The Heart of Christmas – an anthology of Christmas stories
Publisher : Harlequin
Release: October 2009
Source: I bought this book to read and review
The Heart of Christmas is an anthology of Christmas stories that I decided to read as part of my various Christmas Challenges as you can see above!
A Handful of Gold By Mary Balogh
Not only is Julian Dare dashing and wealthy, but he’s the heir to an earldom. So what do you get a man who has everything? Innocent and comely Verity Ewing plans on giving Julian her heart—the most precious gift of all.
The Season for Suitors by Nicola Cornick
After some close encounters with rakes in which she was nearly compromised, heiress Clara Davenport realizes that she needs some expert advice. And who better for the job than Sebastian Fleet, the most notorious rake in town? But the tutelage doesn’t go quite as planned, as both Sebastian and Clara find it difficult to remain objective when it comes to lessons of the heart!
This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan
Lavinia Spencer has been saving her hard-earned pennies to provide her family with Christmas dinner. Days before the holiday, her brother is swindled, leaving them owing more than they can ever repay. Until a mysterious benefactor offers to settle the debt. Innocent Lavinia is stunned by what the dashing William White wants in return. Will she exchange a wicked gift for her family’s fortune?
As you can tell from the blurb, this book is a Christmas Anthology of three stories by three separate authors, with the headlining author being Mary Balogh – one of my long time favorites (hence the motivation for me to buy this book!) I like getting an anthology like this one. I am fairly certain I’ll like at least one of the stories and it gives me the chance to sample the works of authors I’m not familiar with. I’ll deal with each story separately.
A Handful of Gold
A Handful of Gold is the story that is written by Mary Balogh. Blanche Heyward, a dancer in the opera is actually Verity Ewing, a woman of good family trying to support her mother and sister in any way she can. She is approached by Julian Dare, Viscount Folingsby, and asked to spend a week in the country with him for a price. She’s desperate for money, so she agrees. Although the week doesn’t begin the way Julian expects, he ends up having a wonderful holiday with a woman who is his perfect partner.
This story is somewhat cliche’d in that we have a bored nobleman taking advantage of a down-on-her-luck noblewoman. What makes this story different is the characters and their development. Mary Balogh has the ability to take an often told tale and turn it into something meaningful. Her characters are vivid. The story is told in such a way as to carry you from the beginning to the end cheering for some characters, booing for others.
Verity is a strong woman, making the best of a bad situation. She retains her dignity and her humor and teaches Julian about the true meaning of Christmas. Julian is resistant to his father’s pressure to marry, and because of this ends up with the perfect partner. He expects a frolic in the country, and ends up with something completely different. He grows as a person and sees the redeeming qualities in Verity.
A heart warming story for the holidays, set in Regency England.
The Season for Suitors is written by Nicola Cornick.
It was originally published in “Cristmas Keepsakes” and has been republished in this anthology. Clara Davenport is a rich heiress, and is determined not to be taken advantage of, by anymore rakes. To ensure this, she approaches Sebastian, Duke of Fleet, and a master of rakes, for some lessons. Clara and Sebastian have a history; in fact, Clara asked Sebastian to marry her many years before, and he declined. He is wary at first of her motives, but after he decides that she is being honest, he decides to help her.
The story that results is a wonderfully funny and heart warming tale of two people who are perfect for one another, falling in love. Again, a tale that has been told before, but when in the hands of Nicola Cornick, it seems fresh and lively. Keeps one entertained, and often laughing right to the end!
This Wicked Gift is written by Courtney Milan.
It is the story of Lavinia Spencer who has been saving up so that she can give her little family a special Christmas dinner. Her family runs a lending library, and one of the subscribers, William Q comes to her aid after her brother has been scammed out of her little nest egg. The steamy relationship that develops between William and Lavinia shows them how wonderful they are together. A perfect relationship at a wonderful time of year.
For more information on these authors see the following websites: