Calico Ball Collection – Book Review, Preview

Posted July 10, 2018 by Phyllis Helton in Book Reviews /

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I’ve always had a fascination with the pioneers and the late 1800s. Perhaps it was from growing up in California and the camping trips we took all over the Southwest. The Indians (as we called them when I was younger) fascinated me as well. Western fiction, both in books and movies, is a genre I enjoy.

When one of my favorite authors for this time and setting, Kristin Holt, gave me the opportunity to read a pre-release copy of this collection, I was delighted. I especially appreciate the copious amounts of research that goes into each word she writes and the way she has of infusing history into her stories in such a way that transports the readers into her stories.

Calico Ball Collection – Book Review, Preview

Calico Ball

by Carla Kelly, Sarah M. Eden, Kristin Holt, Mirror Press

Series: Timeless Western Collection #1
Published by Mirror Press
Publication Date July 10, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction, Western, Clean Romance
Setting: Wyoming Gilded Age – US – 1875 – 1900
Written for: Adults
Pages: 283


From the publisher of the USA TODAY bestselling & #1 Amazon bestselling Timeless Romance Anthology series in Clean & Wholesome Romance, comes CALICO BALL.

Three brand new Historical Western Romance novellas by Carla Kelly, Sarah M. Eden, and Kristin Holt.



I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

Purchase Links

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The Keeper of the Western Door by Cala Kelly – 4 1/2 stars

Tags: Seneca, Prejudice, Military, Indian

The Keeper of the Western Door was a tender story. Mary was such an interesting character. She was part Seneca Indian and part Caucasian. She endured much prejudice from the officers’ wives at the fort where she worked for a woman she had thought to be a friend. Her journey of self-awareness was well written. Mary tells a Seneca story of a spider and a badger that is woven neatly throughout as she personally learns the lessons from the tale.

Rowan is so tenderhearted and yet such a great leader. I loved the way he was always looking out for those in his care and offered his protection especially to Mary.

A Convenient Arrangement by Sarah Eden – 5 stars

Tags: Mail Order Bride, Orphan

At first, I was thinking that Mirabelle is a lot like me. She had a very positive, cheerful outlook and tried really hard to ignore the less pleasant aspects of life, of which she had experienced many. She was also great at winning the hearts of those around her, especially those who were not inclined to be won. But she was also assertive in a way I have never been, willing to haggle over prices with the tightfisted shopkeeper, and I can’t do that.

Quinn was another one of those adorably clueless men, strong and silent. He thought that he could get a mail-order wife so that he didn’t have to worry about another man snatching up his perfectly capable maid. He wasn’t looking for a relationship and especially wasn’t looking for love.

This was a funny, sweet, tender story. I was drawn to the characters and enjoyed reading it.

Isabella’s Calico Groom by Kristin Holt – 5 stars

Tags: Dentist, Woman’s Suffrage, Statehood

I have to confess that the first time I read “painless dentistry” in the story, I immediately thought of “Painless Potter” a Bob Hope character in The Paleface, but I blame that on the fact that my husband and I both love goofy old movies and not on anything that author Kristin Holt wrote in the story!


This was a fascinating story that pulled me into the Wyoming town of Evanston in 1890. Statehood, women’s rights and the needs of the poor were all prominent issues at that time and each played a role in this story. As with the two previous novellas set in Evanston by Krisitn Holt at this time, the female character is one who has chosen a profession, which is shocking enough, but that the profession chosen is one that has predominantly been a man’s domain is almost scandalous!

I loved the characters and the deep heartfelt struggles Henry and Isabella dealt with. And loved the details that added so much richness and imparted so much information about the way that things were done almost a century and a half ago. A great deal of research goes into every book this author writes, and she freely shares it on her blog and her Pinterest board. If you have an interest in learning more, be sure to visit both.


Preview of Calico Ball

Kristin Holt’s Isabella’s Calico Groom Pinterest Board

(click here to go directly to the board on Pinterest)

  • Calico Ball Collection - Book Review, Preview - Among the Reads
  • I’ve always had a fascination with the pioneers and the late 1800s. Perhaps it was from growing up in California and the camping trips we took all over the Southwest. The Indians (as we called them when I was younger) fascinated me as well. Western fiction, both in books and …
  • Vintage Quips and Poetry Spark Fictional Ideas
  • Our inventive and problem-solving Victorian American ancestors patented some amazing stuff. One of those things were workable “snow tires” for their 19th century farm wagons and buggies. Not everyone owned a sleigh, and even if they did, the wagon bed was often needed. See Victorian America’s solution! | “Snow Tires” For 19th Century Wagons: Sled Runners
  • Vintage Cabinet Cards, taken in 1889 to 1890 (novella is set in 1890), used to visualize my characters in the writing process.
  • Introducing the main characters (Dr. Henry Merritt, DDS and Dr. Isabella Pattison, DDS) from Isabella's Calico Groom-- a new release within Calico Ball: A Timeless Western Collection.
  • A key scene within Isabella’s Calico Groom (Calico Ball: Timeless Western Collection) is on Independence Day in Evanston, Wyoming Territory (a week shy of Wyoming’s acceptance into the Union as the 44th State). In keeping with the historical favorites when celebrating July 4th, the characters took note of the races–on foot, on bicycles, and in wheelbarrows.
  • The Victorian Man’s Suit of Clothes
  • Victorian Collars and Cuffs (for men)
  • Did Victorian women wear costumes every day? Or dresses? Which was it? | Victorian Ladies Wore Costumes–Every Day
  • Common Details of Western Historical Romance that are Historically INCORRECT, Part 1
  • Scientific understanding of dental decay received a huge boost in the work of Dr. Willoughby Miller, an American dentist in Germany in the late 19th century. His publication of his microbiology discoveries, Micro-Organisms of the Human Mouth, eradicated old myths and brought about “an unprecedented interest in oral hygiene”… and occurred just in time to contribute to my novella’s setting and characters’ development. Did Victorians blame tooth decay on worms or germs?
  • What is a Dental Dispensary (as seen in Isabella’s Calico Groom)? Compared to true-to-history dispensaries for medical care and eye troubles, this component of medical care to meet the needs of the poor was a real thing in the 19th century United States. | Victorian Medical and Dental Dispensaries: Really? It’s Free?
  • Cocaine, together with its significant benefits and significant addiction potential, was discovered in the late 19th century (1884 to 1885). Dentists were quick to put cocaine to work for their patients to numb previously excruciating dental work. | Cocaine in Victorian Dentistry,
  • While researching dentistry in 1890 for an accurate setting for my title, Isabella’s Calico Groom, I was quite surprised by how advanced and “modern” (by today’s standards) dentistry was. Significant advances in dentistry had occurred in the previous decades, making dentistry truly “modern” compared to patients’ previous experiences. The sheer quantity and magnitude of improvements in dentistry qualify dentists of the 1890s to claim “Modern Dentistry” in their advertisements.
  • Victorian Professional Women do not possess the brain power to succeed
  • Female Dentists (1889): Man Haters Without Maternal Instincts
  • What IS calico? Where did it come from, and who used it to fashion clothing in the nineteenth century? Why did Calico appeal to working women? Why was Calico the fabric of choice for Calico Balls? | Victorian Calico Fabric–More Than Little Flowery Patterns
  • Calico Balls: The Fashionable Thing of the Late 19th Century

About Kristin Holt

Hi! I’m Kristin Holt. Thanks for stopping by.

I recall the winter of my first grade year, basking in the heat from our fireplace in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dad read aloud Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and Mom peeled orange segments for us to enjoy. That was the definitive moment I fell in love with fiction.

My varied past includes:

  • Attending 5 elementary schools, 2 junior highs, 1 high school, and 2 universities
  • Working as an RN in Labor and Delivery and Certified Childbirth Educator
  • Delusions of Medical School
  • Piccolo section leader in marching band
  • 7 surgeries (maybe 8…I’ve lost count)
  • Collecting enough fabric, patterns, and notions to fill more space than my card-making paper supplies—and that’s really saying something
  • 30+ years of marriage to one wonderful guy and raising our four children
  • Residence in 7 states
  • Visiting romantic locales: Costa Rica, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Brussels, and Paris
  • Shedding 70 pounds, working for Weight Watchers of SLC as Receptionist, Leader, and ultimately, Territory Manager

I’ve served as Vice President in my local chapter of Utah RWA and Chairperson of the 2015 SLC Readers Luncheon. Several of my titles achieved bestseller status on On June 28, 2016, Mail Order Bride Collection: A Timeless Romance Anthology, reached #10 on the Bestseller list on Barnes & Noble, overall. One day earlier, this collection reached #19 overall on Amazon’s Kindle (paid) bestseller list. On July 7, 2016, this title debuted on the USA Today Bestseller list at #101.

I write frequent articles (or view easily on my Home Page) about the nineteenth century American west–every subject of possible interest to readers, amateur historians, authors… as all of these tidbits surfaced while researching for my books. I also blog monthly at Sweet Americana Sweethearts (first Friday of each month) and, in the past, blogged for Romancing the Genres and Sweet Romance Reads where you’ll still find my true-to-history content.

I love to hear from readers. Please click on the CONTACT tab and drop me a note. Or find me on Facebook, including lots of fun group interaction between readers and authors of western historical romance (see green buttons, below).


Happy Reading!

KRISTIN signature

About Sarah M. Eden

Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today best-selling author of historical romances. Her
previous Proper Romance novel Longing for Home won the Foreword Reviews
2013 IndieFab Book of the Year award for romance. Hope Springs won the 2014
Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year,” and Ashes on the Moor was a
Foreword Reviews 2018 Book of the Year silver medalist for romance.
Combining her obsession with history and an affinity for tender love stories,
Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances. She happily spends
hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library and dreams of one day
traveling to all the places she reads about. Sarah is represented by Pam Pho at
D4EO Literary Agency.

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One response to “Calico Ball Collection – Book Review, Preview

  1. A heartfelt thank you to Among the Reads for your kind, gracious review of Calico Ball: Timeless Western Collection, Book 1. We appreciate your time and energy to read, review, and share with others! We’re honored to be one of 202 so far this year!

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