Review – Regency Christmas Gifts by Carla Kelly

Regency Christmas GiftsBlurb:                                                                                         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.

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Regency Christmas Gifts: Three Stories

My Thoughts:

The Lasting Gift    Thomas Jenkins, Sailing Master, is between voyages.  During this lull, he bought a new house and  convinced his sister to make her home with him.  Still, he is lost and feels useless, and can’t wait to get back to the sea.  When an unexpected visitor shows up, Thomas is more than happy at the distraction.  Widowed Mary Anne Poole is returning a package to Thomas that was sent to her in error.  As they have tea, it soon becomes clear to Thomas how desperate a situation Mary Anne and her young daughter are in.  She’s about to lose her job, and then her lodgings. Thomas is a fairly wealthy man, and he takes an instant liking to Mary Anne, and begins to help her in a multitude of ways.  Mary Anne’s gratitude soon turns to affection, and a warm Christmas romance develops.  Now, if only Thomas weren’t going back out to sea…..

Faithfully Yours  John McPherson set off for America to make his fortune when he was eighteen years old.  As he was leaving, a cruel young lady named Margaret told him she would write to him.  She meant it only as a jest to amuse her friends, so when the time came to actually write, she coerced Sally Wilson to write the letters for her  Sally was a true friend to John and they carried on a beautiful correspondence and friendship over the years.  John eventually did make his fortune, and the news that he is returning home a wealthy man piques the interest of Margaret, who begins to make plans.  But John didn’t become a wealthy man by being a fool, and it seems he has an idea of who his real correspondent has been, and he sets off to find her.  This short story was pure delight!

Lucy’s Bang-Up Christmas  Lucy is in a tizzy, as she will shortly have to make her debut, which she’s dreading.  Her mother recently died, her sister is about to be married and appears miserable, and her aunt is there, trying to help, but is only driving the whole household mad.  Miles is Lucy’s lifelong friend and second cousin, and he has lately come to realize that he would like to court Lucy.  He comes to visit, and his common sense and good humor help to calm Lucy.  While Lucy loves Miles’ company, she’s a little slower in realizing her love.  Their slow building romance and courtship around the Christmas holiday is lovely.

Summary  These three sweet stories are romantic and sentimental.  In keeping with Christmas, the characters are loving and giving.  All were a joy to read, and the happy ever after is guaranteed to leave you with a smile and a warm holiday feeling.  Recommended.

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