Mistletoe Magic by Sophie Barnes
Lady Eleonor is talked into ending her mourning period for her mother by her mother's best friend. She's also asked to join a group that consists of, in essence, matchmakers. A group that both her mother and grandmother had been a part of. Eleonor decides that this is definitely something she can do and is assigned a shy girl named Lady Amy to bring out of her shell.
Across the village Connor is bashing himself in the head because he gambled and lost and his debt is to find a gangly Earl's son a wife. He chooses Lady Amy as his goal but is somewhat thwarted by Eleonor. They have no idea that they are at cross purposes – as Eleonor doesn't feel that the Earl's son is right for Amy – but that doesn't stop Connor from making a move on Eleonor.
This was such a straightforward love story that it was refreshing in its simpleness. Eleonor and Connor meet and pretty entranced with each other. They court and then fall in love. Yes, there's a little bit of a misunderstanding – but it's really so minor as to not really be an issue. Overall it was a very sweet romance.
His Perfect Gift by Karen Erickson
Lady Eleanor Fitzsimmons is a very poor Earl’s daughter and the Duke of Ashton is completely besotted. He tries to tell himself that he just lusts after her but he can’t take his eyes off of her. They have a history that causes Eleanor to completely ignore the Duke however. Three years earlier during Eleanor’s first season Henry had courted her and they had each known that they would marry. But Eleanor’s father forced her to refuse Henry’s offer because he was “only” the second son of a Duke. We three years later and 2 deaths and boom – Henry’s the Duke.
Eleanor believes that Henry is only out for revenge but when he invites her and her family to his country house for Christmas she finds a must lustier duke than she had planned on. Since she never stopped loving Henry – as much as she told herself she had – she easily fell for his charms.
This was another sweet story. Erickson had me into the story immediately with Henry gazing at Eleanor as she walks into a ballroom. She’s wearing a ribbon around her neck as she has no jewels and he’s completely enamored with that ribbon. I liked Henry from the word go. He and Eleanor were perfect for each other and I loved how they each were holding a torch for the other after the years they were separated. Good stuff.
War of the Magi by Rena Gregory
Phin Baldwin is relatively new in town and he’s a bit skeptical about some of the Christmas traditions that the townsfolk of Preston, South Dakota hold dear. One of those traditions is to have a drawing for a carving of the 2 wise men. Whoever “wins” gets to keep the wise men and they put 3 of their dearest wishes into it and hope they come true for Christmas. When Phin wins the wise men he refuses to believe and puts it in the window of his newspaper without wishes added.
Ginny Overton has a crush on Phin, until she discovers his non-belief in the statue. She’s disgusted with him and tells him that she is. Phin isn’t moved at all until he discovers that Ginny’s been sneaking in and taking the statue to a different person every day. When Ginny decides that she’s going to try to make everyone’s wishes come true she grudgingly asks for Phin’s help. Spending all that time together shows each another side of the other – and they like what they see.
This was a great Christmas story! I loved both Phin and Ginny’s characters and their butting of heads. The gift giving was quite brilliant and very imaginative considering it was South Dakota in 1908! While the romance seemed to take a back seat it was always there in the background and the togetherness of the h/h was what drew me in. Definitely a story I’ll reread again and again.
Her Christmas Knight by Sandra Jones
Lady Nia de Brionne’s father is determined to get his two daughters married off. He has invited knights a plenty to stay at his home and compete in a tournament to win their hand. Nia is truly not interested in any of it but she tries to put on a good face for her father. She’s quite surprised when Sir Caerwyn shows up with his brother to compete. Nia and Caerwyn had been sweet on each other several years earlier and Caerwyn had given Nia his heart but he caught her in what he thought was a compromising position and hurried off to the Crusades.
Nia is still in love with Caerwyn but he doesn’t seem to want anything to do with her. Caerwyn still loves Nia but is afraid of giving his heart away again for fear it will be stomped on.
A story of sweethearts reunited. This medieval romance brought two very stubborn people together. I loved seeing Caerwyn with his alpha maleness being brought up short by Nia’s forthright manner. This misunderstanding years earlier is put to bed and the two finally admit that they never fell out of love. A lovely story.
Tempting Mr. Weatherstone by Vivienne Lorret
Penelope Rutledge and Ethan Weatherstone have been friends for forever. They know so much about the other and revel in the knowledge that very little changes in their lives. Except….Penelope maybe isn’t so happy with the sameness. She’s finally realized that she needs more in her life…an adventure - and the adventure she wants is named Ethan. Ethan isn’t completely obtuse but he’s definitely afraid of upsetting the apple cart. What if he spills his heart and it gets stomped on and then he loses his best friend? He just can’t take that chance.
When Penelope decides that she’s heading off on an adventure without Ethan he goes after her and they have a torrid moment in his carriage. Instead of making Ethan see how much Penelope loves him, however, he sees it as “a most unfortunate incident.” It’s not until Ethan finds out she’s moving away that he finally sees the light and decides to take a chance on love.
Let me start by saying that I love friends to lovers stories. They always get my heart beating when the couple finally sees each other in a different light. This story was the same way and I was loving it…until Ethan became a coward. I understood his fear of rejection and the possibility of losing his friendship with Penelope but I just wanted him to grow a pair!!! His desire to leave everything as it was just reeked to me of an old musty bachelor and he wasn’t old or musty at all. I ended up being happy with the end result but there was definitely a good portion of the book where I found myself frustrated for Penelope’s sake.
This ended up being a great historical anthology. I loved that we got not only regency romance but some western historical and medieval romance as well as it shook things up a bit. I would definitely recommend this for those who like historical anthologies.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Smexy’s Top Ten – September 19th
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