ON THE SHELF: Ring in the season with a festive read

Published 4:00 am Sunday, November 28, 2021

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

It’s that time of year again! This week’s column features New Christmas fiction.

Rhys Bowen’s latest is called “God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen.” It’s Georgie’s first Christmas as a married woman in her cozy new home and she is excited. She has managed to convince her hubby, Darcy, that they should have a little house party. Those plans abruptly change, however, when Darcy receives a letter from his aunt Ermintrude. She has moved to a house on the edge of an estate near the royal family and wants to invite Darcy and his new bride for Christmas. Aunt Ermintrude hints to Georgie that the queen would like her close by. Georgie hadn’t realized that Aunt Ermintrude was a former lady-in-waiting and a close confidante of her royal highness, so her letter is almost a royal request and they pack up and head to Sandringham estate. Georgie soon learns that the Prince of Wales’s mistress, the notorious Mrs. Simpson, will be in attendance. There is tension from the get-go and, when Georgie pays a visit to the queen, she learns there have been a couple of strange accidents at the estate recently. Two gentlemen of the royal household have died in mysterious circumstances, and another has been shot by mistake during a hunt. Will Georgie’s investigation put her new husband and marriage in the crosshairs of a killer?

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“Once in a Lifetime” is the latest from Mary Monroe. Vanessa Hayes is a free-spirited, living on the fly kind of gal, but she is still always ready for a little traditional family holiday fun — until now. She is finally making her wish of Christmas in Paris come true, but when her passport gets delayed, it’s too late for Vanessa to rebook. It looks like her Yuletide will be bummed until a stranger enters her life and changes it forever. Judith Guthrie is overwhelmed by responsibility and too busy worrying about her seriously ill brother to have time to celebrate. A trip to France is a kind of happiness that Judith can’t imagine. When she accidentally receives Vanessa’s passport, Judith can’t resist delivering it in person so Vanessa will be able to get her holiday dream. This small gesture will result in big choices, big miracles and lifelong rewards that both women will be grateful for over many Christmases to come.

“Twisted Tea Christmas” by Laura Childs is the latest entry in the series featuring tea maven Theodosia Browning. Theodosia and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley are catering a Victorian Christmas party at a fancy mansion in downtown Charleston. The hostess, Drucilla Heyward, is one of the wealthiest women in town, so the party is the social event of the season. As the champagne flows and the tea steeps, Drucilla is extremely pleased with the reception by her partygoers and reveals her secret plan to Theodosia. Drucilla has brought the cream of Charleston society together to reveal her plan to give her wealth away to various charitable organizations. Before she can make her announcement, Theodosia finds the socialite crumpled unconscious in the hallway. At face value, it looks as if the excitement has gotten to Drucilla — except that there is a syringe sticking out of her neck.

La Jill Hunt delivers a little romance for Christmas in her latest, “Perfectly Fine Christmas.” “Who says Cinderella is the only one who gets a happily ever after? Shouldn’t the fairy godmother get a knight in shining armor too? After all, she’s the one with all the magic.” Kendall Freeman is a self-assured, plus-size seamstress and aspiring fashion designer who loves Christmas. Niya Fine is a shy, introverted, full-figured teen who has recently lost her mother and is now living with her widowed grandmother, Claudia. Unfortunately, Claudia is an elitist who takes every opportunity to criticize Niya. Kendall is working hard to make the season bright, planning Christmas parties and whipping up amazing gowns at the boutique where she works. Niya is begging her uncle Reese, the outcast of the family, to spend the holidays with her at his mother’s home. She hopes that this will make her Christmas less lonely. Through a twist of fate, Kendall and Niya become friends and the holiday starts to feel more normal. Kendall also endeavors to help Niya embrace who she is and help a family rediscover the true meaning of the holiday. Is it possible for her to find her own true love in the process?

Debbie Macomber — the queen of Christmas stories — delivers her latest, called “Dear Santa.” Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful as she returns home to Wenatchee, Wash., for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” cheated on her with her best friend, and she has become completely disillusioned in her graphic-design job. Not even carolers and Christmas cookies can cheer her up. Lindy’s mother, however, remembers an old tradition that might just lift her daughter’s spirits. Reading through a box of childhood letters to Santa and reminiscing about what she’d wished for as a young girl may be the inspiration Lindy needs. With her mother’s encouragement, she decides to write a new letter to Santa, one that will encourage her to have faith and believe just as she’d done all those years ago. Little does she know that this exercise in gratitude will cause her wishers to unfold before her in miraculous ways. Thanks to some fateful twists of Christmas magic — including an unexpected connection with a handsome former classmate — Lindy realizes that there is really no place like home for the holidays.