With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

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With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins.

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever–on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can’t let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

I’ve never read Manda Collins before. In all honesty, I don’t usually read historical romance either. Once in awhile I will, but it’s typically an author I’m familiar with and know that I already enjoy their writing. This book is opening my eyes to new horizons though.

This book is the definition of what a holiday romance should be. There’s love, second chances, snow, a sleigh ride, some family drama, Christmas. I have enjoyed other holiday books but a lot have felt forced or like it didn’t capture the magic of the season. This book captured that magic for me.

Merry’s friend, Charlotte, delivers a baby but dies after from complications. Merry’s final promise to her friend is to find the father of the baby and ensure she has a family to care for her. Unfortunately for Merry, she needs help from the very man she once was betrothed to, Alex Ponsonby.

A few of the things I really enjoyed about this book were both Merry and Alex’s characters. Even though they are both proper and appropriate to the time period, both are more than willing to stand up for what is right. Merry is nervous to have to turn to Alex for help, but she is selfless and does the right thing for the baby. Alex, who is still reeling from the hurt of Merry leaving him, puts aside his own resentment and vows to help Merry and the baby.

Another aspect I loved about this story is that while it’s definitely historical, there are moments of humor and a few twists. One twist is Alex’s Grandmother. She is a total witch. Then there is a slight touch of mystery with one of the holiday guests. It just the right amount of extra little elements to keep you interested but it didn’t overpower the actual fact that this is a holiday romance.

Historical Romance fans: this is the holiday romance for you. To be honest, I feel like the majority of readers could enjoy this book. It’s not overly heavy, the magic of Christmas remains throughout the story, and the great romance between Alex and Merry is the icing on the cake.

 

 

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Christmas on Pointe by Samantha Chase

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Christmas on Pointe by Samantha Chase

It’s Christmastime again in Silver Bell Falls and the whole town is getting in the spirit to help ballet teacher Abby Foster achieve her dream of opening her own dance studio!

Dancing has been Abby’s dream for her entire life – but more than anything, she wanted that dream in her beloved hometown of Silver Bell Falls. Teaching ballet to children at the community center is fine, but she’ hoping for so much more – her own studio, her own business…not to mention maybe meeting Mr. Right and having a family of her own. For almost a year, she’s been picturing Dean Hayes in that role and if he wasn’t such a darn recluse, maybe she’d have a chance.

Solitude and Dean Hayes have always gone hand-in-hand. It wasn’t by choice, but because of circumstances beyond his control. And once again, things are out of his control when he finds himself being named permanent guardian for his five year old niece just in time for the holidays. Dean had always imagined that he’d have a family of his own someday, just not quite like this. With the support of his hometown friends, he knows he’s going to be okay. But it’s Abby’s help with his niece that’s making the biggest difference.

This isn’t the Christmas either of them has planned, but maybe it’s the chance for the most perfect one yet!

I wish Silver Bell Falls was a real place. After reading this book, I have fully embraced the idea of moving there and living with these happy and kind people. Why isn’t it a real place?

This book starts out with a sort of tragic beginning. Dean, our hero, has learned that his sister has passed away and now he will be the guardian of her daughter, Maya. Dean is quite solitary and is completely overwhelmed by this huge change in his life. But the friends he has in Silver Bell Falls won’t let him down, and immediately swoop in to help. That includes Abby.

Abby is one of my favorite characters. I feel like I say that a lot, but I just really loved her. One thing I loved about how her character is written is that while, as a ballet dancer, she is graceful and poised, she’s the same way in her everyday life. Some of Abby and Maya’s interactions are so sweet, but yet effortless.

One thing I really liked about Dean’s character is that he’s a man, and makes some of the mistakes that men make, but yet he was still very different from other characters I’ve read. Dean really had no disillusions about who he was, or what he wanted. As he and Abby become more serious, Dean is actually the one who is more forthcoming about what he wants and how he feels. I always find that to be a refreshing change.

If you’re looking for a fantastic holiday read, this would be it! The people we meet in Silver Bell Falls are kind and compassionate and Abby and Dean bring the holidays to life with their love story.

Mistletoe Between Friends/The Snowflake Inn by Samantha Chase

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Mistletoe Between Friends/The Snowflake Inn by Samantha Chase

Two gorgeous stories about the most romantic time of the year…

The holidays don’t have to be fraught with tension, as lifelong friends Lily Cavanaugh and Cameron Greene discover in Mistletoe Between Friends when they cook up a scheme to fool their family and friends.

The Snowflake Inn shows rivals Grace Brodie and Riley Walsh that Christmas is a time when dreams come true-even if you’ve given up on those dreams long ago.

I’m sure I’ve said this before I really love Halloween and Christmas stories. They always bring me great enjoyment and help me get more into the season. Samantha Chase doesn’t disappoint with this dual holiday story.

The first story, “Mistletoe Between Friends” lets us meet Lily and Cameron, who have been best friends for years. One of my favorite things about Samantha Chase is that she can keep her own formula that I always end up loving, but yet still change up the approach of the story. In this story, Lily and Cameron have both harbored feelings for each other, but neither has acted on it. I appreciated that approach, as opposed to the concept that one or the other just finally grew up and now the other person is really seeing them as attractive.

The second story follows Grace and Riley in “The Snowflake Inn”. Riley’s mom owns the Snowflake Inn and Grace works there. Riley has always had issues with the quaint bed & breakfast, especially since he grew up there and views it very differently than Grace does.

One thing I really admired about this story was that Riley has some different viewpoints on things, but he’s willing to move past them, and when he does, he just does it. He doesn’t boast about it. He handles it. I loved that he acted as a grown man. He didn’t just play games with Grace. And I really appreciated that even as he sees Grace pulling away, he steps up to the plate.

I also admired that we see that Grace has some past family trauma and Riley doesn’t just rush in with a band-aid for her. There are aspects that Riley simply can never understand and I appreciated that Samantha Chase wrote their story that way.

I loved this dual holiday book. In all fairness, I love pretty much anything that Samantha Chase writes, but I think she captures the magic of Christmas and love so elegantly in both stories.

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

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Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this perfectly festive fairy tale of New York! 

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she’s given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner. 

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn’t appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

Its September so its time to get out the Halloween and Christmas decorations! And that includes all our holiday reads too! I really enjoy Sarah Morgan’s work so to see her have a Christmas romance coming out excited me a lot.

I really admired how Sarah Morgan set this book up. Both Eva and Lucas are dealing with loss, but the way its woven into their stories was done in just a really classy way. I know that sounds somewhat cheesy or odd, but let me explain further.

Our story starts with Eva getting ready to decorate Lucas’ apartment for Christmas. The company she works for, and is partners in, is basically a party planning company, but they also assist with smaller projects as well. Lucas has lied to his family and claimed to be writing in Vermont, but he’s not. He’s just hiding in his 5th Avenue penthouse. So you can imagine the first meeting for these two is quite a shock, considering that neither one knows the other should be there.

Eva’s characters is one that I truly felt like we should all strive to be. As I was reading, I remember thinking, “I wish the world was full of more people like Eva”. She was such an optimist, and even in her own sadness over losing her Gran, she saw the good in others. She believed in love, but that doesn’t mean she was a pushover either. But she was kind to others, saw the good in people, and truly enjoyed seeing people happy.

Lucas, on the other hand, is sort of wallowing in his misery. He’s been very successful at writing, but is presently trying to write but is having writer’s block. Its also the anniversary of his wife’s death. So he is not pleased to see Eva decorating his apartment and hanging around, but she is determined to finish the job that his grandmother hired her to do. But as Lucas talks to her, he starts to find his inspiration again. As the two continue to eat dinner together, he becomes more and more inspired in regards to his writing.

These two don’t have some sort of instalove, or even instant chemistry. Which I actually appreciated. Yet, as they spend more time together and really see each other, then the chemistry starts to really come alive. I want to clarify; they initially are able to see the other as attractive but its not like they see each other and the world stops or anything like that. Only as they get to know each other are they able to appreciate one another and you can see the sexual tension build and become more.

Initially, I said I admired how Sarah Morgan wove the loss that both Eva and Lucas had to deal with but she did it in a classy way. I mean this from a standpoint that while we hear about their loss and see both of them working through it, it never overtook the story.

I’m no expert, but I’ve read many books and I think its a fine line for a backstory to not overtake the actual present story that the characters are living in. For anyone who has dealt with loss, the holidays are always challenging. Especially in terms of someone you were exceptionally close to. It can feel like everything reminds you of that person and it can make even the simplest tasks heartbreaking.

Another aspect I respected is that as we see Eva and Lucas progress through the story, their own love story shows values that I usually see associated with Christmas. Kindness, forgiveness, understanding, charity, blessings. I think with the bustle of everyday life, we sometimes forget these things but then as the holidays come around, these themes come back in. I loved seeing the author incorporate those themes into Eva and Lucas’ own love story.

This book comes out November 29th, 2016 and I would absolutely recommend getting it. Eva and Lucas had such a great love story, and it encompassed everything that I could have wished for in any love story, much less a Christmas love story.