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

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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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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving...

THE BEST MAN

When Faith Holland was abandoned at the altar three years ago, she left her hometown for San Francisco to regroup; coming home to Manningsport, she’ll have to confront her past and Levi Cooper, the disturbingly handsome chief of police she blames for ruining her life.

On the day her fiance came out and left her at the altar, Faith escaped to the West Coast, where she’s had a thriving professional life and a comical romantic life. Summoned home for a few months to work the harvest at her family’s winery and help with some crisis management, Faith realizes that some things in her small town will never change—for the good or the bad—but she knows the time has come to establish a new reality with her ex, her family and maybe even Levi Cooper, the best man who forced Jeremy to be honest with her and himself on their wedding day. It’s so much easier to blame and despise him; if she lets down her guard, she might have to deal with their short but profound shared past and her own guilt and secrets from a long-ago tragedy that has haunted her for most of her life. Higgins’ newest heart-tugging romantic comedy juggles a spectrum of emotionally powerful elements, including the death of a mother, the abandonment of a father and a sigh-worthy high school romance gone awry. With her typical engaging voice, compelling storytelling and amusing dialogue, Higgins keeps the audience flipping through pages as quickly as possible, but it is her spot-on ability to make her characters at once funny, authentic and vulnerable—vulnerable to the point of breaking, so they can heal, stronger and better and more able to love—that is her true genius and guarantees most romance fans will both laugh out loud and get teary, sometimes at the same time. Another sweet, touching must-read for Higgins fans and anyone who enjoys a perfect combination of humor and romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-373-77792-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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