12 Terrific Historical Christmas Novels and Short Story Collections for Your Holiday Reading

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 and there are a lot of historical anthologies to choose from along with novellas, and novels to get me in the mood and distract me from the craziness at work and home. Here are twelve books in my personal collection set in 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 that 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.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“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?

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIEBOUND | GOODREADS

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, by Stephanie Barron

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Jane Austen Lives Again, by Jane Odiwe – A Review

Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe 2015 x 200From the desk of Katie Patchell:

What would Jane Austen say and do if she lived in the 1920s instead of the late 1700s/early 1800s? Would she wear a drop-waist dress that showed her ankles and bob her auburn hair? Would she dance the Charleston or listen to Jazz music? How would she react to being called ‘baby doll’? And would being handed into the front seat of a car by a young, eligible man just as romantic as being handed into a Regency carriage? These fascinating questions and more are imaginatively answered in Jane Odiwe’s latest novel, Jane Austen Lives Again, where readers—and Jane Austen herself—are transported to the chaotic, electrifying Jazz Age.

1817: After days of sickness, Jane Austen closes her eyes on this world for the last time. Or so she thinks. When she opens them again—to her, only a few moments later—her doctor informs her that he found the secret to immortal life, and the year is… Continue reading

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, by Jane Odiwe – Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Mr Darcys Christmas Calendar by Jane Odiwe 2014 x 200I have often thought of Pride and Prejudice as the ultimate fairy tale. While it does not have the traditional folkloric fantasy figures such as dwarves, fairies or giants, Jane Austen did create iconic romantic characters that have become prototypes for modern writers and a plot that includes the perfect happily-ever-after ending. It is easy to see why we want to return to that fantasy and live in the era with her characters again and again through new stories.

Austenesque author Jane Odiwe has written two Austen-inspired novels with strong fantasy elements: Project Darcy and Searching for Captain Wentworth. She has a particular talent for time-slip novels where a modern heroine, like her fairy tale compatriots—Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella or Belle in Beauty and the Beast—are touched by a magic that changes their lives, setting them on a course of discovery and romance. Her latest is a novella, Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, is set during the holiday season in modern day and Regency England. Jane has generously supplied an exclusive excerpt of her new work. I hope you enjoy it.

PREVIEW (from the publisher’s description)

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 favourite 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!

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Mrs Darcy’s Diamonds: A Jane Austen Jewel Box Novella, by Jane Odiwe – A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt

Mrs Darcys Diamonds by Jane Odiwe x 200We are very happy to introduce you to Austenesque author Jane Odiwe’s new novella called Mrs. Darcy’s Diamonds, just published last month by White Soup Press. Jane tells me that she loves Georgian-era jewellery, and thought it might be fun to write a series of books with a jewellery theme, and have every piece different. She imagined there would be some family jewels at Pemberley, and that a ring given to Elizabeth by Mr. Darcy could help create much tension and drama for a wintry tale.

PREVIEW (from the publishers description)

Elizabeth is newly married to Fitzwilliam Darcy, the richest man in Derbyshire, owner of a vast estate, and master of Pemberley House. Her new role is daunting at first, and having to deal with Mr Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, is a daily challenge. But, Elizabeth is deeply in love and determined to rise to every test and trial she is forced to endure. When her husband presents her with a diamond ring, part of the precious and irreplaceable Darcy suite of jewels, she feels not only honoured and secure in her husband’s love, but also ready to accept her new responsibilities and position.

Mrs Darcy knows she will face exacting scrutiny at the approaching Christmas Ball, but it will be her chance to prove that she is a worthy mistress, and she is excited to be playing hostess to the Bennets, the Bingleys, and the gentry families of Derbyshire, as well as Mr Darcy’s French cousins. Antoine de Valois and his sister Louise have arrived at the invitation of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth is delighted that this young and lively couple are helping to bring Miss Georgiana Darcy out of her shell. However, when her ring goes missing before the ball, Elizabeth is distraught, and her dilemma further increased by the threat of a scandal that appears to involve the French cousins.

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Project Darcy, by Jane Odiwe – A Review

Project Darcy, by Jane Odiwe (2013)From the desk of Lisa Galek:

There’s one thing that’s true about Janeites – we love a good romance. Whether it’s a couple exchanging glances nearly two hundred years ago or a modern guy and gal sharing their first kiss on the streets of London, there’s something so magical about experiencing the feeling of falling in love… even if we’re only reading about it. In her new novel, Project Darcy, Jane Odiwe combines love stories from the past and present to give us an interesting spin on the life of Jane Austen.

When Ellie Bentley agrees to volunteer for an archeological dig at the site of Jane Austen’s childhood home in Steventon Rectory, she’s looking forward to spending a nice summer with her four closest friends – Jess, Martha, Cara, and Liberty. But almost as soon as she arrives, Ellie starts to see strange things: a man who looks just like he could be the ghost of Mr. Darcy and visions of a romance that happened 200 years ago. As the days pass and Ellie learns more about the secrets of Steventon, she gets drawn deeper and deeper into the life and loves of Jane Austen.

Meanwhile, the five friends are finding that their lives are playing out just like one of Austen’s romances. A handsome Oxford student named Charlie Harden has his eye on Jess, while Ellie is convinced that his friend, Henry Dorsey, is the most arrogant man who ever lived. Cara and Liberty are busy flirting with anyone and everyone in their path – even Greg Whitely, a gorgeous TV star who might not be as charming as he seems. Could the visions that Ellie keeps seeing hold the key to figuring out all their modern-day romantic entanglements?

Project Darcy is a bit of a literary mash-up. It’s a part modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice and part Austen-inspired magical realism. Not only is Ellie on a journey to find her own Mr. Darcy, but she also has the ability to see into important moments from Jane Austen’s past. While this idea is really interesting and has a lot of potential, in the end, the book sometimes struggled to bring the two stories together. Continue reading

Giveaway Winners Announced for Project Darcy

Project  Darcy, by Jane Odiwe (2013)80 comments were left qualifying those who participated in the giveaway of the two gift packs from author Jane Odiwe in celebration of the release of Project Darcy. The winners drawn at random are:

Gift Pack 1 (one print copy of Project Darcy and one 16.5” x 11.7” signed, original art pint by Jane Odiwe of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy dancing at Ashe Rectory)

  • Tess Q. who left a message of November 5, 2013

Gift Pack 2 (one 16.5” x 11.7” signed, original art print by Jane Odiwe of Steventon Rectory and one pack of 6 holiday cards in two designs)

  • Joanna Y. who left a comment on November 12, 2013

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by November 20, 2013 or you will forfeit your prize! Shipment internationally.

Thanks to all who left comments, to Jane Odiwe for sharing an excerpt of her novel and for the gift packs for giveaway.

Cover image courtesy of Paintbox Publishing © 2013; text Jane Odiwe © 2013, Austenprose.com

Project Darcy Book Launch & Blog Tour with Author Jane Odiwe & Giveaways!

Project Darcy, by Jane Odiwe (2013)Fall is always a peak season for great novels in publishing so I am happy to host the virtual book launch party of Project Darcy, by popular Austenesque novelist Jane Odiwe. In celebration Jane has kindly shared an exclusive excerpt of her new novel with our readers.

Please enter a chance to win one of two gift packs available, including a copy of the book, prints of Jane’s wonderfully enchanting artwork and note cards, by leaving a comment below this post. Details for the giveaway are listed at the bottom. Good luck to all! 

Welcome Jane…

Laurel Ann, I am so excited to be here as a guest to launch my new book, Project Darcy – thank you so much for inviting me to celebrate today and share an exclusive excerpt!

The 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice has been a special year for Jane Austen’s wonderful book, and I couldn’t let it go by without celebrating it myself with a new novel!

Five friends who have recently finished university, volunteer for an archaeological dig at Jane Austen’s childhood home in Steventon, Hampshire. Ellie, Jess, Martha, Cara and Liberty, are all excited to go on the trip for very individual reasons – Ellie is an illustrator and loves painting landscapes, Jess is obsessed with Jane Austen’s books, Martha is keen to indulge her interest in archaeology, and Cara and Liberty can think of nothing but the guys they might meet and the possibility of starring in the documentary that’s going to be made. Continue reading

Searching for Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe – A Review

Searching for Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe (2012)We can only imagine what life would have been like in the great Georgian resort town of Bath, England circa 1800. There are vintage illustrations of buildings, maps of the winding streets, and descriptions from travelers and writers of the time to help us visualize. And then there is the Bath that we know of from Jane Austen’s two novels: Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Her characters visit the famous pump-room, dance at the Lower Assembly Rooms, climb that noble hill Beechen Cliff, and propose on the gravel walk.

We can visit this enchanting town today and still see much of what Austen experienced, but what if there was a way to be magically transported back in time to discover that Jane Austen is your next-door neighbor and her dashing younger brother, Lieutenant Charles Austen, is home on leave from his duties with the Royal Naval? Would you take that journey through time no matter what the unknown risk?

Sophie Elliot, the heroine of Jane Odiwe’s new Austen-inspired novel Searching for Captain Wentworth, unknowingly faces this dilemma the first time she is transported two hundred years into the past through a magical glove once owned by Lt. Austen. Sound fantastical? Well, yes it would to any skeptic, including myself. Recent movies such as Lost in Austen and the Austen Addict book series: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict have softened my resolve. I enjoyed both the mini-series and the novels so much that “suspending my disbelief” and considering that anything is possible (in fiction and in life) opened up a whole new genre to me. Odiwe has created a clever combination of the past and present that took me on a journey through Jane Austen’s world, both familiar and fantastical.

Inspired by Austen’s Persuasion, we encounter many thematic elements in Searching for Captain Wentworth that Austen wanted us to experience in her own novel: love, heartbreak, friendship, snobbery, and renewal; all through the eyes of young Sophie who is staying in the upper floor of a Bath townhouse owned by her family since the early 1800s. She has aspirations to be a writer and hopes that by walking in Austen’s footsteps she will discover her talent and get over the painful loss of her boyfriend. Downstairs is occupied by the mysterious and handsome Josh Strafford who is working at the Holburne Museum on their next Regency exhibit. When Sophie sees him drop a white glove on the pavement outside their townhouse, she picks it up and follows him attempting to return it. When she passes through a white gate in Sydney Gardens she was transported back in time; a timeslip into another era, and her ancestor Sophia’s life. Continue reading

Searching For Captain Wentworth Blog Tour with Author Jane Odiwe

Searching for Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe (2012)Huzzah! We have a treat for you today. Jane Odiwe, author of Willoughby’s Return and Mr. Darcy’s Secret has just released her new novel, Searching For Captain Wentworth and is sharing an audio extract and insights into its creation.

We have had the pleasure of reading this new Regency-era time-travel novel and are so pumped up to tell all, but shan’t, until we review it next week. Until then, enjoy Jane’s lovely guest blog and audio excerpt.

Please help me welcome Jane by asking her a question about her new characters or historic locations she used in the book.

I’m really thrilled to be a guest on Laurel Ann’s blog today and I thought it would be a little different to do a reading! I’m celebrating the release of my new book, Searching For Captain Wentworth this week.

I’ve absolutely loved writing this book – it’s been a total self-indulgence because I’ve been able to write about the things I love most in the world! Jane Austen, my favourite places, painting, portraits, gorgeous men and the novel Persuasion are just some of the inspirations behind my book. I’ve always loved time travel books and it’s been fun to write one of my own – especially when you can break any scientific rule. That’s what’s so fantastic about being a novelist – you can mix and match facts with fiction and make it all up!

The city of Bath is a favourite place of mine and some of the experiences Sophie has in the book are based on dreams I’ve had or on real (or what I thought were real) events. I’m not usually someone who believes in ghosts but I’m pretty sure I have a friendly, teasing one who visits me occasionally when I’m in Bath. It opens doors in the night that I know I have firmly shut and it will occasionally pull my hair – so slightly that I wonder if it’s just got caught in a clasp of a necklace – before I realize I’m not wearing one! But, you’ve only got to walk around Bath for an hour or so especially on a winter’s day, when it’s shrouded in mist and decorated with cobwebs sprinkled with sparkles of raindrops, to ‘feel’ and ‘see’ its Georgian inhabitants walking along the cobbled streets. There is such an atmosphere! Blink – and I think you could pass through a layer of time to the one of your choice.

Jane Austen's home at 4 Sydney Place, Bath, todayNo 4 Sydney Place, Bath

Everyone has their own ideas about what Jane Austen was like and I’ve loved having my own encounter with Jane in this book. My heroine, Sophie, gets to meet Jane and her family as she finds herself living next door to the Austens in Sydney Place. From my window in Bath I’m very lucky to be able to see Jane Austen’s house and her garden – every now and again I get a glimpse of a rosy-cheeked girl with chestnut curls looking out of a window – but perhaps it’s just my imagination! I’ve always felt that Bath must have been a special place for Jane despite the argument that because Anne Elliot disliked it, so must she. I want to know why she set two of her most romantic novels here if she didn’t like the town. We have so little information about that time in her life that I feel we may have dwelt on the negatives and not examined the positives enough. There isn’t a happier scene than the one where Anne and her Captain stroll along the Gravel Walk – and the youthful exuberance from Catherine Morland must surely be a young Jane talking of her own experiences.

Front entrance of Sydney Hotel & Gardens, Bath, England circa 1800Front entrance to the Sydney Hotel and Gardens in Bath circa 1800

I’ve walked with Charles Austen in Sydney Gardens – he is even more handsome in reality and exactly befitting an Austen hero in his naval uniform. He, of course, helped me with the research for my book and I’m very grateful to him and to Jane and Cassandra for taking me up to Beechen Cliff where I enjoyed the wonderful views and a picnic.

Holidays in Lyme are always an inspiration – I’m sure Jane walks along the Cobb wall every now and again – it’s such a lovely, unspoiled seaside town. The houses and streets I’ve described can still be seen and the countryside about is as beautiful as when Jane wrote about it!

Jane Austen Rice portrait

Lastly, I wanted to mention the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen that is pictured on the cover. Mrs Henry Rice very kindly granted me permission to use it in my design. It’s a wonderful painting! Having seen the portrait myself was just fantastic and the many interesting discussions we had inspired my writing.

Searching For Captain Wentworth is an affectionate tribute to Jane Austen, Bath and Lyme – I hope you enjoy it!

Author Bio:

Jane Odiwe is the author of Effusions of Fancy, Lydia Bennet’s Story, Willoughby’s Return, Mr Darcy’s Secret and Searching For Captain Wentworth – all Austen-inspired books. She a member of the Jane Austen Society, the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelist’s Association. In addition to her many writing talents, Jane is an accomplished artist. She lives with her family in North London and Bath, England. You can visit Jane at her website Austen Effusions; her blog Jane Austen Sequels; on Facebook as Jane Odiwe and follow her on Twitter as @JaneOdiwe

Searching For Captain Wentworth, by Jane Odiwe
Paintbox Publishing (2012)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0954572228

Further reading

© 2012, Jane Odiwe, Austenprose