Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Review: Short Takes

This is Thanksgiving week, and one the many things—great and small--that I’m grateful for in 2011  is the proliferation of novellas and short stories for ereaders. I know that not everyone likes short fiction, but I do, especially when I’m busier than usual and don’t have time for a full length novel. I’m on deadline again, and as usual, I’m pushing to make it and will probably upload my final article minutes before midnight on November 28, making the deadline by a hair. I have a dozen or more novels I’m eager to read, but they will have to wait another week. But I will steal the time during lunch break or just before bedtime to read some short fiction. I’ve already read and enjoyed the following.

“Winning the Wallflower” by Eloisa James ($.99, novella, Avon Impulse, available December 6)

 Cyrus Ravensthorpe, the only son of a successful solicitor and a duke’s daughter who scandalized the ton by falling in love , eloping, and living quite happily forever after, has devoted his life to restoring his family’s reputation and status. He has gone about achieving his goal quite methodically: he has earned great wealth, bought an estate (the one where his mother grew up that his irresponsible, arrogant cousin has been forced to sell), and proposed to towering Lucy Towerton whose height and propriety have made her a wallflower unlikely to capture the title her mother wants for her.

When Lucy unexpectedly inherits a fortune, her snob of a mother pressures her to break the engagement to Ravensthorpe and lines up lords eager to court the new heiress. At first, Lucy is reluctant to break the engagement because Ravensthorpe’s good lucks and perfect height for a tall lady have captured her interest, but she decides handsomeness and proper height may make  a dancing partner but won’t compensate for a man who doesn’t see her, who doesn’t want the person she is rather than an eligible bride. By the time Ravensthorpe discovers that Lucy is not just what he needs to fulfill his plan but the one woman he must have to fill his heart and life, it’s almost too late.

I love Lucy! I love her humor and intelligence and vulnerability, and I love seeing her gain in awareness of her own worth. I love that she becomes self-confident enough to refuse to settle. Ravensthorpe has a sharper learning curve, and although he didn’t inspire the same affection that Lucy did, I did delight in watching him learn.

Lucy’s best friend Olivia shares her insecurities, her mother problems, her unsatisfactory betrothal, and her dream of more. If I had not already read The Duke Is Mine, I would be longing for Olivia’s story. But since I have read The Duke Is Mine and relished every syllable of Olivia’s story, I’m longing for the release date (December 27, 2011) so that we can all rave about it together. Look for my review of that novel next month.

“The Christmas Cookie Chronicles: Carrie” by Lori Wilde ($1.99, novella, Avon Impulse)

If you read The First Love Cookie Club (December 2010), you may remember one of the legends of Twilight, Texas: “On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your own true love, he will be your destiny.” A year later, Wilde takes us back to Twilight, Texas, with three Christmas Cookie Chronicles. I read the first one.

Eight years ago, on Christmas, Carrie MacGregor and Mark Leland, high school sweethearts, eloped to Las Vegas. When they returned home to Twilight, Mark’s parents and Carrie’s older sister persuaded the teenagers that they should annul their marriage. It seems that Carrie and Mark are the pair that casts into question the legend that is the heart of Twilight. More than a century ago, a statue was erected in the park near the town square memorializing the love between two other teenage lovers: a Union soldier and a Southern belle whose love survived the Civil War and fifteen years of separation. Legend says that a lover who threw a penny into the fountain in Sweetheart Park assured a reunion and a happily-ever-after with his/her high school sweetheart. Carrie threw more pennies than she could count into the fountain, but she has never heard from Mark Leland.

But that’s about to change. Mark, now host of a reality, myth-bursting show Fact or Fiction, is returning to Twilight to check out the facts of the town’s greatest legend. Will the hometown hero destroy the town? An even more important question may be whether the legend’s power will work for the hero and his heroine. The chemistry between Mark and Carrie is as explosive as ever, but can an L. A. star and a small-town girl really reunite for Christmas and for their own HEA?

If you have enjoyed Wilde’s other Twilight books, you will appreciate the community feel, the familiar characters, and the unabashed sentiment of this novella. If you are new to Wilde, this sweet bite with a touch of spice may well inspire you to feast on the series.

The first novella will be followed by “The Christmas Cookie Chronicles: Raylene” ($1.99, novella, Avon Impulse, November 29) and “The Christmas Cookie Chronicles: Christine” ($1.99, novella, Avon Impulse, December 20).

“The French Maid” by Sabrina Jeffries (free, short story, Pocket)
Jeffries's story about a lonely lady unhappy with her ambitious political husband who has no time for her and the mysterious Babette Lebeau, a French maid with a gift for marriage makeovers was released  last month, but I read it only a few days ago. It’s short and sweet, and it left me with a smile and a wish to see more of Babette, who steals the show.

“A Very Holly Christmas” by Sheila Roberts (free, sample, St. Martin’s)
Ambrose the cat is on his ninth life, and it’s in jeopardy when a feline Christmas prayer brings a reprieve and a new home with a fireman who, whether he knows it or not, needs Ambrose. This one is an amusing story, sure to please cat lovers that serves to whet the reader’s taste for Roberts’s Christmas novel The Nine Lives of Christmas (October 25).

“The Glass Case” by Kristin Hannah (free, short story, St. Martin’s)

April Bannerman is not exactly unhappy, but she is questioning the choices that led her to where she is-- mother of three young children, wife to the only man she’s ever loved, fixture in the town she grew up in. Then in a moment, routine turns to nightmare, and April rediscovers not only what matters most but also that love is larger than she knew. This is a quick read, but it has the ordinary people and the extraordinary emotional punch that I look for in Hannah’s fiction.

“Dashing Through the Snow” by Diane Farr ($.99, novella, Amazon Digital Services)

This is the reissue of a Christmas novella I loved and was delighted to reread: “The Reckless Miss Ripley” from Signet’s 2000 Christmas anthology, A Regency Christmas Eve. With an irrepressible heroine, an endearing beta hero, and the warmth and smart dialogue that made Diane Farr a favorite, it’s a winner. I hope these reissues mean that more Diane Farr Regencies await us.

“Lord Samhain’s Night” by Jo Beverley ($.99, novella)

The only Jo Beverley Regency I didn’t own, this is a paranormal tale about a love triangle that should never have happened and the danger of challenging the lord of death. This is the first time this novella has been available since its original publication in 1992.

“Only Us: A Fool’s Gold Holiday” by Susan Mallery  ($1.59, novella, HQN)

Veterinarian Cameron McKenzie is all Carina Fiore ever wanted, and she loves his young daughter Rina devotedly too. But Cameron, whose former wife walked out on him and his infant daughter, thinks friendship is more permanent than the pleasure and promise of a Christmas kiss. This Christmas romance should please readers who are always ready for another visit to Fool’s Gold, California.

“Mistletoe Mine: An Eternity Springs Novella” by Emily March ($1.99, Ballantine, November 21)

Emily March/Geralyn Dawson made an Eternity Springs fan of me with Angel’s Rest, the first book in the series, and I loved the Christmas short “A Callahan Carol” that she shared with readers last year to end the Geralyn Dawson Callahan series and to introduce Eternity Springs. So I was jubilant when I learned she had written another Christmas story, this one set in Eternity Springs and a reunion tale, my favorite trope.

Emma and Jared Stapleton have been estranged for three years, but now their only child Molly is planning a holiday wedding in Eternity Springs. Can the magic of this special town, the wonder of this special season, and the love of a beloved child work a miracle on two wounded hearts?
This one will touch your heart and leave you eager for Lover’s Leap (December 27, 2011), Sarah Reese’s story, one that I’ve been longing for since I read the first book.

“Christmas Scandal . . . Not by Jeanne Savery” (free—may be $.99 later, short story, Ellora’s Cave)

I love Savery’s The Family Matchmaker and The Christmas Matchmaker, and so I was pleased to find this story about two spinster sisters who are foils for one another and sanctuary for a winter visitor. I’ve already bought Runaway Scandal and House of Scandal because I want to read more of the adventures of Elf and Ally.

What ebook bargains have you discovered? What books are you most thankful for Thanksgiving 2011?


quantum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TerriOsburn said...

I've never been a reader of novellas nor Christmas stories. But you've sold me. You, the fact I have an eReader, and these low prices.

I will be downloading tonight and finally give in to your Christmas story pushing ways. :)

irisheyes said...

It's amazing all the books you can get at a bargain. I think I'm finding that when an author starts to release her backlist she starts out with $0.99 deals. I know I grabbed a couple of books that way.

Laura Lee Guhrke's Conor's Way is $0.99. and I loved that story! I would have purchased it but I own it already thanks to a trip to my UBS several months ago.

My recent deals -
Elizabeth Bevarly's My Man Pendleton - free.
Christie Craig's Gotcha! - free.
Barbara Samuel's Jezebel's Blues for $0.99 and Heart of a Knight - free.
Tessa Dare's A Night To Surrender - $4.99 (I couldn't wait, Janga! LOL I went and read the first 2 chapters on Amazon.com and was hooked. Luckily I found out they were discounting this book this week!)

All of the Cheryl St. John books I've picked up since discovering her have been under $5 and most under $4. I definitely felt as if I got my money's worth from those purchases.

I've purchased the whole Meg Benjamin Konigsburg series on my Nook and every book was under $5. If you want to buy the paperback I believe they are $15 or $16 per book. Another deal!

irisheyes said...

I will be downloading tonight and finally give in to your Christmas story pushing ways. :)

Ter, I have to laugh! Janga and I were just talking the other day about how romance reading is like an addiction. I suppose she's our supplier! Picturing Janga in an overcoat standing beside the trunk of her late 70's caddy with stacks of Christmas books spilling out is putting a much needed smile on my lips! I was going to add that she'd be in a vacant warehouse parking lot, but I suppose she'd get more action at the local supermarket or library! LOL

quantum said...

I deleted my first comment as there is no edit option.

Afraid I got slightly confused over the nature of the American Thanksgiving festival. A little googling has straightened me out!

I'm sticking to Virgin River for my Christmas read but as always am interested in the new suggestions.

My recent bargains:

I bought Phillipa Gregory's 'Lady of the Rivers' in an Audible sale. It's a stirring tale set in 15'th century Britain including the wars of the roses. Includes Joan of Arc and Margaret of Anjou as well as the rebellious English Dukes and the mad king Henry. A bit bloodthirsty in places but very enjoyable.

I also obtained a free download of Henrietta Marshall's 'Our Island Story'. A history of England for children, including myths and legends. As a child I was enthralled by this book and well remember the story of Neptune giving Britain (Albion) to one of his sons following deputation from a beautiful mermaid. I'm going to enjoy re-reading this one to my Grand!

I wish you all well for thanksgiving. The nearest we get is a Harvest Festival. *smile*

Janga said...

I'm glad I sold you on Christmas stories, Terri. I'm betting you'll find some you love.

Janga said...

I bought Conor's Way too, Irish. My latest rave is Suzanne Enoch's early historical romances. Wonderful!

Ah, Meg Benjamin! Her Konigsburg series should be as widely read as any contemporary series out there. Her books are bargains at any price.

Janga said...

Picturing Janga in an overcoat standing beside the trunk of her late 70's caddy with stacks of Christmas books spilling out is putting a much needed smile on my lips!

LOL I like the image, Irish. Maybe in a Walmart parking lot. My B&N shopping pavillion is too upscale. ;)

Janga said...

Q, whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope they are wonderful. And Robyn Carr is always good reading. I have an eARC of her latest, the one after Hidden Summit and am so eager to read it.

I consider sharing books I loved as a child with the grands a great joy. I know your sharing will be a special time with your granddaughter.