CHRISTMAS BRIDES – Suzanne Enoch, Alexandra Hawkins, Elizabeth Essex, Valerie Bowman
St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-1-250-06056-3
October 2014
Historical Romance Anthology

One Hot Scot - Suzanne Enoch
The Highlands of Scotland in England's Regency Era.

English heiress Julia Prentiss had longed for adventure, so a trip to Scotland for Christmas seemed ideal. She and her mother and younger sister were in Aberdeen celebrating an aunt's wedding when she found adventure, but not at all the kind that could be foreseen. She innocently found herself kidnapped from a dance and taken to the country estate of a man, one Lord Bellamy, who insisted she marry him…for her very large dowry, no doubt. Julia proved to be stronger than the usual maiden. She managed to steal a horse and ride away, but the horse tossed her and galloped off. As she looked around, she saw she was near a lake with a man arising from the water.

Duncan Lenox felt the need of a bath, so he took himself off to the lake. As he walked toward the shore, he saw an auburn-haired miss with his kilt wrapped around her. Nothing to do but hope she turned her eyes away until he could retrieve it.

And this is how a braw highland landlord and a spirited English miss came to spend the night sheltering from a storm in an old crofter's shack. One Hot Scot turns out to be a lively and amusing tale about two very likable characters. But was Bellamy going to let the heiress's fortune escape him?

Once Upon a Christmas Scandal – Alexandra Hawkins
December 1826 in London

Lady Ellen Courtland is thirty and single by choice. Her ailing father wants to see her wed before he dies, so he triples her dowry, and her mother plans a series of festivities through Christmas all the way to Twelfth Night. Needless to say, many of the guests will be eligible bachelors. Ellen is furious.

Derrick Hunt, Earl of Swainsbury inherited the title and little else from his uncle. Though not familiar with the ton , he hears rumors of the large fortune, and for reasons of his own, travels to London to seek out an introduction . . . for the money?

Once Upon a Christmas Scandal is an entertaining story with good interaction and a touch of mystery.

The Scandal Before Christmas – Elizabeth Essex
Portsmouth, England and Environs, December 1816

Lieutenant Ian Worth of the Royal Navy is informed by his father that his elder brother, the viscount's heir, has had an accident and that Ian must take his place—also that he must marry his brother's fiancée by Christmas and get about siring a spare heir. Ian isn't positive his brother will not survive, and he will not ruin his life. Ian lies and says he's already married. Now he has just days to find a nice biddable bride who won't disturb his own life overly much. He meets an old navy comrade in a bar and strikes a deal. In no time at all, Colonel and Mrs. Leslie arrive at his house with their eldest daughter in tow. At first meet, Anne Leslie appears to Ian to be plain and shy. She doesn't say a word, but then who could with Mrs. Leslie gabbing away nonstop?

The Scandal Before Christmas
is the longest and most sensuous of the novellas, and as Anne's real character emerges, Ian grows in likeability until who could resist him?

It Happened Under the Mistletoe – Valerie Bowman
December 1817 in Oxfordshire, England

Miss Cerian Blake of Wales and Oliver Townsende have things in common. They have both come to Lord and Lady Medford's holiday house party, and they are both being pursued. And they have both—on their own—taken refuge in a silver closet. Cerian is an heiress, and beautiful besides, so she is a target in spite of not being of the aristocracy. Oliver is a wealthy newly minted duke. He was raised in the ton , but not as a duke's heir. Then his cousin, the last duke, was murdered. Suddenly Ian became the most sought after man in society, with maidens and their mamas forever hounding him. Oliver is quite taken with the young lady he finds in the closet, especially as she doesn't know his rank. They spend an entertaining quarter hour there until they feel able to emerge without being caught. Cerian gets a shock when they are formally introduced that night at the dance. Soon the two make a pact to fake interest in each other to forestall all the other suitors, male and female. Naturally, this leads to problems of the passionate kind…and fun for the reader.

It Happened Under the Mistletoe is connected to book three of Ms. Bowman's excellent Secret Brides Trilogy , which tells the tale of Lord and Lady Medford's travails and happy ending.

These four novellas—amusing, emotional, and sensual—by four popular authors are all fine reading in their own ways, and I readily recommend CHRISTMAS BRIDES this holiday season

Jane Bowers