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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A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

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THE HATING GAME

Lucy Hutton absolutely detests her office mate Joshua Templeman. He’s a pompous, self-important, obnoxious ass. But, she’s got to admit, he is pretty cute.

From the moment they meet, a result of the unwelcome corporate merger between their employers, Lucy and Joshua are at odds. Joshua is assistant to the CEO of what was once Bexley Publishing, a numbers-crunching, foosball-playing frat house–cum-business. Lucy is assistant to the CEO of the now-defunct Gamin Publishing, a Birkenstock-clad, free-flowing commune of literary purists. When the two companies begrudgingly become one, so does the executive suite. Thus begins this hate-at-first-sight romantic comedy. Lucy and Joshua’s daily interactions include the staring game, the mirror game, and the HR game, each played with the intensity of the Hunger Games. Their mutual antipathy grows when a new executive position opens at Bexley-Gamin Publishing and both Lucy's and Joshua’s bosses think their protégés would be the perfect choice. Here the high-stakes game begins. After yet another 60-hour work week, which now includes prepping for upcoming interviews, Lucy logs off of her computer (Password: IHATEJOSHUA4EV@) to head home, but not before her rival hops into the elevator with her. When Joshua hits the emergency button and stops the ride, Lucy is certain her nemesis is going to kill her. Instead, he plants a (completely consensual) kiss on her that awakens something she hadn’t known existed. Debut novelist Thorne delivers something nearly impossible: an entirely predictable plot that is also completely fresh, original, and utterly charming. From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but what happens in between is magic. From Lucy’s hilarious inner dialogue to Joshua’s sharp retorts, the chemistry between them is irresistibly adorable—and smokin’ hot.

A breezy tale perfect for a day at the beach, this one’s a real winner.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-243959-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

THE WINTER GUEST

An 18-year-old Polish girl falls in love, swoons over a first kiss, dreams of marriage—and, oh yes, we are in the middle of the Holocaust.

Jenoff (The Ambassador’s Daughter, 2013, etc.) weaves a tale of fevered teenage love in a time of horrors in the early 1940s, as the Nazis invade Poland and herd Jews into ghettos and concentration camps. A prologue set in 2013, narrated by a resident of the Westchester Senior Center, provides an intriguing setup. A woman and a policeman visit the resident and ask if she came from a small Polish village. Their purpose is unclear until they mention bones recently found there: “And we think you might know something about them.” The book proceeds in the third person, told from the points of view mostly of teenage Helena, who comes upon an injured young Jewish-American soldier, and sometimes of her twin, Ruth, who is not as adventurous as Helena but is very competitive with her. Their father is dead, their mother is dying in a hospital, and they are raising their three younger siblings amid danger and hardship. The romance between Helena and Sam, the soldier, is often conveyed in overheated language that doesn’t sit well with the era’s tragic events: “There had been an intensity to his embrace that said he was barely able to contain himself, that he also wanted more.” Jenoff, clearly on the side of tolerance, slips in a simplified historical framework for the uninformed. But she also feeds stereotypes, having Helena note that Sam has “a slight arch to his nose” and a dark complexion that “would make him suspect as a Jew immediately.” Clichés also pop up during the increasingly complex plot: “But even if they stood in place, the world around them would not.”

Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1596-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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