My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
SAINTS AND SINNERS by Josi S. Kilpack. When Neville Franklin’s best friend Burke wants to wager who can kiss Eloise first, Neville puts a stop to it. Eloise has been his friend since childhood, and, well, she’s off-limits. Especially to Burke. As Burke pursues Eloise and claims that she has a tendre for him, Neville becomes more and more protective of the girl he grew up with. On the night of the Christmas ball when Eloise appears in a dress that clearly shows that she is no longer a girl, but a beautiful woman, Neville realizes that his protective feelings toward Eloise have turned into something greater. But now, Neville’s best friend stands in his way.
THE CHRISTMAS ANGLE by Carla Kelly. Sailing Master Able Six is on half-pay with the British navy, biding his time during the uneasy Peace of Amiens and the resumption of war. Meanwhile, he’s invited to teach young pupils at the home of a vicar outside of Plymouth. There, he unexpectedly meets Meridee, the spinster sister-in-law of the vicar. From the moment Able sees Meridee, he’s entranced. When she asks him about his past and discovers his remarkable yet troublesome gift, he realizes he’s finally found someone who can care for all of him. Sadly, Able’s low station and half-pay gives him no way to provide for a wife. Meridee’s lack of dowry and dependence on relatives makes their union impossible at best. But isn’t Christmas a season of hope?
THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Moore. Archie Clawson wants nothing more than to give Jane the perfect Christmas. Since her troubled childhood, she’s not experienced a Christmas with all the trimmings. To top off the perfection, he also plans to ask her to marry him on Christmas Eve. But as he and his friends, including Jane, travel to his country home, they are caught in a snowstorm and discover that notice of their arrival did not get through to the house staff. Worried over the disappointment he must be causing Jane and the complete shift in their planned Christmas, Archie fears that he’s misinterpreted her kindness towards him and lost her favor forever.
Three of my favorite authors really hit a home run with this collection of sweet Christmas romances! I read each one at the end of a long and tiring day, and was completely transported and uplifted. In the first story I loved Eloise and her conflict between attracting Neville without attracting others necessarily. He's a bit of an idiot, but a likeable one, especially when he admits the reason for his jealousy and fumbles his opportunities for "helping" Eloise :) The second story was classic Carla Kelly, I just love her writing style and tone- it's so unique in the Regency genre. I enjoyed the sweetness that quickly develops between Able and Meridee, and was fascinated by his background and journey. The last story was one I found interesting as well because of the aspect of mental illness and how it was handled during that period in history. Jane had some deeply troubling times in her past which are only vaguely referred to, and the author chose to focus more on her current situation of now having the support of caring family. The dynamic between her and Archie is tender and they both learn more about each other and making the best of things when the perfect holiday doesn't go quite as planned. I loved all these stories equally and I will definitely be re-reading this collection in the future. Highly recommend!
(I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher; all opinions in this review are my own)