Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Review: It Happened One Christmas, by Carla Kelly, Georgie Lee, and Ann Lethbridge

It Happened One Christmas
Carla Kelly, Georgie Lee, Ann Lethbridge
Mass Market Paperback, 
288 pages
Harlequin, October 20, 2015
Anthologies, Christmas Romance, Historical Romance, Holiday Romance
Source: Amazon

Synopsis: Three heartwarming Regency Tales Of Christmases gone by!

"Christmas Eve Proposal", by Carla Kelly

Christmas gets more interesting when sailing master Ben Muir takes lodgings with Mandy Mathison! Because when her scandalous past is revealed, only he can save her future…

"The Viscount's Christmas Kiss", by Georgie Lee

Lily Rutherford is shocked to learn the man who snubbed her years before will be staying for Christmas. Can she forgive the viscount in time for a stolen kiss under the mistletoe?

"Wallfower, Widow…Wife!", by Ann Lethbridge

Penniless widow Cassandra Norton faces Christmas on the run with her two stepdaughters, until Adam Royston sweeps her off her feet and into his country estate!

The fact that these are Regency Romance novellas drew me in right away, as this is my favorite type of Christmas romance! However, I know from previous experience that the stories collected in anthologies are not always of the same quality. So I did hesitate, at first. But then, the beautiful cover finally won me over, and I plunged in.

Well, as anthologies go, this one was actually really good! The three stories -- and especially the first one, "Christmas Eve Proposal" -- were imbued with the warmth and tenderness of the season. The characters in all three were also very well drawn, and each author was equally skilled at bringing the time period to life. 

Kelly's characters and plot depict a poignant situation: the female protagonist,  having been rejected by her wealthy, cruel father, has been brought up by an aunt who dearly loves her. When she meets the handsome sailor who is tutoring the spoiled son of a ruthlessly demanding aristocrat, she falls in love at first sight. He does, as well. 

What is different about this story, and also what made me love it, is that it's about ordinary working people, not the members of the landed gentry, or the aristocracy. Ben Muir, sailing master, and Mandy Mathison, a server at an inn located at the port where  Muir's ship docks, are good, decent people who live their lives peacefully, and find themselves dealing with the injustice of the wealthy. They end up triumphing in the end, however, just in time for Christmas!

The second story, "The Viscount's Christmas Kiss", was about the power of forgiveness and second chances. It tells the tale of how one of the romantic protagonists has wronged the other, and seeks to be forgiven. Lily Rutherford has never forgotten how Gregor St. James, a Viscount, snubbed her years ago, at a dance, and the resulting consequences: her rejection by the ton. (For those not familiar with this term, it refers to the fashionable high society of the British Regency period.)

This Christmas season, she must do her best to endure the Viscount's presence at her family's estate. Understandably, she has no desire to be anywhere near him. Interestingly, however, she does find herself feeling attracted to him......and he to her. 

What makes this story even more interesting is how the author delves into the minds and emotions of these two characters. The Viscount acted the way he did out of cowardice, and is sincerely remorseful. The reader gets to see the inner circumstances that led to his hurting Lily, and just how wounded she felt. She makes him all too aware of how deeply his actions hurt her, too.

The joy and warmth of Lily's boisterous family, along with the Christmas spirit, serve to allow these two to work together to patch up their old quarrel, and move into a future of love and happiness. How the author takes them there makes for some very sweet, tender reading. 

An added bonus that made me like this story even more is that Lily was an artist, and there are some comical scenes involving one of the family dogs and Lily's paintbrush....

Sparks fly in the third and last story, "Wallflower, Widow.....Wife!" The male protagonist, Adam Royston, is a rather bored, aristocratic landlord who is tying up loose ends at one of his properties before leaving for Christmas revels at the family estate. His plans change when he meets a very charming young widow, Cassandra Norton, whose love for her two stepdaughters is touching and beautiful. I liked this character immensely, and that was due mostly to her devotion to, and care for, these little girls who weren't even her own daughters.

This story had some passion in it, which was not present in the other two. I loved it!! How the two protagonists met and fell in love was just beautiful and wonderful and just.....PERFECT for the Christmas season! There was snow all around, and a hunt for the right Christmas tree, as well as love and tenderness. And then there were the two girls, who were great characters in their own right. As devoted to their stepmother as she is to them, they warmed up to Adam right away, and knew, as children usually do, that the two adults were falling for each other.  

In short, this collection hits all the right holiday notes, being heartwarming enough to please any Christmas romance fan! It's light, enjoyable holiday reading, on the one hand, while on the other, it presents and deals with some very serious themes totally fitting for this, the most wonderful time of the year! 

These stories are to be enjoyed by the warmth of a good fire, with a cup of hot chocolate in one hand, while it snows softly outside, and the lights glint on the Christmas tree..... Or, in a more southern setting, they can be enjoyed in an air-conditioned living room, with a tall glass of sweet lemonade, while the heat beats down outside! Whichever scenario fits your situation, you will be transported to Regency England, and make merry in great, Regency period style! Kudos to all three of these writers!


Award-winning author Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. Carla is best known for her Regency Romances, those novels of manner and wit, made popular more than two centuries ago by Jane Austen. Carla has made certain types of Regencies her own, particularly novels and stories about people who are not lords and ladies. Many of them are hard-working and hard-fighting members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in the Channel Fleet, and the British Army on the Spanish Peninsula.
Carla’s interested in the Regency Era is mainly fueled by her scholarly interest in the Napoleonic Wars on land and sea. She credits her own upbringing with some of this interest. As the daughter of an officer in the U.S. Navy, she crossed the 180th Meridian as a child, and has the certificates to prove that she is a member in good standing of The Domain of the Golden Dragon, since the age of 13 months.

Award-winning author Georgie Lee was born and raised in San Diego, where she also attended college, majoring in television and film production. She began her professional writing career at a local cable TV station writing marketing videos, promotional spots and public service announcements, some of which still haunt the airwaves.

 A lifelong history buff, award winning author Georgie Lee hasn’t given up hope that she will one day inherit a title and a manor house. Until then, she fulfills her dreams of lords, ladies and a season in London through her stories. When not writing, she can be found reading non-fiction history or watching any movie with a costume and an accent. 

An army brat born in England and now living in Canada, Ann grew up loving history, but majored in business, with history on the side. She has a husband and two lovely daughters and a Maltese Terrier called "Teaser", who likes to sit on a chair beside the computer while she works.

Her love of the past and the stories in her imagination led her to write her first novel in 2000, a never-see-the-light-of-day-effort, and after having her first book published in 2006, she knew she'd found her niche.

She loves the Georgian era, and within that, the period known as the long Regency. She also adores happy endings.

Can't Wait Wednesday No. 51: Nightblood, by Elly Blake

Welcome to "Can't Wait Wednesday"!
This is a weekly event hosted by
Tressa @ Wishful Endings, and inspired by "Waiting On Wednesday", which used to be hosted by
 Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

For more information, please click HERE.

As in the previous meme, this one showcases future releases  we book  bloggers 
are eagerly anticipating!!
There's also a Linky widget, so participating blogs can link up!

Here's my choice for this week!

(Frostblood Saga, Book 3)
Elly Blake
Hardcover, 400 pages
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
     June 5, 2018       
Young Adult Fiction 

 Ruby's world has changed more than she ever could have imagined. She's in love with a powerful Frost King. She's the heir to the Fire Throne. And she may be a Nightblood--the spawn of a vengeful deity hellbent on releasing his wraithlike Minax from their prison. Once freed, these beasts will roam the earth, devouring every last person until he or she is nothing but an empty husk. But Ruby is able to control the Minax to a degree, and now she, her beloved Arcus, and her friend Kai must find a way to bring Frostbloods and Firebloods--sworn enemies--together to make a stand against a foe more deadly than any they've faced.

In this heart-pounding finale of Elly Blake's gorgeously written and action-packed Frostblood Saga, the fate of Frostbloods, Firebloods, and all of humanity is at stake.

Why I can't wait for this one!

I know I'm behind on this series....yes, I have seen the books on several blogs, as well as at good ol'
 Barnes & Noble... I have the first two books on my Goodreads shelves, and now I'm adding this one! I do want to read them all, but it's the same thing all the time: there are SO MANY great books I want to read!! Well, now I need to go back and start this series from Book 1. Maybe this year? Sigh.....
And oh, did I mention that GORGEOUS cover?

These are the two previous books
 in this GREAT series!!
Click on the covers 
for the Goodreads pages!

Elly Blake loves fairy tales, old houses, and owls. After earning a BA in English literature, she held a series of seemingly random jobs, including project manager, customs clerk, graphic designer, reporter for a local business magazine, and library assistant. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and a Siberian Husky mix who definitely shows Frostblood tendencies.

What do you think of my
choice this week? 
Please leave a comment and
let me know!


Monday, January 29, 2018

Mini-Review/Excerpt/Giveaway!! The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins, by Aletta Thorne

Welcome to the blog tour for
The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins,
sponsored by
Bewitching Book Tours!!

For my stop, I'm featuring a 
mini-review with excerpt.
There's also tour-wide giveaway!!

The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins
Aletta Thorne
Digital Edition, 158 pages
Evernight Publishing
October 26, 2017
Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, 
Paranormal Romance, 
Holiday Romance

Halloween, 1982. MTV is new, poodle perms are the rage, and life just might be getting better for Alma Kobel. Her ugly divorce is final at last. Her new job as chef at Bright Day School’s gorgeous old estate is actually fun. But the place is haunted—and so is Alma’s apartment.

Bartholomew Addison Jenkins’ ghost has been invisibly watching Alma for months. When he materializes one night, Alma discovers Bart—as he likes to be called—has talents she couldn’t have imagined … and a horrifying past. Can you have a one-nighter with a ghost? And what happens if you decide one night is all you want—and end up ghosting him? Some spirits don’t like taking “no” for an answer.

This mini-review is of the excerpts below, and 
not of the entire book.

I decided to include two excerpts from this book, instead of one, as I really enjoyed reading both, and couldn't pick one over the other. Both of them are enchanting, and get the reader immersed in the story right away!
I love the interactions between Bart, as he likes to be called, and Alma. (Her first name is highly significant, by the way, as "alma" is the Spanish word for "soul".) They are obviously both wonderful people. It just so happens that one of them passed into the next world in 1784..... I love their bantering and humor, and Bart is endearingly sweet, as well as sexy. He comes across as total gentleman, as well. As for Alma, she's obviously taking it in stride that she's being visited by a very attractive ghost who is definitely interested in her. She feels as attracted to him as he does to her. Their encounters are not scary at all, but instead, sweetly romantic.
I know I will enjoy reading this novella! 

Excerpt 1

A ghost. Of course he was a ghost—even though before that night, she’d never felt anything spooky at her place in the almost-year she’d lived in it. Alma still had the plate with the omelet on it in one hand. Ghosts didn’t eat, did they? She held it out to him anyway.
“Go ahead and have your supper,” he said. “I don’t need food. I take it you understand why.”
Alma nodded, not sure what to say. For a ghost, the man looked rather....dashing, she decided was the word. He must have been muscular in life. There were nicely rounded biceps under that loose shirt, and they showed when he moved his arms. His knee knickers fit tightly over a flat belly, and his stockings make his calves look like they were made out of smooth, white marble. His eyes were a startling, luminous golden brown.
“Sadly, we are still perfectly able to smell a good meal cooking.”
“We?” Alma said.
The man nodded. “Your dead,” he said, solemnly.
“My dead?” she said.
“Well, you live here, don’t you? So, I’m your dead, now.” He stopped looking so serious then and as if guys in knee knickers and white stockings were born doing it, he opened her refrigerator and pulled out the bottle of Chablis. “Here, give me your glass,” he said, and topped it off. The glow from the refrigerator’s light made him even more luminous—and just the slightest bit translucent.
“Thanks,” she said, although it was her wine. She put her plate and glass down on a little enamel-topped kitchen table she’d bought at a local church thrift shop and pulled out one of the table’s funky old chairs for herself.
“Fork? Napkin?” he said, pulling those things out of the drawers next to Alma’s stove. Alma used cloth napkins from the restaurant supplier—big white ones.
“You know where my things are,” she said, spreading the napkin across her lap.
“That shouldn’t surprise you,” he said. “Eat your omelet while it’s hot. Go ahead.”
Alma took a bit. "Um, the pepper grinder on the stove?" she said. "Could you, please?"
“My lady.” He smiled and handed it to her with a little bow.
 She ground a little pepper over her plate and took another bite and sipped her wine. He sat down across from her, put his elbows on the table, and his chin in his hands.
“I enjoy watching you eat.”
“Okay, I guess. It’s not … weird?”
 A ghost is watching me eat an omelet. “What’s your name?”
“Bartholomew Addison Jenkins,” he said. “These days, I just use Bart.”
“These days. But you’ve been here since you…”
“Since 1784,” he said.
“Which was when you died, I guess.”
“I must tell you, dear lady, saying that to one of us is considered rude. In better ghostly circles, that is. Some of us are not aware we are dead. Some of us do not like to be reminded of it.”


Excerpt 2

When she opened the door to her apartment, her stomach sank. A dim square of light flickered in the hall outside her bedroom door. Yikes! Was I actually dumb enough to have left candles burning? Alma was scolding herself for having been dangerously spacey when she realized that the light from her room did not come from any sort of flame.
It came from Bart. He was standing beside her bed in his high-collared, loose-fitting shirt and his knee britches. And that was … not really strange at all. Just the friendly, resident ghost. No danger of burning down the house. A relief—and Alma had to be honest with herself—a pleasant surprise.
“Good evening, m’lady,” he said.
Alma opened her mouth to say hello back -- and burped, instead. A Garbage Pie burp was an impressive burp. "Oh, wow. Excuse me."
Bart chuckled as she dropped her purse in the chair next to her dresser.
“Rich dinner?”
“A Garbage Pie,” she said. “It sounds awful, but it’s—you know what pizza pie is, right?”
“The previous residents of this apartment ate little else. I know well what Garbage Pies are,” he said. “I do not fear them.”
Then he stepped in front of Alma and slipped his arms around her, something else that should have been shocking but wasn’t. Just the resident ghost, after all. The resident ghost who can really kiss. Bart’s touch tingled with cold fire.
“Well, hello,” Alma said.
“I missed you,” said Bart, then he put his mouth over hers and kissed her. She felt something feathery—his chest touching hers--and she nearly dissolved into it. His tongue was cool in her mouth, and full of sparks. He tasted almost sweet.

Aletta Thorne believes in ghosts.  In her non-writing life, she is a choral singer, a poet, a sometimes DJ, and a writer about things non-supernatural.  But she’s happiest in front of a glowing screen, giving voice to whoever it is that got her two cats all riled up at three AM.  Yes, her house is the oldest one on her street.  And of course, it’s quite seriously haunted (scared the ghost investigator who came to check it out).  She is named after a little girl in her family who died in the late nineteenth century, at the age of two. The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins is her first romance.

Blog/Aletta Thorne Facebook
Aletta's Ghosts Facebook

To access the complete tour schedule, just click on the button below!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 240: The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

*Late Edition*
This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!
This week, though, things will
 be a bit different!

This week, I'm featuring two
different covers for the
same book!

The Wise Man's Fear
(The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2)
Patrick Rothfuss
Trade Paperback, 1008 pages
(Orion Publishing Co., Imprint)
June 3, 2012
Epic Fantasy

My Thoughts About This Cover

Ah, those incredibly GORGEOUS Gollancz coverS!! They hook me every single time! It's just that they're SO much better than the U.S. covers! I regret having to say this, but it's true..... I consider them much more aesthetically pleasing.

My approach this week will be a little different. I'm going to ask some questions of you, my readers, instead of just offering up my own, detailed opinions of why I love a particular cover. Obviously, I prefer the cover above. But people have different tastes. So, take a look at the cover below. And now we're going to compare the two!  

The Wise Man's Fear
(Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2)
Patrick Rothfuss
Mass Market Paperback, 1107 pages
April 2, 2013
Epic Fantasy

Well, in my honest opinion, as you guys already know, I MUCH prefer the first cover. But how about you? I want to know which cover YOU prefer, or whether you like them both equally. So here are some questions for you to answer in the comments!

1.) What's your first impression of each cover?

2.) Which of the two covers make you want to get this book and DEVOUR it?

3.) What do you like the most about the cover you picked?

4.) Do you like both covers? If you do, please explain what you like about each.

5.) The first cover uses nature to express the fear of the character pictured on the cover. Nature seems to be closing in on him. The second cover uses a very gloomy, depressing image of a stone courtyard flanked by two buildings, with a lone figure in the distance. Which of these covers do you think expresses the character's fear most effectively, and why?

You can answer just one of these questions, or all of them. It's up to you! I'd also like to know if you like my new approach to this meme. I'm always giving my own take on the covers I feature, so this time, I thought I'd turn it over to you guys!

Hope you all have some fun with this!l And if you'd like to link up to future posts, let me know as well, so we can have a blog hop, and visit each other's blogs!! 

Thanks to you all!!  :) 

What do you think of 
this week's covers?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!