Twelve Days in December (Hearthfire Romance #3.5) by Michele Paige Holmes

Twelve Days in December (Hearthfire Romance #3.5) by Michele Paige Holmes

A Christmas Novella from the bestselling Hearthfire Romance series by Michele Paige Holmes:

Five months isn’t enough time to grieve the death of her husband and marry again, but when the unexpected opportunity to take her sister’s place as the bride of wealthy New York businessman, William Vancer, presents itself, twenty-four year-old Charlotte Holbrook agrees. Their marriage of convenience will provide a secure future for her son, while William will be able to claim the inheritance he needs to expand his company westward.

To begin their perfect and perfectly safe arrangement, William allots the last twelve days in December to become acquainted with his new family—a task more easily accomplished than he had imagined. For in Charlotte he finds a tender heart and companion, while stepping into the role of father to her son, brings William a great measure of joy as well. Before the twelve days have passed, he finds himself wishing their marriage of convenience could be something much more.

For Charlotte, every day with William is one of overwhelming gratitude, as he anticipates and provides for her needs, as well as the fondest desires of her heart. More than material comforts, William offers friendship as well, and a loving concern that Charlotte has gone too long without. Guilt ridden, she struggles with her growing attraction and wonders how she can ever remain loyal to her first husband, while allowing herself to love William as he deserves.

Twelve Days in December (Hearthfire Romance #3.5) by Michele Paige Holmes

Once you get through the info-dumpy first chapter, this is a nice read that goes by very fast. I wanted to hug the poor hero, who’d been abandoned by four fiancées! Even with info-dumping I was clearly missing a lot of backstory, but this is a quick novella, so I can’t hold that against the author.

I’m not sure why I owned this book and had it on my “To Be Read” list. I’m not sure how it came on my radar, as I’ve not read the rest of the series, and this is a “filler” novella of sorts between two full-length books. I suppose I read somewhere that is was a proper “romance” – it is. It’s “sweet” (I refuse to use the word “clean”), possibly Christian, and even though it only covers twelve days (duh!), it’s a lovely little book, with a couple of issues.

The first issue was: I was pretty confused. They grew up in England… AND in France, before coming to America? They know what Christmas trees are even though they weren’t a thing in Britain (except for royalty) in the 1820s? The heroine had been working backbreaking, menial jobs – AND grew up in a nice house and attended balls?

Clearly this is information we get in the longer instalments in the series, but it would have helped me here.

Secondly: I was disappointed that in the last few pages the author introduced a cartoon-villain-nasty ex-fiancée of the hero’s. There was no need for her to be there.

However, ignoring my confusion and the last-minute misogyny, there was plenty else to like.

The child, for example. Well-written children are hard to come by in some genres, so it was nice to find one here.

The time taken for a romance to develop after the marriage was good. Twelve days isn’t all that long, but I still believed it.

I would recommend this one if you’re looking for a quick Christmas read.

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This Cover!

Harlequin infamously (at least in my mind) goes crazy with the Christmas babies. It’s the time of year books emerge with triplets, or quadruplets, or even quintuplets, plastered on them.

However, this 2005 cover… I’m not sure what the designer was going for with Blurry Christmas Ornament Baby.

Obviously the author thought so, too, and the book was rereleased in January 2017 with the second cover.

A Time to Give (About the Baby #1) by Kathryn Shay 2005 Harlequin Cover

A Time to Give (About the Baby #1) by Kathryn Shay 2017 Cover

His Frontier Christmas Family (Frontier Bachelors #7) by Regina Scott

His Frontier Christmas Family (Frontier Bachelors #7) by Regina Scott

A Family Made at Christmas 

After taking guardianship of his late friend’s siblings and baby daughter, minister Levi Wallin hopes to atone for his troubled past on the gold fields. But it won’t be easy to convince the children’s wary elder sister to trust him. The more he learns about her, though, the more he believes Callie Murphy’s prickly manner masks a vulnerable heart…one he’s starting to wish he was worthy of. 

Every man in Callie’s life chose chasing gold over responsibilities. Levi—and the large, loving Wallin family—might just be different. But she can tell he’s hiding something from her, and she refuses to risk her heart with secrets between them. Even as they grow closer, will their pasts keep them from claiming this unexpected new beginning?

His Frontier Christmas Family (Frontier Bachelors #7) by Regina Scott

I think I’ve read all but one of the books in this (so far) seven-book series that follows a big 19th-century family establishing their own little township near Seattle. The books make for fast, easy reads, and it doesn’t particularly matter if you read them out of order.

His Frontier Christmas Family is a solid entry to the series, and while it is both a Christian book and about a big family at Christmas, I didn’t find it too cheesy. Even with the hero being a minister I didn’t find the religion intrusive.

I appreciate that there is a huge cast of characters but the books are written so that they don’t take over. That is always a danger in a long and still-growing series.

I thought the twin boys were written well. There is also a baby who I didn’t mind, but I did become a little frustrated with how often she was mentioned. Every time something happened or an adult character did anything, we were told how the baby reacted, whether it was a smile, a wave, a giggle etc.

Basically, this is an easy Christmas read.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Coming Up for Madeline Hunter

Book Page released the cover for Madeline Hunter’s upcoming book a few days ago:

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

A Devil of a Duke is due out in April next year.

HE MAY BE A DEVIL
He’s infamous, debaucherous, and known all over town for his complete disregard for scandal, and positively irresistible seductions. Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford, is obscenely wealthy, jaw-droppingly handsome, and used to getting exactly what he wants. Until his attention is utterly captured by a woman who refuses to tell him her name, but can’t help surrendering to his touch . . .

BUT SHE’S NO ANGEL EITHER . . .
Amanda Waverly is living two lives – one respectable existence as secretary to an upstanding lady, and one far more dangerous battle of wits – and willpower – with the devilish Duke. Langford may be the most tempting man she’s ever met, but Amanda’s got her hands full trying to escape the world of high-society crime into which she was born. And if he figures out who she really is, their sizzling passion will suddenly boil over into a much higher stakes affair . . .

 

Summer Reads

As well as being “put up the Christmas tree” day, tomorrow is also the start of summer here. A few reads for the season:

Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers #1) by Lisa Kleypas

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

Willow Springs (Destiny Series #5) by Toni Blake

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters #4) by Anne Gracie

The Summer Bride (Chance Sisters book 4) by Anne Gracie

A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr

a-summer-in-sonoma-a-novel-by-robyn-carr

Whisper Falls (Destiny Series #3) by Toni Blake

Whisper Falls by Toni Blake

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

A Good Day to Marry a Duke by Betina Krahn

A Good Day to Marry a Duke by Betina Krahn

Daisy Bumgarten isn’t thrilled to be trying to catch a duke’s attention while dressed like a flower pot caught in a swarm of butterflies. But, after all, when in Rome (or in this case London society). . . . Since her decidedly disastrous debut among New York’s privileged set, the sassy Nevada spitfire’s last chance to “marry well” lies across the pond, here in England. If she must restrain her free spirit, not to mention her rib cage, so be it. She knows she owes it to her three younger sisters to succeed . . .
Now, under a countess’s tutelage, Daisy appears the perfect duchess-in-training . . . Until notorious ladies’ man Lord Ashton Graham, a distraction of the most dangerous kind, glimpses her mischievous smile and feisty nature–and attempts to unmask her motives. Daisy has encountered snakes on the range, but one dressed to the nines in an English drawing room is positively unnerving–and maddeningly seductive. When a veiled plot emerges to show up Daisy as unworthy of the aristocracy, will Ashton be her worst detractor? Or the nobleman she needs most of all?

A Good Day to Marry a Duke by Betina Krahn

The second half of the Victorian era is my favourite historical period, and so the 1880s setting of A Good Day to Marry a Duke was interesting to me. It helped that it was really well researched, and included little bits and pieces that made this very clearly a *Victorian*, not Regency romance.

I was a little worried about the heroine at first, because she is totally out of control at the beginning, and I couldn’t see how she could fit into the British aristocracy in any way. From the “Wild West” of America, she does try (some of the time), and I was convinced by her maturing over the course of the book.

The hero was an interesting combination of “typical historical romance hero” and scholar, which made him stand out from most.

However, I wasn’t all that happy with all the physical contact between the two right from the outset. Apart from all that kissing making very little sense at first, the first time they touch the hero TOUCHES HER BREAST – before even knowing her name! If a man did that *today* it would be weird and wrong. A century or two ago? I didn’t like that.

As I said, I enjoyed all the historical touches. The rail travel and the Worth fashions and all the things that mark the era as late-Victorian. It was a time of so much change and so much innovation, and the author really showed that.

One thing I struggled with was the heroine’s name: Daisy Bumgarten. What in the world…?

Overall, this is a solid start to a new series.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.