It all started with a house. Not just any house, a mansion in Grosvenor Square. During the Regency, Grosvenor Square was home to the fabulously wealthy and titled, so what better place to throw a party? Of course, that’s only the beginning of the story. Fellow JQ Vanessa Kelly is here with me to chat more about how our holiday anthology, A Grosvenor Square Christmas, came to be.


 Shana: Hey, Vanessa! I have to say, it’s been so much fun working with you, Kate Noble, and Anna Campbell on this anthology. Do you remember how the idea for an annual Christmas ball came about?

Vanessa:  I had a blast working on the antho with you ladies, too!  Actually, I think the original idea to write a Christmas anthology was yours, wasn’t it?  And although I have menopause memory, which basically means no memory to speak of, I recall that the four of us brainstormed settings for an anthology of connected stories.  There have been a number of these holiday or Regency anthologies, but most are set in the country at a house party.  That makes particular sense for a holiday story, since the haute ton tended to head off to their country estates in the winter.  But some folks must have stayed in London for Christmas, and we thought it would be cool to place the action of our stories at a grand holiday party in the city.  And what could be a grander setting than a mansion on Grosvenor Square, one of the premier places to reside in Mayfair?

Shana: Exactly! We wanted to do something a little different, and someone mentioned it would be fun if we wrote about an annual ball, hosted by someone whose invitations were coveted. And then Kate or Anna said we absolutely must have an eccentric butler, and Philbert was born. He actually turned in to something of a sexy secondary character.

Vanessa: Philbert started out as something of a running joke when we were brainstorming common elements.  Obviously, we needed the interior of the house to remain basically the same, and the owner of No. 3 Grosvenor Square had to play a role, too.  And Regency authors and readers all know how important butlers were to the smooth running of any household.  How could you throw the most successful party of the year, decade after decade, without a fantastically competent butler?  We did initially envision Philbert as something of an eccentric and even comic character, but when we created our hostess—the dashing Lucy Frost, the widowed Countess of Winterson—Philbert’s role began to change.  We began to wonder exactly why Lucy never remarried, and it appeared that it had something to do with Philbert, who morphed from a stodgy and eccentric fellow into a tall, mysterious, and attractive man.  What happens to Lucy and Philbert over the course of the four stories became part of the fun of writing these stories.

Shana: Well, in my story Philbert was initially short, but I quickly came to see the error of my ways. As you said, we wanted the interior of the house to match up in our stories. We all referred to these pictures and more for inspiration. ballroom one


Drawing room Spencer House

Another element we had to work out was our timeline. Kate and Anna wanted to write stories set technically after the Regency, in 1825 and 1830, while I wanted to set mine technically before the Regency, in 1803. You anchored us in 1818.

Since Lucy Frost is rather young in my story, set in 1803 and has aged 27 years by the time Kate wrote about her, we also needed a model who had aged publicly over time. We used Helen Mirren, who was and still is quite lovely.


HelenMirren older

Also, in contrast, I think Kate and Anna’s stories are stand-alones, but both of ours have connections to books we’ve written.  But despite all these differences, we made it work!

How do Nigel Dash and Amelia Easton fit into the world of your other books?

Vanessa: Nigel Dash is a secondary character in all four books of my Stanton Family Series.  He’s the typical best friend and consummate good guy, always stepping into the social breach to save the day.  There isn’t an awkward moment he can’t smooth over, or a grumpy old dowager he can’t charm.  My readers loved Nigel and wondered when he would get his HEA.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that.  Amelia is a new character, and I think she’s just perfect for Nigel.

Shana, your story is connected to your Sons of the Revolution Series, which are wonderful books.  Where does The Seduction of a Duchess fit in?

Shana: Readers were always asking me if the widowed heroes’ mother, Rowena, got her HEA. They also told me they were craving stories with older heroines. I thought this was the perfect venue to tell Rowena’s story.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that the anthology is digital only and it’s FREE on most retailers. The anthology is composed of short stories, around 10,000 words each, and we’re hoping is that those of you who haven’t read one of us featured in the anthology will read our story and give one of our longer books a try.


BN (waiting for it to publish)




Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.

Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?

1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen

Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?

1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly

Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.

1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell

At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.

1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble

Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…

You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?


46 thoughts on “You’re Invited to a Holiday Ball

  1. marypreston says:

    Dying to get my hands on this. Love the images. Helen Mirren is a wonder.

    1. Vanessa Kelly Vanessa Kelly says:

      She’s the perfect Lady Winterson, Mary!

    2. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Thanks, Mary! It should be available EVERYWHERE soon!

      1. Lisa Hutson says:

        I bought my copy yesterday at amazon. 😉

        1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

          Thanks, Lisa!

  2. Mary Anne Landers says:

    Thank you, Shana and Vanessa. This anthology sounds like four fun reads. And at a price that can’t be beat! Will download today. Good luck with your upcoming projects and releases.

    1. Vanessa Kelly Vanessa Kelly says:

      Thanks, Mary Anne – hope you enjoy!

    2. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Thanks, Mary Anne. We’re pretty proud of it 🙂

  3. Kristan Higgins Kristan Higgins says:

    Sounds absolutely lovely, ladies!

    1. Vanessa Kelly Vanessa Kelly says:

      It was a fun project to work on!

    2. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      We really did enjoy working together.

  4. Azacia says:

    the story collection sounds so fun! I love the ballroom pictures and the model/actress used. Can’t wait to read this!

    1. Vanessa Kelly Vanessa Kelly says:

      Thanks, Azacia – hope you enjoy!

    2. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I think some of us had as much fun finding inspiration as writing!

  5. girlygirlhoosier52 says:

    What fun!! Mirren is fantastic! Great stories from some of my very favorite authors!! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Vanessa Kelly Vanessa Kelly says:

      Isn’t she great? We thought we was the perfect model.

    2. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Aww! Thanks 🙂

  6. Maria Facchini Proctor says:

    I’ve always loved anthologies! The stories in this one sound exceptional!

    1. Vanessa Kelly Vanessa Kelly says:

      Maria, we hope you enjoy them!

    2. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I loved everyone’s stories, Maria. You won’t be disappointed.

  7. Anna Campbell says:

    Wow, girls, I’ve done a no-no and arrived late at the ball! What fun to
    revisit our earliest thoughts – I had forgotten that Philbert was
    originally a bit of a dodderer. He certainly isn’t in the final versions
    of the stories. I had such fun writing this with all of you – would
    love to do it again. Perhaps we can do stories set in DIFFERENT years
    seeing we had such fun with this particular setting. As a reader, I’m a
    sucker for Christmas stories and I’ve discovered I love writing them
    even more!

    1. Vanessa Kelly Vanessa Kelly says:

      Anna, you’re simply making a grand entrance! I think we all had a great time working this up with each other – we must do it again!

      1. Anna Campbell says:

        Seriously, Vanessa, one of the most enjoyable experiences of my professional life! You guys are great!

    2. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      I’m even later than you, Anna, so we can just say we’re fashionably late!

  8. Susan Rees says:

    So looking forward to a Regency Xmas feast of reading. Thanks to all you lovely ladies. What a wonderful idea.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Thanks, Susan. Hope you enjoy it!

  9. flchen1 says:

    Wow–how perfectly lovely! I adore anthologies, and can never resist a Christmas one! Woohoo!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      There is something about a Christmas story, isn’t there?

  10. Marcy Shuler says:

    I’m looking forward to this story and am crossing my fingers that B&N gets on board with it soon!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Marcy, I cannot imagine it will be much longer!

  11. Kay Thomas says:

    Sounds so fun! I’ve been on a historical reading binge lately and this sounds perfect!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Oh, I’m always on an historical reading binge 🙂

      1. Kay Thomas says:

        I definitely go through stages….really enjoying myself right now. : )

  12. Sue Gorman says:

    Christmas anthologies are magical. Can’t wait to read each author’s story.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Thanks, Sue!

  13. Trudy Miner says:

    would love to read this; sounds great!

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Trudy, it’s available almost everywhere, and free almost everywhere!

  14. Sharon A says:

    Very excited to read this, just downloaded it to my Kindle. 🙂 But it was not free (which is ok with me, obviously, just wanted to let you know).

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Sharon, we have reported the lower price to Amazon and hope they will make it free soon. Thanks for downloading it anyway.

  15. Caroline Clemmons says:

    What a lovely idea for an anthology. I love the staggered dates. I remember seeing Grosvenor Square and, from the outside only, the lovely homes there. I am sure I’ll enjoy this anthology.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Oh, yes, the homes in Grosvenor Square are amazing. Of course, now the square hosts mainly embassies and professional buildings, but it used to be a residential area.

  16. Lisa Hutson says:

    I have enjoyed Helen Mirren in movies. What a wonderful way to do an anthology. Lucy ages thru the book? Great idea. Looking forward to it.

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      She does age, Lisa. She starts off a very young widow in my story and by Kate’s she has matured into a beautiful older woman.

  17. Kate Noble says:

    Hello ladies! Anna, I’m even later to the party than you. I love the house decorations we chose for No. 3 — I would be very very happy to live there! Not to mention with Helen Mirren as my spirit animal in such a luxurious space…

    1. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

      Kate, welcome! I think you just love that Philbert put the decorations up! 🙂

      1. Kate Noble says:

        I won’t lie. I enjoy the decorations. And Philbert.

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