The 12th book in the 12 books of Xmas series and the one that ties up the final Duke. The dule that holds an annual party for Xmas but never lives in Cressmouth at any other time, and as he is always hosting his arty, never finds out what other delights the town has to offer. Until he meets up with an ‘older’ spinster, who having endured many ‘Seasons’ and not having acquit=red any interest in marriage from suitors- and in fact rarely even been asked to danced – had decided that she could enjoy her herself in what would be termed scandalous pursuits if she were marriageable. She lutes the duke out of his party and into Cressmouth delights, but has a number of accidents with him as she does – including skiing and almost breaking his legs.
This was as always light, stylish and fun to read.
Cynthia is a bit of a naughty spinster. She hasn’t waited until marriage as she is convinced that she won’t ever be married and therefore there is no point in waiting. But her affairs are always short and sweet – only at Christmas as that is the only time she is around the Christmas village and has access to suitable people.
This is the 12th book in the 12 books of Xmas series and the one that ties up the final Duke. The duke that holds an annual party for Xmas but never lives in Cressmouth at any other time, and as he is always hosting his party, never finds out what other delights the town has to offer.
Until he meets up with an ‘older’ spinster, who having endured many ‘Seasons’ and not having acquired any interest in marriage from suitors- and in fact rarely even been asked to danced – had decided that she could enjoy her herself in what would be termed scandalous pursuits if she were marriageable. She lures the duke out of his party and into Cressmouth delights, but has a number of accidents with him as she does – including skiing and almost breaking his legs.
This was as always light, stylish and fun to read.
This book actually talks about the background history to Cressmouth and how it became a Christmas village
It tells you of the people who were instrumental in setting up the various elements that produced the final village and the rationale for how it was set up – so for instance the villagers paid for a 100 years lease with no further rent with one Guinea. This ensured that no greedy landlord could impoverish them in the future.
It was also agreed that the food and entertainment and so on would be free to all, but when you take into account the amount of rent that they were going to charge for the Castle apartments, in fact the food and all the entertainments would be paid for with a hefty profit. Because every time they talked about the rent for the Castle apartments, the price went up, until it was over a year’s rent for a London town house. So this meant that if you could afford to rent one of the Castle apartments you got bragging rights, and your name would be inserted into the regular newsletters that was sent out by the Christmas owners and management, which therefore would bring in money, rather than paying out for adverts in other people’s newsletters.
There was also to be an annual edition which would bring out all the annual highlights, and would be charged for as a picture book that would be kept.
We know about the stringent terms on which the shops were leased from the previous story about the jeweller in which there were seven years to pay back the loan or you lost everything.
All of which meant that Christmas was profitable and yet appeared to be free for all to enjoy.
It was therefore organised so that the nobility and the rich paid up and those with no money paid nothing.
I’m going to give this one five stars because I like the rational of how Christmas was arranged. Below are the 12 books that complete this series.
So we are back in Cressmouth aka Christmas where we have a horse ranch that that we have we have heard about before as they supply the horses that pulled the sledges up the very steep High Street; and of course Prinnie, the Prince Regent, wanted to buy Duke the amazing stallion who doesn’t like anyone to ride him – apart from one person – that is the person who nursed him through his foal- hood, who bottle fed him and who trained him. Our heroine in other words.
However as we know, in Regency times we have come across this problem before – women cannot inherit or own property – they need a man, and so it’s necessary for our heroine to find a man. Also her father thought she should be married so that she could then own the horse farm through him, or at least that’s what he told her.
He had long ago had a major argument with his partner which had led to the horse business being split into 2; one part in Christmas and the other part in London. He now contacted his ex-London partner to facilitate a rapprochement, and suggested that his son might marry our heroine and this is where the Story starts. There is one problem however with the London son – he’s a botanist doesn’t really like horses. He is concerned with a major avenue of research – finding a herbal remedy for when the placenta is retained in childbirth – as this leads to the mother bleeding out – as his own mother had. Of course, this does not please his father, but he continues, and is in need of money to hire the necessary scientists for his project. He thus agrees to woo the heroine in =exchange for funding from his father.
I’ve looked into some of the plants that are mentioned here in the book to see which ones do have some medicinal impact and some of them certainly do, others are really just decorative. The first one mentioned is nelumbo nucifera also known as the sacred Lotus or Indian Lotus. It is completely edible in all its parts and may be an antidepressant or anti diabetic; the second plant mentioned is olea sylvestris which is in fact the wild olive and as we know olives are very edible indeed. There is a mention of the grass that the horses have in their pasture – phleum pratense, this is a perennial grass and actually isn’t all that good for horses to eat when it is still green. It is sometimes called cats tail and is especially good when added to hay as it produces fibre and is good for the horses teeth as it is rather tough.
One of the things being researched into are plants that can induce Labour. Sometimes midwives will recommend castor oil or raspberry tea, or blue cohosh tea. However, there are no reliable studies to support that any of them actually work.
There are two orchids that are also mentioned, a Costa Rican orchid also called the Easter orchid –
– and an epiphytic orchid from the Asian Sub Continent which is miniature and very floriferous called vanda ampullacea.
This series is fun and the Dukes in question are often unexpected. In this particular book, the Duke is a horse. I always enjoy this writer and is interesting to see that she has brought into the story plants from the part of the world in which she lives – Costa Rica. Which is a wonderful plant friendly part of the world!
So here we are again in Christmas village – and we meet the partner – the wordsmith – and financier (part) of our wonderful tailor. The Clawhammer coat, breeches and waistcoat of the gentleman who wants to look like a Duke but only has a working man’s salary.
Jonathan is peripatetic. He sees his job as to promote the various endeavours he has financed from ormulu weaving to tailoring to many other crafts and activities, small and large. And of course, he takes a small percentage of the income in return for lending the start-up funding. It turns out that he is illegitimate and has a trust fund from his father – but his own income is more than sufficient – except for this new concept of the ready-made outfit for men. He is also a great story-teller about his adventures.
He accidentally meets a jeweller. She has her own issues as although she learnt her trade from her father, he didn’t think women should run their own businesses, and then it turns out she is also part African, descended from a freed slave.
There have been Black people living in the UK since Roman times at the very least, and it is thought that we had a Black queen – Queen Charlotte born 1761. By the late 1700s there were around 15,000 Black people known to live in the UK – many were servants and domestic workers, but some were also tradesmen. The abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833 meant that there was no further immigration to boost numbers. Most lived in large ports and centres of population. Unfortunately, race was not commonly recorded in Parish Registers or Censuses, so it is difficult to be accurate about numbers or occupations.
What we do know is that lockets with small portraits and locks of hair were commonly worn and that many were intricately jewelled and decorated.
This is a delightful series of short novels with a mention of a Duke at some point in the storyline, and all set amongst characters we have met in previous stories about this imaginary village.