Tag Archive | Christmas

Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis by Amelia Grey

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The Marquis of Wythebury, is expecting an ordinary Christmastide at Hurst—until he is set upon by a beautiful miss who takes him to task for not allowing his young nephews to play outside. In his mind, a five and seven year old needn’t get chilled in the snow; better to plop them in front of the fire with a book. Few people have ever been brave enough to challenge him over anything, much less the rearing of his wards. The cheeky Miss Prim has no such compunction. No matter how fetching he finds her, he can’t give in to his attraction…for she is the sister of his best friend.

Growing up the middle child of five rambunctious girls, Lillian Prim doesn’t understand why two young boys visiting Hurst don’t know how to play until she meets their dashing guardian. The Marquis of Wythebury is commanding and intensely serious-minded. To her surprise, she’s captivated by him. It’s all she can do not to give into her feminine fantasies about her kissing him. Lillian has no intention of falling in love with the Marquis, but she will create Christmastide mischief and teach the boys and the handsome Marquis how to play.

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Publisher and Release Date: St. Martin’s/Swerve, November 2016
Time and setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Vikki

Seth Wythebury, Marquis of Wythebury is looking forward to a relaxing time away from his responsibilities. While attending a house party at his friend’s estate with his two young nephews, he encounters Miss Lillian Prim, the sister-in-law of his host when she takes his nephews outside and is engaging in a snowball fight after he had left them quietly reading.

Miss Prim is determined to get the two little boys’ guardian to realize they are only five and seven years old and need to have outside pursuits. What she does not count on is developing feelings for the man.

Who will win in this tug of war? The free-spirited miss, or the serious-minded marquis? Will they find out that opposites really do attract?

Mistletoe, Mischief and the Marquis is a delightful seasonal tale of a man trying to do the best for those in his charge, and perhaps being just a bit over-protective. Ms. Grey has spun an enchanting romance with engaging characters. The novella is fast-paced and engaged my interest from the start and held it until the end.

Lillian Prim is an endearing character. She speaks her mind – even to the austere Marquis of Wythbury – when others would hold their tongue. I loved how she was constantly putting him in his place. Throughout much of this lovely story, Lillian is trying to show the marquis that little boys need to have fun. I loved how she goes about it.

Seth is very serious-minded. He does not know how to have fun and has no desire to learn, yet the annoying Miss Prim is determined to teach his nephews. I loved watching him war with himself over the feelings he has for her. Once he makes up his mind to win her heart, he does it in a big way. I absolutely loved the ending of this book!

Ms. Grey is a talented author, and she has penned an enchanting Christmas story that will warm your heart and put a smile on your face. The two little boys will steal your heart. I always love heartwarming tales involving children, and especially around the holidays. If you enjoy regency romances with a good sense of the time-period with delightful characters, then you will love Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis.

Christmas in Duke Street by Miranda Neville, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel & Grace Burrowes

Christmas in Duke Street

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Christmas in London is a busy time at the little bookshop in Duke Street, for love, literature, and shopping. Four couples come and go and discover that happy ever after makes the perfect Christmas gift. A new anthology from the bestselling authors of Christmas in the Duke’s Arms and Dancing in the Duke’s Arms.
The Rake Who Loved Christmas by Miranda Neville Sir Devlyn Stratton wants to save his brother from an unprincipled adventuress, especially when he meets Oriel Sinclair and wants her for himself. Oriel won’t marry for convenience or become a rake’s mistress. But succumbing to Dev’s seduction is all too tempting.
A Seduction in Winter by Carolyn Jewel He’s an artist and a duke’s heir. She’s sheltered and scarred. Can he show her by Christmas that love can be theirs to share?
A Prince in her Stocking by Shana Galen Lady Cassandra has always done as she’s been told. Meek and malleable, she’s lived a life devoid of passion. When she meets a handsome man rumored to be an exiled prince, she sees one last chance at excitement. Little does she know, too much excitement can be dangerous.
The Appeal of Christmas by Grace Burrowes The best Christmas present is the one he didn’t realize he desperately needed.

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Publisher and Release Date: cJewel Books October 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

Review by Natalie

Duke Street Books, nicknamed ‘On the Shelf’ by an unnamed rake armed with red paint, is a cozy little bookshop on Duke Street; it has become a gathering place for the bluestockings, as well as the novel lovers, of the ton. This Christmas the shop has become a center of activity for several of their loyal patrons.

This is the third installment of Duke anthologies from the pens of four of the most popular authors of historical romance, and Christmas in Duke Street contains four short stories. Each story stand on its own but they are also intertwined, the characters meeting at and returning to On the Shelf thoughout their stories. This is a lovely collection that will get you in the mood for Christmas, even if some stories in the collection do work better than others.

The Rake Who Loved Christmas. Sir Devlyn Stratton loves Christmas, even if it isn’t fashionable among the ton to do so. He enjoys finding the perfect gift for his family members, a small escape from the stresses of the round of visiting and of putting his family affairs in order. When Dev enters On the Shelf in the middle of his holiday shopping, looking for a little warmth from the freezing London weather, he strikes up a brief conversation with Oriel Sinclair – which leaves him wanting more until Oriel leaves with an older, unscrupulous gentleman. Is Oriel really a woman of ill-repute or is she just want Dev needs this Christmas? The relationship between Dev and Oriel uses intrigue and mistaken identity in a very Christmassy way, if that is possible, and I really enjoyed the story.

In A Seduction in Winter, Honora Baynard has spent years toiling away as her artist father’s assistant, hiding her scarred face and following the military career of the only man to ever show any kindness to her. When she learns that Leoline, Lord Wrathell, has returned from India, she hopes that he will be able to repair his relationship with his father, but she knows that it would be too much to hope that he would remember the young girl he once protected. However, when she runs into him at On the Shelf, she realizes that Leoline may have been thinking about her as often as she thought about him. This is possibly my favorite story from this anthology. Instead of a striking beauty, we have a heroine who is physically scarred and has been led to believe that this makes her unacceptable to society at large. This story is as much about Honora coming to the realization that she has more to offer to the world than her face as it is about the romance that develops between her and the handsome hero.

A Prince in Her Stocking: Prince Lucien of Glynaven has lost his kingdom and his fortune in a recent revolution. He has been living on the streets of London while painstakingly searching through the books in On the Shelf in hopes of finding hidden documents that prove his identity. Lady Cassandra has been living under the thumb of her elderly sister-in-law since the death of her husband. Her only solace has been visiting On the Shelf, living in her imagination instead of reality, until the day she meets Lucien. Suddenly her life takes on all the intrigue and adventure she has been craving. This is my least favorite of all the stories in the collection. While Lucien is supposed to be a dashing hero who has lost everything, he does not come off as very sympathetic and Lady Cassandra reminds me a little too much of a love-sick puppy. The two seem to be the least connected out of all our couples and as I finished reading the story, I couldn’t help but think that in six-months’ time, Prince Lucien would dump Lady Cassandra for one of the more statuesque ladies of the ton!

The last story in the collection is The Appeal of Christmas. Barrister Gervaise Stoneleigh has spent years ignoring Christmas, leaving his gift buying to his mentor’s daughter, Hazel. Meanwhile Hazel has spent years wondering if Gervaise might ever see her as something more than just a friend. When a friendly kiss under the mistletoe turns into something more, Hazel makes a request of Gervaise that could destroy their friendship. This story is the wild horse of the series and has a different flavor. I enjoyed it and wished that there had been more room for Grace Burrowes to explore the relationship between Gervaise and Hazel.

All in all Christmas in Duke Street is a warm, inviting read. It got me in a great mood for the holidays and made me wish for my own warm, cozy bookshop to hop into and find romance this season. All four of these talented writers deliver four strong, different reads in this enjoyable addition to the Duke anthologies.

A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Campbell

a pirate for christmas

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There’s a pirate in the house.

What is vicar’s daughter Bess Farrar to do when the dashing new earl, the man gossip paints as a ruthless pirate, kisses her the day they meet? Why, kiss him right back, of course! Now Lord Channing vows to claim the lovely firebrand, despite interfering villagers, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises mayhem – and a lifetime of breathtaking passion

Pursued by the pirate…

Bess Farrar might be an innocent village miss, but she knows enough about the world to doubt Lord Channing’s motives when he kisses her the very day they meet. After all, local gossip insists that before this dashing rake became an earl, he sailed the Seven Seas as a ruthless pirate.

Bewitched by the vicar’s daughter…

Until he unexpectedly inherits a title, staunchly honorable Scotsman Rory Beaton has devoted his adventurous life to the Royal Navy. But he sets his course for tempestuous new waters when he meets lovely, sparkling Bess Farrar. Now this daring mariner will do whatever it takes to convince the spirited lassie to launch herself into his arms and set sail into the sunset.

A Christmas marked by mayhem.

Wooing his vivacious lady, the new Earl of Channing finds himself embroiled with matchmaking villagers, an eccentric vicar, mistaken identities, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. Life at sea was never this exciting. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises hijinks, danger, and passion – and a breathtaking chance to win the love of a lifetime.

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Published by Anna Campbell, October 2015

RHR Classifications:
Place and time: Northumberland, 1822
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Wendy

Rory Beaton, the new Earl of Channing, has returned to his estate to take up the reins after the demise of his older brother. Bess Farrar, the local vicar’s daughter and from necessity, the village ‘manager’, has written to him on numerous occasions – and been ignored, so she decides to march in and beard the lion in his den. Rory’s donkey, Daisy, is central to the Nativity celebrations, time is running short and Bess needs to obtain his agreement to borrow the animal. She is appalled at the unkempt condition of his home and he persuades her to take control of its cleaning and restoration. This will give the villagers much needed employment and earn Rory some brownie points as he also agrees to allow the villagers to hold their annual Christmas party there. But the Earl has an ulterior motive; if Bess is supervising he will be able to see her every day!

Rory is completely out of his depth, having no expectations of ever inheriting, as a result of his estrangement from his father and older brother after the breakdown of his parents’ marriage. He spent his younger years in Scotland and joined the Royal Navy at the age of eleven, so he did not ever reconcile with his male relatives. It was this latter fact that set in motion the rumour that Rory was a pirate. And as rumours tend to do, those took root and grew so that Rory has acquired a swashbuckling reputation, leading the villagers to be both intrigued and a little wary of him. But Bess is neither. She takes charge of his initiation into the the life and responsibilities of an earl, and helps guide him through some choppy waters, taking him straight into the hearts of the villagers on the way.

The couple are attracted to each other on sight, and as is her style, Anna Campbell creates a delicious, swoonworthy hero, and Bess is smitten by this handsome, but boyishly needy man. Rory can’t explain it to himself, but he knows almost immediately that Bess is the only lady who will fill the position of his Countess, and with the help of the matchmaking villagers, lays siege to Bess’s heart.

Ms. Campbell hits the ‘happy’ spot with this fluffy little Christmas novella with plenty of romance and no conflict other than the recalcitrant donkey who will only co-operate for the Nativity if sung to – which Rory does with gusto! In fact Daisy is quite a central character and it could be said that she plays Cupid for Captain Rory and bossy Bess! A Pirate for Christmas is a quick, entertaining read that will bring a smile to your face this festive season.

Christmas Gifts (anthology) by Mary Balogh

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Christmas Gifts brings together three previously published and long out-of-print novellas, each on the theme of Christmas gifts that will last forever because the gift, in essence, is love. In The Best Christmas Ever, a boisterous house party is in progress and all the children when asked are eager to tell what they want for Christmas. But one man feels sad, for his young child has not spoken since her mother died and he does not know if the gifts he has bought her will be what she really wants. Unknown to him, her one fervent wish is for a new mother for Christmas, and when she sees one of the guests she knows who that will be. But the lady concerned has an unhappy history with the child’s father. In The Porcelain Madonna a gentleman becomes involved with helping an impoverished lady, who thinks of everyone’s happiness but her own. However, he has seen her gaze with longing at a porcelain madonna well beyond her means displayed in a shop window. In The Surprise Party a man and woman who are antagonistic to each other find themselves landed with the care over Christmas of children who are related to each of them. They quarrel over which of them should undertake the task. It is not a happy situation until the children teach them the true meaning of Christmas, and of love, and they discover that they can do it together.

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Publisher and Release Date: November 2015 by Class Ebook Editions Ltd.

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Lady Wesley

Mary Balogh has sent us all an early Christmas gift this year, with this anthology of three classic novellas. (She has also published a similar anthology, Christmas Miracles.) Actually, as she enters her thirtieth year of writing historical romance, I tend to think that Mary Balogh’s mere presence in the world is a sort of gift. I have read about two-thirds of her books and have yet to encounter a stinker. It’s very exciting for those of us who prefer ebooks that she has been digitizing many of her out-of-print books.

The three novellas in this collection date back to the 1990s and have long been out-of-print. They are unashamedly sentimental and full of snow, children, sleigh rides, presents, and love. As Ms Balogh recently wrote on her blog:

We expect good things of the Christmas season. We expect peace and goodwill and the warmth and closeness of family celebrating together. We expect love and joy. We expect, in fact, all the elements we look for in a good romance. What better marriage can there be than that between Christmas and romance?

In this blog posting, Ms Balogh also noted something that other authors of Christmas stories should take to heart:

Perhaps the best thing I learned from the writing of those novellas was that the stories could be far more effective if Christmas was an essential element and the story happened as it did because it was Christmas and not just because by pure chance it occurred late in December.

This lesson, I think, is what makes Ms Balogh’s plethora of Christmas novellas so successful. Even readers with Scroogish tendencies (that would be me) can find themselves experiencing the joy of the season.

I haven’t said anything about the plots, as the book blurb above does a fine job of previewing each story. My favorite has to be The Best Christmas Ever, where a motherless girl picks as her new mother a lady completely unsuitable for her father. And then there’s The Surprise Party, where the needs of three orphaned children help two people overcome the bitterness they have felt toward one another for years. But then, I also liked The Porcelain Madonna, in which the Earl of Bah Humbug learns about the Christmas spirit from a penniless young woman. Oh, never mind, I can’t really pick a favorite. All three are sweet, sentimental, utterly delightful, and guaranteed to deliver the best that Christmas has to offer.

Christmas Gifts and Christmas Miracles are specially priced at US$ 1.99 during the month of December. So why not click on the links above and give yourself a gift.

What Happens Under the Mistletoe (anthology) by Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, Candace Camp, Meredith Duran

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New York Times bestselling authors Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, and Candace Camp, and USA TODAY bestselling author Meredith Duran come together for a sizzling historical romance holiday anthology.

Stunned by the heat of an unexpected kiss on a cold winter’s eve, two strangers from vastly different worlds turn hotheaded principles into burning passion in Sabrina Jeffries’ delightful yuletide story, The Heiress and the Hothead.

In the snowy Scottish countryside, Karen Hawkins’s rakish duke has an unforgettable holiday encounter in Twelve Kisses when the alluring lady he surprises under the mistletoe is not who he expected, but a long-lost love with a score to settle.

In By Any Other Name, Edinburgh is aglitter for Christmastime as Candace Camp sends a curious gentleman in hot pursuit of an intriguing lady in disguise—one who refuses to reveal her true identity, though she fears he has already stolen her heart with his kiss.

In Sweetest Regret, will the festive spirit of the season sweep Meredith Duran’s feisty heroine beneath the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue whose carelessness soiled her reputation and sent her into exile in London?

In this all-new story collection sparkling with sexy charm and heartwarming wit, four beloved bestselling authors reveal the mix-ups and make-ups, the missed chances and golden opportunities that come but once a year.

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Publisher and Release Date: Pocket Books November 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency Era, London and Scotland
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Sara

‘Tis the season for Romance anthologies showcasing the spirit and love of Christmastime. The collection of stories in What Happens Under the Mistletoe all bring that wonderful sense of the holiday to four very different couples who all find love in the most unusual ways.

My favorite story from the book is Candace Camp’s By Any Other Name. It has two romantic tropes that I love: Mistaken Identity and Heroines in Disguise. Miss Rylla Campbell is desperate for the safe return of her brother before the holidays begin. With no news of his whereabouts for days, she has taken the desperate step of seeking him out at the clubs of Edinburgh by disguising herself as a young man in order to gain entrance. Rylla’s first foray into a man’s world doesn’t go well when she’s pinned as an easy mark by the regular gamblers and drinks a little too much to keep a clear head. She is only saved when another gentleman in the club notices her distress and gets her away.

Mr. Gregory Rose is spending a fairly dull winter in Edinburgh visiting his cousin but is excited to learn that the young man he helped out of a jam at his club is actually a beautiful young woman. Without learning her name, Gregory begins seeking her out at society gatherings, using his cousin’s influence to get himsefl invited anywhere she might be. Finally cornering her during a social call, Gregory learns of her search for her brother and offers whatever assistance he can. Keeping Rylla out of trouble becomes his responsibility, but his pleasure comes from their budding relationship and getting to know his mystery woman.

Ms. Camp manages to put a lot of elements into this short without the story becoming overwhelmed with plot devices. Rylla’s disguise, the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, Gregory’s pursuit of Rylla; all have a quick pace but never sacrifice the development of the characters and their growing affection. Readers can feel how the relationship grows as Rylla learns to trust Gregory with her burdens and he protects her until they are resolved. This was the most entertaining story of the four and left me with the best feeling for the characters. 4 stars

Sabrina Jeffries captures the Christmas spirit and makes a small social commentary in her story, which revisits characters from her Sinful Suitors series. Miss Amanda Keane and her family are visiting England where her brother Jeremy has now settled with his new wife. Her trip has a dual purpose as she’s also out to learn more about the operations of British textile mills, hoping to bring some of their practices back home to her own mills in Pennsylvania. Arriving at her brother’s home she is completely surprised when a handsome young man walks right up to her under a sprig of mistletoe and gives her a kiss.

Lord Stephen Corry didn’t mean to kiss Amanda but mistook her for someone else. The accidental kiss might have been laughed off as a bit of Christmas mischief, but his fast attraction to the American is unwanted as she represents many of the things Stephen stands against. Working as a journalist, he has made it his crusade to expose the poor conditions workers face in the textile mills, including the risks children face from the large machines. Believing that Amanda is no better than the owners he’s met in England, Stephen challenges her to meet with workers at a local mill to hear their plight. Amanda, thinking that Stephen’s prejudice is against those in trade, agrees to let him write about her business to better illustrate that not all owners put profits over people.

The Heiress and the Hothead is a cute story of two individuals trying to prove themselves while working hard to make a difference in the world as they see it. Stephen and Amanda feel very deeply for the people of the factories and while Stephen has an emotional tie to the workers plight, Amanda is actually doing something to better their circumstances. I enjoyed seeing a strong and independent woman allowed to be herself and still find equality with her partner. As short stories tend to do, things move very quickly for the characters and some challenges to their relationship may have been glossed over but overall it was a great read. 4 stars

I wasn’t quite as taken with the stories offered by Karen Hawkins and Meredith Duran. Each one dealt with second-chance romances but it was hard to see any of the main characters truly in love with their partner either before or in their current circumstances. Ms. Duran’s story Sweetest Regret actually works best in that the main characters actually have some chemistry and worked towards solving the problems of their past. I felt there was a future for their romance that I didn’t quite get when I finished Ms. Hawkins’ story. Fortunately both of these authors are strong enough in their writing that even a less enjoyable story is satisfying and makes a reader take a moment to appreciate it all. 3 stars for each.

What Happens Under the Mistletoe has the lighter tone that I expect from Christmas stories. Fellow fans of this type of Historical Romance will find the collection a great treat to read while bundled up on a cold wintery night.

Regency Christmas Gifts (anthology) by Carla Kelly

regency christmas gifts
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In the first of these stories set in Regency England, an impoverished war widow returns a misdelivered parcel and attracts the interest of a well-to-do retired sailing master and his sister. In story two, a self-made man returns to Scotland to marry the woman he has corresponded with ever since he left as a boy, little knowing the letters were written by another. In story three, a man visits the estate of his relatives to comfort his lovely second cousin, who is unhappy that Christmas has been usurped by her sister’s nuptials.

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Publisher and Release Date: Camel Press, September 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency Era, England and Scotland
Genre: Historical Romance Anthology
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Lady Blue

Carla Kelly has penned three heartwarming short stories which have the Christmas holiday as a backdrop to the romance. The title of the book is significant, as each story focuses heavily on giving and generosity. The romances are sweet (kisses only – definitely no Christmas spice here) yet effective.

The Lasting Gift
Mary Anne Poole has been widowed for seven years, having lost her soldier husband right after their marriage. Since then, she and her daughter have been barely scraping by, and now, she is about to lose her secretarial job on Christmas Eve. A package is delivered to her home in error, and she decides to return it to the sender who happens to be Thomas Jenkins, a sailing master. Thomas is itching to get back to the sea, as between journeys he is bored and restless. He is happy to entertain his unexpected visitor, and he soon is aware of the dire straits she’s in. Thomas has accumulated quite a bit of wealth over his career, and he is more than happy to help Mary Anne, who has caught his fancy. Rather than let false pride keep her from accepting aid, Mary Anne is grateful for Thomas’ help, and soon she finds herself falling for this kind and generous man. It’s tragic that he has signed up for another voyage that will take him away for at least a year. Or, will there be some Christmas magic?

Faithfully Yours
This exceptionally short story was a delight to read. When impoverished, eighteen-year-old John McPherson was about to leave for America to try to make his fortune, Margaret Patterson played a cruel jest by saying she would write to him. Margaret had no intention of corresponding, so she coerced Sally Wilson (who is a genuine friend of John’s) to respond to his letters, signing Margaret’s name. Much correspondence and many years later, John has made his fortune and is returning home, throwing Margaret into a panic, until she learns he’s now a wealthy man. This story takes an unexpected and delightful turn, when we find that John is no one’s fool, and has suspected who his real correspondent has been all these years.

Lucy’s Bang-Up Christmas
Lucy’s life is in an uproar – she recently lost her beloved mother, her sister is getting married on Christmas Eve, the household is a shambles, and she is going to have to make her début in a few short months. Enter Miles Bledsoe – Lucy’s second cousin and lifelong friend – to lend his support. Miles’ humor and good sense help calm Lucy, and start her thinking about the real meaning of Christmas. Truth be told, over the last year, Miles has come to see Lucy in a new light, and hopes to court her. While Lucy is a little slower in coming to realize that she loves Miles in a whole new way, she grows up quite a bit as she learns to care and give and listen. This friends to lovers romance is slow building and satisfying while being interwoven with the true spirit of Christmas.

I enjoyed reading all three of these stories. They are unashamedly sentimental and romantic, and even occasionally tear inducing. Regency Christmas Gifts is full of holiday cheer, warmth and love.

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong (Blackshear #0.5) by Cecilia Grant

a christmas gone perfectly wrong
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It should have been simple…

With one more errand to go—the purchase of a hunting falcon—Andrew Blackshear has Christmas completely under control. As his sister’s impending marriage signals the inevitable drifting-apart of the Blackshear family, it’s his last chance to give his siblings the sort of memorable, well-planned holiday their parents could never seem to provide.

He has no time to dawdle, no time for nonsense, and certainly no time to drive the falconer’s vexing, impulsive, lush-lipped, midnight-haired daughter to a house party before heading home. So why the devil did he agree to do just that?

It couldn’t be more deliciously mixed-up…

Lucy Sharp has been waiting all her too-quiet life for an adventure, and she means to make the most of this one. She’s going to enjoy the house party as no one has ever enjoyed a house party before, and in the meanwhile she’s going to enjoy every minute in the company of amusingly stern, formidably proper, outrageously handsome Mr. Blackshear. Let him disapprove of her all he likes—it’s not as though they’ll see each other again after today.

…or will they? When a carriage mishap and a snowstorm strand the pair miles short of their destination, threatening them with scandal and jeopardizing all their Christmas plans, they’ll have to work together to save the holiday from disaster. And along the way they just might learn that the best adventures are the ones you never would have thought to plan.

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Publisher and Release Date: Cecilia Grant, December 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: England, early 19th Century
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Jill

As the eldest of the Blackshear siblings, Andrew takes his responsibilities seriously. He is, after all, the role model for his younger brothers. He also dotes on them, which is why he’s out on the day before Christmas Eve braving foul weather in the wilds of Norfolk to buy his sister a hunting falcon.

As the only child brought up in the care of her father, Lucy Sharp has lacked society and any real interaction with the opposite sex. With an invitation from her aunt to attend her very first Christmas house party, she hopes at last to meet a gentleman and gain some prospects for marriage.

Detained overnight by the weather, Andrew reluctantly agrees to transport Lucy and her maid to her aunt’s. But a broken wheel threatens to undo both their plans, and proper, responsible Andrew is forced to spend time with innocent, unconventional Lucy.

No historical romance writer pens more elegant prose, and very few writers adhere to the mores and values of the era as well as Cecilia Grant. In each of Ms Grant’s three novels in this Blackshear Family series, the heroines were at first, not easy to love. Not so here; the heroine, Lucy is as likable and as delightful as the hero.

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong is the fourth title in the Blackshear Family series, (although takes place first, chronologically) but can be read as a standalone. Though it follows the basics of the attraction-of-opposites trope, and the romance takes place over a few short days, in the talented hands of Ms Grant, the story and romance come across as fresh and believable.

With touches of subtle humour, gorgeous prose, effortless pacing and deep characterisations, and a slowly-building and believable romance, this is just about as perfect a novella as you can possibly get. Highly recommended.

How to Marry a Rake in Ten Days (A Victorian Christmas story) by Samantha Holt

how to marry a rake in 10 days

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Dear Miss Manners,

I have been following your column for some time since I made my debut into society some five years ago. As a young woman, I took your advice to become a well-mannered, polite young lady who would surely find herself a husband during her first season. However, it soon became clear to me that your teachings no longer have a place in this century. England is a modern place now with modern gentlemen. They do not expect us to be coy and polite. In fact, such behaviour only has the effect of turning one into a wallflower. I would wager that the eligible gentlemen of today value a woman who can hold a strong conversation and show intelligence instead of submissiveness. After all, how are we English ladies meant to hold our own against these American heiresses and French beauties?

Now, it is likely too late for me but there are many other young women out there following your advice, many of whom are to be consigned to spinsterhood. As an unmarried woman yourself, how are we to trust your advice?

I challenge, you Miss Manners, to prove the worth of your advice. Show myself and your readers that etiquette can win the heart of a fine prospect. Christmas is approaching and it is a time to reflect is it not? I am sure many a man is considering the worth of a wife. I highly anticipate,and look forward to, the announcement of your own engagement by the start of the New Year.

Your once loyal reader,

Miss Disbelieving

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Publisher and Release Date: Samantha Holt, December 2015

RHR Classifications:
Place and time: Victorian England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Wendy

Prim and proper Angelina Ashdown writes a successful advice column on etiquette for genteel young ladies for a London newspaper . Her pseudonym is Miss Manners – a clever play on words given the subject of her column; however she has been issued with a challenge from one still unwed, disgruntled follower – to take her own advice and see how successful she is! Angelina’s editor thinks it a great idea as the unhappy young lady – Miss Disbelieving – has already increased sales with her provocative letter so therefore Angelina has been given ten days to find a prospective husband and become engaged to him, her betrothal announcement to be printed on New Year’s Day.

Eight years earlier, life had been very different for Angelina. She was the life and soul of every party and engaged to be married to a man of her choosing, until that engagement was broken by a few unkind words spoken into the ear of her betrothed. Afterwards, Angelina had no alternative but to find a way to earn a living. Now the perpetrator of Angelina’s unhappiness and fall from grace is here, at the very same house party as she for the Christmas holidays. How will she bear it knowing how much he hates her?

When Benedict Britton, Earl of Calderton, comes face to face with the young lady he all but ruined eight years previously, he finds himself just as intrigued by the lady as he had been before. She is more beguilingly beautiful than ever, yet all signs of the happy, carefree young lady he had covertly watched back then have disappeared to be replaced by ‘Miss Manners’ – a young woman who is afraid to put a foot wrong.

How to Marry a Rake in Ten Days is a sweet, gently moving, feel-good, seasonal romance. There is very little sexual tension between the alleged rake and the afraid-to-put-a-foot-wrong, newspaper columnist, just a few kisses and smouldering looks. They take a while on the journey to their HEA, but eventually get there with a few hiccups in between. There is no real substance to the story but it is a novella and the purpose is as I said: to make us feel good, and this is achieved. A nicely written Christmas story.

A Bride for the Season by Jennifer Delamere

Delamere A Bride for the Season for web

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Lucinda Cardington is is close to being “on the shelf”, which is no real problem for her as she has more serious pursuits in mind. In her opinion are dreams of romance for silly young ladies like her sister. Yet when her sister places herself in a compromising situation with London’s most scandalous bachelor she tries to interfere and places herself in the spotlight, which means, she is in need of the one thing she never wanted: a husband.

James Simpson is a rake, no arguments about that. But he is well-versed in escaping marriage traps. at least that is what he is convinced of – till one lady ensnares him in a scandal, which forces him to do the honorable thing and offer marriage. But her father won’t agree to a dowry unless James can also find a suitable husband for the lady’s elder sister—quiet, reserved Lucinda Cardington. As James gets to know the vibrant, charming, and passionate woman behind Lucinda’s shy exterior, he comes to the distressing realization that he is betrothed to the wrong sister.

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Publisher and Release Date: Forever, November 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency London
Genre: Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars

Review by: Claudia

As I love Rake/Wallflower stories, I had high hopes for this book. I expected a romantic story full of humor and sparks between the central couple and perhaps with some misunderstandings. In A Bride for the Season, I definitely got the misunderstandings but not the sparks, the humor and the real development of a relationship.

Lucinda Cardington is not concerned with the same things that occupy the minds of most society ladies. Instead of looking for a husband and dreaming of romance, she is using her time for good works and to further her interest in photography. When her sister Emily places herself in a compromising situation, Lucinda attempts to rescue her – and is promptly trapped in the same scandal.

James Simpson is a rake well-versed in escaping marriage traps, but he underestimates his latest flirt, Emily Cardington, who thinks herself deeply in love with him. But when both Emily and her sister are caught up in a scandal, James offers for Emily. But the lady’s father knows that this is his best possibilty to marry Lucinda off as well and so he makes a deal – James must find a husband for Lucinda or he will not receive Emily’s dowry. But as James gets to know Lucinda better so he can try to find the right man for her, he realizes that “the right man” might well be him.

James and Lucinda are well-matched as each possesses characteristics the other lacks. At the beginning, James is apt to see everything as a joke and is a bit too nonchalant for my taste; but he develops well during the story so that by the end, his character is much more balanced and mature and he displays a true sincerity.

Lucinda, on the other hand, is a little more problematic because of her “holier-than-thou” attitude, which I felt did not really sit well with her character. I have no problems with religious references in books, but here they often seemed to come out of nowhere, and were somewhat heavy-handed. On the positive side, she is a well developed character right from the start.

I had some issues with the pacing of the story, and the ending felt rushed and forced. It was also difficult to like most of the characters – and some were downright annoying, especially Emily, who is not only childish and reckless but who is exactly the same at the end of the book as she is at the beginning.

All in all, A Bride for the Season was a pleasant read but I came away from it feeling a little disappointed.