Holly, Ivy, and Me - Monica,  Burns;Charlotte,  Featherstone My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

Note: This review and rating is based on Charlotte Featherstone’s novella “Beneath the Mistletoe” (4.5) and “A Kind of Magic” (3.5) by Charlotte Featherstone and Monica Burns. If I read the middle story, I'll add my review later. The ratings may change afterwards!

“Beneath the Mistletoe”, Charlotte Featherstone

Again, I finished another CF novella thinking it should’ve been a full novel. The love scenes were scorching hot, so was Andrew’s mouth ... ermm, well, I loved it. So, it’s a 4.5 star.

Andrew was born illegitimate but always been in love with Holly. He’s a ward to one Lady Mary, who treats him as her own. But, in Andrew’s mind, he needed to do something to make himself worthy of Holly, so he sets off to India to acquire a fortune. Before that, he comes to Holly on a Christmas Eve and kisses her under the mistletoe. After a thorough kissing, he asks her to walk away. Holly had no idea of his departure. Eight years pass by, Andrew had never written to her or tried to communicate. Holly’s also been in love with Andrew and the irony is, they didn’t know each-other’s feelings. Andrew being a rake and all that, Holly thought since she is plain, she’ll never be enough for him. And, now, Lady Mary, who’s her mother’s good friend, is in their house announcing Andrew has come back. Holly is angry because of the way he ignored her, because of how he left in the first place. She’s also scared of how Andrew would find her; would she look good enough to capture his attentions? She plans something, wearing a daring red dress, one she never wore before and asks her friend, one jaded rake the Duke of Maitland, to flirt with her. In between, Holly’s grandmother’s spirit comes to visit her (erm, I had no idea how this happened) and tell her she’ll know what to do about Andrew. She gives Holly some guidance. Holly was a bit shocked but thought maybe she’s dreaming or something. Anyway, it’s another Christmas and she sees Andrew, who’s invited invited in their house amongst other guests.

Seeing Holly all grown up, Andrew is all hard and only thinking of how to possess her. Holly had no idea of this either but Andrew always knew Holly would be his and he’d do anything to make it possible. Andrew’s words were so HOT, I only kept thinking that guy’s crazy! :p He’s possessive too; seeing her with Maitland, he was positively fuming. There were incidents that make him jealous. Then once he finds Holly alone in her room, he kinda shows her a bit of what he wants to do with her. Ahh, well ... that was too hot for words. He wanted to make love but Holly asks him to leave. Some stuffs also led Andrew believe that Maitland might be her lover. But Maitland, it seems, is an understanding man. Beneath his rakish veneer, he seems different. He understood Holly’s feelings for Andrew and was only helping her. I couldn’t but feel there might be something more to that. I wished to know more about him.

Moving on, Andrew tells Holly it’s not over but the same night, seeing Maitland coming from the family hallway (very conveniently but I’m not sure if he actually engaged in a tryst or not ... *update after reading the 3rd story*, he probaby was coming out of Fiona’s room ... the cad!), Andrew goes all berserk and again, goes to Holly’s room... After this, it’s just how Andrew ‘showed’ her how he’d missed her in India and all the passion he kept banked inside him. He just swept Holly away (I’d too!) with his love and passion. In the last scene, Andrew explains to Holly why he went to India and why he didn’t tell her about his imminent departure. He also tells Holly that her grandmother visited him too, for which he came home ASAP. Then, they exchange ILUs and make more steamy love...

“Beneath the Mistletoe” has twelve chapters and a few super hot love scenes.

“A Bluestocking Christmas”, Monica Burns

Not reviewed.

“A Kind of Magic”, Charlotte Featherstone and Monica Burns

Just finished Maitland’s story. From the title I wasn’t definitely expecting such an unbelievable story as this. It was hot and nice but I wasn’t entirely happy with it so 3.5 stars. There were just too many questions for my liking. The 1st one by CF was so good, I didn’t have any problems at all. The middle one by MB, I skimmed through but haven’t read because I didn’t find the characters interesting enough. But, I’ll give it a try again sometimes later since the H/h are mentioned in this one, even if briefly.

The story takes starts just a few days before Christmas and takes place over the next few days. Julia is a romance author but not very successful. Her career as well as love life is now a mess. She just broke up with her fiancé, who turned out to be a big mouthed moron. Julia is insecured; her self-esteem is lacking because of her looks. I don’t know why since the only ‘fault’ I thought she had was the fact that she’s not stick thin. So anyway, the beginning gives us some insight into her life. Her best friend, one blonde bimbo named Tanya with big, fake Ta-Ta (don’t look at me, it’s in the book) talks to her over IM. It seems like she’s got a date, a handsome, ripped English guy, which depresses Julia even more. I have NO IDEA how these two became friends in the first place. Tanya tells her he is here. Then, a voice is talking to Julia to take a chance on life. Yah, it seems like Holly’s Grandmama or Grand Dame as Julia calls her is talking to her too. But, wait a min? What? Yah, it seems like Julia is Holly’s descendent. Well, I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was. Grand Dame is trying to guide Julia through this difficult time of her life. But, Julia thinks too much coffee and the stress of a deadline as taken its toll on her. Then she decides, in a whiz, to take a trip to England and visit Harrow Lodge, her ancestral (sort of) home. Then there was this message in the IM by someone who definitely wasn’t Tanya. Julia is confused but pawns her ancestral diamond to pay for the trip, making her mom livid.

Brock, or the Duke of Maitland doesn’t like today’s women. Most of them seem too eager for his choice. But oh, he’s been alive for over 200 yrs now and his mindset is stuck the Regency-era I’m afraid. But whaat? 200 yrs?! Yah, couldn’t believe what I’m reading lolz. It seems like he’s looking for his soul mate, a woman named Fiona whom he lost 200 yrs ago. He took the help of a gypsy who told him in 200 yrs he might meet his soul mate again but if he doesn’t he’ll just disappear without a trace. So, it’s been a long long time and the time’s almost up. Now, he’s in Tanya’s apartment. Though this woman isn’t at all the type to interest him, he’s attracted to her nonetheless. He thought it was just sex his body wanted. Anyway, soon he finds out the reason. In one of Tanya photo album, he sees Julia and instantly knows this is the woman he’s been looking for. So he asks Tanya to get ready to go out and in the meantime, very conveniently Julia was online so he sends her this message and takes her address and so on from Tanya’s address book. Then he leaves before Tanya comes out. Then from what I understood, he plans out everything; from Julia’s journey to England to Harrow Lodge, which he owns now.

Julia sees the man who’s been invading her dreams, erotic dreams to be precise, in the first class. There has been some ‘over boarding’ of passengers so she was given a first class seat, thought her seat wasn’t in there. She’s been dreaming about Regency era, and that man, handsome and rakish Duke of Maitland, who talks to her. She dances with her, sees some of her ancestors there too. She has no idea what to make of it. Then, she sees him in the plain. It’s a confusing situation. They talk, it seems like the man can read her mind. He knows her deepest desires. Oh my, scary… that! But Julia can’t help but let him touch her. There’s something about him she can’t deny. It freaks her out since she isn’t the ‘one night stand’-type. After a hot hot fondling, Julia leaves Brock’s side to seat somewhere else, but finds her ex there. He tries to soothe her with nonsense but Brock is angry and asks her to come away. And she does. Have to tell you the whole thing was confusing, gave me déjà vu, just like Julia herself!

Anyway, they go to Harrow Lodge together. Julia is thinking WTF am I doing? I don’t know this guy and now I’m here. He owns the place too. I mean what’s happening. And Brock’s trying to place her in Fiona (mentioned a few times in the 1st story), his lover’s place. He was pretty sure she’s the one he’s been looking for, then why doesn’t Julia feel like her? After they’re inside, they have sex on the desk in frenzy. Brock was totally hot for her but after that, he seemed to cool down and be too polite for Julia’s choice. Julia’s insecurities take over. Brock can read her mind and feels sad that her moron ex has shattered her self-esteem to this point. But, he’s concerned how he’s going to tell her about the truth. Brock is pretty sure Julia is the one he has been looking for. So he shows her around. Julia is awed by it all and decidedly feels like she’s been here in another life time. In the ballroom, she’s pretty sure that she danced here but not in her dream. Brock tries to talk to her about the truth but Julia won’t listen and runs out. She’s scared and confused still. Then Brock sits in front of the fireplace and reminisces the long ago past; Christmas, the year 1805, the last day of his natural life. He was seeing this woman, thought in love with her named Fiona. But what he didn’t realize that she’d been cheating on him with some other guy. Of course, Brock was a rake but he wanted love too. He liked Holly, a good friend to him and was happy for her. Then that day, in Harrington Christmas ball, he kept on looking for Fiona but she wasn’t anywhere on sight. Holly asks her to dance with Juliet, her best friend, a shy wallflower whom Brock knew but never gave a thought about, besides that she’s Holly’s best friend. Anyway, he asks her for a dance and in that dance, his life changed irrevocably. He was ignoring her as much as he could, still looking for Fiona, then suddenly he looked down and those sapphire eyes, brimming with emotion and tears took his breath away. He forgot Fiona and everything else. The warmth in them beckoned him and he suddenly wanted none other than Juliet, as if he’s been waiting for her. After the dance, he tries to talk but Juliet stays him and leaves. He follows her to the terrace and tries kissing her. Fiona, in the meantime, happens upon them. Ugly scene follows, he runs after Fiona even though he was very torn about what to do. Juliet, who’s been in love with Brock for all her life couldn’t take it. She runs out and takes the carriage. Now here is the twist. Brock doesn’t know who was in the carriage. I mean I got confused myself. He ran after both women? How come he didn’t know who it was in the carriage? But he knew that whoever was there, died and it was his soul mate? Then some gypsy saves him from something ... things are quite foggy here for him. He wanted to wait for his soul mate and asks the gypsy to help him. The woman might’ve showed him the face of the body the gypsy brought out from the carriage but Brock doesn’t remember who it was. Now, if Brock was alive for all these year, how come he still didn’t know who survived and who died? He didn’t leap through the time or anything, it’s pretty clear he’s lived for 200 yrs straight. So how come he doesn’t know? Didn’t he see Fiona or Juliet, whoever it was alive after that? See what I mean by déjà vu?

On the other hand, Grand Dame again tries to talk to Julia who freaks out and calls her ex, but regrets it immediately afterwards. She falls asleep, dreams again, sees Brock and the ballroom, the same dance and people. Then the even plays out in full and shows us what happened, at least most of it. But this time, Brock doesn’t go after Fiona but keeps kissing her in the terrace. The next moment, she’s in a room, a masculine one with Brock. He tells her he’s again in her dream and this is not his room but his fantasy, about her. Yah, Brock knew Julia was dreaming and he was inside it because he didn’t know how to prove her the truth. So he sets on proving the truth and his feelings to Julia. I liked the love scene a lot, thought it was in a dream. But they both experience it in real. Anyway, in the morning after Julia wakes up, Brock comes to see her. WOW but I liked Brock, how possessive he was about Julia and never minded showing it off. He touches her and tells her if she remembers everything that happened last night. Julia says she does. Loved that scene BTW. They take a sledge ride afterwards and talk again. Brock takes her to a dilapidated house inside the woods. I don’t know how it stood for 200 yrs without any care; even the table where Brock was treated was there! Soon things falls into places as they both begin remembering things. Brock now knows it was Juliet’s face he’d seen. He already realizes what he felt for Fiona couldn’t possibly compete with what he felt for Juliet or now for Julia. Then, Julia confirms she couldn’t take the humiliation of Brock going after Fiona so she took the risk and that accident happened. Some thug was robbing her afterwards when Brock came to help and in the process got shot. And, you know the rest after that... Julia confesses she’s fallen in love with Brock, now remembering her past in another lifetime. I was very moved by this scene. In the end, it’s another dream in the ballroom or so it seemed like since all the past characters were there to greet them...

Anyway, I wish it was another simple Regency setting story which took place maybe 2 yrs after the 1st story and not 200. It was just too weird, all of it coming and going back and forth. I had some more questions and yes, I felt that the story was unfinished. I definitely liked Brock, he was very sexy. Regency rake and all that lmao!

“A Kind of Magic” has seven chapters and some hoooot love scenes.

Quotes I liked-

From “Beneath the Mistletoe”:

“You wouldn’t be avoiding me, would you?”
Holly stiffened as Andrew’s words caressed her ear. His breath, warm and soft, blew her errant curls against her neck, sending a delicious shiver along her spine.
”Good day, sir.”
“My, aren’t you being frightfully proper this evening. And here I thought we’d
torn down all those awkward barriers.” She gasped when she felt his fingers dance along
her muslin skirt to cup her buttock. “You haunted my dreams all night. I can’t wait to get
you alone.”
“Sir, please.”
“Please, is what I intend to do, my sweet Holly.”

From “A Kind of Magic”:

He loved her--loved Julia, but she could not believe.
She would not confess her love by tomorrow night. She would not. And now she had summoned Scott. Now he would never know what it was like to be loved. Two hundred years of suffering, of waiting. Of hoping.
"Julia," he whispered, closing his eyes. "Come to me. Let me love you. Let me
kiss you and touch you and see you naked beneath me. Julia ... come...."