Thursday, December 31, 2020

Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 6

A boy breaks a date with his girlfriend for the winter formal, a young woman with a secret struggles when love finds at her, a delightful story about a high school junior struggling with the death of her father and whose life changes at Christmas, and the stalking of a Nashville country star. This group of Christmas novellas has something for everyone. 

In Holly Hearts by Tanya Hanson, high school senior and part-time ranch hand Haggai Procter breaks his date with Elli Martin for the winter formal. The reason is that his mother is hiding something from him; she’s apparently sick and he believes they’ll need every bit of money to pay for expenses. The rest of his senior year, college, and a basketball scholarship look increasingly problematic.


Elli is disappointed, but she knows Haggai’s heart is in the right place. She, her father, and the large Martin clan at the Heart’s Crossing Ranch will help Haggai get through whatever it is he’s facing with his mother’s health. 


Midnight Clear
 by British author Autumn Macarthur takes place in Huckleberry Lake, Idaho. Claire Robinson is the town’s schoolteacher, and she resists the overtures from town handyman Ryan Connor with snark, put-downs, and borderline anger. She knows she’s attracted, but Claire harbors a secret about her past in Texas that she knows will destroy any hope for a relationship.


Ryan is loved by the town, and more than one person is trying to play matchmaker between him and Claire. He doesn’t need convincing, but he knows that something must have hurt Claire in the past and hurt her powerfully. The crisis arrives when the two are thrown together to help a friend give birth.


My Secret Santa
 by Jaclyn Weist turns out to be something of a sleeper surprise. Claire is your typical high school girl – bright, athletic (she’s trying out for the basketball team), snarky, and sarcastic. She’s trying to get over the death of her father while helping her mother run the town diner. What she doesn’t need is a regular group of boys, led by Chad Damon, ribbing and insulting her whenever they eat the diner. In fact, instead of calling her by name, Chad calls her “Diner Girl.”


Claire’s English class gets an assignment that’s grown out of A Christmas Carol. Each member of the class picks a name from a basket, and the assignment is to learn 10 things about the person whose name you’ve drawn. Claire draws Chad’s name, and from that point on her life turns upside down, including being on the receiving end of online bullying by Chad’s former girlfriend. She soon finds herself falling in love with the guy who calls her Diner Girl. The strength of My Secret Santa is the sparkling dialogue by the characters, which is going to take you right back to high school.


And now for the stalker. In The Christmas Stalking by Lillian Duncan, Nashville singing superstar Destiny, aka Holly Stone., is on the run. A stalker is after her, and the incidents are escalating toward violence. She’s cut her hair, changed her appearance, and heads back to the upstate New York town of Serenity and Peace, where she spent many summers with her grandparents. No one is supposed to know she’s there, most of all the stalker.


She almost immediately connects with Robby Trenton, a childhood friend who’s now the town sheriff, when he stops her for speeding. She eventually tells him her story about the stalker, and he works to protect her and perhaps find who’s doing it. Three suspects emerge, including Robby himself. And then there’s a wild climax in the woods. The story stretches a bit thin at points, but the season often strains credulity. 




Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 1.


Christmas, Suspense, and Romance: Christmas Novellas, Part 2.


Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 3.


Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 4


Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 5.


Top photograph by Eugene Zhyvchik via Unsplash. Used with permission

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Christmas Romance Novellas Part 5

A Canadian exchange teacher finds love next door in suburban London, a movie star comes home and discovers his childhood love, seat mates on an airline flight from Los Angeles to Minneapolis via Denver experience more than connecting flights, a New Orleans sous chef finds an old childhood friend in the Rockies of Colorado, and an interior designer with a domineering and bedridden boss loses her heart to the boss’s son. It’s the next batch of Christmas romance novellas.

In Christmastime in London Town by Clare Revell, Kelly Seda is a Canadian schoolteacher raising his daughter Wendy on his own after his wife’s death. The opportunity to teach in London that he almost received unexpectedly reappears, with only a few days to prepare before he’s teaching first grade in a suburban London school. 


Staci Kirk is a writer raising her son Tommy alone, her husband having been killed in action in Afghanistan. She suddenly has a new neighbor, and she goes the extra mile to welcome Kelly and his daughter to England. As the Christmas holidays approach, Kelly and Staci discover there may be more to neighborliness. A major scene of the story takes place in central London, and it’s fun to read about Hanley’s Toy Store, the big Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, and St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church. 


A Christmas Homecoming
 by Kimberly Rose Johnson tells the story of interior designer Bailey Calderwood, who lives in Oregon and is working for a tough boss who’s recovering from a stroke. The boss’s son, Stephen Belafonte, returns home from France, where he’s been living after the death of his wife three years previously. 


His mother wants Stephen to fire Bailey, but she won’t say why. What Stephen learns is that Bailey is the glue holding the business together, and he doesn’t understand why she puts up with his mother’s bullying. He’s also falling for her. In addition to the family issues and a growing attraction to Stephen, Bailey senses she’s being followed everywhere she goes by someone driving a silver sedan. The story mixes together some Christmas, some romance, and a bit of suspense.


In Mistletoe Movie Star by Stacey Weeks, Jonas Blade is a movie star with a passel of romantic movies behind him (think the Hallmark Channel). He’s returning home to Misteltoe Meadows to close his grandfather’s estate, which included a lodge, a Christmas tree business, and even an old motel now occupied by homeless people when they’re not chased away by authorities. Charlene is Jonas’s old teenaged friend and now a veterinarian. Charlene’s also trying to convince the town’s council to do something for the homeless, while trying to watch out for three girls she suspects fall into that category.


Jonas and Charlene meet by accident (literally) and only slowly realize who they are; Jonas Blade is a film name and Charlene has changed considerably when they spent summers together as teens. He’s determined to help her address the homeless problem; the two are also rediscovering the love of their teen years. 


First Class Christmas
 by Katy Eeten brings together two seatmates on an airline flight. Mandy Brockman is flying home from Los Angeles, where she was in a friend’s wedding. She had expected to have her boyfriend be her wedding date and then go skiing with his family, but he broke up with her right before the wedding. On the plane, she’s seated next to Chase Hawkins, an Olympic pole vaulter also on his way home to Minneapolis. 


Mandy and Chase discover a mutual attraction, but there’s a problem. She’s drifted away from church, while Chase is not only firmly anchored in his faith but is also part of the church worship band and an outreach program to the city’s less fortunate. He pulls Mandy to the church service and to helping others, but will their relationship take off?


A New Orleans sous chef is the heroine of Deep Freeze Christmas by Marian Merritt.  Leona Buquet has accompanied chef Julian Mayeux from their native New Orleans to Colorado. They’ve been hired for a week to cook for some old friends of Julian’s who are in the movie production business. Leona is thrilled to be visiting a part of the country she’s never experienced, and to see snow at Christmastime. 


Cameron Fleming is the son of the movie production company chief, and he remembers growing up in New Orleans and helping Chef Julian in the kitchen, so much so that he really wanted to be a chef himself. He’s expected to accompany a diva of a movie star who’s also visiting, but he has no interest in her at all. But he knows Leona looks familiar, and a growing attraction between him and sous chef quickly leads to rekindling a long-ago childhood romance.




Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 1.


Christmas, Suspense, and Romance: Christmas Novellas, Part 2.


Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 3.

Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 4


Top photograph by Levi Midnight via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 4

Grief leading to happiness, an online romance for these pandemic times, old hurts disrupting new loves, a miracle on the Nebraska plains, and a crazy candy shop – these are a few of the stories and themes for Christmas romance novellas. 

In A New Hope for Christmas by Erin Stevenson, Sam Jarrett is still grieving the loss of his wife Jennifer and trying to be a single dad for his son Oliver. Laura Preston is a young widow, rearing his daughter Kerrie after the death of her husband Patrick. Sam and Laura are in similar circumstances, but each has responded differently to the death of their spouse. 


Sam has turned his back on God, even if his son Oliver hasn’t. Laura continues to lean heavily on her faith. They meet at the cemetery, when Oliver’s balloon breaks free and the boy becomes almost hysterical. Slowly a relationship develops, with the romance one theme of the story and the importance of faith the other.


Virtually Yours at Christmas 
by Clare Revell is about as up to date as a writer can make a story. It’s 2020 England, in the village of Headley Cross, and everyone has to work from home because of the pandemic lockdown. Accountant Carlyle Stevenson is told by his boss to track down a past-due account. He sends an email to set up an online meeting, but he makes one mistake in the name.


Kristen Lawson has a candle-making business, and she’s been making all her candles at home and without her two assistants because of the lockdown. She pointedly tells Carlyle he’s got the wrong person. But both Kristen and Carlyle are intrigued by the person on the screen, and soon an online relationship develops. They discover they live in the same town and attend the same church. Quickly, interests gives way to something much more. Revell does a really good job of showing how an online relationship develops but never substitutes for the real thing. 


In Christmas Lights by Tanya Hanson, Lori Lazaro is visiting Hearts Crossing Ranch in Colorado at Christmastime as a favor to her grandmother. She knows the ranch from years before, when she was a teenager and madly in love with Scott Martin, one of the sons of the ranch owner. Scott is now happily married, but Lori still feels badly about the reason their romance ended. And she’s terrified a former boyfriend will find out where she lives.


Heston Calhoun is part of the ranch family, a stepson of the ranch owner. He meets Lori when he drives her in a sleigh to the main lodge of the property, and he’s so taken with Lori that he doesn’t want to leave her side. This romance may rate as one of the fastest-developing relationships in romantic stories. 


I was prepared to quickly put down The Widow’s Christmas Miracle by Kathleen Bailey, since I don’t usually read westerns. But this story turned out to be the surprise of the season. It’s 1849 in the Nebraska Territory, and Laban Jones lives by himself, operating a general store catering to wagon trains and individuals headed west across the Great Plains. Laban, once a soldier, has lost a leg to an accident by one of his cavalry colleagues, and he hasn’t felt whole since the accident.


His good friend White Bear, who has become a Christian after a long stay in Baltimore, shows up with his sister-in-law Red Dawn and her son Soars with Eagles. He tells Laban they have to stay with him because they have no place else to live until White Bear hunts down the men responsible for killing his brother and their entire tribe. Red Dawn and Soars with Eagles are the only survivors of the massacre, and she hates white men in general and blue coats (the Army) in particular. After White Bear leaves, Laban notices that his friend actually left three people with him, for Red Dawn is pregnant.


The relationship between Laban and Red Dawn builds slowly. Both have to cross the sea of mistrust, suspicion, and anger. Author Bailey seems to do this story exactly right, allowing small things to become the building blocks. The Widow’s Christmas Miracle is a captivating, well-written story of trust, love, and western history.


In A Cup of Christmas Kindness by LoRee Peery, Heath Banfield and his father are mourning the death of Heath’s mother, who died after a short illness. He’s trying to raise his daughter Charlotte by himself, having been abandoned by a wife who didn’t want motherhood or marriage. They live in a small town in Nebraska, not far from Lincoln. 


Heath has never gotten older what he felt was his rejection by the girl he believed he was meant to marry, Violet Steele. It was an intense high school romance, which ended unexpectedly when Violet told Heath she was leaving for California to pursue her dreams. It turned out to be a pursuit that led to a dead end, and Violet is back, staying with her parents until she finds a job. She still loves Heath, but he has closed off his heart, never wanting to be hurt like she hurt him years before. It’s a poignant story of rejected love, empty hearts, and a child who makes the difference.


Undercover Santa
 by Wendy Davy may be the wackiest romance novella read of the season. Kaylea Breslin has hired her niece and three of her friends to paint Christmas decorations for her candy store, in hopes of winning the town’s annual decorating contest. The girls see a rather creepy looking individual sitting in an old pickup truck near the store, and he’s watching them and the store. Kaylea finally has had enough, and she confronts the creep, or actually, he surprises her when she sees the truck is empty. She thwacks him with a water ski when he comes up behind her.


The creepy guy turns out to be Jace Talan, who is staking out the candy shop, but he’s a private bounty hunter, and his father is the sheriff. Kaylea’s former boyfriend, who really turned out to be a no-good creep, has skipped bail, and word is he;s coming back for something he thinks Kaylea has. It’s a slaptick, banter-back-and-forth kind of Christmas story, with everyone, including the reader, having some fun.



Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 1.


Christmas, Suspense, and Romance: Christmas Novellas, Part 2.


Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 3.


Top photograph by Denisse Leon via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 3

A Jane Austen lookalike, a holiday romance Down Under that may turn into something else, a boy who wants a dad (and a puppy) for Christmas, an unusual Christmas present from a sister, and a town so full of mistletoe that’s that what its name is– all are the subjects for Christmas novellas. 

In Christmas with Miss Austen by Laura Briggs, Julia Allen works in a coffee shop and volunteers at a historic home in Delaford, Mass. For the house’s December program, she dresses as Jane Austen and reads from Northanger Abbey, in keeping with the Regency Christmas theme. One night, as she’s hurrying home across a city park, she bumps into what she hopes isn’t a mugger, and in her hurry to get away she unknowingly drops the book, part of an antique set loaned to Julia by a friend for the readings.


Eliot Weston is a young college professor who happens to be the “non-mugger” Julia bumps into. He’s taken by the woman in period dress, but she disappears before he can find out who she is. He does find Northanger Abbey in the snow, and that sets in motion a series of events that may lead to Christmas romance. It’s a fun read whether you’re a Jane Austen fan or not.


The Present
 by Toni Sheridan (a pen name for author Ev Bishop) tells the story of Candice Cane-Bryant, a 20-something trying to hold down a job and care for younger twin brothers, an adult sister, and a much younger sister. It’s a family that happened because of their mother’s bad choices (and three marriages), And Candice has all she can do to simply get through each day. And life is generally crazier when it’s the Christmas season.


Her younger adult sister is a nurse, and she unexpectedly brings home a fellow nurse, Dean Harlowe, whom Candice assumes is the sister’s new boyfriend. Dean isn’t the sister’s new boyfriend; he’d seen Candice and become interested. The sister talks him into something of a setup for Candice, but everything keeps going badly wrong. The story hinges on whether Candice and Dean will overcome bad ideas about each other and find the relationship both are looking for.


In An Aussie Christmas Angel by Clare Revell, Englishman John Connington has taken leave from his job to travel the world, and as December rolls around he finds himself in Sydney, Australia. And without a place to stay, except for a seedy hostel whose guests seem more interested in stealing from your suitcase. His sister had given him a name to call in Sydney in case he ran into problems, and he finds himself spending a week with two young women, one of whom is getting ready for the wedding. 


The other young woman, Jo Heyward, is a bit put out having to accommodate a man and a stranger right before the busy Christmas season. But she decides to take to heart the Bible’s teaching about offering hospitality to strangers, and romantic interest suddenly and unexpectedly takes over for both John and Jo. But he’s returning to England after his week in Sydney. It’s an entertaining tale that happens to be based upon the true story of Revell’s brother.


In A Dad for Christmas, author Wendy Davy tells the tale of Reed Mason, a high school physics teacher in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. It’s nearing Christmas, and he notices his new neighbor, Emma Richards, in line with her young son Luke. He finds a letter to God on the floor (the kids drop them off at the post office), and the clerk asks him if he could take it home and pray for the anonymous child who wrote it. 


The letter’s author is Luke, and he’s hoping for a new dad. His dad had previously died, and he and his mom had moved from North Carolina to Virginia to make a fresh start. Luke’s confident that God will answer his prayer, and that his new dad will also like puppies. But is Reed, not to mention Emma, ready for romance? It’s a sentimental, heartwarming story, but then there’s nothing wrong with sentiment and warm hearts, especially at Christmas.


Mistletoe Melody
 by Stacey Weeks is the story of Melody Staff and Quentin Oxford. For Christmas, Melody, her adult siblings and their children, and her parents are staying at the inn in Mistletoe Meadows on Cape Cod. The inn is owned by Quentin’s parents, and the two families had long ago been neighbors. All Melody really remembers of Quentin is how, during his wild senior year in high school, he’d gotten his girlfriend pregnant. It’s now years later, and Quentin is rearing his daughter alone and his wife cleaned up from drug addiction but then during from an overdose when she relapsed.


Melody is also taking drugs for multiple sclerosis, a fact her family is aware but which everyone has concealed from outsiders. Quentin can see something is wrong, but Melody refuses to explain. What Melody doesn’t know is that Quentin has become a committed Christian, something he doesn’t go out of his way to divulge to Melody. Will lack of openness and misunderstandings wreck a relationship before it has a chance to start? 


Christmas Romance Novellas, Part 1.

Christmas, Suspense, and Romance: Christmas Novellas, Part 2.


Top photograph by Jonathan Borba via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The power of speech

After Acts 2:38-47

A few words, a single speech,
spoken as the crowd grows,
the curious and the mocking,
wondering at the noise
and tongues of fire
and fishermen speaking
languages they do not know,
a few words spoken
by the one who denied him
three times.

They listen, they hear,
they recognize the truth
about themselves, the truth
that wields a sword, the truth
that cuts hearts in two.

Reeling, they say ok, but
what now? what next?
When hearts are split
open, what do we do?

Photograph by Miguel Henriques via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Saturday Good Reads

Recently, I joined two online friends to undertake a project for 2021 to read all of Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets, and poems. I’ve already started reading the first assignment – the play Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Suddenly, everything starts coming up Shakespeare. I root through a kitchen drawer to find a dishcloth to cover rising bread dough, and I find a British Museum tea towel from 2012 for the exhibition “Shakespeare Staging the World.” Or I’m looking through stories at Literary Hub, and the site features “Lessons from Shakespeare: How to Survive a Pandemic with Humor.” I’m sure there’s a scientific reason for this serendipity. 

Is it possible to revive a dead language? There was one language that had virtually disappeared, at least in its spoken form, by the 19th century. Livia Gershon at JSTOR Daily has an account of how it was revived. The language? Hebrew. 


Understandably, parents have had a lot of anxiety about the quality of education delivered online versus in the classroom. Russell Arben Fox at Front Porch Republic reviewed a book called The Cult of Smart by Fredrik DeBoer and discovered that the structure of schooling may actually play only a very small role in children’s education. 


More Good Reads


Writing and Literature


T.S. Eliot’s “The Cocktail Party”: The Language & Doctrine of Atonement – Daniel Sundahl at The Imaginative Conservative. 


Falling Letters – Brian Miller at The South Roane Agrarian.


Nick Offerman on the Essential Wisdom of Wendell Berry – Gary Lovely at Literary Hub.


Life and Culture


If Mr. Kristof Is Taking Names, Apple Should Be Next – Anthony Barr at Mere Orthodoxy.


Is 2021 the Year of Populism? – Andrew L. Gardner.




Longfellow's Christmas Bells and a Better America – Joshua Whitfield at Church Life Journal. 


Forgotten places: on Marianne Moore – David Warren at Essays in Idleness.




Tidings of Comfort – Seth Lewis.


Beauty and Imagination in Christian Witness – Sam Clark at Front Porch Republic.




Norway’s Stave Churches – Micah Mattix at The American Conservative.


British Stuff


Salisbury Water Meadows – Barb Drummond at Curious Historian. 


The king of cakes – Carolyn Hart at Standpoint Magazine.


American Stuff


Barnum’s Christmas Show in 1864 – Sarah Kay Bierle at Emerging Civil War.


Canon in D (Pachelbel’s Canon) for Cello and Piano – Brooklyn Duo

 Painting: Woman Reading, oil on canvas by Robert James Gordon (died 1893).

Friday, December 25, 2020

Born this day

After Matthew 2:10-14

Born this day
a child in the light
a child of the light
a child who is the light

in the city of David,
in Judea, in Samaria,
to the uttermost parts of the earth

and you will see
and you will witness
and you will bear witness
of this child,
the one foretold,
the promise prophesied,
the promise promised,
the promise delivered

the one called wonderful
the one called counselor
the one called the mighty God
the one the prince of peace.

What Love, My God - City Alight

Photograph by Ben White via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas, Suspense, and Romance: Christmas Novellas, Part 2

It’s Christmas time in Headley Cross in southern England, and DCI Boaz Matthias is visiting his family. Matthias is taking a break from his police job up north and is finding all kinds of interesting things to see and do in in his hometown. He’s been running each morning, timing his run to see the attractive young woman who runs at the same time.  

Detective Constable Isabel York of the Headley Cross police enjoys running; she’s also enjoying the handsome stranger she keeps meeting on her runs. They meet for coffee, and then for dinner, and they both discover a strong and mutual attraction. Until they discover what each other’s jobs are, and then DCI Matthias is put in temporary charge of the Headley Cross force while the regular DCI has a family emergency.


The attraction flares into antagonism, and right in the middle of a murder investigation. Men playing Santa Claus keep turning up dead, and while it looks like suicide in each case, DC York has her suspicions. And she turns outs to be right. 


Dark Streets Shineth is part of the York and Zander police mystery series by Clare Revell (Ellery Zander is Isabel’s police partner; she rents a room from Zander and his grandfather, and both are highly protective of DC York). It’s a fun mix of romance, mystery, murder, and Christmas, and Revell keeps the story moving briskly along.


A Blessed Blue Christmas
 by LoRee Perry takes a different turn, with Christmas down Texas way. Dahlia Delisi operates the Blue Dahlia Boutique in a small town. Not long before Christmas, into her store walks U.S. Marshal Sloan Letheby, her first love from her teen years whom she hasn’t seen in a long time. The attraction is still there, however, even though there’s underlying anger at how they parted.


Letheby still feels that same attraction, but he’s in the town on business. He and his partner are investigating a known criminal who’s rumored to be looking for a hit man. And Dahlia’s sister-in-law knows this guy from when she worked at a bar during a rough patch in her marriage. As it turns out, the criminal’s interests lie a bit too close to the Delisi family.


Both stories fall into the Novella / Romance / Christmas / Christian fiction genre, which turns out to be quite a bit larger than I realized.




Carnations in January by Clare Revell.


Top photograph by Paola Vic via Unsplash. User with permission.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas Romance Novellas (Part 1)

The novella is a popular form for romances of all types. It introduces readers to a writer; it’s less expensive (and a less expensive risk) if you’ve never encountered the writer before. It can serve as a promotion for a series or a standalone novel.  

And the novella form seems to proliferate in the Christmas season. Its popularity at this time of the year is likely due to several factors, including the romance we often associate with Christmas, a shorter from is easier to digest during the busy season, and a short-form work of fiction offers a nice escape from gift buying, decorating, food preparation, and all of the other “events” of the Christmas season. And if it’s a novella and a romance, it has to have a happy ending – and this year, of all years, it’s nice to escape to something (or anything) with a happy ending. 


If the past few weeks, I’ve binged on Christmas novellas. Part of the reason was a few happened to come my way almost by accident, a few showed up as promotions, and more than a few showed up from a publisher’s promotion. Today and tomorrow this week, and for two days next week, I’ll be doing short reviews of only a few examples of what’s available. Here are five.


In Mary’s Christmas Surprise by Carol James, Mary Sherman returns unexpectedly to her parents’ home after her fiancĂ© has broken their engagement. What was expected to have been a celebratory Christmas in Colorado has become something more like ashes on the hearth. Her parents are traveling, and she expects to be alone with the family dog. Except for Jake Wolesky, a carpenter who is renting a room from the Shermans until he finds a place to live. 


Mary hears someone moving around the house in the middle of the night and calls the police. It turns out the police know Jake very well – the officers work in his carpentry shop and share a Bible study with him.  The story has a cute premise and is an entertaining read.


Redeeming Christmas, also by Carol James, involves romance writer Olivia Slootsky (whose pen name is Olivia St. Madeleine) doing what she does best – watching people to invent stories for them and insert new characters into her books. One she spots buying perfume is Gabe Winter, whom she imagines to be an undercover copy, single dad, and half a dozen other things. Gabe turns out to be her grandmother’s new neighbor, and it’s clear that one thing is going to lead to another. It’s Christmas time, and Olivia’s grandmother is going to make sure Gabe is at their house. A lot. It’s a fun story.


Penny’s Yuletide Wish
 by Sally Britton is a historical romance novella set in a small town in Regency England. Robert Ellsworth and Penelope Clark had been inseparable childhood friends, until Penny’s parents died, and she and her brothers moved away to live with relatives. She and her aunt are visiting, staying with a local family for the Christmas holiday. Robert is an estate manager, feeling the sting of the class structure which places him far down the social ladder.


Penny, for her part, believes she offers a poor prospect for marriage, having a relatively small dowry and no real social position. She and Robert gradually discover their mutual attraction through a series of dinners and balls. Britton does a good job of capturing the class consciousness of the period and as well as the historical detail. 


Dr. Noah and the Sugar Plum Fairy
 by Carla Rossi might have a title that raises eyebrows, but it is a funny story; Rossi has a gift for comic dialogue and a ditz of a character in Jane Trumbull. Jane brings an ailing cat to the emergency vet service. Expecting to see her usual veterinarian, she’s surprised to a different vet, young Noah Barron. They strike up a friendship, and Dr. Noah (which is what Jane calls him) learns that Jane by choice takes a back seat to her sister’s ballet dancing. The Local production of The Nutcracker is imminent, and the sister gets the flu. Jane’s ballet opportunity happens simultaneously with a growing romance with Dr. Noah.


Time’s Arrow
 by Clare Revell is a time travel romance. Jonni Peterson is housesitting while friends are on their honeymoon. It’s a big old pile of place, and the friends have hereditary titles. She’s quit her job because of the pressure exerted by her boos to become something more than an employee and a girlfriend. She goes out for a walk one snowy evening and finds herself run over by a horse and carriage.


Lord Sebastian Tyler, third Earl of Elton, is being driven home with his sister and mother when the coachman pulls up short. A young woman has been trampled and is lying unconscious on the side of the road. The Tylers take her home, noting how strangely she’s dressed, wearing pants like a man. When Jonni awakens, she learns she’s now living in the year 1841, and a considerable part of the plot centers on the differences between the 19th and 21st centuries and how Jonni will get back to her own time. That’s assuming, of course, she decides that what she wants to do. The story is fun romp set in the early Victorian period.

Tomorrow: Christmas, Suspense, and Romance.

Top photograph by Julia Bonilla via Unsplash. Used with permission.