All Hearts Come Home For Christmas
The four short stories in this collection are set in Regency England. Eden’s ‘Christmas at Falstone Castle’ describes how the Dowager Duchess of Kielder, with the assistance of a kindly widowed vicar, tries to mend the broken relationship with her son and his family, and unexpectedly finds love. In Hatch’s ‘’Tis the Season to Be Daring’, a pretense courtship between two aristocrats turns into the real thing. In Stansfield’s ‘The Heart of Christmas’ and Barker’s ‘The Christmas Dress’, the kindness of impoverished but good-hearted young seamstresses wins the love of wealthy but lonely men struggling with difficult situations.
These are inspirational tales with a message of hope appropriate to the Christmas season. In Hatch’s story, Elizabeth Davenport tries to escape the pressure from her marriage-minded mother by attracting the attention of the slightly improper Lord Hawthorne, but as they get to know each other better, they fall in love, a valuable lesson not to be misled by appearances. Despite their misfortune, neither Addie Moore nor Nell Addington responds with anger and bitterness, rather with patience, understanding, and generosity to others. All the lovers deserve the happiness they find.
Though the situations are real enough (loneliness, poverty, misunderstandings), wish-fulfillment is at the heart of these stories. If the happy outcome seems unlikely in the unforgiving and materialistic world we are too familiar with, bear in mind that these are romance, not ‘realistic,’ stories, and they are set at Christmastime, a season of hope of better things to come. They offer timely comfort. Recommended.