Outstanding anthology with novellas by three talented, bestselling historical romance authors
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Kensington Books
Pages: 320 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
There are three Regency-romance novellas by bestselling historical romance authors contained in this Christmas-themed anthology. A description of the setup of each novella follows with my opinion of each story below that.
A CHRISTMAS ABDUCTION by Madeline Hunter
Twenty-five-year-old Caroline Dunham belongs to a famous, race-horse-breeding family which has experienced crippling emotional and financial damage at the hands of the powerful Marquess of Haverdale. But what concerns Caroline far more at the moment is the harm caused to a near-and-dear relative of hers by the Marquess’s 27-year-old reprobate cousin, the notorious rake, Adam Prescott, a military officer with the title, Baron Thornhill. Caroline abducts Adam at the point of a gun and holds him captive at her family’s horse farm, baldly informing him that he must right the wrong he has done before she will permit him to regain his freedom. Unfortunately for the success of Caroline’s daring scheme, handsome, charismatic Adam refuses to admit that he is guilty of the cruel act he is accused of, and the more time he spends beneath her roof, the more Caroline begins to suspect he is not at all the unprincipled rogue she has been led to believe.
A PERFECT MATCH by Sabrina Jeffries
Twenty-two-year-old Cassandra Isles and her eighteen-year-old cousin, Kitty Nickman, are both heiresses, but Cassandra has sworn her family to secrecy about her wealth because she is determined to marry for love. No fortune hunters need apply. Then one snowy night, twenty-seven-year-old Colonel Lord Heywood Wolfe, lately of the Twenty-Fifth Hussars during the Napoleonic Wars and best friend of Kitty’s older brother, Douglas, a fellow soldier, appears at a winter ball the two women are attending. He informs Cass and Kitty that Kitty is on the verge of being kidnapped by a villainous, fortune-hunting suitor of hers, and they must leave the ball with him immediately in order to keep her out of harm’s way. Thus begins an adventure that throws Cass constantly into Heywood’s company. Her heart is drawn to him, and he seems equally drawn to her, until Cass learns to her dismay that Heywood must marry for money in order to afford to restore a dilapidated estate he has inherited, and she refuses to admit to Heywood that she could be the answer to his impoverished prayers.
ONE WICKED WINTER’S NIGHT by Mary Jo Putney
Seven years ago, when he was barely 19 and she was 23, Lady Diana Lawrence, daughter and sister of earls, and Anthony Raines, heir to a dukedom, fell madly in love. But soon after Anthony proposed, Diana ran from him, with no explanation. She broke his heart, and he has not seen or heard from her since. Anthony is now the fifth Duke of Castleton, and Diana has returned from a life of adventure, traveling around the world, in order to settle down again in England. When Anthony unexpectedly encounters her at a masked, costume ball, he realizes he is as attracted to Diana as he ever was, but she refuses to have anything to do with him and will not tell him why. Until Anthony conceives of an outrageous scheme to draw Diana to his side at a remote lodge on his country estate and, once there, a blizzard makes it impossible for Diana to escape from his side.
I am a big fan of Mary Jo Putney, and I very much looked forward to reading this Regency-romance collection for the main purpose of experiencing her reunion-romance novella. I was not disappointed—I greatly enjoyed this story. It is an unusual departure for MJP to create a hero who is only in his mid-20s and, for an additional twist, who is almost five years younger than his lady love. Anthony and Diana are both honorable, compassionate, and very intelligent people, which makes them exceptionally sympathetic characters. There are many sensual, emotionally compelling, and also humorous moments in this extremely well written story. Animal lovers, and cat lovers in particular, will especially appreciate the three different cats who are important parts of the plot. They are also major contributors to the humorous moments within this fun read.
I had never previously read anything by either Madeline Hunter or Sabrina Jeffries, but I was satisfyingly entertained by both stories. The heroine in each is strong and dynamic, and both heroes in these two stories are a sympathetic mix of Alpha and Beta traits. One of reasons I personally only very selectively read historical romances is that it is difficult for me to discover authors who avoid larding their novels with gratuitous, anachronistic sex scenes. That approach never occurs in MJP’s novels, but I was a bit leery trying out these two, unknown-to-me authors out of concern that, in spite of the shortness of the novella format, they would not resist cluttering up the romance plot with a lot of cringe-worthy, ahistorical sex. I was delighted to find that the emphasis in these two stories is not, in fact, on heaving and humping, but rather on the growing feelings of respect, friendship and desire between the romantic protagonists. I will definitely look for other novels by both of these two authors.
All in all, this is an excellent historical-romance collection and a terrific opportunity for fans of each of these talented authors individually to introduce themselves to the work of the other two authors, whom they may not have read before.
I rate this collection as follows:
A CHRISTMAS ABDUCTION by Madeline Hunter: 4
A PERFECT MATCH by Sabrina Jeffries: 4
ONE WICKED WINTER’S NIGHT by Mary Jo Putney: 5+
Overall Rating: 5