From the desk of Katie Jackson:
Season’s greetings, gentle readers! It is once again time to immerse ourselves in the traditional comforts of the holiday season. And how better to do so than by getting cozy and settling in to read a lovely book about this special time of year. Joy to the World is an inspirational Christian anthology comprised of three very different Christmas stories with a golden thread of joy, hope, and faith woven through and binding them together.
“Heaven and Nature Sing” by Carolyn Miller invites readers to an elegant house party where young people have gathered to make merry during the snowy days leading up to Christmas. In attendance—as guests of their shared godmother—are Edith and George, former sweethearts torn apart by circumstances and misunderstandings. The traditions of the season remind them “of grace and forgiveness and the second chances God gives.” (1275) As they navigate the uncomfortable tension between them, will their faith in God and their love for each other be enough to help them overcome foolish pride?
“Far as the Curse is Found” by Amanda Barratt transports readers to dreary London in winter, following Dwight Inglewood, the Earl of Amberly, as he trudges through the remnants of his once-promising life. He bears the unsightly scars of severe wounds sustained at Waterloo and internally suffers from the loss of all those he’s ever loved. “The world was harsh, and in it he felt fragile. Life and the people he’d trusted had pierced him deeply. Isolation seemed the only remedy.” (3095) A twist of fate, or perhaps divine intervention, crosses his lonely path with that of a desperate unwed mother and her young child. Jenny Grey “knew the wounds the gazes of others could inflict.” (2234) Can two kindred souls with disparate backgrounds provide solace for each other in an often cruel world?
“Wonders of His Love” by Erica Vetsch welcomes readers to the country estate of the Haverly family, where Lady Priscilla resides with her young daughter and her deceased husband’s relations. The widow of the heir to a dukedom, she possessed a sweet temperament, was ever-dutiful and accommodated the whims of those around her. Yet “she had nowhere to go, no real place in society.” (3459) She feels destined to remain the placid, unseen woman who might have been a duchess, instead of merely the companion to one. Quite unexpectedly, Priscilla’s colorless world brightens just before Christmas when her mother-in-law, the dowager, hires a portrait artist to capture the likenesses of the new duke and duchess. A Scottish portraitist, “Hamish Sinclair spoke of vivid color and images tumbling in his head.” (3803) He travels the country, painting portraits of the gentry to earn his keep, all the while yearning to set his artistic passion free. In Priscilla, “he sensed a banked fire waiting for something to fuel it into a bright flame.” (4254) Both Priscilla and Hamish are reminded that “God cares about the humble. God sees them. No one remains unseen to Him.” (4329) Will their eyes be opened by faith as they realize what they’ve come to see in each other?
This Regency Christmas anthology is a pleasant way to savor the Christmas season, and I enjoyed each of the unique tales. While the continued—yet realistic—miscommunication between the hero and heroine frustrated me at times, “Heaven and Nature Sing” was a sweet, uplifting story about seeking second chances and relying on faith. “Far as the Curse is Found” was my favorite story in the collection. Although it begins with a dismal tone, the beautifully descriptive writing lifts readers through the darkness into the light. It is about two broken people struggling to keep moving forward while tortured by their pasts and their unrelenting social and emotional prisons. Ultimately, it is about discovering and accepting grace. And “Wonders of His Love” is a hopeful reminder that even the most humble of people are not unseen and unloved.
For those who seek a comforting escape from a sometimes dreary world, Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection is a beacon of joyful light.
5 out of 5 Stars
- Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection, by Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt, and Erica Vetsch
- Kregel Publications (October 13, 2020)
- Trade paperback, & eBook (336) pages
- ISBN: 978-0825446696
- Genre: Regency Romance, Holiday Reading, Inspirational Fiction
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Kregel Publications © 2020; text Katie Jackson © 2020, austenprose.com.