Three Regency novellas.
The Christmas Cuckoo is the tale of a young woman who brings the wrong man back from the local coaching inn.
Sunshine for Christmas features a sad young aristocrat who finds a special treat when he escapes to Italy for the holidays.
In The Christmas Tart a young Frenchwoman learns that her choice for survival may be a chance for happiness.
Regency Romance novellas by Mary Jo Putney; previous published by Signet in various collections.
These novellas are all quite charming and enjoyable to read. Despite the smaller word-count, Mary Jo Putney has managed to establish believable, well-drawn characters whose relationships, while evolving predictably, nonetheless do so in a way that makes sense.
The strongest story of the three is undoubtedly the first, The Christmas Cuckoo, in which our hero, mistakenly believed to be someone else, finds himself enjoying a family Christmas for the first time in his life. Jack and Meg have real warmth and the growing affection between them is palpable.
The second story is Sunshine for Christmas and tells the story of Lord Randolph Lennox who was a secondary character in [book:The Rake|614718]. Despite having a large family that loves him, Randolph is incredibly lonely and on a whim, takes himself off to Naples for Christmas. There he meets Elizabeth Walker, an ex-pat and governess. She is between situations and so agrees to his suggestion that she act as his guide guide to the city for a few days. They each recognise the loneliness deep within the other and they strike up a companionable friendship. Something I particularly liked in this collection was the way in which each of the romantic relationships grew out of friendship.
This is also true of the final story, which I felt was the least successful of the three. It’s as readable as the others, and the heroine was charming, but beside her, the hero was rather insubstantial. I know that the practical considerations of a novella can mean that corners are cut, but when set alongside the othet two stories, The Christmas Tart didn’t have the same depth to it.
Overall though, this is an enjoyable collection and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who wants a light-hearted and romantic read.