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At the Christmas Wedding Paperback – October 17, 2017
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About the Author
Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother's insistence. She is now the bestselling and award winning author smart and sassy romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer software before turning to writing fiction. Her books have won the NEC Reader’s Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. Visit her online at www.carolinelinden.com to sign up for her newsletter, or find her on Twitter (@Caro_Linden) and Facebook (AuthorCarolineLinden). Katharine Ashe is the award-winning author of historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Editors’ Choice for the 10 Best Romances of the Year, and How to Marry a Highlander, 2014 finalist for the prestigious RITA® Award. She lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of history, she writes romance because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. For more about her books, please visit www.KatharineAshe.com.
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All three of these included a sexual encounter, and some seemed tacked on to the story to fulfill a requirement. Apparently, those societal restrictions of the time that assumed a couple would indulge in sex if left alone for 10 minutes were not so ridiculous after all.
The Linden story, "Map of a Lady's Heart," was my favorite. The H and h were mature, if a bit hypocritical, and their story was the most believable.
The Rodale entry, "Hot Rogue on a Cold Night," was very predictable and consisted entirely of drawn out "he/she can't possibly love me--no, wait--maybe he/she does."
Ashe's story, "Snowy Night with a Duke," was the one I liked least. HR spies are not my favorites, but this one had so many improbabilities (the heroine is an angelic soul devoting years to caring for the poor while getting up early to run long distances) with more "he/she can't love me--no, wait--" plus major physical difficulties, nobility spying for the crown to stop a thief, etc., made it just about as silly as Lady Bridget's play back at the castle.
The play was one of the more interesting aspects of the book and I broke my long-standing rule of avoiding books with people pretending to be talking swans to read this book.
MAP OF A LADY’S HEART by Caroline Linden
Just before the guests are to arrive for the house party to lift Lady Serena Cavendish’s spirits, the duke and duchess of Wessex have to depart in a hurry. The duke is the Cavendish sisters’ older brother, and Viola Cavendish, a distant relative, will have to chaperone in addition to overlooking the affair. Viola is the duchess’ personal secretary but now she is in charge, as the girl’s mother, the dowager duchess is under the weather. Viola has to see that Serena, Alexandra and Bridget do not misbehave, which also applies to the girls’ great-aunt Lady Sophronia. A snowstorm seems imminent, and Viola can’t shake a feeling of impending doom… Wesley Morane, Earl of Winterton, has finagled an invitation to the party to ask the duke for an old atlas. He is also dragging his petulant and recalcitrant nephew Justin, Viscount Newton. Wes hopes to rein in Justin, who shows all the signs of becoming a full-fledged rogue, and with the number of young ladies present, it won’t be an easy task. Wes has to practice what he preaches, but upon seeing the fetching Viola, he becomes somewhat distracted from the purpose of his visit…
Caroline Linden had the daunting task of writing the first story, setting up the story and the environment, introducing the characters, and does so brilliantly. I was particularly impressed with how well she “got” Bridget – an original creation of Maya Rodale, even though they are not “those American Cavendishes”, Bridget’s spirit is all there! – Ms. Linden has written a wonderful Regency Christmas; she describes Kingstag Castle in lush detail; the ambiance is warm and inviting, even taking into account Bridget’s ridiculous play. Bridget is up to all sorts of mischief, and her play suffers many minor disasters, all quite amusing, while Serena is not as miserable as everyone feared; why is that?
The romance between Wes and Viola is just gorgeous. It progresses gradually as smiles are exchanged, common interests are shared, and the attraction is mutually acknowledged, and every little thing is palpable. It’s all so romantic and lovely; funny and cozy; and superbly written; it’s a perfect Regency novella.
HOT ROGUE ON A COLD NIGHT by Maya Rodale
In Maya Rodale’s novella, Lady Serena’s mother, the dowager duchess, had thought a house party would cheer up her daughter and maybe find her a suitor, even a husband. Serena was jilted by the duke of Frye and Serena had been raised to be a duchess. The dowager duchess has even invited Frye, in case he changes his mind, but Frye has also invited his friend Mr. Greyson Jones, a diplomat of sorts. Grey had publicly said that Serena was too perfect, and that being jilted made her more interesting. Grey prefers interesting women… Serena must act as hostess, and one must not forget one’s manners, even if Grey tries her patience. What she doesn’t know is that Grey has loved her from afar for a long time, but he is not an aristocrat, what’s a man to do? But when Lucian, Lord Gosling (yes, you may think of one bearing the same last name; you can trust Maya Rodale to give us a few giggles!), so Lord Gosling captures Serena’s attention; he is perfect. And that can spur a man on!
The mischievous Bridget and the outrageous Lady Sophronia are up to their usual shenanigans, while love blooms during Bridget’s ridiculous play, and there are quite a few laughs to have there! And I loved that we get to experience a Christmas amongst the townspeople, also stuck at the inn. There is always fun to be had with Maya Rodale!
SNOWY NIGHT WITH A DUKE by Katharine Ashe
Lady Charlotte Ascot and Horace Church – duke of Frye – are both on their way to Kingstag Castle, separately, but a snow storm forces them to stop at the Fiddler’s Roost Inn and wait for the roads to become passable again. Horace is with his childhood friend Freddie, Lord Fortier, and they both do covert work for the Crown. They have a villain to apprehend, and when Frye sees Charlotte, he must ascertain his cover is not blown. Charlotte came from Philadelphia to comfort her friend Serena Cavendish after Frye broke up their engagement. Charlotte hates that Frye did that, and yet she has always loved him.
Katharine Ashe’s story is a delightful conclusion to this anthology, and her writing is as splendid as ever. There are some pretty amazing plot twists, and – be still my heart – what a poetic declaration of love! Who wouldn’t melt! This is a charming and tender romance, while Frye and Charlotte somewhat bicker their way to acknowledging their attraction, and then act upon it in a most unusual and quite amusing way. I loved reading about Charlotte’s time in Philadelphia, and I would have liked to read even more about it. Make sure to read A Note from the Author, as Ms. Ashe relates some rather startling historical facts pertaining to her characters.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.
Map of a Lady's Heart - Caroline Linden - 3 stars
This story sets up the bundle so we have a lot of secondary characters thrown into the mix. The H is an earl who is tracking down an Atlas that previously belonged to his late father and was sold accidentally. He believes that the Duke of Wessex has recently purchased it so he goes along to see him and takes his misbehaving nephew with him. The nephew is 21 yo btw. He meets the h, who is the the Duchess of Wessex's secretary, as she is basically running the show while the Duke and Duchess are away. There are several sisters to the duke in residence, one of them, Serena, who has recently been jilted by the Duke of Frye. The house party has primarily been given so that Serena can meet other eligible bachelors. The H and the h are drawn to each other amongst the chaos of the house party. There is a ridiculous play being put together by one of the duke's other sisters that adds to the general mayhem. I have to say that the romance was a bit lost in the setting up of the bundle.
Hot Rogue on a Cold Night - Maya Rodale - 3 stars
Normally a title like this would be enough to scare me off reading a book. It's quite obviously meant to be cute but I can live without play on words titles as it's cliche now. The aforementioned duke's sister, Serena, comes face to face with her ex-fiance's best friend in this novella. She knows that the H was guilty of saying some pretty mean stuff about her and she struggles to be civil when he arrives to join the house party. She is on the look out for a new fiance and is drawn to Lord Gosling instead. Lord Gosling is perfect and rich but he just doesn't attract her like the H. The H doesn't have anything special to add to his consequence and he's about to leave England for a posting in India. He's loved the h from afar for years and he knows that this house party is his one chance to win the h.
Snowy Night with the Duke - Katherine Ashe - 2.5 stars
Honestly, I've never been so disappointed by an author. I like Ms Ashe and she's probably the reason that I bought this blessed bundle but this story is tacky, modern and disappointing. I knew when I read this mantra "Solve the mystery, Fight the battle, Save the Girl", in the first chapter, that I was in trouble. I googled it and it's from High School Musical 3 but was probably cribbed from elsewhere since I've not watched that movie. This was by no means the only modernism in this novella but the "This is a hell yes" in chapter 12 was the last straw for me. Briefly, the duke that jilted Serena is the H in this story. We don't initially know why he jilted Serena but we find out as the story unfolds. The h is a close friend of Serena, who comes back from America to attend the house party with the intention of giving Serena moral support. It turns out that the H and h have known each other since childhood and have both had crushes on each other for years. Because the H was engaged to Serena since he was a child, neither could act on their attraction. The reasons for the H breaking the engagement was probably one of the most interesting parts of this novella. You can do so much better Ms Ashe.
Most recent customer reviews
All three stories are set in December of 1816 and in the area of Dorchester.Read more
These authors are some of my favorites and this anthology met my expectations.Read more
Caroline Linden’s Map of a Lady’s Heart I thoroughly enjoyed (5⭐️).Read more