Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Today's Special - - Janna MacGregor

I'm delighted to welcome one of my favorite new authors today to celebrate the release of her second book, The Bride Who Got Lucky. Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs.  

Welcome, Janna! It’s a pleasure to have you join us to celebrate today’s release of The Bride Who Got Lucky. I adored it!

Hi PJ! I’m so delighted that you invited me here today! Yay!! Emma and Somerton’s story was a pure joy to write. I’m glad you enjoyed it!  

What should readers expect from this second book in your The Cavensham Heiresses series?

Chronologically, The Bride Who Got Lucky starts immediately after The Bad Luck Bride.  The heroine Lady Emma Cavensham is a bibliophile and a strong believer that women should be valued as much as men in society. While other women are crazy about dresses and social calls from gentlemen, Emma wants nothing more in life than a good book. Years later, after losing her best friend, Lady Lena Aulton, under suspicious circumstances, Emma is determined to find answers. Nothing will keep the strong-willed Emma from making the suspect, Lord Aulton, answer for his crime.

However, a family friend, Nicholas St. Mauer, the reclusive Earl of Somerton, accepts the responsibility of keeping Emma out of trouble. Basically, he thwarts her every move and enjoys every single minute of it. Emma is like a breath of fresh air to Somerton who spends his days in trade with the goal of someday surpassing his estranged father’s wealth.  Emma and Somerton clash like titans while fighting their growing attraction to one another. It’s no wonder that their story possesses plenty of swoon-worthy romance as the spirited Lady melts this sexy Scrooge’s heart.

Emma has a special place she goes when she feels the need to, as she says, “seek my own counsel.” Where do you go when you need to be alone with your thoughts?


Oh PJ, what a great question! I have twenty-six miles of wooded walking trails behind my house. Nestled in the heart of Kansas City, these trails are like an oasis. Deer, wild turkey, raccoons, foxes, and owls inhabit the area. When I get stuck in a story or if a character isn’t being cooperative, I find myself walking the trails trying to work out what the issues are in my stories. 


Truthfully, whether I ‘m stuck or not, I find a daily walk with my pug, Mad Max, helps prepare me for my writing day while my other pug, Pollie, waits for me in my writing room.

Nick and Emma are both fiercely independent people who, for their own individual reasons, have been resistant to the idea of marriage. What convinced you that these two were meant for one another?

These two first appeared in The Bad Luck Bride. Both were the best friends of the couple in that story.  It was the christening scene in the epilogue of The Bad Luck Bride that really told me that these two would make a fantastic couple. By then, Somerton had already kept Emma from acquiring a rare book. When the baby Somerton was holding threw a fit during the christening, Emma had to save him-with aplomb and grace! LOL! It was the perfect set up for their story.

I love a redeemed bad boy and I’ve seen tendrils of possibility for a certain secondary character from these books. Do you have any plans for a happy ending for Lord Paul?  

Hmmm, I’m actually writing his story now. He’s a hero who has a great heart but has made some bad decisions in his life. Now, he’s determined to clean up all the messes he’s made over the years. When he comes across an estranged friend’s sister, Lady Daphne Hallworth, in need of help, he sees this as an opportunity to make amends with his friend. However, his good intentions with Daphne turn into an attraction that he can’t fight no matter the costs.

Do you have plans for any of the other secondary characters from these books? There are several I find quite intriguing.

Lord William Cavensham’s story is next. He’ll meet a duke’s daughter, Lady Theodora Ainsley, who’s in hiding from her father. I haven’t decided the next one after that. You and I discussed the series in Dallas where we attended the 2017 Buns and Roses. You gave me some great ideas, but if your readers would like to voice their opinion, I’m all for it!

Rapid Fire Q&A:

Homebody or World traveler?

World traveler first, but if I’m writing, I’m a homebody-almost a recluse like Somerton.

Apple Cinnamon or Pumpkin Spice?

Apple Cinnamon-that’s why Emma loves apples, and apple tarts are Somerton’s favorite.

Heels or Sneakers?

Heels-80% of the time; Sneakers-10% of the time; Barefoot-10% of the time.

Favorite new TV show?

I just discovered Versailles. I need to watch the first season to really be caught up.

Book you’re currently reading?

I just finished the Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt. I’m sad as it’s the last full-length novel in this series—one of my favorite series of all time. I believe there’s a final novella though. Thank heavens; Eloisa James has a new series starting with Wilde in Love! I can’t wait to start reading my copy.  

Where can readers find you online?

Facebook: Janna MacGregor
Twitter: @jannamacgregor
Instagram: jannamacgregor

What’s next?

The next book in the Cavensham Heiresses series is The Luck of the Bride. This story features March Lawson who is introduced in The Bride Who Got Lucky and Michael Cavensham, the Marquess of McCalpin. I’m currently working on book four in the series—it features Lord Paul Barstow, the Duke of Southart and Lady Daphne Hallworth.

Would you like to add anything else?

I’m so delighted to be here today! Thank you, PJ, for asking me to stop by The Romance Dish! You always make it so much fun. If anyone is attending the Barbara Vey Readers Weekend in April, I’ll be there. Can’t wait to meet you!

Thanks for visiting with us today, Janna! Do you want to ask our readers a question?

If you were a woman living in Regency times and boldly wanted to work outside the home, what profession would you pursue?

I have a signed copy of The Bad Luck Bride for one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post before 11:00 PM (Eastern Time), November 1, 2017. (U.S. only)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Today's Special - - Deb Marlowe

Deb Marlowe was one of the first people I met at my first RWA national conference in 2009 and one of the nicest. Since then, I've followed her writing journey with pleasure. Today, I'm delighted to welcome her to The Romance Dish to talk a bit about her two novellas in the multi-author Castle Keyvnor series. 

A Golden Heart Award winner and Rita nominee, Deb grew up in Pennsylvania with her nose in a book. Luckily, she'd read enough romances to recognize the true modern hero she met at a college Halloween party--even though he wore a tuxedo t-shirt instead of breeches and boots. They married, settled in North Carolina and produced two handsome, intelligent and genuinely amusing boys. Though she spends much of her time with her nose in her laptop, for the sake of her family she does occasionally abandon her inner world for the domestic adventure of laundry, dinner and carpool. Despite her sacrifice, not one of the men in her family is yet willing to don breeches or tall boots. She's working on it.

Take it away, Deb! 

Last fall, twelve authors got together for the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor series.  It was a series of stories, all set at the reading of a will in a haunted castle in Cornwall.  We had great fun intertwining the stories of our Hambly family and their friends and acquaintances, and creating all manner of paranormal creatures in and about the castle, including ghosts, gypsies, witches, a demon and pixies!  

My contribution to that collection was Lady Tamsyn and the Pixie’s Curse, in the book Bedeviled.

Her father inherited an earldom and a castle. Has Lady Tamsyn inherited a curse?

It's what it feels like when she discovers that she can see the truth behind the lies that men tell. All she wanted on arrival at Castle Keyvnor was to avoid Mr. Gryffyn Cardew, but in a sea of lies, he is the one who always tells her the truth.

Together they find that her curse might just be a gift--and their love the key to preventing a tragedy.

This year we decided to go back to the castle at Christmas! Two of the Hambly girls are getting married in a double ceremony on Christmas Eve—and we have twelve new stories set in and about Castle Keyvnor!

This time my story is Lord Locryn and the Pixie’s Kiss, in the book Charmed at Christmas.

When is a kiss actually a curse? When an irate Pixie forbids you to kiss the wrong girl---ever. Unfortunately, Lord Locryn Pendarvis has no idea why girls are falling all over themselves not to kiss him. He only knows that after a certain point, the risk of humiliation outweighs desire.

Until he meets Lady Gwyn Hambly again. She's witty, charming and beautiful---and just as interested in him as he is in her. They'll do anything to ensure their future together---even fight the supernatural forces aligned against them.

PJ, again! Prepare to be charmed by these sweet, delightful tales of love, romance, and a bit of magic set on the wild Cornish coast. I thoroughly enjoyed both novellas. My only complaint is that I want more! In both stories, Deb Marlowe transported me to Castle Keyvnor and into the lives of her characters, both human and supernatural. Those characters - humans, pixies, ghosts, demons, and more - are richly vibrant and fully dimensional, engaging both my interest and my emotions. Surprisingly, my emotional attachment to a well-meaning pixie and a young ghost were as strong as my bond with the human couples. Their stories, while short in length, are packed with everything I could want in a full-length romance, including sigh-worthy happy endings. Tamsyn, Gryff, Gwyn, and Locryn are all likeable characters, for whom I cheered from beginning to end. I'm hoping Deb Marlowe plans more stories at Castle Keyvnor. I'm more than ready for a return trip! 

Have you read any of Deb Marlowe's stories?

Do you enjoy romances with a touch of magic?

Do you read holiday-themed anthologies?

Do you believe in things that go bump in the night?

Because I enjoyed these novellas so much, I'm giving away a Kindle copy of Lady Tamsyn and the Pixie's Curse and a Kindle copy of the Charmed at Christmas anthology which includes "Lord Locryn and the Pixie's Kiss." 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Winners - - Buns & Roses

The randomly chosen winners from my Buns & Roses post are:

Frances B.




The first winner to contact me at 
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com 
gets their choice of the two prizes.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Review Tour - - Debbie Mason's Sugarplum Way

Sugarplum Way
By Debbie Mason
Harmony Harbor - Book 4
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Reviewed by PJ

Romance writer Julia Landon knows how to write a happily-ever-after. Creating one for herself is a whole different story. But after a surprising--and surprisingly passionate--kiss under the mistletoe at Harmony Harbor's holiday party last year, Julia thought she might have finally found her very own chance at true love. Until she learns her Mr. Tall, Dark, and Broodingly Handsome has sworn off relationships. Well, if she can't have him in real life, Julia knows just how to get the next best thing....

Aidan's only priority is to be the best single dad ever. And this year, he plans to make the holidays magical for his little girl, Ella Rose. But visions of stolen kisses under the mistletoe keep dancing in his head, and when he finds out Julia has written him into her latest novel, he can't help imagining the possibilities of a future together. Little does he know, though, Julia has been keeping a secret that threatens all their dreams. Luckily, 'tis the season for a little Christmas magic.

Bookstore owner and self-appointed Christmas fairy, Julia Landon is beloved by almost everyone in Harmony Harbor. Full of goodness and light, she's funny, kind, and generous, bringing magical stories to life for the children of the town, watching over the neglected, and acting as the Gallagher family's own personal guardian angel. But Julia is keeping secrets and one of them weighs heavily on her. If it comes to light, it could not only tear apart the happiness she's found among the citizens of Harmony Harbor but ruin her deepening relationship with Aidan Gallagher. 

Aidan is having troubles of his own. The gruff, cynical former DEA agent is battling his ex-wife over what's best for their young daughter, still grieving over the deaths of his mother and baby sister years ago, and struggling with the deep-seated anger and bitterness he doesn't realize he still has. The last thing he needs is to be sidetracked by Harmony Harbor's very own Christmas elf, yet that's exactly what seems to be happening. Even though he's sure Julia is hiding something, he can't seem to stay away from her. The more time he spends with her, the more she burrows into his heart and softens his edges but when Julia's secret is exposed will Aidan be able to find forgiveness in his heart?

I adored this couple. They fill each other's spaces, creating a solid foundation for a lasting love. Though the journey to their HEA is filled with twists and turns, I like that Mason injects a healthy dose of humor and light along with the emotional turmoil and dash of danger. As with other stories in this series, I appreciate that Aidan's ex (formerly portrayed as a selfish witch) is more fully explored. With a seven-year-old daughter in the picture, Aidan and Julia cannot exist outside of his former family unit (nor do they want to) and Mason approaches that dynamic with thoughtful, realistic care. I look forward to, hopefully, seeing more of Harper's character evolve in future books. Julia's Texas sheriff father and one of her three protective brothers are introduced in this book. I'm intrigued by both of them and keeping my fingers crossed for more sightings, either in this series or a future one.

I've fallen in love with Debbie Mason's Harmony Harbor. She's created a group of interesting, realistic characters and woven them into a perfectly imperfect fabric of life in her small east-coast town. There are secrets, betrayals, loves lost...and won, second chances, intrigue, a matchmaking ghost, a butler who isn't what he seems, wonderfully realistic children who are exactly as they seem, characters filled with kindness and generosity, others filled with pettiness and jealousy, and, finally, deeply emotional love between couples of all ages. As Julia would say, a forever and always love. 

While each of the books in this series stands on its own, I strongly encourage readers to read the series books in order. There are several characters, relationships, and story threads that continue to evolve throughout the books. Reading them in order will deepen and enrich your understanding and appreciation of these characters and their stories. The books, in order, are: Mistletoe Cottage, Starlight Bridge, Primrose Lane, and Sugarplum Way

Have you read Debbie Mason's books?

Do you enjoy books that focus more on emotion than physical love scenes?

Do you enjoy ensemble casts in your romances?

Do you believe in Santa?

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Connect with Debbie

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Debbie Mason’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, October 23rd: Romancing the Readers
Tuesday, October 24th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, October 26th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Friday, October 27th: The Romance Dish
Monday, October 30thMs. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, November 1stBroken Teepee – excerpt
Thursday, November 2ndRomantic Reads and Such
Friday, November 3rdLaura’s Reviews
Monday, November 6thBooks a la Mode – excerpt
Tuesday, November 7thKaty’s Library blog and Instagram
Wednesday, November 8thFrom the TBR Pile
Thursday, November 9thBooks and Spoons – excerpt
Friday, November 10thView from the Birdhouse
Monday, November 13thMoonlight Rendezvous
Tuesday, November 14thBewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, November 15thSuzy Approved
Thursday, November 16thThoughts on This ‘n That
Friday, November 17thNovel Gossip
Monday, November 20thSatisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Tuesday, November 21stOMG Reads

Wednesday, November 22ndJathan & Heather

Thursday, October 26, 2017

PJ's Adventures - - Buns & Roses

Lorraine Heath
One of my goals for this year is to visit new places and meet new people. This past weekend I did both when I traveled to Texas to attend the 2017 Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy. I had heard about B&R from Lorraine Heath, a driving force behind the event and Donna Finlay, a hardworking B&R committee member and was eager to experience it firsthand. This Tea - a whole weekend of events, actually - benefits the Richardson (TX) Adult Literacy Center, an organization with the mission to transform lives by "providing English as a second language instruction to adults who live or work in Richardson or the Richardson Independent School District area." In the past year, more than 500 adults have been helped by their English as a Second Language programs in classes that are all taught by trained volunteers. Literacy is a cause near and dear to my heart so, of course, I was happy to direct my dollars their way. Add to that a fun weekend with thirty romance authors plus fellow romance readers and how could I say no? I'm so glad I said yes! Here are a few highlights from my Buns & Roses weekend.

Fellow reader - and B&R committee member - Donna Finlay picked me up at the airport Friday morning and was my host for the day. She took me to the adorable town of Grapevine where I could have spent the entire day browsing the shops. Spices and Teas and Pastries...Oh, My! 

Friday night, I joined good friend Suzanne Ferrell and her husband for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. The food was delicious, the ambiance made me feel like I was in old Mexico, and the company was, as always, superb. I love catching up with old friends! If you haven't read Suzanne's terrific romantic suspense novels, I highly recommend them. Her newest, Close to Danger was just released October 10.

Janna MacGregor and Valerie Bowman

On Saturday, about 30 authors and readers gathered at Spring Creek BBQ in Garland for some down-home Texas deliciousness. The conversation was lively, the smiles, beaming, and the food, superb. Janna and Valerie both have new books coming out on October 31. Be sure to check out The Bride Who Got Lucky and The Right Kind of Rogue. I loved both of them!

Julia London, Cindy Nord, PJ, Mary Jo Putney

Following lunch, we all headed for Barnes & Noble at the Firewheel Town Center where 20 romance authors signed books with B&N generously donating a portion of all book sales to the Literacy Center. Smart, talented, wonderful women gathering for a good cause. Such fun! 

Jo Davis, Kari Lynn Dell, Elizabeth Essex, Cheryl Etchison

After the signing, we were on our way to the Buns & Roses VIP Authors' Reception at the home of committee member, Karen. What a gracious hostess she is! See that quilt over there? It was made by committee member, Wanda and included each of this year's authors. All 30 of them! The quilt was raffled off at the Tea on Sunday. Alas, I didn't win but not for lack of stuffing the box with raffle tickets. ;-)

Sunday brought the main event: The Buns & Roses Tea. What a fun time! I met online friends in person for the first time, caught up with friends I didn't know would be there, and made new friends, something I always enjoy. Here I am with the fabulous Lenora Bell! Are you reading her books? I love them! I already have my calendar marked for her next book, What a Difference a Duke Makes, due out in March. 

With one of my all-time favorite authors, Sabrina Jeffries. I'm so excited for her next book, The Secret of Flirting, due out in March. Baron Fulkham finally meets his match! 

Sabrina Jeffries & PJ

Diane Kelly and D.D. Ayres
In the "it's a small world" category, I even discovered an unexpected connection to one of those new friends. At the Tea, each author hosts a table. I sat with Diane Kelly (who is delightful in addition to being a terrific author!). As lunch was served, I heard a woman on the opposite side of the large, round table mention being a Cubs fan (I am too). I introduced myself, we started chatting, and eventually discovered that when she was growing up her family vacationed every summer on a small lake in Michigan...the same small lake I grew up on! A woman from Chicago who now lives in Dallas sits down at a table with a woman from Michigan who now lives in North Carolina and they discover they both spent time on the same small lake between two tiny towns in Michigan. What are the odds? You never know what you'll discover when you smile and chat with a stranger.

You just know there's mischief brewing with these four! 

Tracey Livesay, Ilona Andrews, Cathy Maxwell, Cheryl Etchison

Kerrelyn Sparks

In addition to the Tea, Sunday afternoon also included the auction of several donated items (really good items!), the raffle of the quilt and a Kindle Paperwhite, and a book signing with all thirty authors. Each person in attendance at the Tea received a beautiful Buns & Roses Autograph Keepsake book (designed by Lyndsey Lewellen who designs fabulous romance covers) which the authors happily signed. The B&R committee thinks of everything!

One of the special highlights of attending events like this is connecting with online reader friends...

Ladies of the Facebook Old School Romance Book Club

A special highlight of the afternoon is the unveiling of the Buns & Roses Bear. Each year, adorable stuffed bears are donated, then costumed by a volunteer in a theme connected to that year's guest speaker. The bears are pre-sold and any still available are then sold at the Tea in a high-energy process with women all over the room madly waving $20 bills in the air and hoping to take one of these cuties home. This year's magic wizard bear (Isn't he adorable?) was themed for the speakers, husband and wife writing team Ilona Andrews who gave an inspiring speech about the impact of literacy on their lives. By the way, if you have not yet discovered their books, I highly recommend anything written by these talented writers!

Because it's all about the shoes...

And the laughter...

PJ & Cathy Maxwell

And the smiles...

Addison Fox

And the cake...

I love when people come together for fun and a good cause. Buns & Roses combines the two in an event that is not to be missed. I had the best time and am already hoping for a return visit.

What was your last adventure?

Have you participated in any "events for a cause" lately?

What authors would you most like to meet in person?

One randomly chosen person will receive a signed book and the Buns & Roses Autograph Keepsake book. (U.S. only)

One randomly chosen person will receive a signed copy of Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews and a 2017 Buns & Roses Bear. (U.S. only)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review - - Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright
By Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Ballantine
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

Merry Knight works as a temp for Matterson Consulting to save money for college tuition. With the company facing a major deadline on a report due before the Christmas holiday, overtime has become standard procedure. Adding to the stress is a boss who is a workaholic with little sympathy for employees who deviate from the rules. Merry also worries about her mother whose multiple sclerosis is worsening, and she is protective of her eighteen-year-old brother, Patrick, who has Down syndrome. But the concern is not one-sided. Merry’s mother and brother are concerned about Merry’s lack of a social life, so concerned that they sign her up for an online dating service for her birthday and give her the gift in advance of her December 26 birthday. Merry is not thrilled with the gift, but she is too fond of her brother to dampen his enthusiasm. With Merry Smith as a pseudonym and a picture of Patrick’s dog Bogie on her profile, Merry is officially part of Mix & Mingle for six months.

Jayson Bright is vice-president of Matterson Consulting. With an eye on becoming company president when his uncle retires, Jayson is doing all within his power to see that the big project for Boeing Company comes in on or before the deadline. His business has become his life. When his cousin and best friend, Cooper, shows up in Seattle to ask Jayson to be his best man at his wedding to an old friend whom he met through Mix & Mingle, Jayson decides to sign up for the service with Jay as his pseudonym and, inspired by Merry’s photo, a photo of his childhood golden retriever, Rocky, as his picture.

Jayson is still skeptical, but he wonders if “Merry Smith,” like him, is hoping to meet someone who wants to be valued for who she is rather than what she looks like or the size of her bank account. Based on this hope, Jayson sends her a “wink.” At Patrick’s urging, Merry responds, and soon Merry and Jason become online friends whose nightly chats become increasingly important to them. Of course, problems arise when they meet and real identities are exposed.

Debbie Macomber’s annual Christmas novels have become a holiday tradition for many romance readers. Merry and Bright is a sweet addition to Macomber’s long list of Christmas stories. Merry and Jayson are opposites in many ways. A holiday baby christened Merry Noelle, Merry loves Christmas and all the decorations and festivities. Jayson belongs to the Bah-Humbug group who sees Christmas as an interruption of work. Merry bakes Christmas cookies for all the people who render her service in her daily life. Jayson “gave at the office” and wants a homeless man out of sight. Merry is part of a close, loving family and has lovely memories of family-centered Christmases. Jayson grew up in boarding schools and summer camps, distant from his divorced parents, with Cooper as his only real family. Christmas brought lavish gifts but no memories to cherish. Part of Jayson’s attraction to Merry is based on how her very different upbringing has shaped the person she is. Macomber gives her characters an ending sure to please the most Christmas-addicted Scrooge fan.

The romance in this one is predictable from the beginning, but that predictability will not lessen its charm for Macomber’s large and loyal fan base. Others may find that the greater charm lies in the author’s portrait of a close-knit family who face adversity with courage and whose celebration has more to do with the love they share than with the presents they wrap.

If you have enjoyed Macomber’s other Christmas romances or if you are a reader with a fondness for kisses-only romance with traditional Christmas themes, you should add this one to your reading plans for this holiday season.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Review - - A Christmas to Remember

A Christmas to Remember
By Lisa Kleypas, Lorraine Heath,
Megan Frampton, and Vivienne Lorret
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Reviewed by Janga

The season for Christmas romances has begun, and Avon’s anthology of reissued novellas by a quartet of genre stars is one that will delight readers who prefer their Christmas tales with a historical setting.

Lisa Kleypas’s Rita-winning I Will, first published in 2001 in the anthology Wish List, leads off.  The Earl of Rochester is dying, and he has threatened to leave his unentailed fortune away from his only legitimate son, Andrew, Lord Drake, unless the young man reforms his dissolute lifestyle. Andrew, who has used that lifestyle as a weapon against his father, is forced to conceive a plan that will convince the old earl that his heir has traded riotous living for respectability and responsibility. He needs the cooperation of Miss Caroline Hargreaves, a model of rectitude, to complete his plan. Andrew promises to pay Caroline’s younger brother’s gambling debts and to free him from Andrew’s ruinous influence if she agrees to a fake courtship. Hostility yields to attraction and then love as the two spend time together. Predictable? Perhaps, but it is a joyous read nonetheless. A bluestocking heroine who saves the hero and a hero who is redeemed make this a cherished favorite for me.  This novella is part of Kleypas’s Capital Theatre series, and fans of that series will be pleased to see that Andrew’s illegitimate half-brother, Logan Scott and his wife Madeline (Because You’re Mine) make an appearance. This one is an unqualified five-star read for me.

Romance Dish regulars know that I love a good reunited lovers tale, and Lorraine Heath gives that trope an interesting twist in Deck the Halls with Love, a 2012 novella with strong links to Lord of Temptation, the second novel in Heath’s Lost Lords of Pembrook series. In that book, Alistair Wakefield, the Marquess of Chetwyn, frees his almost-bride Lady Anne Hayworth to marry her true love, Lord Tristan Easton. In the novella, Chetwyn is fighting for a second chance with Lady Meredith Hargreaves, the woman he loved before and after his betrothal to Lady Anne. But Lady Meredith’s marriage to another is to take place the day after Christmas, and Chetwyn must do the seemingly impossible—persuade Lady Meredith, who was heartbroken when he abruptly ended their promising courtship to enter a duty-bound relationship, to stop her wedding and trust her heart to him. A snowstorm provides the opportunity for a double Christmas miracle—the unlikable Chetwyn of Lord of Temptation proves his nobility and true love wins the day when Meredith exercises her gift of choice. Heath is among the best in the genre when she hits the mark, and she hits it unerringly here. I especially love all the “gifts” that add deeper meaning to this Christmas romance. I give this one 4.5 stars.

Megan Frampton’s No Groom at the Inn, part of her Dukes Behaving Badly series despite the absence of dukes, is an entertaining read with enough heart to save it from mere cleverness. Lady Sophronia Bettesford, only child of the Earl of Lunsford, was left impoverished by the death of her loving but improvident father. All she has to look forward to is a future as an unpaid servant in a cousin’s home where she will be in charge of six children and twenty-seven chickens. Mr. James Archer is a young man possessed of a fortune and in need of a faux fiancée. Committed to a life of travel, adventure, and beautiful women whose place in his life is strictly temporary, James panics when he learns of his mother’s plans for him at a holiday house party filled with marriageable maidens. He tells his mother he is deeply in love and engaged. He offers Sophronia a cottage where she and her devoted maid can live free of obnoxious relatives if she agrees to be his make-believe fiancée. What follows is a story filled with fun, lots of clever wordplay, and Frampton’s trademark humor. Sophronia is a dear, and James, although sometimes arrogant, can be forgiven much because he loves his mother and appreciates Sophronia even before he falls in love with her. The novella, originally published in 2015, didn’t quite reach the level of the novels in this series, but it was sweet and amusing. I award it four stars and five smiles. I loved the chapter prefaces!

Vivienne Lorret’s The Duke’s Christmas Wish, which first appeared in the 2015 anthology All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke, is the only one of the four novellas that I had never read. It was also my first encounter with this author, so I am not sure how it fits into her Season’s Original series, although publication info tells me that it does. It is another Christmas house party story. In this case, the house party is hosted by Northcliff Bromley, Duke of Vale, who is using it to prove the soundness of his Marriage Formula, a logical system based on the premise that money, bloodlines, and common interests are the best grounds for a successful marriage. Miss Ivy Sutherland, whom the duke notes is of “no consequence” since she is merely the daughter of a country gentleman and possessed of none of the required assets, nevertheless challenges the duke’s assumptions because he cannot ignore her intelligence, her impulsivity (a marked contrast to his careful thought), or her ability to entrench herself in his mind.  This story has an abundance of charm, and I liked it enough to add other books in the series to my wish list. It is another four-star read.

A Christmas to Remember is a rare anthology without a weak story in the bunch. I highly recommend it for historical romance readers who may have missed the novellas the first time. If you are a rereader like me, you will still find this a winning Christmas read. I think I’ve read Kleypas’s I Will every Christmas since it was first released, and I find it enchanting every time.