STORIES: FOUR Favorite Regency Authors– THREE never-before-in-print Christmas novellas — ONE beloved classic now back in print . . . and a partridge in a pear tree . . .
In ‘COVENTRY’S CHRISTMAS’, Rebecca Hagan Lee offers a charming new story—with Christmas approaching, Amabel Thurston is ordered from the family home by her father’s widow and must seek the protection of her guardian, Deverel Brookfield, eighth Marquess of Coventry. Unfortunately, the Devil of Coventry has little use for Christmas and even less for proper young ladies.
In the never-in-print ‘STAR OF WONDER’, Lynn Kerstan brings her special brand of magic to the page when an exotic and dangerous stranger arrives to disrupt the meager Christmas of Stella Bryar, who has struggled to support the family retainers in the wake of her father’s death.
Allison Lane’s newest Christmas treat is ‘A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING’. When prodigal son Alex Northcote returns from a six-year absence to take control of the family estate, he must run a gauntlet of possible brides, who have all been installed for a holiday house party by his determined grandmother. Avoiding the trap would have been so much easier, if the guest list hadn’t included a quiet widow, who once jilted him for another.
In the classic ‘HOME FOR CHRISTMAS’, Alicia Rasley gives us a Christmas with a bit of intrigue. When Verity receives an unexpected invitation from her estranged father to spend the holidays at his Cornwall estate, she accepts with delight. But, ever mindful of her father’s attention to propriety, she must scramble to find a husband and “father” for her fatherless child. Could a handsome and enigmatic stranger solve all her problems?
REVIEW: Regency Christmas has been one of my favorite themes ever since Charles Dickens, and every year reading stories about Christmas during that period, somehow lifts my spirits up and makes me feel so good, so warm and all seems to look just a bit brighter…
I’ve never read anything by any of these four authors so I was a bit skeptical; however I was in a mood for Christmas stories during Christmas season, so what-the-heck? I took a chance, and it paid off. If you’re like me, during this busy season, I’m only good for a quick and light read and all four of these stories more than deliver. There is nothing better than an Anthology for intro to some authors that you’ve never read.
In the first story, COVENTRY’S CHRISTMAS by Rebecca Hagan Lee, we meet Amabel Thurston who upon her father’s death is forced to seek out her guardian as her stepmother is about to remarry and have her new husband move in a home that Amy always thought of her own. She’s very anxious to meet her guardian, Deverel Brookfield, eighth Marquess of Coventry and is surprised, that after a long journey to his main residence, to find the place shrouded in darkness and the Marquess gone to London. Never one to give up, our little heroine manages to track him down…to a brothel! Well, she’s not aware of the fact, in the beginning, thinking it’s an orphanage and requesting of a Madam that runs the place to help her find her guardian.
Devlin hates Christmas and it is well-known to his staff in all of his residences that NOTHING is to be displayed to acknowledge the season. The reasons for it are very personal and better not mentioned to him, so for a few years now Devlin indulges himself with twelve days of pure and unadulterated lust, which help him take his mind off the painful memories.
With his father’s death, he not just inherited the wealth, but the responsibilities as well which in this case include Amy, his father’s young ward.
This was such a cute little story of a young woman whose strength and ability to love is a wonderful compliment to the hero that has forgotten how to enjoy the simpler pleasures in life.
Second story is ‘STAR OF WONDER’ by Lynn Kerstan and in it we meet Stella Bryar who lives in the country with a couple of servants of whom she’s very protective as after her father’s death, they’re her only family. It’s not easy for our heroine to keep up her only legacy; an old and dilapidated run down cottage, as winter approaches and the money is short. When a man appears at her door, asking after her father, she’s taken aback, and because of her stepmother’s cruelty and greediness, she has a very hard time trusting him, but in the end relents and offers him shelter.
Kiro Viscardi (Radanovic) is a man on a mission. He needs to find a treasure that he believes stolen from his home, but to do that, he must have this young woman’s full coöperation. As he makes plans to ingratiate himself to Stella, he becomes attracted to her, and that is something he hasn’t counted on.
I started off not liking the heroine at the beginning but by the end of the story, I loved her strength and courage. Kiro was also a very interesting character especially when he reveled his origins (Montenegro is still a part of Serbia which is my birth country too) and by the time they reached their HEA, I was happy as well. The story actually brought forth memories of what my country went through under the Ottoman Empire, and I love history, so this one hit a home run with me.
The third story is ‘A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING’ by Allison Lane and her hero is Alex Northcote who after six years in the army, returns home to a house full of debutantes for his taking-as in WIFE. The reason, for his joining the army in the first place, was his broken heart and he never expected to find the object of his pain and suffering, now employed by his mother as her companion.
Sarah is now a widow with two little daughters and she knows that a lot of things need to be explained to Alex, but will he be able to understand her after so many years have gone by? This story was so sweet and while Alex woos Sarah and her little girls, we can’t help but fall in love with their HEA!
In the last story, ‘HOME FOR CHRISTMAS’ by Alicia Rasley our heroine is Verity, a single mother who is in a need of a man to pretend, just for the Christmas Season, that he’s her husband otherwise her father will never accept her illegitimate daughter Beth. You see, Verity went all out to ‘legitimize’ her little one by inventing a husband, Captain Eric Randall, who conveniently is never around and always away on his ship.
Jason Brock has spent most of his life on one of those ships and now owns one, but there’s some unfinished family business that he needs to take care of, and answering an announcement in the papers brings him to Verity’s small rose Cottage in makes him feel as if he’s been thrust into an adventure and mystery that is making him uncomfortable yet he willingly participates in this deception to get his own business taken care of.
I truly loved this story whose characters were strong, sweet and funny. To watch Verity and “Eric” as they pretend to be married, was such a treat, especially while they “parent” little Beth, who by the time the charade is over, is calling Jason Papa. The end of this story will leave you in tears.
So, there you have it. ‘A Regency Holiday’ has four not so unique stories, yet all four are sweet and tender; well-developed (as much as any Anthology can be) and well written. This would be a perfect addition to your Holiday read or really, anytime read. It had a bit of everything in it; sweet and tender moments, bad stepmother and heard hearted fathers as well as some cute little ones. I recommend it whole heartedly!
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* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*