Christmas in Kilts, Anthology
Released: October 3 2017
Reviewed by Sheena
Tis the season to fall in love! These five bestselling authors bring you great tiding of highlanders and romances this holiday season!
I so enjoy anthologies. I’ve found and fallen in love with some great authors by stumbling across their work in an anthology that featured a trope I fancy or a fellow author I adore. Such was the case with Christmas in Kilts. A collection of Christmas Highlander tales, two of which written by May McGoldrick and Lecia Cornwall. YES PLEASE!
A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall
When a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.
My favorite of the Yuletide tales! (And the reason I couldn’t wait to read this anthology!) Cornwall writes a holiday romance that begins as a wager and ends in HEA’s for more than one character! Meggie is a beauty who was burned by love as a teen, spurned and tossed aside by the man who would live to not only…not regret it, but the faithless cad doubled down on his douchery and tried to tumble under her skirts again when a bitter storms leaves her and her traveling companions stranded at his caste! Luckily this time a kinder, gentler man has his sights on Meggie and she’s a bet he’s keen to win. This also featured the Fearsome Donal MacLeod (Meggies father and A Highland Fairytale series favorite) Squee! (Grade: A)
A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin
A village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander visitor for the holidays who brings with him an offer and hope!
This definitely had a wow factor. I’ve read about prostituting heroines, in fact one of my favorite historicals (hello,Tyburn) features a lady of the evening, but I’ve never read one who was still plying her…trade whilst the hero was in play. One scene where she was pretending she wasn’t fantasizing that her johns were the Highlander she cared for- nearly had me dropping the story like a hot potato. There were several scenes that approached a-bridge-too-far-ville but ultimately I stuck with it and was rewarded with a sweet HEA. My favorite thing about this story-the heroine’s redemption wasn’t tied to her chosen profession. Nor was she redeemed through her man. She found her revival and second chance at life on her terms and what a glorious redemption it was. Everyone didn’t magically accept her once she said “hey fellas, no more whoring.” The heroine and hero had to make changes to both of their lives to reach their HEA. I ended up liking this story quite a bit. It definitely has to be judged with a wide scope lens. (Grade: C+)
LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent
What happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas… maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.
It’s the day before Christmas and Emma is traveling, packed in with a big man. A big, dirty, Scottish man with dirty breeches and the dirtiest boots she’d ever seen. And she despairs before shoving his big ass the hell over so she could get some space and rest and think dammit! Oh yes. We like Emma. We like Emma LOTS! James is in a traveling coach with an English lass (English woman, because those curves! He likely!!) and he can think of nothing but getting Glasgow to stop a most undesirable man from marrying his pure and good sister. Despite the mild allure of the English woman (did she actually shove at him??) James is focused on saving his sister and halting the marriage. Only things go terribly awry and the black heart who plans to marry his sister causes him to be stranded with Lady Emma and instead of running headlong into breaking up one marriage, he finds himself in a battle of wits and romance with his own soon to be beloved. I’m so glad I had a chance to read this little gem. I’ll be on the look out for more Lavinia Kent historical novels because- funny!! (Grade: A)
A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans
She’s ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he’s trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family’s wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.
This story felt melancholy. It ended merrily enough but, I couldn’t shake the somber tone. It also featured a house party in Scotland which felt like a culture clash to me, so used to the ton and it’s dramatically hilarious house-parties as I am. Emma is in town visiting the Highlands and comes to (quickly) care for widower Dougray. A misunderstanding (because what is a house-party without a good misunderstanding to muck things up!) leads to resolutions to fight for true love and thwart an arranged marriage. As I said, it ended pleasantly, but between Dougrays chronic self-flagellation and needing to be set to rights by his friend in order to achieve his happily ever after, I was exhausted with Dougray! (Grade: C)
SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick
A chance encounter between a ship’s captain and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.
I recognized this author’s name and remembered reading a couple of books that skirted the edges of Highlander/Historical/Fantasyish in an interesting way. Minus the paranormal/fantasy twist, Sweet Home Highland Christmas lived up to its namesake and was quite sweet. Sometimes too sweet. I like a little spice in my romance and Gregory/Freya’s story kind of rode the edge of “c’mooonnn mushy, mushy I get ittt.” Gregory is captain of a ship and finds himself enmeshed with Freya and her niece, Ella who are in need of kindness and a good (free) solicitor. Even when surly, Gregory was a teddy bear and Freya was beyond “good.” I only just realized that while I almost always groan and detest children in contemporary novels, I welcome them with open arms in my historical/Highland reads. I found five-year old Ella adorably cute and as vital to the short story as the hero and heroine. Gregory was such a good man and I melted with his handling of little Ella (Grade: B-)
All together, a nice collection of holiday tales that ran the spectrum of romance, from the sugary sweet to the comic relief to the romantically somber to the exciting and fun, there is literally something for everyone in this anthology. One thing that stood out was it seemed for a couple of the stories the author’s swapped notes and plot devices between the recycled names and sprained ankles and snowed in romance. Hmmm! Coincidence.
Overall Impression Grade: B