Christmas Love and Mercy
Today Catherine Castle’s Christmas Reads is featuring an excerpt from Saundra Staats McLemore’s Christmas book Christmas Love and Mercy, book number 5 in the Christmas Hotel series. Saundra has been a frequent visitor on the blog and she tackles some hard subjects in her books, but with a gentle hand, as she leads her cast of characters through the years of their lives. I’ve read the first four books in this series and have fallen in love with the fictional hotel Saundra created and the charming town.
In Christmas Love and Mercy Chris Wright, the youngest child of Christopher and Jerilyn, is now thirty-two years old. He’s prayed many years for a Godly woman to marry and join him in carrying on the mission of Christmas Hotel. All his siblings are married with children and one with a grandchild. He wonders what’s wrong with him. Although his life is full with the management of Christmas Hotel; he’s lonely. His only constant companion is his dog Fritz. He reacquaints with lovely Lori Anna Stanley; someone he has known all her nineteen years. She sweeps into his life like a breath of fresh air. Is it possible Chris will have the wife and family of his dreams? An idyllic union exists until Chris has reason to question God and his faith. Unforeseen difficulties spiral out of control. Only a miracle can save them. Others have found their miracle at Christmas Hotel, but can they?
Excerpt from Christmas Love and Mercy
By Saundra Staats McLemore
“Hey, Uncle Chris. Did you just snap our picture?” Brian had been snuggling on a bench in Franklin’s town square with his wife Christine.
Chris laughed, throwing back his head for a good guffaw. “I’m just photographing my annual Christmas pictures of the square. My, my, a picture of you snuggling with Christine will make a great picture for your little one someday. And quit calling me uncle. I’m only six years older than you.”
“I know, but I just want to remind you now and then that you’re getting old.”
“Thanks a lot.”
Christine smiled and rubbed her rotund belly. Her coat no longer completely closed; she appeared to be wearing a couple of bulky sweaters underneath.
Brian jumped up. “Give me the camera, Chris. Let me take your picture for a change.”
“I don’t think so, buddy boy. This is the latest Canon model. It’s the RC-760 released this year. My parents gave it to me for my birthday in September. I know how camera-challenged you are. Why you couldn’t even use my Polaroid from the sixties. You cut off everyone’s heads.”
“Ha, ha. I was a kid. By the way, why aren’t you at your desk at Christmas Hotel? Since when does the senior manager have time off?”
“I do schedule a day off now and then. What about you? Shouldn’t you be doing your detective stuff? Aren’t you working on a big case?”
“It’s all under control,” Brian said with a smug grin and returned to his seat, hugging his wife closer.
They all turned when they saw a camera flash nearby. A young woman snapped pictures about twenty feet away, and a well-trained Golden Retriever sat at her feet. When the girl walked a few paces, the dog obediently followed and then again sat at her feet. Despite the chill of the December morning, she wore no coat; just a bright green sweatshirt over black sweatpants tucked into her tall, furry boots. A multi-colored knit hat covered her head, but her straight black hair hung to her waistline. Every time she spun around for another picture, her long hair followed in a swinging motion around her lithe, petite figure.
Chris watched her, mesmerized. She gave extra special meaning to the phrase poetry in motion. She appeared to be around twenty, so he knew she was too young for him. It didn’t seem right; a thirty-two-year-old man ogling such a young woman. However, he couldn’t stop watching her and the dog. The dog anticipated her every move.
Brian jumped up and ran his hand in front of Chris’s eyes. “Earth to Chris. Don’t you know who she is?”
Finally, and reluctantly, Chris turned back to Brian. “I guess not. I thought I knew everyone in Franklin.” He cocked his head. “Yet, there is a familiarity about her.”
“You dunce,” Brian said, landing a friendly smack to the side of Chris’s head. “That’s Lori Anna Stanley; James and Carol Ann’s daughter. She’s been away at the University of Louisville for the past two years, but she recently transferred to Western Kentucky University. I hear she’s working part-time at the Franklin Favorite. Maybe that’s why she’s taking all the pictures. I think you’ve been cooped up at Christmas Hotel too much. You need to get out more often, so you can know what’s happening.”
Lori Anna, thought Chris. It’s even worse than I thought. I’m gawking at a nineteen-year-old.
Want to read more? You can find Christmas Love and Mercy at Amazon
About the Author
When her hands are not busy at the keyboard creating a new novel, Saundra Staats McLemore is managing the performing arts’ marketing and sales business she built in 1984. Saundra is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Ohio chapter of the ACFW. In her spare time, she loves to garden, and she can be seen throughout the summer working in her flower beds. Saundra has written two novels so far in the Staats Family Chronicles Series: Abraham and Anna and its sequel: Joy out of Ashes. To date, there are five novels in the Christmas Hotel Series: Christmas Hotel, Christmas for Lucy, Christmas Redemption, Christmas Pact, and Christmas Love and Mercy.
Born and raised in the state of Ohio, Saundra is married to Robert, and Anthony is their only child. The other two members of the family are the cat Charley, and the Cocker Spaniel Daisy.