From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
It’s that time of year again when the holiday spirit takes hold and I am compelled to read Christmas stories in between shopping and baking. I especially appreciate short stories during this busy time. There are several historical anthologies to choose from along with novellas and novels to get me in the mood. Here are twelve books in my personal collection set during the Regency and Victorian times that Jane Austen and historical romance readers will devour. Be sure to add to them to your #TBRpile. You won’t regret it.
How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Christmas Romance Anthology, by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, and Joanna Shupe
Make some time in your busy holiday schedule for yourself with a cup of tea, Christmas cookies, and this delightful short story collection by four bestselling historical romance authors. It will sweep you away and into the Regency ballrooms of London, to Scottish castles, and to the Gilded Age New York. I always enjoy Tessa Dare’s novels, and the other three authors are at the top of their game too.
“Meet Me in Mayfair” by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless–and unexpectedly handsome–Thorndale himself. Now the duke’s holding her future in his hands…and he’s not letting go.
“The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm–the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can’t resist the woman he never stopped loving…or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay…but if ever there were a time for miracles, it’s Christmas…
“Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister’s family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss … until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.
“Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker’s weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column’s author, can’t even boil water. When the paper’s owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing–especially when Duke’s attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?
Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, by Stephanie Barron
The twelfth novel in the Being a Jane Austen mystery series is set in 1814 at an English country manor during the twelve days of Christmas festivities. When one of the guests dies in a tragic accident, Jane is suspicious and drawn into the subsequent investigation. Filled with Regency-era holiday traditions and a clever, twisty plot, this entertaining novel will delight Austen fans and historical mystery lovers alike. Read our review.
Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful murder mystery set over the twelve days of a Regency-era Christmas party.
Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood: Mansfield Park is selling nicely; Napoleon has been banished to Elba; British forces have seized Washington, DC; and on Christmas Eve, John Quincy Adams signs the Treaty of Ghent, which will end a war nobody in England really wanted.
Jane, however, discovers holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane’s fellow snow-bound guests. With clues scattered amidst cleverly crafted charades, dark secrets coming to light during parlor games, and old friendships returning to haunt the Christmas parties, whom can Jane trust to help her discover the truth and stop the killer from striking again?
A Very Special Christmas: Including A Christmas Bride and Christmas Stories from Under the Mistletoe, by Mary Balogh
Legendary Regency romance novelist Mary Balogh has been writing Christmas short stories long before they became in vogue during the holiday reading season. This collection assembles many of her most popular into one volume. All guarantee an ample supply of humor, holiday cheer, and romance.
Revisit the magic of New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh’s classic Christmas stories–together for the first time in one volume.
In A Christmas Bride, a very wealthy Edgar Downes promises his aging father that he will finally wed a suitable bride by Christmas. London is full of pretty, proper, and eligible misses, but it’s the widow Helena, Lady Stapleton, in a shocking red dress, who captures Edgar’s attention. Helena is intrigued by the seductive stranger–but he’s simply not in her class. Marriage, of course, would never do. But in a season of miracles, something wondrous is about to happen….
Enjoy the warmth of the holiday season with this Christmas tale along with five other cherished holiday stories from Mary Balogh’s Under the Mistletoe collection.
Yuletide: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories, by Joana Starnes, Caitlin Williams, Elizabeth Adams, J. Marie Croft, Anngela Schroeder, Lona Manning, Amy D’Orazio
Seven popular Austenesque authors joined forces to write short stories inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to benefit Chawton House, the home of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen-Knight, now a Library and Gardens in Hampshire, England. Here you will find Regency and contemporary stories filled with humor, romance, and holiday cheer. Read our review.
“I went up to the Great House between three and four, and dawdled away an hour very comfortably…” –Jane Austen
A holiday short story anthology with some favorite Austenesque authors, Yuletide is inspired by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, and the spirit of the season. Regency and contemporary alike, each romance was dreamt to spark love, humor, and wonder while you dawdle over a hot cup of tea this Christmas.
Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Lona Manning * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams
All proceeds from the KINDLE E-BOOK and PAPERBACK ONLY to benefit Chawton Great House in Hampshire, former manor of Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight and now the Centre for the Study of Early Women’s Writing, 1600-1830.
Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, by Jane Odiwe
Every since I was a child and watched Christmas movies like A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s a Wonderful Life, I have always enjoyed holiday stories that contain magical elements. This novella also requires you to suspend disbelief, but it is well worth it. When Lizzy Benson purchases an advent calendar at Jane Austen’s House Museum gift shop magical things happen when she opens the first door, transporting her into her favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice. Things are not all that she expected though. Mr. Darcy is missing from the plot and the author has not heard of him. A charming, fun, and effervescent novella. Read our preview.
A novella for the Christmas holidays – Lizzy Benson visits Jane Austen’s house in Chawton and buys a special advent calendar in the gift shop, but strange things start to happen when she opens up the first door and finds herself back in time with all the beloved characters from her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. As she finds herself increasingly drawn into an alternate reality, Lizzy discovers not only is Mr. Darcy missing from the plot, but Jane Austen has never heard of him. All Lizzy can hope is that she can help to get the story and her own complicated love life back on track before Christmas is over!
The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas (Pink Carnation series Book 7), by Lauren Willig
Infused with humor and charm, this delightful novel won an award from the ALA and the RITA Award for Best Regency Historical 2011. The creative story involves Arabella, a dear friend of Jane Austen’s working at a girls’ school in Bath, a Christmas pudding yielding a cryptic message, international spies, a Christmas pageant, and the most endearing hero ever, Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh. This novel is so much fun you will lose track of time and get lost in its unique characters and comedy. Read our review.
Despite her dear friend Jane Austen’s warning against teaching, Arabella Dempsey accepts a position at a girls’ school in Bath, just before Christmas. She hardly imagines coming face-to-face with French aristocrats and international spies.
Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation-has blundered into danger before. When Turnip and Arabella find their Christmas pudding yielding a cryptic message, they are launched on a Yuletide adventure. Will they find poinsettias or peril?
A Holiday by Gaslight: A Victorian Christmas Novella, by Mimi Matthews
This courtship of convenience novella features many of the great holiday traditions that we enjoy today from the Victorian-era, so bring on the Christmas tree and caroling. You will find all of that and more in the beautifully written story loosely inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. There is a heroine who must marry to save her family’s failing fortunes and a darkly handsome, serious, and stoic hero who might be her last chance at love. Read our review.
Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion–or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.
But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.
Snowdrift and Other Stories, by Georgette Heyer
If you are like me and you can never get enough of Georgette Heyer, then this collection of fourteen short stories will be a welcome addition on your shelves. The anthology begins with the holiday short story “Snowdrift” and also includes others bristling with Heyer’s signature humor, romance, and Regency world of gallant heroes, bumbling dandies, and spirited heroines. The bonus is a foreword by Heyer’s official biographer, Jennifer Kloester.
Delightful, glittering, timeless romance for your holiday season.
The Queen of Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer, shines in this sparkling collection of fourteen short stories brimming with romance, intrigue, villainy, gallant heroes, compelling heroines, and, of course, the dazzling world of the Regency period.
Additional content in this re-issue of the Pistols for Two collection includes three of Heyer’s earliest short stories, rarely seen since their original publication in the 1930s, as well as a Foreword by Heyer’s official biographer, Jennifer Kloester.
Revel in a Regency world so intricately researched and charmingly realized, you’ll want to escape there again and again in Heyer stories new and old.
Carols and Chaos, by Cindy Anstey
In this Regency Christmas adventure a maid and a valet at the country estate of Shackleford Park are drawn to each other during the hectic holiday season. When a devious counterfeiting scheme arrives in the household during the Christmas festivities, it unwittingly ensnaring them in the intrigue. If you like fast-paced young adult historical mysteries laced with romance I highly recommend any of Cindy Antsley’s novels, and especially this one during the holiday season.
From the author of Suitors and Sabotage comes a swoon-worthy Christmas adventure, perfect for fans of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey.
1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady’s maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He’s performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate’s holiday guests.
Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue.
Full of sweetness, charm, and holiday mischief, Carols and Chaos—a standalone companion novel to Suitors and Sabotage—is perfect for readers who like their historical fiction with a side of romance and danger.
12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas, by Michelle Griep
A Christy Award Winner, Griep set her story in 1851. Clara Chapman is a guest at an English country manor under unusual circumstances. If she remains through the twelve-day celebration she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds. Surprisingly, among the guests is her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane, the man who bolted from their wedding and left her at the altar. Can they put aside their anger, regret, and bad luck and find love again? This is book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series, so be prepared to be hooked and reading the others.
A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger…and love?
England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.
But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.
Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.
What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series–a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale–by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.
A Very Austen Christmas: Austen Anthologies, Book 1, by Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite
Heartwarming is the keyword for this anthology of four novellas by four popular Austenesque authors. Each revisits one of Jane Austen’s novels: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park to bring us uplifting stories sure to put you in the holiday mood.
Four favorite authors, four heartwarming stories set in Jane Austen’s Regency world. Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, and Barbara Cornthwaite revisit Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park to deliver the uplifting holiday storytelling you’re looking for.
Her Christmas Gift, by Robin Helm – Elizabeth Bennet finds herself snowbound at Rosings with two rejected, but highly eligible, suitors. Does either man have a chance? Will her childhood friend, Meryton’s golden boy, win her affection, or will she accept the master of Pemberley? Perhaps she will refuse them both a second time. Her Christmas Gift deftly combines tension and emotion with humor and romance.
The Christmas Matchmaker, by Laura Hile – It’s raining; it’s pouring – and what could be better than a little Christmas matchmaking? So says Emma Woodhouse who is unexpectedly stranded at Netherfield Park. Mr. Darcy disagrees, for she has someone else in mind for adorable Elizabeth Bennet. Amid meddling, misunderstanding, and an unwelcome proposal or two, will True Love find a way?
No Better Gift, by Wendi Sotis – On his way to Derbyshire to spend Christmas with his family, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy plans to retrieve an item he left behind during his rushed escape from Netherfield—and the country miss who touched his heart. Finding Meryton practically deserted, he fears the worst. What fate could have fallen upon this once-thriving village in only three weeks? More importantly, was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in danger?
Mistletoe at Thornton Lacey. by Barbara Cornthwaite – When Edmund Bertram realizes that Fanny is the perfect wife for him, he wants to propose without delay. What better time than at Christmas? Ah, but the course of true love never does run smooth …
An Ivy Hill Christmas: A Tales from Ivy Hill Novella, by Julie Klassen
I gasped when the announcement of a holiday book by Julie Klassen arrived in my inbox last week. My elation, however, was short-lived. Amazon was alerting me to a book that will be published on September 1, 2020!
WHAT? A holiday book that I cannot read for ten months is like telling your kids on Christmas day that all their gifts were mislabeled and are not for them!
For those who enjoyed Klassen’s Tales of Ivy Hill series this is a spinoff story featuring Richard Brockwell, the estranged younger son of the prominent local family who lives in London and has not returned home from the holidays for years. While there he re-encounters his first love and faces some old family secrets. This new novella does sound intriguing, so please add it to your Goodreads list and if you are very good girls and boys you can read it in due time. Read our review.
Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill’s most prominent family, hasn’t been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life–unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.
But Christmas in the country presents unforeseen surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled . . . and determined to have nothing to do with him.
Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, joyous songs, and divine hope, work its magic in his heart . . . and hers as well?
Happy Holiday Janeites & book friends.
Books cover images and descriptions courtesy of their respective publisher; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2019, austenprose.com, an Amazon affiliate.