Cinder Bella

'Tis the Season

Fiction - Holiday
228 Pages
Reviewed on 08/17/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite

When the stock market collapses, highly educated banker Bartholomew Baines is at a total loss. Accustomed to dressing like a gentleman and socializing with the wealthy and prestigious diplomats of Pittsburgh, he finds himself homeless, poor, and dependent upon the working class he fought so dearly to leave behind him. Bella Darling, on the other hand, is grateful for all that surrounds her in the borrowed barn loft she shares with her hens that lay magical eggs, and a barn cat named Simon. The stock market had nothing to do with her or her endeavors as long as her hens continued to lay eggs and the Westminister mansion remained upright. While the Westministers toured Europe, the house staff oversaw the well-being of the grounds. Something goes awry, though, when a notice is served announcing that the property was no longer a safe haven for the residents. What would the assortment of staff and lingerers do without the mansion? There was no work to be found; food was at an all-time low, and prospects were grim. But the residents of Westminister House let their faith lead them to a surprising conclusion.

Bestselling author Kathleen Shoop hits it out of the ballpark again with this sweet romance that isn’t just for the holiday season. Vivid descriptions and timely themes come together in this feel-good story sure to elicit a smile from the reader. Enchanting and uplifting, Cinder Bella is big screen-worthy while filled with lyrical prose at the same time. Need a special holiday gift? Cinder Bella: 'Tis the Season, Book 3 by Kathleen Shoop fits the bill for any reader. I LOVED this story!

Liz Konkel

Cinder Bella by Kathleen Shoop is the third book in the 'Tis the Season series. It's Christmas time, 1893. Bella has never let anything take away her joy or Christmas cheer. She's always found a way to persevere which brought her to the estate owned by the Westminster family where she received housing in the barn with her special hens. With the family overseas, the only ones remaining with Bella are the pregnant maid and the butler. Elsewhere, Bartholomew has watched the fall of his bank and lost everything in the process, including his friends and fiancee. He receives housing from Mrs. Tillman who provides him with a chance at rebuilding what he lost, then eggs bring the lovely Bella into his life. When the boarding house catches fire, Bartholomew is offered a place to stay with Bella and her friends but they soon receive an eviction notice that could see them homeless by Christmas. Bella hasn't given up hope yet and is determined to save Christmas for everyone.

Despite having nothing, Bella has an optimistic and cheerful outlook that allows her to be full of the holiday spirit even with her circumstances. Her belief and Christmas heart set the tone for the story as her bright spirit shines throughout and creates hopefulness that is infectious to the other characters such as Bartholomew. That introduction changes his world in a way he didn't know he needed as he goes from just wanting to pick up the pieces to discovering hope, love, and holiday magic. The various characters have created their own family unit with Margaret, unmarried and pregnant in 1893, getting support, encouragement, and love. The story is set at Christmastime which is appropriately in tune with the journey Bartholomew, Bella, and the others take as they struggle to defy their circumstances. The perspective weaves between the two main characters, exploring each of their journeys and the obstacles that strengthen their faith and what brings them to face what they need to be open to love. Cinder Bella is the perfect feel-good Christmas story that has heart, family, love, holiday magic, and will have you feeling a renewed sense of hope.

Trudi LoPreto

It is December 1893 in Shadyside, Pennsylvania and times are rough for everyone. Bella is lucky to be living in the warm barn at Maple Grove owned by the rich Westminster family. She is responsible for caring for the chickens and selling their very special eggs at the market. Mrs. Tillman is the owner of a boarding house and tries her best to make everyone feel like family. The newest boarder Bartholomew has just lost his bank, his fiancee, and his money, and is angry at the world. Margaret is the very pregnant unmarried maid at Maple Grove and James is the butler. Events are soon set in motion, bringing all of these very different people with different backgrounds and different dreams together. Maple Grove is being taken over by the bank, Mrs. Tillman’s boarding home burns to the ground, and lives are going to be changed forever.

Cinder Bella (Tis the Season) by Kathleen Shoop is a Christmas holiday love story amongst a houseful of strangers who become a caring loving family. This assorted group along with others soon become connected and there are many forms of friendship and love that become a part of them. I so enjoyed reading Cinder Bella and sharing in their celebration of the Christmas and New Year holidays. It is a warm and encouraging story that is well written and pulls you right into its pages. It is impossible not to want the best for each character and to root for them all. Cinder Bella is a wonderful and uplifting Christmas story and one I am certain you will enjoy reading.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

All Bella really wanted was a library full of books and someone to share them with, to share the joy of reading stories. It was all a dream, of course. Bella never had anything. She lived in a barn on a large estate, only allowed to stay as long as her chickens laid their magic eggs. As Christmas approached and the banks crashed, leaving the rich penniless, Bella continued to care for her chickens and sell her magic eggs at the local market. Using scraps of paper and a crude writing utensil, she penned little snippets and tucked them inside hollow eggs, hoping to bring someone to her, someone with similar interests. What it did bring was an angry young man, Bartholomew, down on his luck having lost his fortune, his home, and so much more. Will the anger subside and the two connect? Will the new friends Bella makes help her through another difficult Christmas, one where another homeless situation looms heavily in the New Year?

Kathleen Shoop’s novel, Cinder Bella (‘Tis the Season), is a sweet Christmas comfort read. The plot revolves around two people: Bella, who has never had anything, and Bartholomew who once had it all, then lost it in the bank crash. The author takes the startling two opposites and weaves a story that brings them together, first in conflict and then, gradually, romantically. The most tender part of this story is the growing friendships that evolve around Bella. Her magic chickens seem to weave a spell that attracts people to her. And, poor as she is, Bella can still find some way to help another person in need. This is the true meaning of Christmas: caring for others. The descriptive narrative is engaging and invites the reader into the story that follows along like a mixture of Dickens’ Christmas Carol and the much-loved fairy tale, Cinderella. The dialogue is compelling and helps move the story along with a blend of humor, tragedy, sorrow, and joy. A beautiful, compassionate story suitable for the Christmas season.

Sheena Monnin

Cinder Bella by Kathleen Shoop is a sweet love story set in the late 1800s. The story opens shortly after tragedy has struck the village and surrounding area, leaving most people without financial security, and some without a job. The main character, Bella, is a kind, hardworking young woman who encounters her eventual love interest, the formerly wealthy man named Bart, by chance as he has just fallen on hard times and is now working for a living. The author takes the reader through a series of events in each of the characters' lives, bringing the two closer together and teaching each about the value of community and love. Combining loss, hope, kindness, and love, this story is sure to touch the heart of the reader during the Christmas holiday season, and year-round.

Kathleen Shoop writes with an experienced touch in her book, Cinder Bella. She highlights the details that bring the story to life and creates a believable world with endearing characters. She manages to woo the reader from the very beginning of the book and keeps up the pleasant pacing throughout the story. Her clever addition of a few points of mystery within the past lives of the characters, the absent wealthy homeowners, and a few unexpected plot twists keep the reader fully engaged in the story. Putting two characters together with very different backgrounds works well in this plot and allows for several moments of authentic human interaction and reaction between Bella and Bart. This story is heartwarming, fun, and is sure to uplift the reader’s heart on every page.