Suzanne Enoch, Alexandra Hawkins, Elizabeth Essex, Valerie Bowman
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Mass Market Paperback and E-Book 384 pages
September 30, 2014
E-Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
Relax on a silent night and dive into Christmas Brides, a lush historical holiday anthology featuring a brand-new story from USA Today bestselling author Alexandra Hawkins. And back by popular demand from last Christmas, previously published One Hot Scot, The Scandal Before Christmas, and It Happened Under the Mistletoe are back to deck the halls in this sensual Christmas collection.
One Hot Scot by Suzanne Enoch
Duncan Lenox lives surrounded by enemies, a MacLawry in a land of Campbells. But when an English beauty has nowhere else to turn, he feels obligated to help. Now that they must spend a night together in an abandoned cottage while a storm rages on, will their mutual passion save—or doom—them both?
Once Upon a Christmas Scandal by Alexandra Hawkins
Lady Ellen is outraged when she learns her dowry’s been increased by her dad, eager to draw every bachelor in England to her front door. So when Lord Swainsbury comes knocking, Ellen assumes he’s another dreadful fortune hunter. Little does she know that Swainsbury has completely fallen for her—body, heart, and soul…
The Scandal Before Christmas by Elizabeth Essex
Lieutenant Ian Worth needs a wife by Christmas. He has to find her, woo her, and wed her before he goes back to sea. Anne Lesley is a shy spinster with no prospects, so she accepts Ian’s hasty offer only for the security it will bring. But when a midwinter storm rolls in, things start to heat up between them…and they might just find true, honest-to-goodness love…
It Happened Under the Mistletoe by Valerie Bowman
Oliver Townsende intends to avoid the hordes of marriage-minded misses at a friend’s holiday party. When he meets Miss Cerian Blake, who’s dodging her own unwanted set of admirers, the two decide to join forces and fake an infatuation to keep their suitors at bay. But when mistletoe becomes involved, will their Christmastime prank turn into a love to last all seasons?
There’s nothing like a Christmas wedding — because we don’t hang enough expectations on the holiday already. But, historically, the holidays, celebrated with gatherings of friends and family at a time when travel could be difficult, were popular times for weddings. Everyone was already assembled after all, and the nights were long and cold….
I really enjoyed the last two stories in this anthology: The Scandal Before Christmas and It Happened Under the Mistletoe, but found the first two had a variety of issues. All the stories are pretty predictable — it is notoriously difficult to fit everything into a short story.
One Hot Scot felt more like a western except for the plaids and the use of the word Sassenach. But what really annoyed me was how fast the young lady jumped into bed. Aside from that I also felt it was capitalizing on the current “Outlander phemomenon.” But, there are plenty of stories featuring Highland Scots in kilts. I don’t really like it when the title for an historical story is contemporary in context. There’s no way you’d have an 18th or 19th century character described as “hot.”
Once Upon a Christmas Scandal had an element of suspense, but not really. Again they went all horizontal with alarming speed. And, Lady Ellen’s lack of interest in marriage is hard to understand. And, it’s hard to fathom why if she is pretty and well-off, intelligent and seems pleasant no one offered for her. It just felt off.
The Scandal before Christmas was enchanting and irresistible. The characters of Ian and Anne are charming; both cowed by their parents in different ways. It has a bit of the charm of a Cinderella story to it as well. The auxilliary characters are horrible or delightful but reasonably fleshed out. And I enjoyed the descriptive writing — especially the love scenes. I loved Ian’s major domo, Pinky — he brings in a slightly paranormal air like a male Mary Poppins. There are also nice literary references.
It Happened Under the Mistletoe was pleasant in many ways, not the least of which is a sort of mystical cat roaming the house and bringing the hopefully to become coupled characters together several times. I loved the magnetic attraction and sympathetic situations in which both Oliver and Cerian find themselves. Communication was a big problem between the two characters. usually that bothers me, but in this story it is justified by social custom and class, but sometimes they are able to honestly communicate. Then, once intimacies have occurred you may as well lay it on the line.
My verdict on the book is mixed. It’s about $7 in either format. I would have to decide whether the last two stories in the book were worth it for me. In this case I enjoyed the last two enough to buy it. But other might also enjoy the first two stories; I am not the arbiter of what everyone likes. If you liked the entirety it would then be a great value! On their site (link) below there’s an excerpt, and you can always read a bit at Amazon as well.
More ways to buy can be found at the publisher’s and authors’ sites. I am not an affiliate of either site linked to above.
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