Romance Reviews | October 15, 2013

Home for the Holidays—Mostly Though many people believe the best place to spend the holidays is on the ski slopes, or in a foreign city, or on a cruise, for most of us the idea of spending the fall and winter season anywhere but at home just doesn’t compute. Holidays mean home and family, and whether that’s in a city apartment, a suburban bungalow, a ranch house, a country estate, or even a castle, home is where the memories and traditions come to life. And that’s generally the way we like it. Owing to the current fascination with community-based tales, most of these seasonal romances have rural or small-town settings. Charming, nostalgic, and rife with old-fashioned charm, they can be funny, sweet, sexy, or poignant, but all are guaranteed to put you in a holiday mood. [For more holiday fiction, see “Deck the Shelves: New Reads To Bring on the Holiday Spirit.”]

Burrowes, Grace. Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait. Sourcebooks Casablanca. (Windham Family, Bk. 8). Oct. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9781402263835. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402263842. Historical ROMANCE

When portrait painter Elijah Harrison appears at the country house door, bedraggled and half frozen in the icy rain, Lady Jenny Windham, an aspiring artist herself, has no idea that he is going to change her life. Elijah needs assistance with an upcoming commission, and Jenny steps in and agrees to help him in return for eight hours of instruction, a decision Elijah may come to regret as Jenny’s talent becomes more and more apparent. VERDICT A brilliantly artistic heroine and a talented but conflicted hero find fulfillment and love in this complex and engaging tale that simmers with sexual tension, radiates the holiday spirit, and beautifully wraps up the exceptionally enjoyable Windham saga. Burrowes (Lady Eve’s Indiscretion) lives in rural Maryland.

Ross, JoAnn & others. Christmas on Main Street. Signet: NAL. Nov. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780451419538. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101621431. Contemporary ROMANCE

You’ll practically smell the cinnamon, nutmeg, and pines as four popular contemporary authors take readers for a nostalgic, soul-warming stroll down Main Street in each of their respective series’ small towns in this holiday-infused collection. A snowstorm and some helpful family members ensure a merry Christmas in a cozy cabin for two friends who should be so much more in Ross’s heartfelt “Christmas in Shelter Bay”; a TV producer heads for Bayberry Island to scope out the local mermaid legend for the show Truly Weird and finds himself captivated by a lovely writer of erotica in Susan Donovan’s sassy, slightly magical “A Seaside Christmas”; a baseball coach returns to Cricket Creek after 15 years away and sets about wooing his teenage love in LuAnn McLane’s touching “Mistletoe on Main Street”; and Snowberry Creek’s talented baker is attracted to a quiet newcomer who is more than he seems in Alexis Morgan’s delicious and thoroughly rewarding “The Christmas Gift.” VERDICT Pleasing, sexy, touching, and funny, this well-done anthology has something for everyone who’s ever yearned for a small-town Christmas.

Guhrke, Laura Lee. When the Marquess Met His Match. Avon. (American Heiress in London, Bk. 1). Nov. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780062118172. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062118189. Historical ROMANCE

Lady Belinda Featherstone, a former American heiress and now the quite happy widow of the Earl of Featherstone, has become the matchmaker of choice for aspiring American debutantes in London—and keeping them safe from philandering fortune hunters is one of her goals. So when the infamous rakehell Marquess of Trubridge asks for her help, naturally she refuses and sets out to turn the tables and scuttle his plans—only to find the tables turned on herself. VERDICT A formidable society matchmaker with an axe to grind against fortune-hunting suitors meets her own match when one of her noble clients decides she is the woman for him. This delightful, well-written story filled with characters who develop nicely is sure to be a treat for the many fans who have been waiting for Idaho-based Guhrke’s (Trouble at the Wedding) next work.

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

the BEST OF Barbara Cartland

Though she died in 2000 just shy of her 99th birthday, British romance doyenne Barbara Cartland is still considered synonymous with all things romance. Through a partnership between M-Y Books and Ingram Content Group, Cartland’s published and some unpublished output will be available to the author’s legion of fans. M-Y Books, a service provider to indie publishers, will use Ingram for the print and distribution operations. The print titles from three of Cartland’s collections will be available on-demand by Lightning Source, with Ingram global distribution. The ebooks will be available through Ingram’s CoreSource platform.

starred review star Andre, Bella. Kissing Under the Mistletoe: A Sullivan Christmas. Mira: Harlequin. Oct. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780778316930. $16.95. Contemporary ROMANCE

Jacobs, Holly. A Valley Ridge Christmas. Harlequin Superromance. Dec. 2013. c.304p. ISBN 9780373718948. pap. $5.75; ebk. ISBN 9781460323267. Contemporary ROMANCE

Kauffman, Donna & others. The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap. Kensington. Oct. 2013. c.416p. ISBN 970758290885. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9780758290892. Contemporary ROMANCE

Mallery, Susan. Christmas on 4th Street. HQN: Harlequin. (Fool’s Gold, Bk. 12.5). Oct. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780373777822. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460319567. Contemporary ROMANCE

starred review star Novak, Brenda. Take Me Home for Christmas. Mira: Harlequin. (Whiskey Creek, Bk. 5). Nov. 2013. c.416p. ISBN 9780778315469. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460320822. Contemporary ROMANCE

Rolls, Elizabeth & others. A Sprinkling of Christmas Magic. Harlequin Historical. Nov. 2013. c.288p. ISBN 9780373297597. pap. $6.50; ebk. ISBN 9781460321485. Historical ROMANCE

Stone, Juliana. The Christmas He Loved Her. Sourcebooks Casablanca. (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake). Oct. 2013. c.352p. ISBN 9781402274831. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402274848. Contemporary ROMANCE

Thayne, RaeAnne. Christmas in Snowflake Canyon. HQN: Harlequin. (Hope’s Crossing, Bk. 6). Nov. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780373778157. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460320914. Contemporary ROMANCE

Woods, Sherryl. A Seaside Christmas. Mira: Harlequin. (Chesapeake Shores, Bk. 10). Oct. 2013. c.288p. ISBN 9780778315117. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460319505. Contemporary ROMANCE

And the Rest of the Year

starred review star Brockway, Connie. No Place for a Dame. Montlake Romance. Nov. 2013. c.360p. ISBN 9781477808580. pap. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9781477858585. Historical ROMANCE

starred review star Dreyer, Eileen. Once a Rake. Forever: Grand Central. (Drake’s Rakes, Bk. 4). Oct. 2013. c.416p. ISBN 9781455519323. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781455519330. Historical ROMANCE

Quinn, Julia. The Sum of All Kisses. Avon. (Smythe-Smith Quartet, Bk. 3). Avon. Nov. 2013. c.384p. ISBN 9780062072924. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062072931. Historical romance

Roberts, Nora. Dark Witch. Berkley. (Cousins O’Dwyer, Bk. 1). Nov. 2013. c.368p. ISBN 9780425259856. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9781101626368. Contemporary Fantasy ROMANCE

starred review star Sherwood, Pamela. A Song at Twilight. Sourcebooks Casablanca. Oct. 2013. c.416p. ISBN 9781402273254. pap. $6.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402273261. Historical ROMANCE

Second Time Around

Bittner, Rosanne. Follow Your Heart. Severn House. Oct. 2013. c.336p. ISBN 970727883063. $28.95. Historical Inspirational ROMANCE

Harper, Karen. The Baby Farm. Severn House. Oct. 2013. c.400p. ISBN 9780727883087. $29.95. 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)