Quilted by Christmas
By Jodie Bailey
Quilts of Love Series
A grandmother's last wish is to communicate God's love through an Irish chain quilt.
Taryn McKenna believes she's easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree---something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches.
When Taryn's grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project---an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?
I am so glad to have discovered the writing of Jodie Bailey because I loved everything about her newest book, Quilted by Christmas, and believe all who read it will be blessed. While I've enjoyed every book I've read in the Quilts of Love series, some stand out for various reasons, and Quilted by Christmas falls into that category for me. With its character-driven narrative, small-town setting, engaging characters, emotional romance and plot, this is a story that pulls at the heartstrings.
Each book in this series stands alone, with the making of quilts with special meaning being the unifying theme. The quilt in this story is the Irish chain, a long-standing tradition in the McKenna family as mothers make hand-sewn quilts for their children when they marry.
Quilted by Christmas opens as the small town of Hollings, nestled in a valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, is preparing for Christmas. I've spent many family vacations in these mountains and appreciated the sense of place that Jodie vividly conveyed. And there's a realness in the characters, flaws and all - or maybe because of their flaws. Hurt by her father's uncaring attitude while growing up and made to feel she didn't matter, the 18-year-old Taryn searched for something to fill that void and latched on to Justin, even to the point of trying to manipulate him out of neediness into staying in Hollings. In Marnie's words, "Justin was your addiction and you were always afraid he'd vanish." And the result was that she kept a secret that she shouldn't have, a secret that wasn't hers to keep.
Now more than a decade later, Justin returns to Hollings in the opening pages and Taryn is faced with the guilt of a past that is no longer hidden. Jemma, Taryn's grandmother, is at the heart of this story and quickly captured my heart. Jemma is feisty, a force to be reckoned with, and she "could pretty much get anything she wanted with a well-pointed stare." And with her loving nature, a servant's heart, and a fierce protectiveness, she reminds me of my own grandmother.
"Love isn't something you earn. It's not something you
have to be good enough for. Real love is freely given,
not taken away because you trip and fall."
One of the story's themes is about doing the right thing, even when the reasons are wrong or misguided. Spiritual elements are strong and feel like a natural part of the characters' lives, such as Taryn's crisis of faith where she comes to understand the heart of a truly loving Father.
I highly recommend Quilted by Christmas and hope many readers discover Jodie Bailey's writing. Jodie is a writer of quality and I would love to see more family relationship stories from her with the same Blue Ridge Mountain setting.
Quilted by Christmas can be purchased online at CBD, DeeperShopping, Amazon, and B&N.
Jodie Bailey is Tarheel born and bred. After 15 years as a military spouse, she settled with her family back in North Carolina. She is the author of the military suspense novel Freefall and is a contributor to a devotional for military families, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home. While not working on her next novel, she teaches middle-schoolers to love writing as much as she does.
Connect with Jodie online at jodiebailey.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also visit the Litfuse blog tour page.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.