Monday, December 17, 2012

25 Days of Xmas Stories: Five Golden Rings (@avonbooks)

“On the Fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…Five Golden Rings!”

This set of “rings” is sure to make your Christmas spirit burn brighter than a yule log! Four of these fantastic authors responded to a public call for submissions to Avon, making their debut in this anthology just in time for the holidays. These stories may have partridges in pear trees or French hens, and there’s a limited quantity of ladies dancing or lords-a-leaping, Five Golden Rings is filled to the brim with good cheer and heart-warming tales of love! Give yourself the gift of romance—in five different stories!

I will, as normal, review each story separately then the collection as a whole.

"Mistletoe Magic" by Sophie Barnes
What better way for Connor Talbot, Earl of Redfirn to spend the holidays than convincing Leonora Compton that the only match she needs to make is with him!
This a cute story--Lenora and Redfirn are at cross purposes in regards to the charges they are trying to marry off, so it makes for some funny moments.  I'm not wholly convinced by the romance though, Lenora is more understandable then Redfirn who seems to just suddenly decide 'This chit ain't half bad!'.

"His Perfect Gift" by Karen Erickson
The Duke of Ashton has had three years to plan for his perfect Christmas present-the Lady Eleanor Fitzsimmons as his wife. Now, all he has to do is convince the reluctant lady…
I liked this story far more.  I feel bad for Ashton since he's getting one hell of a mother-in-law, but he seems happy enough.  I thought when everything was finally laid out between Eleanor and Ashton, it was done well, but Erickson's inclusion of the younger brother's romantic foibles went nowhere really, so I'm not entirely sure why they were included.

"War of the Magi" by Rena Gregory
Phin Baldwin does not believe in Christmas magic….until the clever and beautiful Ginny Overton gets it into her head to show him how wonderful it can be when wishes come true.
This was an amusing story that had a couple surprises.  This another story with the hero has a sudden epiphany that is largely told to us, not shown.  I liked Ginny, her loyalty to her neighbors and father did her credit and her clever ruse certainly made for a great way to bring holiday cheer!

"Her Christmas Knight" by Sandra Jones
Just returned from the Crusades, marriage is the last thing on Sir Caerwyn’s mind. But will he be able to resist Lady Nia, the thief of his boyhood heart, when she tempts him yet again?
Unfortunately this one wasn't for me.  I'm not fond of medieval set romances and had a hard time really getting into the story as a result (which isn't to say Jones can't write, just...wrong genre for me.)

"Tempting Mr. Weatherstone" by Vivienne Lorret
Responsible Ethan Weatherstone is determined to save Penelope Rutledge-and her reputation-from her silly scheme, but can he save himself from the temptation of her lips?
This was by far my favorite story.  It was so well-rounded and well-thought out.  Even knowing how it would end out (its a romance after all), I found myself feeling utterly heart broken for first Penelope because Ethan is such a dunderhead and then Ethan because he obviously cared far too much.  Lorret did a wonderful job and I think was the perfect compliment to the season.

These stories may have been better served by not having the couples anticipate their wedding night so often.  In a few cases it just didn't make sense because the couple didn't know each other that long (looking at you Lenora and Redfirn).  of the five only two felt like they had a beginning, middle and end (Lorret and Gregory's).  Its my understanding that only Barnes is a previously published author--this certainly makes me hope to see more from the others!