One Wicked Christmas by Amanda McCabe
Lady Cassandra Osborne is ready to take a new lover to her bed—and knows exactly the man she wants: Sir Ian Chandler, her late husband's rakish best friend. The single kiss they'd shared had made her feel alive again, awakening dark needs she didn't even know she had…though Ian had quickly pulled away. Cassie is sure he doesn't want her, until their reunion at a Christmas house party tempts them to succumb to the desire that has haunted them both.
All well and good, except for the fact that Ian is referred to as David in the author’s introduction. I felt the story was spoiled even before I started to read. It was an error that I did feel should have been picked up before publication. Christmas featured quite a lot in this story, but as with the rest of the book, the tales could have taken place at any time of the year. The story based itself around misunderstandings and lack of communication; two people in love with one another, but neither of them willing to be the first to risk their friendship and admit to their true feelings.
Virgin Unwrapped by Christine Merril
The thought of Robert Breton's touch fills Anne Clairemont with a delicious, scandalous heat—but her family's happiness depends on her going through with her planned marriage to his wealthy, cold business partner. Then Robert gives her a searing kiss beneath the mistletoe that changes everything. Soon he's showing Anne the intimate pleasures they could share, determined to fan the flame of their desire and convince her to call off her engagement. But can she disappoint her parents to be with Robert, or will she break her own heart first?
Anne has chosen to become engaged to Mr Joseph Stratford, due to an unfortunate turn of events concerning her family. However, it is clear from the beginning that the reader is to feel she is the shy daughter of forceful parents, who have frogmarched her into this unfortunate situation. It doesn’t quite match with the wanton woman who trots off to bed with her intended’s best friend, the night their engagement is announced. I didn’t like Anne, as she seemed rather deceitful and not at all the usual brand of heroine who would appear in this type of collection. For me, that made it difficult to enjoy the story.
An Illicit Indiscretion by Brownyn Scott
Dashiell Steen, heir to the Earl of Heathridge, is tired of boring dinner parties and matchmaking mamas. He craves one final adventure before he's forced to settle down and finds it with a vivacious beauty escaping from a manor window! Elisabeth Becket's intelligence and rebellious sprit excite both his mind and his body, stirring a mutual attraction that neither can resist. But will their illicit encounter last when she discovers Dashiell is the unwanted suitor she was trying to escape?
This was my favourite story from the collection. The author’s introduction was well written and her research seemed thorough. The story surrounding the couple was unique and enjoyable; focusing on the arrival of a once- in- a- life- time comet. Elisabeth is the type of heroine I love to read about. She is intelligent and sensual, yet she tries for the sake of her family’s reputation to stay in line as much as possible. However, for the sake of her own sanity, she allows herself to break free every once in a while.
A Rake For Christmas by Ann Lethbridge
A Rake For Christmas by Ann Lethbridge
After years of struggling against her wicked desires, Lady Eugenie Hardwick is being driven wild by the sounds of unrestrained passion coming from her neighbor’s bedroom. The thought of Lord Richard Townsend, a notorious rake, sets her body quivering with need—even though she’s never yet seen his face. When they finally meet in person on Christmas Eve, it only takes one masterful kiss to unleash Eugenie’s inner temptress for a night of pleasure with the devilish lord. But Eugenie must ensure their holiday affair remains a secret so she doesn’t get ruined—again…
Eugenie is another spirited and admirable heroine. The reader discovers that she is a woman forced to live away from her family, after an earlier indiscretion brought shame upon them. Keeping to herself, she shies away from society, but not from the sensual, nocturnal, noises of her neighbour.
I liked this story for the fact that Lord Richard doesn’t immediately feel it necessary to offer marriage, just because he sleeps with Eugenie. She in turn, doesn’t expect it. Eugenie is a strong minded woman, ahead of her time, with a sensual Christmas story to accompany her.
Spellbound & Seduced by Marguerite Kaye
Scottish Highlands, 1822.
Two hundred years ago, a witch cursed all the women in Jura Mcnair's family to be widowed on their first wedding anniversary, until a true and perfect love could break the spell. Jura has chosen a life of loneliness instead of risking the sorrow of losing a husband. Then fate brings handsome Lawrence Connaught to her cottage, and for the first time she realises the lure of temptation. She may never know love, but just once Jura is determined to experience a taste of forbidden desire.
To me, this story didn’t fit with the collection. To complete the collection in Scotland, with witches and suspicions was rather a strange addition. There was something disjointed about its inclusion that made me feel as though it had been added as an after-thought.
On the whole, I did feel as though there was a very thin nod towards the festive season with the collection. I had purchased the book to get me in the festive spirit, but it didn’t really work for me at all.