Review: All is Mary and Bright


Andrew Bright, the Earl of Sanders, is tired of women. Ever since he inherited his father’s title, it’s been a nightmare when his mother invites female friends to his house–especially friends with unwed daughters. Even if he expresses no interest in the unwed lady, he will find her ‘accidentally’ waiting in his library.

So irate does he become that he avoids his London townhouse whenever his mother invites friends.

This time, circumstances are different. His mother and sisters have come from their country house to celebrate Christmas with him in London. In doing so, they have sacrificed many beloved Christmas traditions, and he appreciates their visit.

There is one problem, though: they have once again brought friends, a Mrs. Hatcher and her daughter, Mary. Will Mary Hatcher be the next lady he finds in his library?

Andrew could avoid the townhouse again and spend time with his questionable friends. Gamblers and drinkers, he and his friends normally go to the city for a bit of fun…and sometimes, trouble. 

However, following an embarrassing episode with these friends at the Frost Fair, Andrew has had enough. He decides he would rather spend the holidays with his family…and the Hatcher women.

When Andrew learns that Mary Hatcher is already engaged, he feels relief. At least there won’t be another flirt in his library. This relief is short-lived, though; unknowingly, Mary begins to win him over. He wants to know everything about her. He would do anything in his power to make her happy.

What cruel fate that he has fallen in love with the one woman woman he can’t have.

He feels a spark of hope on learning that Miss Hatcher hasn’t seen her fiance in two years. It becomes clear that she knows nothing about her fiance, and Andrew wonders if he can convince her to change her mind.

The truth is that Mary’s fiance can live two years away from her, but Andrew can’t live a day without her.

He soon learns that there is a reason Mary is being forced to marry a stranger. Her father is managing her life from a distance. Can Andrew and Mary live happily ever after, or will she be forced to go through with this marriage of convenience?

Marriages of convenience were common in their era, but they were usually contracts rather than vows of love. Many arranged marriages were miserable or apathetic. A person’s heart should never be used as a bargaining chip to pay a debt.

I loved that this was the message of the book. There is no better gift for Christmas than true love.

Read Kasey Stockton’s other fantastic Christmas story, A Duke for Lady Eve!

Review: Her Silent Knight


How does a person know if they’re in love or just infatuated? One can mistake intrigue, jealousy, or obsession with love. It’s especially easy to make this mistake when you are young–when the romance in question would be forbidden–when sneaking off on clandestine visits gives you an adrenaline rush.

You feel alive, like the heroine of a great romance novel…but in most cases you are not in love.

In Ashtyn Newbold’s new Christmas Regency novel, Her Silent Knight, Selina Ellis believes herself to be in love. She seizes every opportunity to meet with her beau, Noah, against her mother’s wishes. One day during the Frost Fair on the frozen Thames river, she gives her mother the slip to find Noah and the refuge of his arms.

She’s convinced that no one she knows will discover them.

Things do not go as planned, however. Strolling on the frozen surface of the Thames is an old childhood friend, Edmund, whom she has not seen in years. He came to London to be by his ailing grandmother’s side during her last moments, but the heavy snowfall delayed his journey, so he was unable to see her.

Stranded in London because of the snow, Edmund spots Selina with Noah. He knows about Noah and the man’s rakish reputation; outraged, he determines not to let Selina be used. He decides that he will do everything in his power to prevent Selina from marrying the man. After all, Noah does not truly love her; he keeps her around for reasons of interest.

How will Edmund change Selina’s mind when she believes herself to be in love? The best plan he can come up with is to show her what real love looks like. She’s blinded by the adventure of a forbidden romance, but does not yet know what it’s like to be loved.

When her mother invites Edmund to stay with them in their house for the holidays, he has plenty of time to open her eyes. How will he do this, though, when she is determined to avoid him–when she does all she can think of to have him tossed out–when she makes him promise not to interfere?

Most of all, how will Edmund do this without falling in love with her?

My thoughts as I read this were Poor Selina. She wants what everyone else does–love–and believes she has found it with Noah. He puts on a great act of caring for her, but in reality is taking advantage of her youth and inexperience. Edmund knows this and, though Selina is irritated by his meddling in her romance, he becomes her knight–he will not allow her heart to be tread upon.

Edmund’s presence and honest desire to make her feel loved will make Selina see reality. As Selina is exposed to real love, she notices her thoughts beginning to gravitate to Edmund rather than Noah. Seeing Edmund enjoy a laugh with another lady gives her a most bitter feeling; could it be jealousy?

Selina begins to realize what Noah never gave her–but Edmund is.

Pride can be the greatest barrier to our happiness. Sooner or later, we all learn what true love is like. The journey isn’t easy, though. You make mistakes and later reflect on how silly you were–chasing an infatuation, thinking it would be your happily ever after!

Thanks to Edmund, Selina finds love for Christmas–and finally sees that what she had with Noah was not a happily ever after. 

I enjoyed this book. It was a sweet love story and gave me some good laughs! If you’re interested in more Christmas romance from Ashtyn Newbold, check out my review for The Earl’s Mistletoe Match!  Check out her website, as well, for more clean romance stories.

Nine Ladies Dancing: Clinging to Youth


It’s frightening to grow up. Taking on responsibilities, leaving old habits behind, speaking of childhood in the past tense—it’s no wonder so many people take their time, whether or not they realize it. The world is a scary place, after all.

I believe this message was the strongest theme for Nine Ladies Dancing, the fourth novella in the Belles of Christmas collection, which I have been enjoying thoroughly.

Add to my above list the future inheritance of a grand estate and title. It’s no wonder the male protagonist, Matthew, has not yet grown up, seeking comfort in the things that make him feel free…such as horses. His parents have noticed, though, that he isn’t getting any younger, and neither are they.

With this in mind, his mother strikes a deal with him: he must get to know nine ladies before Twelfthnight. If he does not fall in love with any of them, she will finally stop telling him what to do with his life. To make the deal sweeter, his father promises him a new horse if he doesn’t fall for any of them.

As a reader, I laughed quite a bit at the horse detail. He prefers a horse to true love! But, back to the review.

It sounds easy to not fall in love, so Matthew accepts the deal with his mother. The catch, which he does not realize until several embarrassing incidents later, is that he was already in love…but with the last person he could have imagined. Meg does love him, though, and puts up an admirable fight.

Too bad he’s so obsessed with the new horse that, eventually, Meg gives up. When Meg gives up fighting for him—well, something doesn’t feel quite right with his head…or is it his heart?…he cannot decide. Suddenly, though, he’s far more interested in her and what she’s doing—and the gentlemen she’s talking to.

Eventually, the horse is no longer so enticing.

My heart ached many times over the course of this book for Meg and for silly Matthew. It’s a well known truth that you do not know what you have until you lose it; however, this book has a happy ending, which soothed that ache. Matthew finally does grow up.

I waited eagerly for this book to release, and finished it in a day. All of the novellas in this collection have me enchanted, and I’ll be sad when there are no more. Also, I think the cover for Nine Ladies Dancing is the most beautiful of the five. However, they all make me dream.

I’m already reading the final novella, A Duke for Lady Eve. Thankfully, there are more sweet Regency novels from these authors, and I won’t have to say good-bye to the magic that is in this collection. I am so glad to have found it; every book was worth the read!