A Substitute Bride in time for Christmas? + Giveaway

UPDATE:  Carrie, after reading this review post have graciously offer to giveaway a copy of A Substitute Bride to one of my readers. To enter, please leave a comment here to Carrie or myself. Need help? Let us know what about the railroad industry or postal industry interests you the most. 

Are you desperate enough to become a substitute bride?

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Title:  The Substitute Bride: A Novella (O' Little Town of Christmas Collection)
Author:  Carrie Fancett Pagels
Publisher: Hearts Overcoming Press
Release Date: October 1, 2015



A Christmas Carol meets It’s A Wonderful Life 

A letter for Sonja’s deceased friend arrives at the post office in Michigan, and with it a proposal. With her father threatening to kick her out of his home, Sonja impulsively responds, offering to travel west to be a substitute bride. At the same time, Louis’s railroad promotion sends him back to Michigan, the one place on earth he’d hoped to never return—where Christmas past was full of pain. A mysterious stranger leaves him marked copies of “A Christmas Carol” as he considers romancing Sonja in Christmas present. Will Louis discern the best choices for Christmas future? Does it include the Poor House, again? Even so—will God bring healing and love to him this year? 
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Rural Postal Carriers
This is a novella! I can't believe it. Carrie has packed so much "punch" in this short novel. It's historical fiction at its best, providing a little bit of history, a little bit of romance and a plot that captivates you. 

Shepherd, MI Train Depot
In terms of history, I've always been fascinated with our nation's expansion of the rail lines since the 19th century, and the history of our postal system.  I love how intricately Carrie provides readers with details of the postal and telegram connections, and the growth of it as the railways are becoming more frequent.  Love this photo on the right of the train depot in Shepherd, MI, the setting of The Substitute Bride.  I grabbed it from Overcoming With God blog, also administrated by Carrie.   I remember visiting the National Postal Museum in Washington DC, and was enthralled by how postal carriers dressed and delivered mail and packages. Back in the day, even with train, mail would be held at a depot or general store with a "mail post", and only around the 1880s were mail delivered.  Like our heroine Sonja, many mail carriers carried mail in a bag and/or on a horse/buggy and delivered along a route. I've visualized something along the lines of these images.   What do you think?

This is what I love about The Substitute Bride. It opened my mind and almost like it turned on the curiosity switch to look further and imagine what it would be like to be there, and witness how it is in Sheperd, MI, seeing the people and the Poor Farm. 

Back to the story, I enjoyed every bit of the plot and theme behind The Substitute Bride.  God has chosen us even before we knew Him and as it is with this story, we are no one's substitute.  Sonja had believed that she will only be a substitute, but God had other plans, and so had her friends.  Time and time again, we see that God is a God of coincidences and one must know that every event happens for a reason. We see God's perfect hand in this lovely story of bringing two people with a past or even present that burdens them. A wonderful story depicting not only man's selfishness, but the beauty of one's soul and the generosity of one's heart.  Love and enjoy this story of compassion and God's perfect timing this holiday season. 

NOTE: I won a complimentary e-copy of this book at an event and a review was NOT required. 

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GIVEAWAY (as of 11/23 - 12/6)

UPDATE: Carrie, after reading this review post have graciously offer to giveaway a copy of A Substitute Bride to one of my readers. To enter, please leave a comment here to Carrie or myself. Need help? Let us know what about the railroad industry or postal industry interests you the most. 

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Former "Yooper" Carrie Fancett Pagels writes Christian historical romances about overcoming. Possessed with an overactive imagination, that wasn't "cured" by twenty-five years as a psychologist, she loves bringing characters to life. Carrie and her family reside in Virginia's Historic Triangle, which is perfect for her fascination with history. Carrie enjoys reading, traveling, baking, and beading--but not all at the same time!

CONNECT WITH CARRIE:  website, facebook, twitter



  1. Wow, this was such an AMAZING review that it brought tears to my eyes especially about God's hand in all of this and not being a substitute, truly! God bless you for taking the time to read and review this story, Annie! Thanks!!!

  2. I've heard stories about how the trains were used in my own family a few generations ago. It would be an interesting time to visit but I don't think I'd want to stay very long! This sounds like a very interesting read. Thank you Carrie for offering the giveaway copy!

  3. As a person whose Grandfather worked on the railroad (as a brakeman) I`m always happy to see a story dealing with that subject. I think train travel has always brought a sense of adventure or romance to a story,and I think it`s a stroke of genius to use it in a story combining Christmas,history,and love.Thank you ,Carrie for this wonderful story and the paperback giveaway!

  4. My papaw was an Engineer on the railroad and I have his pocket watch he carried. Would love to read this. Thank you for the chance. Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. We have a railroad beyond our property. I am fascinated by rooms with a rminature railroad track with running trains running close to the ceiling!

  6. I agree Beth, about visiting, but am very glad I live in modern times! We are so blessed! But it is fun to go back and "visit" that era! Blessings!

  7. LYNNE, that is cool about your grandfather! I agree with you about stories with train travel. Liz Curtis Higgs has a marvelous Christmas story that features just that! In my novella, the railroad stuff is part of the structure of the book and I do have a travel scene right at the beginning, but most of it is set in Shepherd! Blessings!

  8. I loved this story! Annie, thanks for the touching review!

  9. Thanks Beth! That's why reading historical novels so much fun! Allows us to imagine and visit those times.

    O, Lucy. I love how you say "papaw". I also love pocket watches. So beautiful and imagine back then, it was considered a very "in" and "advance" thing. Now, we have the Apple Watch.

    Janice, a scene of Casper just popped up in my mind when I read your response about miniature train track close to the ceiling! Do you know which scene I was thinking?

    Thanks Caryl. Carrie did a wonderful job with this story. Definitely got all my visual and emotional senses on alert! =)

  10. I love historical books and I have a love for the railroads. I think about all the traveling people did, especially mail order brides going westward. Part of my interest is that my great grandfather worked for Western Railroad in Maryland. He was a brakeman during the week and an engineer on the weekend. His brake stick broke and he was thrown under the train and killed in May 1921 when my grandmother was 6 years old. She had lost her mother in the 1918 Spanish Influenza.
    Kathy Watts Redrabbitt (at) aol (dot) com

  11. LUCY that is SO sweet! How nice that he worked on the railroad and you have his pocket watch. Many blessings!

  12. JANICE, that is cool! BTW, our daughter's pediatrician, when we lived in SC, had a train that ran around the waiting room on tracks installed on shelving installed right beneath the ceiling! that was fun!

  13. I grew up next to a railroad switch yard. Trains have always been interesting to me. I liked watching them in the round house. And once in a while we would see an old wooden box car go past and that was very interesting.

  14. Congratulations to BETH S! She is the winner of a copy of The Substitute Bride. Beth, I've forwarded your email to Carrie. If you would like to contact me for more information, please respond to the email I sent you or use the "Contact Me" link at the top of the blog.

    Thank you everyone for participating.

  15. I recently added The Substitute Bride to my list of books to read.

  16. 16. Our heroine works as a postal carrier in place of her father while he recuperates. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

  17. Clue Sixteen: This novella sounds very interesting!


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