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All Hearts Come Home for Christmas Novella Collection

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Thanks to the folks at Covenant I got the chance to review this excellent novella anthology. As you can see below, I had so much fun reading it and doing little illustrated designs for each of the title pages. Covenant wants to invite everyone to the LIVE facebook launch party tomorrow September 10 6-8pm MST. They are also hosting a giveaway. Don’t forget to enter at the end of this post!

So, I’m long-time Sarah M. Eden fan but sometimes these novella anthology things don’t have stories that feel as satisfying as novel-length stories, but wow, this novella is so good. It’s worth the full price just to read this one. Christmas at Falstone Castle is about characters first introduced in Seeking Persephone. Adam and his mother, Harriett, have a history full of tough stuff hanging between them. They’ve arranged a civil and mutual understanding between them in previous novels, but there is no warmth between them. With the Christmas season approaching, Harriet decides to attempt a true reconciliation with her only son. A redemptive story, Christmas at Falstone Castle, illustrates that admitting to our mistakes heals relationships and strengthens families. This story is one you’ll want to reread every single year!

It has been a long time since I’ve read Anita Stansfield’s work. I wrote an essay recently about what I admire in her body of work. So, it feels interesting to review this story in the context of accepting that Anita produces compelling fiction that doesn’t always stand up well under critical review. My harshest critique of this story is that everyone around the main character is required to undergo an internal change and character arc while the main point of view character does not. She does change jobs and does fall in love but she doesn’t have any personal flaws or roadblocks to overcome, which I think accentuates the sentimental quality of the story. I don’t mind sentimental stories, many people dislike them, but I like them because they explore different conflicts that appeal to me. In particular, I liked how much of the tension of this story is derived from the question of whether or not Adelaide’s prayers will be answered and as a corollary–how? One of the major themes of Anita’s stories is emotional healing. Adelaide is the catalyst for healing in this story. What makes her a true heroine is the emotional labor she does on behalf of the other characters. It illustrates the intangible emotional work that women do on a daily basis and explores its rewards–happy children, mutually supportive relationships, hearts changing, and romantic love.  

This is the first I’ve read from Esther Hatch and what a wonderful introduction. I laughed so hard I cried! Seriously, the charisma of the male love interest dances off the page. I didn’t want this story to end. I loved this delightful romantic comedy set in a regency setting. I mean, at the end I just felt spoiled by how much I’d already enjoyed this novella collection.

Esther also released a novel earlier this year, A Proper Scandal, which I haven’t gotten the chance to read yet but have heard good things about.  

This Cinderella-esque story by Joanna Barker was also an enjoyable read. Fanciful and sweet with good characters and strong traditional romance plot it was a satisfying end to this Regency Christmas Collection. Another solid introduction, as this was the first I’d read from Joann Barker. I’m now really looking forward to reading her forthcoming release Secrets and Suitors, which just recently received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. 

Right now, the digital copy of Secrets and Suitors is on sale for under $5.00, which is extremely rare for this publisher. Pre-order a copy while the deal lasts.  

All Hearts Come Home For Christmas Giveaway!

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