Saturday, March 18, 2017

What I Read in June 2016 Part V. . .

What I Read in June 2016 Part V. . . 

A Regency Christmas FeastA Regency Christmas Feast by Mary Balogh, Patricia Rice, Edith Layton, Barbara Metzger, Sandra Heath--Regency Christmas Short Stories

A compilation of stories by popular Regency romance authors.
In The Gingerbread Man by Edith Layton, Owen Whitley, the Duke of Blackburn keeps dreaming of gingerbread for reasons unknown to him. He doesn't even LIKE gingerbread. He decides to get to the bottom of the matter by consulting his friends. He starts with his best childhood friend's sister, Miss Elizabeth Lloyd who is able to josh him out of his sullens but isn't able to provide an answer. Soon he discovers more than he bargained for when he asks each of his cronies from his club and even his mistress but the one thing he wants to know keeps eluding him.

This is kind of a cute story with some dark moments. I could do without the dirty jokes/double entendres though and the mistresses's sad story is not quite something that belongs in a heartwarming Christmas story. The gingerbread recipe sounds good but it's not a period recipe.

The second story, Sophie's Syllabub by Sandra Heath is about second chances and sweet Christmas memories involving syllabub. I was a little confused about the timeline of the story. It also didn't seem very period correct given what I know about the laws of the time. I suppose it might be possible or possibly plausible. I really liked Sophie and would have liked to know more about her. She's strong, brave and independent- a very modern heroine in a very unmodern society. This story dials up the sensuality a notch but follows a traditional pattern. I wasn't overly fond of Owen and probably would have reacted much like Sophie did but less quick to forgive. Serena is a stereotypical villainess without much motivation except "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" and even then it's not much motivation.

The Christmas Goose by Patricia Rice is a darker tale where the hero, Simon LeMaster, returns from the wars wounded, depressed, with survivor's guilt and PTSD. He worries about the enlisted men who returned injured and the widows and how they will survive. As a younger son he doesn't have much of a voice and thinks of ending it all until a chance encounter with a stray dog brings him to his destiny. I really liked this sweet story though the hero's lust was a little too much. I admired Rebecca for keeping her family solvent in difficult times. Her father is a great bully and that relationship makes the story very unoriginal but it's heartwarming. I liked Simon and his character development was excellent. The actual romance was a bit rushed due to the shorter length of the novella. It could have made a better longer story but I enjoyed it. The animal antics made me laugh and made the story seem more like a Barbara Metzger story than the one she wrote.

Barbara Metzger's story The Proof is in the Pudding centers around beautiful Johna and her younger sister Phillipa. Johna was married off to the odious Captain Sharp Sir Otis Ogden when her gamester father sold her to pay his debts. She's determined to make a better life for her sister any way she can, starting with a Christmas pudding and a wish. Her wish comes true sooner than expected but it also earns her the sobriquet of "black widow" around London. The gentlemen all make bets about whose proposal she will accept and whether it will be proper or improper. The very proper Viscount Spencer, Merle Selcrest has an improper proposal in mind and is surprised when Johna turns to him for help. She needs his eccentric mother's help is smoothing Phillipa's path through the haute mode. Merle despairs of his mother's antics and worries about his harum scarum brother Denton, but he has no choice but to accept the widow's proposal. He has no idea what he's getting himself into- if only his mother and her pet rabbit's were the worst of his concerns!

This was not, in my opinion, Metzger's best story. The rabbits were only mentioned in passing and not part of the action. I kept waiting for a dog or animal companion to be a part of the plot but sadly this story doesn't follow the pattern of her longer novels. I did enjoy the eccentric Lady Selcrest but she was hardly in the story. There were some funny moments but overall, not as funny as some of Metzger's novels. There was also a bit too much about Merle's libido and what he'd like to do with Johna. This story just didn't live up to potential for me.

The Wassail Bowl by Mary Balough is about misunderstandings and second chances. It was not my cup of tea. I skimmed it to see if it was worth my time to read it but found it uninteresting. I can't stand stupid misunderstandings or even valid ones between people who are supposed to love each other. There is one semi-graphic sex scene that seemed too much like a power play move for me. It wasn't romantic at all. The children had potential to possibly save this story but I elected not to even try to finish it.

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