The Road To Escape by Patricia Kiyono


The Road To Escape by Patricia Kiyono
Publisher: esKape Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (102 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Tom Cooper left his high-pressure law practice in Indianapolis for life on an alpaca farm in the tiny northwest Indiana town of Escape. Though he continued to practice law, the farm provided a good life for him, his wife, and their five children. But when his wife died, grief consumed him. His withdrawal into himself damaged his relationship with his children, and they’ve all left. He’s resigned to taking care of the farm alone, but a disturbing medical diagnosis could change things.

Laurie Matthews left her nursing job in shame. The town of Escape has welcomed her, and she now owns the local diner. She’s attracted to the handsome widower who comes in for coffee and a hot meal but keeps her distance. Everyone she’s ever loved has died — her grandparents, her parents, her husband, and one other — one she still can’t bear to think about.

A romantic relationship isn’t on the agenda for either of them, but when the diner falls on hard times, Tom steps in to help, paving the way for them both to escape the loneliness in their lives.

Tom is a widower whose health is deteriorating; Laurie runs the local diner, but her past is catching up with her.

At first I didn’t realize this was a middle age romance, but it didn’t really matter as the love was obviously beginning to bloom. Unfortunately neither party wanted to admit their feelings for fear of being rebuffed. Their past personal life makes them move slowly toward each other, but there is also a hint of nastiness in the air.

This is definitely a sweet romance, no hot love scenes, no misunderstandings. The reasons for any delay in announcing their feelings are perfectly natural and show how a normal way of life can interfere with the way love is supposed to develop.

I loved the way both hero and heroine knew what the other was hiding, but didn’t reveal their thoughts so neither was aware the other had discovered their secret. Their passion was very much of a “tiptoe around each other“ style and at times I wanted to give them both a big push and tell them to get on with things.

At the end of the story I felt it had a satisfactory conclusion and could actually have left the door open for a follow up.

Winning the Mail-Order Bride by Lauri Robinson


Winning the Mail-Order Bride by Lauri Robinson
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

She was promised to another…

When widow Fiona Goldberg and her two adorable sons arrive in Oak Grove, Kansas, proclaimed bachelor Brett Blackwell is instantly captivated. But when he learns she is promised to the mayor, he tries his best to keep his distance…

Out of desperation, Fiona had agreed to become a mail-order bride to the disagreeable, self-important mayor. But something about her neighbor Brett makes her feel safe. She knows she must fight her growing feelings for the forbidden blacksmith, even while longing for him to rescue her and take her as his bride himself!

I am officially a Lauri Robinson fan. I’ve read Winning the Mail Order Bride (Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove Series), Surprise Bride for the Cowboy (Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove Duet), and The Cowboy’s Orphan Bride, and I’ve loved each one. I’m hooked on the Oak Grove Series. Everyone who knows me knows that I avoid reading series because I honestly am an impatient person and I can’t stand waiting for the next book to come out. Now I have no choice but to wait for A Bride and a Baby for Christmas (Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove Series) to be released in September/October 2017. I feel like a two year old and I want to have a tantrum because I seriously do not want to wait. The good news is that each book can be read as a standalone which means if you feel the way I do about reading a series then don’t worry. You can read just one but I can’t help you pick which one since I recommend them all. The only reason I have to read the next one coming out is because I fell in love with the characters. They are my family now. I have to read about Teddy and Hannah in the A Bride and a Baby for Christmas (Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove Series).

How did I fall in love with the characters? It just happens with Lauri Robinson’s novels. Her flawless writing style is consistent in each of her books. She creates a web of characters that are intertwined in a community that hooked me in and made me care about them. I find them to be unforgettable. I think about them after I finish reading the books. I think I love them more than my own family. LOL. I’d go so far as to say it’s like watching Little House in the Prairie but better.

In fact the hero, Brett, in Winning the Mail-Order Bride reminded me so much of the character, Mr. Edwards, in Little House in the Prairie. Brett was gentle, kind, generous and fun with a great sense of humor, just like Mr. Edwards. He’s the ideal man you’d want to marry and be the father of your children. Everyone in Oak Grove thought highly of Brett. Fiona the heroine, had a rough life and I was happy to see her and Brett fall in love. She deserved to be cherished after all the horrible tragedies she’d suffered in her life. She was a wonderful mother with two adorable boys in need of a new life. Arriving in Oak Grove was her blessing. Brett and Fiona were a heartwarming romance story. They demonstrated sweet chemistry with strong values that made it easy for a reader to love and respect the couple.

There was plenty of drama and conflict in this sweet romance to keep you flipping the pages. The mayor was deplorable. I’d consider him the villain in the plot, so what eventually happens to him was unexpected. There are plenty of surprises in the plot that either made me gasp, worry, laugh and cry but mostly made me feel satisfied. Every time I considered putting the book down to go do something that needed to be done something would happen that made it impossible to put the book down.

Lauri Robinson writes genuine love stories that inspire me to be a better wife, mother, friend, sister, neighbor, etc. I wish I lived in a small town such as Oak Grove where everyone felt welcomed. I loved the happily ever after ending that undoubtedly left me with a book glow. I strongly urge readers to pick this book up and get comfortable for a few hours. Winning the Mail Order Bride was an entertaining read.

Trouble Cove by Nancy Lindley-Gauthier


Trouble Cove by Nancy Lindley-Gauthier
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (194 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Far from the all the action of World War I, in a charming tourist’s spot on Cape Breton Island, Elizabeth Eames has stumbled into the most wonderful man in the world. She’s landed herself in a world where wealth reigns supreme; where any eligible bachelor would meet her mother’s aspirations. Of course, she’s dead set on the one she’s certain should not be mentioned in her letters home. Actually, there’s a lot she’s not mentioning. Something is not-quite-right at the grand resort Oceanside, but Elizabeth isn’t giving up her one great chance…

Will Elizabeth’s time in Cape Breton be the adventure of a lifetime, or a huge mistake?

Elizabeth’s job at the Oceanside resort isn’t exactly her dream job, but, as her mother hoped, it has placed her in the midst of some very wealthy and well-connected bachelors. However, as Summer gives way to Fall, Elizabeth becomes convinced that something sinister is going on at the resort. Many of the guests are lingering long after the resort should have closed. They all have their reasons, but Elizabeth is skeptical. Are some of the guests up to no good, or is Elizabeth simply imagining things?

Elizabeth is a delightful character who finds beauty and magic in the world around her. She has a vivid imagination, and I enjoyed watching her create wonderfully detailed stories for people and places she encounters. While her imaginings might not be entirely accurate, they are certainly entertaining. I hope she never loses her ability to perceive the world in such a creative way.

Elizabeth’s heart is set on Daro from the moment she meets him. Unfortunately, he is neither wealthy nor well-connected. None of this matters to Elizabeth, and while she knows a future with Daro is unlikely, she endeavors to spend as much time with him as possible. I would have liked Elizabeth and Daro to have a stronger, more well-defined connection. It is abundantly clear how Elizabeth’s feels, but Daro’s feelings and intentions are a bit of a mystery until very close to the end of the story. However, I’m confident that they have the potential to be a great couple, and their happy ending is well deserved.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Trouble Cove. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a sweet, historical romance with just a hint of mystery and danger.

The Picture of Leon Brittan by Daniel Raven


The Picture of Leon Brittan by Daniel Raven
Publisher: Wormdoom Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (98 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

‘The story I’m about to tell is true in every detail and you must try to believe it, no matter how hard that may seem, because it proves that my impotence was never anything to do with me not loving you, or not thinking you were gorgeous, or being a closet bender. It was to do with primal forces of inhuman evil.’

That’s how I put it to my ex-girlfriend. I’m not quite sure how to put it to you – let’s face it, you’re capricious – but that doesn’t alter the fact that you MUST read this book. Not only does it relate the full story of how I met and fell in love with the most extraordinary woman who ever lived, it also offers a genuinely plausible explanation for all the wickedness in this world AND exposes a monumentally revolting cosmic conspiracy that implicates the whole human race, as well as several others you’ve never even heard of.

But I wouldn’t want to alienate you, so please try also to keep in mind that it’s basically just a lovely light romantic comedy for much of the time, with lots of droll observations about university life in the 1990s blah blah rites of passage blah blah end of innocence blah blah beautifully evoked. It only really starts to go all H.P. Lovecraft about halfway through, and even then you’ll need your sense of humour as much as your strong stomach (it IS strong, isn’t it? Oh do please say that it’s strong!). Moreover, I can promise – in fact positively guarantee – that you will never, ever be able to forget it.

Sometimes falling in love is the scariest thing that can happen to a person.

This story was full of creativity. I loved the fact that it was written as a letter to the main character’s ex-girlfriend. The horror elements took quite a while to show up, but they sure did scare me once they were introduced. I also enjoyed seeing how the author combined so many different genres together. Horror and romance aren’t genres I’d ever think to mix together, but Mr. Raven’s take on both of them was so unique that they flowed together quite nicely.

There were some pacing problems due to how many extra details the main character included about what his life was like in the 1990s. As curious as I was to find out what was so frightening about falling in love with a college classmate, my interest did waver as the plot stretched out. It was sometimes hard to stay as interested in the conclusion as I would have liked to due to how long it took to get any kind of hint about what was going on.

Despite never learning the main character’s name, I felt like I got to know him very well. I was pleased with how much the author was able to show the audience about this character’s personality. He was a smart and gentle soul who never would have guessed what he was going to discover when he went off to college. While I don’t know of any sequels about him that are on their way, I’d sure like to know more about him if Mr. Raven ever decides to expand this universe.

The Picture of Leon Brittan made me shudder. I’d recommend it to anyone who would like to read something truly horrifying.

Red Curtains by Leanna Sain


Red Curtains by Leanna Sain
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (338 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Cleo Davis must find a model for her senior art project or she won’t graduate. When she discovers Lily Telfair-Gordon, she gets more than just an eccentric old woman who spouts famous quotes, talks to ghosts, and wears a weird hat. Lily has unwittingly stumbled upon a counterfeiting ring, and Cleo gets dragged right into the middle of it.

Jonas Holmes, an investigative reporter for the local paper, is asking the question: why do bodies of homeless men keep showing up in the river? But the homeless are scared and won’t talk to him. When he finds Cleo and Lily, he thinks his problems are solved; he doesn’t realize that they’re just beginning.

While romance blossoms between Cleo and Jonas, they work together to see how the two things are connected, but will they find out before it’s too late?

Just before the first chapter begins there is a note from the author that says “I alternate points of view between Cleo, Jonas, and Lily. Each chapter will tell you from whose eyes we’re viewing the story.”

I want to thank Ms. Sain for warning me that she’d alternate points of view between the main characters. I’ve never read a book written like that and I think that I would have been out of my element if I didn’t have that warning. I know I would not have enjoyed the book as much as I did. It took me a few chapters to get into the swing of it. It was an amazing ride once I figured out how to switch gears. It was really nifty to see different perspectives from the main characters especially when they were all involved in the suspense/mystery. It was like viewing a scene from three different angles. It’s hard to describe therefore I really suggest this book needs to be put on the must read list.

Why else should this book be on a must read list? You mean, besides for being a well written, unique and totally captivating plot? Well, it should be on a must read list for the love of the characters. They were well developed and unforgettable. Lily Telfair-Gordon, Jonas Holmes and Cleo – the three of them together make for a positively entertaining story. Cleo is the heroine of the story and not your typical heroine. In fact in the author’s note she explains her type of heroine and I quote, “I create main characters who are strong, creative, successful Southern women—GRITS, if you will. No, they’re not perfect, but they grow and overcome some pretty big obstacles, coming out stronger and more confident at the end.” That sums it up better than I ever could which is why I had no choice but to quote the author’s note again. I loved Cleo and found her relatable because many people experience shyness at one time or another. I loved how she overcame her shyness with the help of Lily. Lily was an amazing character as well. I especially enjoyed her famous quotes that were threaded throughout the novel. Jonas was the hero and while this was more than a romance story with all the suspense/mystery, there definitely was still the thread of a romance between Cleo and Jonas. It was sweet and blossomed slowly into a beautiful enduring relationship. Their romance could be considered most realistic and win a “most genuine couple” award. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Jonas right along with Cleo.

The synopsis explains there is the suspense/mystery of the counterfeiting ring and bodies of homeless men showing up in the river. I was on the edge of my seat. Talk about plot twists that were unpredictable. I don’t dare speak of it for fear of giving a spoiler.

I also wanted to mention the setting was in Savannah, Georgia. The author described it in a way that now I totally want to go there on vacation. I love cities with history such as St. Augustine, FL which I have visited. Unfortunately, homelessness is an issue in many big cities such as it is in Savannah Georgia and this novel brings the issue front and center but not in my face to the point that it detracted from the story. I was made aware of the issue through the character, Lily. I need to reference the authors note, again, because I think it’s important to tell future readers that the author stated that a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the Stand Down program that was mentioned in the story to help the homeless in Savannah, Georgia.

In conclusion, Red Curtains was a wonderful book. It was well worth my time and I actually feel honored that I got to read this book. I don’t recall ever feeling that way about a book but this one touched my heart. I appreciate the time the author took to write a memorable novel for me to read that I won’t soon forget. Thank you. I encourage others to pick up this book and hopefully they’ll be as touched and as entertained as I was with this thrilling suspense/mystery romance.

An Uncertain Cure by Richard A. Berjian


An Uncertain Cure by Richard A. Berjian
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (84 pages pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

The enticing promise of research funding lures surgeon, Parker Dawson, to Greeley University Medical Center to continue his work in cancer. But little can he imagine that within a year, he’ll be facing a charge of first degree murder.

Dawson’s life turns into a nightmare on the first day he walks through Greeley’s doors when he’s accused of scientific fraud, threatening his professional credibility. The funding to continue his research in malignant melanoma dries up just when his animal experiments show promise. And worst of all, Dawson is accused of murder. Can he regain his standing and his innocence?

Ready for a medical thriller that will change how you view the world of medicine?

An Uncertain Cure is a deep story about Dr. Parker Dawson beginning his career at Greeley University Medical Center in order to focus his time on medical research. Yet, on just his very first day, issues plaguing his previously published research begin to surface. Over time, difficult decisions and complex issues with medical staff and even administration begin to take a toll on Dr. Dawson.

This is a story that goes beyond the mystery of corporate espionage and murder, but examines the ethics of medicine and business. A view of Big Pharmacy business from the perspective of an oncologist goes beyond what many are aware of from mainstream media headlines. Backdoor deals and hidden handshakes can trigger life and death scenarios. The skyrocketing cost of medicine combined with business control of medical funding takes the forefront in this intense story.

The author has extensive knowledge, experience and insight into not only the medical field but academia and business which is expressed throughout each page. The author has dynamic, witty and intense dialogue, plot twists and a deep respect for the characters that are at the center of the story. Medical events are explained in such a way that a lay person can understand and those that have previous medical knowledge do not feel bored. The deep plot has many layers which will keep readers entertained and guessing at what will happen next.

An Uncertain Cure is truly a look at the depth and reality of modern medicine and those that work within the medical world. The author has a deep respect for the writing process and the fundamental aspects of true story telling. The author also makes an important point that while medicine is designed to heal and help, sometimes the risks outweigh the benefits, and when money starts to become involved the path to righteousness may not be clearly defined.

Make sure you don’t miss An Uncertain Cure.  This is an amazing read that will challenge what you know about the world around you!

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove by Lauri Robinson and Kathryn Albright


Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove by Lauri Robinson and Kathryn Albright
Publisher: Harlequin Historical
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Twin sisters say “I do” in the Wild West!

SURPRISE BRIDE FOR THE COWBOY by Lauri Robinson

Mary McCary never wanted to be a mail-order bride, but falling off the Oak Grove train into Steve Putnam’s lap changes everything… Could he be the cowboy to tempt her down the aisle?

TAMING THE RUNAWAY BRIDE by Kathryn Albright

Running from trouble, Maggie McCary signs up to be a mail-order bride. She doesn’t intend to actually marry…until she shares one sensational kiss with Jackson Miller!

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove was awesome! Twin sisters say “I do” in the Wild West. Mary and Maggie each have their own love story to tell in this one book. This is two books in one yet they are connected. The flawless writing style of each book was brilliantly blended for the reader as I got to read the same scene twice, but from the other twin’s perspective. I actually nanny for a family with three year old twin girls. There is something special about twins. They have a bond that can’t be explained and this book captured that.

The first book, “Surprise Bride for the Cowboy” by Lauri Robinson was my ideal romance book. I love when I suffer from a book hangover; the inability to start a new book because I’m still living in the last book’s world. That to me is the sign of a great love story.

The original plots were beautifully written and had me laughing numerous times. Immediately I felt I was hooked and transported into the book’s world and I couldn’t read the pages fast enough.

I fell in love with Steve, the hero and Mary the heroine. Gosh, they were perfect together. I enjoyed the situation in how they met. Mary was a spitfire with determination who does what needs to be done, yet demonstrated compassion and empathy towards others at the appropriate times. I loved how Steve was patient, thankful and forgiving. Of course he was gorgeous, strong and thoughtful. He didn’t possess any unlikable qualities. The perfect book boyfriend. Together their romance was sweet and irresistible. I must add that the description details of Mary’s cooking had my mouth watering. Do NOT read this book while hungry! LOL…

All the characters were well developed in both books and I was able to easily relate to them. The doctor was a plot twist in the end of the first book that just had me grinning like a goober. The author got me on that one. Well done, Lauri Robinson.

The second book was “Taming the Runaway Bride” by Kathryn Albright and was also a lot of fun to read. The entire book was the best reading experience and words won’t do justice to as why I would recommend this book to all my friends and family. I didn’t think the romance story between Steve and Mary in the first book could be matched but not only did the story between Maggie and Jackson in the second book match the first but it surpassed it. I fell in love with Jackson and Maggie and experienced another book hangover!

I could see Jackson and Steve becoming best friends and everyone living happily ever after as one big adventure-filled family. I can only imagine the stories they will have to tell their grandchildren.

I laughed so hard when Maggie entered Jackson’s workshop and, well, you just have to read it. I couldn’t stop re-reading that part because I love laughing so hard that I cry tears of joy and get a cramp in my side.

Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove was excellent! I don’t understand how two authors could write a book sharing some of the characters and yet I didn’t feel like I was reading a book written by two authors. I highly recommend this book for a pleasurable entertainment.

Married for His Convenience by Eleanor Webster


Married for His Convenience by Eleanor Webster
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

A plain countess…

Tainted by illegitimacy, plain Sarah Martin has no illusions of a grand marriage. So when the Earl of Langford makes her a proposal that will take her one step closer to finding her half sister, she can’t refuse!

Sebastian’s dreams of romance died with his late wife’s affair, so now he needs a convenient wife to act as governess for his silent daughter. Yet Sarah continues to surprise and challenge him, and soon Sebastian can’t deny the joy his new bride could bring to his life—and into his bed!

France, in the time when the guillotine ruled…the reality seems a harsh world for the nobility, and for Earls like Sebastien Hastings. He’s caught in a terrible, but secret, predicament.

Sarah Martin’s life is more a matter of dreams and hopes than reality. She dreams of London, of fashion and, as she says herself, she is not ‘of hysterical disposition.’ She acts on what she believes, which can cause her to plop into the most unlikely of places. The earl finds himself telling her that he finds her peculiar…which seems to delight this odd gal! He certainly needs some help…and she certainly needs direction…but marriage?

Married for His Convenience (which seems like it should be entirely predictable, given the title) is entirely unpredictable and a delight to read, besides.

Clever conversations and unpredictable situations make this novel a bit of a standout and fun to read. The characters keep us reading: the earl is unexpectedly compassionate, and Miss Martin’s take on life is quite unexpected in every way. In fact her life and actions are not always entirely believable, but this is a small matter in what is largely a great read.

Descriptions, especially of the English countryside, are just-right; never overdone or intrusive: “His mount stopped at its summit and he found himself looking into a picturesque valley, interrupted by a silver stream threading through its base…” One can almost see the valley.

Intriguing yet heartfelt, Married for His Convenience is also quirky and fun. Do put it right on top of your reading list.

Abbey’s Tale by Katherine McDermott


Abbey’s Tale by Katherine McDermott
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (202 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

An immigrant from Ireland, Jeremy McKetcheon took the place of a wealthy New Englander drafted into the Union Army during the Civil War. Jeremy, terribly scarred by a shell that set fire to his tent, is now a reclusive lighthouse keeper on an island off the coast of Maine. He is haunted by flashbacks of the war, and never expects to find love, understanding, or acceptance.

Beautiful but blind from birth, Abigail Morrison sees the world through the intricate carvings her father brings back from Lighthouse Island when he takes supplies there. She wonders about the artistic carver and why he hides from the world. But when the opportunity arises for her to visit the island, she and her father are tossed overboard in a raging storm. Having seen their distress from the lighthouse, Jeremy attempts a rescue in the frigid waters, and all their lives are changed forever.

Abbey’s Tale was a sweet, endearing love story between Jeremy and Abbey. Jeremy, whose face was scarred while fighting in the Civil War, and Abbey who was born blind, were given a chance at love. While together they learned about inner beauty. They both helped each other to overcome their insecurities. Jeremy felt his face was repulsive and would rather be a recluse. Abbey worried no one would fall in love with a blind woman because they’d think she was a burden. From the moment Jeremy and Abbey met their lives changed for the better. If you add an amazing dog named Bailey, meddling relatives, crashing ships, and a criminal who threatens, robs and lies, then you have a recipe for a 5 star book. Oh! Let’s not forget Jeremy’s Irish accent, it was completely irresistible.

In a world that is full of judgmental people it was nice to read how Jeremy and Abbey showed the community what true love is. The plot thread with the criminal added an interesting twist with a bit of suspense throughout the story. I’d like to point out the plot thread when Abbey’s aunt and uncle meddled in Jeremy and Abbey’s relationship. It was well intended meddling and as a parent I understood, but I understood how Abbey felt as a child. As a wife I understood how Jeremy felt. I was all emotionally mixed up but then realized that is what family is about. It all worked out for the good. It’s a perfect example and lesson of why the young should respect and listen to their elders.

This was a well written story that progressed nicely and held my interest from the beginning to the end. I’m glad I chose Abbey’s Tale to read by the pool on my weekend. It was a wonderful, heartwarming love story. There was so much more to this tale that you just have to read it for yourself.

It definitely was a quality read that I’d recommend to others, especially to a reading club because there are thought provoking discussion questions at the end. I could see this book being turned into a movie in the theaters with a young Mel Gibson playing the hero and Julia Roberts playing Abbey. I’d love to see the lighthouse scenery that Katherine McDermott described come to life. I do think this novel would make a beautiful historical romance movie. Abbey’s Tale is a must read!

I Wish For Your Kiss by Cynthia Moore


I Wish For Your Kiss by Cynthia Moore
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Holiday
Length: Short Story (69 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Justin Wexley, Marquess of Rockton has decided he doesn’t want to be married. He has come to this conclusion after many uncomfortable experiences with young women who were thrust upon him by their domineering mothers as possible candidates for the position of his future wife and Marchioness. He is tired of discussing the weather with these silly, nitwitted girls. He is perfectly happy taking care of his large estate with the knowledge that one day his cousin, a smart and diligent young man, will one day inherit his title and property.

Miss Catherine Simms arrives at her friend’s home in the country to celebrate Christmas with her and her family. She discovers that the Marquess of Rockton has also been included in the invitation. Catherine has heard the rumors about Lord Rockton’s aversion to marriage. She finds him to be intelligent as well as handsome and greatly enjoys the time spent with him. Regrettably, they part under less than ideal circumstances on Christmas day.

Fate works its magic and the two of them meet again two years later. Can Justin and Catherine forget about their less than ideal experiences from the past and begin to make lovely, happy moments together in the present?

Justin Wexley – the Marquess of Rockton – was spending the Christmas holidays with his friend from Eton – Edward Teague, the Earl of Norton. Justin was surprised at how another guest – Miss Catherine Simms, a childhood friend of the Earl’s wife – somehow managed to flummox him. Finding the vibrant and engaging young woman constantly on his mind, Justin is uncertain if his previously held notions on remaining unmarried might have been a little precipitous. Can Justin and Catherine both get their fondest wish for Christmas?

This is a very different and oddly interesting Regency romance story. Far from the usual tales of ballrooms and dalliances, discreet affairs or sneaking around the corridors at a house party, I really enjoyed how both Justin and Catherine came to Edward and Mary’s home to celebrate Christmas quietly with their respective friends. Also refreshingly I loved how neither Edward nor Mary tried to set up Catherine and Justin. In many respects I found this a really different, fresh perspective on a Regency story.

I enjoyed how Catherine was quite knowledgeable on many topics – architecture and farming, as well as general court and ton style gossip – but didn’t appear overly bookish or like a know-it-all. I have to admit that although the author gave an exceptional explanation as to why Catherine was so knowledgeable about farming practices, it still felt a little unrealistic to me. Women – even avid readers who were single children and close to their parents – were kept strictly kept away from the “men’s business” of things like agriculture and farming. Also, far more selfishly, while it was lovely to see Catherine talk so knowingly on such a variety of subjects, the number of pages talking about farming and such did grow old for me quite quickly. I enjoyed seeing Catherine charm Justin in such a novel way, and it absolutely proved how strong their connection was and gave a really good basis for them emotional connection and a strong basis for their chemistry, but it struck me as just a little far-fetched.

I greatly enjoyed all four main characters. I liked how there were layers to them and how all the usual traps of a Regency Romance weren’t really present here. I felt this was a fresh take on a Regency Christmas story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I also enjoyed how the conflict, while not completely original, nevertheless didn’t feel stilted to me and wasn’t the dreaded “we had a miscommunication and parted angry” style of play that’s massively overused to my mind. Perfectly sweet, there are a few chaste kisses, but I found all other romance is kept inside the interactions between the characters and in the chemistry that builds slowly but wonderfully between Catherine and Justin.

A sweet and wonderful Regency Christmas short story, I found this a lovely tale with great characters and tons of plot. A brilliant story.