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#Bookreview A CHANCE AT CHRISTMAS by Beppie Harrison (@BeppieHarrison) Recommended short feel-good #Christmasstory set in the Regency period.

Hi all:

I don’t tend to read many books in this genre, but I am translating a historical romance novel and I’ve been reading novels set around the same period, for research, you know, and when I mentioned that to Rosie Amber, she suggested I check NetGalley, and I did. I plan on shearing a few of the novels I’m reading in one post, but as this one was set around Christmas time and it has a lovely cover (and no the usual barechested rake), I thought it was perfect for this time of the year…

A Chance at Christmas by Beppie Harrison
A Chance at Christmas by Beppie Harrison

A Chance at Christmas by Beppie Harrison.

Christmas is coming, and Catherine Woodsleigh and her crippled brother John have no hope of celebration until an invitation to spend Christmas with an old friend and her family arrives. But after the holiday, worse misfortune looms before them. Living on the diminishing number of coins drawn from a jar left by their dead father and mother, a dire future seems inevitable. Will this chance to share a wondrous sparkling Christmas not only provide a glorious holiday but a new turn in their futures and the astonishing possibility of romance?

https://www.amazon.com/Chance-at-Christmas-Beppie-Harrison-ebook/dp/B0763CQY29/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chance-at-Christmas-Beppie-Harrison-ebook/dp/B0763CQY29/

Author Beppie Harrison
Author Beppie Harrison

About the author:

Beppie Harrison lives on Boston’s South Shore close to the ocean in a big white New Englandish house with her husband, a lawyer daughter, and an assortment of dogs and cats. They live a somewhat trans-Atlantic lifestyle. Her husband is an English architect, and they lived in London at the beginning of their marriage, only moving to the States when they had young children. Now the children are grown, they return to old friends and familiar places as frequently as they can. In many ways, England still feels like their second home. For Beppie, the pull from across the Atlantic comes not only from the dales of Yorkshire and the buzz of London, but from Ireland. Did it start with its literature, its green beauty, or its wonderfully garrulous people? However it happened, both England and Ireland draw her now. Her first fiction trilogy, the Heart Trilogy, is placed primarily in Ireland during the Regency period. The Grandest Christmas, a companion novella for the holiday season, is a warm and cozy read for Christmastime. Her upcoming quartet of novels is placed again in Regency times, but, as introduced by the novella The Dowager’s Season, introduces four cousins to the excitement and romance of London’s presentations and balls.

You can check her website here:

http://www.beppieharrison.com/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Candem Hill Press for providing me an ARC copy of this novella that I freely chose to review.

This is a Regency romance that I decided to read in part as research for a project, and also because it sounded and looked a bit different to many of the books in the genre (no couple on the cover, and, especially, no bare-chested male). Indeed this is a ‘sweet’ or ‘clean’ romance, although as some reviewers have noted, the strongest relationship in the story is that between Catherine, a young orphaned girl whose financial circumstances are extremely precarious at the beginning of the story, and her brother, John, a couple of years her junior, who fell from a horse when he was a child and now suffers from physical disabilities that make a normal life impossible. (He can move about with some difficulty and needs assistance to complete some complex tasks, although he is a fighter and manages better than people think when they meet him). The little money left by her parents has almost gone and she is wondering about the future. Although she is hopeful about getting a position for herself, she cannot see any options that would allow her to carry on looking after her brother. When an invitation to spend Christmas with a wealthy school friend arrives, Catherine starts making all kinds of plans in her head.

The story is short but manages to paint a detail picture of the conditions Catherine and her brother live in, of the arrangements she has to make to try and make do by modifying her mother’s old dresses, and then also about the huge contrast between their lives and that of her friend Katie and her family. (At times it made me think of Dickens but without going to extremes).This allows readers to see things from Catherine’s point of view and to appreciate the huge gap that existed in the society of the time between the haves and the have-nots. (It also reminded me of one of my favourite stories by Louisa May Alcott, An Old-Fashioned Girl, which I recommend). We also realise how unforgiving and intolerant the society of the time was of those suffering any type of disabilities, and it is impossible not to cringe at some of the comments the siblings have to endure.

The story shares some characteristics with a fairy-tale (there is something of Cinderella about Catherine, although at least she does not have a cruel stepmother), and also with a morality-tale, where Catherine’s innocence and her devotion to her brother are rewarded in the end.

The Christmas part of the story works well, and we hear about a Christmas log, there is a trip to find mistletoe, carollers come along to the mansion, and we have some wondrous descriptions of foods of the period.

As for the love story… Well, we soon realise Katie’s brother seems interested in Catherine, although she has not been exposed to society and cannot work out if he is flirting, laughing at her, or really interested. There is a misunderstanding that has the most wonderful consequences for all involved (one hopes, anyway), but while we get some sense of who Catherine is and some indication of her brother’s thoughts and feelings, we do not get to know the rest of the characters too well, but the indications are positive.

In sum, this is a short read, full of detail about the contrast between high and low-income lives at the time, set during Christmas, and it does a good job of bringing to life the Christmas spirit. It might not satisfy those looking for a passionate love story although it shows strong sibling relationships and has a likeable and self-sacrificing heroine (think Melanie in Gone with the Wind), and there is no sex or bad language. Recommended if you’re looking for a short feel-good Christmas story set in the Regency period.

Thanks to NetGalley, to the author and the publisher for the book, to Rosie for the suggestion (don’t forget to check her wondrous blog, here and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling!

Oh, any suggestions of recent romance novels set in Regency or Victorian period are welcome, especially if they are not too heavy on the sex front and at bargain prices (I cannot afford to spend a lot on them). Many thanks!

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New books

#Newbook UPON YOUR LOVE by Marie Lavender (@MarieLavender1). A period drama with suspense, passion, love, as well as many truths about the human condition. #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

Those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while will remember Marie Lavender, author extraordinaire who’s written and published many books, and who also is a strong supporter of other writers. She got in touch with me and I knew you’d be interested in her new book, part of the series Heiresses in Love. With Valentine’s Day so close, I was sure you’d still be in the mood for great romance.

Marie has also been kind enough to talk about her inspiration for the series and how it developed, something that, as both a reader and a writer, always fascinates me. But, first things first. Let’s read a bit about the novel:

Cover of Upon Your Love by Marie Lavender. Series Heiresses in Love
Upon Your Love by Marie Lavender

Upon Your Love (Series Heiresses in Love, Book three) by Marie Lavender

The Hill family saga concludes as loyalties are questioned, faiths will be tested and undying love may come at a terrible cost…

Fara Hill, mother and faithful wife, is torn between her family at home and her urge to be at sea. Soon, she learns some disturbing truths. Was the past a fairy tale instead of reality?

Chloe Hill, loving wife and young mother, questions her faith when her husband sets an ultimatum she cannot meet. Will she be able to keep her marriage from falling apart?

Adrienne Bellamont Hill, born of a valiant captain and a fiery redhead, is untamed to her core and will bow to no man. Then Christian du Plessis enters her life with an offer she can’t refuse. Discovering the man behind the polished gentleman, she is drawn to him in many ways. Holding out for love is a family tradition, but can she resist the temptation of passion?

Christian finds this young woman to be a fascinating challenge, and is torn between keeping his distance from her and succumbing to her charms. A fierce battle of wills ensues as he sees she is much more than he ever imagined.

But danger lurks, threatening to destroy everything…

Can these two strong-willed individuals unite in the cause before time runs out?

And, here an excerpt, so you can get into the atmosphere:

The neigh of a horse brought her out of her reverie and she looked over, but her mare stood quietly beside the stream. Adrienne’s instincts nagged at her and she stood up, her ears on alert. The clomp of hoof beats came to her on the swift afternoon breeze. Was the rider coming from the estate or perhaps it was simply a stranger? In any case, a sense of unease grew in the pit of her stomach and she reached down to unearth a small dagger Gabriel had gifted to her two summers ago. She kept it in a sheath around her thigh. Gabe had always said that if she didn’t have a sword on hand, it was best to have something. And she couldn’t agree more.

She clucked her tongue to alert Persephone and led her quickly by the reins under the cover of the trees. The rider was closer now and her mare shifted uneasily, blowing a breath out of her nose. She must have heard the approaching horse as well. “Shh. It’s all right,” Adrienne whispered, stroking her neck. She tied the reins to a tree and waited.

When the rider appeared from the forest, she couldn’t see him clearly. It was a man—that much she was certain—but the lapels of his dark coat and the thicket of limbs brushing her face kept her from placing his identity. He had dark hair and was tall, his body lean and muscled. She watched as he got down from a fine, black stallion and led it to the stream for a rest. The man took a drink from his cupped hands. He wiped the remnants of the water from his chin, and then seemed to search the area nearby. She shivered. Was it possible the man had been tracking her? If that was the case, her dagger would certainly come in handy. Adrienne crouched on alert, spying through her vantage point in the trees. From behind, she observed as the tension eased from his shoulders and he sighed.

A frisson of unease ran through her again. Taking it as a sign, she confirmed he was still faced away before she quietly eased out of her haven. Stepping up behind him, she lifted her dagger to his throat. A smile of grim determination danced over her lips as he stiffened.

“Who are you? Why are you here? Are you following me?”

“What if I was?”

Fine shivers moved along the surface of her skin, caused by the deep timbre of his voice.

“I would have to ask for your reasons, Monsieur.”

“I haven’t come to kidnap you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he sighed. “I didn’t expect you’d be prepared. I commend the effort, of course.”

She frowned. The compliment threw her for a moment, but she then brushed it off. Surely, he ridiculed her, and thought he could overtake her somehow. She shook her head. He would be gravely disappointed.

“You will state your reasons for your presence and your identity, sir.”

“And if I don’t?”

“You will regret it, of course.”

“Indeed? Do you intend to harm an unarmed man?”

She scoffed. “Unarmed? No, I doubt that. With the way you appeared to be tracking me, I am sure you’re quite armed.”

“Right again. What will you do about it?”

She shrugged. “This is Bellamont land. You’ve clearly trespassed. If I must, I will drag you straight back to the house. You know, I believe the foreman has a Winchester sporting rifle. He can be quite formidable when he puts his mind to the task.”

“I’m sure,” he murmured.

“What say you then?”

“I say, Mademoiselle, that you have no idea who you’re dealing with.”

Before she could open her mouth to take him to task, she felt a blow to her arm and the numbing pain caused her to drop the knife. Everything else happened in a blur. As he turned, he caught her leg, which caused her to collapse. But, before she landed, he grasped her up in his arms. He was too close, she thought. Panic threatened inside of her, but she fought it by degrees. She was a fighter, not some idiot who would succumb to a man’s power. Gabriel had taught her many tricks, as had her father. She forced herself to go limp so that he’d pull her closer. She let her eyes drift closed and pretended to have swooned.

Mon Dieu,” he whispered.

Then she unmanned him with a swift rise of her knee. He coughed out a grunted response, releasing her.

She retreated from him, intent on finding her dagger, but did not see it. The leaves in the grass crunched beneath her hands and knees as she struggled to her feet. She would have to rely on the resources of the forest to save her if he pursued further. Somehow, she doubted he’d be able to. She turned and her mouth dropped open as she looked at her attacker.

His dark hair had fallen over one eye and he was hardly doubled over in pain. No, he scowled at her now and he seemed quite well. She’d missed her target, she realized. His identity shocked her further. She felt quite stupid for not recognizing him, even from behind. But, why had Christian tried to attack her?

 “How…,” she whispered.

“You are not as fast as I, Mademoiselle.” Then he laughed, but there was no mirth in his expression. His eyes seemed darker suddenly. “You little brat,” he bit out. “You almost had me.”

She sucked in a breath and, when she saw him advance, she backed away. But, it effectively put her back right up against a nearby tree. She cursed. Christian closed in, blocking her in with his arms as he braced his hands on the tree trunk. Her breaths came out in harsh pants and her stomach had fallen somewhere at her feet. Dear God, what would he do? She jerked her arms out to break his hold, but his muscles were like the ratlines between the shrouds of a mast in a ship’s rigging. Solid. Struggling with his obvious intimidation of her, she managed, “Why are you trying to kidnap me?”

Some of the arrogance left his face. “I’m not. I thought we already established that.”

“Then why… this?” she asked, weakly. And why couldn’t she breathe? His clean, male scent caused her to feel lightheaded. No, she thought. That just had to be terror.

“I wanted to get you alone so that we could continue our plans. I didn’t mean for you to see me as a threat. I certainly didn’t expect a dagger at my throat.” He reached out and cupped her face, stroking the line of her jaw gently with his thumb.

Adrienne gazed into his nearly black eyes. She thought she saw a hint of admiration and something more, perhaps desire, in his gaze.

“P… plans?” she stammered, annoyed with the hypnotic effect he had on her. And what was that strange, but wonderful scent coming off him? She detected cologne which contained a hint of fresh pine. But then, she’d smelled it before, both in her room and at the Broussard’s engagement party. Even though the fragrance was pleasant, she tried to ignore it.

“Our matchmaking endeavor, chére.”

“Oh. That.”

“Yes, that. Did you forget?”

She cleared her throat. “No, of course not.” Her resolve returned in full force then. She slapped his hand aside and sidestepped him. Stalking away to locate Persephone, she unearthed her mare from the brush in no time. When she returned, he still stood there, watching her. She shivered again.

Mon Dieu, she thought. Why was this happening to her? Why did the man tie her in knots?

Heiresses in Love a saga like no other (I recognise Oak Alley. I’ve been there!)

As I mentioned, I asked Marie about her inspiration for this series, as I knew you’d be as curious as me about her process, and here is what she said:

Origins of an Epic Romance 

When the Heiresses in Love Series first came to me, I really had no idea that there would be more than one novel. Fate stepped in, however, and the muse led me to where I am today, with four series and 25 books published.

In 2002, a seed of an idea materialized in my head. The image of a couple arguing about the man’s actions was so clear. I could see every detail – the room, what the people looked like, what they wore, and what the heroine felt in those moments. It played like a movie in my mind. From there, the notion became a Victorian maritime story set in France – Upon Your Return. Years later, when the novel was finally finished and even once there was a book contract involved in 2012, I thought it was a standalone.

Then one day, out of the blue, I couldn’t get another image of my head. It was a young woman stowing away on board a clipper ship. Suddenly, I just knew. This was the same ship, La Voyageur, which was mentioned in the first book. I called the new novel Upon Your Honor. The series began to take form, and it became a story about a family spanning generations.

The third book, Upon Your Love, came to me not too long after that. I always knew Gabriel’s sister, Adrienne, would get her own story. She was compelling with her fearless take on life and her impish antics. But I didn’t know the half of it.

Suddenly, in the middle of her tale, other characters, previous ones as well as new ones, wanted me to tell their stories too. I remembered the feedback from some reviews for UYR and UYH. Readers wanted more; they needed to know Fara’s origins – her parents and what made her uncle so harsh, as well as other details. So, I honored those requests. Meanwhile, more revelations came to light. Characters we knew from the other books had important journeys to take, as did Adrienne, and it became a natural evolution to adjust the historical romance story to include a family saga.

So, the Heiresses in Love Series came to be, an empire of sorts, a period drama with suspense, passion, love, as well as many truths about the human condition.

Soon, I realized that this – not just the act of writing – was why I write. I write to tell a character’s story to the best of my ability. I write for my readers too. Beyond that, I always learn more about people, and about myself in the process.

It’s quite a rewarding journey, and I love every moment of it.

Thanks, Marie!

Covers of the three novels in the series Heiresses in Love by Marie Lavender
Heiresses in Love Series by Marie Lavender

As you can see, Upon Your Love is Book three on the series Heiresses in Love and I was sure you’d be interested in the rest of the series, here are the links:

UPON YOUR RETURN

Universal Amazon:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00I0D9LQ8

myBook.to/UYR

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/upon-your-return-marie-lavender/1115291084

Books-A-Million:  http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Upon-Your-Return/Marie-Lavender/9781484978092

CreateSpace link:  https://www.createspace.com/4284739

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/upon-your-return/

book trailer:

 

UPON YOUR HONOR

SmartURL (UNIVERSAL):  http://smarturl.it/uponyourhonor

myBook.to/UYH

Universal Amazon:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00JTKTODG

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/upon-your-honor-marie-lavender/1119268362

Books-A-Million:  http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Upon-Your-Honor/Marie-Lavender/9781625260420

CreateSpace link:  https://www.createspace.com/4762748

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/upon-your-honor/

book trailer:  http://youtu.be/dLOteuscV04

 

UPON YOUR LOVE

Amazon Universal link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B06XBPVS7D

myBook.to/UYL

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/upon-your-love/

CreateSpace link:  https://www.createspace.com/6969887

 

OTHER BOOKS

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Marie-Lavender/e/B00C10Q94I/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marie-Lavender/e/B00C10Q94I/

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2kJ2wKW

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/search?id=6842447479054&type=author&query=Marie+Lavender

CreateSpace:  http://bit.ly/1Tp7JE8

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/heychica80

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Marie%20Lavender&fcsearchfield=Author

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/marie-lavender/

 

And, of course, a bit of information on Marie herself and links so you can follow here everywhere:

Author Marie Lavender
Author Marie Lavender

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 24 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several multi-author anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series, The Blood at First Sight Series and The Code of Endhivar Series.

Links:

http://marielavender.com/
http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/
http://www.ambrosiainnovations.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarieLavender/posts

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a
Amazon author page: Author.to/MarieLavender
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender
http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender
http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender
http://manicreaders.com/marielavender/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

Thanks very much to Marie Lavender for this opportunity to present her new novel and for letting us into her inspiration and her writing process, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!

 

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