Monday, November 14, 2016

Author Interview and Book Review: "The First Noelle" by Delia Latham

'Tis the season to curl up with a throw blanket and a good Christmas themed story, isn't it? Pelican Book Group is releasing their "Christmas Holiday Extravaganza" on Dec. 1, including The Widow's Captive by our very own Lucy Nel! We're so excited we're highlighting other authors in the Holiday Extravaganza. 

Delia Latham's writing is clean and skillful, making this novella a pleasure to read. At only 130 pages, it's the perfect way to spend a chilly winter afternoon.

Noelle Joy stopped celebrating Christmas ten years ago, when Trevor Holden skipped out on their long-planned Christmas Eve wedding. He destroyed her trust in men, crushed her belief in God, and left her cynical about love. Gone is the bright, cheery spirit of the girl she thinks of now as “the first Noelle.” Stronger and savvier, the new Noelle would never be found waiting at the altar for a groom who didn’t show.

When a famous-but-mysterious architect commissions her to decorate his mansion for a holiday event, Noelle finally returns to her hometown. Even as she finds an unexpected peace in facing ghosts from the past, her fiercely private client disturbs her. Michael Holliday is kind and considerate, but far too handsome…and hauntingly familiar.

Holliday didn’t choose Noelle to make his home a Christmas wonderland by accident. She’s the only one who can do the job he has in mind—and once she’s in his mansion, he never wants to let her go. But he’s hiding a secret that could destroy any chance of a relationship with the beautiful decorator.

A false persona. A shattering secret. Can love break down these insurmountable walls?

My review:

Thirty-something Noelle Joy is a reinvented professional, hardened after heartbreak ten years ago. She prides herself in being nothing like the first Noelle, who was naive, romantic, trusting, and vulnerable. 

Her love interest is mysterious from the moment we see him on the page, and his mystery grows deeper with every well-time hint offered by Latham. 

I had several theories about what his secret could be, but nothing prepared me for the truth! I promise you will never, ever guess what he's keeping from everyone. This unusual twist keeps an otherwise ordinary contemporary romance fresh and interesting. Though reality must be suspended somewhat, it doesn't detract from his character: Michael Holliday is a man in love who has gone to great lengths and deep pain to protect his loved ones. That's hard for a romance reader to resist. 

Being a Christian romance, you won't be surprised or disappointed by the satisfying resolution, but I will say this: for two people who have been dealt a tough, life-changing blow--not of their making--the happy ending is made all the sweeter by their lack of regret and bitterness, by their joy, and by their acceptance. 

It's a great lesson for any reader who is facing a holiday season under circumstances that are less than ideal. We can't change what God has ordained, but we can learn and grow from it. We can let it make us better instead of bitter. Sometimes we even figure out that it's okay to go back to the way we were before, when we were trusting, and faithful, and full of hope.

Author interview with Delia Latham:

1. According to your author bio, you're from east Texas, but the setting of this novel is very authentically set in beautiful northern California. The mountains, the winter climate, and the proximity to San Francisco are all integral to the story. How did you come to be familiar with the region, and what made you decide to set the fictional town of Hope Creek there?

Well, now, you spotted that. I'm delighted!

The truth comes out... I've lived in East Texas just under two years, as of this interview. I am a born-and-bred California gal, who lived in the Golden State -- central California, however, not the lovely northern portion of the state where The First Noelle is set -- for the first 50 years of my life. East Texas is beautiful, and I'm enjoying my time here (it's much, much closer to my grandchildren), but California will always and forever be home in my heart.

2. Speaking of Hope Creek, many of the names in "The First Noelle" seem to have symbolic meaning. For example, the main character's name: Noelle Joy. "Joyeux Noel" means "Merry Christmas" in French. Her love interest's name, Michael Holliday points to the holiday theme. Noelle's father, the Reverend Joy and his wife could be characterized as a couple who experience joy in each other and the Lord. Am I missing any? What other meanings can we derive from the names you gave your characters and setting?

I'm so glad you picked up on the name thing, Robin! I had fun with them in this book, right down to the town...Hope Creek. (You've read the story. Does Hope Creek seem as right to you as it did to me for this little tale?)

I love the name 'Noelle." It's so graceful...and joyous. It makes me smile. I wanted the title of the book to somehow tie in to a Christmas carol, so...since Noelle can be a female name, and I happen to love it, I settled on The First Noelle for the book title and Noelle for the heroine's name. Her surname was never a question, from the moment I started putting the book together. It had to be Joy. This was especially interesting to write, with Noelle's current less-than-joyful mindset and her faith challenge.

Michael's name does reflect the season, but I also was thinking ahead to Noelle's name change should there be a happy-ever-after, and she suddenly wear the hero's surname. Noelle Holliday would still give her an interesting seasonal moniker. Using your French example, she would then be Christmas Holiday.

The Joy family's innate spiritual peace and joy was such a pleasure to incorporate into the story line. I didn't push the holiday names with her parents or any other characters, however. My beloved daddy's middle name was Kennith. Noelle's relationship with her dad is similar to the one I shared with mine, so I 'allowed' Ken Joy to share the name. :) The other character names hold no particular significance, other than they felt right. The chauffeur/butler/handyman's name, Wynn, just happened, as did Josie's, Dr. Marcus Johnston's, and, of course, Oscar Tennerman's (oh, how I enjoyed penning Mr. Tennerman's character!).

3. Without giving away any spoilers, I have to ask about the shocking secret Michael Holliday has been keeping. I've never come across a twist like this in Christian Fiction! It was so unexpected, I nearly dropped my kindle when I discovered his secret. What inspired it?

I hope the shock wasn't unpleasant, dear girl! Disclaimer: I do not promise to replace dropped Kindles or other devices. :)

Michael's secret had to be really, really good - and completely without solvability. (OK, so that's not a word...but I have faith that every reader of this blog will 'get it.' lol) Nothing else would make his one, HUGE past failure forgivable. And, for honesty's sake I have to admit - that little side trip takes the reader down a genre road I often travel myself. Maybe one day I'll venture further down that path, and see how my readers react. I'm getting braver, but still taking baby steps. I hope you enjoyed the diversion!

Meet Delia:

Writing Heaven’s touch into earthly tales, Delia Latham puts her characters through the fire of earthly trials to bring them out victorious by the hand of God, His heavenly messengers, and good, old-fashioned love. You’ll always find a touch of the divine in this author’s sweet tales of romance.

Delia lives in East Texas with her husband Johnny. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author of inspirational romance…with a finger or two immersed in the design pool, where she creates beautiful marketing material for other authors. Delia treasures her role as child of the King and heir to the throne of God. She’s got a “thing” for Dr. Pepper and loves hearing from readers.

Contact this author at any of the following locations:

Amazon purchase link:

PBG purchase link:


  1. Thank you, Robin and Lucy, for allowing me to spend a bit of time with you and your readers. I so enjoyed Robin's interview questions, and appreciate the review - especially the encouragement to be "better instead of bitter" in the face of less-than-perfect circumstances, because at the end of the day, God is still God, and He's still good!

  2. Thank you so much for visiting with us, Delia! Looking forward to The First Noelle <3

  3. Just loved this heartwarming story! Expect nothing less from Delia!

    1. I couldn't do it without my amazing critique partner!

  4. Great interview of a wonderful author and her intriguing story. Thank you, Delia and Lucette!

  5. Thank you, Kathleen! So glad you could stop by and say hello!


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