A Regency romantic mystery Prequel to the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series
Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.
Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.
However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …
A delightful regency romance that introduces Camille Elliot's Lady Wynwood series. With almost the touch of a Cinderella tale, an orphaned young woman is taken in by her cousin and his shrewish wife who turns the young woman into an unpaid servant. When a childhood friend comes to visit for Christmas, strange events begin to occur and romance begins to fill the air.
This is a short novella but so filled with wonderful Christmas morsels, cozy mystery, an interesting cast of characters with a touch of romance that I couldn't put it down and finished it in one sitting. A short, very enjoyable Christmas read.
** I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review from the author. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
“Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members. Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them. However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …”
Series: Considered #0.5 (a prequel) in the “Lady Wynwood’s Spies” series.
Spiritual Content- Genesis 16:13 & Philippians 4:7 at the beginning; A couple Scriptures are quoted; A few Prayers & a blessing over food (mentioning being thankful for the Christ child); Going to a chapel; Talks about God, Jesus, & that He sees you; 'H's are capital when referring to God; Gerard asks Laura if his injury was God saying he needed humbling or was it a judgement (she responds that the Lord doesn’t punish in that way); Mentions of prayers & praying; Mentions of rectors; A few mentions of those & events in the Bible; A few mentions of sins; A couple mentions of churches & church going; A couple mentions of Miranda thinking about her secret (also called a “sin”) that no one can know (see Negative Content Spoiler); A mention of Laura appreciating a good confessional prayer; A mention of Gerard’s “unholy trinity” of anger, frustration, & bitterness; A mention of Paradise; *Note: A couple mentions of demons in Gerard’s mind; A mention of someone saying “may we be blessed by the light of the Yule candle” after lighting it; A mention of a devilish glint in a woman’s eyes; A mention of a group of people sitting at the same time to prevent bad luck.
Negative Content- Minor cussing including: a ‘blasted’, a ‘good God’, a ‘good Lord’, a ‘oh, God’, and another possible curse/derogatory name is cut-off; A bit of eye rolling; Pain, Injuries, Fighting, Fights, Being attacked, & Biting an attacker (up to semi-detailed); Social drinking; Gerard doesn’t feel whole due to his injury; Gerard’s mother makes critical comments to him about his injury & is impatient towards him (Gerard doesn’t think he deserves his mother’s censure, but he knows that seeing him through his terrible moods since being hurt has been a strain on her; she later apologizes); Miranda says her parents didn’t care for her and she isn’t treated well by her cousin and his wife (verbally abusive and takes advantage of her, including a comment about her being “touched in the head” and a “madwoman”); Many mentions of pain, injuries, blood/bleeding, knives, a gunshot, being shot, being attacked, fights/fighting, & a death (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of wars, injuries, & deaths (including Gerard recalling how his injury happened, barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of a nursery maid being physically abusive to Miranda when she was little and *Spoiler* ; Mentions of alcohol, drinking, foods/deserts made with alcohol, social drinking, a drunk/tipsy doctor, & taverns; Mentions of lies lying, & liars; Mentions of gossip & rumors; A few mentions of fires during a game (“Snapdragon” where people each reach into a bowl that has rum-soaked raisins that have been set on fire), burns, & injuries; A few mentions of a bush that looks like the shape of poo; A couple mentions of a rumor of a maid that committed suicide due to the owner of the house they worked at; A couple mentions of drownings; A couple mentions of a possible murderer or thief; A couple mentions of people (including her own mother) equating “Miranda’s slowness of foot with slowness of mind”; A couple mentions of cigars; A couple mentions of gambling; A couple mentions of cheating at games; A mention of someone’s eyes looking like “those of the dead”; A mention of threating to cut someone’s tongue off; A mention of possibly being poisoned; A mention of a child grieving her mother; A mention of prejudice towards Gypsies; A couple mentions of throwing up & vomit; A mention of a child wetting the bed; A mention of poachers; A mention of someone saying that foreign dogs carry exotic diseases; A mention of the smell of a dead rat; *Note: A couple mentions of Laura having to endure a horrific marriage to her late husband and she will not put herself under the control of a man again; A mention of Miranda only being able to reply on herself to save herself from her cousin’s wife’s plans (to send her as an unpaid nursery maid to a family member).
Sexual Content- A barely-above-not-detailed kiss, two semi-detailed kisses (one that includes her neck and jaw), and two detailed kisses (including one mention tongue); Recalling kisses (up to semi-detailed); Wanting to kiss someone (barely-above-not-detailed); Touches, Embraces, Hand holding, Warmth, Nearness, & Smelling (up to semi-detailed); Wanting to touch & embrace; Blushes; Noticing (barely-above-not-detailed); Gerard makes a comment about no women ever finding him such a bore that they fell asleep on his bed (as soon as his says that to Miranda, he realizes that it sounds wrong and didn’t mean it that way); A woman touches Gerard’s chest after spilling a drink on him (& lingers, barely-above-not-detailed); A child is told by their friend that “sometimes when grown-ups kiss, they make babies” and Laura corrects that “they most certainly do not make babies simply from kissing”; Mentions of kissing bough/mistletoe, kissing, kisses, & seeing a couple kiss; A few mentions of flirting; A couple mentions of a rumor of maids are said to be pregnant (implied due to the master of the house they worked at); A couple mentions of someone possibly orchestrating a scandalous situation to cause a couple to be forced to marry; A couple mentions of scandalous situations; A couple mentions of hearing that a woman died in a brothel as a sickly prostitute; A mention of Gerard thinking that while he stolen kisses from woman in different ports, he never compromised any of them and that several of the women were the ones to kiss him; A mention of a man losing all his hair from a disease he got from his mistress; Love, falling/being in love, & the emotions; *Note: In the illustrated edition, there are three kisses drawn out and also in some of the illustrations, Miranda’s dresses are quite form-fitting and accentuate her chest & in another illustration, she falls on top of Gerard; Miranda kicks an attacker between his legs (barely-above-not-detailed); A few mentions of when Laura stuffed her chest with fabric and during a dance, one of the pieces fell out (barely-above-not-detailed); A couple mentions of a Gerard being in his shirtsleeves & his bare leg (which Miranda see, considered scandalous during the time period); A mention of men dancing shirtless on a boat; A mention of a man being hit by a woman’s cane in between his legs; A mention of a mother dying in childbirth.
-Miranda Belmoore -Gerard Foremont P.O.V. switches between them & Laura Set in 1810 244 pages
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* Pre Teens- One Star New Teens- One Star Early High School Teens- One Star Older High School Teens- One Star My personal Rating- One Star
I felt very hopeful about this novella and was very excited to read the illustration edition of this book.
Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed.
After a few chapters in, I thought that I was just too tired to keep up with who all the many characters and their family trees, plus the unique writing style, so I promptly took a nap. Once waking up and rereading the first few chapters, though, I still struggled with those aspects.
I wanted to like Miranda and Gerard, but they both were too focused on their flaws and what they couldn’t do, which really brought down the book’s Christmassy cheer. There was a bit of faith content thanks to a side character (who is apparently more prevalent in the main books of this series), but it’s rushed for the main characters. Because of her, there are some conversations about God seeing them, but there’s no conclusion or fixing of their thoughts they had for the majority of the book.
Then the case of noble idiocy enters in (when one half of the couple thinks they’re not worthy of the other and says lies to hurt them and get the other one to leave them be) and it should be noted that I absolutely despise that cowardness.
Add in a tongue kiss and God’s name being used in vain (the context implies the phrases like “Good Lord” and “Good God” to be used as exclamations and therefore, in vain), and I am very disappointed in this book.
I don’t personally think this is the best option for Christmas books for the targets of BFCG (9-19), there’s many other better—and cleaner—options.
Lovely Christmas Regency novel. Miranda has gone from having a season to near servant. Childhood friend Gerard is injured from battle and a little bitter. Their romance is slow to build. Both wonderful characters.
My gratitude to the author for a complimentary copy of the novel. I was not required to post a review and all opinions expressed are my own.
This was a good book. The leading lady had such a sad life and with every page i just felt more and more sorry for her. The leading man was great and I loved how he came to her rescue over and over again. There were some added charcters that start the book and I thought that really odd but they come into play latter and there will be a second book and I think they are the charcters that bring the other love interests together in future stories so it made sense when I read the blip at the end.Very sweet love story set around Christmas time. I love a good regency read and this was well written and had a little danger there at the end that moved the story along really well. Clean
Squuueallll -- Regency + Mystery + Christmas!!!! I hope I can compose myself long enough to write this review! And there's definitely a Cinderella feel to this story as well. Not sure if it was written with a fairy tale retelling in mind, but I sure caught some similarities that increased my reader euphoria that much more. Eeeep!!!!
Gerard is the perfect tortured hero who matches wits with childhood friend Miranda. She has come upon hard times -- horrendously horrid, actually, as she is treated worse than a servant in her cousin's household. I do so love fuming over literary injustice and heaps are piled upon poor Miranda as she valiantly tries to see her way through.
And there's Gerard -- unexpectedly fighting more than friendly feelings though he's too broken by war to actually think something can come of it...until Miranda's life is threatened. Cue the attentively protective wounded hero who will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of his lady love. Be still my heart!
And if that isn't enough to curl your toes in Regency excitement, Elliott doesn't skimp on Old English Christmas traditions which lend a festive background to all the angst and romance. A spectacular holiday escape read!
Somehow, his touch made her feel more substantial than she usually did in this household. He knew her, he saw her, where everyone else tried to forget her.
The significance of being seen and known comes alive in The Spinster's Christmas by author Camille Elliot.
Now, as sweet as its fitting cover is, don't think this novel is all sweetness and holly and heart-flutters and nothing more. Miranda Belmoore and Captain Gerard Foremont are in for a Christmastide unlike anything they expected, and what could easily have been a nice but flimsy Regency tale is instead a rather gritty and passionate holiday story of danger and longing, with dashes of humor and irresistible grace.
The suspense comes on gradually, and the romance develops with a gentle yet intense quality that--well, romance enthusiast that I am, I'm not exactly the biggest "swooner" around, but I may have been surprised into a swoon this time. I appreciate a romance with some layering and substance to the chemistry, even a measure of unpredictability, and I found that here.
And then, well, "She had to believe. Thou God seest me." It's an inspiring theme that ties in beautifully.
Regency, suspense, and romance fans alike would do well to partake of this story, at "Christmastide" or any season of the year.
I really enjoyed this Regency Christmas story, though I have to admit I was a bit confused about the main characters. I thought the main character was Lady Wynwood, but to be honest, she's kind of a side character. I mean, she's charming, to be sure, but this story is about Miranda and Gerard. Although both Miranda and Lady Wynwood are technically spinsters, so the title works both ways. Anyway, back to my thoughts of the book itself. Complete with an evocative atmosphere, a mystery, and some lovely romantic moments, this novella ticked all of my boxes for a Christmas read. I truly felt for both Miranda and Gerard. Their positions, especially during a time when spinsters and invalids were not thought well of by "polite" society, are heartbreaking. I was so happy by the story's end to see some of resolution in regards to relationships with their family members as well as those that treated them poorly due to their status or lack thereof. Lady Wynwood's part in the introduction to the story, as well as her part in the story as a whole, has me hoping that she too will one day find a happily-ever-after, although good for her for making her own happiness no matter what society says.
While I prefer Elliot's full length Regency novel, I'm glad I finally read this one as part of my Christmas reading this year. While I know that Camy Tang (Elliot) has more recently said she is working on some other genres, I do hope that she will eventually come back to add to the Lady Wynwood and Gentleman Quartet series.
How do you find your place when your parents have died and left you penniless? Will your relatives still take you in and be kind, or will they treat you like dirt? What happens when you’re injured and feel like less of a man that others can count on? When you remember the times when you were whole, can you still find love? These are the struggles our two main characters are dealing with and so much more.
The author has a wonderful way with words and descriptions to help readers feel like they are right in the Regency time, with all the pomp and flair of the holidays and festivities. I became aware of Camille Elliot’s contemporary romance books, and they were very humorous and delightful. Now, I think I might pick up more of her Regency time books, also.
I like her style of writing and the way things flow in her stories, they are written so well, that I don’t want to stop reading. I don’t want to put them down to go to work, make dinner for the family, or even to go to bed. I found I read way too late just to finish this book. I couldn’t help myself; it was that good! I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend others to pick it up. It will be a sweet addition to your holiday reading. I was given this book by the publisher which did not influence my review in any way, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I liked this book. I felt bad for Miranda as her own parents hadn't understood her and didn't really seem to love her. They died and Miranda had to go live with her cousin Cecil and his wife Felicity. Felicity seems to hate Miranda, treating her like less than a servant and giving her too many jobs to do. Plus she is always critical of her and plans to send her to another household as a nursery maid, despite the fact that the man of the house has been known to force himself on the maids. Thankfully several people are trying to help her, including Gerard Foremont who was a childhood friend. Gerard is a former Captain in the navy who was injured and has been home to recuperate.
It seems someone is trying to kidnap Miranda, and nearly succeeds. Gerard tries to protect her but is hindered by his injuries. He gets others involved just in time, as she is kidnapped.
During all the craziness, Gerard and Miranda start falling in love with each other. Some faith elements are discussed some. I loved how the story ended.
I enjoyed Miranda the most. She was dealt a very difficult hand in life. Her parents didn't understand her and died leaving her at the mercy of a horrible Uncle and hideous Aunt that treated her worse than they treated their servants. Yet, Miranda showed tremendous character and just was very relatable in her struggles and fears.
Gerard was adorable in a grumpy sort of way. He faced the hardship of a life changing injury that made him struggle with his "manhood." And like many men, he was frustrated and frustrating to those around him. Likewise, he dealt with the selfishness of the time and struggled with rejection.
The mystery around who was up to no good was interesting and I enjoyed watching it unfold. This story didn't give me the opportunity early on to try and solve it with the characters, but that was okay. It still made for an enjoyable Christmas read!
While I'm waiting for the sequel to Camille Elliot's Prelude for a Lord, I decided to indulge in a small Christmas novella she wrote. Spinster's Christmas is a sweet short read. The characters were loveable, but not quite as well developed as they could be, and there were so many of them I sometimes had difficulty remembering who was who. The mystery kept a good pace, though I would have liked a bit more foreshadowing.
Spinster's Christmas was not quite up to par with Prelude, but it is still a great book to curl up with on a cold winter evening with a hot mug of tea.
What had they all fought for when there was still such injustice at home?
Captain Gerard Foremont of the Royal Navy had been injured in a battle and was now recuperating at home, after a lengthy stay in the hospital. Thinking to enjoy the Christmas time, he joins family and friends at Wintrell Hall. What he discovers makes him wonder why he went to war….
The heroine of this lovely Regency tale is Miranda, a servant who is not a servant. The injustice of the British class system is alive and well in 1810. If you are a poor relative, you cannot expect anything more than a roof over your head. The author very lovingly shows us the importance of not only being seen by others but more importantly by God. He knows us all and wants only the best for us.
This is the beginning of the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series. A most enjoyable, laugh out loud at times and thought provoking series.
Captain Gerald Foremont had been injured during the battle on his ship had been sent home to recuperate. He and his parents were going to Sir Cecil Bellmore's house for Christmas. On the way just before getting to the house they saw Cecil's cousin Miranda Bellmore walking along the road and stopped to give her a ride. Cecil's wife Felicity us that Miranda for taking a ride. Ms. Elliott has written a wonderful little story with a happily ever after, after a number of trials and tribulations. I suggest you read the book is that the nice little book...
I truly enjoyed this Regency tale about a penniless lady of the gentry, Miranda who is forced to live with her cousin, Cecil upon her parent's death. She is treated no better than an unpaid servant. Gerard, a former Captain in the Navy is a childhood friend and they meet up to celebrate Christmas with their respective families at Christmas. They find out that they actually have romantic feelings for one another and the book has an intriguing twist with the mystery of who is trying to kill Miranda. The characters were well developed and the story kept my interest throughout. A good read.
Admittedly, I started this later last night. I spent most of the 15% of the book that I did read very confused about who people were and what was going on. This morning as I spent some time reading, I realized I was not enjoying the story at all. This is a DNF.
I loved the characters in this book. The main character was a improvised lady living in her cousins house. The cousins wife was extremely mean and rude. She was saved by her childhood friend that she had a crush on as long as she could remember.
What a great beginning to a series of Historical Christian fiction books set in the Regency era! I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book, but it did not in any way affect my review. All opinions are my own.
I ordered this book from Amazon, since I had previously read the author’s novel, “Prelude for a Lord” and loved it. This book is only 212 pages, so if you are looking for a Christmas novel that you can read quickly during the holidays, grab this one. It has everything! Mystery, Regency era, romance, faith and scripture. I enjoyed it as well. It is book #1 in the series and I look forward to reading more.
December 23, 1810, Dorsetshire, England Miranda Belmoore is known as a poor relation whom her family (cousins Felicity and Cecil) has been saddled with. Think Cinderella. Naval Captain Gerard (pronounced Je-rid in the U.K.) Foremont has had his knee badly damaged in an attack at sea, and has gone home to recover, and unfortunately being an eligible bachelor will find himself with numerous women throwing themselves at him during Christmastide (the Christmas season). However, when he runs into Miranda on his way to celebrate the holidays at the Belmoore’s estate, Wintrell Hall, he is reminded of his pleasant childhood days spent with Miranda and other children, and immediately offers his help to her. During the festivities, an enemy is lurking and seeking revenge at several turns. Lady Laura Wynwood and Solomon Drydale open the story, but are usually part of the background. When they do make appearances, I genuinely enjoy them. Laura is a strong woman of faith and has no problem saying outlandish things to gain the upper hand in a situation; very enjoyable. Sol is a bit of a mystery, but ready to lend a hand, and I look forward to seeing his character grow, and perhaps the two will even become more than friends.
Tea Moments: P.16 “So kind of you, Felicity said. Come inside out of this wind. There’s tea in the drawing room. P.38 “He was rescued by the appearance of their evening tea, which also included an ornate silver punch bowl of wassail.” Amusing Moment: P.20 “…others among the Belemoore’s had equated Miranda’s slowness of foot with slowness of mind, also. Probably because in moments like these, Miranda simply said nothing. It made others uncomfortable, which was why Miranda did it.”
Author Bio USA Today bestselling author Camille Elliot also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Camy Tang. She grew up in Hawaii but now lives in northern California with her engineer husband and rambunctious dog. She graduated from Stanford University in psychology with a focus on biology, and for nine years she worked as a biologist researcher. Then God guided her path in a completely different direction and now she's writing full time, using her original psychology degree as she creates the characters in her novels. In her free time, she's a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of her church's Sunday worship teams. She also loves to knit, spin wool into yarn, and is training to (very slowly) run a marathon. Visit her website at http://www.camilleelliot.com/ to subscribe to her email newsletter and be informed when she has a new release or a sale on a backlist title.
Review upon reread: Five years after the original publication of The Spinster’s Christmas, Camille Elliot is finally releasing the next book, following announcements about a switch in focus from a traditional historical romance series to one modeled on Japanese light novels. And in that vein, she released the illustrated version of this prequel novella last year, and, in anticipation of reading an ARC of the next book, I picked it up again, to see if my opinions had changed from my previous review.
And indeed they have. I still really enjoy the central characters for the same reasons, but I felt a lot different about how the story foreshadowed the involvement of Lady Wynwood and the supporting cast in future books. I felt it was a lot better balanced than I remembered, with an equal amount of sweet romance and intrigue and danger.
The illustrations are wonderful, adding another element to an already-great story. The style felt reminiscent of the handful of manga I read in my younger years (I love manga classics!), and really brought the scenes and characters to life in a new way.
This book is a wonderful melding of art forms to tell a compelling story. If you love Regency romance and manga, I recommend this book (and this edition in particular) highly. *** 3.5 stars This is a sweet inspirational Regency novella, in the vein of Jane Austen, paying homage to one of Austen’s less popular works, Mansfield Park with its plot of two people who grew up as a friends and almost like family finding love with one another. And while the romance itself is well-executed, some aspects left a little to be desired.
This is yet another novella with a large cast, and sometimes it can be hard to distinguish who’s who and how they all relate to one another. While I realize this is a self-published effort (and a revision of a novella previously released in an anthology), I can’t help but wish Elliot had included a character guide or family tree, as her other book, Prelude for a Lord featured one. And I am unsure if this a flaw with the editing, or just a fault of the large cast being hard to keep track of, but I had to go back to the opening scene several times to figure out who Lady Wynwood was, especially as she is referred to interchangeably as Laura and Lady Wynwood throughout, with little explanation.
But both Miranda and Gerard are wonderful characters. In Miranda, Elliot paints a sympathetic portrait of someone in such awful circumstances, but she remains positive. And Gerard is a truly compassionate and brave hero, who you can tell genuinely cares for Miranda.
As for the mystery aspect, it serves to add more dimension to Miranda’s backstory, as even though she was provoked into doing what she did, in a certain light, in can be viewed as a fault on her part.