Friday, January 1, 2010

A Regency Christmas III - Anthology

Bringing together five all-new Christmas stories by some of the most highly
acclaimed Regency authors, this rich collection celebrates the joys and
traditions of the holiday season. These are stories that capture the essence of
Christmas - the generosity and goodwill, the love and longing, the hopes and the
heartbreaks. Filled with romance and that joyful spirit that comes only once a
year, this wonderful collection will delight readers all year round.

Ana's review:
I'm not much of an anthology reader except at Christmas. Ever since I found the
Signet Christmas anthologies I've been collecting them and reading a few every
Christmas. This one has 5 stories by well known authors.

In Sandra Heath's MISTLETOE AND FOLLY a pair of young lovers meet again after 5 years. The hero had his heart broken by the heroine when she left to marry another and now that they meet again he is engaged to be married. A rival for the affections of his current fiancee creates a misunderstanding to have their engagement broken which leads to an explanation of what really happened 5 years earlier. I liked this story, it had an unusual plot, a bit more mystery than you usually find here and an unexpected ending for some of the secondary characters. A 4.

In Mary Jo Putney THE CHRISTMAS CUCKOO a misunderstanding leads the wrong man to be invited to spend Christmas at a farmhouse by the heroine. Although misunderstanding plots aren't always easy to believe in I really liked this one. Not only it worked well as the main characters were really likeable people. A 4.

In Mary Balogh's THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER a young child, mute since her mother's death, wishes for a new mother for Christmas and believes she got it when the heroine arrives to the house party the next morning. The hero and the heroine have a past together and it will take them a while to solve things between them. I found the thoughts of the child regarding her mother very emotional. An 5.

In Melinda McRae's HOME FOR CHRISTMAS a man returning from America finds his parents house empty except for the servants and the children's governess. This was a sweet story but the weakest of all as there is not much back story or explanation for the characters feelings. A 3.5

In Edith Layton's THE DARK MAN a young lady newly betrothed has doubts about her fiancé's feelings and ends up breaking up with him. It will take him a while to discover his true feelings and go after her. I did like this story that had a really nice set of secondary characters like the heroine's parents and the hero's friend trying to matchmake. The Duke of Torquay is mentioned briefly and that was a nice touch. A 4.

Grade: 4/5

Ioana’s review:
After having neglected my Regency reading for such a long time, I thought to start anew with a Christmas book, to put me in the mood for… Christmas (catching the Ana bug – who only reads Christmas books in December :) ). So I chose this book, starring 3 of my favorite authors, it should have been palatable :)
And I have to say that it was quite good, well except for the first story, which almost made go back to my not-reading Regencies status…
But let me begin with the review. Oh, I won’t describe each story, I see that Ana did it already, I’ll just say how I liked them and why.

“Mistletoe and Folly” by Sandra Heath was quite bad in my opinion (sorry Ana :)). I’ve never been a fan of misunderstandings, even if I do admit they can work sometimes… But NOT when you have only 70 pages to write a story that brings the spirit of Christmas, a story that should make the reader feel warm inside, and not confused on who does what and why and annoyed because everything is so rushed. Also, the very beautiful heroine, who sacrifices herself for her family and suffers greatly in her arranged marriage with a cruel man, is so hated and misjudged by the hero at the beginning of the story and then SNAP! hero finds out the truth and he is so much in love with her again! Puh-lease! A 2.

“The Christmas Cuckoo” by Mary Jo Putney was my favorite (yeah, even before Mary Balogh’s). It’s such a funny, cheerful story, with some wonderful characters. The hero is to die for! Anyway, he gets to spend Christmas with a very nice family that mistake him for a friend, and in between almost drowning, baking mince pies and decorating the house, you get romance, Christmas cheer and some trepidation about what will happen when the truth is revealed! A 5!

“The best Christmas ever” by Mary Balogh. It was a nice, warm book, I can’t really complain… but I am! What it had best was the little girl, and not the hero or the heroine… he seemed a little dense and she – a long suffering victim… Oh, okay, it was a 4.

Melinda McRae was a new author or me, so I didn’t know what to expect. “Home for Christmas” wasn’t quite bad, but it felt like an empty story: it brought the sense of Christmas (and that was great), but it lacked a lot on the romance level. The two main characters were perfect strangers at the beginning of the story, and did not seem a lot different by the end of the book. And to believe that any sane woman would choose to accompany a man, who she has just met, to a foreign land, in the middle of nowhere, it’s a little too much for me. Yes, romances let us dream about things that can’t really happen in real life, but I will never dream about being insane… Still, it was better than the first story, a 3.5.

“The dark man” was a nice end to the anthology, it showed in very few pages why Edith Layton was such a great author. It was quite an introspective book, with a serious theme, maybe not really fit for Christmas, but a nice touch nevertheless… Anyway, I won’t say more, just that it’s worth reading, especially if you like your characters well explained :) even if I will say that the book deserved a lot more pages… A 5.

Grade: 4/5


Mystica January 3, 2010 at 10:57 AM  

The post on Christmassy books was really good. Unfortunately I have not read any of them but reading the reviews and your feelings on these books was good enough (for the moment)



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