My review originally posted on Joyfully Reviewed: http://joyfullyreviewed.com/reviews/Feb09/snowynightwithastranger.antho.html
"A Holiday Gamble" by Jane Feather
On his way home to take his place as the new Viscount Allerton, Ned Vasey finds himself robbed by a highwayman and then trapped in a snowstorm. Forced to take refuge at the nearby Selby Hall, Ned is quick to determine Lord Selby and his companions are a less than reputable lot. Then Lord Selby’s ward, the troubled Georgiana, catches Ned’s eye. Ned is drawn to the spirited beauty, whom he knows is more than the placid miss she pretends to be. Selby Hall is filled with secrets, and Ned finds himself determined to uncover them all. The question is, will he succeed?
Jane Feather heats up the holidays with this entertaining novella. "A Holiday Gamble" is an enjoyable love story with a likeable hero and heroine who are sure to charm. While I liked Georgiana and Ned, their romance was a bit abrupt for my taste. Though I have no issue with characters falling in love quickly, I never truly saw why they fell in love with one another, other than Ms. Feather leaving me no room but to accept that it should be so.
A touch of menace from Georgiana’s disreputable guardian, a brutish “fiancé,” and a hunt for a missing will give depth to "A Holiday Gamble" that kept me more engaged in the story than the romance itself. Overall, I found "A Holiday Gamble" to be an appealing read and I will be on the lookout for more of Ms. Feather’s work in the future.
"When Sparks Fly" by Sabrina Jeffries
After a carriage accident leaves her aunt injured and she and her family stranded, heiress Elinor Bancroft has no choice but to take refuge at the home of Baron Thorncliff aka the “Black Baron.” If the accident weren’t enough to put a damper on Christmas, their host just might finish the job. Martin, Baron Thorncliff, would rather have nothing to do with his unwanted guests, but he can’t ignore the children underfoot any more than he can overlook the intriguing Ellie. She’s nothing like the spoiled London miss he expected her to be and she’s determined not to let him dismiss her as such. For both Ellie and Martin, this Christmas is the perfect time to discover that love and passion are the best gifts of all.
My absolute favorite story of the book, "When Sparks Fly" is a heartwarming delight with a lovable heroine, a tender but gruff hero, and a place for one of the most famous authors of all time, Charles Dickens.
I love Sabrina Jeffries’s School for Heiresses series, of which "When Sparks Fly" is a part, and I’ve been impatiently waiting for a story for Elinor Bancroft since meeting her in Let Sleeping Rogues Lie. Happily, Ellie’s story is all that I wished it to be for her. Ellie can be shy at times, but she is intelligent, kind-hearted, and possesses a gentle, but firm demeanor. Despite Martin’s attempts to push everyone away from him, including Ellie, she stands firm, making her his perfect match. Martin, in turn, is sympathetic even in his gruffness. His brother’s death and the rumors which continue to be spread about it haunt him. His fear of anyone else being hurt or killed makes him push people away, and it takes Ellie’s bright spirit to make Martin reconnect with the world. They fit one another perfectly and it was pure joy watching the two of them fall in love. A sparkling romance with characters that are sure to win your heart, “When Sparks Fly” is the perfect Christmas treat to be enjoyed all year ‘round.
"Snowy Night with a Highlander" by Julia London
After her brother, Jack, finds himself embroiled in a scandal, Lady Fiona Haines is charged with finding him and delivering an important message. Forced to travel to the Highlands right before Christmas, Fiona finds help from a surprising source. Duncan, a man scarred, physically and mentally, from a fire, is willing to take her. As their journey draws the two closer together, neither Fiona nor Duncan can resist the strong pull of desire. But what Fiona doesn’t know is that Duncan is Duncan Buchanan, Laird of Blackwood. A man Fiona claims to despise. What will happen to their burgeoning romance when Fiona discovers the truth?
"Snowy Night with a Highlander" is a lovely, Beauty and the Beast-type tale that is truly delightful. Duncan is a fallen hero, a once proud, rakish man who has been brought low in many ways because of the devastating accident he was involved in. He leads only half a life, and I eagerly read the tale, hoping to see him find love and happiness with Fiona. For her part, Fiona has a sparkling personality that I found endearing, but there were a few times her personality went towards the pushy side. I suppose given how she was raised and the situation she found herself in that this wasn’t too unreasonable, so though it bothered me a bit in spots, I was able to push it aside.
"Snowy Night with a Highlander" is part of Ms. London’s Scandal series, which began with The Book of Scandal. Though this story stood on it’s own, I am eager to look for the previous book, and am definitely looking forward to Jack’s story, Highland Scandal.
Snowy Night with a Stranger is an enchanting collection of stories that, though centered around Christmastime, are stories I would be captivated by all year long. Jane Feather, Sabrina Jeffries, and Julia London each tell stories of sensuous passion and tender romance that left me feeling warm, satisfied, and eager for more. Snowy Night with a Stranger is not to be missed!