Review – Christmas By the Sea by Carla Kelly from A Hopeful Christmas

About the Book:

Kindle the spirit of the season as four of your favorite storytellers weave tales of love and hope in this charming yuletide collection.


When Miss Ivy Hunt and Lord Curtis Blakely establish a secret acquaintance, neither can deny that their feelings extend beyond friendship. But as the children of bitter rivals, it will take a Christmas miracle for this star-crossed pair to reach their happily ever after.


Following the death of her father, Amelia knows Christmas will be lean. But when circumstances become dire, it is the unexpected arrival of a childhood friend that renews Amelia’s hope—both for the future and for love.


After two years at sea with the Royal Navy, surgeon Will Crenshaw longs for a quiet Christmas with his family. But when unrest at home threatens to ruin the holidays, it takes the kindly intervention of a mysterious house sitter to remind them of the true meaning of the season.


Marina Rowley is a spinster, Richard Stanhope a war-weary military man. A case of mistaken identity throws them together, but the unexpected stirrings of their hearts lead to an unforgettable holiday romance.


My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Christmas By the Sea by Carla Kelly

Joshua Crenshaw, Royal Navy surgeon, disappointed his family with his choices of his career and his wife, neither of which met their lofty expectations.  Still, Joshua is more than content with Margaret, his wife, and finds his career fulfilling and rewarding.  Joshua has been away from his family for two years, and is anxiously looking forward to arriving home to spend Christmas with them before he returns to active duty.

His home is not in its usual order, as there are packing crates about.  Joshua learns that Margaret (aka Megs) has found them a new home, one with more room, and even a proximity to the sea.  Joshua has no doubt that Megs has made the right decision for them and anxiously looks forward to seeing their soon-to-be new residence.  While Joshua had every bit of faith in Megs’ judgment, the law sees women as unable to handle financial affairs, so he had to provide someone to handle legal matters while he was away.  He chose his brother, Cornelius, and signed a power of attorney, giving him all authority.

As Joshua is about to enjoy his first breakfast home, getting reacquainted with his children, Cornelius shows up, making himself at home.  It seems that this is now an everyday occurrence, though it’s clear that it’s not Megs’ preference.  Cornelius seems to be acting strangely, and uncomfortable with Joshua having arrived home early.  Cornelius has made plans with their high-in-the-instep sister, Lucinda, to view their new home even though Joshua and Megs would prefer to visit the house on their own.

As they set off to visit their home, it becomes painfully clear why Cornelius was so uncomfortable, as it turns out he betrayed Megs’ wishes, as well as jeopardizing Joshua financially.  Joshua angrily leaves his overbearing siblings, and he and Megs decide to go ahead and visit the house that’s no longer theirs.  They encounter a very unique caretaker, one who’s quite willing to let them explore the house to their heart’s content.  They both love the house, and are sad to have lost it, and return home, determined to make the best of the situation and have a happy Christmas.

As Megs prepares their Christmas dinner, she invites guests, an injured former soldier, a widow of little means, and a caretaker who would be alone.  Their celebration is truly jolly and joyous, and is a representation of what Christmas should be.  Megs and Joshua are generous and giving people – they are not wealthy, but they’re happy to share what they have with those less fortunate.  Their marriage and their partnership is loving and solid, as is their relationship with their children.  There is one particular laugh out loud moment, when their youngest child, now only approaching three years old, discovers a strange man in her mother’s bed, and takes action to rescue mama.  CHRISTMAS BY THE SEA is warm and enjoyable, and everything a Christmas story should be.  Rather than just have the holiday as a backdrop, the spirit of what Christmas epitomizes is essential.  Marital love, family love, sharing, generosity, gifts, faith, and forgiving are all front and center, and it works beautifully.  I do love a sentimental story with characters to fall in love with, along with a sense of good things happening to good people.  Carla Kelly packs a lot of emotion, inspiration, and joy into this short story, and it’s one that I will enjoy reading again, and highly recommend.    ~Rose

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