I usually save my Christmas books to read during the Holiday Season but I wanted to continue with the Virgin Rover series and this one included one ofI usually save my Christmas books to read during the Holiday Season but I wanted to continue with the Virgin Rover series and this one included one of the short stories.
I did read the other two stories but the one I enjoyed the most was the Virgin River one.
Silver Bells, by Debbie Macomber This was an OK story but it is part of a series and I feel that if I had read the series I would probably have enjoyed it more. As it is it was just ok and a bit too short for me to actually get to know and root for the characters.
The Perfect Holiday, by Sherryl Woods Owning a B&B is one my oldest dreams so this had an added interest for me. I did feel that I had to suspend my disbelief for a while as I don't thinks I would have stayed in the same house as someone I didn't know but other than that it was sweet and christmasy.
Under the Christmas Tree, by Robyn Carr As I've mentioned this was my favourite from this books. Most of it is not really set in VR but some of the characters and Jack's bar do appear and I did like the cosy atmosphere Carr manages to show in her books. I really liked Nate's interaction with Annie's family and she seemed like a real nice and grounded person.
I have been reading more romance lately but I have come to realise that I rely mostly on authors I already know when it comes to choosing books to reaI have been reading more romance lately but I have come to realise that I rely mostly on authors I already know when it comes to choosing books to read (unless it's an anthology, I love those and it's a good way to try new authors). Only when there's a particular theme that interests me do I venture to try a new author when it comes to full length books. This December I was looking for Christmas reads and found a recommendation for this Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight by Grace Burrowes and I decided to try it.
I am very happy to report that I think I found a new author to read. I really enjoyed the characters and the story of LLCK. This is the third book in the series and I do realise that if I had read them in order there are some details I would have enjoyed more. But it was still a pretty good read and I do plan to get to the others soon.
Lady Louisa is the daughter of a duke. She has two older married sisters and two younger and unmarried sisters. Like any dutiful young lady she wants to marry and clear the way for her younger sisters to do the same. But Louisa is a very intelligent young Lady and she finds it hard to carry on the usual futile conversations that one has in the ton's social events. Therefore she finds it hard to find a partner to dance at such events and she has no interest in the young men she meets.
There's on gentleman whose company she enjoys and who doesn't seem put off by her manners. Sir Joseph Carrington has come to appreciate Louisa very much indeed but he finds himself unworthy of a Duke's Daughter and only the idea of saving Louisa from disgrace leads him to offer for her...
I did enjoy Joseph and Louisa very much. Both had a few secrets to hide but to be honest I don't think they needed to hide those secrets from each other. Louisa's secret - her book of racy poems - might ruin her socially but never at the eyes of the man who loved her.
I loved the peek we had of the other members of Louisa's family and I'm looking forward to read their books. I'm especially looking forward to read the book about her parents - the Duke and Duchess of Moreland. I love reading series and it seems I found another good one in Burrowe's books about the Windhams.
I have a great fondness for those traditional regency anthologies that publishers used to put out every holiday season (as you can see from my antholoI have a great fondness for those traditional regency anthologies that publishers used to put out every holiday season (as you can see from my anthologies index) and when I discovered that this anthology was going to be published I was naturally happy and eager to get my hands on it. I am sorry to say that it didn't entirely work for me, some stories I enjoyed, others not so much. I think one of the problems is that some of them seemed to short - or the author was unable to develop characters and plot in such few pages - and another problem is that reading eight novellas in a row made me feel like I was overdosing on them and as I neared the end I had problems remembering the first ones. I think 3 or 4 stories was be the ideal lenght...
She Stoops to Wenchdom by Mary Jo Putney
A bit of an outlandish plot with a serious theme resolved in a somewhat light manner. It doesn't make an memorable read but it was easy read. Grade 3/5
Miss Brockhurst's Christmas Campaign by Jo Beverley
A friends to lovers story that focused on the pagan side of Christnas to bring the hero and the heroine together. More to my taste than the first one. Grade 4/5
Intrigue and Mistletoe by Joanna Bourne
My previous attempt at reading Bourne did not go well but I have to say that I really enjoyed this story that included a heroine knowleadgeable in latin (too smart really but I suspende my disbelief) and a hero hunting frech spies. A second chance at love story that felt pretty well balanced. Grade: 4/5
Wench in Wonderland by Patricia Rice
A bit unbelievable - I seem to have trouble believing in most amnesia plots - but ended up being a fun and light read after I suspended my disbelief. Grade 3/5
On a Wicked Winter's Night by Nicola Cornick
Another second chance at love story where the hero meets the heroine and her illegitimate daugher again after a few years apart. The heroine doesn't believe she deserves to be happy till the hero manages to convince her. Grade 3.5/5
Weathering the Storm by Carla Elliott
I thought this was a bit silly. On one hand that the h/h would be able to sail the boat on their own and then that the heroine's reason to want to reach London could be as important as the hero's who was a diplomat. Grade 2/5
The Mistletoe Bride by Anne Gracie
Another story I enjoyed. It had a fairy tale quality to it. the heroine that takes another woman's place quite by accident, the h/h falling for each other almost too soon and their worry about the two young girls that have only them. I wish this had been a longer story so it could be properly developed. Grade 4/5
A Wilder Wench by Susan King I thought this story had potential but being so short it totally failed to convince me. Grade 2/5
This is my first entry for the TBR Challenge. Truth be told this one wasn't in the TBR pile for long but it seemed to fit both my mood for Holiday reads and the short stories type of book we were supposed to tackle in January ...more
t's been quite some time since I've read a Victoria Alexander book and I must admit I picked this one up because I thought it had a lovely cover. Shalt's been quite some time since I've read a Victoria Alexander book and I must admit I picked this one up because I thought it had a lovely cover. Shallow, I know but it seemed like a light and potentially fun read and I just couldn't resist it.
I usually enjoy books that include Christmas and house parties and when I realised that this story would be set during a huge house party where everything is supposed to be perfect because the participants are actors paid to perform I thought this would be a good one. Unfortunately for Lady Lydingham things don't happen as she planned them. She wants to impress her prince (and make him propose) but most of the actors lack the necessary experience, an old love comes to call and eventually more characters are added to the mix.
To be honest I will say that funnies are not my favourite type of romance. Humour is a particular thing and what is fun for some may not be for others. In this case I didn't find the problems with the actors very amusing and to be honest I think there were too many characters coming and going. I could see from the very beginning that there was more to that prince than meets the eye and I didn't see the point of creating a problem between Camille and her younger sister or adding her dead father to the mix.
This was clearly a case of a second chance at love and I think I would have enjoyed it better if we had been more focused on Camille and Grayson than having them interacting with all the other characters. I felt that there were too many characters, too many story lines and in the end the main couple didn't have enough time to explore what had happened and court each other again. It was a light read yes but it failed to keep me engaged and it took me longer than usual to finish it.
I love Anne Perry's Christmas stories. She is a wonderful writer and her characters always come alive. Besides she masters the Victorian setting likeI love Anne Perry's Christmas stories. She is a wonderful writer and her characters always come alive. Besides she masters the Victorian setting like no one and it is not difficult to imagine in our heads the places that she describes. I found this one a bit different from her usual stories because it deals mostly with London's underworld and I wasn't familiar with most of the characters. In these stories she usually uses secondary characters from her other series, in this case the Monk series.
"Squeaky" Robinson, "Dr" Crow and the young Bessie are an odd set of characters that join Sir Henry Rathbone in trying to find his friend's son Lucien in time for him to spend Christmas with his family. Lucien has fallen prey of the worst vices and has disappeared in the city's shadiest neighbourhoods.
While they look for him we are treated to a tour of the London tunnels where every vice and perversion can easily be bought, where addicts beg for opium or cocaine and are kept under their dealers’ command. Perry's brilliant writing means that we can really imagine what it must have been to visit those places and meet such characters. Their search quickly turns into a murder mystery that they must solve before finding Lucien. And nothing guarantees that he will want, or that he will be allowed to, return home.
Although Perry's books are never light reads I found this one a bit darker than usual. I also missed not having a strong female character in the lead and I think that may have contributed to make it an even darker read. There's also the fact that here we are really shown the contrast between those living miserably on the streets and the affluent world of Sir Henry Rathbone. As with most of these Christmas stories it deals with guilt and an eventual redemption.
Although the story ends with a positive note there is no doubt that this is not your usual light and cosy Christmas read. It is, however, an interesting read and I did enjoy reading it.
I've been meaning to try Lisa Kleypas's contemporary novels for some time now but to be honest what I've read about didn't make me rush to pick them uI've been meaning to try Lisa Kleypas's contemporary novels for some time now but to be honest what I've read about didn't make me rush to pick them up. I am, in fact, one of those readers who keep asking why she doesn’t go back to writing historicals, those I know I will, if not love, at least enjoy. However, as I was looking at the Christmas themed books I had in the TBR pile I noticed this Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor and thought that it might be the right book to sample her contemporary writing.
I'm happy to say that I did enjoy it. This is a rather short story and at times I felt that of it had a longer format some thing or other could have been better developed or contextualised but as a whole I thought it a nice, sweet story about 2 people falling in love despite themselves.
Mark Nolan is raising his 6 year old niece with the help of his brother Sam. He has a girlfriend that he likes and he is planning to propose as she seems the right woman to raise a family with. Mark, his brothers and sister had a pretty messed up childhood and he doesn't want to make the same mistakes his parents made.
Holly, his niece, doesn't speak since her mother died. One day, while visiting the local toy shop Holly and the shop owner, Maggie Conroy, connect with each other and the little girl eventually starts speaking. Although at first glance Mark wasn't particularly interested in Maggie, her connection with Holly makes him pay more attention.
Maggie has been a widow for 2 years. She feels attracted to Mark but, if for one she feels that dating other men would be betraying her dead husband, she also feels that Mark is off limits as he is in a relationship. And so they dance around each other, getting to know each other but afraid to do something about it.
I did like both of them. Maggie was a really funny character and Mark you could see he just needed to believe in himself and the love he had to give. I was curious about his brothers - Sam and Alex - who play a secondary role in this story. I have checked Kleypas website and I see they have their own books so I already added them to the TBR pile.
I think Mary Balogh's talent was most in evidence in her traditional regencies and especially in those with Christmas themes. I have read quite a fewI think Mary Balogh's talent was most in evidence in her traditional regencies and especially in those with Christmas themes. I have read quite a few of them. Some I have reviewed on this blog, others I am still saving for a rainy day. A few years ago I read Christmas Belle and while checking Balogh's website I realised that it was the second book in a duet. It has been on my mind, since then, to get that first book and find out more about the other members of Jack Frazer's family. The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge provided the perfect opportunity.
One of my favourite plots in romance is the "marriage in trouble". So I was quite happy to discover that The First Snowdrop has one such plot. After being caught alone with Anne during a snowstorm that made them spend the night in the same house Alex feels morally obligated to offer for her by her brother and the local vicar. But when Anne accepts his proposal he feels trapped and convinces himself that she must have planned it. Alex's punishment of Anne is to abandon her in his estate for over a year...
Anne feels devastated on being left there after a promising wedding night. But while timid and lacking in self-confidence, she proves to be a strong woman when she spends that year improving her looks and Alex's estate. They communicate when it is strictly necessary and Alex pays all the bills she sends him but they don't each other again. When she receives an invitation from his grandmother to spend Christmas with the family Anne can't resist an opportunity to see Alex again.
I had to suspend my disbelief a bit to buy that Alex would so mistake Anne's behaviour on that first night and that he would accept to offer for her when he already had another life planned. But I was happy I did because I really enjoyed the story once we get to Alex's grandparents house party. Alex doesn't immediately recognise Anne but once he does and he gets to know her better he realises he has been treating her very badly. But he seems unable to change the situation and even when he is decided to make a go of their marriage and Anne mistakes his intentions he is unable to tell her what is on his mind.
I really enjoyed the interaction between the family members, the warmth of their relationship and how Anne really came out of her shell and decided she deserved better from Alex. I just think they could have solved things then if they had had an honest conversation instead of dragging their misery for a few more months. Although not one of my favourites it was a book I enjoyed reading and it made me want to reread Christmas Belle.
My first entry in the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge is this traditional regency by Carla Kelly. I know the author is a loved one for many of my bMy first entry in the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge is this traditional regency by Carla Kelly. I know the author is a loved one for many of my blogging friends and due to their recommendations I have read several. I enjoyed some more than others but Kelly is definitely an author I plan to keep reading. I have been curious about Marian's Christmas Wish ever since hearing about it and I'm glad that I finally had the opportunity to read it.
Marian in a young girl - almost seventeen - who is planning a wonderful Christmas with her family despite the fact that their financial situation is not the best. In fact her older brother is coming home with a rich suitor for her older sister, even though she is in love with the local vicar. But her brother also brings another guest - Lord Ingraham - and although everyone else, with the exception of her younger brother, scolds Marian for her less than genteel ways he seems charmed by her attitudes.
I was a bit worried when I started this story and realised that it was the funny elements that supported it, it is a farce. Humour is a very particular thing and I often have trouble enjoying what other people think it's funny. And I did have some problems with this one because of that, that and the fact that MariN ctually acts like sixteen year old and I don't usually go for teenager heroines. To add to it I thought she felt a bit too at ease with Lord Ingraham from the very start and that there was a big age difference between them that showed in the way they dealt with each other.
But once I overcome those problems, which I did because this a very nicely written story, I appreciated the warmth of feelings between Marian and her family, the friendship that develops between Marian and Ingraham despite their age gap, the Christmas traditions that include making a whish while stirring the Christmas pudding and the over the top behaviour of Ariadne's beau.
To be honest I think I would have enjoyed more without the "adventure" at the end of the book and what leads to it. I was quite happy with the cosiness we had in the first half of the story and was sorry when we lost that. Even so it was a nice Holiday read!
Although I consider myself a Georgette Heyer fan the truth is that, till now, I had only read some of her Regencies and Georgian novels. This was my fAlthough I consider myself a Georgette Heyer fan the truth is that, till now, I had only read some of her Regencies and Georgian novels. This was my first mystery by her and presents a totally different style. It's a contemporary (it was first published in 1941) whodunit!
Several members of the Herriard family and their friends meet at an english country house to celebrate Christmas. While they all attend, no one seems particularly fond of the others or happy to be spending time in their company. The head-of-the family, and owner of the country house, is a tyrannical old man who doesn't seem to get along with his family members. In fact when he is found dead in a locked room it seems many of them had a reason for murder. Enter Inspector Hemingway and a few fellow policemen to interrogate everyone and solve the case.
Despite loving mysteries, and most of the other Heyer's I've read I have to confess that this was not an easy read. I had some trouble at first remembering all the characters and their relationship with each other and the dead man. Then the characters were disagreeable and quarrelsome, the servants were equally disagreeable and uninteresting and I actually had to force myself to continue reading.
I am glad that I did though because in the end I rather liked the way how Inspector Hemingway found the culprit. I am sorry though that we didn't get to spend more time with him. I like to have a main character that I may like and follow through the story and he was the prime candidate, as the one investigating, but we never get more than a glimpse of his past life.
The final twist with the book connection was quite funny though, it felt the answer was there all along and we were just too blind to see it. And that not everyone was as silly as it seemed.
I do plan to read other Heyer mysteries in the future but I do hope they will be easier reads than this one and with more interesting stories.
For a couple of years now that Anne Perry's Christmas books have been a favourite read of mine during the Holiday Season. They are historical mysterieFor a couple of years now that Anne Perry's Christmas books have been a favourite read of mine during the Holiday Season. They are historical mysteries, usually featuring characters of her most famous series, and they deal with themes like redemption, forgiveness, love, family bonds... all those feelings usually related to the festive period.
In A Christmas Grace the main character is Emily Radley, Charlotte Pitt's sister (from the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series). Despite looking forward to the Christmas season in London, she finds herself travelling to Connemara in Ireland at the request of an estranged Aunt who is gravelly ill.
Aunt Susannah leaves in a coastal village and soon Emily gets to meet its few inhabitants. There's a general sense of fear over a coming storm and Emily can't help but wonder why they are so worried. When the storm finally comes there is a shipwreck and only one man is saved. The villagers reaction leaves Emily puzzled until she finds out that 7 years before another ship was wrecked and another man was saved... one that was later murdered by someone from the village... Susannah's request is that Emily discovers who did murder that man 7 years ago so that peace can come to te village once more.
Emily, who had been missing the mysteries she was involved in with her sister in the past, starts her own investigation of who the victim was and what might have lead to his murder. She gets to know the people and their secrets and eventually follows a trail left by Susannah's late husband to know more about what really happened.
Although this was an easy and fast read I have to say that I found it less moving and interesting than previous stories in this same series. The mystery was a bit thin, we don't get to know the victim very well, there was little suspense involved and in the end it felt a bit unresolved. Perry's description of the scenery was ver interesting but the characters never really came alive. I think there should have been more about Aunt Susannah, her past with her husband and something about the celebration of Christmas.
Is there anything better than to read one of Balogh's Christmas romances at Christmas time? I think not and this year the first one I read was A ChrisIs there anything better than to read one of Balogh's Christmas romances at Christmas time? I think not and this year the first one I read was A Christmas Bride
Lady Helena Stapleton was introduced in a previous book, A Precious Jewel, where she was the villain. Even if you haven't read that book Helena is not exactly a nice character when this story starts. She is cynical, bitter and doesn't trust anyone. She also doesn't seem to feel good about who she is.
Edgar Downes is the heir of a merchant family. His sister, Cora, married the younger son of a duke and he knows he is only received in polite society because of that connection. At thirty-six is father is urging him to marry and give him grandchildren and Edgar decides to spend a season in London looking for a bride.
When he and Helena see each other the attraction is there and Helena decides it's high time she takes a lover. That evening she manipulates Edgar to take her home and they do sleep together but her cold manner makes him leave without plans of seeing her again. In fact he starts to court another young lady but his natural kindness and moral values lead him to inquire about Helena's well being and when it is apparent that she is pregnant he feels that there is no alternative but to marry. Since the Christmas season is just starting and they were already planning a party at the Downes country home a Christmas wedding is decided.
It is not in every book that we see a heroine as tortured as Helena. She feels the need to punish herself for a past behaviour and she does that at every turn. Even wounding others so they don't get close to her. With Edgar however she is unable to that. Edgar is a wonderful hero, once he sets his course of action he is determined that he will do his best to have a good marriage. He tries to find a way to breach Helena's defenses and eventually he manages just that and learns what she did in the past.
I really enjoyed their interaction during those days after the wedding. With family and friends in attendance, Helena starts opening up a bit and Edgar feels he might have a chance to heal her if he manages to bring her together with those she hurt and especially if he gets her to forgive herself. Since this is the season for family, good will and forgiveness I thought this was the perfect theme for a Christmas story. Just lovely!
Another Christmas read and another new author to me. This was a very light story with the hero and heroine being thrown together because the hero mustAnother Christmas read and another new author to me. This was a very light story with the hero and heroine being thrown together because the hero must accompany the heroine and her son to the Christmas party of a relative. On the way they get to know each other better and end up being kidnapped by an outlaw who has been holding noblemen for ransom.
While some of the scenes were actually very funny, like the time they spent with the outlaws or later in the farmer's cottage, I couldn't help feeling the heroine was too naive and too good to be true, she was almost annoying in how she kept seeing the best in everyone even in the rival for the hero's affections... a woman that was actually pretty decent to the heroine when she didn't have to... I'm guessing she will be the heroine of a future book.
The hero was also the usual kind, a rake decided to change his ways, and nothing really stood so I just enjoyed it for the fun romp that it was with being extraordinary.
I've first heard of Richard Paul Evans when I signed up for the Christmas Reading Challenge. I put his books in the WL and a few days later I found thI've first heard of Richard Paul Evans when I signed up for the Christmas Reading Challenge. I put his books in the WL and a few days later I found this one through Bookmooch. It is a very small story and I read it in less than hour.
"Whatever the reason, I find that with each passing Christmas the story of the Christmas box is told less and needed more. So I record it now for all future generations to accept or dismiss as seems to them good. As for me, I believe."
It is a very simple story really, too simple in fact for me to create any emphaty with the main character but I guess the point is more to spread the message of love. Because the Christmas Box is about love, the love of the family, of the mother for its child. About looking at the important things in life, like spending time with your loved ones, instead of spending it working too hard. How tragedy can strike at any moment and that's why you have to make the best of the time you are given.
I do like that message and can see why so many people feel touched by it but I can't help feeling I would have enjoyed it more had the characters been more developed and complex. The author has at least two more stories with the same characters and many people seem to read all 3 in a row, maybe that would be an advantage in terms of knowing them better and enjoying it more.
It is a sad thing when one starts a new anthology thinking it will be full of new stories and then realises you've read them all. It was nice to revisIt is a sad thing when one starts a new anthology thinking it will be full of new stories and then realises you've read them all. It was nice to revisit them but I would have preferred new ones.
The Wexford Carol - Emma Jensen
This one was a really nice story about a woman who is trying to keep her ancestral home in order and good repair despite the fact that it has been sold by the cousin who inherited it and the man sent by the new owner to oversee the property. Some funny secondary characters helped keeping this a light story. Grade: 4/5
Mistletoe and Folly - Sandra Heath
A pair of young lovers meets again after 5 years. The hero had his heart broken by the heroine when she left to marry another and now that they meet again he is engaged to be married. A rival for the affections of his current fiancee creates a misunderstanding to have their engagement broken which leads to an explanation of what really happened 5 years earlier. I liked this story, it had an unusual plot, a bit more mystery than you usually find here and an unexpected ending for some of the secondary characters. A 4/5.
An Object of Charity - Carla Kelly
Captain Lynch unexpectedly finds himself taking charge of his dead first mate niece and nephew. He plans to return home to visit the mother and brother he hasn't speak with in 20 years and develops a fondness the Sally Partlow, the mentioned niece. I found this the best story of the book mainly due to the hero who was wonderful. I have two complaints though, Sally is at first shown as a very young girl when she is in fact 25 years old and as in all of my previous Kelly reads I wanted a bit more emotion. Grade: 4/5
Amanda McCabe - Upon a Midnight Clear
This story has an original heroine, a Jamaican girl who makes soaps and perfumes. She has come to England to accompany a childhood friend. Then she meets a British naval officer who thinks he is unworthy of love because of his scars and they fall in love with each other. Grade: 3.5/5