Santa’s Mail-Order Bride incorporates a number of American Christmas traditions, including the beloved character of Santa Claus. Our version of Santa may appear contemporary, but the venerable gift-giver has a long history.
Santa started with a real person. Saint Nicholas, born in the 3rd century in a village in present-day Turkey, is said to have spent his inheritance to help the needy, and he had a special love for children. It’s from his generous nature we get a gift-giving Santa.
Fast forward to 18th century America where immigrants from Holland brought with them the tradition of Sinterklaas, who became “Santa Claus.” Woodcuts distributed in 1804 show images of an old man in a robe and long white beard filling colonial stockings with fruit and toys.
In 1823, an anonymous poem (later acknowledged to have been penned by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister), took the legend another step. Entitled An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas or The Night Before Christmas. Moore’s poem is largely responsible for the image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a nod of his head. This is also where we first have references of flying reindeer and Santa’s sleigh.
But we have American artist Thomas Nast to thank for the richest legends we have today surrounding Santa Claus. From 1863 through 1886, Nast contributed 33 Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly with references to Santa. Here is the most familiar Santa “portrait” he did in 1881. It is Nast who gave Santa his familiar suit, his North Pole workshop, the elves and his wife, Mrs. Claus.
America’s Victorians were very familiar with Santa and his legend. Department store Santa’s popped up at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. Santa’s on parade became a popular theme in towns and cities, and in the 1930s, Santa received “contemporary” red costume.
Yes, Santa’s reputation reaches far back in history, and at the heart of his character we find love and generosity, and a special kind of magic that makes the world a better place.
Schoolteacher Maggie O’Brien comes home for Christmas on a mission–to gather toys for orphans living on poor farms around Fort Scott. She’s made her list, but there’s no Santa in sight. Not until a local shopkeeper volunteers his services.
Gordon Sumner has set his mind on winning the black-haired Irish beauty, but Maggie’s brother is his fiercest competitor and O’Brien’s loyal sister gives him the cold shoulder. Undaunted, he comes up with a clever plan.
Maggie sees through the fake Santa’s ploy, but with Christmas just around the corner, she’s running out of time to make the holiday happy for needy children. She accepts his help—with a plan of her own. She’ll play matchmaker and find her persistent suitor the perfect bride.
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“We’ll get your orphans gifts, Miss O’Brien. I promise you.”
Her dazed expression remained, as her cheeks bloomed with color and her hands floated up to her mouth. At least she didn’t slap him.
His heart pumped liquid fire through his veins, the brief touch only whetting his appetite for more. He vowed to get a longer, deeper kiss before Miss O’Brien waltzed out of his life again, and he knew just how he would engineer it.
“You…you…” she sputtered.
“Kissed you? Yes. That’s what a man does with his wife.”
She scurried backwards, the high color draining from her face. “What are you talking about? I’m not your wife.”
“Not mine, Santa’s. You, my dear, will be Mrs. Claus.”
REVIEW: After I read Ms. Burke’s ‘Victoria: Bride of Kansas’ [which btw is 35th book out of 50 in American Mail Order Brides series], I was very happy to hear that she’d gone and written a sequel to it, taking secondary characters of Maggie and Sumner as her heroine and hero.
I wondered how in heck was she going to bridge over some serious obstacles, not to mention two head strong and very competitive men that our heroine cared about deeply.
Color me happy as I giggled my way through this heartwarming, sweet and very tender love story.
I was happy to learn more about our hero, Gordon Sumner, who in the beginning was very mercenary, but Ms. Burke showed him to be compassionate and compelling in this story, and worthy of our heroine.
I also loved catching up with David, Victoria, Fannie and her baby brother. It made me feel warm all over to see how happy they are.
If you’re into sweet and tender romances that are filled with humor, you’ll be entertained with this story, I promise!
Melanie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the author
AUTHOR BIO: E.E. Burke writes romance from the heart, woven with history the way in really happened in the wild American West. Her writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart®.
She combines her passion for history and love of romance in stories that are as deeply rooted in American soil as her family, which she can trace back to the earliest colonists and through both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.
“My earliest memories of books were the nursery rhyme volumes I took to bed with me when I was three. From that point on, I was hooked. Some people hugged their bears. I hugged my books.”
Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to pursuing her dream of writing novels. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three daughters, the greatest inspiration of all