STORY: An anthology of Regency novellas by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel and Miranda Neville.
The Duke’s Arms is an undistinguished little inn in the tiny village of Hopewell-on-Lyft. But one Christmas season sees both inn and village seething with adventure, intrigue, rabbits, and, above all, love as four couples find Yuletide happiness.
Grace Burrowes – A Knight Before Christmas
With her year of mourning at an end, Penelope Carrington must remarry in haste, or her portion of her late husband’s estate won’t be enough to dower her younger sisters. Shy, handsome man of business Sir Leviticus Sparrow longs to give Penelope a marriage proposal for Christmas – and his heart – but Sir Levi must first foil the other bachelors scheming to meet Penelope under the mistletoe in his place.
Carolyn Jewel – In The Duke’s Arms
What’s a Duke to do when he’s made an awful impression on the love of his life?
The Duke of Oxthorpe lost his intensely guarded heart to Miss Edith Clay when Edith’s rich cousin sought to attach the duke’s marital interest. So smitten is Oxthorpe with the former poor relation that he’s gone through intermediaries to sell Edith a property adjoining the ducal seat.
Edith doesn’t much care for the haughty duke, but as Christmas approaches, Oxthorpe reveals himself to be reserved rather than arrogant, considerate, and – blame the mistletoe! – an accomplished kisser. Will Edith hold Oxthorpe’s earlier behavior against him, or will she learn that the best holiday gifts can be the most unexpected?
Miranda Neville – Licensed To Wed
If Lord Carbury could learn to take no for an answer, his marriage proposal might earn him a yes!
Wyatt, Viscount Carbury is much too busy to court a bride, but when his childhood neighbor, Robina Weston, is left orphaned and penniless, Wyatt dutifully adds marrying Robina to his list of responsibilities.Wyatt is dismayed to learn that for Robina, poverty and pride are preferable to sharing life with an arrogant, infuriating man who always thinks he knows best.
When Wyatt and Robina must endure Christmas in the country together, antipathy turns to interest, and then to unexpected attraction. Will they fight their feelings, or yield to the surprising gifts the holidays offer?
Shana Galen – The Spy Beneath The Mistletoe
Fledgling spy Pierce Moneypence seeks a highwayman and the key to Eliza’s heart…
When weapons designer Eliza Qwillen (Q) and clerk to the mysterious M, Pierce Moneypence, arrive in the English countryside, they’re unprepared for the dangers that await. The operatives are intent upon capturing the highwayman styling himself as the New Sheriff of Nottingham. Secret rendezvous, mistaken identities, and cat-and-mouse games challenge these fledgling agents, but rediscovering their passion for each other is the most rewarding mission of all.
REVIEW: ‘A Knight Before Christmas’ by Grace Burrowes
Sir Leviticus (Levi) Sparrow is a widowed friend and financial advisor to Mrs. Penelope Carrington who was widowed nearly a year ago when her much older husband, Sixtus, passed away right before Christmas. He left her quite wealthy. One stipulation of his will is that if she agrees to marry again within a year of being widowed, she will gain even more of his holdings.
At first, Penelope had decided that she was content as she was and did not feel the need to marry right away. That is until some of her family members approached her with the fact that they were now in debt and needed quite a large sum of money from her to settle their debts. Therefore, she is now feeling the pressure to find a husband and very soon as Christmas is quickly approaching.
When Penelope confides her dilemma to Levi, he wants to tell her how he has always adored her and would love to marry her. However, he does not want to pressure her. Penelope has always enjoyed his friendship but always thought he was engaged to be married. Amanda Houston has told many people that she is engaged to Levi but he has never confirmed it. It turns out that she had found some poems Levi had written to his dead wife and she claims that he wrote them to her! Despicable woman!
Penelope has her own business of raising rabbits and selling them for the meat and fur. While most are kept in pens, some are allowed to roam the house. This is something she truly enjoys and it has been quite profitable for her.
Will Penelope and Levi be able to confess their affection to one another? What about Amanda? Will Levi be able to convince society that Amanda is lying?
This is a clever story and I loved picturing the rabbits hopping through a huge mansion.
‘In the Duke’s Arms’ by Carolyn Jewel
1817, The Duke’s Arms, Nottinghamshire England
Miss Edith Clay, 27, has come into some money which has allowed her to buy a home and furnish it. If she is careful with her funds, she should be able to support herself for sometime. On the Cook’s night off, she and her maid like to walk to The Duke’s Arms Inn to pick up their dinner. The weather has been very cold and now it is beginning to snow. As she has no other mode of transportation, she has decided to walk.
The Duke of Oxthorpe lives nearby in Killhope Castle. A very wealthy man, he has no living family and chooses to live alone with his servants. He rarely socializes. His father died before he was born and ignored by his mother, he was raised by tutors. His mother also died when he had just reached his majority.
The Duke of Oxthorpe happens to be at The Duke’s Arms and when he saw Edith walking home, he leaves and insists on giving her and her maid a ride in his coach. The Duke is aware of the windfall that she has received and offers to help her buy a curricle and a horse as she had had no experience with that.
As Christmas is approaching, Edith joins a committee that organizes quarterly assemblies. She agrees to make mistletoe balls for the next assembly scheduled for December 22nd. Edith is hoping that the Duke will attend. Their encounters increase when he helps her cut mistletoe for the ball and he finds a curricle she would like. Each encounter finds them getting to know one another better as they become friends. Will their friendship turn into love? I found this to be a delightful story that I enjoyed immensely.
‘Licensed to Wed’ by Miranda Neville
Wyatt Herbert, Viscount Carbury, age 33, is the pillar of his family and very organized. Each month, he makes a list of tasks to accomplish and checks them off when completed. However, there is one task that he never gets to and it just floats over to the following month. What is that you ask? Well, it is for him to propose to Robina Weston.
Miss Robina Weston, age 25, is a single young woman living at the largesse of her godmother since the death of her parents. She knows that she cannot stay with her godmother much longer and is soon to accept a position as companion to a curmudgeonly old lady. Robina and Carbury have been friends since childhood. Their families were friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, both of their fathers were not good money managers.
Each month, Carbury visits Robina and chats with her for an hour or so but can never bring himself to propose until one day he finally gets his nerve up. It is approaching Christmas time and he feels they could be married and have a quick sojourn at his home outside London, Bourton Hall. Afterward, they can return to London and his usual schedule will not be interrupted. Ah – perfect planning for his structured life.
Unfortunately, when his proposal is put forth in a non-romantic and matter-of-fact manner, Robina is angered that he assumes she will automatically accept him. Instead, to his utter shock, she declines. Carbury heads home to Bourton Hall anyway to spend Christmas with his grandfather. Added to his already busy schedule, Carbury has recently taken over the guardianship of his late cousin’s four children. His plan is to stop by there on his way home to consult with the widow regarding the children. As her year of mourning is nearly at an end, she is ready to find another husband and has her eyes set firmly on Carbury.
Enroute to her new position, Robina is stranded at The Duke’s Arms Inn after the coach she was riding in was robbed by the new Sheriff on Nottinghamshire who has wreaked havoc in the area. As Carbury is staying nearby at the widow’s home, he learns of Robina’s situation and arranges for her to stay with the widow. What will come of this threesome together in the same house? Jealousy? Will Robina and Carbury be able to mend fences?
This was a delightful novella and one I enjoyed very much. Robina is a strong heroine and Carbury is a man who needs a woman like her to make his life complete.
‘The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe’ by Shana Galen
Christmas has just passed and Miss Elina Qwillen, age 35, is staying at The Duke’s Arms Inn. Her job as a covert spy and weapons engineer is very exciting and she is extremely satisfied with her life. She loves her work and is always looking forward to more missions.
Pierce Moneypence happens to be staying at the same Inn. He is also a spy and they are well acquainted with one another. As a matter of fact, at one time he had asked her to marry him but she refused because she felt he just wanted a wife like her to further his career.
As it turns out, they both have been assigned to find the highwayman known as The New Sheriff of Nottinghamshire that has terrorized the area. He has held up coaches and robbing the passengers of their money and treasures.
Together, they begin watching the people coming and going, plus those staying at the Inn to try and find anyone if a local person could be the highwayman. Their days at the Inn put them in close contact with one another which causes their old flame to spark again. Will they be able to find love in their lives? Will The New Sheriff of Nottinghamshire finally be apprehended?
This is a cute romantic story. The descriptions of the cold and snow were perfectly written to the point I nearly needed to grab a sweater!
Connie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the authors