I don't know about you, but I usually love to get into the whole Christmas spirit by reading a few stories that really inspire me. Last year I read some stories early, before Thanksgiving, and that didn't work for me, so this year I started reading my holiday-themed books after Thanksgiving. So far I've only read four new full romances set during the Christmas season, but I also have favorite reads from the past that I keep on my shelves (or my Kindle) that I love to re-read. (Click on titles to access links to reviews)
Mary Balogh's Christmas stories are my favorite hands down, so it has become a tradition for me to begin the season by reading one of her Regency Christmas romances. This year I read and recommend A Christmas Bride and Christmas Beau. Both are old Signet Regency Christmas romances written in Balogh's signature style. I truly enjoyed both stories. Dell's re-release edition includes both books which is handy since the originals are so hard to find. And from past years I recommend A Christmas Promise, a real favorite.
From last year there are two favorite reads that I'm planning to re-read during the Holidays this year because I loved them! Tis the Season To Be Sinful by Adrienne Basso and the Snowflakes and Stetsons Anthology with Jillian Hart, Carol Finch and Cheryl St. John. Tis the Season to be Sinful is a beautiful historical romance that I loved for its mature protagonists, the passion that I found there, and the gorgeous Christmas theme. And Snowflakes and Stetsons is a sweet western anthology with stories that hit the spot for me and that just happens to be written by three excellent authors.
When it comes to LGBT and M/M Romance, since 2010 it is becoming a tradition for me to re-read His for the Holidays with LB Gregg, Harper Fox, Josh Lanyon and ZA Maxfield. I have my favorite stories from that bunch, but for some reason I read them all last year and will probably read them all this year again. Additionally, I've already bookmarked Christmas Eve at The Powers That Be Cafe by Xavier Axelson. This is an atmospheric, intense and sexy M/M Romance novella that takes place during WWII. I loved this short piece by Axelson and hope to enjoy it again this year.
I also added a new story to my list. This is a FREE read and a holiday gift from the author to her readers. Sandra McDonald, author of the Lambda Award Winner and one of my favorite LGBT books of 2010 Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories, has released a brand new Diana Comet story for the holidays: Diana Comet and the Christmas Quilt. I plan to read and savor this little story as well as Ms. McDonald's flare for storytelling during the holidays. You can read it online here, or download the story from Smashwords.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
The Season For Surprises. . .Tis The Season To Be Sinful by Adrienne Basso is a sweet, heartwarming, family Christmas historical romance that also happens to be quite sexy! Now, I have to admit that the sexy part of it was a bit unexpected and maybe it shouldn't have been, especially with that title, but I think what really threw me about this book for a while is that all those factors are combined and work quite well.
Juliet Wentworth knew what she was getting into: a marriage of convenience that will save her estate and protect her family long into the future. But she wasn't expecting to find the passion of a lifetime in her new husband's arms. After just one night, Juliet knows a marriage in name only will never be enough. . .
The Season For Seduction. . .
Richard Harper's beautiful new bride has him reeling with desire--and running for cover. After all, falling in love was never part of the bargain. Yet when Christmastime celebrations bring him back to their country manor and back into Juliet's arms, Richard finds his wife is determined--and all too able--to win over his heart, one kiss at a time. . .
Ms. Basso uses the marriage of convenience trope to develop the romance between the beautiful widowed Juliet and Richard, a lonely American industrialist working in London. Richard wants to purchase an English estate and needs a society wife to serve as a hostess, but hopes she will also assuage his lonely nights. Juliet as a widow with three children and a controlling brother-in-law who holds the purse strings finds herself in dire circumstances. She needs income from her son's inherited estate and decides to sell it to Richard, however her brother-in-law will not allow it. He needs a wife for business purposes, she needs a husband to ensure a better future for her children. However, although it is clear that these two people make the decision to marry each other for convenience's sake, they are adults and passion also becomes a strong factor in their decision.
This is true for both Richard and Juliet and they are both upfront and quite open about their strong attraction for each other from the beginning making this a refreshingly adult situation. There is no coyness in Juliet's part, on the contrary she's a highly sensual woman and Richard wants her more every day. It takes a while for their actual relationship to take off though and the romance develops slowly. If or when misunderstandings do crop up this couple deals with them by talking and working out the issues one at a time, even as they disagree. Richard's past is explored this way as intimacy takes the place of sex between them. Julia is the first to recognize the change in their relationship, and Richard is the one who fights it. Fortunately she's relentless in her understanding and in the loving way she handles the situations.
The Christmas holidays are grandly represented in this story. As I was reading all the beautiful scenes describing a traditional English Christmas in the countryside, I was reminded of Mary Balogh's holiday stories and well... I love those! These scenes convey the heartwarming traditional holiday season atmosphere and tell the story of a loving family in the making. The secondary characters blend in with this story to help it along with the children, especially the two boys, making a real impact.
So, surprise, surprise, so far Tis The Season To Be Sinful is my favorite holiday read this year. It has everything from a really sexy couple that steam up the sheets, to three wonderful children who add to the story with pranks that provide some really fun moments as well as some emotional ones, and a wonderful representation of the holiday season.
Category: Historical Romance - Holiday
Publisher: Zebra/October 1, 2011
Source: Kensington Publishing
Visit Adrienne Basso here.