SAINTS AND SINNERS by Josi S. Kilpack. When Neville Franklin’s best friend Burke wants to wager who can kiss Eloise first, Neville puts a stop to it. Eloise has been his friend since childhood, and, well, she’s off-limits. Especially to Burke. As Burke pursues Eloise and claims that she has a tendre for him, Neville becomes more and more protective of the girl he grew up with. On the night of the Christmas ball when Eloise appears in a dress that clearly shows that she is no longer a girl, but a beautiful woman, Neville realizes that his protective feelings toward Eloise have turned into something greater. But now, Neville’s best friend stands in his way.
THE CHRISTMAS ANGLE by Carla Kelly. Sailing Master Able Six is on half-pay with the British navy, biding his time during the uneasy Peace of Amiens and the resumption of war. Meanwhile, he’s invited to teach young pupils at the home of a vicar outside of Plymouth. There, he unexpectedly meets Meridee, the spinster sister-in-law of the vicar. From the moment Able sees Meridee, he’s entranced. When she asks him about his past and discovers his remarkable yet troublesome gift, he realizes he’s finally found someone who can care for all of him. Sadly, Able’s low station and half-pay gives him no way to provide for a wife. Meridee’s lack of dowry and dependence on relatives makes their union impossible at best. But isn’t Christmas a season of hope?
THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Moore. Archie Clawson wants nothing more than to give Jane the perfect Christmas. Since her troubled childhood, she’s not experienced a Christmas with all the trimmings. To top off the perfection, he also plans to ask her to marry him on Christmas Eve. But as he and his friends, including Jane, travel to his country home, they are caught in a snowstorm and discover that notice of their arrival did not get through to the house staff. Worried over the disappointment he must be causing Jane and the complete shift in their planned Christmas, Archie fears that he’s misinterpreted her kindness towards him and lost her favor forever.
Ready for Christmas reading?
Sissy: What, it’s only October, you say? Why are you talking about Christmas, you ask? Don’t worry–we just wanted to whet your holiday appetite for a moment! And so we bring you another Timeless Regency Collection called A Country Christmas. What a joyful, refreshing read this was! We have read some regency collections recently that, frankly, came in at a smidge west of insipid, so I started reading this with some skepticism. But to my great delight, these three novellas were different, examining new angles, unexpected story arcs, and way more interesting characters. You wanna talk about the first one, Bubby?
Saints and Sinners
Bubby: Neville Franklin! NEVILLE FRANKLIN!! What a man! A completely oblivious and clueless man, to be sure, but once his friend Burke smacks him around a bit, what a man! Miss Eloise is no slouch herself. Let’s just say that Eloise can take care of herself. For instance, if a man were to ply her with unwanted attentions, you can bet his instep and cheekbone would regret it! Saints and Sinners was so captivating that I read the whole novella in one sitting…
Sissy: …which for Bubby means 10 minutes tops because that’s her superpower…
Bubby: Whatever. The point is, Saints and Sinners just made my heart happy. I was sure it was going to be the best story of the bunch, but this is an outstanding collection, and I liked The Christmas Angle just as much.
The Christmas Angle
Sissy: I must say, The Christmas Angle was as clever a piece of writing as I’ve ever seen, thank you Carla Kelly! The life story of Able Six is just intriguing as all get out (his name, the mystery of his birth, his special talent, wouldn’t you like to know more?). Meridee entrances Able Six, because she is every bit as deep, unconventional and, in her own way, smart, as he is. Even the title speaks to a most intelligent play on words, as you will discover. This was an absolutely wonderful, deeply satisfying read. What, dearest mine sister, did you think of The Perfect Christmas by Jennifer Moore?
The Perfect Christmas
Bubby: So good! Seriously, this is one of the best anthologies I’ve ever read. In The Perfect Christmas, Archie has grand plans for a lavish holiday at his country estate that will culminate in a proposal. But as everything that can possibly go wrong does, Archie learns some lessons about the true meaning of Christmas, which I appreciated, and the other characters strengthened their relationships in ways that really touched my soul. I was very sad when I read the last page. Not because the story had an unhappy ending, but simply because the stories had ended. I need more from these authors!
Sissy: Me too! Give me fabulous writing like that every day and twice on Sunday and I’ll be a perfectly happy little holiday elf.
Bubby: Now I have a mental image of you in a tights, tunic, pointy shoes and a green hat.
Sissy: Bedazzle it and I’m in!
Bubby: This is so happening! Have I mentioned how much I loved A Country Christmas? Just to make sure, I’ll say it again–I LOVED this anthology, and I’m sure you will too.
Click HERE to buy A Country Christmas by Josi Kilpack, Carla Kelly, and Jennifer Moore