Royal Holiday

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

This is a fun, frothy contemporary romance, a very appealing read. Social worker Vivian Forest accompanies her daughter Maddie to England for a December vacation after Maddie gets a chance to be stylist to a young duchess for the Christmas season. Vivian meets Malcolm, the Queen’s private secretary, and he gives her a tour of the Sandringham estate, takes her riding, and the pair exchange notes delivered by footmen. Vivian is very down-to-earth, funny and considerate. Malcolm is a bit more formal and private, but is clearly smitten by Vivian. It’s so refreshing to have the main characters in a contemporary romance be in their fifties. The Sandringham and London settings make an amazing frame for the slightly predictable story so that the reader can enjoy armchair travel along with a joyful but not steamy romance. What Anglophile wouldn’t enjoy a private museum tour, or getting to park inside the gates at Buckingham Palace? What will happen when Vivian goes back to California with the possibility of a job promotion? Sadly, no scone recipe is included, but all the other ingredients for a perfect holiday read are there, from helping pick out a dress for the duchess to fireworks over the Thames River. Enjoy!

Brenda

Holiday Stories

Every year, November and December bring a new assortment of winter holiday stories. Most, but not all, are about Christmas, are usually short, and they are featured in a library display called “Heartwarming Holiday Stories.” If you’re looking for a pleasant holiday read, you’ll find plenty of books to browse. Here are short reviews of three new selections:

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Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke

In another delicious winter holiday mystery, cookie baker Hannah Swensen is looking back at the previous winter, telling a newcomer to Lake Eden a story about her business partner Lisa. Lisa is worried that her husband Herb is out late “working” every night, and is really upset when she doesn’t get to play Mrs. Claus to Herb’s Santa in a local Christmas show, and the very flirty Phyllis wears a rather revealing costume at the dress rehearsal. Shortly afterwards Hannah and Lisa find a body in a snowbank, near a bag of caramels that Lisa made. Hannah, an experienced amateur sleuth, works with detective Mike to find the killer. I didn’t try any of the dozen recipes included, but they sound delicious. A nice touch is that Hannah dreams of her father as the ghosts in Dickens’ Christmas Carol, and the ghosts give her some helpful hints. Suzanne Torren is an excellent narrator for the audiobook version.

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Amish Christmas Blessings

Amish holiday stories are very popular here, and this book features two novellas.  In The Midwife’s Christmas Surprise  by Marta Perry, young midwife Anna Zook is having trouble getting accepted in her Amish community as more than an assistant midwife. She is stunned when her friend’s son, Benjamin Miller, returns from three years in the “English” world.  In A Christmas to Remember by Jo Ann Brown, storekeeper Amos Stoltzfus is led to an injured woman by a little girl who can only tell them their names. Linda has lost her memory and can’t remember where she was taking the little girl. Short and sweet holiday romances make for a quick read.

Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Julia works at a large department store, volunteers at a Boys and Girls Club playing piano, and needs to develop a popular blog for a chance at a corporate social media job. Julia’s friend encourages her to write about her grumpy neighbor Cain, and do something kind for him every day during the Christmas season. Cain turns down chocolate chip cookies and a free drink at his favorite coffee shop, so the kindness campaign is not starting out well. Then Cain gets sick, Julia meets his grandfather, and her blog takes off. What will happen if Cain finds out that she’s writing about him? This is a fun, heartwarming story with a little romance, and I didn’t mind that it was a bit predictable.        Brenda

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