Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas review - Holly and Hopeful Hearts by various authors

Reviewed by -- Jacqueline Driggers

Book Review of --
Holly and Hopeful Hearts: A Bluestocking Belles Collection by Caroline Warfield, Jude Knight, Susana Ellis, Jessica Cale, Sherry Ewing, Amy Rose Bennett, Nicole Zoltack

Overall star rating --- 4.5

About the book:
When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?
A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight
As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Perhaps among the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party, she will find a suitable husband?
Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis
Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.
A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing
Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again.
Artemis, by Jessica Cale
Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?
The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight
James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.
Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack
Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.
An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield
Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?
Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett
Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love...

Book creation ratings -- Max. total of 30 possible --
Overall total, out of 30 -- 26
-- Story & characters -- 7
-- Cover & title -- 10
-- Editing & formatting -- 9
* based on a 1-10 scale with:  1-4, poor; 5-7, good; 8-10, very good.*

The review --
This is a wonderfully Christmassy box set by a group of authors known as The Bluestocking Belles, and they write historical romance, and they do it very well. This was a fun box set to read.

The stories all center around a holiday ball that this one lady is having, and woven through the stories, is this mother cat and her holiday kittens, which enchant several of our characters.

There is one story I would make mention of in a cautionary way, in that it departs from the traditional historical romance format. It has a lesbian theme that includes the 2 main characters of the story. The book is Artemis, by Jessica Cale. I read the beginning of the book, then began to get a suspicion of where it was going; then I skipped to the end and confirmed my hunch. The whole format that the story is based upon just doesn't work for me. But I wanted to mention it.

All the rest of the stories are your traditional historical romance, and are great. Woven inbetween each book in the set, is another book that tells the tale of her Lady's helper, and the chef. I'm sure you'd like to know if I had a favorite in the set, and that's hard to choose, since they're all so good. But choose I did. My favorite would have to be:  The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight.

The Christmas Quotient --- 7
** The scale runs from 1-7 trees, and rates Christmassyness. **

Reader Recommendations
Genre -- historical romance
Age recommendations -- 17 plus
Sex content rating -- mild, mainly just kissing
Violence rating -- mild

Links for the book:

Buy it on Amazon

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