Once Upon a Dickens Christmas: 3 Charming Christmas Tales Set in Victorian England

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas: 3 Charming Christmas Tales Set in Victorian England

by Michelle Griep

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Overview


Three Delightful Christmas Tales from Beloved Storyteller Michelle Griep
 
Pour yourself a cuppa, get lost in the merriment of the season, and enjoy a Dickensian Christmas in three stories from fan favorite Michelle Griep:
 
12 Days a Bleakly Manor: Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
 
A Tale of Two Hearts: Pleasure seeker William Barlow needs a wife immediately to gain his uncle’s inheritance, and Mina Scott is just the girl to make him look respectable—too bad she turns him down. Ought he give her a second chance?
 
The Old Lace Shop: Recently widowed Bella White is finally freed from the domination of the overbearing men in her life, but when she enters into a business partnership with the handsome Edmund Archer, she begins to wonder if marriage is worth a second chance.
 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683222606
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/01/2019
Series: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Series
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 137,591
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.25(d)

About the Author

Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas.  Follow this Christy Award winner's adventures at www.michellegriep.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

London, 1850

Christmas or not, there was nothing merry about the twisted alleys of Holywell. Clara Chapman forced one foot in front of the other, sidestepping pools of ... well, a lady ought not think on such things, not on the morn of Christmas Eve — or any other morn, for that matter.

Damp air seeped through her woolen cape, and she tugged her collar tighter. Fog wrapped around her shoulders, cold as an embrace from the grim reaper. Though morning had broken several hours ago, daylight tarried, seeming reluctant to make an appearance in this part of London — and likely wishing to avoid it altogether. Ancient buildings with rheumy windows leaned toward one another for support, blocking a good portion of the sky.

She quickened her pace. If she didn't deliver Effie's gift soon, the poor woman would be off to her twelve-hour shift at the hatbox factory.

Rounding a corner, Clara rapped on the very next door, then fought the urge to wipe her glove. The filthy boards, hung together more by memory than nails, rattled like bones. Her lips pursed into a wry twist. A clean snow might hide the sin of soot and grime in this neighborhood, but no. Even should a fresh coating of white bless all, the stain of so much humanity would not be erased. Not here. For the thousandth time, she breathed out the only prayer she had left.

Why, God? Why?

The door swung open. Effie Gedge's smile beamed so bright and familiar, Clara's throat tightened. How she missed this woman, her friend, her confidant — her former maid.

"Miss Chapman? What a surprise!" Effie glanced over her shoulder, her smile faltering as she looked back at Clara. "I'd ask you in but ..."

Clara shoved away the awkward moment by handing over a basket. "I've brought you something for your Christmas dinner tomorrow. It isn't much, but ..." It was Clara's turn to falter. "Anyway, I cannot stay, for Aunt's developed a cough."

Effie's smile returned, more brilliant than ever. "That's kind of you, miss. Thank you. Truly."

The woman's gratitude, so pure and genuine, rubbed Clara's conscience raw. Would that she might learn to be as thankful for small things. And small it was. Her gaze slipped to the cloth-covered loaf of bread, an orange, and used tea leaves wrapped in a scrap of paper. Pressing her lips together, she faced Effie. "I wish it were more. I wish I could do more. If only we could go back to our old lives."

"Begging your pardon, miss." Effie rested her hand on Clara's arm, her fingers calloused from work no lady's maid should ever have to perform. "But you are not to blame. I shall always hold to that. There is no ill will between us."

Clara hid a grimace. Of course she knew in her head she wasn't to blame, but her heart? That fickle organ had since reverted to her old way of thinking, pulsing out "you are unloved, you are unwanted" with every subsequent beat.

"Miss?"

Clara forced a smile of her own and patted the woman's hand. "You are the kind one, Effie. You've lost everything because of my family, and yet you smile."

"The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. I suppose you know that as well as I, hmm?" Her fingers squeezed before she released her hold. "I wish you merry, Miss Chapman, this Christmas and always."

"Thank you, Effie. And a very merry Christmas be yours, as well." She spun, eyes burning, and pushed her way back down the narrow alley before Effie saw her tears. This wasn't fair. None of it.

Her hired hansom waited where she'd left it. The cab was an expense she'd rather not think on, but altogether necessary, for she lived on the other side of town. She borrowed the driver's strong grip to ascend onto the step, then when inside, settled her skirts on the seat while he shut the door.

Only once did she glance out the window as the vehicle jostled along London's rutted roads — and immediately repented for having done so. Two lovers walked hand in hand, the man bending close and whispering into the woman's ear. A blush then, followed by a smile.

Clara yanked shut the window curtain, the loneliness in her heart rabid and biting.

That could have been her. That should have been her.

Why, God? Why?

She leaned her head back against the carriage. Was love to be forever denied her? First her father's rejection, then her fiancé's. She swallowed back a sob, wearier than twenty-five years ought to feel.

Eventually the cab jerked to a halt, and she descended to the street. She dug into her reticule and pulled out one of her last coins to pay the driver. At this rate, she wouldn't have to hire a cab to visit Effie next Christmas. She might very well be her neighbor.

"Merry Christmas, miss." The driver tipped his hat.

"To you, as well," she answered, then scurried toward Aunt's town house. A lacquered carriage, with a fine pair of matched horses at the front, stood near the curb. Curious. Perhaps the owner had taken a wrong turn, for Highgate, while shabbily respectable, was no Grosvenor Square.

Clara dashed up the few stairs and entered her home of the last nine months, taken in by the charitable heart of her Aunt Deborha Mitchell. The dear woman was increasingly infirm and housebound, but in her younger days she'd hobnobbed with people from many spheres.

Noontide chimes rang from the sitting-room clock, accompanied by a bark of a cough. Clara untied her hat and slipped from her cloak, hanging both on a hall tree, all the while wondering how best to urge Aunt back to her bed. The woman was as stubborn as ... She bit her lower lip. Truth be told, tenacity ran just as strongly in her own veins.

Smoothing her skirts, she pulled her lips into a passable smile and crossed the sitting room's threshold. "I am home, Aunt, and I really must insist you retire — oh! Forgive me."

She stopped at the edge of the rug. A man stood near the mantel, dressed in deep blue livery. Her gaze flickered to her aunt. "I am sorry. I did not know you had company."

"Come in, child." Aunt waved her forward, the fabric of her sleeve dangling too loosely from the woman's arm. "This involves you."

The man advanced, offering a creamy envelope with gilt writing embellishing the front. "I am to deliver this to Miss Clara Chapman. That is you, is it not?"

She frowned. "It is."

He handed her the missive with a bow, then straightened. "I shall await you at the door, miss."

Her jaw dropped as he bypassed her, smelling of lavender of all things. She turned to Aunt. "I don't understand."

"I should think not." Aunt nodded toward the envelope. "Open it."

Clara's name alone graced the front. The penmanship was fine. Perfect, actually. And completely foreign. Turning it over, she broke the seal and withdrew an embossed sheet of paper, reading aloud the words for Aunt to hear.

The Twelve Days of Christmas As never's been reveled Your presence, Miss Chapman,
Is respectfully herald.
Bleakly Manor's the place And after twelve nights Five hundred pounds Will be yours by rights.

She lowered the invitation and studied her aunt. Grey hair pulled back tightly into a chignon eased some of the wrinkles at the sides of her eyes, yet a peculiar light shone in the woman's faded gaze. Aunt Deborha always hid wisdom, but this time, Clara suspected she secreted something more.

"Who sent this?" Clara closed the distance between them and knelt in front of the old woman. "And why?"

Aunt shrugged, her thin shoulders coaxing a rumble in her chest. A good throat clearing staved off a coughing spell — for now. "One does not question an opportunity, my dear. One simply mounts it and rides."

"You can't be serious." She dissected the tiny lift of Aunt's brows and the set of her mouth, both unwavering. Incredible. Clara sucked in a breath. "You think I should go? To Bleakly Manor, wherever that is?"

"I think" — Aunt angled her chin — "you simply must."

CHAPTER 2

Running an absent finger over the burnt scabs on his forearm, Benjamin Lane sagged against the cell's stone wall, welcoming the sharp sting of pain. It wouldn't last long. The crust would fall away, leaving a series of black numbers etched into his skin. A permanent mark, forever labeling him a convict to be feared, and driving a final stake through the heart of his efforts to be something in this world. Turning aside, he spit out the sour taste in his mouth, then his lips curled into a snarl. He was something, all right.

An outcast.

Anger rose in him like a mad dog, biting and completely impotent, for he had no idea who'd put him in this rat hole. The only thing he did know, he wished he didn't. Not now. Not ever. Growling roared in his ears. Was that him? Oh, God. Not again.

Betrayal from an enemy he could understand, but from the woman he loved? What man could fathom that? For nine months he'd turned that question over and over, examining every angle, each nuance, and still he could not reckon Clara's duplicity.

Why, God? Why?

A finger at a time, Ben opened his hand and stared fiercely at a small chunk of stone, barely discernable in the darkness. Worn smooth now by nearly a year of caressing. He flipped it over, just like his unanswered questions, the sleekness of the rock against his palm reminding him he was human, not beast. Outside his cell, a shriek crawled beneath the crack in his door, reaching for him, taunting him to believe otherwise. To join the howl and become one with the pack of hopeless men.

He flipped the rock again. The movement tethered him to sanity.

Cocking his head, he listened with his whole body. Something more than screams crept in. The scrape of boot leather. Growing louder. Metal on metal, key battling key. The low murmur of a coarse jest shared between two guards.

Sweat popped out on Ben's forehead. He pressed his back into the wall, an impossible wish to disappear digging into his gut. The footsteps stopped. Only a slab of scarred wood separated him from his tormentors. Some Christmas this would be.

The key jiggled in the lock, and his stomach twisted. It was safer to remain here. In the dark. At least in this womb of crumbling brick and blackness he still heard the cries of other prisoners, as regular as a mother's heartbeat. He yet felt the dampness of rot on his skin, tasted the rancid gruel served once a day. Still breathed. Still lived.

He flipped the rock again.

The door swung open. A lantern's glow silhouetted two ghouls.

One stepped forward, a club in his grasp. "Out with ye, Lane. Warden's got a little Christmas gift with yer name on it."

Ben wrapped his fingers tight around the stone. Should he make a run for it? Spring an attack and wrestle for the club? Go limp? He'd sigh, if he had any breath to spare, but even that seemed a precious commodity nowadays.

No, better to face this head-on and not relinquish the last morsel of his dignity. He shuffled forward, the chains on his feet rasping. Shackles bit a fresh wound into his ankles with each step.

Leaving behind the only haven he'd known the past nine months, he stumbled into the corridor, guards at his back, prodding, poking. He lurched along, passing other doors, other convicts, inhaling the stench and guilt of Millbank Prison. How many wretches as innocent as he perished behind those doors?

One foot. Then the other. Drag, step. Drag, step. Until the stairway. The weight of his chains pulled him back as he ascended. By the time he reached the top, blood trickled hot over his feet.

"Move it!"

The guard's club hit between his shoulder blades, knocking him forward and jarring loose his precious stone. It clacked onto the floor, as loud to him as the hammer pounding in Christ's nails, then bounced down the stairs, taking his soul along with it.

No!

He wheeled about, diving for his only remainder of hope.

But a boot caught him in the gut. A club cracked against his skull. Half-lugged, half-dead, he landed in the warden's office like an alley cat thrown against a curb. The warden's sigh barely registered.

"Don't know why I expected anything different. Thank you, gentlemen. You may wait outside. Up you go, Lane." Warden Hacksby extended a hand.

Ignoring the offer, Ben sucked in a breath and forced his body up, staggering until the room stopped spinning.

"If nothing else, you are consistent." Hacksby chuckled and seated himself behind a desk as angular as the man himself. "Do you know what day it is?"

Ben worked out the soreness in his jaw before words could escape. "Sorry. I'll have to check my calendar and get back to you. Or ... wait a minute. Ahh, yes. Am I to sail for Australia today?" He narrowed his eyes. "But we both know I'll never reach the shore."

"Ever the cynic, eh? Really, Lane. After all the hospitality I've shown you." Hacksby tut-tutted, the curl of his lip exposing yellowed teeth. "But no. There's been a change of plans. You've received another offer, should you choose to take it."

Bitterness slipped from Ben's throat in a rusty laugh. "What, the gallows? A firing squad? Or has Queen Victoria invited me for Christmas tea?"

"Aha! So you do know what day it is. Always the sly one, are you not?" Hacksby rose from his seat and leaned across the desk, a creamy envelope with Ben's name in golden script on the front. "For you. Your freedom, possibly — providing you play by the rules. If not, you're to be shot on sight for any escape attempt."

Ben eyed the paper. What trick was this? He was supposed to be transported to a labour camp halfway across the world, not handed an engraved invitation. He stiffened. This was a trap. He knew it to the deepest marrow in his bones.

Nevertheless, he reached out, and for the smallest of moments, the warden held one edge, he the other. Liberty hanging in the balance.

Maybe.

CHAPTER 3

Despite her cold fingers, Clara rubbed away the frost on the coach's window, then peered out into the December night. She ought be sore by now, riding such a distance over country roads, but truly, this carriage was magnificent — and so was the mansion that popped into view as they rounded a bend. She leaned closer, then reared back as her breath fogged the glass. With a furious swipe of her glove, she stared out the cleared circle, slack jawed.

This was Bleakly Manor?

A grand structure, torches ablaze, lit the night like the star of Bethlehem. The building stood proud at three stories tall, with candles winking behind row upon row of mullioned windows. Clearly whoever owned Bleakly didn't care a fig about window taxes. Clara held her breath and edged closer, careful not to muddle her view with rime. Garland swagged from the roofline the entire length of the building. How on earth had they managed that? Red bows with dangling ribbons hung from each wall sconce, and as the carriage drew nearer, a gust of wind lent them life, and they waved a greeting.

She sat back against the cushion, stunned. There was nothing bleak about this manor. Who had invited her — a lowly lady's companion — to such an estate? Who would even want to keep company with her? And more importantly, why?

The coach stopped, and the door opened. She gave up trying to solve such a puzzle as the footman helped her to the drive.

"I'll see to your bags, miss." A lad, no more than fourteen yet dressed in as fine a livery as the older man, tipped his head in deference.

The respectful gesture stung. She hadn't been so favored since that awful day, that nightmare day nine months previous, when she'd stood in front of an altar in a gown of white.

"Ready, miss?"

The footman's voice pulled her from the horrid memory. She lifted her skirts to follow him without tripping. "Yes."

She was ready, truly, to meet whoever had invited her. Perhaps if she explained the frail state of her aunt, she wouldn't be required to stay the full Twelve Days of Christmas.

After ascending granite stairs, she and the footman passed through an arched doorway and entered a foyer the size of Aunt's dining and sitting rooms combined. A crystal chandelier dripped golden light over everything, from a cushioned bench against one wall to a medieval trestle table gracing the other. Fresh flowers filled a cut-glass vase atop the table. Marble tile gleamed beneath her feet, the echo of her steps reaching up to a mounted lion head on the wall in front of her, just above a closed set of doors. She couldn't help but stare up into the cold, lifeless eyes, wondering how many people before her had done the same.

"I should be happy to take your cloak and bonnet, miss." The footman held out his arm.

Her fingers shook as she unbuttoned her coat and untied her hat, though she was hard-pressed to decide if the jittery feeling was from cold air or nerves. Handing over her garments, she waited for further instruction from the tall fellow.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Once Upon A Dickens Christmas"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Michelle Griep.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Once Upon a Dickens Christmas: 3 Charming Christmas Tales Set in Victorian England 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Homesteading 4 months ago
"I may be uneducated in the ways of business, but there is one thing I know. Either your faith will move mountains, or your doubt will create them." ~Bella, The Old Lace Shop Griep does a good job depicting Victorian era locales; homes, businesses, countryside. I could 'see' the finery and manners, or lack thereof, of each character. Scruffy and dirty and/or neat and tidy, they all came alive in my mind. Each story is full of drama, mystery, romance, and human condition. Grab a copy of this illuminating trio and settle in for a few hours of Dickensian delight! I received a copy from the publisher and author. No review was required. No compensation received.
CLovelyReads 9 days ago
Not one or two, but three great Christmas stories in Once Upon A Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep. Good holiday read on a snowy winter's day and a glimpse of a Dickens time period. I also liked the actual book with print easy to read, even though it is three stories. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
PamMooney 11 days ago
I love this author! I want a second chance coin - such a lovely concept to weave through the three delightful stories. I enjoyed the other Dickens' references as well. The window into Victorian life was so true to history and including a Christmas/Christian theme. Each of the stories are unique and equally charming with eccentric characters and breathtaking descriptions of places that immediately captivate. I think it is awesome that her stories have brought Dickens back to me as well as inspired others to reread his classic tales - or read for the first time. Quite a feat in this modern age. I liked the cover and feel of the paperback book too - absolutely a book to keep and re-read. Also a great gift to celebrate the holiday. A good read.
academy252 17 days ago
These stories are delightfully Dickensian themed stories set in Victorian England. They are very engaging stories full of mystery, adventure and sweet romances. They are perfect for cozy Christmas reading perhaps in front of a fire. Each novel is somewhere in the neighborhood of 175 to 200 pages. They will fill you with Christmas spirit. All the books are a lovely good quality paperback format. The first novel in the series and the trilogy collection both come with deckled edges. I love the look of these books. They have beautiful covers and a bonus seasonal look from the spines while sitting on your shelves. If you love Christian fiction, Christmas stories and Dickens this is a total win for you!
Sandra0808 22 days ago
Three Victorian Dickens inspired novellas to enjoy during this holiday season: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, A Tale of Two Hearts, and The Old Lace Shop. These novellas include strong women who endure difficult times and situations with aplomb and courage. Their tenacity and spirit are infectious and inspiring as they set out to solve a mystery, delve into a new business partnership, or stop a devious plot. The historical details and the crafty use of language are signature attributes of the author. There are some very memorable lines and scenes throughout. There is suspense, romance, intrigue, compassion, and holiday spirit sprinkled throughout these three novellas and with the rough cut pages and charming cover, this would make a nice gift for the booklover on your Christmas list. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
MelissaGH 22 days ago
Three unique Christmas stories. Each story brings the possibility of romance. Great to read at Christmas time and any time of the year. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
SunnieReviews 22 days ago
This book consisted of three stories in a Christmas compilation. It was really a fun read and I enjoyed the stories very much The stories took place in the Victorian period England. I especially enjoyed the second story in the book entitled A Tale of Two Hearts. I guess you could say it was my favorite one! The stories were all delightful reads and bring you into the holiday mood. Two stories had been previously published as single novellas, but I really like the combined stories as one book. Michelle Griep is a talented author and has a real way with words in the stories clearly bringing you back to the Charles Dickens times. It was a good clean, Christian read. Very entertaining. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
ChatWithVera 22 days ago
We all know and love Christmas as depicted by Charles Dickens and have read, seen movies or plays, and recalled significant scenes from his famous tale. Our author, Michele Griep, takes us on a journey to the days of Dickens and we meet characters worthy of one the famous gentleman's tales. This book is a collection of three Christmas tales so what I am doing is spreading my own reading joy out over the holidays. I just finished 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, and it is certainly one I enjoyed. It seemed as though some famously silly character types such as one would encounter in Alice's Mad Hatter Tea Party were part of the collection of folks gathered in the rich, cold, bewildering halls of Bleakly Manor. Though an elegant place, it was also a bleak place. Each person assembled had either lost something they needed to find or regain or they were in need of something. Riches, love, security, hope. The story is a sort of mystery. A sort of romance. A sort of Dickens plot where it seems the underdog surely must regain some dignity or something positive. Yes, there is a lovely heroin. Yes, there is a strong, dashing gentleman. Yes, there is a beloved auntie. And yes, there is a happy ending. But getting there...... well, that is the tale. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and highly recommend it. As the holidays progress, I'll try to return here and give you my thoughts on the other two novellas encompassed within the folds of this beautiful book. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine and freely given.
Jdp15 22 days ago
I finished reading "Once Upon a Dickens Christmas" by Michelle Griep and it was really good! 5⭐. This book has 3 cute Christmas stories set in Victorian England. Great book to read during the holidays! "I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review."
Ladybug1969 23 days ago
Three beautiful stories to put you in the Christmas mood! Historical figures and Victorian Christmas traditions are woven into these romantic tales. I loved the Historical Notes explaining some of the different traditions, links to recipes, and other fun stuff! Quotes from books by Charles Dickens are included at the beginning of the chapters - what a great touch! Loved this one from Great Expectations, "I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape" and from Charles Dickens himself, "Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart," and "There is nothing so strong or safe in an emergency of life as the simple truth." I am the reviewer whose favorite novels are ones with great quotes from the characters. If I can learn life lessons while reading for enjoyment, all the better! Miss Whymsy in "A Tale of Two Hearts" says this, "I believe that when God permits pain, it is for the purpose of allowing something new to be born inside of us. I am not the same person I would be had Roger lived - and I trust my clever Creator that I am the better for it." These are the kind of quotes I type out & hang up in my office! Charming stories, lessons learned, new Christmas traditions to start...the season of joy and peace is off to a great start!
Sonflwr 23 days ago
For those of you who enjoy stories that are set in Victorian England, this one’s for you. Besides, there’s also some romance, Christmas miracles (we all know those happen), and a few surprises along the way. I also noticed that these characters “rubbed elbows” with a Charles Dickens. The book contains three stories – the first two have been around (which I didn’t know so it was all new for me). All three are action packed and have strong characters. And, what’s more this little second chance coin keeps being passed around – along with second chances. What’s better than that at Christmas? 12 Days at Bleakly Manor keeps you trying to figure out what’s going to happen, as well as who is behind the invitations and “contest”. Will Ben and Clara both be able to last the 12 days, although there is supposedly only one winner? Will their love be rekindled? A Tale of Two Hearts is kind of fun with Mina pretending to be William’s wife so he can be chosen the heir of his uncle’s estate. Especially with the cousin and his wife plotting how to keep that from happening, because, of course he should be heir. Will they be able to pull this off – and, not break Mina’s heart because she really cares for Will? Of course, when you try to use deceit it can dig that hole bigger and bigger – and be harder to get out of. And, last, The Old Lace Shop. This one was really my favorite, as I am a weaver, and enjoy stories about how lace was made in that era. The working conditions, the living conditions, etc. and the difference in the levels of society – we just don’t realize how people did it. And, of course, the main characters Bella and Edmund had to figure out how to be business partners without rekindling their love – or can they? Hope you can get this read before Christmas. I highly recommend it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
KrisAnderson_TAR 23 days ago
I have enjoyed all three tales in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas. They can each be read on their own, but why would you want to read just one of these charming novellas. 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is a well-crafted and entertaining novel. It is short, but it is packed full of action and intrigue. The mystery was delightful (see if you can figure out the culprit in this one) and the characters interesting. I like the Christian beliefs expressed in the story (compassion, prayer, faith, forgiveness, second chances, God is in control, trust, and hope). The Christian theme is light, but the point is gotten across. In A Tale of Two Hearts, Michelle Griep brought London in 1853 to life with her descriptions of the clothing, language, literature as well the architecture, cobbled streets, the inn and the insides of the buildings as well as the class stations of the characters. I especially loved the imagery of Purcell’s where they had tea with Uncle Barlow. A Tale of Two Hearts has delightful characters. I especially liked Uncle Barlow and Miss Whymsy. They are two charming people who have a touch of whimsy. There are some good life lessons included in the story. Second chances, forgiveness and Christian charity being the main themes. Every one of us has needed a second chance at one time or another. The book is told from William and Mina’s point-of-views giving us different perspectives. It is always fascinating to see how different men think from woman. There are references to Charles Dickens work scattered throughout the story. The Old Lace Shop is a well-crafted story with a good flow. I thought the characters were developed and realistic for the time period. Bella arrives in Nottingham and is surprised to see blind women outside begging for assistance. She soon learns that they lost their eyesight making lace. The kindhearted Bella wants to find a way to help them plus she has other improvements in mind for the factory much to Edmund’s dismay. We see the importance of faith and prayer. How we need to rely on God and turn our worries over to him. All three stories are captivating, but 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is my favorite. If you enjoy historical stories, you will not be disappointed with Once Upon a Dickens Christmas. It was interesting to see how Dickens came into play in each novella. I like how the author gave us three diverse yet complimentary tales. Once Upon a Dickens Christmas contains three engaging novellas that will put you in the mood for Christmas.
Virginiaw 24 days ago
This is a wonderful set of three Christmas stories. Each of these stories are really good. All three have great characters and we learn some great lessons. The three tales are 12 Days of Bleakly Manor, A Tale of Two Hearts and The Old Lace Shop.i loved all three stories but I think my favorite was The Old Lace Shop. This story had the best characters and my favorite lesson. They all had some twists and turns. I did not like putting down the book when I got to The Old Lace Shop. I also loved to read a little about how these factories ran. I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
PatriotMama 25 days ago
First, let me start by saying I’m a huge Michelle Griep fan. I’ve read a lot of her books. Once Upon a Dickens Christmas contains 3 novellas. The first, 12 Days at Blakey Manner was written in 2017. It was a huge mystery kind of like playing Clue. I enjoyed it. The second, A Tale of Two Hearts was written in 2018. I really liked that story. The plot was well established & the characters were very likable. The last, Thd Old Lace Shop was written in 2019. I enjoyed this one as well. I enjoyed learning a little about the lace making process. The characters were very likable. The presentation of the actual book is amazing. The cover is beautiful. I love the folded flaps on the inside of both covers. Lastly, the rough cut of the pages really gives it some charm. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Janet55 25 days ago
What a Christmas treasure Michelle Griep has written. Starting with the beautiful Victorian style cover down to the very last page you will be sure to stay closely glued to your book. If you love Charles Dickens you will adore the stories as you travel back in time to 1800's England. 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is wonderfully written story that I found to be quite like a mystery. Imagine a group of people being asked to come and stay at Beakley Manor for a twelve day duration. At the end of the stay, if the characters make it through with minimal provisions, being strangers to each other with the exception of the hero and heroine and reward can be earned. Once much in love and left standing at the altar our heroine is left devastated and hurt with no concrete reason as to why it happened. Arriving at Beakley Manor we are introduced to characters that are quirky and maybe even a little silly. While this story is part mystery and maybe one part a sweet love story it is heartwarming and a perfect read for the holiday season. A Tale of Two Hearts is a wonderfully written story! Travel back to 1800's London and walk through the pages and into the world of Mina and William. Friends for many years Mina has secretly loved Wiliam but when William asked MIna to do something she isn't quite sure is right she goes along with Williams's idea of how to gain his uncles favor and thus his inheritance. This story has some funny scenes as William goes head to head with Percy, a family relative vying for Uncle Barlow's inheritance as well. This is such a sweet story of forgiveness. Being honest and remembering that little squabbles over things in life that are petty and meaningless will remind the reader of how important our family members are to us. Perfect for the season of year where we are reminded of how much we are loved. The Old Lace Shop is a lovely story. Bella White find herself a free woman after the death of her abusive and dominating husband. After his death Bella learns she has inherited many of holdings and decides she will keep one of them. Being a woman in 1800's England Bella finds herself struggling to understand the business of the old lace shop while coming to terms with realizing her former sweetheart is involved in the business. Bella enters into a partnership with Edmund Archer while trying to live up to her stand of never being married again and depending on a man. This is a touching and sweet tale of faith and love. True to Michelle Grieps writing style the book is sweet without being overboard. This book is a wonderful gift not just at Christmas but year round. Cozy up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and your favorite warm blanket for an afternoon of divine reading. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
rkfall 26 days ago
Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep is a compilation of 3 of her Christmas books all in one. Each year for the past 3 years she has released a book and they have all been great! It’s so nice to have them all in one book. I have a physical book for this one and it’s a favorite of mine because of the “torn” look on the edges of each sheet. I have read all three books in their entirety and a couple of them more than once. It’s a great book to read from year to year at Christmas time. In fact, for my family, we like to find Christmas books and hear them aloud and enjoy it all together. With loads of intrigue, Christmas, and romance, what’s not to love! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
ARS8 26 days ago
Once Upon a Dickens Christmas is a Christmas collection of novellas from author Michelle Griep. Two have previously been published on their own, but in this collection those two plus a third are wrapped up in a lovely book collection. Inside and out. Focusing on the newest, The Old Lace Shop, we have a couple who once upon a time were in love and had dreams of each other till duty and responsibility separated them. Both have lost their spouses and both have had unhappy marriages. Bella’s was abusive and we see her grow to be an independent woman and to break out of the shell that her father, her husband, and society put her into. I enjoyed seeing these two grow towards each other again when Bella stubbornly refuses to give up her share in the lace company that Edmund is the minority owner of. And Edward has some secrets he would like to keep private and hidden from the rest of the world. I think this one is my favorite of the three. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Emma 26 days ago
Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep 3 Charming Christmas Tales Set in Victorian England About the Book: Three Delightful Christmas Tales from Beloved Storyteller Michelle Griep Pour yourself a cuppa, get lost in the merriment of the season, and enjoy a Dickensian Christmas in three stories from fan favorite Michelle Griep: 12 Days a Bleakly Manor: Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love. This is Clara Chapman and Ben Lane's story. they are chosen to attend the 12 Days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor. Christmas or not, there was nothing merry about the twisted alleys of Holywell. Clara Chapman forced one foot in front of the other, sidestepping pools of … well, a lady ought not think on such things, not on the morn of Christmas Eve—or any other morn, for that matter. Damp air seeped through her woolen cape, and she tugged her collar tighter. Fog wrapped around her shoulders, cold as an embrace from the grim reaper. Though morning had broken several hours ago, daylight tarried, seeming reluctant to make an appearance in this part of London—and likely wishing to avoid it altogether. Ancient buildings with rheumy windows leaned toward one another for support, blocking a good portion of the sky. She quickened her pace. If she didn’t deliver Effie’s gift soon, the poor woman would be off to her twelve-hour shift at the hatbox factory. A finger at a time, Ben opened his hand and stared fiercely at a small chunk of stone, barely discernable in the darkness. Worn smooth now by nearly a year of caressing. He flipped it over, just like his unanswered questions, the sleekness of the rock against his palm reminding him he was human, not beast. Outside his cell, a shriek crawled beneath the crack in his door, reaching for him, taunting him to believe otherwise. To join the howl and become one with the pack of hopeless men. He flipped the rock again. The movement tethered him to sanity. Cocking his head, he listened with his whole body. Something more than screams crept in. The scrape of boot leather. Growing louder. Metal on metal, key battling key. The low murmur of a coarse jest shared between two guards. A Tale of Two Hearts: Pleasure seeker William Barlow needs a wife immediately to gain his uncle’s inheritance, and Mina Scott is just the girl to make him look respectable—too bad she turns him down. Ought he give her a second chance? this is Mina Scott and William Barlow's story. London, 1853: Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life, for there’s nothing more mundane than serving customers day after day. Every minute she can, she reads and dreams of someday becoming a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn. Mina is persuaded to pretend to be married to Will Barlow to help him become the heir to his uncles estate. William is a gentleman’s son, a charming but penniless rogue. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his scheming cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit. William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William.
susanmsj 27 days ago
I loved this collection of three Dickens-inspired stories. They are very different stories but they are all linked by the thread of second chances and trusting God to make things right. The author created characters that came alive and made me care about them, both main characters and secondary ones. I love Christmas stories and these three were some special ones. I would recommend this collection. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Nancy Shaner 27 days ago
I could hardly put this down once I started it. The author does a great job of creating her characters. Clever usage of names. I liked how the characters passed the "Second Chance" coin on to others needing a second chance. Clever insertion of Mr. Charles Dickens himself into these stories. I especially loved "The Old Lace Shop." It was easy to envision the story as I had visited the Lace Market District in Nottingham in 2012. I could get out my pictures and clearly see the streets, the buildings and the old Church. These stories are very well done and I am not passing on this book. I will keep it and read it again closer to Christmas. I highly recommend this book. I received a compimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
MaureenST 27 days ago
The author has offered us three stories to get lost in, we travel back in time to old England and Charles Dicken’s appears or is mentioned in each of the reads. The time period of Dickens is what threads these stories together, and you will be quickly immersed in each read. There is a common theme of forgiveness and giving a second chance, and you get to journey to how things are resolved. Be ready for danger, and you won’t know what is about to happen next, but also won’t be able to put this one down and once you finish one you will be moving to the next! I received this book through the Publisher Barbour and was not required to give a positive review.
Librarycataloger 27 days ago
People who enjoy Victorian novels and Charles Dickens will be thrilled with this new release from Michelle Griep. Once Upon A Dickens Christmas is a collection of three of Griep's novellas that allude to the works of Charles Dickens and her tales rival those penned by Dickens himself. All three of these stories are set in London in the 1850s and the characters and plots will stay with you long after you've finished reading them. I loved that Charles Dickens makes cameo appearances and that all three feature a gold coin, second chances, and the possibility of love and romance at different stages of life. The romances are certainly what we've come to expect in Victorian romance novels and Griep's descriptions of the London countryside and the Christmas traditions made me feel as though I was truly living during the era of Charles Dickens. Once Upon A Dickens Christmas promises to become a book that will be read and enjoyed each Christmas season! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Sprinkle23 28 days ago
Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep boasts a beautiful cover, deckled pages, and the pleasing thickness afforded by three novellas. Included in this collection are: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, A Tale of Two Hearts, and The Old Lace Shop. Of the three, The Old Lace Shop was my favorite. All three novellas had highly interesting plots, themes about second chances, and brief cameos by Charles Dickens. The mystery in 12 Days at Bleakly Manor was particularly well-done. I enjoyed the romantic tension in A Tale of Two Hearts. Nearly all the characters in The Old Lace Shop have an intriguing struggle to deal with. I think each of the stories would have made amazing full-length novels. However, as they were constrained by the novella length, the plots progressed quickly and offered limited character development. Overall, the novellas were entertaining and I don’t regret giving them a try (which is actually a compliment given my dislike for most novellas). I’m a fan of Michelle Griep’s full-length novels and I’m happy to add this to my collection of her works even though it’s not my favorite from her. I recommend to readers who enjoy shorter historical romances with Christian themes. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
CarolJo 28 days ago
12 Days at Bleakley Manor: This book takes place in 1850 at an English manor home. Clara is invited to spend the 12 days of Christmas at Bleakley Manor in exchange for a large sum of money. A strange assortment of people have also been invited but where is the host? Ben, Clara's former fiance, is the strongest character in the book. If you enjoy humor in your reading, this book may be for you! A Tale of Two Hearts: Mina Scott loves books but has to hide her reading from her father who owns the Golden Egg Inn in 1850s London. Mina shows lots of spunk when she agrees to pose as the bride of a handsome customer William Barlow! You'll enjoy the older Miss Whymsy and William's uncle, Charles Barlow. The Old Lace Shop: You will admire Mrs. Bella White whose late husband was abusive. On his death, Bella determines to never be dependant on a man again! Thankfully she is now a wealthy woman and Bella decides to be an active partner in one of the businesses left to her! Imagine Edmund Archer's shock when Bella shows up at the lace factory ready learn the business! Plus, Edmund and Bella were once in love before her father gave her to Mr. White. Bella has many ideas about changes to the factory! The Old Lace Shop was my favorite of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas collection. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
MEPinkham 29 days ago