Few historical romance authors can equal Mary Balogh’s record in writing Christmas stories. Her first Christmas novella, “The Star of Bethlehem,” appeared in the very first Signet Regency Christmas collection, A Regency Christmas (1989). In fact, a Balogh story was included in the Signet Regency Christmas anthologies for the first nine years they were published. She also wrote a story, “Guarded by Angels,” for Topaz’s Angel Christmas (1995). “A Handful of Gold,” first published in The Gifts of Christmas (Harlequin, 1998), was reissued in Christmas Keepsakes (Harlequin, 2005) and The Heart of Christmas (Harlequin, 2009). Under the Mistletoe, a collection that includes four Balogh Christmas novellas from her Signet years plus a new novella, was published in 2005.
In addition to these dozen Christmas novellas, Balogh has also written four novels with Christmas settings and themes: Christmas Beau (1991), a revenge story turned into a reunion story by the magic of Christmas, A Christmas Promise (1992), a cross-class marriage of convenience tale with a family Christmas that bridges two worlds and a most sigh-worthy conclusion; Christmas Belle (1994), another reunion story, this one with a rare actress heroine; and A Christmas Bride (1997), one of the best redeemed heroine novels. Speaking critically, I think A Christmas Promise is the best of the four. It shows the complications of a marriage between people from different classes, offers a detailed look at the Christmas celebrations of the period, and provides a poignant view of how grief affects the bereaved during a holiday, and it does all this with grace, credibility, and romantic tension. But I love all four books and have reread each one several times.
[Then there are the novellas...]