Favorite Christmas Stories

Last Chance Christmas Ballby Mary Jo

The original Christmas story is of the journey to Bethlehem and the newborn infant who was laid in a manger, and the holiday has been inspiring Christmas stories ever since. They are stories of warmth, family, and love, of kindness and reconciliation.  One of the most famous is the poem "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" written in 1823 by Clement Clark Moore.  The depictions of Santa Claus, the chimney, and the sleigh pulled by reindeer have helped shape the imagery of American Christmases ever after. 

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Christmas snippets

Anne here, starting something a little bit different. We're putting up Sunday posts containing an excerpt from our stories in the Last Chance Christmas Ball — one each Sunday in the lead-up to Christmas. Last ChanceXmasBall

The anthology was such a fun—and sometimes tricky— thing to do. We wenches had written a Christmas anthology before with a linking theme, but for this one we decided all the stories would be linked to an event, based around an annual Christmas ball, held by Lady Holbourne known as Lady Holly to her friends.

The emails flew back and forth as we tossed around ideas, made plans and thrashed out the details of the setting. Some of us wrote interweaving stories, some of us made our stories linked, but separate, several of us had our people not actually make it to the ball. But we all had such fun doing it, we wanted to share it again.

Here's the blurb for the collection:  Christmas 1815. Upstairs and downstairs, Holbourne Abbey is abuzz with preparations for a grand ball to celebrate the year’s most festive—and romantic—holiday. For at the top of each guest’s wish list is a last chance to find true love before the New Year…

My story is called Mistletoe Kisses, and it's about Allie Fenton, a young woman who, for various reasons, has never been able to attend a ball. Now orphaned and on the shelf, she's planning to become a teacher at a girl's seminary in Bath. But first there's her last Christmas at home and then, Lady Holly's famous annual Christmas ball. 

Here's a short excerpt:

"You'll come to my Christmas ball, then," Lady Holly told her. "Don't bother trying to think up any excuses — you're coming and that's that. Your year of mourning will be up, and you have no reason to stay here moldering away when I've gathered an excellent range of eligible gentlemen for your perusal."

Allie laughed. "For my perusal? As if I'm going shopping?"

"That's exactly what you'll be doing."

"Don't the gentlemen have any say in it?"

The old lady sniffed. "Women have been making men believe they have a choice for generations. Now don't be frivolous, Allie — I am determined to give you one last chance to find a husband before you go off and bury yourself in this, this school of yours." She pronounced 'school' as if she really meant 'zoo.'

Allie smiled. For all her caustic tone, Lady Holly had a very kind heart. "I would love to attend your ball, Lady Holly. . . "

The old lady frowned. "I hear a 'but' coming."

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What We’re Reading: The Christmastide Edition

By Mary Jo

What have the Wenches been reading, or what are they looking forward to reading in December? Pull up a comfy chair by the fire and find out!


JaneLoveringNicola here:

I haven’t really got into my Christmas reading as yet despite the fact that there are Prince's Bride Royal WeddingChristmas books all around! At the moment I’m glomming on The Royal Wedding Invitations series, which features books by some of my favourite HMB authors including Sophie Weston, Jessica Hart and Liz Fielding. I’m such a sucker for a royal wedding story and this is a gorgeous series!

However, I have started to get into the Christmas spirit with a novella by Jane Lovering called Christmas at the Little Village School. It’s wonderfully warm, funny and uplifting, it’s out on 12th December but up for pre-order now and I loved it!

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Heartwarming Reads for the Holidays

Andrea/Cara here, Ho-Ho-Ho! Now that we spooked you with scary reads on Monday, we’re following up with a sleighful of good cheer. November signals the start (earlier and earlier it seems!) of the end-of-year holiday. And while all the celebrating with family and friends is wonderful, there are times when one simply wants to escape from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a few hours of quiet reading. With that in mind, we decided to showcase the Wenchly Christmas-themed books to spark smiles and good cheer. So get ready to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and plate of cookies . . .

PatriciaRice_IncomparableLordMeath_800 2Pat:
Incomparable Lord Meath (A Novella)

Christmas in Ireland
Penniless spinster Honora Hoyt has carved a safe niche in London society as her noble uncle’s hostess —until an old flame re-enters her life, threatening her hard-earned security.

Evan, Lord Meath, abandoned his pampered life—and Honora—after a reckless gamble left him lame and disillusioned. Now he’s hoping to perform a good deed for once—but here’s Honora again, desirable, maddening, and in the way. It looks like he’s about to wreck his good intentions, and Honora’s too. Again.

In the season of peace, can they resolve their conflicts and find the joy and love that each secretly craves?
Original Novella Rebellious Sons prequel $2.99
 
Christmas Enchantment anthology

Three heartwarming Regency holiday romances in one joyful book.
Christmas Angel: 
Marian had no intention of starting something new. Taking care of family and helping a once prosperous town survive was all she had in mind after the tragic death of her fiancé. Then a stranger with a heavy heart from America unexpectedly arrived. Maybe this will be the Christmas they both need – with a gift that lasts forever.

Christmas Goose
: The spoiled child of a rich baron, Rebecca left that world for love. But, her husband died in the war. Now she finds herself taking care of his young sisters, removed from the grace of her prosperous father. Simon feels his life is a failure. The war took his soul and he longs for a new beginning. Even the battles of war haven't prepared him for the battle for the hand of the feisty woman he's come to love.

Tin Angel
: Jeffrey fought the good fight in the halls of government but comes home exasperated at life, law, family and love. Much to his dismay, the visit from a guardian angel (in whom he does not believe) leads him to question his sanity. Mary’s bright humor and sarcastic jabs give him something he’s never experienced – a way to look beyond himself and into the world again. Could she be the key that opens that last door at Christmas?
(Anthology of stories originally contained in Signet Regency Christmas collections $4.99)

 

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Ask a Wench — What’s it like to create an interwoven anthology?

RednecklacesJo here, pulling together a group post.

We had fun creating The Last Chance Christmas Ball. At times it was the sort of fun you get from a camping holiday with unpredictable weather and odd creatures invading the tent.*G*

After all, the Wenches are eight strong minded women living around the world. Even within the US we have east coast and west coast, but add in England, which is  five hours ahead of the east coast and eight hours ahead of California. Pat was getting up when Nicola and I were thinking about dinner, and Anne, down in Australia goes to bed round about the times America wakes up! Even in this modern age we often had to wait many hours for the answer to a continuity query.

But we did have fun, and as you'll see, we all love Christmas stories.

I posted about the prologue on Sunday, but if you missed that, you can read it here.

LccbSo here are the Wenchly answers to the question: What's it like to create an interwoven anthology?

Joanna: My True Love Hath My Heart.

Read an excerpt here.

I wanted to write Christmas Eve turning into Christmas Day. I wanted that moment of change. I wanted lights. I know it's not the solstice, but for me midnight on Christmas Eve feels like the old is going out and the new is coming in. That was very much the 'feeling' I wanted for my story. It's a 'Second Chance at Love' tale and my hero and heroine have to change. So this felt like the right time and place

Also, decorations. And plum pudding. And holly. All the Right Stuff. I ended up a little surprised I didn't overlap with anybody else. I feel like I grabbed the best date and ran off with it.

Susan: A Scottish Carol Monet,_Lavacourt-Sunshine-and-Snow

(Jo.Susan shares a picture which is not of the Scottish borders in the snow, but has the right feel.)

Read an excerpt here.
Oh I just adore Christmas, Christmas love stories, winter and snow, Scotland, Scottish Regency settings — so it was a no-brainer for me to wrap those elements into a story when we Wenches began talking about writing another holiday anthology. When Alicia Condon suggested that we interweave our novellas and focus on the same Christmas ball, suddenly we had a lot of details to work out – the central location, the occasion, the hostess and her ties to each of our characters and their past and present circumstances. Jo Beverley created a Wiki page where we shared our details, and as we asked questions and figured out solutions, helping each other, the stories began to work together. The extra effort by all the Wenches as well as our editor and copy editor in making sure all the puzzle pieces fit perfectly was worth it – I think this is a very special Christmas collection! 

(Jo. We set the story in Northumberland to make it close enough to the Scottish border for Susan's characters to plan to attend.)

With my story set in Scotland in the midst of a snowstorm that affected more than one of the guests attending Lady Holly's Last Chance Christmas Ball, it didn't seem likely that my characters – Dr. Henry Seton, Laird of Cranshaw, and Clarinda Douglas, Lady Hay, the widowed daughter of Henry's old mentor – could safely arrive at the ball in northern England. So they became stranded in a blizzard, alone and cozy inside Cranshaw Castle — where Clary yearned to go to the grand ball, Henry was secretly relieved to miss it, and both had to face their shared past of first love, heartbreak, and the fear of starting over. With a little help from Dickens and a nod to Scrooge, Tiny Tim and a some other Christmas characters, I loved writing this story – and I hope you all will love reading our latest Wench venture, The Last Chance Christmas Ball! 

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