Best-selling and critically acclaimed historical romance authors Celeste Bradley, Eva Devon, Elizabeth Essex and Heather Snow heat up this Christmas with four never-before-released novellas guaranteed to make your holiday season merry and bright.
A Rake for Christmas by Eva Devon
Lady Evangeline Pennyworth is done with being a wallflower and turns to London’s most notorious rake, demanding he teach her how to be desirable. After witnessing the love of his parents devolve into pain and anger, Anthony Basingstoke has vowed never to be swept away by passion, even if he finds himself taken by this wallflower in a way he’s never been before. Only a Christmas miracle will make true love a gift that will last forever.
The “heroine asks for help to become attractive to men” trope is not something I can usually get on board with, but in the case of A Rake for Christmas, it was just a means to get to the real story, and so I survived it!
The heroine of this one is plain and severely overlooked by everyone – including her parents. Getting an invitation to a Christmas house party helps her come out of her shell.
There are a few bumps along the way, but of course she is going to end up with the very likeable hero. (I don’t enjoy love triangles – there’s one here – but I survived.)
A solid little novella for Christmas.
Up on the Rooftops by Elizabeth Essex
Mischievous widow Caledonia Bowmont longs for London’s Christmas cheer, but a string of jewel thefts has brought the festive season to a standstill—and Society accuses the Scottish Wraith, Tobias McTavish. Toby is determined to clear his name and reclaim the life he’s built, so with Cally’s help, he heads up on the rooftops to trap the thief. Will they stop the high-carat crime, or find the hidden gem of lasting love instead?
Elizabeth Essex packs quite a lot of plot into a novella. It was impressive.
The author also takes a risk by (for a novella) keeping her hero and heroine separate for more time than I’d expect.
However, Essex is generally a good bet for a solid historical romance, and it’s no different here. What I especially enjoy about her writing is that she puts a huge effort into using archaic words and picking real locations for plot points to happen. It adds a sense of reality to the story – even while it is outlandish.
Another solid read.
The Very Debonair Lady Claire by Heather Snow
When Claire Barton’s twin is murdered, she takes his place in the War Department to flush out his killer. Her ruse works perfectly—until the man who once broke her heart becomes her new spymaster. The worst mistake of Andrew Sedgewick’s life was walking away from Claire that Christmas six years ago. Now that he’s found her again, he doesn’t intend to let her go—if they both survive this holiday season.
This is a well-written novella with a complex story in a shorter word count.
The “heroine disguised as a man” and the “Regency spies” themes aren’t my favourites, but I enjoyed the good writing and interesting characterisation. The mystery aspects were interesting. I just wish it didn’t have to involve a woman pretending to be her brother!
Most importantly, the characters were interesting, likeable, and more original than most.
A Liar Under the Mistletoe by Celeste Bradley
Fearless Amie Jackham doesn’t attend balls to dance, she’s there for the thrill of robbing the lockboxes of the unscrupulous. With the notorious Vixen still at large, Liar’s Club spy Lord Elliot Hughes is taking the opportunity to clean out a few lockboxes for the good of Crown and Country—and leaving the Vixen’s trademark lacy handkerchief behind. Thief and spy can’t resist each other in this sexy, catch-me-if-you-can Liar’s Club holiday novella.
This little adventure story moves at a fast pace, which works well for the plot. It’s a little outlandish (down to some character name choices), but an entertaining read. It completes a collection of stories involving Regency-era spies, which seem to be everywhere at the moment, but not always at Christmastime!
One thing: the hero’s name is Elliot, and it’s mentioned a few too many times!
Review copy provided by NetGalley.