Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Christmas in America: Historical Romance Anthology by Holly Bush, Piper Huguley, Joanna Shupe and Donna Thorland

Christmas in America

Release: September 27th, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Historical Romance

The celebration of Christmas is a magical time for love. A new anthology filled with America's rich history and Christmas traditions from four of your favorite historical romance authors.

“Christmas at Mount Holly” by Donna Thorland

The Jerseys, December 23rd, 1776 - The American Revolution is on the brink of total collapse. The Rebels have lost New York, the Continental Army has endured a disastrous retreat through New Jersey, and Washington is about to lose what remains when enlistments expire on New Year’s Eve. The cause needs a miracle, but Christmas is a time for wonders: as Angela Ferrers—the woman known to history as the Widow of Mount Holly—will discover when she sets a honey trap for Hessian Colonel Count Carl Emil Urich von Donop, only to find herself ensnared in mutual attraction.

“Miracle on Ladies’ Mile” by Joanna Shupe

New York, 1895 - After losing his beloved wife, department store owner Alexander Armstrong seems incapable of anything other than work, despite his ache to be a better father to his daughter. When the pair encounters Grace, a charming shop girl designing the store’s Christmas window displays, he struggles to accept that perhaps miracles do happen in the most unlikely of places…

“The Cowboy’s Christmas” by Piper Huguley

Smithson, Oklahoma Territory, 1893 - Postponing her missionary trip to Africa, apprentice teacher Serena Newcomb must travel west to face the unrequited love of her past -- rebel cowboy Baxter Smithson. Banished from his Georgia home for the crime of falling in love with the wrong woman, Baxter is surprised that his Christmas gift is a grown-up Serena, ready to confront him for ignoring his duty and to show him that the true meaning of Christmas is love.

“Into the Evermore” by Holly Bush

Virginia, 1842 - Eleanor McManus, upright daughter of a minister, is rescued from kidnappers somewhere in the deep forest wilderness by a rough and tumble fur trader, Beauregard Gentry. With his help, Eleanor makes her way back to her intended groom who declares her soiled, and she finds herself alone, pressured to make life decisions without benefit of family or others she can trust. Beauregard and Eleanor agree to begin a life together, build their legacy together, and their growing devotion to each other is witnessed one cold, crisp Christmas morning.

Theme Songs
After reading "Christmas in America: Historical Romance Anthology" I couldn't resist picking one song for each novella. I began by choosing historically accurate pieces for each story but I just couldn't get the thought of focusing on our character's motivations and feelings instead. I quickly found a song perfect for Huguley's "The Cowboy's Christmas" and almost everything else fell into place. I couldn't give up my classical piece for Thorland's "Christmas at Mount Holly" though. Admittedly, this playlist is a bit unusual since it's a mix of different styles and genres in relation to historical romance. It is seriously good listening though!

“Into the Evermore” by Holly Bush
More heroes like Beauregard Gentry please! Seriously, what’s not to love about Beau? He was strong, and brave and he fought for Eleanor’s love and honor. And Eleanor, geez girlfriend, you got yourself in a pickle. Good thing Beau is here to save you...actually they kinda saved each other and that made this little Christmas novella all the better.

“I Do" by Holley Maher
Let's chase all our big dreams
Through open fields and over seas
Where you are is where I wanna be
Forever isn't too long

“The Cowboy’s Christmas” by Piper Huguley
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was lost for a good part of this novella. Ella what? Milford where? For some reasons the pieces just weren’t coming together for me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the novella, it just took me a long time to catch up. In the end I kept reflecting upon "The Cowboy’s Christmas" over and over again. I’m finding new morsels to nibble on and savor still. The gist of my noodling? Serena was just so darn good and sweet that it hurt my heart that Baxter didn’t see her as his own personal angel for most of the story. Their HEA was especially sweet since it brought Serena joy and it, thankfully, got Baxter’s own head out of his a**.

The song I chose for "The Cowboy's Christmas" is based solely on Serena's feelings for Baxter. The lyrics just fit so well that I had to go with this contemporary tune instead of something historically accurate. I decided that all the other theme songs should have a contemporary vibe to match after nailing down this initial song.

“Waiting for you" by Isobel Anderson
But you can't help who you love
And boy it's always been you
So now I'm here all alone waiting for you

“Miracle on Ladies’ Mile” by Joanna Shupe
Shupe’s The Knickerbocker Club books are some of my favorite historicals of 2016. I love the Gilded Age setting and the characters, but most of all I love Shupe’s intense, almost lyrical, writing style. Until Shupe's next The Knickerbocker Club release, "Baron", "Miracle on Ladies’ Mile" held me over. It was the perfect little Christmas novella. If you read this book and don’t fall head over heels in love with Grace, Alex and Sarah I would be supremely shocked. Alex was a particularly interesting character due to his previous loss, his deception and his unavoidable, all-out attraction to Grace.

For Alex and Grace I decided to pick a song in which the lyrics matched Alex’s feelings. My heart hurt for Alex when he described his feelings for his wife, Mary, and yet it was so easy to see that Grace could complete him in a new and different way.

“Waiting for you" by Isobel Anderson
Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand,
Take my whole life, too
For I can't help falling in love with you
For I can't help falling in love with you

“Christmas at Mount Holly” by Donna Thorland
Donna Thorland’s Revolutionary War novella had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Donop and Angela just didn’t seem like good bet for most of this novella, but never fear romance fans, "Christmas at Mount Holly" does have a HEA. Our heroine, Angela, was so unexpected that I found it hard not to root for her both in love and in her mission. I haven’t read a lot of Revolutionary War romance but I think I’ll add Thorland’s Renegades of the Revolution series to my TBR list for the future.

The song I chose for “Christmas at Mount Holly” is a bit different from the other songs on this playlist since Thorland gave me such great inspiration. In the novella it’s mentioned that Angela plays the harpsichord and in once scene she even plays one of Donop’s favorite tunes, Handels’ Sarabande. I mean, how could I pass up the chance to have Handel on the playlist? I chose a souped-up rendition of the classic for this playlist, but there are so many great versions out there.

“Sarabande" by George Frideric Handel and Escala

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