|Mary Jo Putney: Christmas Revels|
(Paperback), ISBN 0-515-13631-X
Mary Jo Putney collects five Christmas romances in this book: one brand new contemporary novella and four previously published historical novellas. These tales make for the perfect reading during this hectic holiday season.
In "A Holiday Fling," British actress Jenny Lyme needs a cameraman to film a holiday pageant to raise money and save a community building. She calls upon friend and former fling Greg Marino to see if he might do the honors, and he jumps at the chance. Their previous fling was a rebound romance for Jenny. Greg provided a helpful shoulder -- and warm body -- to help her through the hurt. Though the passion flamed intensely, their careers pulled the couple apart until now. The affair re-ignites during the show, but they must struggle to prevent their careers from driving another wedge between them.
"Christmas Cuckoo" finds Meg Lambert picking up a very drunken Major Jack Howard at a coach stop. But this Jack Howard resembles her brother's friend and fellow soldier only in name. When he realizes Meg made a mistake, Jack means to end the charade, but busy holiday preparations make it easy to postpone telling his accidental hostess. Then Christmas brings some surprise visitors to the house.
Lord Randolph Lennox decides he needs some "Sunshine for Christmas" and promptly packs his bags for Naples. A wily teenage girl causes him to meet Elizabeth Walker, an English governess between jobs in the city. With no present work, Elizabeth acts as a tour guide for Lord Randolph, but a day in the country provides more excitement than they planned.
Accused of stealing, seamstress Nicole Chambord suddenly finds herself without work or home in London in "The Christmas Tart." In the midst of her efforts to secure a place for the holidays, friends of Sir Philip Selbourne mistake her for a streetwalker. They attempt to purchase her services as a gift for Philip. With no other options, she agrees despite her virginity. Philip sees right through her charade, and decides that would make the perfect companion for his mother.
In the final tale, Putney spins as a version of "Beauty and the Beast." James Markland, a scarred recluse, loans money to an inveterate gambler, ostensibly to improve his land. When James comes to collect the loan, he spies the man's daughter -- the lovely Ariel -- and her beauty enchants him. Since Ariel's father cannot repay the loan, even after a second extension, he seeks to sell her hand in matrimony to an unappealing old goat of a man. James hears Ariel and her father arguing about the match and impulsively decides to offer for her hand in place of the money. James knows he is smitten by the lovely, lively Ariel, but can she come to love a man who cannot bear to be seen?
Although not very deeply emotional tales, these five novellas provide a welcome bit of distraction at this hectic holiday time.
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