‘A Christmas in Bath’ by Cheryl Bolen

Luxury Christmas doorSTORY: All the characters from the first five Brides of Bath books will be serving up some Christmas cheer, while Glee Blankenship sharpens Cupid’s arrow.

Unbeknownst to scholarly Jonathan Blankenship, his sister-in-law Glee has decided this Christmas he needs a little push to make him see that his dear friend of four years, Miss Arbuckle, will make his perfect mate.

REVIEW: Miss Mary Arbuckle, age 23, is a plain spinster with little money living with her mother in Bath.  When she receives a message from her married friend, Glee Blankenship, to come and visit with her right away, she is somewhat concerned.  Glee is happily married to the very wealthy Gregory Blankenship and is the mother to two young children.  Mary and Glee have been friends since they both attended Miss Worth’s School for Young Ladies.  Through Glee and Gregory, Mary has become good friends with Jonathan Blankenship, Gregory’s brother.  They have many shared interests.  At age 27, Gregory is unmarried and as he adores his niece and nephew, has agreed to spend Christmas with Glee and Gregory.  He usually resides at Sutton Manor with his unhappy, widowed mother.

Glee has known for years that Mary is in love with Jonathan so her reason for summoning her friend is to inform her that she is going to do a makeover on her and see if she can be a matchmaker between Mary and Jonathan.  She changes her hairstyle and provides her with some nice dresses.

While Mary is pleased, she is rather uncomfortable with accepting these things from her friend.  She is also a complete innocent and is easily shocked at some of the ways that Glee chooses to live her life.

Will Mary and Jonathan reconnect?  Will her makeover draw his attention to her and spark love between them?

This is a sweet, somewhat humorous and romantic story written in the wonderful style that I have grown to truly enjoy from author Cheryl Bolen.  Readers are in for a lovely treat.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Love in the Library’ by Cheryl Bolen

litl cbSTORY: The Beauty and the Scholar…

Certain the “smart” Steffington twin is the person who can help her recover her late husband’s nearly priceless stolen Chaucer manuscript, Catherine Bexley tearfully persuades the scholar to assist her. A deal is struck. She’s particularly pleased that the Doctor of Letters is not interested in seducing her because she’s finished with men (owing to her late husband’s multitude of unfortunate alliances with… doxies). Regaining the manuscript and its subsequent sale will give her independence to ensure she never has to marry again.

Once he learns the poor, delicate widow is in danger of losing her heavily mortgaged home if they cannot find the valuable hologram, Dr. Melvin Steffington vows to do everything in his power to restore the rare Canterbury Tales to her. It’s obvious the pretty little thing needs a man to help her. Not normally the twin to take note of pretty little things, Melvin can’t help but to observe that Mrs. Bexley’s physical appearance is much like the beauties so admired by his twin brother.

He hadn’t counted on the fact he would have to pose as her husband as they race against the banker’s ticking clock. He hadn’t counted on the mysterious thief attempting to kill him. Most of all, he hadn’t counted on how close he would become to the lovely widow or how the kissing of said widow would become the most pleasant experience in his entire seven and twenty years…

REVIEW: Mrs. Catherine Bexley, at the young age of 27, is just out of mourning for her husband.  He left her a home which is nice and comfortable.  He also left her a truly valuable possession that has just been stolen.  It is a 400-year old early edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, one of only 3 in existence.  Unfortunately, her husband did not manage their money well and this book was to be Catherine’s nest egg that she could sell and be able to live a comfortable life.  Now that it is gone, she faces losing her home.

Twins, Elvin and Melvin Steffington are identical in looks but extremely different in personalities.  At the age of 27, first-born, Sir Elvin, is a Baronet and second born, Melvin, while being just a Mr. is extremely intelligent and has achieved his Doctor of Letters.  As he must earn his living, his goal is to work in a private library.  Elvin is a bit of a “lie-abed” man about town while Melvin is a man whose nose is always in a book and knows nothing about women.

The Steffington twins are good friends with Mrs. Bexley, and when she confides in Melvin about the loss of the Chaucer, they agree that he will help her try to find it.  She will then sell it and give him a percentage of the sale for helping her find it.  So, off they go on adventures in search of places where they think it might be.

As a thorn in her side, the extremely rich, yet obnoxiously boring braggart, Lord Longford, is constantly around trying to court Mrs. Bexley.

The relationship between Melvin and Catherine is just adorable.  Melvin is such an innocent that I simply wanted to give him a hug.  The comical parts of this book will have the reader chuckling often.  I would like to add that while I’m not a prude, I found it so refreshing to read a really good novel for a change that is what I call “clean.”  It’s truly representative of the time period.  I have not had the opportunity to read Cheryl Bolen’s novels before, but I can honestly say that she has risen high up on my list of favorite authors!

This is book #5 in The Brides of Bath series and is available today.

*Connie for b2b.

*ARC provided by the author.

‘Under the Mistletoe’ by Jill Shalvis

UTM JSSTORY: There’s no place like home for the holidays. And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer. But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright. Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet. But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.

Nick grew up without a family of his own so he’s overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season. Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia’s love for a lifetime.

REVIEW: I am sure that my lack of familiarity with Jill Shalvis and her Lucky Harbor series contributed to my full enjoyment of this story.

It was a bit harder for someone like myself to fully connect with already established community and family dynamic and although the story was well told and can stand on its own, I believe if read in order, I would have enjoyed it better.

The characters of Mia and Nick as well as the situation they find themselves in, were all a bit rushed for my liking. But then, this was a short novella, and there’s so much an author can do.

Mia and Nick had different backgrounds as adopted  children, and while she thrived in her family, Nick had a harder time of it. I wanted to feel Nick’s pain of being a neglected child, but didn’t manage because there was very little description of it. Yes I was told that he’d moved back and forth between foster homes, but there was just not enough of ‘feel’ into it.

Having past characters pop in and out of scenes was also distracting and confusing at times. Carlos was someone who I didn’t like much, but I bet you that the followers of this series were happy to see him appear. The same goes with the rest of Mia’s extended family, Ford and Tara, Mia’s biological parents; Chloe and Sawyer, the bride and groom of the wedding Mia’s attending.

In the end the story, for me at least, was just okay. For all you Jill Shalvis fans this will be a short, sweet, hot and sensual little novella that reunites a few characters you might have missed.

Book provided by NetGalley