Romance Reviews | October 15, 2012

Something for the Holidays The winter holidays are just around the corner, and once again authors and publishers are making sure there will be a little bit of something for everyone this season. Light and funny, intense and angst-ridden, sassy and sexy, or suspenseful and taut, this year’s crop has it all, and whether you prefer to spend your holidays dealing with vampires in a war-torn world, flirting with rakes at a scandalous Regency Christmas house party, helping a young girl overcome her grief, or taking on a powerful family in the Napa Valley, there’s a holiday romance to match. So light the fire, pour the hot chocolate, and check out the list below; these are just the tip of the iceberg. For more holiday titles, check out the fiction roundup.

Alexander, Victoria. What Happens at Christmas. Kensington. Nov. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780758255686. pap. $16.95. HISTORICAL

Possessed of a family that is anything but traditional, Camille, the young widowed Lady Lydingham, sets out to provide a “traditional English Christmas, à la Dickens,” for her current romantic quarry, handsome, debonair Prince Nikolai Pruzinsky. She takes advantage of her family’s absence and hires a company of actors to “become” her proper relatives for the season. It all seems a brilliant idea, until Grayson Elliott, the friend Camille hasn’t seen since the day he stammered his love for her and then left her engaged to another man, shows up at the front door and refuses to leave. Wary but relieved when Gray agrees to help her maintain the subterfuge, Camille has no idea that Gray has his own agenda: to keep her from marrying the prince and claim her for himself. VERDICT Clever, quirky, and thoroughly delightful, this creative Christmas confection features a houseful of offbeat characters, a surfeit of family members, and a pair of protagonists who finally get things right. Alexander (My Wicked Little Lies) lives in Omaha.

starred review starJeffries, Sabrina. ’Twas the Night After Christmas. Gallery: S. & S. Nov. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9781451642469. $19.99. HISTORICAL

Pierce Waverly, the rakehell Earl of Devonmont, is annoyed when he arrives at his country estate to learn that his estranged mother is not at death’s door, as he’d been led to believe by a letter from his mother’s new companion. Pierce has no intention of staying, especially not for the holidays. But vicar’s widow Camilla Stuart is determined to bring Pierce and his mother together—even if it means giving in to his initially outrageous demands of nightly “entertainments.” A caring heroine determined to do the right thing and an emotionally wounded hero unable to forgive struggle to learn the truth in this complex story that juxtaposes the warmth of the holiday season with a dark undercurrent of closely guarded secrets, impossible choices, and deep regret. VERDICT Sharply witty, deliciously sexy, and infinitely endearing, this holiday gem strikes an emotional chord that will resonate with fans long after the book has been closed. Jeffries’s first hardcover release, it serves as a bridge between her recent “Hellions of Halstead Hall” quintet and a new series that is slated to begin next spring. Jeffries (A Lady Never Surrenders) lives in North Carolina.

starred review starPutney, Mary Jo & others. Mischief and Mistletoe. Kensington. Oct. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781420124866. pap. $15. HISTORICAL

Overflowing with all the trappings of a Regency Christmas, this lively octet of “wench-rich” short stories from the Word Wenches (of the popular blog) is sure to put historical fans in a holiday mood. A vicar’s daughter sets out to break through a returning soldier’s reserve by disguising herself as a tavern wench in Putney’s “She Stoops to Wenchdom”; an unconventional miss is determined to keep the fun-loving man she adores from falling victim to a way-too-proper young lady in Jo Beverley’s “Miss Brockhurst’s Christmas Campaign”; a snowstorm strands a spy and the reluctant lady he’s been pursuing in Joanna Bourne’s “Intrigue and Mistletoe”; a case of mistaken identity has romantic results in Patricia Rice’s “Wench in Wonderland”; a carriage “accident” one snowy night in Wales reconnects a young lord with the woman who refused him four years earlier in Nicola Cornick’s “On a Wicked Winter’s Night”; a spirited American seafaring miss and a stiff British diplomat battle storms and danger along the Cornish coast in Cara Elliott’s “Weathering the Storm”; a destitute young woman is mistaken for a gentleman’s intended bride in Anne Gracie’s “The Mistletoe Bride”; and a Highland lass from a whisky-running family attracts the interest of the new laird and sheriff in Susan King’s “A Wilder Wench.” VERDICT Touching, gently funny, satisfying, and short enough to be read in one sitting, each story in this delectable anthology is a holiday treat.

Adair, Marina. Kissing Under the Mistletoe. Montlake Romance. (St. Helena Vineyard, Bk. 1). Oct. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9781612185859. pap. $12.95. CONTEMPORARY

Allen, Louise & others. Snowbound Wedding Wishes. Harlequin Historical. Nov. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780373297115. pap. $6.25. HISTORICAL

DeStefano, Anna. Christmas on Mimosa Lane. Montlake Romance. (Seasons of the Heart, Bk. 1). Nov. 2012. 305p. ISBN 9781612185873. pap. $12.95. CONTEMPORARY

Feather, Jane. Twelfth Night Secrets. Pocket: S. & S. Nov. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9781439145272. pap. $6.99. HISTORICAL

Krinard, Susan & others. Holiday with a Vampire 4. Harlequin Nocturne. Dec. 2012. c.365p. ISBN 9780373885596. pap. $5.50. PARANORMAL

Lane, Katie. Hunk for the Holidays. Forever: Grand Central. Oct. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9781455522361. pap. $7.99. CONTEMPORARY

Romain, Theresa. Season for Surrender. Zebra: Kensington. Oct. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 9781420128864. pap. $6.99. HISTORICAL

Thayne, RaeAnne. A Cold Creek Noël. Harlequin Superromance. (Cowboys of Cold Creek, Bk. 11). Nov. 2012. c.224p. ISBN 9780373657100. pap. $5.25. CONTEMPORARY

Long, Julie Anne. A Notorious Countess Confesses. Avon. (Pennyroyal Green, Bk. 7). Nov. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780062118028. pap. $5.99. HISTORICAL

Morgan, Sarah. A Night of No Return. Harlequin Presents. Nov. 2012. c.192p. ISBN 9780373131044. pap. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY

Roberts, Nora. The Perfect Hope. Berkley: Penguin Group (USA). (Inn BoonsBoro, Bk. 3). Nov. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780425246047. pap. $16. CONTEMPORARY

Scott, Regina. The Rake’s Redemption. Love Inspired: Harlequin. (Everard Legacy, Bk. 3). Nov. 2012. c.280p. ISBN 9780373829408. pap. $5.75. HISTORICAL

starred review starThomas, Sherry. Tempting the Bride. Berkley Sensation: Penguin Group (USA). (Fitzhugh Trilogy, Bk. 3). Oct. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780425251027. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL

Delinsky, Barbara. Threats and Promises. Severn House. Oct. 2012. c.256p. ISBN 9780727881755. $28.95. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

About Kristin Ramsdell

Kristin Ramsdell is Librarian Emerita, California State University, East Bay. She is the author of the romance section of What Do I Read Next? A Reader's Guide to Current Genre Fiction (Gale, annual) and Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre (Libraries Unlimited)