Blog Book Tour | “A Season of Love” (anthology) by Carla Kelly

Posted Sunday, 12 November, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I have been a blog tour hostess with Cedar Fort for the past three years, wherein I took a brief hiatus from hosting before resuming August 2016. I appreciate the diversity of the stories the Indie publisher is publishing per year, not only for fiction and non-fiction but for healthy eats within their Front Table Books (cookbooks). I appreciate their dedication to writing general market, INSPY reads and LDS focused stories across the genres they publish.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Season of Love (anthology)” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I personally *adore!* anthologies – short stories have something special inside them – they are the shorter versions of narrative I truly love to tuck inside because you can live a full life within them! They might be smaller than novels, but each writer attaches us into their thresholds in a different place of entry – generally, I’ve read more Science Fiction, Fantasy & Cosy Horror short stories and novellas – but with this anthology, I am returning to my roots – of reading Regency Christmas shorts for the Christmastide Season!

It is one of my favourite holiday seasons – giving way to beautifully lovely Romances and the tenderness of cosy comforting stories which give you a lift of joy to be reading as the weather turns chill ahead of Winter’s firm grasp on our climate patterns — it is the time to tuck into holiday reads, feel the warmth of the Season and be carted away into a Romance happily revolving round all the festive bursts of happiness you enjoy celebrating every year!

Being a collection of shorts by a beloved author is a double-blessing – as I have been finding my readings of Ms Kelly’s novels to be quite wicked brilliant! I know I shall one day be collecting the rest of her stories – as each one is a treat to read. I delight in her descriptive narratives and I love how her heroines are full of strength, even if they do not always feel they have the fortitude to right the stars of their circumstances, they find the courage whilst they are sorting out the details! They give you a lot to chew on whilst you read their stories – something I appreciate. This collection simply felt fitting to be reading right now – as the timing could not have been more perfect!

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Blog Book Tour | “A Season of Love” (anthology) by Carla KellyA Season of Love
Subtitle: A Christmas Anthology

Join master romance writer Carla Kelly in this joyful celebration of the most wonderful time of the year. Set in Regency England, these Christmas tales will take you from dangerous adventures on snowy roads to cosy little cottages filled with holiday mischief.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-1462119820

on 10th October, 2017

Pages: 320

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFort)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Stories by Carla Kelly I’ve read:

Softly Falling | my first Carla Kelly story | (see also Review)

Summer Campaign | (see also Review)

Courting Carrie in Wonderland | (see also Review)

Converse via: #ChristmasRomance, #HolidayReads, #Anthology, #ShortStories + #CarlaKelly

About Carla Kelly

Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America. She is also a recipient of a Whitney Award for Borrowed Light, My Loving Vigil Keeping and Softly Falling.

Photo Credit: Marie Bryner-Bowles, Bryner Photography

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My review of a season of love:

This particular anthology is spilt into two sections:

Season’s Regency Greetings: Let Nothing You Dismay + No Room at the Inn

Regency Christmas Gifts: The Lasting Gift + Faithfully Yours + Lucy’s Bang-Up Christmas

As per my usual disclosure – when it comes to anthologies – I never know which of the shorts or novellas are going to whisk out a fanciful attachment on my behalf, which is why I may or may not mention each story inclusive to the anthology but rather focus on the stories which moved me most or which gave me something to chew on even if it wasn’t one of my favourites.

| No Room at the Inn |

As we entreat into Mary’s life, we find her uncomfortably aware of her place and position in the carriage – whilst the conditions outside continue to decrease in stability. She’s not in the majority to speak nor to complain; this would far on her travelling companion, Agatha whose husband, is quite the brute for he has little time nor care for either weather conditions or the rambunctious nature of his own children. To him, the parenting falls squarely on his wife’s shoulders, not his own; in regards to travelling? He’s all about efficiency rather than concern for personal welfare – not quite a charming addition to carriage for you could see how his presence would deflect joy rather than encourage confidence in his ability to the small group towards their destination.

What is most curious – is how Mary voices her thoughts to herself – of her disdain for Thomas and of the situation she finds herself at his mercy. You have to wonder – how did the tides turn this way to place her here in this moment? Especially considering – she’s the only one amongst the carriage riders (save the children, of course, whose innocence is still their own to keep) who isn’t a snob? Listening to her inner reflections was merry for course – it gave you a keener insight into who the Shepards’ are and how distinctively different they were from the ‘black sheep’ of the family: Joe, of whom, is going to be the one who plays the knight in the story! What fun folly, I think! To turn the tables on a posh family and realise who of their own has the better life to be had? Mary is merely passenger to their follies – of observing them for who they are but also recognising she is no longer amongst them – as far as how her peerage used to perceive living quarters and held no adaptive qualities when fate turnt everything upside down.

As Mary becomes reacquainted with Joe, she finds herself longing for his life – of how even though he’s a widower in keep of two young children, a rambling house a bit larger for the three of them and a kindness towards his servants not readily seen amongst the ton – there is a warmness here. Of where hearts and spirits co-exist and merge together to bring out the best of life and love. You can feel how readily accepted Mary would find herself – not discredited nor dismissed but gamely wanted. It is a home where comfort and joy reside – a place where you can breathe and find your place even before you realised you were without a home. All of us could feel comfortable being unexpected ‘guests’ here – such is the cosiness of finding ourselves at Joe’s doorstep.

The Kings’ have such a humbled background – of erstwhile parents of an errant son, who needed to have ‘purpose’ put back into their lives – led to Joe’s home by the blinding snow as much as his brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew and of course, Mary whose presence felt kismet more than random! As we settle into the afterglow of their serendipitous rendezvous, we find the goodness of the Christmastide being observed: where Mrs King finds constant delight in cookery exploits, Mary finds joy in the simple gestures of decorating and how Joe, himself, has placed himself in the role of ‘Father Christmas’ to kin, friends’ and strangers alike!

At peace with herself, she understood the gift of small pleasures. It warmed her heart as no other gift possibly could, during this season of anxiety for her. She smiled when she heard them finally, realising with a quick intake of breath that she was as guilty as Joe of thinking and speaking as though she were part of the family. We have to belong to someone don’t we? she asked herself. If we don’t, then life is just days on a calendar.

-quoted from A Season of Love with permission of the publisher

I could even smell the cinnamon buns baking in the oven, whilst the greenery would have smelt cosy warm of the forest – bringing with it the natural aromatherapy we all wait twelvemonths to smell again by our hearths! Here, there is Christmas in the small details – of being charitable and kind; of being considerate with a listening ear and of being mindful of the needs of others. Christmas takes on different moments of purpose and here, in this short story you find all of it happily evolving through the random events where unexpected visitors become ‘family’.

The sentiment I quoted is apt to understand why I love this short story as much as I do – it’s about where we ‘belong’ and where we find ‘home’ – it’s not just about a particular ‘setting nor place’, it’s the people who populate our lives, the ways in which we strive to connect to each other and the reasons why we feel compelled to walk through life with someone else who can share our experiences. If there were no one, to whom would we find the markers of memory to celebrate and remember? Who would find our smiles refreshing and our sorrows fitting of hugs? Who of us could simply acknowledge the hours alone and not feel as if we were missing something quite crucial to our well-being? This is story about the human condition and of understanding what makes us human – of bringing to light how our humanity is a saving grace but also, how without each other, life is an endless road of heartache and loss.

| Faithfully Yours |

This one starts with quite a bit of cheek – the curious situations started by a rouse of sorts – two young girls make plans to query letters to a single bloke whose travelled abroad for work, if only to one day have enough funds to ask for the hand of the girl he felt or rather thought, as keen on his attentions. The cheek of it all is how the girls’ set out to confuse his heart, misdirect his mind and somehow convince him one of them was not the girl he thought he was writing! It is such a curious prospect to begin – yet, somewhere in that riddle, it felt like something a young girl might feel she could carry off, doesn’t it? Especially given the era in which she lived where society dictated so much of what she would do with her life? The key folly here though – is who truly surprises whom in the end?

As Sally relates her role in the letter-writing scheme, we find her ten years after the pact was made with the friend who barely has time for her all these years later when the letters are still being exchanged on her behalf. You find a maturity in Sally which was not there previously – of how she’s grown accustomed to not only the letters themselves but of being mindful of John (the bloke of whom she’s corresponded), of noting when he needs prayer to help guide his efforts of settling out of the country and of how dear his letters have become to her – a presence she cannot contemplate being absent. How funny then, to think she nearly didn’t want to write in the first place?

The story evolves quite quickly rather than slowly – such as the one about the Inn – of the two, I preferred the slower styling because it allowed you to get further into the heart of the characters. This one has a tender life lesson – of not prejudging your peers, of always owning your own truth and of being a true friend. It’s about following your heart, doing your bit and finding out about the truer shades of humanity – especially those who first attempt to deceive! The ending is the sweetest part – it truly is a good tale – I just wish they might have been a few extensions here or there, to where it didn’t feel as rushed as it became.

| Lucy’s Bang-Up Christmas |

This short had a curious premise – a cousin is smitten head over heels for his second cousin, whose most anguished about how Christmas doesn’t quite feel right this year – her sister is meant to be wed on Christmas Eve, disrupting her Christmastide joys. You can see how upsetting this would be but at the back-end of it – she’s frustrated in her station, as she cannot help but feel grievous for how her life is playing out – here, her cousin tries to step in, save the day and prove that not all is lost; even if it appears that it were the case.

Lucy has lived a charmed life by most accounts – yet, she hasn’t truly felt happiness in a way which would fulfill her to understand her life’s purpose. She seems to be ‘waiting’ for someone or something to affect her – to point her in the direction she is meant to walk and thereby giving her a firmer foundation for her life to chart it’s course than she stands on now. She’s used to tradition and duty; of finding herself tied into what is expected of her but not truly feeling as if it’s meant to be part of her life – it’s complicated because Lucy is directed by her emotional health.

She wants to recapture the spirit of Christmas – of the traditions her Mum instilled inside her but also, to find the freedom to be the woman she is becoming. In her era, women had enough trouble proving they could read scriptures on their own, bearing in mind how what they read affected them and what it drew them to consider afterwards. She was a self-directing scholar, an attribute blessedly Miles (her second cousin) appreciated – even understood, whilst encouraged her not to change even if others felt she ought too. Miles was a good ally for her – he saw her without seeing through her – understood her without explanation and was her cheerleader when she was feeling down about her situations.

In essence, if you observed them from a short distance, it was hard to find fault in why the two shouldn’t be together! They could prove to be the answer to both their problems – his fear of not finding someone whom he could love with all his heart and her fear, no one would want to have her as their wife, after realising her sister was already betrothed. Lucy had an unrealistic view of how her sister was the better of the two; something I think might have played into the era they lived, as marriage for women back then held extra strings (ie. status, propriety, etc) vs what marriage is for women today.

As Lucy assumed the role established by her Mum as a sort of ‘Christmas Angel’ to her neighbours and community members – she started to find her own wings of certainty about what her truer nature of endowed gifts to share were to be. She found great comfort in listening to the needs of others but also, felt a resolve of strength knowing through her observations, earnest attentions and belief all problems had solutions – she could find a way to impact the lives of those she was interacting with on a personal level. It proved to be quite the journey she was undertaking – it led her back to her mother, in a way Lucy never expected possible for a girl who was still grieving the loss of her beloved Mum.

On the short story styling of ms kelly:

The first short I felt readily at home inside was ‘No Room at the Inn’ – as soon as the story started to unfold, I felt something stir inside my heart. There was something quite magical about the set-up – from how it has overtures of the original Inn without rooms but moreso than even this key reference for Christmas celebrators such as I; it held within it a certain innocence. Of how extraordinary your ordinary life can knit together – right in the midst of feeling as if all the pieces of your tapestry are being undone by circumstances you cannot control – there, life adds a bit of mirth of untold notions giving back your balance and re-alighting you on a path you were meant to have lived. It hold’s within it’s pages the beauty of what makes me resume my readings of Ms Kelly quite readily – the wholesomeness of it’s lessons ebbing out of an ordinary life but also, the truer statements about humanity and the growth each of us must endure before we understand our futures.

*I truly could see this short made into a Hallmark Holiday movie – it’s just the kind I’d itch to see!

The second short I felt attached to was ‘Faithfully Yours’, simply because I love writing letters and having correspondences in your life is an interesting hobby to undertake because your finding your rhythm through conversations which are exchanged through the postal mail. It gives you time to think about your thoughts, of things you want to share with a trusted friend and of how, time stands still whilst you compose your letter and await for it’s response on the other end. In this, Ms Kelly captured the essence of how letter-writers find comfort in their correspondences for finding a way to keep true friendship alive. I do admit, when it comes to stories of Epistolary natures, I am most curious to see them to their end.

The third story appealed to me because I love stories of restoration and redemption – of finding your heart’s purpose and of feeling restored through the acts of kindness you can effectively carry out in your communities. I seem to ferret out these kinds of stories most of all during Christmas – they are in both stories in fiction as much as they are alive in tv movies – it’s the kind of story fitting for Christmas because it’s not just about being charitable, it’s about finding a way to serve others which befits their situations; to not just affect their lives with something positive but to truly help improve their lives in the long term.

I am thankful I had a chance to read this anthology – the stories are sweet to read, perfect for the fast approach of the holiday season and are portable enough, you can take them with you if your finding yourself travelling during the holidays. Overall, my favourite short story still remains “No Room at the Inn” because of how everything pulled together – how the supporting cast and main characters each had equal focus and purpose within the story-line. I even liked how the story felt stretched longer than it’s length – of feeling you could reside there a bit more than the time a short story generally allows you to feel.

If you’ve read this anthology – I’d be quite curious which of the shorts resonated with you the most? Did we share a favourite read in common? What was your favourite takeaways from the stories you’ve read and loved reading throughout ‘A Season of Love’?

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This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc:

Cedar Fort Publishing & MediaFollow the Virtual Road Map

by visiting the blog tour route:

A Season of Love blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing and MediaI look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Book covers of “Softly Falling”, “Summer Campaign”, “Courting Carrie in Wonderland” and “A Season of Love”, the book synopsis for “A Season of Love”, author photo of Carla Kelly and her biography, blog tour banner and Cedar Fort Publishing badge were all provided by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media and used with permission. Quotation from “A Season of Love” selected by Jorie and is used with permission of the publisher. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017

I’m a social reader |  I  tweet as I read

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 12 November, 2017 by jorielov in 19th Century, Anthology Collection of Stories, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Brothers and Sisters, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, England, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Scotland, Short Stories or Essays, Siblings, Sisterhood friendships, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, the Regency era

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