Christmas Reads Feature: A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

Welcome to Thornwaite, a quaint village tucked up in England’s beautiful but rainy Lake District… where homecomings happen and surprises are in store for the four Holley sisters…

Anna Holley, the third of four sisters, has always felt a little bit forgotten. A family tragedy when she was a child had her retreating deep into shyness, and social anxiety kept her on the fringes of the cozy chaos of the busy vicarage.

After several years away from home, Anna returns for Christmas… and an important announcement from her father. As much as she once loved the village, coming back is hard and puts Anna’s social capabilities to the test.

Avoiding her sisters’ bossy questions, she heads out to the local pub one night, and meets a handsome stranger nursing a pint. Somehow, unburdened by expectations, Simon seems like the perfect person to spill all her secrets to—including a hopeless, long-held crush on her sister’s boyfriend. Confident she’ll never see him again, Anna returns home… only to discover the next day that Simon is actually her father’s new curate!

Anna is beyond mortified, but Simon won’t let her retreat into her usual shyness—and for once Anna is forced to confront the past, and all the fears and feelings she’d tried so long to hide. But with his own heartache that needs to heal, can Simon help Anna to make this the most magical Christmas either of them have known?

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The Week: 3rd – 9th December

Bright blue summer skies in Canberra.

How is it the ninth of December already?! It’s been a crazy-hot weekend in Canberra; inland it’s a good ten degrees warmer than in the cities on the coast.

I went to the sale at the National Library yesterday. If I have time I’ll write a post about it!

Twentieth Anniversary of Shakespeare in Love

Bad Sex Writing Awards 2018

Recommended Christmas Read

Out Now: The Story of Us by Lana Kortchik

Book Adaptation for Christmas

Book Adaptation for Christmas

Sarah Morgan‘s St. Piran’s: Prince on the Children’s Ward has been made into a movie in time for Christmas.

Retitled Christmas With A Prince, here is what it is about:

Paediatric specialist Tasha Miller is focused on keeping the kids in her ward as healthy as possible. But when the handsome Prince Alexander Cavalieri breaks his leg on a nearby ski-slope, Tasha is forced to allow him to secretly get well on her floor, and she’s furious that a spoiled Royal is interrupting the precious healing time her kids need. Soon, however, Tasha learns that some tough love and a lot of Christmas spirt could turn this royal pain into a knight in shining armour.

And the trailer is here:

Recommended Christmas Read

I didn’t discover the existence of this novella until after Christmas last year. So I am now recommending it as a Christmas read for this year!

Joanna Shupe’s books set in New York’s late-19th century Gilded Age are special because it’s such an underused theme in historical romance.

My review is here.

Miracle on Ladies' Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

Miracle on Ladies’ Mile (A Gilded Age Holiday Novella) by Joanna Shupe

After losing his beloved wife, department store owner Alexander Armstrong seems incapable of anything other than work, despite his ache to be a better father to his daughter.

When he encounters Grace, a charming shop girl designing the store’s holiday window displays, he struggles to accept that perhaps miracles do happen in the most unlikely of places…

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses #4) by Janna MacGregor

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses #4) by Janna MacGregor

A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied…

Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harboured private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?

Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses #4) by Janna MacGregor

I read Janna MacGregor’s debut novel last year, and commented that the author had talent, that the opening of the book was brilliant, but that it was a little confusing when it came to all the characters.

Because I liked the description of this one, and wanted to give MacGregor’s work another try, I picked up a review copy of this, the fourth book in the series. Again, I found the author’s writing to be solid, but I also had some issues with the overall structure of the book.

For me, it’s always problematic when an author provides no date for the setting of their book. Even if I’m to assume The Good, the Bad, and the Duke is set in the nineteenth century – when? Is there a George on the throne, or Victoria? Are the characters’ portraits painted, or photographed? Can they travel by train or automobile, or is the carriage still their only option? Must they write to each other, or are telegrams and telephone calls available now? Has Napoleon been disposed of? Is there a war in Crimea?

As we were given no date, I have no idea.

Again, the prologue was very well-written. However, the heroine is nine in that scene, but came across as twenty-nine. Even so, it was a sweet little scene.

We then jump forwards about a decade and a half to pick up the main body of the story, and that’s where I started getting confused. This definitely isn’t a book that can be read as a standalone. There are characters I was unfamiliar with everywhere – and their offspring. Right from the first few pages there are references to things that happened in past books that I had no idea about. If they had to be mentioned, I don’t think it should have been so early on.

After several chapters, I realised my mind was wandering. Fans of past books in this series are probably going to really enjoy this one, too.

For me, however, it couldn’t hold my attention.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 12th – 18th November

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Some pictures from the Great Wall near Beijing, Jinan, and the Zibo district in China last week.

These past few months have been crazy. From winter to like-winter weather in Europe, to warm weather, to a heatwave in Canberra, to freezing China, to another heatwave in Canberra. I’m so confused where I am and what season it is! Now I’ve done my Christmas shopping (just in case things didn’t arrive in time), I sort of feel like it’s time for the year to end!

My review of A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

Another Book Community Gone?

A Jane Austen Christmas

Mr Darcy Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen Foil Christmas Card Sonya Heaney In the Past Zazzle Shop Silver Version 2

Poppies for Remembrance Day – 100 Years

Thousands of Poppies First world War One Sonya Heaney 11th November 2018 Australian War Memorial Canberra.

Long Tan Cross

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Armageddon Seventy Years On

A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion—or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.

A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella by Mimi Matthews

Mimi Matthews is a fairly recent discovery, but a favourite historical romance author of mine. She writes historically accurate Victorian novels and novellas that are on the sweet side as far as steaminess goes, but usually also emotional stories with great characters.

I liked all of the mixed messages and class confusion in this one. The hero is completely out of his depth trying to navigate the society of the landed gentry (as is his friend), and this results in him nearly losing his chance with the heroine before the courtship even begins.

As you can probably tell by the title, Matthews has struggled to find a home in mainstream publishing because of the style of her books, but they are worth your time.

Much of A Holiday by Gaslight takes place in rural Derbyshire at Christmastime, and I actually read it while *I* was in rural Derbyshire, and so it felt that little bit extra special to read.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.