Getting into the Holiday Spirit with “Once Upon a Christmas Kiss”

22495917Once Upon a Christmas Kiss by Manda Collins
St. Martin’s, October 14, 2014 (Historical Romance)*

My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5)

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of holiday themed novels, especially romances. They’re just all kinds of adorable. So when I came across this holiday themed novella, I thought to myself “Why yes, I am ready for Christmas.” It’s October after all, I’m sure Costco will breaking out the Christmas decorations soon, if not already.

When Sir Lucien Blakemore decides to accept his cousin’s invitation to celebrate Christmas he does so mainly because his neighbour’s governess will be elsewhere for the holidays. Lucien has no idea that the very governess who’s company he’s missing will also be at his cousin’s house party.

While visiting her sister, Winnie attends a house party to even out the numbers. Winnie and her sister aren’t high society but apparently they’ll do in a pinch even if some guests are put out by their presence. Like Lucien, Winnie does not expect to see her friend at this house party; however, it soon becomes evident that he might be only person she can turn to when she begins to receive threats from one of the other guests. As the threats to Winnie increase, Winnie decides to ask for help. Since she and Lucien have a friendly history, Winnie decides to approach him with a plan, a plan that involves a fake engagement that will hopefully discourage anyone from further importuning Winnie because Lucien could blacken their name. What complicates Winnie’s plan is the fact that Lucien would like to make this engagement the real thing. He’s been attracted to Winnie for quite some time and he was hoping to broach this very topic when he saw her again after the holidays. He’s not going to turn down her plan, he’ll take whatever advantage he can get. What will prove to be difficult for Lucien is convincing Winnie is that the different in their social class is an obstacle that they can overcome. Winnie, of course, does not want to cause future problems for Lucien and would hate for Lucien to come to reset her; she cares too much for him to let that happen. So while hunting the individual that’s making Winnie’s life hell, Lucien’s also embarking on his own plan to show Winnie that they can make a marriage work.

Once Upon a Christmas Kiss was an adorable little story that combines a cute romance with a light mystery plot, something that I’ve come to expect from the author. All of the novels by Collins’ that I’ve read have featured a mystery element. In fact, I think this author is a good fit for Amanda Quick fans. While Collins is perhaps not as outright funny as Quick, the combination of romance and mystery bring Quick too mind. Collins’ creates a lovely balance between the two genres in her novels, and Once Upon a Christmas Kiss is no exception.

Other than the holiday theme, I also really liked the characters. Both of them are just so upstanding, again it’s something I’ve come to expect and love from the author. There’s more than rakes in the historical romance genre and I’m glad to read about them. Lucien was such an upstanding guy and I liked the fact that he was simply “nice”. He wanted Winnie to marry him but he never went about it in a manipulative way. I simply liked the fact that these two treated each other well and that there wasn’t an abundance of conflict between them as a couple. Don’t get me wrong, the angst and miscommunication is a staple of romance genre, but it’s always nice to read something refreshing and I find that the case with this author.

My verdict on this one: a nice read to get you into the Christmas spirit, a early Christmas gift to yourself, if you will. If you like Manda Collins’ style and characters, Once Upon a Christmas Kiss will not disappoint. Upstanding guy meets reluctant bride, a match made.

*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Similar Reads

For another false courtship and holiday read try Valerie Bowman’s It Happened Under the Mistletoe. This one is also novella length. There’s no intrigue element to it, but it’s a cute, fun read.

It Happened Under The Mistletoe (Secret Brides, #3.5)

Like Lucien, Ian Worth has to convince his bride-to-be to actually go through with the wedding in The Scandal Before Christmas. Thankfully a winter storm and the holiday spirit go a long way in convincing Ian’s bride that their marriage will be more than a convenience.

The Scandal Before Christmas (The Reckless Brides, #3.5)

Lastly, three little connected novellas in one fun house party. The Lady Most Willing was a surprise read for me since I didn’t expect to like the novella idea here; however, it worked here and I loved getting a sample of various author’s work. Another great read to get you into the holiday spirit.

The Lady Most Willing...: A Novel in Three Parts

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