I love the holiday season, the music, the decorations, the traditions. I love creating new traditions in my littles and watching the season come alive in their eyes. Books have always been a part of our traditions and I love a good holiday story to get me in the Christmas spirit.
ALWAYS KISS AT CHRISTMAS by Regina Scott
Mary Rose has one goal for her mother’s annual Christmas Eve party: convince her childhood friend Julian Mayes to marry her. She has always admired Julian. Surely one moment under the kissing bough will convince him they were meant to be together. Newly hired by a prestigious London law firm, Julian is ready to shake the dust of the countryside off his polished boots. But he’s always had a soft spot for Mary. As the danger to her future becomes clear, will one kiss be enough to prove to him how far he will go to protect her?
The Plot was cute and the characters were endearing but there was something lacking in the natural flow of the story.
A YULETIDE MATCH by Sarah M. Eden
Famed matchmaker to the ton, Adelaide Northrup cannot imagine a more perfect way to spend Christmas than answering the desperate call of Mr. Porter Bartrum: widower, young father, dunderhead. The young gentleman’s first marriage was an arranged one and he hasn’t the first idea how to find a wife on his own. His dear friend, Chloe Munson, has watched his attempts with amusement and finds this latest approach, the clandestine hiring of a matchmaker, his most entertaining yet. If Adelaide plays her cards right, and she always does, she might very well manage to secure two happy endings.
I mentioned on Social Media how excited I was to hear more from Mrs. Northrop and she did not disappoint. Using Mrs. Northrop to guide the two characters to a realization of their feelings worked so well and made the story nothing short of adorable.
THE FORBIDDEN DUKE by Jen Geigle Johnson
They weren’t supposed to meet, but now that they have, nothing will ever be the same. The Duke of Salsbury blames her family. Lady Catherine blames his. Will an age-old dispute between the Salsburys and Asters rip apart any hope they have to be together? In this game of secrets and lies, can their love for each other conquer even the most tightly held family prejudices?
This nod to Romeo and Julie, but with a sweet ending had my favorite meet cute of the anthology. The author did a beautiful job with the romance balancing their attraction with the struggles in their background they needed to over come.
MISTLETOE AT WILLOWSMEADE by Annette Lyon
On Christmas Eve, Eleanor Hadfield, who works as governess at her childhood home of Willowsmeade, is stunned to learn that the love of her youth, Julian Phillips, is coming back after a decade’s absence. Once the gardener’s son, he has elevated his station to navy captain. Making a match with a mere governess would lower his position, if he were to still love her as he did as a young man, which is unlikely. Unable to bear the idea of noble Julian keeping an old promise out of obligation or pity, Eleanor decides to leave the only place that has ever been a home.
In this second chance love story it was easy to connect with the emotions of the two characters and the author’s slow build from both points of view until they finally were brave enough to express their feelings created a good tension and satisfying ending.
FOLLOW THE RIVER HOME by Krista Lynne Jensen
With her beloved home entailed away to a wealthy cousin, spirited Arabelle Hyatt has resigned herself to marry the arrogant man, if only to save her family from destitution. But before an understanding is reached, a childhood friend returns from war, wounded in more ways than one. With Christmas coming—what may be their last at Hybrigge—holiday traditions are celebrated, memories are revisited, and Arabelle learns what lies in a man’s words is not always what lies in his heart.
I liked the way the author set up the characters for this story, but they seemed to get a little lost in the plot. There was a little too much going on. It would’ve worked great in a flushed out novel but made the short story feel disconcerting.
THE NEW EARL by Heather B. Moore
Celia Thompson knows she can’t live with the new earl who’s come to take her brother’s place. Before she can pack her belongings and reconcile herself to a fate of living as a spinster in her aunt’s home, the new earl arrives. Yet, Aaron, now Lord Banfield, is not the pompous, arrogant man she’d imagined. In fact, he’s quite . . . interesting and handsome. Celia decides to help the man acclimate to his new role. But the longer she stays on at Banfield, the more she realizes the new earl might be the answer she’s been looking for.
I really like the set up of Heather Moore’s story and the banter back and forth between the two characters. The clandestine meetings and the way they came to respect each other made for a good romance, but for some reason the ending left me feeling a little underwhelmed.
One of my favorite things about reading Holiday themed books from the Regency era is the traditions. I loved learning how they celebrated and the little things they did to make the holiday special. It was obvious all these authors did their research bringing something new and interesting to my holiday tradition repertoire.