In some years, the books have had a theme, but this year they're just wonderful, heart-warming stories.
Edith Layton's "The Amiable Miser" gives us a different look at a miserly sort of fellow, but one with the proverbial heart of gold. And even though he didn't really have to spend any of his valuables, he was still able to provide his niece with her heart's desire. Layton's story is a reworking of the Scrooge story with a twist.
Barbara Metzger turns from her usual menagerie to the 'infantry' in the delightful "A Home for Hannah". Hannah is an orphan, or so she and the rest of the world thinks, until one day in the park, she spies a likely candidate to be her new 'Papa', thus setting in motion all sorts of interesting activities. Her new Papa is a penniless gentleman who discovers that love can indeed conquer all.
You can rely on Metzger for comedy and wit.
"A Partridge in a Pear Tree" by Amanda McCabe proves that the eye of the beholder may not always see the same things as the rest of the world, but in the end, it is the one who sets the rules that wins the game. Simplicity is, in many instances, much better than grandiose ideas, as established by Lady Kirkwood with her competition. Of course, the Lady wins out, bringing together two young relatives, Allison and William, who discover the true meaning of Christmas.
Certainly there are elves afoot at Christmastime; if you have doubts, you need do no more than read "The Solid Silver Chess Set" by Sandra Heath. If you then still have doubts, you can have no heart, no soul, and no sense of humor, either. The trials of poor little Bramble Bumblekin will bring a smile to your heart if you will but let them, and your soul will be warmed by the reunion of the formerly-fickle Miss Julia and her suitor, Philip. Even young Bramble's holiday is made brighter by the inventive imagination of the author.
Carla Kelly is simply one of the best in the business and she NEVER lets you down. Her story of Mary McIntyre, suddenly set adrift from all she has ever known, and Joe Shepard, a not-so-ordinary simple man from a humble background, is peopled by wonderful secondary characters all of whom add to the story in a tight-knit tale of love, greed, humility and acceptance - all in a few short pages which sum up so well all that is important about Christmas.
THE AMIABLE MISER (Edith Layton) - This delightful tale has 'Scrooge Jr.' (Alfred Minch, The Amiable Miser) helping his cousin Joy to a capital adventure. Through it, Joy finds what she really wants in her life.
A HOME FOR HANNAH (Barbara Metzger) - When Hannah hears that she is about to be thrown out of the orphanage where she lives, she decides to find herself a papa. While walking in a park, Hannah selects a likely sort who turns out to be a penniless gentleman.
While her new Papa is trying to figure out how to keep his new offspring, Hannah helps him to find her a new mother. This is a delightfully fun story.
A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE (Amanda McCabe) is a really unique story. It allows the elderly Lady Kirkwood to set up a competition to see who will inherit her money (she has buckets of the stuff). Of course Lady Kirkwood isn't above skewing the contest so the right people win!
How the game played itself out, however, provided everyone in the neighborhood a Christmas to remember.
THE SOLID SILVER CHESS SET (Sandra Heath) was my least favorite of the stories. Elves are rushing around with last minute jobs; Julia and Philip help Bramble Bumblekin (elf) complete his task.
This reminded me of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, in which there is a story inside a story. I found that the two subplots diminished the importance of both (romance between Julia and Philip vs. Bramble's big job). I could barely finish this story.
NO ROOM IN THE INN (Carla Kelly) is a delightful tale that allows a Regency Mary and Joe to experience a Christmas neither will forget. When a horrific snowstorm stops the progress of a carriage in which Mary (and others) are travelling, they find there is no room for them in the only inn in that locale. Thus, the group must spend a few days in Joe's ramshackle house. Mary and Joe find that it is a wonderful way to spend Christmas.
Five enjoyable Classic Christmas Regency stories.
This is five stories in one book. Most are really good.