This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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I normally avoid novellas like the plague but when I found out that 4 of my favorite authors were releasing How the Dukes Stole Christmas anthology, I could not resist!
How the Dukes Stole Christmas is a heartwarming Christmas anthology that is loosely connected to each other by shortbread cookies and features Dukes that are total Grinches! Coincidentally, my husband and I were sharing the Filipino version of shortbread cookies, so this anthology already brought me all the #feels!
Meet Me in Mayfair by Tessa Dare
Is an enemies-to-lovers romance that develops in one night! While I am not a fan of this quick romance, I thought Tessa Dare did an awesome job with developing the romance. Louisa Ward needs to wed a rich man to save her family from moving to the Isle of Jersey because the new Duke of Thorndale is calling all the old Duke’s debts. But who does Louisa dance with at the ball? The new Duke himself!
What started as a plan to convince him to forgive their family debt turn into an adventurous walk around Mayfair in the middle of the night!
I’m not a fan of the insta-love part of this romance but I enjoyed their midnight Mayfair exploration. Meet Me in Mayfair felt really quick to me and I could have used more romantic development with the characters.
The Duke of Christmas Present by Sarah MacLean
The Duke of Christmas Present is my favorite out of all the novellas! First, it features two of my favorite tropes – best friends to lovers and second chance romance! Second, this novella had me ugly crying from the start! I was seriously bawling my eyes out!
I love Eben and Jack! Since they were friends first, there was already a backstory for them and It made their romance believable. Jacqueline is back after 12 years of traveling on the continent with her aunt after she left Eben brokenhearted on Christmas Day. I felt for these two. Both loved each other but was torn apart by responsibility and I loved it when they finally had their HEA.
The Duke of Christmas Present also has a few flashback scenes which really helped with character development.
Heiress Alone by Sophie Jordan
Heiress Alone is probably my second favorite novella in this anthology. Heiress alone is a very loose retelling of Home Alone, where the heroine is left alone in a Scottish Castle a few days before Christmas! Unfortunately, due to the weather, she is stuck in Scotland until March, so she is left alone with two aging servants. Because of the threat of bandits in the area, the Duke of Sinclair comes to the castle to take the servants to his castle when he discovers Annisa and takes her with him reluctantly.
Sinclair and Annisa’s relationship quickly develops after this and while the relationship felt too fast, I felt that there was enough chemistry between the two to make it really believable. Heiress Alone also is a hate-to-love romance so I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also think this was the steamiest novella in the bunch so bonus points for that!
Christmas in Central Park by Joanna Shupe
Christmas in Central Park is my least favorite novella in this anthology because I do feel that there wasn’t enough romantic development to make me believe that Duke would fall in love with Rose.
Rose is an advice columnist working for Duke H’s newspaper when a scandal breaks out and her editor gets fired. To save his corporation, Duke decides to use the famous Mrs. Walker, the advice columnist to hold a Christmas dinner to impress his board.
Duke basically falls in love with Rose in one dinner while thinking that Rose is married and that left a bad taste in my mouth. It was still unbelievable for me that Rose forgave him for all the things he did after he found out that she was lying about her identity. I would have made him grovel for a looong time.
Overall, I enjoyed How the Dukes Stole Christmas and I even rated it a 4.5 because of the strength of the other 3 novellas in this anthology.
For those who haven’t read the authors, this anthology is an awesome introduction to their work. Well, perhaps not Joanna’s because I know she writes better than this.
Do you love reading novellas?