Tuesday, November 24, 2009

REVIEW: Colonial Christmas Brides

“Colonial Christmas Brides” by Lauralee Bliss and Irene Brand is a charming collection of stories that takes the reader back in time to the days of America’s birth through the fictional accounts of settlers of Jamestown and Williamsburg. These stories are peppered with colonial history, and take me back to the stretch of time when I lived in the Tidewater area of Virginia, and spent every weekend exploring and soaking up the history of this incredibly beautiful place.

***“Jamestown’s Bride Ship” by Irene B. Brand tells the story of Susanna Carter, an Englishwoman who has been sent to live with her Aunt in Jamestown when her Grandmother tires of her refusal to marry wealthy Englishmen who don’t appeal to her. Susanna’s heart is set on a marriage like her parents had – one full of love. Joshua Deane is a colonial plantation owner who has lost his first wife and son in a native uprising. His compassionate gaze lands on a seasick Susanna, and he helps her get to her Aunt’s home, and from that moment, they are never far from each other’s thoughts. Can Susanna embrace life in the new world enough to overcome her homesickness for England? Hope of a life with Joshua seems to be swaying her to stay, but will Joshua be able to get over his anxiety over the loss of his family to love again in this untamed frontier? The story is sweet, but a bit rushed. However, I do love the descriptions of the land and the customs of the past.

****“Angel of Jamestown” is the tale of Paul Dodson, a blacksmith who just lost everything – his home, possessions and business – in a fire. By day, he seeks help from the Governor of the colony who refuses to help anyone. By night, he settles in with the other vagabonds around the fire to keep warm while they sleep. During one confrontation with the Governor’s guards, the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen intercedes with them, saving him from a horrible fate. Who is she? She must be an angel.

****“Raven’s Christmas” by Irene B. Brand tells the story of Raven Maury, an orphan in the care of her uncle. When her uncle is called away, her less scrupulous uncle feels that the time is right to take advantage of Raven and proposes a marriage between her and a much older man in the hopes that she will forfeit her estate to him. Falling in love with a newcomer to Williamsburg will be a test since she cannot wed against her guardian’s wishes unless she gives up the inheritance. Will they be able to wait the five years necessary for Raven to have her inheritance? Or will she give up her home for love?

****“Broken Hearts” is the story of a young widow whose husband was murdered by Tories on his way home from buying his young daughter a gift. Lauralee Bliss’ tale surrounds the recovery of the head of the doll that was to be Kate’s present and her mother’s idea to have a body made for the doll to be a final gift from the girl’s deceased father. When Mary brings the doll head to town and shows up at the carpentry shop, she isn’t greeted as she expected. But what develops between her and the carpenter makes sparks fly until Mary learns of John’s link to her husband’s death. Can their young, budding romance survive?

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