The holidays are a time to celebrate the future and to think back on the past. What more delicious way to honor the Ghost of Christmas Past than with a trio of romances set in days gone by?
It takes a strong woman to hold on to what belongs to her. No one knows this better than Thomasina Thorne, steward of Enderley and heroine of A Duke Changes Everything, the latest title from Christy Carlyle. Miss Thorne has a comfortable life at the estate she loves—unless a certain handsome scoundrel can snatch it away from her.
Mina Thorne is proud of the role she’s played as protector and caretaker of her beloved Enderley estate. However, in the eyes of the men around her, Mina’s bravery and discipline count for nothing given her gender. So when she receives word that the new Duke of Tremayne is coming to take over the estate, signaling her imminent dismissal, she is bound and determined to keep things the way they always have been, with her trusted staff close to her and the duke far away. Unfortunately, the newly christened Tremayne may find a way to get closer than Mina ever imagined.
In truth, the new duke, Nicholas Lyon, isn’t any happier with his new post than Mina is. All Nick really wants is to run his already-successful gentlemen’s club and see it grow. He’d also like to keep his past where it belongs, in the past. But when his brother dies and burdens him with a dukedom he never wanted, Nick’s demons aren’t the only surprise waiting for him at Enderley. Entering Mina’s home means surrendering to her world. When all is said and done, it may not be his only surrender.
Christy Carlyle, it seems, was born to write historical romance. In a former life, she studied and taught history herself, and professes that she’s happiest when imagining the worlds of her stories. She pens lush, delicious stories about love amongst the Victorians, and Nick and Mina are a stunning pair. Writing strong characters comes with the risk of making them too strong and ending up with one character being off balance. Not so in A Duke Changes Everything. Nick and Mina hold their own when they must, but they bend, too. Mina treats Nick’s painful family memories with compassion and understanding, and Nick strives always to be Mina’s equal, never dominating or submitting to her strong personality more than he should.
Think you know every story Victorian romance has to offer? Pick up A Duke Changes Everything this winter. I promise, you’ll never be happier to be wrong.
AN ACCIDENTAL KIDNAPPING
At first glance, being kidnapped by pirates does not exactly sound like a dream come true. In fact, for Poppy Bridgerton—the brash, beautiful captive in question—it is a nightmare. Can she survive two weeks aboard a ship sailing far from home? For another matter, can she manage not to strangle the handsome, infuriating ship’s captain who kidnapped her?
Poppy, the heroine of Julia Quinn’s newest novel The Other Miss Bridgerton, is headstrong, sharp-tongued and trapped aboard a privateer’s ship after wandering into the wrong cave during an afternoon walk. She misses her family, there is constant bickering between herself and the captain, the voyage itself is dangerous and the goal is high-stakes. Will Poppy ever see her home again?
Captain Andrew James Rokesby, is, if possible, in an even worse predicament than his beautiful prisoner. For starters, she is a Bridgerton, daughter of a high and prestigious family (not to mention a family his own noble house is closely connected to). Add to this that he must now bring her home safely from a secret mission he’s not even sure that he’ll survive, and it’s a (ship) wreck of a situation. Besides, he’s not sure why, but he is more and more drawn to Poppy by the day.
Julia Quinn’s novels are a staple of the historical romance genre. She has written dozens of lush, heart-warming stories, all with her unique brand of humor and whip-smart writing. It’s appropriate, seeing as how Quinn’s mission as an author is to prove that smart women can both read and write romance—a philosophy that’s evident in every quip and tightly paced chapter.
Speaking of smart women, Poppy is an utter delight. She is witty, headstrong (not simply in a cute, rescue-me sort of way), and fiercely protective of the weak around her and her loved ones. Andrew falls for her exactly as she is, flaws and all, and it’s clear that their relationship is built on mutual admiration rather than simply desire. However, do you want some sexual tension? Julia Quinn will give you tension. It’s a relationship as thoughtfully crafted as the book’s impeccable plot and pacing. If winter has you longing for warm days at the beach, immerse yourself in The Other Miss Bridgerton for the most delicious pirate (er, privateer) story on the shelves.
AN AMERICAN IN LONDON
What do you get when you combine a happily single young heiress, her handsome partner-in-matchmaking and a duke with the absolute worst intentions? Well, this winter you get The Girl with the Sweetest Secret, Betina Krahn’s newest romance.
Frankie Bumgarten has had it with the men of London. As a sensible American girl, Frankie loathes the idea of marrying a stuck-up nobleman, much to the dismay of her mother. She’ll settle for finding her younger sister a match, with the help of a young English nobleman known as the Fox. Soon, however, Frankie finds herself caught between her growing attraction to the Fox and the attention of an ominous foreign duke who’ll do anything to have her. There’s more to her dilemma than meets the eye, and she’s determined to find out exactly what.
Reynard Boulton earned the nickname “the Fox” because of his sharp mind, talent for collecting secrets and shady dealings in the underworld of London. Reynard has sworn to his best friend that he will protect the Bumgarten girls, and that means keeping Frankie out of the grasping hands of a certain Prussian duke. Although he swears indifference to eligible young women and their charms, he must admit that Frankie’s strong will and stunning beauty have begun to catch his eye.
The words you could use to describe Krahn’s books are the same words you would use to talk about a sunbeam. Her stories glow with charm, sweetness and warmth. It should also be noted that the bright quality of her stories never comes at the expense of their excitement, suspense and rich characters. She continues to rise above the rest of her genre (historical and otherwise) with the sparkling, optimistic novels we all deserve.
There’s nothing I love better than a fabulous romance that has more on its mind than just the central relationship. Those that deliver a sumptuous love story alongside real suspense and intrigue are the pride and joy of their genre. And oh boy, does this one deliver. Sweetest Secret gives readers true villains, complex issues to solve and two lead characters who really do keep you wondering if they will ever manage to end up together. It’s a richly dimensional story that will, I’m sure, stand the test of time.
As Christmas approaches, it’s good to take a break from the hustle and the grey skies that surround our favorite holiday. You’ll find no better shelter than the pages of The Girl with the Sweetest Secret.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our Q&A with Christy Carlyle about A Duke Changes Everything.