Sunday, December 12, 2010

"The Heart of Christmas" by Mary Balough, Nicola Cornick, and Courtney Milan

'Tis The Season for Falling in Love...

A Handful of Gold: a love story from "New York Times" bestselling author Mary Balough
Not only is Julian Dare dashing and wealthy, but he's the heir to an earldom. So what do you get a man who has everything? Innocent and comely Verity Ewing plans on giving Julian her heart - the most precious gift of all.

The Season For Suitors: a captivating romance from Nicola Cornick
After some close encounters with rakes in which she was nearly compromised, heiress Clara Davenport realizes that she needs some expert advice. And who better for the job than Sebastian Fleet, the most notorious rake in town? But the tutelage doesn't go quite as planned, as both Sebastian and Clara find it difficult to remain objective when it comes to lessons of the heart!

This Wicked Gift: an original romance from Courtney Milan
Lavinia Spencer has been saving her hard-earned pennies to provide her family with Christmas dinner. Days before the holiday, her brother is swindled, leaving them owing more than they can ever repay. Until a mysterious benefactor offers to settle the debt. Innocent Lavinia is stunned by what the dashing William White wants in return. Will she exchange a wicked gift for her family's fortune?

OK, I can hear the questions already.... "She read this crap?" "Is she on drugs?" "What was she thinking?" why would I assume that my loyal readers would think I've lost my mind? Well, this is not the sort of book I normally read, I'll grant you that. This is classified as "historical romance" - not usually my cup of tea. No, I'm not on drugs, although this sort of acted like one (and I mean that in the best possible way). And what I was thinking was this: I needed a break from my usual bibliographic fare, and this seemed to be just the thing. A collection of three short stories, all romances set in 17th century England, and all pretty much pure fluff. Consider it a palate cleanser of sorts....

I've never read anything by any of the authors, although I have quite a few library patrons who love Mary Balogh. Her story was all right, nothing new, and when the overturned coach produces not only a Reverend with two boys but his very, very pregnant wife, I knew pretty much exactly where the tale was headed. Still, it's a nice little romance. Nicola Cornick's story was also OK, again a nice romance, although it turns out the two main characters have a bit of history that wasn't alluded to in the blurb on the back of the book.

That brings us to Courtney Milan's story, which was quite a surprise. I think I enjoyed this one the most because none of the characters was a Lord or a Lady; the beautiful heroine works in her family's "lending library" after the death of her mother and grave illness of her father, while the handsome hero works as an accountant at a local firm. Lavinia struck me as more of a modern heroine, in control of her future, while William is the more distraught character, having been "robbed" of a promised inheritance from an old business partner of his father's. It was a wonderful story, and I might actually look for something else by the author.

So why would I read this sort of thing? Call it the spirit of the season, but I just wanted a little Christmas romance to take my mind off the incredibly cold weather we're having here in North Carolina. Plus it was the only thing that seemed to fit the bill at the last minute and was sitting on the shelves of my branch!

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