The Advent Bride


I cannot think of a better way to begin to prepare myself for the Christmas season than with this short but sweet romance from Mary Connealy, the first installment of Barbour’s new The 12 Brides of Christmas collection. I was hooked from its opening line and read through it in one sitting.

Although character development was necessarily limited due to the short length of the novella, there was adequate information for me to quickly love Melanie, Henry, and Simon. I loved the symbolism of the puzzle box and how as each of its hidden compartments were opened, the corresponding hidden compartments of the characters’ hearts were also opened and softened as they found their way to Christmas and each other.

I am looking forward to the hidden treasures in each of the other eleven installments of The 12 Brides of Christmas collection. What a wonderful idea!

This book was provided for review by Shiloh Run Studios.


Melanie Douglas attempts to connect with a troubled student using an advent box with hidden rewards. When Henry O’Keeffe sees a remarkable change in his son, he has to meet the new teacher. Will more than one prayer be answered in the small Nebraska town?

More About The Advent Bride with Mary Connealy

What is a puzzle box?
“I’ve wanted to use a puzzle box because I love the idea of hidden latches and drawers and secret compartments. I thought of Advent, with its set number of days and decided a puzzle box with the right number of drawers would be perfect,” Mary said.

Research sent her to Youtube where she spent hours watching videos on the intriguing and complex boxes. You can see one here:

Mary ConnealyThe award-winning and best-selling author of many novels and novellas, Mary Connealy lives in Nebraska and has been looking for a story to set there for many years. The Advent Bride, located in a wind-swept Nebraska town, provided her with a place close to home.

But not too close. While Mary loves historical stories, she knows too much about what life must have been like from her own experiences.
“I love the modern world. I suppose it’s possible my inner pioneer toughness would be revealed if I was forced to live in the old west, but if it did, it would surprise everyone. I’m a wimp. I love air conditioning. I live pretty close to the soil here in Nebraska, on a ranch. I know how to do a lot of the things necessary to survive. Kill and clean a chicken, milk a cow, gather eggs, grow a garden, can food. I know enough about it to know its stinking hard work!”

Perhaps history intrigues her because her personal roots go deep into the American past.

“I had an ancestor come to America in 1638. I’ve got the paperwork to prove I could join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) I have Irish ancestors who came here because of the potato famine in the mid-1800s. Many pioneers in that group.”

Mary has written full length novels as well as novellas, and enjoys the challenges presented by both. As to her characters? Like many writers, she writes heroines with characteristics she admires.

“My heroines are all how I wish I was, tough, take charge, speaking their minds. I’m pathologically non-confrontational and I tend to apologize for everything….and I’m really sorry about that.”

Mary and her husband have four adult daughters and Christmas if filled with “faith, food and fun.”

As to The Advent Bride, Mary incorporated her spiritual life by using  Advent as the theme. “As Christmas drew near my characters were on their own journey, just as Joseph and Mary were on their journey to Bethlehem.”

For further information on Mary, please visit her website at

She regularly blogs at Seekerville and Pistols and Petticoats and Her Blog.
or see her on social media: Facebook and Twitter