Friday, December 19, 2014

NOVELLA REVIEW: "Once Upon a Christmas Kiss" by Manda Collins

Once Upon a Christmas Kiss
Once Upon a Christmas Kiss by Manda Collins
(Wicked Widows #3.5)

Goodreads -- Amazon
Author Website

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency England

St. Martin's Press -- Published in October 2014
Ebook, 200 pages
Read in December 2014
Received from Netgalley

Holiday Romance, Across the Tracks

When Sir Lucien Blakemore arrives at his cousin’s estate for a week long Christmas party, he’s shocked to see Miss Winifred Nightingale among the other guests. Employed by his neighbor back in Yorkshire, the governess with the lovely eyes has always seemed off limits, but she’s visiting here as a guest—and there’s nothing like a little mistletoe to make the spirits bright…

Miss Winifred Nightingale never dreamed a holiday visit with her sister would lead to both ladies spending Christmas as the local lord’s guests. But the big surprise is when she finds the handsome Sir Lucien Blakemore staying there too. Their attraction between is undeniable, but will an old nemesis and a party guest bent on mischief make their first kiss under the mistletoe their last?

"Christmas had never been one of his favorite holidays, Sir Lucien Blakemore mused as he gazed out of the carriage window at the snow-colored poplar trees lining the drive to his cousin Jeremy, Lord Hurst's, country house."

Once Upon a Christmas Kiss is a sweet holiday-themed novella that acts as the conclusion to Manda Collins's Wicked Widows series.  I read the first book (Why Dukes Say I Do) last year and remember enjoying it.  So I was excited to see it available on Netgalley especially because I have a thing for holiday historical romances.

The premise of this book is that a baronet, Sir Lucien Blakemore, reluctantly attends a Christmas party at his cousin's house, but is happy to discover that the last person he ever expected to show up.  Winnie spends her time working as a governess for Lucien's neighbor and becomes a last minute invitee at the party while visiting her sister for the holidays. These two have obviously been circling around one another for quite awhile and this situation allows them to interact more.

Both Lucien and Winnie were easy to like and root for.  Lucien is a little uncomfortable in large social situations, but he remains polite and genuinely sweet.  His devotion to Winnie's safety and happiness was nice to see especially when other party guests treated her so badly.  For Winnie's part, I admired her strength when dealing some of the snobbier attendees.  I also enjoyed the realistic tone she took on her growing relationship with Lucien.  She clearly cared about him, but was more hesitant about jumping into something.

The whole book was a quick read that I found very sweet.  There is a subplot involving some "pranks" played on Winnie that went too far.  I figured out the culprit from the beginning so I didn't enjoy that element as much and would rather have those pages to develop Winnie and Lucien's relationship more.  I did like the fact that these two already knew and were attracted to each other so there wasn't any insta-love that often occurs in novellas.  

While Once Upon a Christmas Kiss isn't perfect, it was entertaining and the perfect read for a winter weekend.  It is also a good example of Manda Collins's writing style for anyone wanting to give her a try.  I know I will be looking for the rest of the Wicked Widows series now.

I received a free copy of this book from St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.

1. Why Dukes Say I Do
2. Why Earls Fall in Love
3. Why Lords Lose Their Hearts
3.5. Once Upon a Christmas Kiss


  1. Holiday romances are great reads this time of year, right? I finished listening (again!) to the audiobook of Courtney Milan's A Kiss for Midwinter just a few weeks ago. :)

  2. This seems cute. I like novellas when the hero and heroine already know each other too. So it doesn't seem like their romance moves too quickly.


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