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Sinful Suitors #1.5

What Happens Under the Mistletoe

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New York Times bestselling authors Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, and Candace Camp, and USA TODAY bestselling author Meredith Duran come together for a sizzling historical romance holiday anthology.

Stunned by the heat of an unexpected kiss on a cold winter’s eve, two strangers from vastly different worlds turn hotheaded principles into burning passion in Sabrina Jeffries’s delightful yuletide story, "The Heiress and the Hothead".

In the snowy Scottish countryside, Karen Hawkins’s rakish duke has an unforgettable holiday encounter in "Twelve Kisses" when the alluring lady he surprises under the mistletoe is not who he expected, but a long-lost love with a score to settle.

In "By Any Other Name", Edinburgh is aglitter for Christmastime as Candace Camp sends a curious gentleman in hot pursuit of an intriguing lady in disguise—one who refuses to reveal her true identity, though she fears he has already stolen her heart with his kiss.

In "Sweet Ruin", will the festive spirit of the season sweep Meredith Duran’s feisty heroine beneath the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue whose carelessness soiled her reputation and sent her into exile in London?

In this all-new story collection sparkling with sexy charm and heartwarming wit, four beloved bestselling authors reveal the mix-ups and make-ups, the missed chances and golden opportunities that come but once a year.

400 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published October 27, 2015

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About the author

Sabrina Jeffries

102 books4,484 followers
Sabrina Jeffries is the NYT bestselling author of over 50 novels and works of short fiction (some written under the pseudonyms Deborah Martin and Deborah Nicholas). Whatever time not spent writing in a coffee-fueled haze of dreams and madness is spent traveling with her husband and adult autistic son or indulging in one of her passions—jigsaw puzzles, chocolate, and music. With over 9 million books in print in 22 different languages, the North Carolina author never regrets tossing aside a budding career in academics for the sheer joy of writing fun fiction, and hopes that one day a book of hers will end up saving the world.

She always dreams big.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 244 reviews
Profile Image for Daniella.
256 reviews528 followers
November 17, 2015
What Happens Under the Mistletoe is definitely a must-read if you're in the mood for a good and quick holiday read. All of the novellas in this anthology are well-written, nicely paced and pleasantly executed. There were some that shined more than others, but all of them were really very enjoyable.

(I guess it goes without saying that I have different parameters for judging novellas than a full-length novel. I'm more lenient to the lack of character development, and the lack of proper build-up in the romance. If you're bothered by these, or if these are your pet peeves, then maybe anthologies are not for you.)

Fans of Sabrina Jeffries who have read her Sinful Suitor series will be delighted to witness Lord Stephen finally meeting his match in the form of Amanda Keane, an American heiress. She's also the sister of Jeremy, the hero from book one. (Don't worry, though; you don't need to read the other books to enjoy this novella.)

I loved Amanda. She was strong and fearless without being bitchy and insensitive. And while I never really fell for Stephen—he was too stubborn and narrow-minded for me—I've come to appreciate him by the end of the story. Their arguments were very amusing, and I particularly liked seeing Amanda give Stephen the setdown he deserved.

The sexual tension was obvious from the start. But I do have one complain, though: The climax and subsequent resolution was a bit ridiculous for me. I think that the dramatic and over-the-top devices should be better saved for a full-length novel, where there is more space for its proper execution. But in any case, this was a really enjoyable read. It made me want to read more from the series, and I can't wait for the next Sinful Suitor book.

This was a novella about second chances. We have Marcus and Kenna who were drawn by fate to meet again after a devastating break-up several years ago.

As a big Karen Hawkins fan, I have to admit, I was really disappointed by this. I had a really difficult time liking the heroine and hero. To be honest, I never warmed up to Marcus (he was too pig-headed and immature), but I learned to respect Kenna by the end, especially when she actually grew a spine and fought for herself.

The angst was rather overplayed, though, and there were several times that I just wanted to bang their heads together and force them to JUST FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT LIKE ADULTS. Sigh.

The silver lining here was actually Tata Natasha, the grandmother of Marcus' best friend. She was so damn funny and amusing that she singlehandedly elevated this from a 2-star to a 3-star rating. I'm definitely going to read the writer's The Oxenburg Princes series after this.

Oh, damn. This was priceless. Amazing.

This was just perfect for me.

Mind you, I had reservations about this writer. The last book I read from her was Enraptured, and I did not particularly enjoy that. So when I realised that this novella was actually part of that series (Secrets of the Loch), I had second thoughts. But wow. I'm really happy I read this.

Rylla masqueraded as a man one night, in search for her brother. She met Gregory who eventually saved her from a dangerous situation. And then he found out about her identity.
He stopped short, gaping. “You have breasts!”

“Ohhhh . . .” The girl moaned, covering her face with her hands. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry.” Gregory grinned, sitting back on his heels. “They are lovely breasts.”


Gosh, I can't even tell you how much I laughed while reading this. Gregory was so funny and adorable, especially when he was obsessing over finding Rylla's true identity. (Rylla never gave him her real name, so our hero here had to go through so much trouble to be with her.)

He made me melt. Big time.
“You do not find me scandalous? Shameful?”
He reached out and took her hand, lifting it to his lips to kiss each finger. “I find you utterly beguiling.”


This is another novella about second chances. The hero and heroine were too snarky at each other at first—so much so that I had to question if they were truly in love in the first place. But as the chapters dragged on, I got to understand them and the circumstances that led to their current situation.

I got to give it to Meredith Duran. She writes really well. I could really sense Georgie's longing through her words, and the sexual tension was really palpable.
But in her dreams, she had tasted his tongue. She had felt the hard planes of his belly, the brawn of his thighs. He had lain with her in dreams countless times by now—but never vividly enough to satisfy her.

And Lucas' confession, later? Wow. That was powerful. I totally had Casablanca feels over it, man.
“It was love, in Munich.”

Lucas and Georgie were not perfect characters, and I'm okay with that. I think they had their own reasons, and that they were justified in their actions.

Overall, this anthology is highly recommended. It's by far one of the most enjoyable set of novellas I've read this year.
Profile Image for ~**Anna**~ A Romance Reader.
617 reviews329 followers
December 3, 2018
The Heiress and the Hothead- Sabrina Jeffries: 3 stars

It was ok. I liked Stephen and Amanda but some scenes were too far fetched. I like Sabrina Jeffries writing though and I remember reading her books way back when. I should start reading her again.
Profile Image for Anna's Herding Cats.
1,274 reviews308 followers
September 27, 2016

Reviewed for herding cats & burning soup.
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PJo0ln

Sweet, spirited full of saucy adventure. Jeffries, Hawkins, Camp & Duran charmed with a lovely Christmas anthology. I love Christmas stories. There's something so warm and cozy about them and the four novellas in What Happened Under the Mistletoe hit just the right spot. Each was the perfect length for a cold winters night in front of a roaring fire. The romances were quick but nicely done. A little heat, a lot of attraction and a dollop of action to keep things interesting. Nicely done!


The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries

The Quick Of It: A Christmas gathering. A heated kiss. A hero set on expose the atrocities of mill owners. An American heroine who owns a mill. Realizing you just kissed the enemy? #Priceless

The Yay: Jeffries is always entertaining. I adore her romances and characters. Stephen and Amanda were quite the thing. Poor bloke. He just never had a chance against the pistol that was Amanda. She was a fierce chickie and not about to take any of his crap over the mills. Had him all turned upside down and churned up over all his warring desires. I had fun watching their sharp tongues and seeing the resolve weaken. They may have seem at odds over the mills but really they're both great people who want to make the world a safer place for workers though they definitely went about it different ways. Whew! There's a little heat and a little danger that brings them together. The only thing that didn't quite work for me was the sex scene. It was just bit oddly placed and had me giving them the wonky eye because really yall? lol But other than that it was a fun little jaunt and tasty holiday treat.

Twelve Kisses to Midnight by Karen Hawkins

The Quick Of It: A compromising run in at a masquerade ball and a winter blizzard seem determined to bring the former lovers--Marcus & Kenna--back into each others lives. Kicking and screaming the whole way. And maybe copping a feel now and again too.

The Yay: I love couples with a past. These two were so similar. Stubborn and fierce. And they let that out on each other which was kinda fun to watch. I enjoyed their dynamic. The battle between their attraction and annoyance with each other. And I'm a sucker for the whole snowed in stuck in a cabin together trope. Especially since this cabin had a bit of a pervy bent to it. Some nice kissin' and a little actual lovin'.

By Any Other Name by Candace Camp

The Quick Of It: When a girl's brother disappears after a family fight what's she to do? Don chaps of course and venture into the gaming hells in search of the lout! Maybe confuse a hero along the way then have one hell of a time shaking him once he realizes, yeah, she's not so much a dude and is rocking some boobage.

The Yay: Gregory and Rylla were fab. There's a little cat and mouse thing going on there at the start when she's pretending to be a guy. Trying to ditch the captivated Gregory much to no avail. It was fun seeing them together--once he tracked down his girl-- as they wandered the night in search of her "lost" brother. A little chemistry and heat at the end and it made for a sweet encounter and a dreamy romance. Definitely plan on reading more from Camp.

Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran

The Quick Of It: She's been abandoned at Christmas! And forced to play hostess to her father's wild house guests. Including a late arrival who shattered her young heart years ago. Blast her father! Georgie is just having a time of it this Christmas. But chickie is tough and determined to make it a lovely Christmas week for all. And might just find out a little bit about the past she never knew during all the holiday revelries.

The Yay: I love second chance romances and aw these two were great. Add in a little mystery as Lucas and Georgie search for a stolen letter and partake in all sorts of holiday cheer from decorating to jaunts about town and delicious meals and it was just a fun little ride. I loved Georgie. I could so see myself being her. She was determined to show their out of town guests the delights of English Christmas and all it entails. They were gonna see and do it all and dammit they were gonna enjoy it! lol It was a quickie but fun. I'm on board for more Duran too!
Profile Image for Julie .
4,027 reviews58.9k followers
December 23, 2015
What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, Candace Camp, and Meredith Duran is a 2015 Pocket Star Publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher as an XOXpert, the official street team of XOXO After Dark.

Every year a slew of holiday anthologies hit the market ranging from syrupy heartwarming tales to silly and funny capers, all centered around the most anticipated holiday of the season. But, few of these compilations have a star studded group of seasoned authors gathered in one place, like this one does.

If you are a fan of regency period historical romance, then you will recognize these authors and you know you can count on them, which, for me is a huge selling point, mainly because I know there will be no weak entries, and each story is one of high quality and authenticity.

“Sweet Emblem of returning peace
The heart’s full gush, and love’s release;
Spirts in human fondness flow
And greet the pearly Mistletoe.”


Sabrina Jeffries kicks the party off with a unique tale involving the dangers of mill workers and the horrible practice of hiring underage staff and subjecting them to long hours, little pay, and dangerous work conditions.

Amanda is from America, an heiress, running a successful mill, but has traveled to England to see why their businesses are more profitable. She encounters Stephen, a man on a mission, to report on the unsafe environment of mills. He lumps Amanda in with the worst of the lot, sparking a challenge between them, and a little chemistry too. Can Amanda prove she’s not all the other mill owners? Can she calm Stephen’s hot temper and join forces with him to make positive changes? Maybe- with a little help from the Christmas spirit, a sly kiss under the mistletoe and a little soul searching.

I liked this story because it featured an American, a dedicated business woman, and a little action and adventure, plus it had a depth to it, something that many regency stories seem to lack these days.

The second, and the lengthiest story is “Twelve Kisses to Midnight by Karen Hawkins and the third story is “By Any Other Name” by Candace Camp. Both stories are solid offerings, with Ms. Hawkins being the most prominent story included in the anthology.

Closing the book is Meredith Duran’s “Sweetest Regret”. This story has a touch of intrigue, which is always fun, but the story title suggested some regret is involved, and indeed a young couple in love were driven apart, losing two years together as a result. However, this delightful second chance love story, ends with the couple finally making up for all that lost time. There is some cute banter in this one and I really loved the ending.

Overall, this Christmas anthology is one of the best I’ve read this year. You really can’t go wrong with the group of talented authors gathered in one place.
4 stars
Profile Image for Susan.
4,329 reviews93 followers
October 31, 2016
The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Sinful Suitors (Book 1.5)

Stunned by the heat of an unexpected kiss on a cold winter's eve, two strangers from vastly different worlds turn hotheaded principles into burning passion.

I loved this story. Having read The Art of Sinning, the first book in the Sinful Suitors series, I was intrigued by Jeremy's sister Amanda. She is an independent woman who owns and runs the family mills in America. One reason for being in England is to find out why their mills are so much more profitable. There she encounters Lord Stephen Corry, younger brother of a marquess, who has made a career of investigating and writing about the terrible conditions of English mills. Their first meeting is quite fiery, as he kisses her under the mistletoe, believing her to be someone else. Stephen had hoped to interview Amanda, but their initial encounter has put them at odds. Still, he won't give up and strikes a bargain with her, where they can both get what they want. Neither had expected the sparks that flew between them.

I really enjoyed the unusual aspect of the story. Both Amanda and Stephen have similar goals, but approach them in different ways. Stephen is focused on exposing the worst and forcing change that way. Amanda looks at the way things are done and tries to figure out how to make them better at her own mills. I loved her strength of will and determination. Stephen was a little harder to like because of his stubbornness and tunnel vision when it came to mill owners, but he grew on me by the end.

I liked the development of their relationship as they worked together on his investigation of the local mill. I really enjoyed seeing Amanda shut Stephen down on some of his deepest prejudices. The more time they spent together the more he realized that he could be himself with her. Amanda saw that Stephen was a man who accepted her for who she was. The heat between them was fierce the closer they got. Neither of them could see a way to bring their different worlds together until a near tragedy opened their eyes to possibilities. The scene in the mill was rather improbable, but the ending was quite romantic.

Twelve Kisses by Karen Hawkins
Series: Oxenburg Princes (Book 2.5)

In the snowy Scottish countryside, a rakish duke has an unforgettable holiday encounter when the alluring lady he surprises under the mistletoe is not who he expected, but a long-lost love with a score to settle.

A good second chance story. Marcus and Kenna had been engaged years before, but ended the engagement a month before the wedding. Kenna then married another man, but became a widow a few months before the story begins. Marcus isn't too happy to see Kenna at the same house party, as it brings back memories of what they had. That night he kisses her under the mistletoe, thinking that she is someone else. Unfortunately they are discovered, creating a scandal that Kenna does not need at this point in her life.

Marcus has spent the last few years in the diplomatic service, and is currently back in Scotland. Seeing Kenna again brings back the memories of what they had, and though he won't admit it, he has never forgotten her. He's got too much pride to let anyone see that he is still affected by the sight of her, and instead treats her with disdain. Then that kiss explodes between them. Though he won't admit it, he feels partly responsible. When he discovers she plans to ride over to her father's home and ask for his help, his protectiveness kicks in and he tries to stop her.

Kenna was heartbroken by the end of their engagement, and gave in to her father's pressure to marry someone else when it was over. Now that she's a widow, he is pressuring her once again to marry the man of his choice, and she only wants to live her life. The scandal created by Marcus's kiss causes her to ride to her father's to ask for his help in squashing it, even though she knows that there will be consequences. Marcus's attempts to stop her only increase her determination..

Riding off into a pending snowstorm isn't the smartest move, but Kenna's stubbornness won't allow her to admit that Marcus is right. Fortunately, he follows her, and they end up stranded in a cottage together. Forced together they finally have the chance to confront their pasts and see that both had made mistakes. Their conversations were helped along by the rather unique decorating in the cottage, as their similar sense of fun and the ridiculous bring them closer together.

The ending was good as they discover that their time together was extended by the machinations of Tata Natasha. Kenna's father and hopeful fiance arrive and try to force their will on Kenna, but she has finally gained the maturity to stand up to them both. There is also an interesting twist involving the rejected suitor that is the final nail in his coffin. I really enjoyed Tata Natasha's blunt observations about the people around her.

By Any Other Name by Candace Camp
Series: Secrets of the Loch (Book 2.5)

Edinburgh is aglitter for Christmastime as Candace Camp sends a curious gentleman in hot pursuit of an intriguing lady in disguise -- one who refuses to reveal her true identity, though she fears he has already stolen her heart with his kiss.

Fun story. Rylla is distraught over the argument between her brother and father that sent her brother running from his family. After several days of not hearing from him, she is worried that something has happened to him, and is determined to search for him herself. To that end, she disguises herself in boy's clothing and heads out to the gambling dens to look for him.

Gregory is there keeping an eye on his cousin Andrew (brother to Isabel of Treasured), who is not known for his good luck in gambling. While there, he spots a young man who he suspects is going to be the next victim of the men he is playing cards with. When he leaves, Gregory spots a tail and follows just in time to rescue him from a robber. Taking the boy back to his rooms, he's stunned to discover a woman underneath the boy's clothing. He's also quite drawn to her.

This begins a period of cat and mouse, as Rylla is determined to protect herself from scandal by not telling him who she is. Gregory is equally determined to find her. Her attempts to mislead him cause some pretty funny moments, as he initially pursues the wrong woman. Once he discovers her true identity, he agrees to help her find her brother. Rylla is determined to be involved in the search, and her arguments are quite persuasive. It doesn't hurt that Gregory will take any excuse to spend time with her. The chemistry between them is very strong, and Gregory has a hard time trying to behave honorably. Rylla doesn't help, as she is determined to explore her feelings for him. I enjoyed seeing how everything worked out for them.

There was also a secondary romance between Andrew and Rylla's friend Eleanor. The sparks between them were also fun, as Andrew is the irresponsible gambler and Eleanor the daughter of a minister and a woman with decidedly different values. I loved their interactions and the effect they had on each other. Andrew's actions at the end were awkward and sweet and pretty funny.

Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran

Will the festive spirit of the season sweep Meredith Duran's feisty heroine beneath the mistletoe -- and back into the arms of the dashing rogue who broke her heart two years ago?

Terrific second chance story. Georgie is the daughter of a British diplomat who rushes off a few days before Christmas to deal with a crisis, leaving her to entertain a houseful of foreign guests. To top it all off, he tells her that one of them may have stolen an important letter, and charges her with finding it before they leave. To help her with that task, he has sent for one of his underlings - the very man who broke her heart two years earlier.

Lucas was on his way to England anyway because of a family issue. Stopping in to help Georgie isn't high on his list of pleasant activities after the way she had treated him two years earlier. He'll do what he must and be on his way, making sure that she doesn't get another shot at his heart.

First, I have to say that I disliked Georgie's father from the very beginning. His attitude toward her was very condescending, as though she couldn't really be trusted to manage on her own. The more I learned about him during the story, the less I liked him.

The early encounters between Georgie and Lucas were very contentious. Each of them blames the other for what had happened in Munich, and the verbal arrows fly fast and furious. As each one looks back to those days, they can't understand why the other behaves as if they are the injured party. When they really let go with their tempers, suddenly they realize that their stories do not match. Actually talking to each other about what happened, they discover that they had been parted by the machinations of Georgie's father.

I felt really bad for Lucas, who had suffered all his life because of who his parents were. Because of that, he was a little too quick to believe the lies that Georgie's father told him, and his pride wouldn't let him contact Georgie to convince her. Georgie has her own insecurities, considering herself rather plain and boring. She certainly didn't think that she was enough to keep the interest of a handsome and charming man like Lucas.

Once they straightened out the truth about the past, it didn't take long for them to make up for lost time. I loved seeing them work together to find the missing letter, while entertaining the crowd of foreign diplomats. I loved their determination to be together now, though Georgie worries about the havoc that her father could cause to Lucas's career.

When Georgie's father returns, he admits to his interference both then and now, claiming he only wanted what was best for her. But Georgie is wise to him now, and displays her own form of making her point. I loved seeing her stand up to her father and his antics. It is even more satisfying when Lucas returns from his family business with his own plans for their future.
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 15 books596 followers
November 10, 2015
Review posted on Got Fiction?

I read this one for the Meredith Duran story, but ended up loving all of the stories!

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries -3 stars

This was my least favorite, but only because of a couple things.The hero has been reporting on the substandard work conditions in the mills. He's riled some people, but being a second son, his brother wants him to be more respectable. So when he is invited to stay through Christmas with friends and family, he isn't thrilled. But the American mill owner and heiress he's been wanting to expose for being just as bad as the local ones will be there. So he can't say no.

But she's not that bad. And she's beautiful, and kind, and makes his man bits tingle ;)

I was really into it, until at one point the mill is on fire, and they're trapped, so of course, she's all "Take me I'm yours!" I mean, seriously. A raging inferno is tearing through a cotton mill, and both know those kind of fires rage out of control. But, you know, priorities.

Twelve Kisses by Karen Hawkins-5 stars

I think this ended up being my favorite. A proud Highlander, and his former fiancee get caught in a blizzard, and at one point the heroine actually draws a line down the middle of the cottage pronouncing one side hers, and the other his.

The best part about this story is that the heroine is willing to admit that they were young, and they both were wrong. There's no real Big Misunderstanding. It really is just anger, hurt, and pride keeping them from being together. I loved it, and I loved the ending.

By Any Other Name by Candace Camp-4 stars

This was a sweet romance. Don't get me wrong, there were some steamy parts! But the actual plot and romance were very sweet. The heroine is sneaking out of her house, dressed as a man, and her plan is to go find her brother. He's stormed off after a fight with their father, and Rylla is worried about him.

But at a gaming hell, she is mugged and stabbed. The man who she couldn't keep her eyes off comes to her rescue and finds out she's a woman. She refuses to tell him who she is though, and runs off. Romance and hijinks occur, and to be honest, I liked it a lot.

Sweet Ruin* by Meredith Duran-5 stars

*This story was originally called "Sweet Ruin," but has been changed to "Sweetest Regret." I used "Sweet Ruin" since that's what my copy has.

I loved this story. The short blurb doesn't even do this one justice. The heroine's father is a British diplomat, and he's rushing out on a Christmas party at his own home to help with a crisis. He leaves his daughter Georgie in charge, and says that he thinks someone at the party has stolen some documents from him. She must find them, it's of utmost importance.

But he also has his subordinate Lucas coming in to help. The problem is that Lucas and Georgie have a past. And her father knows this.

Can they find who took the documents without tearing each other apart? Or will being stuck together dredge up their past?

***ARC courtesy of Berkley
Profile Image for belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo).
1,713 reviews139 followers
December 5, 2021
the heiress and the hothead:this was fun. the development felt a little bit abrupt for me but i'm not going to complain since it's a short story.

twelve kisses to midnight: i liked the back and forth between kenna and marcus. they already had a history together years ago and only recently met one another again. things are a little tensed but when they're stranded in a cabin together, they need to try to be civil with each other.

by any other name: this might be my favorite of the four short story. rylla and gregory are a great pair together. their chemistry and the whole set up is one of my favourites.

sweetest regret: read this before as a standalone.
Profile Image for puppitypup.
658 reviews32 followers
December 29, 2015
Historic Romance/Christmas 4 Short Stories

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries

A fun read, notwithstanding the improbability of that scene in the burning mill.

Twelve Kisses to Midnight by Karen Hawkins

Not a fun read, too much angst. This is a second chance story where the reason they broke up is too flimsy to support the premise of still being in love with each other.

By Any Other Name by Candace Camp

By far the most enjoyable of the four stories, the writing is effortless, the dialogue quick and witty. Both characters are likeable, and the "girl disguises herself as a boy" trope actually works.

Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran

Far too much angst in the first half of this "second chance" story.

(The book is clean in terms of language. Each story has an intimate scene, each such scene appearing too early in the storyline for my old-fashioned sensibilities.)

ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

Profile Image for Phoenix77.
347 reviews42 followers
December 21, 2015
‘Tis the season for Romance anthologies showcasing the spirit and love of Christmastime. The collection of stories in What Happens Under the Mistletoe all bring that wonderful sense of the holiday to four very different couples who all find love in the most unusual ways.

Please read my full review at Romantic Historical Reviews
Profile Image for Paraphrodite.
2,440 reviews51 followers
December 24, 2015
A delightfully frothy anthology with some of the best historical romance authors around, a great way to get into the Christmas spirits.
Profile Image for Didi.
1,535 reviews85 followers
October 20, 2015
3+ Stars

A holiday anthology with four well-known historical romance authors on offer. Why not?

I have never read books of Candace Camp and Meredith Duran before, though I heard of their names. Karen Hawkins however, was one of my favorite historical romance authors and I've read a couple of Sabrina Jeffries series. And nothing could go wrong with holiday stories, right?
Well, this time and especially for me, that assumption is proven right.

What Happens Under the Mistletoe is a collection of entertaining holidays tale set in regency era England and Scotland. Overall it was all fun to read, had quite a few laugh and outrage moments as wont to happen when I got immersed in the stories.

To recap, here are my thoughts on each individual tale.

The Heiress and The Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries - 3.5 stars

This novella is part of the "Sinful Suitors" series, stories surround the nobles of St. George's Club. Some of its members appearing here, but the book could be read as a standalone.

Younger sons were usually pictured as no good young lords who spent life wasting their non-existing fortunes. So it's refreshing for me that the hero, Lord Stephen Cory - youngest brother of Lord Knightford - was way far from that detriment. He's a man of principle who had given up his prospect to be a journalist, and fight to better the mills workers life.

His courtship, for lack of a better word, with Ms. Amanda Keane, an American mill owner was rather rocky because of their distrust. Gradually, this supposed foes combined their wit and made that change.

Both MCs were headstrong and opinionated, but very likable. I also found other supporting characters here (the house party hosts, guests, and mill worker family) engaging.

What bugged me was one scene The rationale of that action was a bit bewildering for me. Other than that though, it's a smooth sail for me.

Twelve Kisses to Midnight by Karen Hawkins 2.85 stars
The novella is tied in to "The Oxenburg Princes" Series and we meet again with the ever meddling, exasperating and witty Tata Natasha. She was not the main character though, neither any of her grandchildren. But the Crown Prince Nikolai was here as close friend of the hero, Duke of Rothesay Marcus Sutherland.

It was a second chance story, another of those misunderstanding over chafed pride that had resulted in misery on both sides. This holiday it was time to turn the thing around.

Admittedly, both characters were not to my liking. A pair of adult who sulked and threw hurtful words to each other. I found the story dragging.

The upside - besides Tata Natasha - was the last chapter where both Kenna and Marcus made the intelligent decision and SPOKE of it without delay. But to be honest, this is my least like story in the anthology.

By Any Other Name by Candace Camp - 2.85 stars
My first time with Ms. Camp is a fun holiday "catch me if you can" romp set in Edinburgh, Scotland. Miss Amaryllis "Rylla" Campbell posed as young lad and sneaked out at night to visit gambling hell to look for his brother. The unlikely hero was Mr. Gregory Rose, who saw Rylla on a card table nearby and flabbergasted by his reaction to the young lad.

I loved how Gregory chasing after Rylla, never knowing her name. Upon deduction, he figured his mysterious lady's name and dragooned his cousin, Lord Andrew Rose, into introducing him to her. What happened was a convoluted comedy as he only gaped, turned and dashed away when Andrew made good on his promise.

Of course this was a HEA story. At least there were two pairs got their happy future here. But I felt that the story ended too rushy, like every loose ends must be tied in here, now. And I found Rylla's parents lack of on page involvement with Gregory's pursuit of their only daughter baffling.

But all in all, this was a nice intro to Ms. Camp's work. I think I might look for her other titles. Who knows.

The Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran - 3.5 stars
Another first timer reading, and I found I like Ms. Duran style.

The story evolve around the household of Trent, one of British most cunning and sharp diplomat and his daughter Georgina. During his post in Munich, Georgie visited him and got close with his lowly subordinate, Lucas Godwin. Their courtship fell through with Lucas transferred to Paris and her went home to England.

This novella took place two years after that. Having had to host her father's Christmas house party while he's away on assignment abroad. It was a shock to her to find her father arrange for Lucas to join the party to find and take back a missing document pilfered by one of the guests. Little did both heart-broken couple knew that they were victims of one ploy too many.

My issue with this novella was the "misunderstanding and jumping to conclusion" part - though I admit, without them there would be no story. I like the mule-headed and smart couple here. And I grudgingly found myself respecting Sir Trent, though he's not a very nice person. In short, the story was all his machination. Even when Georgie and Lucas evading his wish and made their own, Sir Trent got his wish.

Of all, I think this story somehow left an impact to me because of this grey character! Go figure.

ARC was kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the exchange of an honest review.

Profile Image for Amanda.
400 reviews100 followers
April 18, 2016
The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries - 4 stars
I really loved this one, especially Amanda who was a working woman, American mill owner, opinionated, ginger-haired, took no nonsense from anyone (handsome, stubborn lords in particular) and my name twin. Amanda and Stephen had a love-hate/adversaries to partners thing going on and their chemistry was intense. The only part that bothered me plot-wise was . That was so OTT and crazy but this novella is still a fav and I can't wait to read the other Sinful Suitors books.

Twelve Kisses to Midnight by Karen Hawkins - 3 stars
Since this novella is set in the Oxenburg Princes universe, I knew it'd be a fun read...even if it was a second chance romance. Really just put Tata Natasha in a story and I'm there. In fact, Tata and the long awaited introduction of Nik, who was way more cheeky and flirty than I thought he'd be but wonderfully so, were the true standouts here. Marcus and Kenna's romance was simple and sweet despite all their squabbling, but overall not the most memorable. Although I did really enjoy their scenes snowbound together at the cabin, especially all those bawdy pictures.

By Any Other Name by Candace Camp - 1.5 stars
This was my introduction to Candace Camp and sadly my least favorite novella in this anthology. I'm disappointed I didn't enjoy this one since it features a lady in breeches, one of my favorite tropes. Honestly I found the secondary couple more worth reading about even though they were barely mentioned.

Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran - 3.8 stars
I love Meredith's prose but it took me a little while to warm up to Georgie and Lucas. Their's was another second chance romance where the hero and heroine are both too stubborn to simply TALK about their feelings openly and honestly. But after a deceitful miscommunication is righted, the story really picked up. Georgie and Lucas felt like very well rounded characters; no small feat when it comes to novellas. And their relationship was filled with raw passion and deep emotion. The various British Christmas traditions mentioned throughout was an extra special touch.
Profile Image for Ashley.
430 reviews31 followers
October 20, 2015
Thanks to NetGalley and Pocket Books for the ARC. My honest review below.

As many of my Goodreads friends know, I am a card-carrying Meredith Duran stan. The highlighter feature on my e-reader gets a good workout whenever I read one of her books. Of this particular collection, I read her novella and Sabrina Jeffries'. I'm familiar with Jeffries and own a couple of her books but have never read her stuff before. I might come back to the other stories closer to the holidays.

The Heiress and the Hothead - Sabrina Jeffries
I think I might have enjoyed this a bit more if I were more familiar with the author's current series. It was clear that the folks in this novella belonged to an existing fictional world. That said, it was a fun and cute little read and it incorporated a lot of facts about the harsh lives of mill workers into the story without getting boring or becoming terribly preachy. It was a little saccharine for my tastes at the end, but sort of in the vein of Love Actually, so it wasn't cringe-worthy or anything like that.

3 stars

Sweetest Regret - Meredith Duran

The title of this story in the book doesn't match the one given here on Goodreads, Netgalley, or the publisher's description on ibooks. Hopefully this gets fixed before publication!

Of the two Duran novellas I've read, this is definitely the best and I enjoyed it a lot. She's got such a talent for description and dialogue that is intelligent and period-appropriate, yet still quite natural. Her stories never read like a contemporary novel that's been transplanted to the 19th century and that is quite a rare thing, I've found. I'm never jolted out of one of her stories by something that seems or is anachronistic.

I'm usually not a fan of HRs that center on a big misunderstanding, as this one does, but given the compressed space I'll give Duran a pass since this was a lovely, romantic story about second chances and forgiveness (of ourselves and others!). It captured the holiday spirit without becoming too sappy or sentimental. I'd love for Duran to one day write a really sprawling epic though. I'm greedy that way!

4+ stars
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,403 reviews292 followers
November 1, 2015
The heiress and the hothead by Sabrina Jeffries
Lord Stephen writes angry news articles about mills. Amanda owns mills. The whole mill thing was not exactly romantic (only North and South can do that.) But they will dance around each other and fall in love.
But that smexy scene, seriously. No, not then and there. Ugh.

Twelve kisses to midnight by Karen Hawkins
I have a problem. I forget short stories SO FAST. Luckily I had written lovers trapped by snow cos I can hardly remembering that the story ended Just general feelings now by those words.
So yes former lovers meet, trapped, realises they still like each other. I'd read more of her books.

By any other name by Candance Camp
A woman in disguise is trying to help her brother. And a man finds her fascinating and tries to find out more about her. And that is the story, he searches, he finds, he searches, he finds

Sweetest regret by Meredith Duran
I liked this one. A couple that used to be in love meet again. They are angry. Something went wrong. Everything happens during a house party. Def the best of the novellas in this anthology. A nice holiday feeling too.
Profile Image for Chris  C - A Midlife Wife.
1,508 reviews268 followers
October 22, 2015
When you are ready to shut down and escape the holiday madness, there is nothing like a great story to help you. This fun collection is a perfect choice with 4 quick and easy stories in one collection.

Anthologies like this are always a fun way to relax. When you only have an hour or so, you can read a full story and be completely entertained. This one offers 4 stories by 4 wonderful authors that are masters in the historical romance genre.

I have read books by Sabrina Jeffries and Meredith Duran prior and enjoyed them greatly. The stories they bring to this new book are refreshing and fun. Karen Hawkins and Candace Camp are new authors for me and their stories offered a delightful escape and the chance to read 2 new authors I loved. These 4 stories are loaded with all of the things we love about romance, including the hot guys!

Fun and flirty, this is a great addition to your holiday reading.
Profile Image for Jo .
2,623 reviews48 followers
October 27, 2015
Four fun Christmas stories and as the title suggests they all have a kiss under the mistletoe. I had two favorites in the collection. My very favorite was Sabrina Jeffries The Heiress and the Hothead. This one featured the mill owning sister of Jeremy from a previous story. I just knew she needed a romance and an HEA . Jeffries provide the perfect one.

My other favorite was Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran. I loved both Lucas Goodwin and Georgie. Theirs was not a smooth path to an HEA but it was an interesting one.

Like The Heiress and the Hothead the other two stories were based on characters from Hawkins’ and Camp’s series. I did not know the characters so did not enjoy the stories as much. This is a fun Christams collection and since it is four novellas you can pick it up and finish a story in a short time. Great for when you are too busy to start a long book.
Profile Image for Kristina Birch.
742 reviews22 followers
October 27, 2015
A wonderful Regency Christmas anthology from some the best in the business. Each story tells the story of a couple who are united or re-united under the mistletoe. However, each story stands along and maintains the author’s normal style and voice. Sabrina Jeffries creates a fun mistaken identity turned clash of wills tale, which also gives a bit of social commentary about the treatment of mill workers during the era. Karen Hawkins gives a more Duchess Tasha in an old lover’s story, my personal favorite of the anthology. Candace Camp treats the readers to classic heroine dressing as a man mix up and pursuit. Meredith Duran brings to lovers back together to discover they were cruelly parted but that their love has not waned. Curl up with some hot cocoa and snuggly blanket, you won’t want to put this holiday treat down!
1,362 reviews23 followers
August 10, 2018
The Meredith Duran is pulling the rating of this thing up. Basically, read that story, and don't bother about the others. Okay, maybe read the Karen Hawkins. It improves significantly as it progresses.

The Sabrina Jeffries is problematic. There's an American mill owner and a British younger son who's exposing horrible employment practices at mills. Except of course she's a paragon of a mill owner, and they fall in insta-love, and she goes on about how her father doesn't compromise, and she needs someone who will. Except that's not actually what she wants. She wants him to give up his life and live in America. And I grant that her job is the least transferable, but the solution arrived at is so very not a compromise, that the argument made no sense, and the whole story doesn't hang together. It would have been fine if it wasn't couched under the theme of the importance of compromise. Also if they both weren't so extreme and annoying. Really did not enjoy at all. 1 star.

Parts of the Karen Hawkins work. It's former fiances stuck in a cabin in the woods in a snowstorm. I feel like I would have been more into this if the dude didn't have a mistress (semi-forgiven for being a plot requirement in a weird way). Also if the random grandmother of a European prince had been less annoying at the start (she's awesome at the end, so I don't know why she couldn't have started that way), but her opinions are obnoxious at the start. It's possible I just found the whole start annoying, and she was a casualty. To be fair, this does improve significantly, so 2.5 stars. Possibly read this one if you feel the need.

To be honest, I started skimming the Candace Camp 2 pages in, because everything about it annoyed me. Young woman cross-dresses to try and find her brother in the gaming hells, and meets the romantic interest, and I guess their banter is supposed to be charming, and his persistence the same, but I mostly just found the whole thing irritating. 0.5 stars.

The Meredith Duran is a delightful story of a couple coming into contact at a house party 2 years after falling in love, but parting for unknown reasons. Seriously, enjoyed the heck out of this. The house party is made up of random diplomats, who seem to spend most of the novella drunk. I really enjoy both main character's interactions, and they are very much the focus. They even find out . Into it, is what I'm saying. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
2,182 reviews82 followers
October 25, 2015
3.5 stars - My review cross-posted from Wit and Sin: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2015/10...

“The Heiress and the Hothead” (Sinful Suitors, Book 1.5) by Sabrina Jeffries
Sparks fly when an English journalist hell bent on mill reformation meets a spirited American mill owner in “The Heiress and the Hothead.” I’ve been waiting for Amanda and Stephen’s story ever since Sabrina Jeffries teased their attraction in The Art of Sinning and I wasn’t disappointed. Both Amanda and Stephen have caring hearts and are both a bit unusual given the time period. They have excellent chemistry and fit one another perfectly, but years of seeing mill owners’ abuse of powers makes Stephen a bit too focused on his work and his cynical view of mill owners threatens to blind him to the fact that Amanda clearly isn’t like the men he reports on. Their passionate back-and-forth makes the pages of their story fly by, and I had no doubt that Ms. Jeffries would give these two a satisfying happily ever after. “The Heiress and the Hothead” is sure to charm Sinful Suitors fans. How can it not? It stars a vibrant hero and heroine who want to make the world better and adds in a dash of sensual holiday cheer.

“Twelve Kisses” by Karen Hawkins
Years ago, Marcus Sutherland and Kenna Stuart were engaged. But after a horrible fight a month before their wedding, Marcus left the country and Kenna married someone else. Now Kenna is a widow and when she and Marcus are thrown together at a holiday party, scandal threatens both their names. But when they find themselves trapped alone together in a snowstorm, things start to get interesting.

There’s nothing quite like a snowstorm to bring together two people who never stopped loving each other. Mistakes and misunderstandings have long kept them apart, but when forced to confront each other, it becomes clear that Kenna and Marcus are still meant to be. “Twelve Kisses” is fast and fun, but it isn’t the most memorable of Karen Hawkins’s stories. I liked “Twelve Kisses” well enough, and though it’s connected to author Ms. Hawkins’s Princes of Oxenburg series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

“By Any Other Name” by Candace Camp
Rylla Campbell’s brother is missing and she’s determined to find him before Christmas. Dressed as a young man and taking her hunt to gambling dens, Rylla runs into trouble… Only to be rescued by the handsome Gregory Rose. What follows is a story of a determined man chasing down a woman who is attracted to him, but who refuses to give him her real name.

“By Any Other Name” is a charming story that’s fast-paced, if a bit fluffy. I liked Rylla and Gregory, but their fast fall into love when they don’t know much about each other took a bit too much suspension of disbelief for me. Still, author Candace Camp has a good sense of humor and the story made me smile more than once. Perhaps a longer format would have suited this story better, but as it stands “By Any Other Name” is sweet and enjoyable.

“Sweetest Regret” by Meredith Duran
Two years ago, Lucas Godwin broke Georgiana Trent’s heart. Now it’s Christmas and her diplomat father has ordered Lucas to help Georgie find a stolen letter of great importance at a holiday house party. With no other choice, the two must work together. Both carry hurt and resentment toward the past, but their forced closeness brings some surprising truths to light.

“Sweetest Regret” is my absolute favorite story in this anthology. Normally I’m not a fan of “big misunderstandings,” but Meredith Duran makes it work in this absolutely lovely tale. Georgie is a smart woman who has always been relegated to the role of wallflower. Lucas is a handsome, charming man who has been forced to claw his way up the diplomatic ranks due to the circumstances of his birth. Lucas and Georgie were instantly attracted to each other when they met in Munich, but what charmed me was their attraction wasn’t simply physical. Their conversations and shared interests are what made them fall in love. When outside forces tore them apart and caused misunderstandings on both sides, both Lucas and Georgie were deeply hurt. Now they have to risk their hearts and open up if they hope to find happiness again. It isn’t easy, but Ms. Duran makes the ups and downs worth it. “Sweetest Regret” is sensual and fun, with a healthy dose of Christmas spirit, but it’s the honest emotion between Lucas and Georgie that truly makes this story shine.

What Happens Under the Mistletoe is a delightful collection of Christmastime historical romances. Fans old and new of Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, Candace Camp, and Meredith Duran will surely find themselves charmed by these fast-paced and fun stories. Though the stories aren’t connected, What Happens Under the Mistletoe truly feels like a unified anthology and it’s a great collection to curl up with by the fire this winter.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Maria Rose.
2,471 reviews242 followers
June 17, 2016
This lovely Christmas collection of historical romance novellas all have the theme of mistletoe kisses resulting in some sweet and sexy stories. The following is a review for all four titles.

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries

This was a lovely story, with some action and suspense in the mix too. Amanda is an American heiress and a mill owner . She's visiting her brother in England, and meets Stephen at a house party. As a younger son, Stephen is making his own way in the world and wants to make an impact, so he's taken on the cause of the rights of workers, particularly children who work in deplorable mill conditions. At first meeting (under the mistletoe), a case of mistaken identity brings a kiss, followed by the realization that they don't see eye to eye on Stephen's newspaper articles. Eventually Stephen learns that his passion for worker's rights can sometimes blind him to the fact that he's not the only one willing to help as Amanda soon figures out that her one-sided opinion of Stephen isn't a true representation of his character. It's particularly difficult to maintain their animosity towards each other with that unwelcome sexual attraction they feel! As the two of them come to know each other, they share some sweet and sexy scenes and though at first it seems that there's no way to get a happy ending, with her living in America and him in England, they make one after all. Very enjoyable.

Twelve Kisses to Midnight by Karen Hawkins

This is a lovely second chance at romance story, with Marcus and Kenna having been young lovers who split over what seemed at the time to be an insurmountable argument, that in hindsight left both of them with regrets but forging separate futures. Encountering each other at a house party several years later, Kenna finds she still has feelings for Marcus, and hopes to ascertain if he feels the same. As luck would have it, they end up snowbound in a cabin together where they get a chance to explore those feelings, though Marcus is at first reluctant to let Kenna anywhere near his heart again. I really enjoyed the two of them together, and their realization that they have both changed, for the better. Some lovely romantic scenes, and funny ones too in this one, with a side of sexy.

By Any Other Name by Candace Camp

Rylla is determined to find her brother Daniel, and she fears he's gotten himself into some gambling trouble. Dressing up as a man and infiltrating these establishments seems the best solution, so with wit and courage she does so, only to find herself in a spot of trouble that Gregory helps her out with, finding her secret out (she's a girl!) at the same time. But she leads him a merry chase indeed, hiding her true identity and leaving Gregory to chase after her from one social event to another. I loved this little charade that Rylla engages in, and how Gregory doesn't give up on finding the woman who has enchanted him from the start. There is a definite attraction between them and it doesn't take long before they share some steamy scenes together. This one was definitely a fun and entertaining story.

Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran

The last story in the collection is another second chance at romance one, with Lucas and Georgie having met in Munich where Georgie's father, a diplomat, was stationed and Lucas was climbing the ranks in the foreign service. For a brief time they were friends hoping for more, until a misunderstanding and deceit perpetrated by Georgie's father resulted in a two year separation and broken hearts. Now they are back under the same roof and trying to be civil as Lucas is tasked with retrieving a letter thought stolen by one of the houseguests Georgie must entertain while her father is away. But of course, those feelings of animosity tinged with sadness and regret are at the forefront of their relationship - until they realize that their separation didn't have to happen. Some sexy scenes, a few tears (on my part!), and as always stellar writing made this a truly enjoyable and riveting story. I loved hearing about the Christmas traditions of the time, and the sexual tension just builds and builds as we wait for Lucas and Georgie to reconnect. My favourite of the collection!

Note: a copy of this story was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review.

This review can also be found as a blog post at http://straightshootinbookreviews.com...
Profile Image for Hannah.
1,999 reviews29 followers
December 8, 2015

My Holiday Pick

What Happens Under The Mistletoe
Historical Christmas Romance anthology.
I love these authors I have previously read all of them for the exception of Meredith Duran, but believe me I will read her now. I put this under the naughty list because the common theme with all these novellas, stealing kisses under the mistletoe.

The Heiress and the Hothead
by Sabrina Jeffries
The youngest brother of a marquess, Stephen Corry, has made a name for himself as a journalist is visiting friends for Christmas time, he promised to help a cousin avoid a certain gentleman but mistakenly kisses the wrong woman under the mistletoe. Miss Amanda Keane is an American heiress and mill owner visiting her brother and touring the mills in England. Stephen is taken with the beautiful American but when they find out who they are they try their hardest to hate each other. Amanda wanted to hate the man who was biased against mill owners and she is out prove he is wrong, and Stephen is out to prove they are not all like her. But one thing they do have in common is the kiss under the mistletoe sparked something in them both that they can not deny.

Twelve Kisses to Midnight
by Karen Hawkins
A Christmas novella for the Oxenburg Princes series, It centers around Prince Nikolai's righthand man, Marcus Sutherland The Duke of Rothesay and his former fiancee from years ago. Keena Stuart the recently widowed Lady Montrose. The engagement fell apart and she later married someone else and Marcus left to accept the post in the Oxenburg court. Now ten years later she is still as beautiful as ever and a stolen kiss under the mistletoe puts them both in a precarious position of a scandal which then leads them both trapped by a blizzard in a hidden lovers nest. It's the perfect time to reconcile or break it off more smoothly than they did before. I enjoyed this one I love Tata that meddling old biddie makes the story.

By Any Other Name
by Candace Camp
I love it when the heroine dresses up as a man. I have read a few of Candace Camp books and I enjoy them. Rylla dresses up as a man to visit the gaming hells to try and find her missing brother, her first night was unsuccessful and to top it all off she was robbed and stabbed. Gregory Rose was unexpectedly attracted to the young man across the table from him on his way out he witnesses the robbery and stabbing of the young man. He bring him home and soon discovers the young man is very much a beautiful young woman. A stolen kiss under the mistletoe and Gregory is lost, even with the fake name she gave him he was able to track her down and just to keep close to her he promises to help her find her missing brother. With every night and some more kisses shared Rylla and Gregory fall more in love. But will the mystery of Rylla's missing brother do more harm than good? This is probably the sweetest one out of this anthology but it had the right amount of humor, mystery and romance. Gregory is so smitten and devoted to Rylla it's hard not to fall in love with him.

Sweetest Regret
by Meredith Duran.
Second chances are one of my favorite subgenres. In this one Georgiana Trent the dutiful diplomat's daughter is charged with the task of hosting a Christmas house party for a bunch of foreigners her father invited when he had to suddenly leave, and find a sensitive letter that was stolen out of his office, he was also sending help in the form of Lucas Goodwin. Lucas once broke her heart years ago and one silly game of blind man's bluff and a kiss under the mistletoe and everything that was left behind three years ago comes back. Georgiana was in love with Lucas but abruptly left with no word or goodbye. Now Lucas is ordered by his boss and Georgiana's father to help her find the stolen letter. The more time they spend together the more they realize they never stopped loving each other. I enjoyed this one it was a really nice read with a wonderful and amusing story.

1,357 reviews32 followers
October 27, 2015
WHAT HAPPENS UNDER THE MISTLETOE is a wonderful Christmas-themed anthology by four historical romance superstars. I reviewed the novellas in the order in which they appear in the book.

In THE HEIRESS AND THE HOTHEAD by Sabrina Jeffries, Lord Stephen Corry is a guest at the manor of American artist Jeremy Keane and his wife Yvette, when he mistakes Amanda Keane, his sister-in-law for a friend, and decides to kiss her under the mistletoe anyway. Amanda is the owner of a cotton mill in America, Stephen writes about the abuse of cotton mill workers in England; they hardly see eye to eye on anything, until they really listen to each other. THE HEIRESS AND THE HOTHEAD is a fascinating story about the paltry conditions of mill workers in the early 1820s. The author’s research is most impressive, there are exciting plot twists, and an authentic feeling of Regency Christmas permeates the novella. The sexual chemistry between Stephen and Amanda is blistering, they challenge each other intellectually, and as people; there is a lot of passion on several levels. Sabrina Jeffries outdid herself with the excellent THE HEIRESS AND THE HOTHEAD!

In TWELVE KISSES, Karen Hawkins revisits the world of the Oxenburg princes, as Crown Prince Nikolai Romanovin and his grandmother Grand Duchess Natasha Nikolaevna – one of my favourite fictional characters ever – spend Christmas in Scotland. At a house party, Marcus Sutherland notices the woman who broke his heart 10 years before, Kenna Stuart, now a widow. It’s a masquerade ball, Marcus is supposed to meet his mistress Lila under the mistletoe, but Kenna who had overheard the conversation, opts for the same disguise as Lila, and steals a kiss from Marcus, and thus they meet again…and how! Ms. Hawkins has penned a superbly entertaining story, gorgeously written, with swoony moments and several chuckles along the way. Two proud and headstrong characters battle their way to a happy-ever-after the second time around, unknowingly with the help of the formidable Grand Duchess. A most scrumptious morsel!

BY ANY OTHER NAME, by Candace Camp, is a very entertaining case of mistaken identities of a different sort. In the middle of the night, Rylla Campbell sneaks away dressed in her brother Daniel’s clothing; Daniel is missing, and she endeavours to look into gambling clubs to find him. When leaving the first club, she is attacked by some villains and rescued by a certain Gregory Rose. Rylla was hurt during the scuffle, and when tending to her wounds Gregory discovers that the young man is a very beautiful young lady, and he is immediately smitten, but it proves to be a Herculean task to capture Rylla’s heart! BY ANY OTHER NAME is clever, fast-paced, and beautifully written, and there are none of the usual annoying misunderstandings common to this kind of trope; very well done indeed!

In SWEET RUIN by Meredith Duran, Georgie Trent’s diplomat father is called away and Georgie is left to entertain his friends for Christmas. It seems a politically sensitive letter has been stolen, and her father sent Lucas Godwin to search for it. Lucas, a diplomat, broke Georgie’s heart two years before. SWEET RUIN is a very clever story about a bookish daughter of a peer and a dazzlingly dashing commoner. Ms. Duran’s prose flows seamlessly, the dialogues are witty, and the story is captivating mostly because Georgie and Lucas are such engaging characters and they have wonderful chemistry. SWEET RUIN is a delightful romance about how lies can so dreadfully ruin what could have been.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Book Binge.
838 reviews135 followers
January 7, 2016
The Heiress and the Hothead

A sweet enough story, about a reporter who’s tackling inhumane working conditions in mills and a woman who owns a mill. They get off to a bad start when the reporter (quite understandably) is wary of anyone who runs a mill, and our American heiress’s delicate sensibilities are upset by this. (Okay, so, clearly I’m biased in their argument. The whole thing had shades of #NotAllMillOwners to it. And FFS, the guy wasn’t even all that offensive; it felt like the woman was just upset that the reporter guy didn’t immediately assume she was an angel.) Once they got over their Required First Meeting Misunderstanding and down to the business of shutting down the local, heinous mill (and making out a lot in the process), things got a lot better.

Twelve Kisses

A noble at a masquerade plans to kiss his mistress under the mistletoe, but his old lover is dressed in the same costume and Murphy’s Law applies. After being caught in such a scandalous embrace, the two try to go get the woman’s father and convince him to help ease the gossip, but they’re stuck in a snowstorm instead. They find a secret cabin in the woods (it makes sense in the end, really) to hide out, and that’s when things actually get interesting. I could have done without the party set-up, as it doesn’t seem to have added anything and all the good stuff was during the storm. I very much enjoyed these two characters fighting and slowly discovering what broke them up as a couple before the story’s opening. It was a very believable, human sort of misunderstanding, and they were sweet while working it out.

By Any Other Name

I straight-up DNFed this crap. The guy is an unrelenting jackass and the whole setup is creepy as all get out. The girl is cross-dressing to try and find her wayward brother, who likes to hang out in gambling halls. The guy saves her from a mugging attempt and discovers her true gender. All is well and good, except then the girl repeatedly, emphatically says “Don’t try to find me, leave me alone, stop, no, don’t” while the guy just gleefully runs around tracking her down and stalking her to various events anyway. I stopped after the guy realized she’d told him a lie and he mournfully thought “well, that must mean she wasn’t interested in me.” NO, SHITHEAD, ALL OF HER REPEATED CRIES OF “STOP FOLLOWING ME” MEAN SHE’S NOT INTERESTED, WTF IS WITH GUYS WHO IGNORE BOLD-ASS STATEMENTS AND THEN READ 8000 MEANINGS INTO RANDOM ACTIONS YOU ARE AN IDIOT AND I HATE YOUR FACE.

ahem Yes, anyway.

Sweet Ruin

Without a doubt my favorite short story of the bunch. The lady is the daughter of a diplomat who has to play hostess after her father is called away from a house party. One of the guests has stolen an important document, so her father sends in one of his (ish) employees to help covertly search for it. Only Daughter and Employee had a bit of a fling a few years ago which ended badly, so they are none too pleased to see each other. I loved the interactions between these two. So cutthroat while staying (technically) civil. And while they find out that their breakup was a misunderstanding, said misunderstanding isn’t dragged out to the point of frustration. It’s handled perfectly, with just enough double-talk to make you cry “no, mush faces already!” but before that gets old they do. And the ending when they confront the conniver that broke them apart was beautiful. A+, perfect short story.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,088 reviews47 followers
November 8, 2015
A delightful collection of stories set during the Christmas season.

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries
Amanda is the mill owning American heiress that Stephen wants to interview, as he’s a writer trying to expose the mistreatment of mill workers in England and he’s hoping she can give him some insight since she’s been touring some of the English mills. They start off on the wrong foot and it goes downhill from there, but eventually disagreements turn into cooperation, and we see a lovely conclusion for this opinionated couple. I liked that Amanda was a strong, independent woman who stuck up for herself, and Stephen was smart enough to change his opinions when he’s shown that he's in error, and learned to compromise.

Twelve Kisses to Midnight by Karen Hawkins
I love second chance at love stories, and this anthology has two of them, the first one this lovely tale of a Scottish duke who thinks he’s kissing his mistress under the mistletoe, but is surprised by his long-lost love. They had parted due to a disagreement that both were too stubborn to back down from and when they end up stranded by a snowstorm in a small cottage in the woods, they have the chance to work out their differences, if they can just figure out how to get past the hurt and listen to one another. Their arguments were entertaining and the setting of the love nest in the woods was an added twist - they weren't roughing it by any means, so they had plenty of time to fuss at each other and get out all the anger, hurt and frustration standing between them.

By Any Other Name by Candace Camp
Rylla dresses as a man to try to find her missing brother, and luckily runs across Gregory who saves this babe in the woods from all of the dangers that lurk in gaming hells that she’s so unaware of. It’s always fun to see that moment when the gentleman realizes this isn’t a young man he’s helping, and the circumstances where this happened were very funny. Seeing this couple interact was a lot of fun, as Rylla tries to hide who she is and Gregory is so determined to find her. His cousin’s path to love was humorous too, so it was an added bonus.

Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran
This is the second of my favorite theme - a second chance at love. Georgie is left by her father to entertain a house full of guests at Christmas, while looking for an important letter he says was stolen. He sends word that he’s assigned a helper to search for the letter and it turns out to be Lucas, who had broken Georgie’s heart two years ago when he left abruptly after being so attentive and wonderful that she fell head over heels for him. I loved seeing them snipe at each other, the insults that threw as they tried to stifle the feelings they still had were hilarious. I was impressed with Georgie, who was determined to show her guests a typical English Christmas while going through all the angst of dealing with the man who left her devastated. Each thought they were the wronged party, and seeing them figure things out was a joy. This was a new author to me and I’ll certainly be looking for more of her work in the future.
Profile Image for Barbara Rogers.
1,507 reviews142 followers
October 16, 2015
I received a free eARC of this book -- and I'm so very glad I did.
What Happens Under The Mistletoe -- WOW!! Four of my favorite authors in one book – and the stories are all wonderful, sweet tales of romance.

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries – In this story, you reconnect with several of the characters from the first book in the ‘Sinful Suitors’ series. If you haven’t read that one yet – be sure to read it too! Amanda Keane is the owner of several American mills and Lord Stephen Corry is a zealous reformer of mills in England. He wants to interview her for his articles and she doesn’t want him to paint her with the same brush he paints all of the English mill owners. They are enemies at first, but soon form an alliance. It is a sweet love story – with lots of kissing under the mistletoe.

Twelve Kisses To Midnight by Karen Hawkins – This story reconnects us with the Romanovins from ‘The Princes of Oxenburg’ series – especially the Grand Duchess Natasha Nikolaevna, who is the grandmother of the Oxenburg princes. She’s delightful. Marcus Sutherland, Duke of Rothesay and Kenna Stuart were once engaged, but foolishly fought just before the wedding and broke up. He immediately left England and she eventually married someone else – but they always loved each other. This story is filled with love, injuries from horses, bad snowstorms, being stranded, you name it Be sure to read how they come together and rekindle their love.

By Any Other Name by Candace Camp – Rylla Campbell is desperate to find her missing younger brother. She fears he is injured (or even dead) after he had a terrible fight with their father over his gaming. So, she dresses in some of her brothers old clothes and heads to the gaming hells in Edinburg. Of course – she’s in trouble right away. Luckily, Gregory Rose was there to save her – and discover that she was a female. He is intrigued with her, but doesn’t even know her name. Once he finds out, he sets about wooing her.

Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran – Georgie, whose father is a famous diplomat, has been abandoned (yet again) to entertain all of the guests her father invited for a Christmas houseparty. He told her one of the guests had stolen a secret letter from him and she had to find it while he was gone. Then, he orders Lucas Godwin – one of his subordinates – to go to the houseparty and find the letter. Georgie had been abandoned by Lucas two years earlier. Read this great story to find out why she was abandoned and if they can rekindle their love.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
684 reviews299 followers
October 31, 2015
3.5 stars; Pretty cute all around!
It's that time of year again! Bring on the holiday-themed novella! What Happens Under the Mistletoe is a collection of 4 Christmas-themed novellas by 4 awesome HR authors. The novellas are all technically part of series, however, it's easy-peasy to read them as standalones.

All four stories all have a similar theme of mix-ups and missed opportunities and true to the title, a lot happens under the mistletoe!  They're quick and cosy and perfect for a night in the by the fire.

For me, Jeffries' The Heiress and the Hothead was my favourite. It might have been because I knew the characters (Amanda and Stephen) from her Sinful Suitors series, or it might be because I love bantering couples. It's got the bit of pride and prejudice and it was cute to see their romance grow. There was one kinda odd scene, but otherwise all around fun.

Twelve Kisses to Midnight by Karen Hawkins was good, but a bit draggy and angsty for me. Marcus and Kenna were okay, but I didn't love them.

Candance Camp's In By Any Other Name was pretty cute. I loved Rylla and Gregory despite their sorta-insta-love.

The Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran is all about the misunderstandings and second chances. They could have saved a lot of time by talking. That being said, I'm happy that Georgie and Lucas got their HEA.

Overall, a fun and easy holiday read. Definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of these authors, plus they also make great samplers of the author's style if you haven't read them before.

{Thanks to Pocket Books & Netgalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Original Bookmunchies
Profile Image for eyes.2c.
2,434 reviews50 followers
October 27, 2015
...seasonal traditions enhance the moment!

Christmas time brings forth those traditions that can be employed to advantage for many a tardy or fledgling romance. This mix of seasonal stories sparkle with wit, humour, and romantically subdued longing. An enjoyable selection of Happy Ever After (HEA) works. I do like to have short, sweet stories from time to time, able to be read in bite sized chunks.

The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries
Answering a friend's call to help stir a would be suitor into action, Lord Stephen Cory found himself kissing a different young woman under the mistletoe by mistake. Oh my!
Twelve Kisses by Karen Hawkins
Once more the delightfully autocratic Grand Duchess Natasha Nikolaevna plays a role in uniting two lovers who find it hard to make a start.
Any Other Name by Candace Camp
Rylla is intent on finding her brother Daniel and persuading him to come home for Christmas. Her search sends her out in disguise to the worst parts of the city and straight into the arms of Gergory Rose. Gregory is intrigued, puzzled and confounded, even more so when Rylla slips away and he's none the closer to discovering her true identity.
Sweetest Regret/Ruin by Meredith Duran
A love that is lost and yet endures. As Georgie Trent and Lucas Goodwin meet again after heartbreak in Munich the question is will that hurt be overcome. Will these two who are so right for each other be given a second chance? Certainly 'tis the season for miracles. Georgie's father, an esteemed diplomat, is a master manipulator. I definitely do not like him!

A NetGalley ARC
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