Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Review: It Happened One Christmas, by Carla Kelly, Georgie Lee, and Ann Lethbridge

It Happened One Christmas
Carla Kelly, Georgie Lee, Ann Lethbridge
Mass Market Paperback, 
288 pages
Harlequin, October 20, 2015
Anthologies, Christmas Romance, Historical Romance, Holiday Romance
Source: Amazon

Synopsis: Three heartwarming Regency Tales Of Christmases gone by!

"Christmas Eve Proposal", by Carla Kelly

Christmas gets more interesting when sailing master Ben Muir takes lodgings with Mandy Mathison! Because when her scandalous past is revealed, only he can save her future…

"The Viscount's Christmas Kiss", by Georgie Lee

Lily Rutherford is shocked to learn the man who snubbed her years before will be staying for Christmas. Can she forgive the viscount in time for a stolen kiss under the mistletoe?

"Wallfower, Widow…Wife!", by Ann Lethbridge

Penniless widow Cassandra Norton faces Christmas on the run with her two stepdaughters, until Adam Royston sweeps her off her feet and into his country estate!

The fact that these are Regency Romance novellas drew me in right away, as this is my favorite type of Christmas romance! However, I know from previous experience that the stories collected in anthologies are not always of the same quality. So I did hesitate, at first. But then, the beautiful cover finally won me over, and I plunged in.

Well, as anthologies go, this one was actually really good! The three stories -- and especially the first one, "Christmas Eve Proposal" -- were imbued with the warmth and tenderness of the season. The characters in all three were also very well drawn, and each author was equally skilled at bringing the time period to life. 

Kelly's characters and plot depict a poignant situation: the female protagonist,  having been rejected by her wealthy, cruel father, has been brought up by an aunt who dearly loves her. When she meets the handsome sailor who is tutoring the spoiled son of a ruthlessly demanding aristocrat, she falls in love at first sight. He does, as well. 

What is different about this story, and also what made me love it, is that it's about ordinary working people, not the members of the landed gentry, or the aristocracy. Ben Muir, sailing master, and Mandy Mathison, a server at an inn located at the port where  Muir's ship docks, are good, decent people who live their lives peacefully, and find themselves dealing with the injustice of the wealthy. They end up triumphing in the end, however, just in time for Christmas!

The second story, "The Viscount's Christmas Kiss", was about the power of forgiveness and second chances. It tells the tale of how one of the romantic protagonists has wronged the other, and seeks to be forgiven. Lily Rutherford has never forgotten how Gregor St. James, a Viscount, snubbed her years ago, at a dance, and the resulting consequences: her rejection by the ton. (For those not familiar with this term, it refers to the fashionable high society of the British Regency period.)

This Christmas season, she must do her best to endure the Viscount's presence at her family's estate. Understandably, she has no desire to be anywhere near him. Interestingly, however, she does find herself feeling attracted to him......and he to her. 

What makes this story even more interesting is how the author delves into the minds and emotions of these two characters. The Viscount acted the way he did out of cowardice, and is sincerely remorseful. The reader gets to see the inner circumstances that led to his hurting Lily, and just how wounded she felt. She makes him all too aware of how deeply his actions hurt her, too.

The joy and warmth of Lily's boisterous family, along with the Christmas spirit, serve to allow these two to work together to patch up their old quarrel, and move into a future of love and happiness. How the author takes them there makes for some very sweet, tender reading. 

An added bonus that made me like this story even more is that Lily was an artist, and there are some comical scenes involving one of the family dogs and Lily's paintbrush....

Sparks fly in the third and last story, "Wallflower, Widow.....Wife!" The male protagonist, Adam Royston, is a rather bored, aristocratic landlord who is tying up loose ends at one of his properties before leaving for Christmas revels at the family estate. His plans change when he meets a very charming young widow, Cassandra Norton, whose love for her two stepdaughters is touching and beautiful. I liked this character immensely, and that was due mostly to her devotion to, and care for, these little girls who weren't even her own daughters.

This story had some passion in it, which was not present in the other two. I loved it!! How the two protagonists met and fell in love was just beautiful and wonderful and just.....PERFECT for the Christmas season! There was snow all around, and a hunt for the right Christmas tree, as well as love and tenderness. And then there were the two girls, who were great characters in their own right. As devoted to their stepmother as she is to them, they warmed up to Adam right away, and knew, as children usually do, that the two adults were falling for each other.  

In short, this collection hits all the right holiday notes, being heartwarming enough to please any Christmas romance fan! It's light, enjoyable holiday reading, on the one hand, while on the other, it presents and deals with some very serious themes totally fitting for this, the most wonderful time of the year! 

These stories are to be enjoyed by the warmth of a good fire, with a cup of hot chocolate in one hand, while it snows softly outside, and the lights glint on the Christmas tree..... Or, in a more southern setting, they can be enjoyed in an air-conditioned living room, with a tall glass of sweet lemonade, while the heat beats down outside! Whichever scenario fits your situation, you will be transported to Regency England, and make merry in great, Regency period style! Kudos to all three of these writers!


Award-winning author Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. Carla is best known for her Regency Romances, those novels of manner and wit, made popular more than two centuries ago by Jane Austen. Carla has made certain types of Regencies her own, particularly novels and stories about people who are not lords and ladies. Many of them are hard-working and hard-fighting members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in the Channel Fleet, and the British Army on the Spanish Peninsula.
Carla’s interested in the Regency Era is mainly fueled by her scholarly interest in the Napoleonic Wars on land and sea. She credits her own upbringing with some of this interest. As the daughter of an officer in the U.S. Navy, she crossed the 180th Meridian as a child, and has the certificates to prove that she is a member in good standing of The Domain of the Golden Dragon, since the age of 13 months.

Award-winning author Georgie Lee was born and raised in San Diego, where she also attended college, majoring in television and film production. She began her professional writing career at a local cable TV station writing marketing videos, promotional spots and public service announcements, some of which still haunt the airwaves.

 A lifelong history buff, award winning author Georgie Lee hasn’t given up hope that she will one day inherit a title and a manor house. Until then, she fulfills her dreams of lords, ladies and a season in London through her stories. When not writing, she can be found reading non-fiction history or watching any movie with a costume and an accent. 

An army brat born in England and now living in Canada, Ann grew up loving history, but majored in business, with history on the side. She has a husband and two lovely daughters and a Maltese Terrier called "Teaser", who likes to sit on a chair beside the computer while she works.

Her love of the past and the stories in her imagination led her to write her first novel in 2000, a never-see-the-light-of-day-effort, and after having her first book published in 2006, she knew she'd found her niche.

She loves the Georgian era, and within that, the period known as the long Regency. She also adores happy endings.


  1. I love Regency historical fiction as well as anthologies (although you're right that anthology stories don't always have the same quality but they're still fun to read mostly). These stories seem really wonderful and perfect for Christmas time! :D

    1. Hi, Steph!

      I'm SO glad you share my love of Regencies and anthologies! And yes, these are indeed PERFECT for Christmastime!

      It's too bad that not all of the stories in anthologies are of the same quality, but happily, that was definitely NOT the case here!

      Thanks for the nice comment!! HUGS!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :0


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