ball to celebrate the year’s most festive—and romantic—holiday. For at the top
of each guest’s wish list is a last chance to find true love before the New
meeting beneath the mistletoe, a stolen glance across the dance floor—amid the
sumptuous delicacies, glittering decorations, and swell of the orchestra, every
duchess and debutante, lord and lackey has a hopeful heart. There’s the
headstrong heiress who must win back her beloved by midnight—or be wed to
another….the spinster whose fateful choice to relinquish love may hold one more
surprise for her…a widow yearning to glimpse her long-lost love for even one
sweet, fleeting interlude …a charming rake who finds far more than he bargained
for. And many other dazzling, romantic tales in this star-studded collection
that will fill your heart and spice up your holidays…
Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliott, Anne
Gracie, Susan King are the ladies otherwise known as the Word Wenches. These eight
authors have written a combined 231 novels and 74 novellas. They’ve won awards
such as the RITAS, RT Lifetime Achievement award, RT Living Legend, and RT
Reviewers Choice award. Several of them are regulars on the New York Times and
USA Today bestseller lists.
Last Chance Christmas Ball is a collection of short stories which centers around a ball which has the reputation of magically bringing true love to couples. The characters and stories are all related, though each offers its own resolution and happy ever after. In addition to those briefly reviewed below, there are also stories by Susan King, Nicola Cornick. Cara Elliot, and Patricia Rice.
My True Love Hath My Heart by Joanna Bourne
Nick and Claire are friends, lovers, and sometimes partners. He is highborn, while she is an expert on jewelry, considered to be in trade, and not of his social class. They are happily enjoying their affair until Nick proposes marriage, causing Claire to flee, but not because she doesn’t love him. She loves him too much to let him marry beneath him. Nick has no intention of losing Claire, so he pursues her, determined to find her reasons, and to convince her they belong together. Can his persistence convince Claire that all that matters is their future together?
In the Bleak Midwinter by Mary Jo Putney
Kimball Stretton and Roxanne Hayward were childhood friends, then sweethearts who planned to marry. Kim felt compelled to go off to war first, promising to return to Roxie. He does return, but not as the carefree young man he used to be. He is badly injured and scarred, both inside and out. He decides he has to be noble and set Roxie free, and locks himself away from everyone, even his family. Time after time, he refuses to see her. But Roxie is determined to confront him, and on the night of the ball, she finds a way into his hideaway. This is a touching and emotional story, one of my favorites.
Miss Finch and the Angel by Jo Beverley
Clio Finch has been unlucky in love twice. Her first love was killed in the war, and her second love used and abandoned her. Cast out by her family, she is acting as a lady’s companion, and against her wishes, she’s being forced to attend the Christmas Ball. How can it be that Lord Gabriel, the son of a duke, actually prefers her dull company and seems determined to work his way beneath the walls around her? The charming Gabriel is bewildered to find himself wanting a family and home, with the all-but-ruined Miss Finch at the center of it. Is he willing to take the social risk, and is she willing to risk her heart one more time?
Mistletoe Kisses by Anne Gracie
Alice Fenton’s parents have died, and her lifelong home will now go to a cousin, who is happy to let her stay there, as long as she is willing to “help out” with his five children. Alice decides that she chooses to be paid if she’s going to be a servant, so she plans to leave right after Christmas, and begin life as a teacher. A carriage accident right outside her home brings unexpected guests in the form of Lord John Kelsey and his sister, and the snow keeps them inside for several days. The forced intimacy causes them to become very close, very quickly, and some well placed mistletoe causes some steamy kisses. This story has a wonderful hero and heroine, and is truly a heartwarming read.
Compilation books generally have a good story or two, but this collection is stellar, which is to be expected considering the authors. The Word Wenches have put together a book that is warm and entertaining and touching. The stories briefly reviewed above are more romantic than blatantly sexual, but that somehow seems fitting. I highly recommend this wonderful collection.