Christmas Miracles (Mary Balogh)

December 26, 2015 Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

Christmas Miracles (Mary Balogh)Christmas Miracles by Mary Balogh
Published by self-published on Oct. 27, 2015
Genres: Christmas, Historical Romance
Pages: 170
Source: purchased
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Proposal, The Arrangement, The Escape, Only Enchanting, The Heart of Christmas, Christmas Gifts, Only a Promise, Someone To Love, Someone to Hold

CHRISTMAS MIRACLES brings together three previously published and long out-of-print novellas, each of which demonstrates how the wonder of the season can bring together two would-be lovers or two estranged lovers and create a bond between them that will last a lifetime and beyond.

In "The Wassail Bowl" an aristocrat has summoned his young son to a family house party but is disconcerted when his estranged wife and her illegitimate daughter arrive with him. When he expresses his displeasure, she picks up a large bowl of wassail from the hall table and dumps its sticky contents over his head. The only way for the story to proceed after that is up!

In "The Bond Street Carolers" a gentleman who hates Christmas is appalled when his ears are assailed on fashionable Bond Street by a group of inferior carolers--until, that is, he is rooted to the spot by the pure soprano voice of a young boy soloist. As a connoisseur of music and the arts, he must have the boy to sing at one of his concerts--but the child's widowed mother will have nothing to do with what she sees as exploitation.

In "Guarded by Angels" an estranged couple are separately marooned at the same cottage by a snow storm and must spend Christmas together without coming to blows. But they have a great deal of assistance from their very different guardian angels.

Review

These three stories/novellas by Mary Balogh (long out of print) combine the joy and hope of Christmas with Regency romance.

“The Wassail Bowl” is the only one I had read before; it’s also my favorite of the three, in part because the character development and emotional growth are surprisingly deep for a novella. The pain and anger of John, Earl of Wyndham, and his estranged wife Antonia contrasts well with the innocence and happiness of the two children, Jeffrey and Jane. Often the quarrel between a fictional couple seems contrived or blown out of proportion, but in this story it is both believable and heartbreaking. Their eventual reconciliation is as heartfelt and as believable, making “The Wassail Bowl” one of Balogh’s best novellas, Christmas or otherwise.

“The Bond Street Carolers” is the weakest of the three stories. Lord Heath, a music patron, overhears a young boy soprano caroling on the street, and is determined to have him sing at Heath’s annual musicale, but Fanny, the boy’s mother, does not want to exploit him. The story advances the relationship between Heath and Fanny much too quickly, though the two children, Matthew and Katie, are adorable.

I am tempted to say that “Guarded by Angels” is the most overtly religious of the three tales. It’s certainly the only one to include angels as characters! But there are more than a few religious/spiritual references and themes in “The Wassail Bowl” as well — though no angels. The beings in “Guarded by Angels” owes more to angels like Clarence (It’s a Wonderful Life) or Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle than to the awesome messengers of the Bible, making the story a comforting, charming tale of estranged lovers brought together.

If you’re looking for heartwarming historical romance set at Christmas-time, you don’t have to look much further than this collection; all three stories are enjoyable, and “The Wassail Bowl” is excellent.

 

CHALLENGE:  HoHoHo Readathon

 

four-stars

About Mary Balogh

Mary Jenkins was born on 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, she moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high-school English in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling Slightly sextet, Simply quartet, and Huxtables series. She has won numerous awards, including a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

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