on Dec. 20, 2012 :
What a fantastic find! (Altho I have to thank Kristine Kathryn Rusch for alerting me on her website to this book.)
You get 3 novellas, all with a Christmas theme.
The first one, *Puddings, Pastries, & Thou* takes place in the early 1800s in England. Vivian Ambrose is a poor relation of the Twitchens (a cousin a few times removed or something), who has devoted the last 9 years of her young life to taking care of an older relative of hers.
As such, she's missed out on a lot of social functions she might have attended. Since she's poor and without a husband, she has no choice but to be taken in by the Twitchens. And she's always hungry to boot, swiping food whenever she can.
Along comes an eligible bachelor, a Mr. Brent, who has a recent checkered past. He's done something that's scandalous for its time; and Vivian finds she's attracted to him anyway.
Does he feel the same way? It's a romance, so what do you think? :-) What I liked about this story was the humor derived from Vivian's hunger - not in a malicious way at all - and the understanding from Penelope, the Twitchens' daughter, who goes out of her way to pretty up Vivian. Penelope could have been just a stereotypical SOB, but Ms. Cach chose to go this route instead. Lovely!
The second story, *A Midnight Clear* is set in the 1870s in Vermont, and has a bit of magic in it. Catherine has just returned from a tour through the upper crust of New York City with her aunt. She's nearsighted but refuses to get spectacles to see better.
Until she receives a gift of one - from someone. This is soon after a supremely handsome man from New York City shows up and insinuates himself into the family, at her side. Her younger sister wishes she would see this man is not for her; that the man who owns a business in town - and is kind and generous as well - is really the man for her.
But is she the one who sent the glasses, the magical glasses? Let's just say the spirit of Christmas sent them along in answer to Catherine's sister's wish...
Another superb, touching story from Ms. Cach. The little touches of a winter in Vermont really add to the sweetness of this tale. I wasn't sure I would enjoy this as much as the first story, but I did!
The third story, *Return to Sender* was the one I *really* didn't think I would like. It's a contemporary romance, and although it sounded like fun, I thought, how could it possibly top the other two I just read.
It doesn't. But it has its own charm. And sweetness. And humor. Tessa is a university professor, into vintage clothes and costuming. Her roommate, Lauren, has invited her Scottish cousin, Ian, to bunk with them for a few days.
A few days before Christmas, Lauren rushes off when her sister goes into labor; she asks Tessa to take Ian to the airport. Of course, Tessa forgets, and there's a mad dash to wash up and get out the door and to the airport...where of course the flight is missed! (If you've ever seen the Seinfeld episode where Elaine is trying to get her pain-in-the-butt boyfriend to the airport...well, it's like that! :-))
Tessa has a wild several hours of sex with Ian just before Christmas Eve...with the stipulation that Ian go out of her life forever. He's never to call her, email her, or ask his cousin Lauren how Tessa is doing.
Okay, so it's not quite as sweet as the other two, but what this story has is a certain charm and a boatload of humor.
Ms. Cach was quite a find for me (especially as I'm not really into romance stories), and I hope to buy more of her stories in the future.
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)