The Heart of Christmas (Includes: Carhart #0.5, Tallants #3.5)
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The Heart of Christmas (Carhart #0.5)

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,171 ratings  ·  119 reviews
A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh
Not only is Julian Dare dashing and wealthy, but he's the heir to an earldom. So what do you get a man who has everything? Innocent and comely Verity Ewing plans on giving Julian her heart—the most precious gift of all.

The Season for Suitors by Nicola Cornick
After some close encounters with rakes in which she was nearly compromised, heiress

Paperback, 378 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by HQN Books (first published September 18th 2009)
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
I don't have much to say about the first two stories, except that they were good. Both the Balogh story and the Cornick stories are reformed rake stories (it's fairly clear if you read my reviews that rakes are not my favorite types of heroes by far). I felt that the metamorphosis of Ms. Balogh's rake was a little more convincing. When I read a story about a rake, I really have to be convinced that he has depth, or he's just another one of far too many in historical romance. He's really got to s...more
A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh was my least favorite story in this anthology. We have the same old rehash of a plot with a gentleman rake who is bored in London surrounded by all his wealth. Julian Dare, Viscount Folingsby is out of sorts because his father is forcing him to marry. He’s twenty nine after all and it’s about time he settled down and has an heir. Julian has not finished sowing his oats but decided some relaxation is in order when his friend, Bertrand (what is up with that name?)...more
A Handful of Gold introduces Julian Dare, Viscount Follingsby, a young and outrageously handsome rogue who is more than ready to be redeemed. Currently, Julian is drunk and thinking the best way to bed Blanche Heyward, the extraordinarily beautiful opera singer... Alas, I can’t go on with the storyline. Just remembering it makes me sleepy. This was undoubtedly a very wrong story to introduce the big name of Mary Balogh. The weakest point was not the cliché storyline, though it was overly so. Wh...more
A Handful of Gold - 2 stars

Boring, generic story of the jaded rake transformed by the surprisingly virtuous opera dancer. Balogh skimped on characterization and emotion, instead playing tropes and archetypes like playing cards.

The Season for Suitors - 3 stars

Entirely forgettable story, but told well. Sebastian and Clara are adorable with their easy regard for each other - at times engaging in friendly bickering and at others barely keeping their mutual desire hidden. Lovely as the characters wer...more
.þµŋψà. [Punya Reviews...]
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rating for the Milan; haven't read the other two.

Lydia's family runs a bookshop. She has a crush on a customer to whom she's never spoken. When the family is in desperate straits, William offers to pay Lydia enough for sex to rescue the family's livelihood. He thinks repeatedly to himself that he doesn't care if she doesn't want to have sex with him. He wants to have sex with her. He knows she'll hate it. He doesn't care. So he rapes her -- but, wait, it's not rape! It's not rape even though he...more
I only read the Mary Balogh story...A HANDFUL OF GOLD. I really enjoyed the story. She accepts an invitation to stay with Lord F (the H) at his friends "hunting box" for Christmas instead of at home with her mother and sister. He pays her money to go with him ....he thinks she is a fallen woman because she is an actress. She is a virgin and she has accepted his offer because she needs money for her very sick sister at home. That's the set up but it is so much better than what the reader thinks....more
I seldom find that I enjoy every storyin a multi-author anthology, so I was happily surprised to find that I enjoyed all three of these short stories :)
Amanda Skinner
I won this book from a giveaway from Courtney Milan (one of the authors of the collection). I must say that it was a treat! I hadn't had the pleasure of reading any of the authors before, and thoroughly enjoyed all three.

I loved the visuals Mary Balogh painted in "A Handful of Gold." I could almost see the snowflakes clinging to me, smell the christmas dinner, and feel the warmth that new love can give. Nicola Cornick's characters in "The Season for Suitors" are addictive. I couldn't wait to fi...more
This book has three stories in it. The first one is "A Handful Of Gold" by Mary Balogh. I found this story the least enjoyable of the stories. It seemed to take forever for the story to draw me in, and I just found I did not connect with the characters. This story would have rated 3 stars at best for me. The second story is " The Season For Suitors" by Nicola Cornick. I found this to be my favorite hands down. I really enjoyed this story and would have given it a five star rating had it been a s...more
This book is three Christmas novellas by three different authors, so I'll review them separately.

A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh

Eh. Not awful, but nothing memorable either. I did find the part with the vicar and his family showing up rather amusing, but nothing about the plot or characters was really all that engaging or believable. I'm all for corny, sappy Christmas stories, but this one just didn't work for me. It didn't seem plausible that the hero and heroine would fall in love so quickly o...more
3 Regency Christmas stories. One of my favorite books!

Mary Balogh - 4 stars. Mary Balough always seems to be able to tell a great story. The heir to an Earldom, Julian is part of a happy, affectionate family. He's also the only boy in a crowd of sisters, so his father wants him to settle down, marry, & get some buns (male ones) in the oven. He's already got a steady (boring), rich girl picked out for him. Julian decides instead to go with his friend to a remote manor his friend owns to spe...more
This is another book of short stories that includes a story by my favorite author, Mary Balogh. This one is named A Handful of Gold. Verity Ewing is desperate. Her sister is ill and her family is impoverished. Unbeknown to her mother, she has been making money as an opera dancer, but not enough. The real money is in becoming a mistress and she has plenty of offers. She accepts the offer to go away for Christmas week from Julian Dare. Julian is avoiding his family because they are becoming quite...more
2.5 stars
None of these stories really grabbed me, and I'm a huge Mary Balogh fan and generally like Courtney Milan. The Nicola Cornick story was just pretty stupid (he, the duke, visits her at her brother's house at midnight and ends up performing oral sex on her on the hearth rug, as an example of the excesses of the plot.)
The Mary Balogh was probably my least favorite of her Christmas stories. Posing as a courtesan just didn't seem a very good choice and if it was her only choice, it was just...more

:) uma historia tipo conto mas algo ternurenta e que se passa na quadra natalicia.
talvez resuma demais a historia que nos conta Mary Balogh, que tem muito cuidado em transmitir os valores proprios da quadra assim como os que eram os valores morais e sociais da epoca.

uma historia com final feliz, em que os personagens se entendem rapidamente e tudo parece facil.
apesar de tudo nao deixa de ser uma leitura agradável e desprendida sem pensar em mais nada do que a fantasia de um amor descoberto e ace...more
Diane Morris
A Handful of Gold - Mary Balogh - Usually a dependable name for excellent romance; here - well, the romance is ok although she still delights with the perfect turn of phrase or observation such as when Julian notes that Blanche doesn't lapse into regionalism when not concentrating. I'd count this possibly a two-star effort. Also in the anthology 'Christmas Keepsakes'.

The Season for Suitors - Nicola Cornick - I'd never read Nicola Cornick until this story. It was reasonably good though it seems a...more
Although the nature of novellas is that we have to have a believable HEA romance in such a short amount of time, that is really the only detriment to this genre. The short stories, were for the most part, enjoyable, and I now I have two new authors I can check out. (Which is the main reason, I suspect, they put these out.)

I think I enjoyed the middle one by Nicole Cornick the most. The last one, I thought was rather yick at the start but it got redeemed.
Mary Balogh is one of my favourite authors. While I enjoyed 'A Handful of Gold' and Nicola Cornick's 'The Season for Suitors', my favourite piece was Courtney Milan's 'This Wicked Gift'. Milan succeeded in painting interesting, sympathetic working-class characters -- a refreshing change from the usual historical romances! The story was well paced and written with feeling and intelligence. Am looking forward to reading more of her work!
This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan

I didn't read the other two stories so this rating is for the Milan story alone. It's well written and has a different feel than most run-of-the-mill historical romances. I liked that it didn't involved a titled gentleman, but instead both main characters are involved in trade. Very entertaining.
I liked how all the stories were short and to the point. No long whole book about their courtship. All of them well written. Although I didn't really care for the last novella.
Christy Stewart
I only read "This Wicked Gift" because I wanted to read about poor people. I really liked it; it was like a Regency version of The Jeffersons.
A Handful of Gold - a rake decides to invite an opera dancer away for Christmas before he is forced to make an offer for a suitable bride. What he doesn't realise is that the dancer in question is a lady of quality desperate to obtain money to help her sick sister. His plans go sadly awry and he realises that there is more to his dancer than meets the eye. A pleasant, slightly mawkish story in which a vicar and a Christmas birth feature. 3 stars.

The Season for Suitors - Clara is a young and beau...more
Balogh is a favorite if mine. Cornick is a little over the top for me. I've never heard of Milan.

The Balogh story was just too far fetched. The money she was paid for a weekend was absurd. A country gentry girl outwitted the cream of society and pulled off pretending to be a courtesan. And, and, and.

Balogh's strengths for me are her nice heroes. Good guys. This guy was(?) a good guy, maybe? But, a little lost? I don't know.

The heroine just didn't fly at all. Not enough background was given to s...more
In reality, the ratings would have gone more like:

A Handful of Gold: 2 Stars
A Season for Suitors: 3 Stars
This Wicked Gift: 4 Stars

I thought the first was woefully inadequate in terms of character development, justification for how the hero and heroine fell in love, and with superficial secondary characters and motivation. And, though this might not bother others, the aspect of faith and Jesus in the story was a bit too overwhelming for me. I suppose this could be partially explained by the lengt...more
A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh
Verity Ewing, a gently bred young woman, is trying to pay the bills for her sister's doctor by becoming an opera dancer. Now, she's been invited to spend the holiday with Julian Dare, Viscount Folingsby. His largesse would cover all of Chastity's medical bills. All she would have to lose is her virginity. And... perhaps her heart.
The Season for Suitors by Nicola Cornick
Clara Davenport is an heiress, one who needs help figuring out which of her suitors are serious...more
Mandi Schreiner
My Twitter friend, Jamie is guest reviewing today!!

“A Handful of Gold” by Mary Ballogh

The handsome, wealthy rake Julian Dare, Viscount Follingsby has led the bachelor life for quite some time. His father feels it is high time he settles down and marries. Unfortunately, Julian is not happy with the heiress his family has chosen for him. He feels it is his duty to oblige his family’s wishes, as they have always given him their undying love and loyalty. When given the opportunity to join his long...more
Four stars for Courtney Milan's story, which was excellent if a bit frustrating near the end. I love it when she writes about the regular people.
“And, as we are speaking of debts,” she said grimly, “what of my debt to you?”

“What debt?

“Ten pounds. You paid ten pounds to save me from having to choose between those unpalatable options. And do not tell me you did it to force me into your bed—because you and I both know that if I had said no, you would never have enforced the note. I am deeply in you
'Tis The Season for Falling in Love...

A Handful of Gold: a love story from "New York Times" bestselling author Mary Balough
Not only is Julian Dare dashing and wealthy, but he's the heir to an earldom. So what do you get a man who has everything? Innocent and comely Verity Ewing plans on giving Julian her heart - the most precious gift of all.

The Season For Suitors: a captivating romance from Nicola Cornick
After some close encounters with rakes in which she was nearly compromised, heiress Clara D...more
I always enjoy anthologies, and The Heart of Christmas did not disappoint. It consisted of three stories - by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick and Courtney Milan.
A Handful of Gold (Mary Balogh)- Verity Ewing is set on helping her sister recover from an illness the family can ill afford. She takes on the challenge of showing Julian Dare just what love is as she tries to insure that her sister gets the care she needs.
The Season for Suitors (Nicola Cornick)- Clara Davenport thinks she's given up on Seba...more
Actually I only read the Balogh novella and the Milan novella, which brought her a lot of praise at the end of 2009.

The Balogh story is not one of her best, because while it has lovely set pieces of communal Christmas cheer and a cute vicar and his wife, it also has improbably acceptance of a good-hearted prostitute as the lady of the house - and, I felt, a lot of didactic finger wagging.

The Milan was fascinating simply because it wasn't set among the well-off regency set for once, not even one...more
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  • A Historical Christmas Present
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Mary Jenkins was born on 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high-school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curl...more
More about Mary Balogh...
Slightly Dangerous (Bedwyn Saga, #6) Slightly Married (Bedwyn Saga, #1) First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet #1) A Summer to Remember (Bedwyn Prequels, #2) Slightly Wicked (Bedwyn Saga, #2)

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“Sebastian stretched. Clara stared. She could not help it. He was still in his breeches and shirt and she was riveted by the deliciously tight fit of the buckskins over his thighs.

"You could avert your eyes," Sebastian said mildly.

"I could," Clara agreed, "but I am not going to."

He smiled. "Hussy."

"I know. But I have waited a long time--”
“In a letter to Sebastian...
"My brother is preoccupied with affairs of state and all the more suitable of his friends are unavailable at present, which only leaves you..."

Seb winced. The minx. She knew how to deliver a neat insult.”
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