"O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to heaven is sent;
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content"
Robbie Burns

Tuesday, December 21, 2010



Well with a few days until Christmas I know you are busy, some may be to the point of exhaustion. Boy am I glad those crazy days are gone for the moment. When my kids were little, Christmas took on mythic proportions. I was just happy to make it to the first day of their break after weeks of Christmas parties for all the activities they were in as well as the school concerts and church concerts. Having two children eight years apart meant one year I was at a Kindergarten music concert in the morning and a seventh grade music concert all in the afternoon. One of the things as a reader of romance I did to keep my sanity was to read when I could, but there was never enough time to sit down and read a whole book, so thank God for Christmas Anthologies. Just enough story to read while hiding in my bathroom in a soak before the hungry hoards came home from school or from hours of sledding or snowman building. The following are some of my favorites: Though keep in mind the covers may have changed with subsequent publishing years. I can’t say I have liked all of the stories in the books but even if you got one or two great feel good reads it was worth the price. Though some are now out in ebook formats, most can be found in a good used bookstore.

The first book is A STOCKINGFUL OF JOY, which included stories from some of romance’s leading ladies: Jill Barnett, Mary Jo Putney Justine Dare and Susan King. This is the book I pickup every year because of the King story (“Snow Rose”) not because it is set in Scotland but because it is just one of those “curl-your-toes-feel-good-this-time-of-year “kind of stories. That it continues from one of her earlier books THE RAVEN’S WISH, makes it all the more enjoyable. Here is what is says on Amazon:

“Susan King's Snow Rose, set in 1573 in the rugged highlands of Scotland, tells the passionate story of Catriona MacDonald and Kenneth Fraser, prominent members of opposing clans. Catriona is in desperate need of help, and the snow rose--a cherished brooch given to seal a sacred pact made long ago by a Fraser family member--guarantees help from the Fraser family, or so Catriona believes. When the Frasers must regretfully deny Catriona her one wish, Kenneth Fraser swears to protect her, but he never dreamed he would lose his heart in the process." A total YUM read!!!

The next anthology is A GIFT OF LOVE includes such heavy hitters as Jude Deveraux and Judith MacNaught, but also Kimberly Cates, Andrea Kane and Judith O’Brien. It was the Kimberly Cates story “Gabriel’s Angel” that tore at my heart and I read this one each year. It is the tale of a kindness from a wealthy child to one the city's countless London waifs that kept the dream of kindness alive for 16 years for our heroine until the young girl had to grow up and put those dreams away or can she? I love this story. Other stories in the anthology include: DOUBLE EXPOSURE (McNaught), JUST CURIOUS (Deveraux), YULETIDE TREASURE (Kane) and FIVE GOLD RINGS (O’brien).

The next anthology has all of the books set in Scotland in different periods of time, again from some of the leading ladies of romance in that period in A SEASON IN THE HIGHLANDS. The stories include : UNFINISHED BUSINESS (Jude Deveraux), FALL FROM GRACE (Jill Barnett- a revised version of a previous published story of same name) COLD FEET (Geralyn Dawson), THE MATCHMAKER (Pam Binder) and THE CHRISTMAS CAPTIVE (Patricia Cabot, and for those who don’t know this Meg Cabot/Jenny Carrol who writes all the Princess Diaries and YA books- yes she got her start in writing Romance). I had two favorites in this book, first the one by Jill Barnett, which was a revised with more filling of story from the Highland Fling anthology. The story had me laughing at the ineptitude of the Grace and her band of misfits and comments from them like “Look I have nabbed a Mcnab.” Just plain fun the kind you want to relief the stress of the holiday. The second one liked was Pam Binder’s THE MATCHMAKER because it has contemporary opposites thrown back in time to Queen Mary of Scotland’s court.

The final anthology I would mention, and believe there are so many more I could metion, are from two of Romance’s senior leading ladies Judith McNaught and Jude Deveraux in SIMPLE GIFTS. Each author has two books: one an historical and one a contemporary. The titles of the stories (that may have appeared in other published anthologies) include: JUST CURIOUS (historical) and CHANGE OF HEART (contemporary) both by Jude Deveraux and MIRACLES (historical) and DOUBLE EXPOSURE (contemporary) both by Judith McNaught.

Of these four stories I especially enjoyed CHANGE OF HEART because this stars a member of Deveraux’s signature family, the Montgomerys of Colorado. A 12-year-old geek of a boy match-makes his mother with a stern powerful member of the fabled family, much to the delight of the rest of the Montgomery family. My other favorite is MIRACLES by McNaught because it is the story of two of her favorite secondary characters, Nicki and Julianne Skeffington from her Westmorland books. Though I wish she had given this couple a longer story to enjoy.

And finally a little holiday cheer, I gave the socks the week off, enjoy….