Read an excerpt from ‘A Christmas in Manchester’

Worcestershire, England
October 1831

“If you continue to plod along at this pace, Peony, we’re never going to reach home.” Evelyn Allen, known as Eve to family and friends, snapped the reins on the ancient horse pulling the family wagon along the road from the outskirts of the village to her home.

It had been a long day of gathering extra crops from the farms in the county to be delivered to the poor families in the village. Far too many villagers did not have enough food or clothes for their children. It was Eve’s job once a month to gather whatever the farmers could spare, and bring it to her papa’s church to be distributed to the needy, along with any unwanted clothing she managed to collect.

Mama held a sewing circle every week when the ladies sewed new blankets and knitted baby clothes. Evelyn loved the look of gratitude on the young mothers’ faces when they were handed the warm blankets and knitted booties and caps for their little ones. Most of them had hard working husbands, but with so many children, it was difficult to make ends meet.

Her shoulders ached from hours of holding the reins, and her growling stomach reminded her it was well past dinner time. She only had about another four miles to go, but with Peony plodding along, as she was wont to do near the end of the day, Eve might be forced to push the animal home.

The horse came to an abrupt stop and nickered, tossing her head. “What?” Evelyn rose to peer over the animal’s head to see a man, smack in the middle of the path, on his knees, waving his arm.

“Oh, heavens.” She tied the reins around the dash and climbed down. The man grasped his shoulder and panted heavily as she approached him. Briefly, she considered that perhaps she should have brought her pistol from underneath the wagon seat, since highwaymen had been known to prowl the area. This man could very well be a decoy of sorts. “Are you well, my lord?”

He shook his head. “Shot.”

He’d been shot? It was then she noticed the blood oozing between his fingers where he had them plastered against his dark jacket. “Robbed, and shot.” He barely got the words out.

She’d never seen him before, but given his clothing and demeanor, he was most likely nobility. Her favorite type of people to dislike. Even kneeling in the dirt, bleeding, he had an air about him that smacked of privilege. However, her Christian sense of duty to her fellow man pushed that to the back of her mind.

“Can you stand, my lord? I can help you into my wagon and bring you home. Mama is good with healing, and I am no more than four miles from my house.”

Sweat beading his forehead, he grimaced and gave her a curt nod. She reached under his arm on the good side and helped him to his feet. It was auspicious that he had the ability to rise, because given his size and muscular form, she never could have lifted him. He slung his arm around her shoulders, and leaned heavily as they made their way back to the wagon.

“Did you hurt your leg, also?” He limped as they moved toward the vehicle.

“Yes.” He winced. “Tried to fight them off, but once they shot me, I was done for.”

It took some maneuvering, but with as much help as she could provide, he settled into the back of the wagon, along with all the vegetables. Despite those ignominious accommodations, it had been easier to position him there, then to attempt hauling him all the way up onto the driving seat. She began a slight apology, but he waved her away, wincing with every move. “Please don’t concern yourself. I am grateful to be out of the road.”

With renewed purpose to reach home, Eve snapped the reins, and egged the animal on, hoping his wound was not serious enough to cause the man to expire right there in her wagon. By the time they reached the cottage, he had passed out. Eve hurried into the tidy house that had been home to her family since before she’d been born.

“Mama, Papa. I need your help.” She dashed through the back door, past the kitchen, taking a moment to sniff whatever it was Mama had cooked for dinner, newly aware of how hungry she was.

Darting down the corridor, she checked each room, until Mama met her at the bottom of the stairs and Papa stepped out of his study, his spectacles low on his nose. “Whatever is the problem, daughter?”

“There is a gentleman in my wagon.” She stopped to take in air. “He has been shot. I found him on the road home.”

All three quickly made their way out the back door to the wagon. “Is he dead?” Mother sucked in a breath and held her hand to her chest as she viewed the man’s pale face.

“No, Mama. I think he has just passed out. He said he was shot in the shoulder by highwaymen.”

“Reverend, we need to get him inside so I can see to his wound.” Mama looked the gentleman up and down. “He is much too large to move him upstairs. We must use the tiny bedroom at the back, next to the kitchen.” She looked again at their patient. “I hope the bed is long enough. He is truly a large man.”

Although he remained unconscious, with Papa on one side, and Eve on the other, they managed to drag him into the house and deposit him on the bed in the mostly unused bedroom.

Mama gently rolled the man onto his side and viewed his back. “Eve, fetch me a pan of hot water, some clean cloths, my long knife, and bullet extractor. There is no hole at the back of his jacket, so there is a good chance the bullet is still embedded in him.”

Once Eve brought the supplies to her mama, Papa touched her on the shoulder. “I am sorry, my dear, but Mama and I must undress the gentleman to get to his wound. You will need to wait outside until we are finished.”

“I could hold the candle.” She had attended other patients Mama had dealt with, but she had never been present when a young man had been a victim. It embarrassed her to know how much she would have enjoyed seeing that broad chest uncovered.

She would say a few extra prayers at bedtime this night.


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80 thoughts on “Read an excerpt from ‘A Christmas in Manchester’”

  1. The premise for this book is very intriguing. I particularly enjoy stories involving nobility & commoners & look forward to reading this book.

  2. This sounds so good. It sure grabbed my attention and I wanted to keep reading. Looking forward to reading this book.

  3. This is an interesting story and I would like to read the rest of the story. The cover is beautiful also.

  4. Loved the excerpt — particularly the part where she admits to herself she would love to see the man undressed…very human of her!

  5. Sounds great but wish the excerpt was longer! Will he be a good Samaritan and help them and the poor in their community for their assistance?

  6. ‘A Christmas in Manchester ‘ sounds like a very interesting and good Christmas book. I enjoy the excerpt wish it was longer. Really looking forward to reading it.

  7. This looks like a promising story. A romance is already beginning to bud. I want to keep reading!!

  8. I would love to finish this book to see who shot the noble gentleman. Of coarse, Eve falling in love will be a plus.

  9. I am definitely going to need to read more, there’s just too many ways tjis could go!

  10. I love these stories of relying on the matriarch of the family, to administer medical aid. Reminds me of Scarlett O’hara’s mom, when she helped deliver babies. I love historical settings for books. I am so wanting to know more about this man and about Eva.

  11. I love that this member of the nobility will wake up in a tiny bedroom near a common kitchen! This story sounds wonderful!

  12. Reading novels set at Christmas, gets me in the holiday spirit. I enjoy reading novels set in historical times so that I can learn about the era and the difficulties people faced.

  13. Thanks for the excerpt-it sounds like the kind of book I enjoy reading. Now, I want to read the rest of the story

  14. I like how she had a distaste for the nobility, but when her dad tried to make her leave so they could undress him to tend his wounds, she’s like ‘I can hold the candle for you’. Hilarious!

  15. This sounds like the kind of book I enjoy reading. Thanks for the excerpt. Now I want to read the rest of the story.

  16. Great read so far! I’m sure Eve could’ve benefitted from some lovely Lemon Lentil Soup from your recipe files 🙂

  17. This looks like enormous fun. Loved the line…broad chest…she would say extra prayers at bedtime. Can’t wait to read it!

  18. “A Christmas In Manchester” is the kind of story that makes you want to keep on turning the pages to discover the outcome.

  19. I love story intertwined with a Christmas theme and a tantalizing mystery if a romance will be the outcome of the relationship.

  20. It sounds like it’s going to be delightful! I loved the part where she’s embarrassed her to know how much she would have enjoyed seeing his broad chest uncovered. I’m so looking forward to reading it. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours Callie.

  21. I liked this preview and it sounds like an interesting story and I look forward to reading the rest of the story.

  22. I love holiday stories especially when the characters are placed in unusual circumstances for them. This sounds like it fits the bill!

  23. Callie, You now have my curiosity up. Your book, A Christmas in Manchester, sounds like a very interesting read. Hopefully, I will get a chance to read it & review it for you & find out what happens to my lord & Eve.

  24. Sounds like my cup of tea!! I added it to my “Want to Read” shelf on!!

  25. I love reading Christmas books during the holidays. I would love to read this. I wonder if there will be a romance between Eve and the wounded man. I am such a romantic person. I love stories about falling in love.

  26. The words in the excerpt painted a picture of how when needed, one’s courage comes through and helps those in need. I like how her energy was renewed with purpose as Eve hurries home. It’s a riveting passage.

  27. Sounds great! I especially liked the part where she admits to not minding seeing his broad chest uncovered and then decides she must say extra prayers at bedtime. That part made me smile.

  28. I love the setting for this Christmas story! And I’d like to get to know more about this mysterious noble.

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