I always approach an anthology with a different mindset than I do a full-length book, because I know I have to be prepared for great stories boxed in tiny packages. Sometimes this works, other times it doesn't. Thankfully, all three of these authors are very talented, and overall this collection earned a solid five stars from me.
Great Scot! - Suzanne Enoch
This is the only novella in this collection that is tied to a series I have also read, which really enhanced my enjoyment (although it's not necessary to read the series to enjoy the novella). The story is about the paid companion, Jane, who helped her cousin Amy marry Niall in a prior book. Forced to consider what direction her life will go in now that she has options, she never thought marriage would be a possibility. Until she meets a handsome architect named Brennan, who thought love wouldn't be his again after losing his wife seven years ago. When they meet, there is immediate chemistry, and over a few days they grow close. But Jane is afraid of change, and that fear may keep her from realizing her future lies in the arms of the man she loves. Jane and Brennan made my heart skip a beat! I loved them as a couple and as individuals, and I really enjoyed seeing their love grow. Poor Jane was so lost, not knowing what road she should take, and it was so sweet to see how patient Brennan was with her. There is one scene where they discuss a library Jane would want to own one day, and the way Brennan immediately draws up the plans for what it could look like...the man is my hero. Where can I find a man like this? Sign me up! I was sad when the story ended, but it was such a happy ending for two amazing people. Left me smiling.
Christmas at Dewberry Hollow - Amelia Grey
In this novella, I really loved the author's description of the inn, the secondary characters, and the backstory of the hero's grandfather. She did an amazing job setting the scene and drawing the reader into the story. The hero, John Gatestone, is the duke's grandson, and he is trying to help him find the tree where he carved his initials alongside his wife's many years ago. While out in the forest, one of his guards is shot by a young woman who he later learns is the local innkeeper's daughter. They immediately are attracted to each other, but she fights it knowing he will only leave someday. But as with many forced proximity romances, things heat up and their passion can no longer be denied. Now the only question is if they will pursue a life together or leave things as one night of pleasurable memories. The secondary characters get a standing ovation from me, especially the portrayal of the elderly woman with dementia. Everything felt so genuine. I enjoyed the heroine, and the hero seemed like a decent fellow, although I felt like their chemistry was lacking at times. I would have liked more development, as the ending felt a bit rushed to keep the story short. I would have loved to see this written as a full-length novel, and I'm eager to read more by Amelia Grey to see how her stories are when they're able to fully spread their wings.
My Mistletoe Beau - Anna Bennett
This was by far my favorite novella in the collection! I absolutely adored this couple, from the way they meet to the way they slowly fall in love. It's a classic enemies to lovers tale. Miss Eva Tiding breaks into Jack Hardwick, Earl of Frostbough, apartments to retrieve her father's watch, which she believes was swindled from him by Jack during a card game. When she is caught, Jack makes a deal with her - allow him to pretend to court her for the holidays to make his grandmother happy, and at the end, she can have her father's watch. Throughout it all, they bicker but it becomes clear very quickly that there is a thin line between love and hate. Eva finds Jack attractive and slowly begins to allow him into her heart, while Jack becomes smitten much more quickly. But there is a past between their fathers that may prevent them from finding love together, if they aren't able to let go of the past to enjoy the future together. What I loved most about this story was the way that Jack clearly fell in love first. And oh my gosh, the groveling he does towards the end. So good! I would rate this collection 5 stars for just this story alone. It is truly a wonderful story - so wonderful that it didn't even feel like a novella. Anna Bennett cleverly created a story that felt fully developed while remaining short for the collection. Amazing and makes me want to read more by her.
**I received a free copy from NetGalley and this is my honest review.**