A Candlelight Courting: A Short Christmas Romance

Rated 4.70/5 based on 10 reviews
When Burthred comes courting on Christmas Eve, Meg makes him swear on her box of holy relics that he will not pursue her. But her reliquary box holds a secret, one that will either join their hearts together or tear them apart. "Her stories will transport you through time." ~ Aimee Brown, "Getting Your Read On" More

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About Joyce DiPastena

Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, "Loyalty’s Web" (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).

When she’s not writing, Joyce loves to read, play the piano, and spend time with her sister and friends. A highlight of her year is attending the annual Arizona Renaissance Festival .

Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.

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Reviews

Review by: Lisa- Bookworm Lisa on Dec. 23, 2013 :
Meg is a young woman living with her parents, hoping to join a convent. She excuses herself from the Christmas festivities, trying to live a pious life.

Her solitude is interrupted when her father thrusts her betrothed into her room, demanding that Burthred change her mind. Her fathers plan backfires, Burthred is a kind man who courts Meg by candlelight and shows her that her dreams can be fulfilled without joining a convent.

Joyce DiPastena is meticulous in her research and does a wonderful job at creating a realistic historical fiction story. Even in this short Christmas story, her love for the medieval times shines through.

I loved the compassion and consideration that Meg and Burthred showed one another. This is a wonderful short story to read on a cold winters day.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Mrs. B on Oct. 17, 2013 :
I loved this book! I needed a short read, so was attracted to that. I am also happy that no previous reviews gave anything away. The mystery mixed with the romance added to my eager reading. I am sure I will continue thinking about this for days!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Charissa Stastny on Jan. 17, 2013 :
This short story is set in the 1100's. Meg wants to become a nun. She spurns her betrothal to Burthred when he comes calling on Christmas Eve to claim her as his wife. When her betrothed is thrown into her room by her father to force her hand, she expects an aggressive bully like her father...but instead finds a kind, patient man whom she learns to trust...but will that be enough for her to give up her one dream in life? I enjoyed this short story. The time period was one I had never read about before in a novel, and I found the unique romance very compelling as Burthred and Meg slowly discover the treasure in each other.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Margaret (Literary Chanteuse) on Nov. 09, 2012 :
This short story is wonderful! The author has created one of the most unique love stories I think I have ever read. Christina, a compelling young woman during medieval times that truly touches the heart, is faced with marriage instead of fulfilling her dream of dedicating her life to the church. How she manages to find love and a guardian of her heart in Burthred, her betrothed is amazing. An excellent choice for Christmas or anytime of the year.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Alisa Hancock on Nov. 08, 2012 :
I'm not sure how Joyce DiPastena manages to tell such a complete and moving story in 23 pages, but she does! The entire story takes place on one night... Christmas Eve.

Meg, who prefers to be known as Christina, has had one dream her whole life. The only way she can accomplish this dream is by going to Wilton Abbey with her uncle. She has denied herself all the luxuries of life and spends her life repenting of her weaknesses so that her uncle will see her dedication and take her to the abbey.

Burthred has been Meg's betrothed since she was a baby, but she has never met him until this night. Her father drags Burthred into Meg's darkened room (she has refused herself light and warmth to further prove to her uncle downstairs of her faithfulness). Because of the dark, Meg can't see the deformity in Burthred that has kept any woman from wanting him... in spite of his strength and wealth. But even in the dark she can see his compassion and kindness.

Even though Burthred could easily overpower her with his strength, and force her to become his wife, he takes an oath to behave and respect her. Burthred does not need brute force because he has greater tools at his disposal: love, gentleness, compassion, honesty, unselfishness, and even a dose of logic.

As Meg gets to know Burthred, she is torn between being Meg - who would love to be honored and cherished by a man like this - and Christina - who has lived her whole life to accomplish this one dream, and the only way she knows that she can accomplish this dream is by going to the abbey. Falling in love with Burthred will NOT help her reach this goal.

When Burthred discovers what her dream is, he offers a way for her to become his wife AND fulfill her biggest dream. One of the last lines of the story sums it up best: "How could she have guessed before this night that she would find her own light, not in an abbey's walls of learning, but in Burthred's love?"
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Julie Wallace on Oct. 06, 2012 :
This is a beautifully written short story of love found in the most unusual places. Meg or Christina, the name Meg wants to be called is determined to become a nun. She doesn't want to marry Burthred as her parents had arranged in her infancy. Meg is now eighteen and Burthred ten years older is ready to marry. Meg’s father is angered that his only child wants to be a nun. On Christmas Eve, Meg stays in her room praying while everyone is having a joyful Christmas feast. Her father tricks her into coming face to face with Burthred. She has never seen him and up close she can't help be in admiration of his knightly stature, tall and manly. There is a sensitive side that she had not expected from him. They both have secrets they think will make them an ill match. The characters Meg and Burthred are endearing. You feel their doubts and joys as if you knew them. It’s a delightful story and you’re sad that it ends so quickly. A Candlelight Courting is a sweet and lovely tale.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Tina Peterson Scott on Sep. 30, 2012 :
A Candelight Courting, by Joyce DiPastena was the most beautiful story I’ve read in a long time. Meg has renamed herself Christina, and plans to become a nun. She has dreamed of that moment since she can remember, but more than that, she has a secret desire that consumes her.

Meg’s father, Sir Alun, is less than supportive of his daughter’s religious plans.

On Christmas eve, the family and neighbors are in the great hall feasting while Christina is in her room praying. When Sir Alun hears her loud prays and knows that she is not asleep, he storms to her room. After a sound tongue-lashing, he leaves, but Christina realizes she is not alone.

Sir Alun let Burthred, the man Meg was betrothed to as an infant, into the room in hopes that he will compromise her virtue and he can insist on a Christmas wedding. Burthred has his own secret.

This story is about desires of the heart, feelings of unworthiness, trust and acceptance. It has all the power and emotion of a full-length novel.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Tina Peterson Scott on Sep. 30, 2012 :
A Candelight Courting, by Joyce DiPastena was the most beautiful story I’ve read in a long time. Meg has renamed herself Christina, and plans to become a nun. She has dreamed of that moment since she can remember, but more than that, she has a secret desire that consumes her.
Meg’s father, Sir Alun, is less than supportive of his daughter’s religious plans.

On Christmas eve, the family and neighbors are in the great hall feasting while Christina is in her room praying. When Sir Alun hears her loud prays and knows that she is not asleep, he storms to her room. After a sound tongue-lashing, he leaves, but Christina realizes she is not alone.
Sir Alun let Burthred, the man Meg was betrothed to as an infant, into the room in hopes that he will compromise her virtue and he can insist on a Christmas wedding. Burthred has his own secret.
This story is about desires of the heart, feelings of unworthiness, trust and acceptance.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Jeannette on Sep. 28, 2012 :
Young Meg has decided to reject marriage, change her name to Christina, and join the convent, where she will be content. She is one day away from achieving this, as she plans to return to the abbey with her uncle after Christmas Mass. Meg has been betrothed since infancy to Burthred, a man who insists she stick to the arrangement. Her father, in an effort to foil Meg's plans, sends Burthred up to her bedchamber to "persuade" her. Most of the action in this short story takes place in Meg's room, as each of the mismatched pair pleads their case to the other.

I found this story very enjoyable, first and foremost, because I haven't met a hero/heroine in one of Joyce's books that I haven't felt instant sympathy and affection for. These two both have their reasons for insisting on having their own way, and the discussion of their stalemate is at turns comical and heartbreaking. There is a lot of tender emotion packed into this short story, and the author is more than adept at giving the reader a complete and satisfying romance in a small package.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Donna K. Weaver on Sep. 14, 2012 :
What my stars mean:
5 Stars--the book had a profound impact on me. It touched me on some special level and lingered with me long after I'd finished reading it.
4 Stars--I loved this book. If I don't own it, I will buy it so I can read it again and again.
3 Stars--I enjoyed the book but may have had an issue or two with it.
2 Stars--I had more than a few issues with it.
1 Stars--I hated it.

I've been hearing wonderful things about Joyce's books for a while now, and I jumped at the chance to read this one. First of all, I love Christmas stories (even read my teen boys one of Mary Higgins Clark's Christmas offerings--and they liked it . . . probably because of the kidnapping). I've also been a fan of historical fiction--and not just romance. I'm as big a fan of Sharpe and Horatio Hornblower as I am of Austen.

I thoroughly enjoyed the lovely, subtle courtship Burthred does with Meg and especially as the characters are unfolded in the story. I learned to love them as they revealed their secrets (usually unwillingly) to each other.

I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil anything for you.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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