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'Susanna's stomach did a little flip-flop. It was the eyes.Though the lines at the corners seemed less pronounced, and the hard edge of pain was no longer there, they were his eyes, a strange colour that must be hazel but looked amber. Was it really him?'
===To Undo a Lady by Christine Merrill===
Danyl Fitzhugh is an actor and theatre owner in need of a woman. His leading lady has left, and he is in desperate need for someone to take her place. He encounters Sarah Branford outside his theatre, and vows he can turn her into an actress.
Attraction soon blossoms between them, but can their relationship last when Danyl discovers the truth about Sarah?
This short story is written really well, it's very fast paced but at the same time I didn't feel like it moved too quickly. The romance aspect does move very quickly, but as it's a romantic short story, this is to be expected. I really enjoyed the concept of this one, I'd not read a regency romance with a theatre theme before, so this was interesting for me. I loved seeing Sarah and Danyl's relationship blooming while they're acting side by side, and the ending was unexpected. I'd give 4/5 stars to this story.
===An Invitation to Pleasure by Marguerite Kaye===
When Captain Fergus Lamont warned Susanna Hunter not to marry her betrothed, she ignored him and sent him on his way. Three years later, Susanna regrets this decision, and is surprised when she receives an invitation to spend Christmas with Fergus in the Highlands. She soon receives another shock, when Fergus reveals the true reasons for his invitation; he wants her to pretend to be his fiancée.
This is my third Marguerite Kaye story and one that certainly didn't disappoint. I can't say that I enjoyed it as much as the full length stories by Marguerite that I've read, but that's only because with a full length book you have more time to grow attached to the characters and get into the story. However, I still really enjoyed this story, and thought that the pacing was great. It can be difficult to get the pacing right when you only have around sixty pages to work with, but for me, this was done very well.
I loved the setting and the premise of the story, I haven't read any romances about Highlanders before,apart from Paranormal ones about Werewolves, so a more realistic story was great to read. I was still in suspense at the end of the book, waiting to see how long Susanna and Fergus can 'pretend' to be lovers before they give in to temptation. 4/5 stars for this story.
===His Wicked Christmas Wager by Annie Burrows===
Lord Crispin Sinclair hasn't forgiven Lady Caroline Fallowfield for marrying another man. So while he's drinking and gambling in an inn, trying to forget about her, she's the last person he expects to see. She's there to persuade him to attend his brother's wedding to her sister, but he'll only agree if Caroline will share his bed, and take a gamble...
For me, this story is about second chances and taking them when they come. Caroline and Crispin were lovers before she had to marry another man, so now that they have a second chance together, I found myself hoping that they'd get back together. I loved the idea of their wager together at the start of the book, it definitely made the story interesting and I had no idea who was going to win the wager. In fact, the person I thought would win didn't, so the outcome was unexpected for me.
I thought the pacing of this story was good, and it was never clear whether they would get back together or not, so I was kept in suspense until the end. 4/5 stars.
===A Lady's Lesson in Seduction by Barbara Monajem===
Camden Folk was once a notorious rake, known for bedding many women. Now he's consumed by desire for only one woman; young widow Frances Burdett. Yuletide festivities at his country estate seem to be the perfect time to seduce her.
After Frances' brief marriage, she vowed to never be sworn to another man. A kiss under the mistletoe reignites desires that she thought long forgotten, but can she give in to the passion without losing her heart?
This story was interesting, but I found the character of Camden got on my nerves quite often. He's very forceful with Frances, especially once he discovers that Frances doesn't like to be kissed. It seems less like he's seducing her and more like he's forcing her to be seduced. She seems to give in to it eventually however. While I enjoyed the idea of the story and the magical element of the house hobgoblin, I can only give this story three stars, due to irritating characters.
===The Pirate's Reckless Touch by Linda Skye===
Julianna Wright's father discovered a precious and ancient treasure map, and was killed for having it in his possession. Now Julianna is determined to find the treasure before Christmas, and escape the pirates pursuing her.
In order to complete her mission, Julianna needs the help of Captain Rawden Wood, a notorious pirate captain known throughout the seven seas. He's the only one capable of protecting her, but one touch from him could give everything away.
This was my favourite story in this book, mostly because I've never read a romance with a pirate captain and found it really interesting. I'm not ashamed to say that I was put in mind of Captain Jack Sparrow and Johnny Depp while I was reading this book; he certainly seems to have a lot in common with Rawden. I loved Julianna's character; at first she seems like any timid and reserved woman from this time period, but as you learn more about her, you'll definitely be shocked.
Again, this story was only around sixty pages long, but there's a lot of romance and action packed into those pages. The pacing was great once again, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I'd give this story 5/5 stars.
---About the Authors---
Christine Merrill's childhood dream was writing, and after twenty years she was able to make it a reality. Christine has written several Historical Romance novels, including 'The Inconvenient Duchess', 'Miss Winthorpe's Elopment', 'An Unladylike Offer', and many more.
Marguerite Kaye writes Historical Romances from her home in Scotland. She has over thirty books currently published, including 'Rumours that Ruined a Lady', 'The Beauty Within', 'Rake with a Frozen Heart', and many more. Marguerite actually sent me this compilation book in the post, in exchange for a review, as well as some some other books.
Annie Burrows has been making up stories in her head for as long as she remembers. Annie studied English Literature and Philosophy at University, where she met her husband. Annie has written many Historical Romances, including,'The Earl's untouched bride', 'Never trust a Rake', 'Captain Fawley's Innocent Bride', and many more.
Barbara Monajem wrote her first story in third grade about Apple Tree Gnomes. She published her first book, a middle-grade novel when her children were young.Now that her children are adults, Barbara writes Historical and Paranormal Romance books for adults. Some other books by Barbara are; 'Taste of Love and Evil', 'To Rescue or Ravish', and 'The Wanton Governess.'
Linda Skye is a travel addict with an insatiable appetite for the written word. Linda moves across country and ocean with her military husband and currently lives in the UK. Some other books by Linda are; 'A Pleasurable Shame', 'Unveiled for the Persian King', 'The Debutante's Rose', and many more.
Kindle Edition ASIN - B00F462A76
Kindle Edition price from Amazon - £4.20*
Paperback Edition ISBN13 - 978-0263910438
Paperback Edition price from Amazon - New and Used from £0.01 - £5.03 *
Each of these books are also available as individual ebooks.
*Prices correct at time of posting