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.


‘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

‘Enduring Light’ by Carla Kelly

STORY: Julia Darling never expected to cook for some cowboys in Wyoming, but when she breaks off her engagement in Salt Lake City, it s the perfect opportunity for her to escape. Determined to stick the job out, Julia faces her biggest challenge yet letting go of borrowed light to find her own testimony. Set in the early 1900s, this is one romantic adventure you ll never forget!

STORY: Julia Darling is finally able to marry her Mr. Otto for eternity. But it’s a hard world for a rancher in turn-of-the-century Wyoming, especially a Mormon rancher. And when people start talking, it’s up to Julia to prove she’s her husband’s equal in strength and endurance as she learns to let go of scars on the outside and inside.

REVIEW: To anyone that is considering to read this story before they read BORROWED LIGHT, please STOP and get the first book. You won’t be sorry, as it is the story that started it all. It’s like having a ‘pie’ without the ‘pie crust’! You’ll understand the analogy when you finish the book, but seriously, you’ll appreciate this sequel so much more after reading its prequel.

I am a very new Carla Kelly fan, but she has managed to impress me after only one book, and finding out that she has written a book (or two now) that were not Regencies, intrigued. Finding out that they were LDS based, baffled this ignorant reviewer who wasn’t familiar with ’LDS’ nor did she know what it means. When in doubt, ask is my motto, so I asked Ms. Kelly and she was more than willing to tell me about her beliefs(and if you’re like me, please find a minute to read about them at the end of my review), and the reasons for writing these two books. For more on that subject, tune in tomorrow.

ENDURING LIGHT continues the story of Julia Darling, a woman who in BORROWED LIGHT finds the love of her life on a Wyoming ranch.

As the book opens, Julia and Paul Otto are very much in love, but as he’s freshly minted Mormon, he’s not able to marry Julia for the next six months, or until one year passes from his Baptism. The separation will not be easy for either, as she prepares for their union while in Salt Lake City, and while Paul takes care of ranch business in Wyoming.

The reader is then taken on a journey of these two people who through many trials and tribulations learn the lessons of endurance. Their Father is teaching them to love thy neighbor and thy enemy while turning the other cheek and slowly killing them all with kindness. Trust me, not an easy lesson for us mere mortals to learn, but with His help and with Him at the helm, Paul and Julia, as well as the reader, come away much stronger after the lessons have been learned.

Both Paul and Julia will learn that no matter what life throws in front of them, together they CAN endure, but ONLY if they SURRENDER all of their burdens to their Heavenly Father.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this story. You don’t have to be a Mormon to enjoy it. This is truly a story of love. Love of a woman for her man as much as love of One God for his children, be they good guys or bad. God loves a sinner, and there were some in here that were pretty bad.

I don’t really care which ‘creed’ you fall under, but if you’re looking for an inspirational love story, passing these two up (and you must remember the BORROWED LIGHT, too) would be such a shame.

And now, for all of you and especially for me, Carla Kelly has so kindly written a short and very informative explanation of her faith.

My Explanation of the

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I can understand Mitt Romney’s reluctance to say a great deal about the LDS (Mormon) Church. Beginning with its founding in 1830 by Joseph Smith, church members suffered savage persecution for their beliefs – harassment, murder, rape, expulsion from the then-United States, attempted subjugation by the U.S. government and the loss of the right to vote. Those times are gone, generally, but there remains a certain wariness. Our church means everything to us, and we do cringe at ridicule. Its tenets are sacred to us, and we do not care to see them mocked. It hurts.

We are, indeed, Christian. We believe in Jesus Christ as our personal savior who suffered the atonement on our behalf and died for the sins of mankind. We believe the Bible to be the word of God. Here’s one addition: We also believe that Joseph Smith translated what became known as the Book of Mormon from golden plates given to him by an angel. We believe that Joseph Smith restored the church in much the same form as existed in the early church after the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth.

We are led by a prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. Joseph Smith, the LDS Church’s first prophet, was killed by enemies of the church in 1844. He was succeeded by Brigham Young, who led the Saints west in 1847 to what eventually became Utah. Our church today, as then, is led by a prophet, who is assisted by two counselors. There is a quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who assume a subordinate position to the Prophet, but who are also witnesses of Christ throughout the world. You will note parallels between this latter-day structure, and the structure of the church at the time of Christ. It’s not by accident.

We are not a Protestant church. We did not protest and separate from another church. We are a restored church, which emphasizes leadership by revelation from our Heavenly Father. We believe that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are distinct and separate personages, not a trinity.

We worship each Sunday in meetinghouses called wards, found throughout the world. Church leadership is voluntary and unpaid. For example, the bishop in my ward works for the Union Pacific Railroad. His successor in our ward was a coal miner. The central nature of our leadership means that if you visit a ward in Kenya, it will be very much like a ward in Los Angeles, or Vienna.

Saints also worship in temples. There are some 150+ of these all over the world, where Mormons learn more about their role in life and in the eternities. Temple marriage is marriage for time and all eternity. There is no “until death do you part” in temple marriages. We are united as families for eternity, which give Julia Darling strength after she suffers the death of a beloved sister. Death does not divide Mormons.

As a general rule, Mormons are industrious, kind, generous and well-educated. Mormons can be found in increasing numbers in all areas of influence. Membership is somewhere upwards of 16 million now, worldwide.

I joined the LDS Church in 1965, when I was eighteen. I was married in the Logan Temple in 1968, and have five children. One of my sons served a two-year mission in Brazil. Not all of my children are active in the church today – two aren’t – but they are all excellent people. I have never regretted joining the LDS Church. It pretty much defines who I am. It may have been the smartest thing I ever did (which, incidentally, Paul Otto says of himself in Enduring Light.)

Some of my disappointed Regency readers felt I excluded them, when I wrote Borrowed Light. Nothing was farther from my mind. What I did was finally write the book I wanted to write, no exclusion intended. I figure after 25+ Regencies, I’ve earned the right to craft a book close to my heart. If they want to read it, fine. If not, that’s fine, too. Just don’t accuse me of some nefarious plot to ruin readers.

Ironically, I’m now developing a mystery series set in the royal colony of New Mexico in 1780. The people in this series are very Catholic and very dedicated to the tenets of their religion. Maybe other readers will accuse me of being Catholic and “excluding” them. I can write about religion as part of these people’s lives because in the 18th century, their religion helped define them, the same as it helps define Mormons. What I do understand is the religious experience, no matter the creed.

FYI: If you want to learn more about Mormons, ask a Mormon.

“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*

September RRAH reviews & October preview…

The last couple of months have been exciting for me, more on a personal level then the professional and I’m hoping October will be tamer. Never the less, as always, a bookworm like me, finds the time to put its nose in a book. For September I have only three books reviewed for Romance Reader At Heart and all three were excellent reads and I highly recommend them.

I’ll start with an author that’s probably familiar to all, Suzanne Enoch and “A MATTER of SCANDAL” which I found just delightful in its entirety! This was such a fast and fun read that I finished it too quickly and then wanted to start over again, because I didn’t want to leave this fun world the author took me in. If you’ve never read Ms. Enoch, you might as well start with this one, and if you have then you know without a doubt what she’s capable of and how much fun you’ll have reading and for that matter re-reading her books!

My next book was as much fun as the first and when I heard that Shana Galen’s “LORD and LADY SPY” is available for review I jumped on it. I’m probably in a minority of people who loved the movie “MR. and MRS. SMITH” so my expectations were very high for this Regency take on it. Boy, oh boy! I was so happy when my expectations were not just met, but surpassed! Ms. Galen is one of those rare breeds of authors that can put forth stories of ‘angst’ and ‘humor’ separately as well as together. I wish the ‘Muse’ never leaves her side! This pair will have you laugh-out-loud and make you tear up to the point that you’ll ask for more! I honestly can say that I wouldn’t mind following their life, and that says a lot for the talent of this young author!

And now I get to tell you about a novel that completely took me by surprise and that is Janet Woods’ “LADY LIGHTFINGERS”. This story made me warm all over. This was a story of a true Heroine and the road to her hero was very romantic and heartwarming, and exciting, and it will make your heart melt. This story is a journey of discovery, determination, independence and perseverance of a girl who knew herself and accepted herself for what she was, yet knew that she could and would be more than what Society dictated. The romance within the novel is sweet rather than spicy hot, and brought to mind Carla Kelly’s novel I recently read that could be put into this category “BEAU CRUSOE”. By the way, for an awesome review of that book, please visit Kathryn and you’ll know what I mean.

And there you have it, my bookworms! Can you believe that October is knocking on our doors already?! This month is full of great authors that will stop by and play with me and I’m beside myself from excitement. We start with Eileen Dreyer on October 3rd, and she’s bringing all her Drake’s Rakes over!

Shana Galen’s Lady Spy was so gracious to agree and stop by on October 10th, and answer a few questions for us, so I hope you’ll stop by as well and meet this hot-tempered and hot-blooded female!

On October 13th Rose Lerner will be here and she’s bringing Solomon and his ‘Lily’, and I can tell you I’m so much looking forward to their visit!

And then Joanna Bourne will be stopping by on October 17th and talk about Adrian/Hawk and I can only bow and say as Wayne and Garth would I’M NOT WORTHY! I’M NOT WORTHY! (For that matter I may as well say that in regards to all my guests for this month!)

To finish off the month I’ve invited someone I never met in ‘real’ life but it seems I’ve known forever! Dare I call her FRIEND?! Is it possible to know someone well even though you never laid eyes on them?! If it is, and I’ll dare, Ashley March is a friend, confidante and an author to look out for and I invite you to come over October 26th and meet her (who knows maybe we could ask Mr. March to accompany her…I hear he’ll have a book soon, too) and maybe tell us about…their projects coming up and their romance!

Until then, happy reading and happy upcoming Holidays if I miss you in the next couple of months!