- Mass Market Paperback: 282 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin (15 Nov. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0373296681
- ISBN-13: 978-0373296682
- Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2 x 16.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,411,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Coming Home for Christmas (Harlequin Historical) Mass Market Paperback – 15 Nov 2011
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The next story is about Thomas and Laura's widowed daughter Lilian, who is working as a nurse in the Crimea in 1855. There are interesting glimpses into the Florence Nightengale era. The story of Laura and Major Trey Wharton was touching, and I think the only thing that would have made it better was to have it be longer because some issues were mentioned briefly but didn't have time to be fully developed. For example,I wanted to know a little more about her previous marriage, because it seems like she had mixed feelings about her deceased husband.
The final story,taking place in 1877 features Laura's son from her first marriage, Captain Wilkie Wharton. He finds his true love in Mary Francis Coughlin, someone he had known for a year at Fort Laramie, but saw in a new light as they made a difficult journey, dealing with an orphaned baby and a white former captive of the Cheyenne who is torn between her former life and her life as part of the tribe.
I inhaled this anthology, finishing it in one sitting. I enjoyed the Christmas theme interwoven through the stories, as well as the fact that the trilogy started with one special couple, and continued through the lives of their children and grandchildren. My complaints about not feeling that the last two stories were developed enough stems from the fact that I am spoiled by reading Carla Kelly trilogies made up of three complete books! She always leaves me wanting more. Overall, this book was a treat for this Carla Kelly fan. It has the gritty details of medical life and the harsh conditions of previous eras, so it isn't sugar-coated. The heroes and heroines were the warm and "real" people I have come to expect from Carla Kelly. This is another one for my "keeper shelf."
Of course, Carla Kelly has to be the exception. Two of her three new, unpublished before entries in "Coming Home for Christmas" are like reading a full novel; the third is complete, but a little short. Fortunately, that was okay by me. Each entry is told from the point of view of either the hero or heroine. Although each novella has at least one Christmas detail, there really isn't much about Christmas, so although these entries give you things to think about Christmas, they will not leave you with the warm fuzzies of Christmas cheer. Instead, they will teach you and intrigue you about history.
The first, "A Christmas in Paradise" is from the POV of a Scottish doctor who is fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, but gets caught in California and its changing Spanish alliances. Somehow, I never think of the Napoleonic Wars affecting the US, although we bought the Louisiana Purchase thanks to those wars, and of course, they affected the War of 1812. Enough of the history lesson. Thomas Wilkie is a surgeon, stranded in Ca., having been traded away by his commanding officer for a ship to take the rest of the crew back to British forces. Wilkie is amused by Laura Ortiz, a young snob, the daughter of a Spanish official. Unfortunately, her father has a gambling problem and is disgraced, arrested and shipped down to Mexico for trial, leaving Laura literally destitute and hated by almost everyone. Out of sympathy, Wilkie marries her and the story is about her gradual acquiring resilience, competency, and love for her husband. I liked that she is realistic throughout the novel and immediately grateful to Wilkie for his intervention, yet does not fall immediately in love with him for his rescue. Wilkie is one of the many honorable (usually medical) heroes in Carla Kelly's books, so if you liked her past military heroes, you will like Wilkie. Nobody is as good as Carla Kelly in creating honorable and strong men.
The second "O Christmas Tree" is told by a nurse, the daughter of Wilkie and Laura, in the Crimean War who falls for an American observer. Lilian, a wealthy widow, escaped a meaningless life to nurse in the Crimea under Florence Nightingale, although she is not a character. Lilian is running a hospital in Turkey and wants a Christmas tree for the ward of recovering soldiers. Trey Wharton quietly intervenes to help her in a disaster and later steps in, when he thinks she may be in an awkward position with the local Turkish ruler. If you like a quiet, kind of reticent hero, you will like this novella.
The third, ans shortest entry, is about Lilian and Trey's son, who is coming home from the west to meet his fiancee, about whom he has reservations of marrying. He has promised to look after on the train a young woman he admires, who is the opposite of his fiancee in class and personality. On the way, he is put in charge of a tragic woman who was kidnapped by the Indians and lately torn away from her children and happy life and is now being sent "home" to be reunited with a family that may reject her. How the h&h cope with this grieving and angry woman reveals both their characters and push them into their decision.
So, if you like Carla Kelly's books, you will like this one too. I did.
A Christmas in Paradise – This story takes place in 1812; British naval surgeon Thomas Wilkie is stranded in California, waiting to be rescued. Family problems smear Laura Ortiz’ life and she is shunned by her neighbors.
Thomas enters into a marriage of convenience with Laura because she has nowhere to turn, nowhere to live. Thomas promises her that people will forget about their anger when she acts as his nursing assistant. It doesn’t take long for Thomas and the community to realize that they are well-matched.
Because this story was long, readers learn some California history and about naval rules and regulations. I believe that I always come away from a Carla Kelly book enriched by the history she shares while telling her tale.
O Christmas Tree – This story takes up with Thomas and Laura’s widowed daughter, Lilian, who is serving in a hospital opened by Florence Nightingale. The time is the Crimean War in 1855; the scene is Anatolia.
Florence has sent an American, Major Trey Wharton (an observer), to organize and administer this particular, chaotic hospital. Story development was hampered by the few pages the author had.
Lilian wants a Christmas tree for the wounded and seriously ill soldiers in the hospital – something to remind them of home. She has to bargain for it – and therein is a wonderful tale.
No Crib for a Bed – The story of the Wilkie-Wharton family takes up in 1877; Capt. Wilkie Wharton is leaving Fort Laramie to go home for Christmas and to get married. He has not seen his fiancée in two years and he is worried about their relationship. Her letters are vapid and shallow.
His plan to catch up on his medical reading is thwarted when Wilkie is given the assignment to keep an eye on his assistant’s daughter (and fort school teacher), Mary Francis Coughlin, and a white former captive of the Cheyenne, who is being returned to her white family over her objections.
The author shares the misery of the immigrant experience in the railroad cars. Wilkie tends to the poor immigrants and eventually delivers a baby girl to a mother who has died. Wilkie soon realizes that he cannot marry his fiancée; he is in love with Frannie Coughlin.
I loved the three stories about the same family; it was like reading a book that paused and restarted at a later date. The reader is able to see how the family progresses over the years. Delightful! 4.5 stars
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 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 were 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.