Carla Kelly’s Christmas Collection

CKCC CKSTORY: The Christmas Ornament: When the father of his now-deceased best friend hints that he should consider his daughter as a potential wife, Lord James Crandall isn’t sure he can get past the fact that he used to tease her mercilessly when she was just a girl. But once he finds out how brilliant her mind is, he’s not sure he can get past the fact that she’s a woman. Add in the fact that her charms have garnered the attentions of other gentlemen, Lord Crandall is in for quite the roller coaster Christmas.

Make a Joyful Noise: Widower Marquis Peter Chard is grateful for his two children, but not so grateful when his mother gives him the chore of recruiting people for the parish Christmas choir competition. When recently widowed and pregnant Rosie Wheatherby turns up with the voice of an angel and the looks to match, Lord Chard isn’t about to let her get away from the choir . . . or his family.

An Object of Charity: Stuck on land while his ship is being repaired, Captain Michael Lynch is approached by his late first mate’s niece and nephew. Learning they are destitute, he decides to take them home with him for the holidays, returning for the first time in 22 years ago. As he spends more time with them and unburdens his heart to the young woman, she replaces his hurt with love in time for a very special Christmas.

The Three Kings: After her brother is shot by the French in Spain, Lady Sarah Comstock is forced to travel across the war-torn countryside with a Spanish Colonel. As Christmas quickly approaches, Sarah learns about the Three Kings giving gifts to the Christ child and finds a gift of her own that she can share—her heart.

REVIEW: It’s not really a Christmas if you don’t read or re-read Carla Kelly Christmas story, and in this book you get four!

This is a reissue, so pay attention because you might own it already, and in that case, dig it out and reread it. It’ll make you feel warm all over again…

All four blurbs are sufficient enough to give you a good hook to each story, so I’m skipping on summarizing them for you.

This collection of four short Christmas novellas is classic Carla Kelly and even though the stories are short, each one delivers on plot, pace and depth of characters. Each story is unique, heartwarming and sweet romance.

I adored the hero of the first one as he awkwardly approaches the woman he finally realizes is his equal and a love of his life.

Again in the second story, I just fell for the hero that ‘fell’ into his mother’s scheme and found love in the most unexpected place.

The third story was a bit darker than the other three, and I rooted for the hero that finds himself as well as someone to love.

And in the last story, our heroine who is English finds out that she can love someone who is not. This story was fast moving with action, but it ended abruptly and it left me wanting.

Each of these stories has a bit of everything for everybody: romance, humor and what we all need for the Christmas season, faith in humanity and in our Savior.

Highly recommended!

Melanie for b2b

*Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

How I Became an Author by Carla Kelly

MLVK CKI suspect many of us slide into what we do in life, because the circumstances were right. I’ve always liked to write. Why? Who knows?

Purely for my own entertainment, I am certain, I wrote my first book at age 6. It was called The Old Mill, and contained two sentences. Most of my efforts were expended on the construction paper cover, with the drawing of an old mill. Here’s the crazy part: those two sentences had a plot.

From six through 12, I wrote short stories and some poetry, the usual route of young writers, I suppose. In junior high, Mrs. Berstein let me build my spelling sentences into a short story, rather than just unrelated sentences. Thank you, Mrs. B, for that exercise in bending words to my will.

In high school, I fell into the clutches of Jean Dugat, who taught English and journalism at A.C. Jones High School in Beeville, Texas. What a teacher. She was exacting, demanding and difficult. For a few years I wavered between hating her and fearing her. When I was a junior, I caught the vision that if I listened to her, and did what she demanded, I could become a professional writer.

So it proved. My senior year, I was associate editor of our high school newspaper. My specialty was feature writing, which is a nice mix of creativity with journalism. Some state awards came my way, but the best part was the confidence that came from knowing how to treat a sentence to make folks sit up and pay attention. Thank you, Miss D.

College followed and degrees in history. Papers were a breeze (refer to above paragraph). Marriage and children followed. Busy times. We lived in Wyoming, where Martin taught theatre at a community college. I spent my summers as a seasonal ranger/historian in the National Park Service, working at Fort Laramie.

It was there that I started writing short stories about the frontier army, and found an outlet for them in magazines. A couple of Spur Awards from Western Writers of America came my way. I kept writing and selling longer and longer short stories.

A novel came next, Daughter of Fortune, which tells the story of the Pueblo Indian uprising in 1680 in colonial New Mexico. I acquired an agent along the way, and she suggested I write Regency Romances, which I am still doing. Thank you, Eileen.

I’ve become a specialist in Regencies focusing on the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy in particular. I credit my dad for that, a career officer in the U.S. Navy. Thank you, Dad.

Also along the way, I acquired some loyal readers, so there is always a market for my Regencies. I switched from Signet (two Rita Awards there from Romance Writers of America), to Harlequin in 2004, and continue to write Regencies. Harlequin also kindly let me write a novel based at Fort Laramie in 1876. It will be out in April, and has been tagged as part of a Harlequin promotional sent to 320,000 potential readers. And now there are ebooks of my earlier Signets available. Thank you, technology.

Through the years, I’ve become acquainted with helpful editors, one of whom invited me to write for CamelPress in Seattle. I’m writing a historical mystery/romance series for them, set in 1780s colonial New Mexico. I like borderlands history. I’m also taking a look at my own Mormon background with LDS-themed novels. I’ve written four of those so far.

Where from here? Who knows? I like to write.

GIVEAWAY!

What about you What’s your passion and who made an impact on it? One commenter will get a signed copy of ‘My Loving Vigil Keeping’. [*US ONLY]

Carla KellyAuthor Bio: Award-winning author Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America.

Recently, she’s been writing Regency romances (think Pride and Prejudice) set in the Royal Navy’s Channel Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars between England and France. She comes by her love of the ocean from her childhood as a Navy brat.

Carla’s history background makes her no stranger to footnote work, either. During her National Park Service days at the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, Carla edited Friedrich Kurz’s fur trade journal. She recently completed a short history of Fort Buford, where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881.

Following the “dumb luck” principle that has guided their lives, the Kellys recently moved to Wellington, Utah, from North Dakota and couldn’t be happier in their new location. In her spare time, Carla volunteers at the Railroad and Mining Museum in Helper, Utah. She likes to visit her five children, who live here and there around the United States. Her favorite place in Utah is Manti, located after a drive on the scenic byway through Huntington Canyon.

And why is she so happy these days? Carla is enjoying writing for an LDS audience now, where she feels most at home.

Find Carla at: Her Blog

‘My Loving Vigil Keeping’ by Carla Kelly

MLVK CKBOOK BLURB: To Della Ander’s relatives, it seems like an absurd whim when the young educator accepts a contract to teach in Winter Quarters, a coal mining camp near Scofield, Utah. After all, she lives with a socially prominent family in Salt Lake City. Why teach in a place as hard as a coal mining camp, even if the Winter Quarters mines have an enviable reputation for safety?

It’s no whim to Della. She yearns to reconnect with the life she knew as a child, before tragedy yanked her from a home equal parts ramshackle and loving. But when disaster strikes, what the teacher learns in Winter Quarters will change her life forever, and her heart.

Based around the true events of the Scofield Mine Disaster of 1900, this suspenseful new romance from award-winning and bestselling author Carla Kelly is sure to please longtime fans and new readers alike. Thrilling and heartfelt, it’s a must-read.

REVIEW: Carla Kelly is an undisputed champion in storytelling, be it Regency or Inspirational. I don’t get this ‘hate-on’ of the LDS based and inspired romance that she’s been giving us from time to time. For me, a romance is a romance, hot or mild. It’s the characters and their getting to their happy ever after I love reading about, and if that is well written, plotted and passionately told, I’m there!

And that’s exactly what I got reading this story. Not to mention a piece of history I was never aware of happening in the part of our country I’ll probably never physically see, yet now I can safely say, I saw through this authors wonderful and vivid retelling of it.

Della’s journey, her attitude, strong character and conviction to persevere despite the obstacles thrown her way, was an inspiring, heartwarming and heartbreaking story to follow.

Carla Kelly manages to tell this story in such a way that it never, ever sounds preachy despite references to the Mormon religion.

While every character was well-developed with real depth to them, the history behind the mining disaster made this story more real and very emotional.

At first I wished the romance and pace of the book would have  unfolded a bit faster, but then I changed my mind. It’s the pace that allowed me to appreciate the romance and the plot more because it made the story real and had me ‘see’ history, places and people I would otherwise never ‘meet’.

This truly is an inspirational, sweet and touching romance I was glad to read.

*Book provided by Cedar Fort publisher

‘Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand’ by Carla Kelly

MDPHH CKSTORY: Playing with Fire — Young widow Roxanna Drew was fair game in the sport of cads. Her suddenly impoverished state made her as vulnerable as her beauty made her tempting to men with more money than morals. Lord Marshall Whitcomb, who held her purse strings in his pawing hands, was intent on luring her into his bed. But even more dangerous was Lord Winn, who owned the dwelling where she sought refuge. The dashing lord reminded the widow that the lure of sharing a warm bed on a winter’s night might indeed be worth the risks.

Lord Winn had trusted one woman and been betrayed. That disastrous marriage had endowed him with a wariness of females in general, and prospective wives in particular. But when the door to the dower house on one of his estates was opened by a woman with a cautious smile and memorable brown eyes, he knew here was danger to avoid at all costs — if he really wanted to…

REVIEW: I loved the start of the story in which our heroine Roxanna Drew, a widow with two little ones, is faced with a problem of where to live after she vacates her vicar husbands living. We are in her point of view as she takes her daily constitutional while she mulls over this problem, and I just kept chuckling. This story is one of those classical regency tales that will touch your heart and make your eyes mist.

She comes upon Lord Winn’s run down dower house and immediately decides to confront a care taker about renting it. The caretaker, after talking with the young widow and understanding her dilemma, is more than glad to help her out, figuring that Lord Winn wouldn’t mind if someone occupied the cottage and took care of the repairs and brought it to its former beauty.

We find our hero, Fletcher Rand, Lord Winn, as he’s trying very hard to tune out his three loving and at times overbearing sisters who would love nothing more than to see him married. This is the reason Winn is more than ready and willing to abandon London and head out to inspect many of his holdings.

One of those properties is Morland and Winn arrives in the middle of the night during the snowstorm, seeking shelter in Roxy’s home.

Carla Kelly never disappoints as she breaths life, real problems and issues, and just pure humanity into every character she introduces me to.

She makes Roxy flesh and blood, and not some over the top heroine, and the hero comes off as someone who is a mix of Beta and Alpha, and just an overall male that has many questions and doubts about love and life while contemplating a second marriage.

Carla Kelly’s writing style will pull you in her regency world so deep that you’ll never want to leave it! She has a special way of creating such vivid characters that are not just three-dimensional, but so real that you can almost touch them. And that goes for every one of them, not only the main ones.

In this story, you’ll meet Mr. Tibbi Winslow, the steward of the Morland estate who will make you wish there were more men like him to stand up to the bullies; Marshall Drew, Lord Whitcomb, the brother-in-law to our heroine, who was such a selfish and slimy character that I could have had him neutered given the chance; Amabel, Lettice and Clarice, the three sisters of our hero and as you get to know them through their brothers knowledge of them, you’ll be brought to bursts of laughter as he predicts their behavior toward him; Helen and Felicity, the two daughters of Roxy that will break your heart as you watch them burrowing into Winn’s, one small bit at the time, and you’ll even get a peek into deceased husband of Mrs. Drew, Anthony, whose love for his family never wavered and whose life was filled with love of his wife and daughters.

I really loved this story and I didn’t miss the lack of sensuality one bit. If you’re into the traditional, sweet and pure regency, you’ll not want to miss this one. On the other hand, if you’re into the erotica and sensuality filled stories, this won’t be your cup of tea.

For me, I can go both ways and at times I go out of my way to find stories such as this one. Variety is the spice of life, after all!

Book supplied by Publisher

Fan2Author Interview with…Carla Kelly

I am so excited that Ms. Carla Kelly has included b2b in her Blog tour not because I know, but because I don’t know ANYTHING about her.

The first time I heard Carla’s name was from Kathryn’s review of BEAU CRUSOE and as soon as I got done reading that review, I moseyed on to Amazon and bought the book. I couldn’t wait to read it, and when I was done with it, I wanted to read more from her, but alas have you checked out Amazon lately for Carla Kelly’s backlist?!

I wasn’t surprised in the least, nor discouraged, so I downloaded some of her backlist that is being offered to her old and like myself new fans, from two different publishing houses, Harlequin and Cedar Fort, Inc. Without further ado, please help me welcome Carla with my first question…Where have you been all my reading life, Ms. Kelly? Please tell me a bit about yourself and your writing career.

CK: Melanie, remember: “So many books, too little time.” This summer I finally read Richard Bradford’s RED SKY AT MORNING, and asked myself, “Where has this been all my life?”

I’ve been selling my writing, starting with Western short stories, since the late 1970s. I started writing novels in 1984 with the hardback publication of DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE, set in the royal colony of New Mexico in 1680. I segued into Regency Romance, because my agent thought I’d be a good fit there. I have been, to the point of being typecast as only a Regency writer. Thankfully, that is changing now.

I have five grown kids, a husband, two degrees in history and a wealth of working experience: ranger in the National Park Service (personal favorite), adjunct history prof, feature writer and columnist for a North Dakota daily, medical PR writer for a tertiary care hospital in Missouri and a hospice, contract researcher for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and probably other stuff I’ve forgotten. In history, I’ve edited an 1853-54 fur trade journal; an account of an Indian raid on Fort Union Trading Post; and a history of Fort Buford, where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881. I like to write fiction, but I also enjoy history. I’m contemplating a biography of Matt Warner, friend and compadre of Butch Cassidy.

b2b: WOW! And I thought I was impressed BEFORE!

The book that you’re promoting right now is MARIAN’S CHRISTMAS WISH and I can’t tell you how much fun I had reading it. Tell us more about it, the idea behind it. What came first, the plot, voice or setting?

CK: I can’t really remember which came first. “Marian” was first published in 1989 as Signet “traditional” Regency. When I quit writing for Signet in 2001 or so, I took my copyrights with me. Cedar Fort, Inc., here in Utah, is reissuing some of them as eBooks, and some soft cover.

Plot and character go hand in hand, so that’s how “Marian” started. I always ask myself, “What do I want to do to these interesting people?” And it goes from there. Of course, a good writer always picks a tough time or circumstance, because that’s where the conflict lies. To keep ruin at bay, one of the lovely Wynswich sisters has to marry well, and soon. And so it begins.

I have written a lot of Christmas short stories for Signet, and my editor and I thought a Christmas novel would work. Incidentally, four of those short stories have been reissued, courtesy of Cedar Fort, as an eBook with the alliterative title, “CARLA KELLY’S CHRISTMAS COLLECTION.”

b2b: What made this such an enjoyable read for me was this family. I’ve fallen in love with all of them! They all were so real, so please tell us who inspired them?

CK: The wonderful eccentric Wynswich children are modeled after my own five children. When I wrote “Marian,” my three daughters were at those ages where they were mature at one moment and childish at the next, as are Ariadne and Marian. Percy is modeled after my oldest child, who feels a certain responsibility for his younger sibs; even though there is nothing in his “contract” that says he has to feel that way.  (I wouldn’t know; I’m a middle child.) Alistair is very much my younger son: a bit devil-may-care and exasperating until the chips are down. So yes, I stole shamelessly from my own children for the Wynswiches. If it seems like a loving portrait, that’s why. These are the people dearest to my heart.

b2b: Christmas traditions used to be such a big deal when I was growing up in a small Serbian village. I just loved that time of the year. Can you tell us about Regency Christmas Tradition and what was most interesting or unusual about it that you’ve found while writing this book?

CK: Until Queen Victoria married her German prince, Christmas in England really wasn’t a huge big deal. It took the influx of German traditions in the 1840s to develop what we see as English traditions now.

The Wynswiches have a Yule log, and Christmas pudding (so important in the story), and go caroling. It’s modest, by today’s standards. If anything, I probably glorified it more than would have actually happened in 1814.

I currently have a 3-novella Christmas anthology from Harlequin Historical in which the Scots hero – it’s 1813 – tells his wife that nothing much happened in his Scottish village for Christmas. She’s Mexican and can’t quite believe that, considering Mexico’s rich Christmas traditions.

A Serbian village? Melanie, you could be a novel…

b2b: I probably could…LOL!

You mentioned writing Traditional Regencies. What is the difference between, and specifically, what sets apart the ‘traditional’ regency novels from ‘historical novels set in the regency time period’?

CK: Bluntly, the only difference I can see is that “trads” are shorter and rely on wit and good writing, and “historicals” rely on sexier doings. I prefer the trads, and apparently, many readers do, too.

You heard it here first: Signet is reviving those older Regencies, which will be released this time around as eBooks, starting in January. I’ve returned four of my titles to Signet for this purpose (Cedar Fort has others). The editor says that if the demand is there, Signet will start publishing the more traditional Regency romances again. Hooray to that.

I’m LDS and live in Utah now. In February 2011, Cedar Fort published my LDS-themed novel set in SE Wyoming in 1910, called BORROWED LIGHT. It was such a big success that the sequel, ENDURING LIGHT, will be out in January.

This change of venue seemed to enrage some of my only-Regency readers, who felt betrayed that I had abandoned them. One reader even called it “betrayal.”  Good grief. They don’t seem to understand that there is a world of subjects to draw from besides Regencies, of which I have written, quite a few.

b2b: Now that’s a ‘bit’ extreme! I’m one of those fans that if my fave author wants to write on a paper bag, I’ll read it!

Before I let you go, tell us what’s coming up next and what are you currently working on.

CK: I do have Regency coming up in June with Harlequin.

I’m currently finishing a novel set in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and starting one soon about the Scofield Mine Disaster of 1900, which took place about 45 minutes from where I live.

And I’m also writing what I hope will become a series about a brand inspector in 1725 New Mexico. Readers are welcome to follow me to those stories, or not. Doesn’t matter to me. I put my happy a** in my chair and write merrily on.

b2b: All of those sound very interesting and I’m sure to be in for some great read. To paraphrase you, I’ll put MY happy a** in MY chair and READ even a paper bag from you!

Carla, it has been so much fun doing this with you, and I hope you come back often to chat with us! Now, off I go to stock up my keeper shelf with some more of your books!

CK: Thanks, Melanie. It’s been fun.

Cedar Fort is happy to giveaway

 a copy of this awesome book to one lucky commenter!

“Marian’s Christmas Wish” by Carla Kelly

STORY: Miss Marian Wynswich is a rather unconventional young lady. She plays chess, reads Greek, and is as educated as any young man. And she’s certain falling in love is a ridiculous endeavor and vows never to do such a thing. But everything changes when she receives a Christmas visit from someone unexpected— a young and handsome English lord.

REVIEW: First and foremost, this is only my second time reading Ms. Kelly. After I was introduced to her through a review of BEAU CRUSOE, I fell in love with Ms. Kelly’s prose.

Upon finishing MARIAN’S CHRISTMAS WISH, I truly felt blessed in ‘discovering’ this author  and she has firmly established herself on my ‘keeper’ shelf and ‘auto buy’ list.

The above blurb does not do this story justice. This story is so, so much more than a Christmas story of a sixteen year old. This is an ensemble of memorable characters and Marian Wynswich is a part of that ensemble.

The story opens with two sisters, Ariadne and Marian, discussing eminent holidays and the visit of their eldest brother Percy as well as the youngest Alistair. The former will be bringing a fellow friend who just might be Ariadne’s potential husband, while the latter is expected shortly on holiday from school.

Slowly, through their conversation, and Marian’s thoughts, we find out that this just might be Wynswich’s last Christmas in their beloved home. Last year’s Christmas was spent in mourning their father’s death. This year’s Christmas finds the family on a brink of ruin, and Lady Wynswich has a plan to find a suitable and rich husband for her eldest daughter.  She pays no mind that Ariadne has affection for the local vicar Sam Beddoe who is not only quiet but poor and therefore unsuitable.

Enter Alistair, who’s been expelled and sent home early from Eton, creating yet another dilemma for our young heroine, who already frets over her sisters ‘unrequited love’ for the Vicar, and now has to protect her youngest brother from the wrath of the eldest. We just can’t help but feel the love this young woman has for her siblings.

Soon after, we get to meet Percy who arrives home later than expected, bringing with him not one but two of his friends.  Sir William, the ‘suitable suitor’ gets assigned a bedchamber in which Marian’s ‘hiding’ Alastair and one very pregnant cat, and soon the household becomes aware of that fact.

Gilbert Collinwood, Earl of Ingraham, Percy’s fellow diplomat, has reasons to avoid a home visit, and is ever so slowly taken in by this eccentric family in general and ‘singular’ Marian in particular. Gil is a man fully grown, with a past that will touch this family profoundly, and his secrets will put Marian in danger, but he will also come to care deeply for this young woman who with her intelligence and forward nature will show him what love truly means.

I found him to be charming and tender; tolerant and understanding; sharp and witty. The age difference (his eight and twenty to her ten and almost seven) did not bother me at all. We are in Regency World, and it was a ‘norm’ for those times. I actually give the author a lot of credit in the way she portrayed the gap in their ages. Gil understood her innocence, but his heart could not help but be given to this girl who was mature and innocent at the same time.

As for the Wynswich family, Ms. Kelly has done an outstanding job in having them all come to life with such vivid and true to life characterization. Every page she wrote, every word I read permeated with warmth and by the end of it, I wanted to be a part of that family. Their love for each other is unmistakable and to be admired.

There are many scenes that I’m fond of but the ‘Christmas’ pudding scene in which Marian’s character shines when she unselfishly wishes for Gil to have the best Christmas ever, is one that will stay with me forever.

If you are in a mood for a very old-fashioned, traditional Christmas story that will have you laugh and cry, and then laugh some more, you just cannot miss this one!

I should point out that “MARIAN’S CHRISTMAS WISH” was first published in 1989, and is reissued this year in print and as an eBook by Cedar Fort, Inc.

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

*To learn more about the author, click on her name*

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*