E-Originals, November 2, 2018 | Xpress Reviews

Recommended for contemporary romance fans looking for a clean story with a strong female lead and an alpha male who knows how to ride; From four of the top writers of historical romance, each tale manages to create a very satisfying romantic arc while asking questions about how women can make nontraditional choices with respect to the patriarchy; this novella will make readers want to pursue the “Pennyroyal Green” series from its start

Week ending November 2, 2018

Cole, Addison. Our Sweet Destiny. Addison Cole. (Sweet with Heat: Weston Bradens, Bk. 2). Nov. 2018. 212p. ebk. ISBN 9781948868020. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Rex Braden and Jade Johnson grew up next door to each other and probably would have dated in high school if it weren’t for the Hatfield-and-McCoy nature of their families. It’s only after Jade returns to town that they find their unfulfilled teenage infatuations turned into something more mature and a lot more adult. Jade is getting back on her feet after a dangerous romance, while Rex manages the family ranch for his aging father. Throughout this tale of forbidden love, the protagonists are at the center of a supportive group of siblings who bring in experience from well beyond the mentality of their small town. In the end, the two lovers are abetted by some supernatural interference that helps to heal the rift between the clans. Cole is the pen name of Melissa Foster, and this novel is a “sweet” version of Destined for Love. The convincing characters and sultry dialog fans have come to expect are still here, but all the sex scenes now happen off the page.
VERDICT Recommended for contemporary romance fans looking for a clean story with a strong female lead and an alpha male who knows how to ride and take care of horses.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

Dare, Tessa & others. How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology. Rakes, Rogues & Scoundrels LLC. Oct. 2018. 392p. ebk. ISBN 9780999192320. $5.99. HISTORICAL HOLIDAY ROMANCE
This Christmas-themed anthology does a lovely job of linking four holiday romances in a whimsical fashion that is both satisfying and amusing. In Dare’s Meet Me in Mayfair, the young and eligible Louisa Ward is struggling with the impending eviction of her family from their Mayfair home by the remote Duke of Thorndale. At the Carville’s Christmas Ball, Louisa finds the Duke, James, on her dance card. TheDuke of Christmas Present, by Sarah MacLean, is replete with Dickens references. The lonely Duke of Allryd (Eben) finds a ghost in his kitchen on Christmas Eve, and it turns out to be his former lover Lady Jacqueline (Jack) Mosby. A dozen years earlier, Jack had left Eben because he was more concerned with attending to his late father’s finances than to her. Sophie Jordan’s Heiress Alone is a regency version of Home Alone. Annis Ballister has been accidentally left behind during the Christmas holiday at the Scotland estate of her large family and is now trapped by a blizzard in the highlands. When Calder, the Duke of Sinclair, comes to rescue the staff from roving brigands, he also has to deal with Annis, who is a handful but not in the way he expected. Rounding out the quartet is Joanna Shupe’s Christmas in Central Park. Moving “across the pond,” Rose Walker, an advice columnist for the New York Daily Gazette, faces a daunting challenge with regard to her fictional newspaper persona. Her popularity has induced Duke Havermeyer, the paper’s owner, to ask her and her husband to host a Christmas dinner at her Central Park townhouse. Unfortunately, Rose is unmarried, can’t cook, and doesn’t own a townhouse. Instead, she hatches a plan.
VERDICT From four of the top writers of historical romance, each tale manages to create a very satisfying romantic arc while asking questions about how women can make nontraditional choices with respect to the patriarchy. Woven throughout is the theme of a love-inducing magical shortbread that is never really magical; highly recommended for the holiday season.—Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA

Long, Julie Anne. Malcolm and Isabel. Julie Anne Long. (Pennyroyal Today, Bk. 1). Oct. 2018. 136p. ebk. ISBN 9781732821507. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Isabel Redmond is a modern-day descendant of Olivia and Lyon from Long’s beloved “Pennyroyal Green” series (The Legend of Lyon Redmond). An American raised in foster care, Isabel is deeply moved by reading the diaries of her many-times-great-grandmother Olivia and thrilled to meet her extended family in England. While visiting Pennyroyal Green, she also encounters Malcolm Coburn, a motorcycle-riding country doctor. Malcom and Isabel share an instant connection—attraction, understanding, respect—plus they both love the same rock anthem by local English artists Heliotrope. Could this be more than a holiday fling?
VERDICT Malcolm and Isabel make an engaging, relatable, and authentic pair; Olivia’s diary lends gravitas; and the resident rock star contributes an element of fun. This novella will make readers want to pursue the series from its start—which is good, because The Legend of Lyon Redmond ought to be required prereading (don’t worry, you’ll still get the gist).—Lindsay Morton, P.L. of Science, San Francisco

LJ Reviews

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