The holiday season seems to start a little earlier every year, and I don’t mind one bit. I love the music and the decorations and the snow, and most importantly the time spent with my family and friends. Needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to read this new historical romance anthology.

The two novellas share the same which I thought was a fun worldbuilding element. They also take place during the Christmas season, but the plots are not overwhelmed by the holiday, which works well because the emphasis falls on the characterization rather than relying on the holiday to carry the plots.

In A Lady’s Gift for Seduction, Lady Evangeline decides to help her friend Miss Lesley ruin herself, but when considering the gentlemen of her acquaintance who would be best suited for this task, she eliminates her childhood friend Henry Killam. There’s nothing wrong with Henry, and Evangeline soon realizes it’s because she wants to marry him. She doesn’t particularly want to marry, but if she marries Henry, she won’t have to marry someone her father chooses.

Henry has his own predicament: his aristocrat father has told him that his pursuit of science is unbecoming, and that he’ll be cut off if he doesn’t stop experimenting.

It’s seems as though they’ll both get what they want with a marriage of convenience, but can it really be that easy? What would happen if they acknowledged their mutual attraction?

This was an utterly delightful story of a well-intentioned schemer and a sweet and kind cinnamon roll hero. There’s some minor conflict, but this story is basically two people completely in love with each other finally waking up and realizing that the person they love has been there all along.

In A Lady’s Gift for Scandal, the aforementioned Miss Thomasina “Tamsin” Lesley sets about laying her plan for ruination. She doesn’t particularly like London, and she has concluded (with Lady Evangeline’s help) that if she gets caught in a compromising position, she’ll be left with no option than to return home in disgrace which is just fine with her, thank you very much.

Simon Cathcart seems like the amicable sort of gentleman to enlist in her scheme, but being ruined is harder than it seems. So Tamsin and Simon keep trying….

Again and again

And then Tamsin starts to catch feelings for her kissing partner.

I liked this novella because it subverted many of the usual tropes and expectations. Most notably, Simon is a bit of a wallflower; shy heroes are growing in popularity, but they’re still not the norm.

This novella was lighter in tone, but still managed to convey a sense of gravity when appropriate. Simon is not taken seriously by those around him, and he is assumed to be generally shiftless, but of course, appearances are deceiving and Simon is much more complicated than he lets on.

I would recommend Betrothed by Christmas. These two novellas complement each other nicely. I have read some of Michaels’ books in the past, but this is my first experience with Essex. I’m certainly looking forward to reading more from both authors in the future.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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