Posted in Book Review

Christmas Revels IV, another successful anthology

Christmas Revels IV : Four Regency Novellas

by: Anna D. Allen, Hannah Meredith, Kate Parker, and Louisa Cornell

I have been a fan of all the Christmas Revel Anthologies. Each year I am surprised by the excellence these authors exude.

Anna Allen captured my heart with her story, The Sergeant’s Christmas Bride. Ms. Allen managed to give her readers a heroine who was both strong and vulnerable. Elizabeth FitzWalter is a woman of courage and determination and Sergeant Jacob Burrows is the hero she doesn’t realize she needs.

After her brother dies she inherits the title and all the burdens and responsibilities that come with it. Jacob is surprised by her proposal but he is determined to live up to what his friend, Matthew FitzWalter would want him to be.

This couple should not be together and yet, they are a perfect fit. A truly beautiful love story.

I have enjoyed reading Ms. Allen’s stories but I feel this has been her best so far. I can hardly wait to see what she writes next year.

 

Home For Christmas by Hannah Meredith was a fun story of second chances and hope. Charity Fletcher was doomed to be a spinster dependent upon the largesse of her family until a surprise inheritance gave her the prospect of a different future.

When Colonel Lord Gilbert Narron rented a house in the wilds of Bristol he didn’t expect it to already be occupied. The new owner isn’t willing to give up her independence and he is unwilling to leave this temporary haven.

They manage to find a way to share the old house. While Gil devotes time and money into making the much-needed repairs, Charity searches for clues as to why she was named in a stranger’s will.

Adventure and attraction become too great a temptation. Ms. Meredith has us flipping pages to learn whether they allow themselves to be pulled apart or they give into the desires simmering in the fires of winter.

I’ve been a fan of Hannah Meredith’s for several years and she hasn’t let me down. I look forward to Christmas Revels V and whatever else these ladies write.

 

I was not surprised that Kate Parker’s novella, A Memorable Christmas Season started with a dead body. I was surprised that she had three romances intertwined in this wonderful holiday story.

Like an onion, we peel off another layer to learn the juicy details of this rich romantic mystery. Young love, first love and undying love are all represented. Susanna Dunley is the Dowager Countess but when her first love, Will Marsden the Earl of Keyminster sees her with a dead man in her parlor, she is once again the young girl who loved him.

Will Marsden has spent years as a spy and now he is a master of the art. He knows Susanna is hiding something but he is still willing to risk it all to save her. The story is revealed with seduction and banter as old friends rediscover each other and learn what has led to the murder of a traitor.

A mother’s love, friendship and the power of true love overcome all the evils to bring hope to a new year. Kate Parker is the master of layering plot and character to lead us through the maze to discover the truth of the story. I am a fan of her mysteries, especially her “Deadly Series”.

 

Louisa Cornell makes me laugh and makes me cry and keeps me turning pages well after my bedtime in her novella, A Perfectly Unforgettable Christmas. Ms. Cornell weaves mystery and romance with the added twist of a great supporting cast.

Viscount Debenwood, Lucien Rollinsby’s butler, Redford and his dog are only outshined by the little girl, Lily who steals his heart (and mine) and brings her mother, Lady Caroline McAlasdair into his seclusion.

Lily is precocious and unable to stay away from the grumpy viscount nor his little dog, Bonaparte. Like her mother, she is able to see the good man hiding in a haze of alcohol and guilt.

Love heals and Caroline McAlasdair has the Midas touch turning even the worst situation into a chance for happiness and beauty. Without even trying, she and her daughter give Lucien new hope but she too holds a secret and it might be the very one to send him over the edge.

This ensemble of rich characters makes the story come alive. I can hardly wait to see what Louisa Cornell does next. I am a fan, I hope I don’t have to wait a whole year to read another of her fabulous stories.

 

 

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The Golden Hour

I just finished The Golden Hour, the fourth in the Nora Tierney series by M.K. Graff. I have enjoyed the progression of the main characters: Nora Tierney and Detective Inspector Declan Barnes, from antagonists to partners. The Golden Hour is a little darker than the first books in this series. It deals with the very real threat of biological terrorism but the true theme of this story is creating your own family from the people who love you. Nora’s British family, the good friends who have been there for her during her darkest days and sweetest memories, her dear friends Kate, Simon and Val, as well as the newest additions to her circle, Paul’s parents, make up the people she has chosen to care about and call family. Their loyalty to each other is tested and proved.
When Declan’s case and Nora’s stalker bleed over into each other, Declan is faced with the very real possibility of losing Nora and Sean forever. When he realizes how much they both mean to him, it is a beautiful and heart rending moment of clarity and self-doubt. It is in that moment the reader can truly feel who the man Declan is, not just the detective, but the vulnerable person who loves Nora and her child. As he rushes to save his family he is torn between duty to his country and the well-being of his family. A true hero does what is right even at the risk of losing it all.
Adversity changes a person. When faced with the threat of losing everything that makes life worth living, Declan and Nora show their true characters. Like all of us, they are weak but their innate goodness, strength and love pull them through the abyss and they will be better because of it.
This story made me angry, made me laugh and it made me cry but in the end, the tears were those of joy. This was one of the best books I’ve read, it captured the heart and gave a little squeeze. I can hardly wait to read the next book and see what new adventures await Nora, Declan and Sean.
 

Posted in Book Review

Trust No One by: Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Ann Krentz is one of my favorite writers. I first fell in love with her Amanda Quick books a dozen or more years ago. My first love is historical romances. When I learned she also wrote modern romance I knew I had to check them out. Now, more than ten years after I first discovered her work, I am still in awe of her talent. Her newest release “Trust No One” delivers the love and suspense with the same thrill and enthusiasm as her first books.
Grace Elland and Julius Arkwright do not appear to be anything alike— she’s the former assistant to a positive thinking guru and he’s at the top of the venture capitalist food chain.
After finding the body of her boss, Grace becomes the #1 suspect. A crazed stalker, her past coming back to haunt her, Julius and local sheriff Devlin Nakamura, her best friend’s husband begin to suspect Grace may be a target.
Julius’ rules to live by beat out Grace’s positive thinking when she sets her mind to discover who’s trying to scare her death.
A real love story of finding the one who completes you and makes you want to be a better person.

Posted in Book Review

The Prince Catcher Series by Katharine Ashe

Katharine Ashe writes the books that keep me up until two in the morning trying to convince myself that just one more chapter and then I’ll go to bed. She crafts characters that make me laugh and cry and fall in love. The Prince Catchers Series is awesome, three orphaned sisters and their stories beginning with the middle sister. Arabella Caufield who feels it is her responsibility to find out who their parents were. “I Married the Duke” pits the flame haired governess against the handsome captain she fears may be a pirate. She is so close to fulfilling her destiny, to meet and marry a prince. But falling into the arms of a pirate captain thwarts her plans as her heart tangles with his and their futures and pasts collide. The truly heroic characters Ms. Ashe pens are the friends we’d all like to have, those with a willingness to sacrifice everything for each other. Arabella fits into this league of honor with her willingness to face her greatest fears for love.

In “I Adored a Lord” Ravenna is thrown in front of a prince to see if he might be the one the gypsy lady told them about who would lead them to truth about their parents. Thought to be part gypsy herself, Ravenna is a healer and good with animals. She never expected to fall for a great beast, at least not a two legged one. But when she is thrown into a murder mystery with the prince’s man Vitor, she uncovers many other mysteries, among them the feelings aroused simply holding hands with a man. Never have I read anything more erotic than the sensual description Ms. Ashe wrote of a young girl’s first experience of what it is to hold a man’s hand. Ravenna doesn’t do things like most women, she is more comfortable in with animals than people. As the sister-in-law to a Duke she is getting ready to lose her position and is at a loss to what her future holds. Her feelings towards Vitor frighten and confuse her but like all truly heroic, it is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue amid the fear. A man divided by two families and two countries, a woman who doesn’t know her family or her country except the ones she has chosen for herself, together can they make a home of their own?
Happy endings, when it seems like it is almost impossible, Katharine Ashe brings us what the heart desires. For books that will make you fall in love all over again, read The Prince Catchers Series and don’t forget the novella “Kisses, She Wrote” the Christmas novella.