Review: Under the Kissing Bough

Review: Under the Kissing BoughUnder The Kissing Bough by Kathryn Le Veque, Sandy Blair, Suzanne Ferrell, Hildie McQueen, Anna Campbell, Tina De Salvo, Barbara Devlin, Joan Kayse, Catherine Kean, Anna Markland
Series: Farthingale #5.5, Second Chance #2.5, , Guardian Isle #1.5, Legendary Bastards of the Crown #0.5, Romance in Central City #7
on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-stars

This is a huge anthology with fifteen separate stories which cover several genres and time periods.

TARTAN BOWS AND MISTLETOE by Sandy Blair: (Victorian Historical) John Colin MacNab is an impoverished earl who is trying to avoid complete financial ruin after his spendthrift father. He refuses to consider marrying a wealthy woman wanting a title. Olivia Conor is rich and her father wants her to find a titled gentleman to improve their American business prospects. Olivia is a suffragist who wants to study law, not marry the man her father wants. This story was a little too predictable for me. Things were resolved too neatly and I didn’t feel a great connection to the characters. Rating: 2 stars.

CLOSE TO SANTA’S HEART by Suzanne Ferrell: (Midwest Small Town Contemporary) Sylvie Gillis is a hairdresser who is dating Cleetus Junkins, a deputy. The two are Santa and his elf for the town events. The two seem to be destined to be together except for two problems: Cleetus is a virgin and Sylvie has a secret concerning her family.  I really liked the setup for this one and Cleetus was cute giving Sylvie a Christmas.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the secret and the resolution which didn’t seem to fit the rest of the story. Rating: 3 stars

UPON A MIDNIGHT DREAM by Kathryn Le Veque: (Medieval Historical) Sir Rennington of Ashbourne is a knight who has returned from the Crusades penniless and lacking a home. When he hears about Lady Holly St. Maur who is the oldest daughter of a rich landowner, he is determined to win her hand in marriage. Holly plans never to wed after loving and losing her betrothed in the Crusades. I absolutely loved the setup for this one. I thought the pacing was wonderful, the issues complex for such a short story and I really liked the characters.  Then everything got resolved in a page or two which was very disappointing. Rating: 3 stars.

MISTLETOE AND THE MAJOR by Anna Campbell: (Regency Historical) Edmund Sherritt, Major Lord Canforth has returned home after years of fighting on the Continent. He returns injured and scarred to the wife he married only two weeks before leaving for eight years. Felicity, Lady Canforth, has loved her husband from the beginning and is happy he has returned but wants more than their proper, respectful marriage.  I loved this one. The scope of the story was very small — a couple reuniting after years apart not knowing how to ask for more in their relationship.  The story was sweet and complete. I felt happy at the end of the story.  Rating: 4 stars.

HUNT FOR CHRISTMAS by Tina De Salvo: (Cajun Contemporary) Dr. Camille Comeaux returns home to the bayou from her life in New York.  She meets Hunter James who has purchased nearby Cypress Island for peace and privacy. Camille is determined to convince Hunt to allow the Cajun community of Fa La La to have their annual Christmas celebration on the island.  Enjoyable story with a few too many moving parts to be truly satisfying in the result.  I did enjoy the local characters and Camille and Hunt had a nice chemistry.  A Second Chance series novella. Rating 3.5 stars.

HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME by Barbara Devlin: (Regency Historical) Lord Nicholas Sheldon and Lady Almira were betrothed since birth but then she is given in marriage to an evil man. Years later, Nicholas has the chance to try and redeem their failures and capture Almira for his own.  This is the story of two people who were ripped apart and have both suffered because of it.  This second chance gives these two another opportunity at love and happiness.  I really enjoyed this book but I could see that it was part of a series and there was significant events which occurred in those books which are relevant to this story.  I thought the story was good here but I think I would have enjoyed it better having read the other books in the series.  This novella made me want to read more.  Rating: 4 stars.

AN IRISH GIFT by Joan Kayse: (Fae Paranormal) Killian is a fae shifter who has to work to discover something taken from him. He ends up having to bring together a couple Kathryn and Colin together in time for Christmas.  I just couldn’t get into this story.  There was too much worldbuilding that didn’t have any purpose in the story. The couple that gets together is really a sideshow to the story.  I really liked Killian and wanted the story to be more about him. This might be a good series, but this wasn’t a good introduction.  Rating 1.5 stars.

ONE KNIGHT’S KISS by Catherine Kean: (Medieval Historical) Sir Tristan de Champgne is a knight who is estranged from his family after his betrayal by the woman he had planned to marry.  He comes to spend Christmas with a friend and his family. There he meets Lady Honoria Whitford, his friend’s sister.  This was an adequate story but I wish there had been more heat in the story. I liked the characters but there wasn’t enough plot to sustain the story except for another woman who wants Tristan for herself.  Rating: 2.5 stars.

UNKISSABLE KNIGHT by Anna Markland: (Medieval Historical) Victorine de Toeni is a young Norman maiden and ward of William the Conqueror. The obligation is to marry her off.  Sir Dervenn de Roure is a Breton knight favored by William but not by Victorine. William doesn’t want to marry either but as time goes on he is enchanted by the willful woman.  I absolutely loved this story. I thought it was well crafted to fit within the novella format with interesting characters that I liked.  The story was interesting and didn’t leave loose ends.  One of the best of the anthology.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

CHRISTINA, A BRIDE FOR CHRISTMAS by Hildie McQueen: (Western Historical) Christina Mills flees Philadelphia for Wyoming because of her brutal father who has arranged what promises to be an even worse marriage.  She comes as a mail order bride. She has chosen Alexander Barrett Patterson for her husband.  When she arrives, she discovers that Barrett is uncertain about marrying her.  Barrett is scarred and has lost a portion of his leg in the Civil War. He thinks himself not good enough for Christina.  I enjoyed the feel of this book but thought it took too long to get to the romance between Christina and Barrett.  The description of the times and the characters were great.  Rating 3.5 stars.

IF YOU LOVED ME by Meara Platt: (Regency Historical) Desmond Cameron, Marquis of Blackfell has no intention of falling for a Farthingale. When he comes across a carriage accident, he meets Miss Adelaide Farthingale (a cousin of the Farthingales in the series). Adelaide is sweet and innocent unlike the cynical Desmond. I loved this story. It is sweet and I loved the brightness and gentle nature that Adelaide has. She has been made to feel unimportant and an afterthought. Desmond is attracted to her unspoiled nature even as he is determined to fight his feelings for her. The story is uncomplicated but the characters are well done.  This book is 5.5 in the Farthingale series but can be read as a standalone. Rating: 4 stars.

DESTINY’S KISS by Elizabeth Rose: (Medieval Scottish Romance) Ross of Clan Douglas is a Scottish lowlander who hates the English and intends on marrying the English king’s mistress and claiming his bastard. When Ross arrives at the mistress’s family’s castle, he meets Lady Annalyse Granville, the second born twin of the king’s mistress.  Annalyse is abbey raised because she is considered cursed as the second born.  Although Ross intends on marrying her sister, he is drawn to Annalyse.  This book is the prequel to the Legendary Bastards of the Crown series and it shows.  The story is more interested in the story of the bastard to the king than developing the romance between Ross and Annalyse.  I liked the story but was disappointed in the romance.  Rating: 3 stars.

HER VAMPIRE PROTECTOR by Jordan K. Rose: (Vampire Paranormal) Oswald Addison is a vampire and a member of the Guard. He has liked Selene Kittery for a long time but she won’t give him the time of day because she believes him a womanizer.  Although she actually is attracted to him as well.  This is a humorous vampire story.  There is a lot that goes on in this story with lots of characters (since it is part of a series).  I got lost with the number of characters, but I did think the story of these two was sweet and funny.  Rating: 3 stars.

DANCING UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Lana Williams: (Victorian Historical) Katherine Flemming is on the run.  She has just left her position as a seamstress because she fears having been discovered again. For Christmas she is going to the country to stay at the estate of a countess she met at her work. She is met by Cole Dumont, Lord Barclay who finds Christmas a sad time because of the loss of his family.  This story reveals their secrets and an attraction to one another.  I liked this story because of the mystery aspect of what secrets these two have. The story had the best Christmas spirit of the bunch because so much works out because of the Christmas holiday.  I thought things were wrapped up too neatly, but I liked the festive story.  Rating: 3.5 stars.

A YULE TO REMEMBER by Jeanne Adams: (Witch Paranormal Contemporary) Haven Harbor is a town in Massachusetts inhabited by witches.  Annie Boyston owns the Classic Cauldron a cooking shop in town.  Reyn Shapleigh is the town’s Fire Chief. Annie and Reyn are friendly towards one another until the first Yule kiss makes things more than friendly.  This was a very enjoyable story.  Quirky and funny and with an interesting plot involving danger in town.  I liked Annie and Reyn and their relationship felt really natural but magical at the same time.  I would read more about this town.  Rating: 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Almost a Scandal

Almost a Scandal
Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Filled with Historical Details this is a Unique Look at the Royal Navy

“Whatever it was, this friendship, this affinity between them, she was not alone. He felt it, too. It only remained to see what they were going to do about it.”

FINAL DECISION: Totally immersed in the historical period and setting, ALMOST A SCANDAL is more a story about the journey of the heroine than it is truly a romance. There is a romance but the amount of time and detail paid to it pales to the heroine’s task in impersonating a man in the Royal Navy.

THE STORY: Sally Kent comes from a family of naval men. When her younger brother runs off to avoid service, Sally decides to take his place by dressing as him and joining the British Royal Navy. Sally loves being on the ship and being part of the crew except for Lieutenant David Colyear. Sally fears that David will recall the girl who tagged after her older brothers so Sally wants to avoid David and yet she is captivated by him. If David finds out her secret, she will lose her opportunity to serve and bring ruin upon herself and her family.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book because of the unique story of Sally. While I have read books about women masquerading as men before, few have done it as successfully as Sally. She is strong and clever and entirely capable. The world the characters inhabit is detailed and realistic and I know so much more about the Royal Navy and sailing after reading this book. The author’s research and dedication to the topic is admirable. There are certainly documented instances where women masqueraded as men especially during wartime so there is real life precedent for Sally being able to maintain her disguise.

I also at times really enjoyed the romance between Sally and David. I thought there was great tension and intense drama between them. My disappointment was that the ultimate resolution felt rushed and forced. As a result, I felt the romance in the book was diminished in favor of the personal journey of Sally.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is incredibly detailed about the workings of the ship so readers who are not interested in such history might become bored.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ALMOST A SCANDAL is the first book in the Reckless Brides series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.