“Christmas at Blackhaven Castle” is not a happy affair. Since the death of his reckless, unfaithful wife, Trey Stanford, Duke of Blackthorn has spent quiet holidays with his three young sons. The boys have driven away six governesses by the time Seraphina Moreton arrives. To her the bleak house is a safe haven for herself and her dog, who quickly endears himself to the children. When her identity is exposed Trey claims they are affianced and what begins as a charade becomes all too true as the spirit of the season brings love to James’ wonderful characters.
In Burrows’ story, Lord Martin Chepstow is invited to a country holiday party where he finds his sister’s best friend is governess to the family. He’s always believed Honeysuckle Miller to be a plain, cold young woman, and he’s prepared for her disdain. Honeysuckle is actually attracted to him but the difference in their class position makes anything between them impossible. When Martin shows her his compassionate side she finds him irresistible and a kiss leads to her dismissal. That kiss has Martin ready to convince Honeysuckle to go from “Governess to Christmas Bride.”
In Kaye’s story, Gabriel, Duke of Blairmore, needs to find a bride to produce an heir. He convinces his childhood friend Regan Stuart and her half-siblings to pose as his governess and children. His childhood was loveless and he wants to make sure the bride he chooses will make a good mother. But soon he’s dreaming of making the wholly unsuitable Regan “Duchess by Christmas” instead of the three impeccable candidates he’s chosen. (HARLEQUIN, Nov., 300 pp., $6.25)