If Christmas seems far away, think again! It’s that time of year when Christmas romance stories start getting released. And anyone who reads romance probably knows of the Word Wenches—a group of romance authors who all blog together. This group of ladies (listed below) have written a very interesting anthology of separate Christmas stories that are all interconnected, which I’m sure was no easy feat. Some take place at the “Last Chance Christmas Ball,” so-called because a lot confirmed singles are in the mix. Some stories take place on the way to the ball, and some shortly after.
THE PLOTS (by story):
“My True Love Hath My Heart” by Joanna Bourne: A jeweler from Antwerp is masquerading as a maid to find a stolen jewel, with the unexpected help of her former lover…a nobleman who works for the foreign office.
“A Scottish Carol” by Susan King: A doctor finds out his prize pupil is his old flame in disguise, and they reconnect while snowed-in over the holiday.
“Christmas Larks” by Patricia Rice: An ill nobleman is cared for by his childhood friend, whom he doesn’t know has inherited his house. She doesn’t know how to tell him that his home will soon be an orphanage.
“In the Bleak Midwinter” by Mary Jo Putney: An injured soldier’s childhood sweetheart makes a last attempt to pull him out of seclusion.
“Old Flames Dance” by Cara Elliott: A couple previously kept apart by their families get a second chance at their romance when the widowed lady returns from India.
“A Season for Marriage” by Nicola Cornick: A couple who married after being caught in a “compromising” position (he was comforting her) attempt to put their marriage on the right track despite misunderstandings.
“Miss Finch and the Angel” by Jo Beverly: A flirtatious nobleman takes an interest in their hostess’s mousey companion, who has a checkered past.
“Mistletoe Kisses” by Anne Gracie: A young lady preparing to leave her home to its new owner enjoys one last Christmas before becoming a teacher at a girl’s seminary. She is joined by a brother and sister whose carriage is wrecked on the way to the ball.
MY TWO CENTS: These short romances are believable because most of the characters already knew each other pre-story. While the majority of the couples are becoming reacquainted, there are only a few “love at first sight” that proceed without too much relationship development. The stories are also pretty clean, with either no sex or very little description.
I’m familiar with a few of these authors, and a couple are even on my auto-buy list. I would not say these stories are my favorite of their work, but there is a certain joyfulness about them. Most of the characters feel that they’ve missed their chances at love with a particular person, or a happy family life, or a home. It’s nice to see wishes come true in a Christmasy way.
For most anthologies, I’d recommend reading the stories very gradually. In this book, however, the stories are all connected, so you’re better off reading them all together at one time. For example, the ball is thrown by the good-hearted Lady Holly, who is celebrating her 50th ball. She links all the characters together. The characters are mentioned in one another’s stories, and sometimes play a more major part. (For instance, three of the stories focus on three siblings as the main characters.)
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re in the mood for short Christmas romances, this is your book. If anthologies aren’t your thing and you like more relationship development than what you find in a short story, skip it.
TEACUP RATING: Three-and-a-half to four out of five teacups. Some stories are more enjoyable than others, but all are fairly uplifting in the Christmas theme.
ON SALE DATE: Available now in paperback and eformats.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.