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Charlotte Wren

Autor(a) de O Night Divine

5 Works 13 Membros 2 Reviews

Obras de Charlotte Wren

O Night Divine — Autor — 5 cópias
Star of Light (2021) — Autor — 4 cópias
A Duke in Winter (2022) — Autor — 2 cópias
The Devilish Lyon (2021) 1 exemplar(es)


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A Duke in Winter
A Historical Romance Collection

Ten novella length historical romances by ten authors gives the reader the chance to read authors already or yet to be read for the first time. With half of the stories read so far, I eagerly look forward to reading the rest after I post this review.

As with any collection of stories, some will appeal more than others and yet at least one or more will no doubt be just what you needed to read in that moment that you sit down to do so. You can see how others live, what motivates them, how your life differs from theirs, try on a character or two to see if any are ones you could play the part of, and perhaps meet an author that will see you looking for their work again.

Emily Royal’s THE TAMING OF THE DUKE has a side bet instigated that sees a fake courting become real but not without a bit of drama. A spinster will meet her match and so will the duke that begins a fake courtship with her.

Anna St. Claire’s’ ONCE UPON A WINTER’S TALE is a bit darker tale of a love left behind with fear the motivating force but driven also by the desire of one man for an heir.

Sandra sookoo’s MUCH ADO ABOUT A STORME sees the matriarch of the Storme family, now widowed, finding a second chance at love.

Elizabeth Keysian’s THE TEMPESTUOUS DUKE is almost Gothic in feel with a young woman washed ashore after a capsizing faced with two brothers that are at odds with one another due to what happened in the past. A Talking parrot, wonderful canine, and a mystery to solve are only part of the story.

Caroline Warfield’s THE SIXTH HENRY might have been my favorite with a bit of a Capulet’s and Montagues feuding families feel to it but…this couple lands in a better situation than poor Romeo and Juliet. This story made me think about how difficult it would be to step into the shoes of a Duke without having training to do so.

Did I enjoy the stories I read – yes
Will I read the authors again in the future – yes

Thank you to NetGalley and Dragonblade Publishing for the ARC – This is my honest review.

4 – 5 stars
… (mais)
CathyGeha | Dec 30, 2022 |
I really like holiday anthologies, so when I had the opportunity to read this one free through NetGalley I was quite pleased. **These are my *uninfluenced* personal thoughts and opinions nonetheless.**

Each story was inspired by a Christmas tale (A Christmas Carol, Die Hard, It's a Wonderful Life, etc.) which I thought was a fun notion. Some are very apparent which story inspired it, and others were unrecognizable to me. Which was totally fine. This is a very long review, but with over 20 stories, there's a lot to talk about. Other reviews list plot summaries, so I'm just going to share my opinions of their quality and my enjoyment from them.

*Side note* Often holiday novellas pick up the thread of a side character in a series, and that can be an additional fun thing about them, but I hadn't read *any* of these series before, and ended up feeling kinda out of the loop with several of them. Bunches of characters and events were referenced, like they carried some significance that I should recognize and take joy in, but none of them actually did, because I wasn't already familiar with their prior context. Some stories seemed like they were trying to name drop every previously introduced character in the series, and that might be fun for the people who've already read their stories, to see them all gathered together, but they were just long lists of names and relationships to me. It felt like a missed opportunity really. The fans who have already read an author's entire series would likely seek out their holiday addition anyway, so it seems like the best advantage of an anthologie would be to get your work in front of *new* readers who might then seek out more of your work and become new fans. I'm not at all opposed to reading a short story about characters whom others already know and I don't, but the actual *appeal* of the story shouldn't rely very heavily on that prior familiarity.

My star rating is generally
⭐️ - a story that had quite a bit that I disliked, and I looked forward to it being over.
⭐️⭐️ - a weak story or a 'fine' one with some significant flaws, but otherwise ok rather than dire.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ - an enjoyable but ultimately sort of average story.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ - an overall well crafted story that held my interest and I'm pleased to have read.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ - a great story that engaged and entertained me, and I'll likely seek out more like it.

I'll also note that short stories take a slightly different skill set than full length novels, so just because a short story might be a dud, it doesn't mean that the rest of that author's work will be.

Kathryn Le Veque - 'Twas the Executioner Knight Before Christmas
There was some sweetness to the little interactions of this family, but overall it felt quite shallow. Plus I didn't care for the "lesson learned". It felt oversimplified to the point of feeling a bit insulting and solidly sexist. The father tells his young daughters stories with violence in them because it entertains them and it's what he knows (apparently having been an executioner previously). Fine. Including one where the three wise men were sent not to bring gifts, but to assassinate baby Jesus, but were ultimately defeated by angels. Fine. Then he dreams that his daughters have become child assassins who defeat multiple family friends when they stand in the way of their infant target, (potentially the christ child I suppose). He amends his ways upon waking by correcting the previous version of the tale and never telling them any violent stories ever again. _ (It seems like they could have just as easily been on the side of the angels (who had been cast as just protectors and were the winners of the fight after all) and in that case it wouldn't have been all that horrifying after all). But maybe he wants to shield his children so that they might have a more peaceful life? No. It specifically mentions that he tells all his future *sons* those stories, and somehow they avoid becoming baby-killing child assassins! and instead all grow up to be famed and noble knights! *side eye* Not impressed at all, ⭐️.

Caroline Lee - The Laird's Yulebringer
This one especially seemed like a third of the story was taken up by listing a whole family tree of relationships, plus acquaintances. Another rather large chunk was filled with his inner musings on 'will he or won't he' find any future happiness after a recent loss. (spoiler!, lol, he will!). And then he was so ridiculously slow to catch onto the foretold signs, that I just couldn't even. ⭐️.

Chasity Bowlin - Making Spirits Bright
I like that these two are older, everyone deserves a couple shots at a happily ever after. Even besides the ghost though (which is a large part), this didn't feel very believable, (not everyone cares about that though). There just wasn't much else that grabbed me. The love came out of nowhere, and the heroine was a bit daft. ⭐️.

Hildie McQueen - The Haunted Scot
This was a second-chance story about a couple who had already been married for several years, which I like, those stories aren't told as often. And I liked it even better that their relationship had just worn thin over time, rather than crashed over some huge rift-causing event. That feels very believable. The author also did a good job of helping me to feel like all the characters' lives had already been going on and I was just dropping in at this point. The world felt lived in and bigger than this one little part. Characters who likely star in the other books in the series cameoed, but contributed to the story beyond their mere presence. I wasn't wowed, but I would consider reading more from this series. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Maggi Andersen - Never Keep a Secret at Christmas
This felt very simplistic, and seemed like it was missing some of the details that might keep it from seeming so 'cookie cutter'. Insta-love, which can work sometimes, but was just 'okay' here. ⭐️⭐️.

Mary Lancaster - Her Star from the East
This one was simple but had some nice moments, an interracial/interfaith couple, and some cuteness. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Meara Platt - The Remembrance of Love
This was sweet and cheering. I liked the sympathetic backstory of the hero, and the irrepressible warm-heartedness of the young heroine. I think they were fairly believable in their responses, and well suited to each other. The side characters were personable as well (excluding the baddies of course). ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Violetta Rand - How to get an Earl for Christmas
I didn't hate this, there just wasn't much for me to work with. It felt fairytale-like, in sort of an unappealing way. She didn't end up being a secret princess, but it was kinda in that realm. No struggle, no growth, hardly even any getting to know the characters or watching them fall in love! So you're just left with a small bit of fluff. Almost like what you might come up with to amuse a little girl wanting a bedtime story. I kind of wanted to give this two stars because there wasn't anything I really hated- but there wasn't really anything I particularly liked either. So on some sort of scale ranging from -5 to 5, this just remained at 0. Ultimately ⭐️.

Alexa Aston - Yuletide at Gillingham
This one was different because it follows a married couple already in love, and jumps forward in time many years as well. Some of the dialogue was a little staid, but there were some sweet moments. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Anna Markland - A Thrill of Hope
This had some nice aspects and details that I found interesting, but also had a corny quality that kept me from really enjoying it. A couple things felt like too modern of notions as well, which is a little annoying, but overall I'm fairly forgiving of that. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Anna St. Claire - A Gift for Agatha
This one is pretty closely based on A Christmas Carol, which is a favorite of mine. But this version was a disappointment to me. A good chunk of the plot was already inherited from Dickens, so I would expect the other aspects of the story to show a little more effort perhaps, but they felt a bit lacking. In fact, a lot of it could have been edited out entirely and it would have hardly changed the outcome. Multiple times something was explained to the reader in the thoughts of one character and then that character would turn around and explain the exact same thing to another character. So those parts were not only superfluous, but redundant. The hero wasn't all that fleshed out, and I didn't care very much for the heroine. And the romance seemed rushed and almost like an afterthought. ⭐️.

Aubrey Wynne - The Heart is Never Silent
This was written pretty well and was enjoyable. It has quite a bit of lingo from the time, which can be an interesting addition, but it didn't quite come off naturally. It felt like they were included just because they could be, rather than because they fit well, and it reminded me of an older person trying to toss around slang in front of young folks. It's not *wrong*... but it can distract from the message. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Charlotte Wren - Of Christmas Past
This is a spin on It's a Wonderful Life, which is another favorite Christmas tale (with a bit of The Prodigal Son thrown in). And it was well done as a holiday historical, and even made me tear up a little. One thing it didn't have much of though was romance. The parents of the protagonist I suppose? There really isn't much time spent on their relationship though, so that was a little bit disappointing. I didn't like the young man all that much, but I was still pleased when things got better for him. And I would consider reading more by this author. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Elizabeth Ellen Carter - Tidings of Comfort
This was a sweet little story, with likable characters. Though again, not very much romance at all. It had warm feelings though and felt Christmasy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Elizabeth Johns - A Christmas Miracle
This was a lovely little second chance romance, with likable, well developed characters and a world that felt lived in. Romance, Christmas, warm feelings, nice side characters, good all around. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Elizabeth Keysian - Her Christmas White Knight
This one was an English Elizabethan tale, which is a different time and place than the HR I usually read. There were some highly unlikely, though I suppose not *impossible* reactions of a goose in the story. lol. (This could just be the most tolerant, trusting goose in the world, but- those are not the words I typically think of when I think of geese! =D) But overall there were lots of historic, realistic details which I quite enjoy. It inspired me to look up some things and I learned about them. And I liked the second chance romance and the cast of characters. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Emily E K Murdoch - Always the Mistletoe
This was pretty good. It pulled off the passion in a few kisses more successfully than many short stories. I know clergy with carnal thoughts really grabs some people. And I liked all the characters well enough. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Emily Royal - A Libertine's Christmas Miracle
This seemed like it would be a particularly nice addition to its series, seeing three young married couples gathering together at Christmas. It did a nice job of introducing them in case you weren't already familiar with their series (I wasn't), but focused primarily on one of the couples, (which allowed a story to develop rather than just constantly be flitting from couple to couple never really getting anywhere with any of them). It was also nice to see a happy marriage, and that the drama came from outside the relationship for a change. It hinted at their backstories rather than entirely summarizing them, and it actually made me a little curious how each couple met and fell in love. So while this short story was somewhere between 'fine' and 'good' for me, it did keep my interest and even intrigued me. So, all told, ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Lynne Connolly - Past, Present, Future
This felt extra believable to me, despite the class difference. The world felt lived-in as well, and I liked both leads quite a bit. I would consider reading more from this series. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Maeve Greyson - A Yuletide Yearning
This was another take on A Christmas Carol. A Pirate version. I think it was going for humor, but it just felt kind of silly. I didn't really like the hero that much, and I hardly got to know the heroine at all. Disappointed. ⭐️.

Whitney Blake - A Strange Christmas Game
This seemed to have a couple gaps that weren't entirely explained, but otherwise it was fine. It wasn't really a winner for me, but the writing seemed pretty good, so I would consider reading something else from this author. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

It was a mixed bag really, but honestly most anthologies are to some extent. This collection has a higher than average percentage of stories with ghosts and magical dreams and things. It's not necessarily where my mind goes when I think of Christmas, but I suppose it brings a whimsical quality to the holiday spirit. And, there is definitely precedence for Christmas magic, fate, angels, etc. Also it seemed to have more stories with sudden love at first sight / whirlwind romances than most short story collections. It is just hard to build a believable, meaningful romance that starts from square one, in so very few pages. The second chance ones are able to come in already part way there to an extent. So on average I thought the ones without the ghosts, etc. and 'blink and they're suddenly deeply in love' tended to be a little stronger, but that's partly just personal preference.
… (mais)
JorgeousJotts | Dec 3, 2021 |

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