Saturday, May 23, 2015

What I Read in December Part XI . . .

What I Read in December Part XI . . .

A Regency Christmas EveA Regency Christmas Eve -- Regency Christmas Stories

In "Little Miracles" by Barbara Metzger, a family of churchmice take it upon themselves to rescue the crumbling church they call home. They have only one shot, on Christmas Eve, to allow humans to hear them speak. With the locals claiming the clergy is cursed and the church falling down around their ears, is the church worth saving? The Rev. Mr. Merriweather is convinced it is, if only he can catch the ear of his patron and distance relative. In his wildest dreams, the church is repaired and filled and he marries the Squire's beautiful daughter. Though he should believe in miracles, it will take all his faith to envision a happy ending by Christmas. This is the best story in the anthology. Instead of dogs we have mice. The story is told from the point-of-view of the mice and switches to Rev. Merriweather and back and forth with the mice. The mice are hilarious as usual and add the comic relief to the story. Mr. Merriweather is an admirable, if a little bit boring, man and deserves to have a happy ending. This story is kisses only.

In "The Marriage Stakes" by Allison Lane, the heroine, Sophie attempts to rescue her very pregnant, widowed sister Caroline and bring her home. The sisters find themselves stranded in a snowstorm with little money and a baby on the way. Damon, Lord Westlake, comes across the stranded ladies and attempts to help them. He can not figure out why Sophie is so cold with him but he's willing to be chivalrous and help. He invites the sisters to recover at his estate where they discover several young ladies engaged in a battle to win Damon's hand in marriage. His family believes that if a man does not announce his marriage on Christmas Eve of his 29th birthday, the family will be cursed. with. He doesn't believe in the silly superstition but it makes his family happy. Only Sophie's wise head can help Damon find the one lady he can tolerate spending the rest of his life. I liked this story third best of them all. I liked wise Sophie who is proud and prejudiced against the nobility at first but comes to learn to treat everyone individually rather than condemn them all with the same brush. Her misgivings are a little annoying but valid concerns given her history. Damon isn't really a well-developed character but he's a good hero - very noble and kind. The eccentric guests provide some humor. The romance is kissing only with one passionate kiss that doesn't go too far.

In "The Gift of the Spoons" by Nancy Butler, the hero, Lord Herne's son is believed to be dying and none of the doctors know why or how to treat him. On the advice of his old nurse, he seeks out the witch woman Pippa Spoon to demand she come help his son. Pippa is much younger and very different from what he expected. She claims she's not a hero but Herne is desperate. Engaging Pippa's help means bringing her pet wolf home with him and hiring a man to look after a bear! What Pippa discovers surprises even her and she knows that only one person has the power to heal the boy and it isn't her. This story is my least favorite. It has some strange supernatural elements to it that I didn't really like and some very passionate kissing. This story is more "warm" than the others. I liked Pippa but I didn't really understand her. Herne is very Mr. Rochester like and the boy is named Colin, presumably after the boy in The Secret Garden, with whom he shares some similar traits. The story was meant to be heartwarming but I didn't really understand it. It's a little too unconventional for me.

"The Reckless Miss Ripley" by Diane Farr is the shortest story in the collection. Fred Bates is passing time at a country inn when a young lady blows in looking for the mail coach. When she learns she has missed it, she somehow persuades Fred to drive her to the next town to catch the stage or find some other way to Bath. It's imperative she arrive before Christmas Day but on Christmas Eve during a snowstorm that may be impossible. She discovers that her reason for the journey may not be so urgent after all. Claudia is crazy. She's a young, impetuous heroine without much common sense. She's akin to Georgette Heyer's Amanda in Spring Muslin or Lucilla in A Lady of Quality. I didn't believe in the romance at all. It happened too quick and a lot has to be inferred and the characters aren't developed enough for that.

The hero in "A Christmas Thief" by Edith Layton is really down and out. He was a soldier in His Majesty's Army and now the war is over, he's come home to England. He returns to discover he's lost his fortune. Not only did his brother gamble everything away, the friend Maxwell trusted with his investments was the victim of an embezzler. He spent the long, lonely nights on the battlefield dreaming of marrying his sweetheart. He's been faithful to her and she has done the same, but how he he marry with no money? It's Christmas and Maxwell's orphaned niece and her governess are coming to stay with him. Maxwell vows to give the little girl the loving home she deserves, but how can he do that with no money? He wants to give her a Christmas gift but hasn't the money to buy one. When he decides to steal one, his decision has repercussions he could not have imagined. This is a true Christmas story about the meaning of Christmas. I really liked this one a lot. I felt so bad for the hero. I wanted him to succeed but not by stealing. There's not much humor or romance in this story but it's a good old-fashioned heartwarming Christmas story.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave comments and or suggestions for QNPoohBear, the modern bluestocking.