Apologies to Sophie Renwick, who generously sent me an ARC, and I was unable to get this posted prior to the release date. There are 3 stories in this anthology, all about MacDonald women (connected through a clan pin), and all touched by magic in some way.
In Dawn Halliday’s story, Winter Heat, Maggie MacDonald is a widow stolen from her bed by Innes Munroe, who wants to force her to marry him. She escapes and is rescued by Logan Douglas. I liked both Maggie and Logan. They are both strong characters. Halliday does a good job of bringing these two together, as Maggie nurses Logan back to health, and he awakens in her a deep and abiding love, one they were both scared to face. I’ll definitely be looking for more from Halliday (sans the love triangles), who also writes as Jennifer Haymore.
In Yuletide Enchantment, from Sophie Renwick, Isobel MacDonald falls in love with Daegan, Prince of the Sidhe that live in the woods near her family’s estate. He is a shapeshifter, and she unknowingly protects him in his white stag form. When he exposes himself to her as a Sidhe, she can’t reconcile it, and tries to deny their love. She’s also promised to an Earl, who completely believes in the Sidhe. This story fell the most outside my comfort zone, as it’s a shapeshifter, and, well… it’s a shapeshifter. And a Sidhe. A double whammy for me. But Renwick does a fine job keeping much of the focus on the main characters, although the external conflict took up a bit too much time, IMO. The story definitely benefitted from Isobel and Daegan watching and knowing each other (if only in their hearts) since she was a small child, but still would have been better served had it been a bit longer. I definitely preferred the contemporary that I read from Renwick, but like her voice and writing style a lot. I’m looking forward to the next book in her Ryder brothers series (the followup to Hot in Here), and the first full-length book in the Annwyn series (the world introduced in this anthology) is due out in March. I'll step outside my comfort zone again to read that. (you should all be impressed with me!)
A Christmas Spirit, from Cindy Miles, was my favorite of the three. Not a surprise, given that I’ve loved all of Miles’ books. How she manages to come up with a different premise for each of her stories, I will never figure out. This is the story of Paige MacDonald and Gabriel Munro (relative of Ethan Munro, hero of Highland Knight). I’m constantly amazed at how she writes some of the most sensuous, heartfelt love scenes, when her H & H can’t even touch. Just yummy. Cindy’s latest full-length book is Thirteen Chances.
For me, the anthology was worth it simply for the Miles story, and had I not received a generous ARC from Sophie Renwick, I likely would have gone against all my "I don’t buy anthology" principles and purchased it simply because of that entry. If you like anthologies, Christmas stories, Highlanders, and bits of magic, this is the anthology for you.