip that I didn’t care about the “bad guy”.

Personal note: I’m not typically a fan of one of the elements introduced into the romance here. I’m not going to say what it is as it would be a major spoiler. However, the author did make it work.

Romantic Scale: 9.5

Overall, I loved this book. I can’t wait for the next one.

**I received a copy from BethanyHouse via Netgally. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**