Published by Avon on September 24, 2019
Genres: Christmas, Historical Romance
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the library
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble
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Also by this author: The Rogue Not Taken, The Day of the Duchess, When a Scot Ties the Knot, The Duchess Deal, Once Upon a Winter's Eve, His Bride for the Taking
Christmas magic is in the air... From the ballrooms of London, to abandoned Scottish castles, to the snowy streets of Gilded Age New York, four bestselling authors whip up some unforgettable romance...with a little help from some enchanted shortbread.
"Meet Me in Mayfair" by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless--and unexpectedly handsome--Thorndale himself. Now the duke's holding her future in his hands...and he's not letting go.
"The Duke of Christmas Present" by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm--the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can't resist the woman he never stopped loving...or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay...but if ever there were a time for miracles, it's Christmas...
"Heiress Alone" by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister's family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss ... until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.
"Christmas in Central Park" by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker's weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column's author, can't even boil water. When the paper's owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing--especially when Duke's attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?
The first two stories in How the Dukes Stole Christmas, by Tessa Dare and Sarah MacLean, are worth the entire price of admission all by themselves. I also enjoyed Joanna Shupe’s tale, but was less fond of Sophie Jordan’s offering.
Tessa Dare’s charming story, about a young lady trying to save her family home and the not-so-hardhearted Duke she tries to persuade to relent, kicks off the anthology. It’s warm and sparkly and perfect for Christmas. I loved Louisa and quickly warmed to James.
My favorite story was MacLean’s second-chance, Christmas Carol–inspired romance, which perfectly captures the anguish of separation and love gone wrong. The nods to A Christmas Carol are obvious: the hero’s given name is Eben; his entire focus is on money and responsibility. His motivation isn’t as self-centered as Scrooge’s, however; he was initially trying to save the ducal estate and all the tenants and employees dependent upon it. Jack — Lady Jacqueline — is a delightful heroine, strong, compassionate, quick-witted, and determined. Giving their relationship a past also eliminates the usual short-story problem of insufficient time to develop the relationship.
Sophie Jordan’s story opens with a Home Alone vibe as the heroine wakes to discover she has been left behind in her family’s rush to beat a snowstorm. The plot relies heavily on physical attraction and the overused “urgent-need-for-shared-body-heat” trope. (Yes, I know it’s a traditional and effective way to treat hypothermia. But if you’re both a duke and a laird, it’s not necessary to compromise a young woman by warming her yourself when you have a whole castle full of servants, half of them female, who could be called upon instead.) While I liked Annis and grew to like Sinclair, I would have preferred if it they had spent more talking and getting to know one another, and less time in bed — not because the scenes were badly written, but because the balance was way off.
Joanna Shupe’s story about a newspaper magnate and a working-class journalist writing a household advice column as “Mrs. Walker” is charming, and Rose is a very engaging heroine. But the relationship moves too quickly (always a problem with romance short stories, as I mentioned above), and the hero’s turnaround comes across as too sudden and too facile.
Those caveats aside, How the Dukes Stole Christmas is a worthy addition to any Christmas-loving historical romance fan’s bookshelf.
Read for the FFS, I Suffer from FOMO! RAT, as part of COYER with Friends 2019-2020. Because it’s part of the readathon — books I meant to read in 2019 — it qualifies even though it was a library book. Also read for the 2019 Library Love Challenge.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER with Friends (Winter 2019-2020)
- Library Love Challenge 2019
Nicole @ BookWyrmKnits
I’m glad you enjoyed the collection overall, though I completely know what you mean about short stories not giving the romance proper time to get set up. That’s honestly why I don’t usually read romance shorts, unless it’s about a couple that have already been established.
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