ABOUT THE BOOK:
Upstairs and downstairs, Holbourne Abbey is abuzz with preparations for a grand 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 Year…
A chance 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
Prologue by Jo Beverley
My True Love Hath My Heart by Joanna Bourne
A Scottish Carol by Susan King
Christmas Larks by Patricia Rice
In the Bleak Midwinter by Mary Jo Putney
Old Flames Dance by Cara Elliott
A Season for Marriage by Nicola Cornick
Miss Finch and the Angel by Jo Beverley
Mistletoe Kisses by Anne Gracie
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The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo Putney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Last Chance Christmas Ball is a 2015 Kensington Publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Every year, countless new Christmas and holiday themed romance novels are released, and a good portion of them are anthologies. I always enjoy these short, heartwarming tales, and the sampling of stories from various authors. But, it has been a very long time since I've seen an anthology packed with stories written by so many talented and seasoned authors!
Jo Beverly, Mary Jo Putney, Patrica Rice, Nicola Cornick, Annie Gracie and many more!
As I mentioned before, I always enjoy these holiday themed collections, but with anthologies, there are often one or two stories in the group that are sub-par. But, every single story in this book was wonderful! There is a common thread that links the stories together, with the last chance for love Christmas ball, providing the opportunity to find love before the New Year.
Since all of the stories were so good, I had a hard time picking one stand out to review.
But, I managed to narrow it down to two:
In the Bleak
I have a huge soft spot in my heart for the tortured and scarred hero. So, this story naturally stood out for me.
Kim and Roxie grew up around each other, but didn't always see eye to eye as children. But, of course they fell in love and planned to marry, until Kim has to leave to fight the war. All their plans are squashed when Kim returns home scarred physically and shuts himself away in his Medieval castle refusing to see anyone, especially Roxie.
When his family begins to lose all hope for Kim, it is suggested his brother Edward step up and ask for Roxie's hand, an idea that starts to appeal to them both. But, before Roxie settles for companionship, she wants to attempt to approach Kim one more time….
This is a wonderful story, proving love can conquer anything, restore faith, ignite hope, and heal all manner of wounds. 4.5 stars
The second story I chose to highlight is “ A Season for Marriage” by Nicola Cornick.
Caroline's marriage to Piers is in trouble. Piers avoids her completely, even in the bed-chamber, which prompts Caroline to take desperate measures by running away. Piers will have to finally explain why he is pushing his wife away.
This is a heartbreaking story about an emotionally scarred hero who needs the help of his loving wife to help him overcome his fears and inhibitions. Caroline finally gets rid of her pent up guilt and Piers finally stops holding back and becomes the husband Caroline has been waiting for. This is a sensual little holiday tale that sends this couple off on their long overdue happily ever after. 4 stars
This is one of the best Christmas anthologies I've read in a very long time.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Her novels are known for psychological depth and intensity and include historical and contemporary romance, fantasy, and young adult fantasy. Winner of numerous writing awards, including two RITAs and two Romantic Times Career Achievement awards, she has five times had books listed among the Library Journal’s top five romances of the year, and three times had books among the top ten romances of Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association.
Her favorite reading is great stories, but in a pinch she’ll settle for the backs of cereal boxes. She’s delighted that e-publishing can now make available books that have been out of print.
USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over 40 historical romances and now writes Gothic time slip for HQ and Graydon House.
Nicola’s writing is inspired by her love of history and was fostered by a wonderful history teacher and by her grandmother, whose collection of historical romantic fiction fed Nicola’s addiction from an early age. She studied in London and Oxford and works as a guide and historian in a 17th century house as well as acting as a historical adviser for TV and radio. Publisher’s Weekly
Nicola lives near Oxford with her husband and dog. When she isn’t
Readers can find out more about Nicola and her books from her website: www.nicolacornick.com. She can also be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nicola.cornick and Twitter @NicolaCornick