Season’s Regency Greetings: Two Christmas Novellas by Carla Kelly

seasons_greetingsSeason’s Regency Greetings ($11.95, 154 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-254-2), presents two Christmas-themed novellas by Carla Kelly set in England in the early 19th century. In “Let Nothing You Dismay,” Cecilia Ambrose accompanies a young student to her grand estate, where she meets a bachelor dedicated to helping the poor. Can Cecilia help him? In “No Room at the Inn,” the former “Lady” Mary finds herself an uninvited guest in the home of a common businessman and soon learns that happiness does not require a title. First published in 2003 and 2002, respectively.

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Carla Kelly is the recipient of two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Regency of the Year; two Spur Awards from Western Writers of America; two Whitney Awards, 2011 and 2012; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times. Kelly’s Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand reprint was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the top 5 romances in 2012.

Other Camel Press reprints of Carla Kelly regencies include Miss Whittier Makes a List, Miss Chartley’s Guided Tour, Miss Billings Treads the Boards, Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind, Mrs. McVinnie’s London Season, and With This Ring. Camel has also published Books 1 and 2 of Carla’s all-new Spanish Brand series, The Double Cross and Marco and the Devil’s Bargain. These stories feature life, love, and danger on America’s southwest border in the 1780s. Book 3 will appear in the fall of 2015.

Carla Kelly is particularly celebrated for her regency romances. The Romance Reader has called her “the Grandmistress of the [Regency] genre.” According to Romantic Times, “Carla Kelly’s Regency Romances are always superb and a timeless delight.” Library Journal wrote, “one of the most respected Regency writers.”

“Let Nothing You Dismay”: In 1810 England, Cecilia Ambrose is an oddity at the Bath academy for young ladies where she teaches. Although gently raised, she is half-Egyptian, and at age twenty-eight believes she will never marry. With Christmas only days away, Cecilia has agreed to escort twelve-year-old Lucinda back to Chase Hall in York. The girl’s parents have been delayed, and in their place is Lucinda’s uncle, Lord Trevor Chase, who has been charged to chaperone Lucinda and her siblings. The bachelor black sheep of the family, Trevor scandalized his own class by becoming a barrister in London and championing the poor. Cecilia’s plan to return to Bath is thwarted when fire breaks out in the mansion, and she reluctantly agrees to stay a while longer. Will her delay prove to be Trevor Chase’s salvation? First published in 2003.

“No Room at the Inn”: With Christmas, 1815, around the corner, Lady Mary is told that she is not the daughter of an earl, but simply Mary McIntyre, the base-born orphan Lord and Lady Davy reared as their own. After her true parentage is revealed, Mary must leave Coventry for Yorkshire and the farm of her new-found grandmother. Her travel companions are the snobbish son of Lord Davy’s estate steward, Thomas Shepard, and his family. Heavy snowfall soon blocks the roads, and there is no room at the inn, so the little group is forced to seek shelter in the home of Joseph Shepard, Thomas’ estranged brother, a handsome man Mary remembers fondly from childhood. In this “vulgar” mansion belonging to a common businessman, Mary will discover that happiness has little to do with titles or income, and that Christmas works its own magic. First published in 2002.

Says Kelly, “As a novelist, I understand the value of writing an occasional novella. Those 15,000 to 25,000-word short stories remind us how to make every word count. Novellas are an education. Coupled with a Christmas theme, I’m in heaven.”

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of thirty-one novels and four non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong study of history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe. Click here to find Carla online.

Keep reading for an excerpt from “No Room at the Inn”:

She started up the walk after the others, when Joe came toward her. He had deposited the children inside, and he hurried down the steps to assist her. She did not think she had seen him in at least eight years, when she was fifteen or so, but she would have recognized him anywhere. He bore a great resemblance to his brother; both were taller than average, but not towering, with dark hair and light eyes. There was one thing about him that she remembered quite well. She peered closer, hoping she was not being too obvious, to see if that great quality remained. To her delight, it did, and she smiled at him and spoke without thinking. “I was hoping you had not lost that trick of smiling with your eyes,” she said, and held out her hand.

“It’s no trick, Lady Mary,” he replied, and he shook her hand. “It just happens miraculously, especially when I see a lovely lady. Welcome to my house.”

He ushered her in and took her cloak. She looked around in appreciation, and not a little curiosity. He must have noticed the look, because he glanced at Thomas and his family toward the other end of the spacious hallway. “Did Thomas tell you I was living in a vulgar barn I bought for ten pence to the pound from a bankrupt mill owner?”

She nodded, shy then.

“All true,” he told her. “I wonder why it is he seems faintly disappointed that the scandalous statues and the red wallpaper are gone?” He touched her arm. “Perhaps he will be less disappointed if I tell him that the restoration is only half complete, and he will be quite inconvenienced in the unfinished bedchambers. Do you think he will prefer the jade green wallpaper, or the room where Joshua and I have already stripped the paper?”

She laughed, in spite of herself. “Joshua?” she asked.

“My son. I believe he is belowstairs helping our scullery maid, Abby, cook the sausages.” Joe looked at his brother. “Thomas, I trust you have not eaten yet?”

“And where would that have happened?” Thomas asked in irritation. “Even the most miserable inn from Leeds on is full of travelers! Surely you have something less plebian than sausages, brother,” Tom continued.

“We were going to cook eggs, too,” Joe offered, with no evident apology.

“And toast,” Thomas said with sarcasm. Her face red, Agatha tugged at his arm.

“Certainly. What else?”

“Brother, did you dismiss your staff?”

“I did, for a fact,” Joe stated. “My housekeeper has a sister in Waverly, and she enjoys her company around the holiday. Ditto for my cook, of course. The two maids—they are sisters—informed me that their older brother is home from the war. I couldn’t turn them down.”

“I call it amazingly thoughtless of you!”

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