The best Christian books about small towns where God turns messes into miracles

Why am I passionate about this?

I tell people when I meet them that when I married my husband, I got roots. I moved a lot as a child, living in small country towns to suburbs of big cities, and my favorite place by far is in the country, surrounded by nature, feeling that sense of belonging. My husband and I live in his great-grandparent's house in the country, next door to his mother, who still lives in the house where she grew up and raised my husband. There is nothing I love more than sharing my love for Jesus with readers through fictional situations that could really happen. 


I wrote...

Adventure's Invitation

By Cheri Swalwell,

Book cover of Adventure's Invitation

What is my book about?

Families stick together. That’s what they do. It’s no secret that Holly has a crush on Mitch, her older brother’s best friend. A church mission trip offers the chance to add adventure to summer vacation, and the added bonus to finally date the young man of her dreams. Early into the mission, a senseless tragedy rocks Holly’s carefully laid plans. Now she faces a future that’s bleaker than she ever could have imagined. 

When God gives Holly the opportunity for a new adventure outside her comfort zone, she has to choose—stay close to her family or trust that her Heavenly Father’s plans will lead to new friends, a new purpose, and, perhaps, a new love.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Beneath a Southern Sky

Cheri Swalwell Why did I love this book?

When I first began reading Christian fiction, my husband posed a question to me. To my surprise, when wandering the library that week, the exact scenario was the plot for this book! I got the book, read it cover to cover and fell in love with this author’s storytelling. The way she explores the characters' emotions put me right in the story. I went on to read the second book immediately and waited (albeit, not very patiently LOL) for the third in the series, pre-ordering it as soon as possible. Deborah Raney has become one of my favorite authors. She is one of the first Christian authors I ever read and she made me fall in love with the whole genre.

By Deborah Raney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beneath a Southern Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Her Second Husband Healed the Sorrow of a Tragic Loss.
Her First Has Just Returned from the Dead.
Which Man Has the Right to Claim Daria’s Heart?

After two years of serving as a missionary in a remote area of South America, Daria Camfield has returned to the States to mourn her husband, reportedly killed while providing medical aid to a neighboring Colombian village.

One family discovers how God can redeem any tragedy.

At first, Daria finds comfort only in the daughter born to her after Nate’s tragic death. As she begins to heal, she also finds a listening ear…


Book cover of Paper Dolls

Cheri Swalwell Why did I love this book?

Paper Dolls takes place in the fictitious town of Habakkuk, where everyone knows everyone else. Besides feeling as though I’m part of this sisterhood of women, I love how the author’s focus of this book is to allow me to get to know all of the women equally. Most books will start out with one main character, then the next in the series shares about another, and so forth. Kara Hunt steps outside the box and introduces all the women equally in the first book, making me want to read about each one of them more in-depth in the subsequent books. This series is full of humor, romance, suspense, mystery, and a lot of sisterhood love. 

By Kara R. Hunt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paper Dolls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paper can be torn and dolls can break.

So can humans.

Kite Tanner, a widow, struggles with the sudden loss of her husband.

Priscilla Martin, the minister’s daughter, pursues money and men with passion.

Lydia Dooley, a prayer-warrior, battles a brain tumor and a daughter who can’t forget the sins of her mother’s past.

Eve Stanton, a talented Christian singer and songwriter, is brought to her knees when the truth about her marriage is revealed.

Mary Rabin, kidnapped from her front yard at the age of eight, returns forty years later to reunite with the family and friends she’d fought…


Book cover of Redemption

Cheri Swalwell Why did I love this book?

Karen Kingsbury was the second author who made me fall in love with Christian fiction. I read the redemption series all at once and fell in love with how this author drew me into each book and into the lives of the characters. Ashley quickly became my favorite of the Baxter children, and (only God) would she and I experience some of the same events in life at the same time. I was able to grieve and heal and feel the emotions that I needed to release from my own life and the pain I was experiencing through the pages of the books. I still, to this day, read anything that Karen Kingsbury writes because her writing feels so divinely inspired.

By Karen Kingsbury, Gary Smalley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Redemption as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book 1 in the bestselling 5-book Christian fiction series that has sold nearly 2 million copies!

A story of redemption and love at all costs, from Karen Kingsbury, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “heart-tugging and emotional” (Romantic Times) life-changing fiction, co-authored with Gary Smalley.

Redemption is the first book in the original Baxter Family Series, which has gone on to captivate tens of millions of readers and is currently being made into an original television series, produced by Roma Downey and Will Packer.

A Shocking Betrayal
Kari Baxter Jacobs is furious, hurt, and confused. Her husband, Tim,…


Book cover of Callie

Cheri Swalwell Why did I love this book?

Sharon Srock introduces us to Garfield, a small town in Oklahoma. Callie is the first woman we meet, along with her friends who have a Bible study with a different variety of cheesecake every week. While Srock may not be as well-known as Karen Kingsbury, she writes such emotion in her pages that I cannot put the books down once I pick them up. This author is amazing as she has created twenty books (and counting) from this one small town, with the characters intertwining with each other’s lives. Each with their own storylines (nothing cookie cutter about her) and each their own voice. Truly remarkable and definitely a favorite of mine.  

By Sharon Srock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Callie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She can’t escape the mistakes of her past

A baby is dead and Callie Stillman blames herself. Haunted by memories of a tiny coffin, Callie can't understand how God could expect her to put her heart on the line a second time. But the evasive little girl in her Sunday school class is so obviously in trouble that Callie finds her resolve cracking.

They can’t trust anyone

Iris and Samantha Evans are living on borrowed time. Deserted, orphaned, betrayed, and deceived, they need rescuing in the worst way.

He’s praying for a miracle

Steve Evans had his life changed by…


Book cover of Planting Hope

Cheri Swalwell Why did I love this book?

This pick was a hard one, to decide which series of this author was my favorite. I picked this one because I absolutely love Jess. She is written in such a realistic and beautiful way. I couldn’t help but see some of myself in her. While this is the third book in this series (I highly recommend you read all three, in order) it was probably the one that stuck with me the longest. Brenda Anderson writes realistic, emotionally filled pages, drawing the reader in as though we belong. The storylines are all different and genuine and the characters all have their own personalities and quirks. There isn’t a book from this author that I don’t love and I highly recommend them all. 

By Brenda S. Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Planting Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When flowers and chocolate collide, romance is sure to bloom.

Family has always been the one constant in Jess Beaumont’s messy life, so when her parents separate, she puts “Operation: Planting Hope” into action. All she has to do is recreate the circumstances that helped her parents fall in love. Unfortunately, that includes the daunting task of restoring the family cabin’s gardens. When the handsome candy store owner shows up to help, she’s certain she has all the elements required for her parents’ love to bloom again. After all, flowers and chocolate are the perfect ingredients for romance.


Luke Harrison…


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Sea Change

By Darlene Marshall,

Book cover of Sea Change

Darlene Marshall Author Of Sea Change

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Romance Reader Regency Romance Fan History Buff SF & Fantasy Fan

Darlene's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

David Fletcher needs a surgeon, stat! But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean, what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs must, and Captain Fletcher takes the prisoner back aboard his ship with orders to do his best or he’ll be walking the plank.

Charley Alcott’s medical skills are being put to the test in a life-or-death situation, Charley’s life as well as the patient’s. Even if she can save the American privateer's brother there will still be hell to pay—and maybe a plank to walk—when Captain Fletcher learns Charley…

Sea Change

By Darlene Marshall,

What is this book about?

High Seas, #1

David Fletcher needs a surgeon, stat! But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs must, and Captain Fletcher takes the prisoner back aboard his ship with orders to do his best, or he'll be walking the plank.

Charley Alcott's medical skills are being put to the test in a life-or-death situation, Charley's life as well as the patient's. Even if she can save the pirate's brother there will still be hell to pay--and maybe a plank to walk--when Captain Fletcher…


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