Thursday, March 10, 2016

Anthology #Review: A Very Scandalous Holiday Featuring Amber Lin, Crista McHugh, Nancy Fraser, and Sophia Garrett @EntangledPub

About the Anthology:

Entangled Publishing presents…

A Very Scandalous Holiday Anthology. 

Four very spirited vignettes of holidays past.

Letters at Christmas by Amber Lin

England, late Regency

After three years at sea, Captain Hale Prescott has the means to marry the love of his life and his best friend’s sister, Sidony Harbeck. However, she might never speak to him again. Despite their whispered adolescent promises, he never wrote her a single letter…at least, none he ever sent.

Eight Tiny Flames by Crista McHugh

1944 Ardennes, WWII

Lt. Ruth Mencher has always secretly admired Capt. Joseph Klein, but it takes the lighting of a Hanukkah candle to uncover the spark of mutual attraction. Each night awakens a new facet of their relationship, but as the Battle of the Bulge begins, the approaching Nazi forces threaten to tear them apart.

Erin’s Gift by Nancy Fraser

Chicago 1920

Widower, Seth Harrison, has no intention of falling in love again but will he be able to resist the sweetness of his son’s nanny, Erin O’Mara—his sister’s best friend?

An Eternity of You by Sophia Garrett

England 1833

The Duke of Sharrington left Rebecca with more than a broken heart six years ago—he left her with a son. His return rekindles their passion, but only a Christmas miracle will convince the town surgeon to believe in his promises of eternity again.

My Reviews of Each Story in the Anthology:

Letters at Christmas by Amber Lin

Letters at Christmas takes place in Lancashire, England in 1815.

Three years ago, Hale Martin promised to write Sidony Harbeck all of the time while he's off making himself worthy of marriage.  Except, Sidony hasn't receive one single communication from him.  Hale made sure to inform Sidony's brother that he will be back in town soon but not a word to Sidony herself. 

Sidony is still in love with him but she wants to punish him for not keeping his promises.  When he waltz's back into Harbeck Hall, he doesn't understand Sidony's cold shoulder.  Hale then makes a wager with her that she'll accept him marriage proposal or he'll leave her alone forever.  Now, the heat is on to convince Sidony that she and Hale were made for one another.

This is a cute Christmas story full of passion and romance.  I enjoy the writing style of Amber Lin; smooth and the dialogue between the characters is well done.  The short length of the story does cause certain areas seem to be rushed.  Also, the bedroom scenes are unusual for a regency romance in that Hale and Sidony get away with a lot of things considering they aren't the only ones in Harbeck Hall.  

The story is full of love, tenderness, and hot and steamy sex.  The characters are likable and they get along quite well, regardless of Hale not keeping his promises.  Of course, there is a misunderstanding and when all is revealed everything about the story falls into place.

Overall, Letters at Christmas is a cute story - but it is for adults only.

Eight Tiny Flames by Crista McHugh

Eight Tiny Flames begins on December 10, 1944 right in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge during WWII.

Lt. Ruth Mencher is a nurse during wartime.  She's open about being Jewish, not caring that the Nazis are breathing at the hospital's doorstep.  She's been eyeing Capt. Joseph Klein from afar but is certain that they have a lot in common. When she offers to light the Hanukkah, the mutual attraction between Ruth and Joseph launches out of the starting gate. 

Crista McHugh wrote an almost perfect romance based around Jewish beliefs.  The only real complaint was the use of Jewish words and traditions without explaining them to those of us who might not know the meanings.  Otherwise, the attraction between Ruth and Joseph seems quite real and believable.  The descriptions of the wartime goings on were vivid and painted a great picture of the hospital and the people. 

That era in time was a sad one but the author wrote a book filled with hope and love.

Erin’s Gift by Nancy Fraser

Erin's Gift takes place in Chicago, IL, 1924 during Prohibition.

Erin O'Mara is a good girl, naive to the ways of the world.  She was an up-and-coming student of music at a prestigious academy when her world came crashing down and she suddenly found herself an orphan.  Forced to abandon her love of music, Erin ends up living in a boarding house and working a retail job.

When Erin's friend Abby decides that Erin needs a night out on the town with their other friend Will, her life takes another horrendous turn.  Busted at an illegal speakeasy, Erin, who doesn't come from money like Abby or Will, finds herself without a job, without a place to live, and with a blemish on her otherwise perfect record.  Fortunately, Abby's big brother Seth swoops in and saves the day.  

Seth is unsure why the quiet and proper Erin has allowed his carefree sister to corrupt her.  After bailing all three friends out of jail, Seth finds that he's pulled to Erin in a way that he swore would never happen.  After the death of his wife was killed in a car accident, he didn't want to go back down the path toward love.....Until he meets Erin.

Erin's Gift is a sweet romance that takes place in a spectacular era.  The author provides such vivid descriptions of the places, people, and clothing that you can't help but feel like your're in Chicago at that time.  I had no trouble visualizing the flapper dresses and headbands that accompanied them.  The descriptions of the city are clear and easy to picture.  

I enjoyed the contrast between Erin and Abby - friends, yet completely opposite personalities.  The slow developing romance between Erin and Seth is believable and although the story is short, nothing is rushed.  The time frame of Erin's Gift makes sure that the characters don't go from "Hi" to "I love you" in a day.

The writing is well done, the characters are likable, and the descriptions of this long ago time period are vivid.  I'm glad I had a chance to finally read Erin's Gift.  Please be advised that this is a sweet story that does contain a sensual scene.  

Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley (a long, long time ago) as part of the A Very Scandalous Holiday anthology.

An Eternity of You by Sophia Garrett

An Eternity of You takes place in Wiltshire, England in 1833.

Andrew Wingrave is now the Duke of Sharrington after the passing of his father.  He fled Sharrington six years ago to preserve Rebecca's reputation.  Rebecca was the daughter of the town doctor and he felt that by staying he would ruin her.  Andrew unknowingly left her pregnant and alone - her reputation destroyed.  

When Andrew comes back to take care of the estate and town he's furious at the state of everything. He's also furious with himself for waiting so long to check on the state of affairs.  When his daughter suffers a broken arm, he sends for the town's doctor and is pleasantly surprised to find out it is Rebecca. 

Rebecca doesn't want anything to do with Andrew.  He fled from the town, from her, and from his responsibilities.  When a dream is revealed as reality, the animosity in Rebecca deflates and she begins to forgive Andrew.  

An Eternity of You takes place in a time when pregnancy without marriage was looked at unfavorably.  Rebecca had to suffer the gossip and ruination of her reputation alone.  She is a strong character that was able to take over her father's practice after his death, but the town is a long way from being prosperous.  Andrew's return is the last missing piece of the puzzle to Rebecca's heart and to the rebuilding and strengthening of the town.

I enjoyed the story of Rebecca and Andrew.  The chemistry between them is undeniable.  Their passion is still strong even after 6 years apart.  I was enthralled by the story as soon as I began reading it and was engaged throughout. 

Review copy of A Very Scandalous Holiday is courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley (a long, long time ago), at no cost, in exchange for an honest review.

My Overall Rating for the Anthology:

 I highly recommend this entire anthology for lovers of historical romances with holiday themes.

No comments: