Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol is the best holiday story ever. Perhaps that's hyperbole. But according to some experts, Dickens' work is responsible for Christmas as we know it today—as a more secular holiday celebrated with family gatherings, Christmas trees, gift giving, and philanthropy. It has even affected the way we speak. We can thank Dickens for the phrases “Merry Christmas,” “Scrooge,” and “Bah! Humbug!”
A Christmas Carol is the tale of a miserly, mean-spirited English accountant named Ebenezer Scrooge who hoards his wealth and hates Christmas. On Christmas Eve, he's visited by the ghost of his dead business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of past, present, and future Christmases. They convince him to do good works and love mankind.
Unfortunately, there is one part of A Christmas Carol that's always been a real downer, in my opinion. Scrooge could have had romantic love and a family of his own, but he alienated his fiancée Belle with his greediness. By the time he finds redemption, it's too late to reverse his past mistakes with her. That's why current romance novels that utilize the themes, characters, or plot of a Christmas Carol are such fun to read. Unlike poor Ebenezer, modern Scrooge-like heroes and heroines can find true love before it's too late.
For example, in Scrooge and the Single Girl by Christine Rimmer, lifestyle columnist Jillian Diamond and Will “Scrooge” Bravo end up stranded together in a remote cabin for Christmas thanks to the efforts of Will's matchmaking mother. Jillian's heart is closed to romance, however, and Will's heart is closed to Christmas. Luckily, holiday spirit—and the intervention of the ghost of Will's grandmother Mavis—help the couple find true love.
In Scrooge Wore Spurs by Janet Dailey, Eben MacCallister could lose his ranch if he can't make a huge loan payment. To make matters worse, he's appointed the guardian of his long-lost sister's orphaned children—an infant, twin four-year-old girls, and a seven-year-old boy. His former fiancée Maddie Williams, the wealthy owner of a dude ranch, agrees to help him, and she and the kids teach Eben to value people more than money and land.
Scrooge's redemption is also an appropriate theme for inspirational romance. For example, in A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry, Marlee and Jacob have been married for twenty years, but they're ready to divorce. A Christmas Eve blizzard and car crash lead to a magical journey that restores Marlee's faith in her marriage and love for her husband.
Considering that A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843, it's also easy to adapt the story for historical romance. For example, in A Visit from Sir Nicholas by Victoria Alexander—a Victorian-era novel that includes Dickens's tale as a theme—Lady Elizabeth Effington was spurned by her one true love, Sir Nicholas Collingsworth, ten years earlier. She ended up marrying his friend Charles and having two children, but she's a widow when Sir Nicholas arrives back to town. He attempts to rekindle their love in time for Christmas.
In A Regency Christmas Carol by Christine Merrill, wealthy Joseph Stratford wants to open one of his diabolical mills in a quaint village. He has feelings for Barbara Lampett, the outspoken daughter of one of his most vocal opponents, but he's determined to marry a submissive heiress until he's visited by the spirit of his deceased father—along with the spirits of past, present, and future. They show Joseph where he's gone wrong and how he can change and find true love before it's too late.
In A Harlequin Christmas Carol, the angels of the past, present, and future must help three book club members in 1890s England find true love. In “Yesterday's Bride” by Betina Krahn, Claire Halliday has spent years living in the past grieving the tragic death of her fiancée, but she has a chance at true love with her fiancée's cousin Rafe.
In “Today's Longing” by Jacquie D'Alessandro, Lady Adelaide Kendall needs her angel's help because she's in love with her sister's fiancée—and her sister's in love with her fiancée's brother.
In “Tomorrow's Destiny” by Hope Tarr, Fiona MacPherson has lost hope that she'll find true love but a dire vision of a lonely future renews her determination to find her soul mate—who just might be Tobias, the new owner of her father's bookshop.
Finally, for ladies who have dreamed about getting down and dirty with Ebenezer, there are some Scrooge-themed erotica stories available to read. In “His Christmas Cara” by Shiloh Walker, which is part of the Red Hot Holidays anthology, Ebenezer Marley gets help from the ghosts of the past, present, and future in order to restore his relationship with Cara Winston. In Christmas Elf by Tielle St. Clare, Marlie, a very naughty elf, is sent on a mission to restore Scrooge-like Jacob Triumph's Christmas spirit—by any means necessary.
Which A Christmas Carol stories are your favorites?
Brittany is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist and small business owner who hopes that heaven will be like a bookstore with an endless supply of free books, free coffee and super comfy chairs.