Regency Christmas Gifts, by Carla Kelly: Three All-New Stories for the Holidays

Regency-Christmas-GiftsRegency Christmas Gifts: Three Stories ($14.95, 210 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-994-7) is an all-new collection of two novella-length regency romances and one short story by “the Grandmistress of the [Regency] genre” (The Romance Reader), Carla Kelly.

In the first of these stories set in early 19th-century England, The Lasting Gift, an impoverished war widow returns a misdelivered parcel and attracts the interest of a well-to-do retired sailing master and his sister. In Faithfully Yours, a self-made man returns to Scotland to marry the woman he has corresponded with ever since he left as a boy, little knowing the letters were written by another. In Lucy’s Bang-Up Christmas, a man visits the estate of his relatives to comfort his lovely second cousin, who is unhappy that Christmas has been usurped by her sister’s nuptials.

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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, three Whitney Awards, 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.

Last year at this time, Camel Press reprinted two of Carla’s Christmas novellas in the collection, Season’s Regency Greetings.

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, 2, and 3 of Carla’s all-new Spanish Brand series, The Double Cross, Marco and the Devil’s Bargain, and Paloma and the Horse Traders. These stories feature life, love, and danger on America’s southwest border in the 1780s. Book 4 will appear in the fall of 2016.

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.”

“These are sweet romance stories, perhaps verging on inspirational, but what could be more fitting at Christmastime? Carla Kelly writes well, and effortlessly evokes the Regency era, and a host of beautifully portrayed characters in a variety of different circumstances engage the attention and hearts of readers. Regency lovers, and readers who enjoy gentle and uplifting stories, will find these three stories a gift indeed, as did I.”  Read more….

—Historical Novel Society

“I enjoyed reading all three of these stories. They are unashamedly sentimental and romantic, and even occasionally tear inducing. Regency Christmas Gifts is full of holiday cheer, warmth and love.”  Read more….

—Lady Blue, Romantic Historical Reviews

“These three romances, written in Kelly’s charming style, celebrate family values and the Christmas season.”  Read more….

—Rosemarie Howard for Deseret News

Read three reviews, one of each story, on Kathy’s Review Corner:

The Lasting Gift: “There was a gradual growth in feelings for Thomas and Mary Ann that was simply perfect.”  Read more…

Faithfully Yours: “A sweet, short regency romance. I always enjoy a romance where the hero has fallen hard for his heroine, and John has definitely fallen for the author of these letters.”  Read more….

Lucy’s Bang-Up Christmas: “A poignant romance between a young woman mourning her mother and feeling somewhat adrift, and a man who helps guide her in recognizing that the special traits that were in her mother are also in her.”  Read more….

“Three deftly crafted and entertaining stories by Carla Kelly with each one being cast in the yesteryear of Regency England…. Carla Kelly is a master of the Regency Romance genre and her short story collection, Regency Christmas Gifts, is highly recommended for community library Romance Fiction collections.”  Read more….

—Midwest Book Review/Wisconsin Bookwatch

“A trilogy of romantic, holiday-themed novellas set in Regency era England…. Regency Christmas Gifts is a cozy delight, especially recommended for connoisseurs of historical romance. Best savored on a snowy day, with a cup of hot cocoa nearby!”  Read more….

—MBR Bookwatch/Helen’s Bookshelf

The Lasting Gift: Christmas approaches, and Mary Ann Poole has little to anticipate. Her daughter Beth was born just after the death in battle of her father seven years earlier, and never knew Lt. Poole. Mary Ann has just lost her job. As a future in the poorhouse looms, she receives a package that was misdirected from the post office. Unable to afford return postage, the Pooles pay a visit to the sender, Thomas Jenkins, a retired sailing master in nearby Plymouth who is bored by life ashore. Thomas takes an immediate interest in the pretty widow and her bright daughter. He decides Mrs. Poole’s welfare is just the right charitable Christmas project to banish boredom while he searches for a way to return to sea. Soon he has a new dilemma: now that he has met Mary Ann Poole, does he really want to go sailing again?

Faithfully Yours: John McPherson left Dumfries, Scotland, as an impoverished, neglected boy, determined to make his fortune in North America. Make it he did, thanks to his facility with languages and business savvy. Now he is home after ten years for a visit. He hopes to marry Margaret Patterson, the lovely correspondent he left behind, and who has exchanged letters with him ever since. But Margaret, daughter of a prosperous merchant, is engaged to another. His faithful correspondent has really been Sally Wilson, pretending to be Margaret, who is not quite the person John thought she was. Just the daughter of a minister, Sally never judged John for his poverty and even saw him off on his adventures. But how could he possibly know that?

Lucy’s Bang-Up Christmas: Lucinda Danforth is downhearted this Christmas, her first since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Her sister is getting married on Christmas Eve, and Papa Danforth has been trying to keep events on an even keel ever since the death of his dear wife. Overwhelmed by wedding preparations, he tells Lucy to forget about Christmas traditions this year. But Lucy wants Christmas, too. Enter Lucy’s second cousin Miles Bledsoe, Oxford scholar, who wangles an invitation to the Danforth’s home. He’s happy to help out, and even happier to see Lucy Danforth. Thoughts of Lucy have been distracting him from his studies of late. He might be in love, and he wants to test his theory. Along the way, Lucy and Miles seek to honor the memory of Lucy’s departed mother by helping others, in this case, a war widow and her children.

Says Kelly, “I like happy endings, and I’m also interested in the Napoleonic Wars. Two stories reflect that interest from the point of view of those who lost so much—widows and children—and those who fought. The third story is just for fun.”

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of thirty-four 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:

“There is a quite pretty lady and her daughter in the sitting room wishing to speak to you,” she said. “Is that interesting enough?”

“Anyone you know?” he asked, getting up. He put his hands up to straighten his neckcloth, them remembered not bothering to put one on this morning. I am going to rack and ruin, he thought. “I don’t look like much of a gentleman,” he said.

“You never were one, except by virtue of the Navy Board,” she replied cheerfully. “Who needs a gentleman anyway? Don’t let it go to your head, but I always thought you handsome enough for general purposes.”

“You flatter me, Sis,” he told her. “I think.”

“Only a little,” she teased back. “And now I believe I will see if Mrs. Williams has some tea and biscuits.”

“That kind of a visit?” he asked, as he started down the hall with her.

Outside the sitting room door, she said, “They look genteel, if a little shabby.” She gave him a push. “Go find out.”

His sister was quite right on both counts. A lovely lady rose gracefully to her feet when he opened the sitting room door. What hair he could see under her dark bonnet looked blond. He thought her eyes were brown. She wore a cloak as serviceable-looking as her hat. He smiled inwardly to see mismatched gloves, which made him feel slightly less self conscious about his neckcloth that was missing in action.

“I am Mrs. Poole,” she said, and dipped a curtsy. “This is my daughter Elizabeth.”

“Beth, sir,” said the child, and followed her pronouncement with a curtsy of her own. “I like your house.”

Who could resist that? He smiled back, noting that she had a tooth missing. “I’m still getting used to living on land,” a glance at her mother, “Beth.” Then, remembering his manners, he added, “Let me take your cloaks. “We do have a maid around here somewhere, except that she has scarpered off.”

Beth grinned at that, which told Thomas that she was a girl who herself liked to scarper on occasion.

Mrs. Poole was going to give him a hard time. “That isn’t really necessary,” she told him, and held out a package. “We won’t occupy much of your time. It’s this package.”

He took it from her and recognized the ivory hairbrush and comb set. Mrs. Poole came a little closer and he took an appreciative sniff of a familiar fragrance. Was it vanilla?

“I am Mrs. Poole, but not this one,” she said, pointing to the address. “We live at Carmoody Street and not Dinwoody. I think the posting house clerks are overly busy this time of year.”

By gadfreys, she had a pleasant voice. The almost-burr to her Rs placed her almost in Scotland but not quite.

“I shouldn’t have opened it,” Beth said, coming closer. “Mama wasn’t yet home from work and I hadn’t ever opened a package before.” She hung her head. “I couldn’t resist.”

 

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