The first two novellas, brimming with the magic of holiday romance, are worth the price of the book.

HOW THE DUKES STOLE CHRISTMAS

Four Christmas-themed novellas by leading historical romance writers that pay homage to beloved holiday films.

In the opening novella, Meet Me in Mayfair by Dare (The Wallflower Wager, 2019, etc.), James, the new Duke of Thorndale, demands payment of Louisa Ward’s father’s debt, which will render the family homeless. Louisa attends a holiday ball hoping to entice a wealthy suitor but attracts the attention of the duke himself, who finds her indifference to him appealing. They have a series of wintry adventures all over London, in the course of which she teaches him the importance of home. An homage to Meet Me in St. Louis, Dare’s irreverent story brings all of the optimism, romance, and wit of that beloved film to a Regency setting. MacLean’s (Brazen and the Beast, 2019, etc.) The Duke of Christmas Present is a second-chance romance wrapped in a Scrooge story. Eben (get it?), Duke of Allryd, is all work and no play. On Christmas Eve, having sent the servants away, he engages in his ritual of getting drunk and trying to forget the night 12 years ago when the love of his life, Lady Jaqueline “Jack” Mosby, left him. Having inherited a nearly bankrupt ducal estate, Eben kept Jack waiting too long for marriage while he rebuilt the family’s wealth. When Jack returns from a decade of world traveling, their intense longing draws them together while past hurts linger. An angst-y winner. In Jordan’s (The Duke’s Stolen Bride, 2019, etc.) Heiress Alone, Annis Ballister is stranded in the Scottish Highlands when her big, boisterous family returns to London without her. The surly, hermitlike Duke of Calder shelters Annis in his castle against brigands during a snowstorm. Soon, the duke is reconsidering his confirmed bachelorhood while Annis' ambition to become a nun melts in the heat of Calder’s rough embrace. Sexy, with a classic gruff Scottish hero who is a bit too pushy. Shupe's (The Rogue of Fifth Avenue, 2019, etc.) Christmas in Central Park finds popular columnist Rose Walker in a bind when her newspaper’s owner, Duke Havermeyer III, asks her to prepare a holiday dinner for the board of directors. Although she poses in print as a Gilded Age Martha Stewart, Rose is single, of modest means, and domestically uninclined. The romance is rushed, but the story is amusing and sweet.

The first two novellas, brimming with the magic of holiday romance, are worth the price of the book.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-296241-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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