After reading the “Miracle on Ladies’ Mile” by Joanna Shupe last week, I knew I wanted to read more by her. Since I’m only reading holiday inspired stories in December, I searched to see if she had written any others and was very happy to find that she had. Her novella, “Christmas in Central Park”, is part of the How the Dukes Stole Christmas anthology. I bought it and unfortunately, her story was really the only one I liked. I’ll be reviewing each novella separately below but I have given the anthology three stars overall on Goodreads. These reviews will be spoiler free.
I like to give a heat level rating for all books with romance. If you’re curious about my rating system, you can check it out here.
From the ballrooms of London, to abandoned Scottish castles, to the snowy streets of Gilded Age New York, four bestselling authors whip up unforgettable Christmas romance.
“Meet Me in Mayfair” by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball, the Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their home. When Louisa finds herself waltzing with the heartless Thorndale, she’s unnerved by his handsome looks—and surprising charm.
“The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd doesn’t care for the holidays. But when Lady Jacqueline Mosby returns to town after a long absence, Eben falls under the spell of Christmas—and the woman he never stopped loving.
“Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister finds herself stranded in the Highlands during a Christmas snowstorm, she must fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a kiss.
“Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe
Mrs. Rose Walker pens a popular advice/recipe column. No one knows Rose can’t even boil water. When her boss, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Rose fears her plan is failing—especially when Duke’s attentions make her want to step under the mistletoe with him.
💕”Meet Me in Mayfair” by Tessa Dare
- Heat Level-
I was really excited to read something by Tessa Dare because I’ve heard such good things about her over on the bookish side of Youtube. This story, however, was just kind of bland. I liked Louisa well enough but the entire conflict between her and the Duke of Thorndale could have been resolved with one decent conversation. I didn’t find the romance between them to be that believable but that’s a complaint I actually have with all four of the novellas in this collection. This story wasn’t bad, simply mediocre, and I would still like to read more by Dare.
💕”The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean
- Heat Level-
This novella was my least favorite of the four. I found both main characters to be incredibly unlikable. I like my heroes to be moody and broody but Eben is that to the umpteenth degree. He was so obnoxious and Jacqueline was just as obnoxious in her own way. This is another story where the entire conflict could have been resolved if the characters, primarily Jacqueline, would have used their words and hashed things out. I wasn’t rooting for Eben and Jacqueline to end up together and that’s the opposite of how you should feel while reading a romance.
💕”Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan
- Heat Level-
This was a novella that I feel could have been much better if it was a full length novel. I really liked both Annis and the mysterious Scottish Duke but their relationship was super rushed. He went from not liking her at all to being madly in love within a couple of days. I can’t stand insta-love so that automatically made me not like this story as much as I might have.
💕“Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe
- Heat Level-
I’m not surprised that this was my favorite story of the four. After reading two of Shupe’s holiday romances, I can see that she does have a writing formula but it’s one that I like. This novella, much like “Miracle on Ladies’ Mile”, centers around lies and mistaken identity. I found this one to have the most holiday feel to it and to be the most romantic but it’s also heavy on the insta-love. If it would have been more fleshed out and not Duke and Rose falling in love over a couple of days, I would have enjoyed it more.
This anthology isn’t bad but it’s not as good as I hoped it would be. I think there’s better holiday romances out there but if you can find this one on sale, it might be worth reading. What should I read next during December? Thanks for reading and have a great day!