Published by Harlequin Historicals
Released on December 1, 2011
I was so thrilled when I found this Carla Kelly Christmas anthology. I am a huge fan of her books for both the wonderful historical authenticity she achieves without sounding like a textbook mingled with such strong characters and story lines. This is a series of short stories (that are fortunately not too short) all written by Carla Kelly. The stories are tied together because they each have the theme of the characters associated with the military while trying to get home for Christmas and because the three stories are the love stories of three generations in the same family.
The first story is that of a Royal Navy surgeon, Thomas Wilkie, who finds himself stranded in Alta California in 1812 after his ship is wrecked in battle. He wants to get home, but instead he is stranded there and forced to care for the Spanish fort and colony people because they didn’t have a doctor. His ship mates had procured another ship and left him in exchange for the ship. He despairs of ever making it home let alone home for Christmas. While there, he has the opportunity to do something unconventional to aid another which may in turn be his own big chance at happiness.
One generation later in 1855, Thomas’ daughter, Lily, is a nurse in the Crimea. At the end of the war, the wounded are still stranded and will miss Christmas so Lily enlists the help of the hospital administrator, Trey Wharton, to help her provide some Christmas cheer. Close contact with Trey reveals that she has feelings for him, but her orders to return home might come any day. He is so shy that he may never speak his mind before she must leave.
The final story is about Lily’s son, Will, who is a US Army surgeon in 1877 Wyoming shortly after Little Big Horn. He is going home for Christmas to get married. He plans to spend the train journey reading his medical journals and contemplating the marriage that he is uncertain about. But as it can sometimes happen, his journey is complicated by the unexpected- by a bewitching Irish woman he is asked to escort east and then at the last minute he is ordered to guard a sorrowful white woman who has just been separated from her half native children to be returned to her own people. His adventures along the way lead him to reconsider everything about his future plans as the train takes him home for the holidays.
All these stories were worthy of high ratings for their plots and their well written characters. The stories are introduced by Christmas letters from parents asking the hero or heroine to find their way home for Christmas. I loved how each character was in unusual circumstances where they had to take a chance and step out on faith to find love. The romances on a spectrum would be considered sweet though passion is there without being explicit.
I really couldn’t name one out of the three as a favorite because I loved them all. I can recommend these to those who prefer their historical romances to have a greater degree of accuracy without giving up a good romance and storyline.