The Christmas Hirelings & The House by the Sea

 The Christmas Hirelings by M. E. Braddon

A wealthy father disowned his daughter years ago when she married a man of whom he disapproved. He's had no contact with her for years, even though she is now widowed and raising her children alone. As Christmas comes around, a mutual friend of father and daughter contrives to acquaint the man with his grandchildren without his knowing their true identity. He successfully installs them in the man's house for a few days and I'm sure you can imagine the rest. It is predictable, but lovely nevertheless. It reminded me 
of Little Lord Fauntleroy in style and tone, a sweet story perfect for Christmas for adults and younger readers alike. 

The House by the Sea by Louise Douglas

Edie's mother-in-law, Anna, dies and wills her Italian villa to Edie and Tom, Anna's son, from whom Edie's been separated for ten years. Their marriage didn't survive the agonizing loss of their young son, Daniel, for whose death Edie blames Anna. They want only to get the matter settled and the house sold so they can be rid of each other again, but when they arrive in Italy things get complicated. There's a friend in need of protection from an abusive husband, a now elderly crime-syndicate boss living nearby, and someone who will stop at nothing to get them to leave. It's both a mystery and a family story of regret,  forgiveness, and reconciliation. I enjoyed listening to the audio book narrated by the articulate and expressive Emma Powell, whose charming British accent made it that much better.   


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