Title: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Author: A.M. Heath
Series: Christmas in Garland collection, book 3 (standalone series)
Major Themes: Pregnancy, Forgiveness, Romance
Synopsis: Pregnant and alone, Alissa Hill goes to live with her aunt while she tries to sort out the choices in her life—can she ever forgive herself, let alone ask God for His forgiveness?
I’ve been following author A.M. Heath for several years now, and each time she has a new release, I eagerly anticipate getting my hands on the next book. So when she contacted me, asking if I could do a quick check-through for final edits on her book It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, I didn’t have to stop to decide. “Of course, I will!” I knew it was part of a collection she’s working on building, and having read the first two books in the collection, I knew I’d enjoy it. What I didn’t count on was how much I’d enjoy it—I ended up reading this book in one day, and it would have been all in one sitting, except work demanded to take precedence over reading for an hour or so.
Alone, and feeling more than a little guilty about her pregnancy out of wedlock, Alissa Hill prepares to spend her Christmas with her aunt, banished from her family and separated from her friends by the life choice that is becoming more and more obvious every day. Stephen Powell, a former NFL kicker, has just suffered a career-ending injury. Though he is beginning to heal physically, the emotional trauma connected to losing his plans and dreams is a lot harder to deal with. Though they are both brought to the Cheery Inn for different reasons—Alissa for the remainder of her pregnancy, and Stephen to heal—can both support each other as they try to get their lives straightened out again? Will Alissa ever be able to forgive herself—and, more importantly, can God ever forgive her?
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear is a powerful story of hope and grace. Although I (thankfully!) haven’t found myself in Alissa’s shoes, I was able to relate to her struggles. I would guess that all of us, at one stage or another, have asked ourselves if God really can forgive that—whatever “that” is—and though we don’t want to take His forgiveness for granted, the Bible reassures us over and over that He is willing and able to forgive everything. His grace and love are enough for whatever we face, and I loved how different characters did their best to continue ministering to Alissa’s heart, even when they were dealing with difficult things themselves.
Besides the faith element of the story, I think the characters were my favorite, hands-down. I fell in love with Stephen and his passion to share the Lord; with David, who struggled to understand but had such a sweet way of loving those around them; with Alissa, who carried far too much for too long; and with the two sisters featured in the book who cracked me up far too many times to count. They were so sweet, and so funny!
Written with a great sense of humor, this book is a beautiful Christmas story of hope and forgiveness. I greatly enjoyed reading this story, and can’t wait to see what comes from A.M. Heath’s pen next.
I was given a review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: One major theme of the book is unwed pregnancy, with a few discussions about how a former boyfriend “wanted more.” Ch. 13 uses the terminology “sleeping with.” A woman is in labor in ch. 18 and 19. Swear is used in ch. 5 and 9, “honest-to-goodness” is used in ch. 9, devil is used to refer to a person in ch. 13, gee is used in ch. 14, and “in heaven’s name” is used in ch. 20. Unmarried people touch (generally on the hand or arm or a hug) in basically every chapter. An unmarried couple sits on the same bed in ch. 20 (not a romantic scene), and there are kisses at the end of ch. 22 and in the epilogue.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults