By Mary Jo
I have a weakness for writing Christmas novellas, but many people never read the original anthologies. This is why I love publishing older novellas independently because good stories deserve a second chance at life.
Because I love writing novellas, in an excess of enthusiasm in the early '90s, I agreed to do two novellas the same year. Ooops!
For the Signet Victorian Christmas anthology, I wrote my Beauty and the Beast story, The Black Beast of Belleterre, which had to be written really fast!
Then I had to write another story really fast for the Signet Regency Christmas anthology. Hence The Christmas Tart. I have no idea where the story idea came from, other than the fact that I wanted a light, suspension-of-disbelief-type story.
And that's what the Muse handed me: Pure fluff, but I had fun with it. <G>
Tired of dealing with legalities relating to his father's unexpected death, new baronet Sir Philip Selbourne is ready to leave London and head home for Christmas. But having spent a boyhood rescuing strays, he's unable to resist helping a desperate young woman with speaking brown eyes and a kitten in her pocket. (Kitten picture by Ewa at unsplash.com)
Young French seamstress Nicole Chambord is in dire straits after being wrongly fired by her dreadful employer. Then chance brings her together with Philip Selbourne. His kindness leads her to accept when he offers to take her to his family estate so she can become a companion to his French-born mother.
(As a minor point, Nicole names her homeless kitten Merkle after a character in the story, but in truth, I chose that name because of Judith Merkle Riley, a most wonderful historical novelist, gone, but not forgotten.)
But the roads are icy and an accident forces Philip, Nicole (and the kitten!) to seek refuge at the cottage of a lonely widow—and creates a Christmas miracle for them all.
Novellas don't get a lot of attention, so after I posted on Facebook that I was reissuing this story, I was pleased that several long term readers said the story was a favorite of theirs. This is a sure way to warm an author's heart!
If you'd like to read an excerpt, one is posted on my website.
AUDIO BONUS! Siobhan Waring, my wonderful British narrator has produced an audio edition of The Christmas Tart. In theory it's been released today, October 11th, but I can't guarantee that it will be live on all platforms immediately. If it isn't yet, it should be soon.
Audio update! The Christmas Tart Audio now seems to be available on Apple, B&N, and Audible, and quite likely other platforms as well.
Mary Jo, adding that the candles picture is by Laura Nyhuis on unsplash.com