Review: Return to Christmas

Review: Return to ChristmasReturn to Christmas by Anne Stuart
Published by Impeccably Demure Press on November 12, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Historical, Time Travel
Pages: 316
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This was an enjoyable story that felt “old fashioned” in a good way – perhaps classic is a good word. The time jump to the 1940s and getting a mix of modern and history was a fun read. The story made me happy and is a definite feel good holiday story.

THE STORY: Madison Simcoe finds herself living an unfulfilling life and she’s had enough of the harassment she has had to deal with at work. She decides to visit Macy’s during the Christmas season and finds herself in transported 1947. There she meets Johnny Larson who has returned from the war haunted by what he did there. Johnny works at Macy’s and is grumpy towards the woman who invades his life. Madison needs to find a way back to 2020 but finds a deep connection to the people in the past.

OPINION: This book had the comfort of watching one of those old holiday movies. Iconic imagery, a sweet romance with characters who are good people, and a special magical bit of help in the end. It’s the kind of story that feels like it should be read on a cold winter’s day in front of a fire with a cup of hot cocoa.

I liked these two characters. Madison/Molly is a woman who feels empty in her present place and time. After traveling to the past, she finds meaning in her life with the right person. I especially liked how she sees parallels in her challenges in both times.

Johnny is a man who is broken but does his best to do good even while being a crusty recluse. I thought that the interactions with Molly and Johnny were the smart interactions that are in classic 1940s films.

The story was fun and definitely festive. Lovers of classic romantic films or time travel romances will like this. While there is definitely some heat, it is not as explicit of some of Stuart’s other stories. I will add this book to my holiday story rotation.

WORTH MENTIONING: Content warning for sexual harassment and attempted sexual assault.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RETURN TO CHRISTMAS is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Heartless

Review: HeartlessHeartless (The House of Rohan) (Volume 5) by Anne Stuart
Series: The House of Rohan #5
Published by Impeccably Demure Press on May 14, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 316
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved the couple was completely lukewarm about the plot of the book which seemed to have some pointless complications. Struggled through the first half and enjoyed the second.

THE STORY: Emma Cadbury is having a second life as a surgeon after years of being the youngest madam in London and a prostitute before that. What she doesn’t need is the complication of Brandon Rohan. Emma met Brandon when he was recovering from serious war injuries and she urged him to live. Several years have passed and Brandon’s memories of those times have been clouded by his prior addiction to opium. When someone tries to murder Emma, Brandon is determined to protect Emma even if she wants to stay away from the man she knows is not for her.

OPINION: This book was okay but a disappointment to my expectations. I read the prior book years ago and I had anticipated Emma and Brandon’s book so much. While I still loved Emma and Brandon together, I was greatly disappointed by the story in this book.

The entire first half of the book was a slog to get through. There was not enough of Emma and Brandon’s relationship and a lot of stuff that was intended to complicate their relationship and ended up being annoying and abandoned by the end. There is the “other woman” story that went absolutely nowhere but was the primary reason that Emma and Brandon couldn’t get together quickly.

The murder attempts didn’t work as well in the beginning as the setup.

The second half of the book was much better. When the focus turns to just Emma and Brandon, the pace picked up, the intensity of the character’s relationship increased and I enjoyed reading the second half very much.

So this is a book that ultimately ended up okay for me, but I didn’t enjoy the first half of the journey which seemed mostly pointless.

WORTH MENTIONING: I liked the epilogue, but can’t help but wish that we actually got to see the events.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HEARTLESS is the fifth book in the House of Rohan series.  While each book in this series is about a different couple, there are overlapping characters. Indeed, the story of this book began in the prior book in the series, SHAMELESS, and I think this book is better read after that book (even though the events are summarized here).

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars