The Best Christmas Gift I Ever Received…

The Best Christmas Gift I Ever Received…


Get into the seasonal spirit with a festive blog post from the authors of our enchanting Once Upon a Regency Christmas anthology—available now!



Sophia James – author of Marriage Made at Christmas



….was a washing machine from my parents.

I was just married and we were living in a condemned old colonial house that we were renovating. The mortgage was costing us a fortune and we had very little furniture, so I was washing our clothes by hand.

When Christmas came Mum and Dad hid some money in a dirty old pair of socks that they had wrapped up. They had made a card to say that they wanted us to buy a washing machine with it and when I opened it up I burst into tears with delight.

Pete and I went to the Boxing Day sales towing a trailer and we chose a top-loading automatic machine. The trouble was we had so little money to spare that we had to save up for about a month before we had enough to pay an electrician to install it.

I still remember the first wash.

We had a line on the back veranda that dried clothes so well in the sea breeze. It was pure bliss falling into clean sheets without blisters on my fingers from trying to get them clean.



Annie Burrows – author of Cinderella’s Perfect Christmas


Last Christmas, there was a big surprise waiting for me under the tree, with a label saying it was from my husband. It was about two foot wide and four foot long, and completely flat. I couldn’t guess what it was, and started removing the gift wrap with some trepidation (my husband has sometimes bought me very strange gifts for Christmas, like the year he bought me a CD when we didn’t actually have a CD player, and then used it as an excuse to get himself one in the January sales!).

However, when I finally got the paper off, I didn’t need to feign delight. It was a stunning painting of a girl dressed in Regency costume, gazing wistfully out of a window. And I recognised it as a detail from one of my book covers. Suddenly, the times I’d caught him in my study looking through my books and striking up casual conversations about which was my favourite cover and why, all made sense.

I’d told him that some of my foreign translations got absolutely gorgeous covers, especially the Scandinavian ones. “And if you had to choose just one?” Oh, it would have to be the Norwegian translation of His Cinderella Bride, because that book has a special place in my heart, being the very first story accepted for publication by Mills & Boon.”

The painting now has pride of place on my living room wall. Not only is it a gorgeous picture, but it has very special significance. It is a visual reminder that I managed to achieve my long-held ambition to become a published writer.

And also that after 36 years of marriage my husband has finally learned how to give gifts I actually like!



Louise Allen – author of On a Winter’s Eve


What was the best Christmas gift I ever received? Now that’s a hard choice – almost everything that was under the Christmas tree when I was a child was magical in memory, so I will tell you about the latest gift and probably the best of my adult life.


It is for this Christmas, it is from my husband and I already know what it is. I can’t unwrap it and I can’t enjoy it, except in anticipation, until February, but I know it will be wonderful.

Three weeks on a small expedition ship in the Antarctic following the route of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s epic voyage is going to be spectacular – ice and penguins and whales (I am besotted by whales) plus treading in the footsteps of my greatest exploration hero. Who needs tinsel and a bow on top?


And preparing is part of the fun – hysterics as we slithered into black silk long johns; frustration as I try to memorise how to tell a Sei whale from a Fin whale and reading the biography of a courageous, flawed, inspired leader who would do anything to bring his men home safely.


I hope whatever readers find under their tree this Christmas holds just as much magic for them, whatever it is!