Book Review: Sweet Christmas Secrets
I finished reading Sweet Christmas Secrets just in time for Christmas. It is an anthology of regency holiday stories. I had to read it since 1) they are holiday stories and 2) I love regency romance.
I learned that this anthology was being released this fall because Clyve Rose has a story in it and I have read her novel, Always a Princess and she also had a novella in the regency anthology Secrets of the Soho Club. I have connected with her online and love to support such a great author!
Secrets of the Soho Club had the theme of, obviously, the Soho Club. Each story either took place at the club or the club was featured prominently. In Sweet Christmas Secrets, each story takes place at Christmas time and during the course of each story a secret is revealed.
I really enjoyed this anthology as I suspected I would. Here’s a quick rundown of what each story is about without any spoilers!
Kidnapping Lord Blaymire by Catherine Bilson – Persephone Patton will soon be 25, which means she’ll be in control of her inheritance. She’s been putting off going to London and joining the social scene because she’d rather have control of her own future than be married off. She’s so close to her birthday when Lord Blaymire comes to bring her to London at the insistence of his mother. She is Lord Blaymire’s ward being related by marriage. But, he can’t bring her back to London if he’s locked in the study of her home can he?
I really liked this story and enjoyed reading about the two getting to know each other.
The Wallflower’s Christmas Surprise by Isabella Hargreaves – Violet Hambleton wants a love match, but has not found one yet. Over time she has been receiving love notes from a secret admirer. She hopes her secret admirer is Sebastian, the Viscount Stanworth, who she has known for years. However, he is seven years younger than her and the heir to an Earl, while she is a parson’s daughter.
I liked this one, but didn’t love it. I thought it was sweet, but I wasn’t terribly interested in the whole age gap storyline.
I Wrote My Love by Fiona M. Marsden – Kitty Wantling received two proposals of marriage via letter. One from her life long friend, Johnny, and one from Captain Jonathan Gerard – a recent acquaintance who was badly injured at Waterloo. She plans to accept Johnny out of what she feels are familial obligations, and turn down the Captain. Things go awry, when her letters get mixed up.
I loved this one. The pace of the story was great and I really liked the characters.
The Secret Letter by Joanna Austen Brown – Cora Fitzgibbon is known as “Cold Cora” by the young men of the Ton. Since being given the nickname, she purposely acts cold and aloof. That is until she meets Thomas Wright, who she feels a connection with and makes her want to let her guard down. But she learns of a game the men were playing leaving her feeling foolish and humiliated. But, was it all a misunderstanding?
I loved this one as well. I really felt for the characters and it was the right amount of drama for me.
The Widow and Mr. Cat – by Stephen Hart – This story is more whimsical and fantastical, featuring a cat that Octavius Charles Anthony St. Aubin and Anne James can hear talking. Octavius, the 7th early of Marsby needs to marry. Anne is a widow. She is hired by Octavius (or Tony to those close to him) to be a companion to his teenage sister. With the help of Mr. Cat, they grow closer and develop feelings for one another.
This was a fun read and I really liked the characters. Mr. Cat added to the story and made it more lighthearted, but the main characters in general were great.
Love’s Sweet Arrow by Clyve Rose – Lady Annette Ryehurst has fallen down on hard times after the death of her father ten years ago and her mother’s gaming habits. She misses her childhood friend, Lionel Eversfield – the son of a farmer and nephew of the Ryehurst clergyman. They haven’t seen each other in ten years after the death of her father prompted her and her mother to have to move away and Lionel joined the military. But, now he’s back although not the same man he was before, and Annette could use a friend now more than ever.
I loved this storyline. It was really interesting and sweet. And if you’ve read Secrets of the Soho Club then you’ll recognize one of the characters!
When We Were Wallflowers by Heidi Wessman Kneale – After a failed London season, Katie Davers’ father invites a handful of eligible bachelors to his home for the 12 days of Christmas in the hopes that his 3 daughters will receive marriage proposals by the end of the holidays. A wallflower, Katie is not expecting much, but she catches the eye of Lord Frances Rowther. She enjoys talking to him as well. The problem? She has a condition where she can’t recognize faces and there are multiple men staying at their house!
I really liked this story and I liked the character of Katie. I thought parts of the love story were a bit rushed or felt like it came out of nowhere, but I liked all the holiday festivities the family did for the whole 12 day party so it was a fun, holiday read.
Spying for the Earl by Susanne Bellamy – Lord Rufus Marsden has heard rumors that Bonaparte may be trying to escape from St. Helena Island. He has the idea of securing a supply ship that the War Office can control to make sure Bonaparte can’t escape. Coincidentally, his good friend Will has a cousin Meredith Appleyard or Merry, who has a booming shipping business. Her late husband left her the business and she may be just who Rufus needs for his plan.
I loved the intrigue of this story and the spying/planning of it all. It was a fun read and although I think it had the most chapters of all the stories in this anthology, I felt I read it the quickest!
The Mysterious Mr. J by Erin Grace – Oleander Bassington is 27 and her best friend has just married. Trying to avoid all the unwanted meddling for her to marry she creates a secret admirer for herself, but things don’t go according to plan when Lord Simon Darringer, an Earl, shows up.
I liked this one, but it didn’t really capture my attention as well as some of the other stories. It was still a sweet story though.
Fetch the Earl by Ebony Oaten – Anne Sloane has just become the daughter of an Earl after her father inherits the title. Immediately after the elevation in status, she receives a marriage proposal via letter, which reads more like a demand. Does someone really want to marry Anne or is there something more to it?
Like with the previous story, I liked it but I never got very invested in the story. I did really like Anne though.
Overall, I loved the anthology. It’s the perfect Christmas read if you like regency romance! Like the name suggests, the stories are sweet. Secrets of the Soho Club definitely has spicier, sexier stories so if you’re looking for that this anthology is more about the sweet romance than the spice, but I still found the stories enjoyable!
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Great book review.