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Wrapped In Red

Spend this Christmas warm under a Highlander’s plaid in Christmas in Kilts.

Wrapped In Red

Welcome to the last installment of our Holiday Romance series! Try as I might to resist, every December I find myself picking up a book or two (or three) that combines two things I love most: Christmas and romance. Over the last month we’ve checked out some of the cheesiest books published, and it was glorious. Thanks for joining me! As there is a severe shortage of YA-focused holiday books, these were all of the adult variety. So grab yourself a glass of spiked eggnog (or two) and turn the fire up to “crackling.” 

BOOK REPORT for Christmas in Kilts by Various Authors

Deck The Halls: Brown Bag This Tarty Tartan
Most Festive: “A Highland Christmas Wager”
Sort-of Festive: “Sweet Home Highlands”
Least Festive: “A Highlander’s Hope”
Melt My Marshmallows: Microwaved
On A Scale from The Grinch to Buddy The Elf: Your Non-Christian Friends

Deck The Halls: Brown Bag This Tarty Tartan

You are going to get the side-eyes or creepy smiles if you’re reading this paperback on the train. This cover is why e-readers were invented.

What’s Going On In Santa’s Workshop:

If this anthology taught me anything it’s that I need to thank a man in a jolly red suit that I am a woman born in the modern era, because Rudolph’s red nose did these Scots-loving ladies have it rough. So gather up your plaid Christmas décor (it’s all the rage this 2017 season, I swear) and settle in by the faux fire (if you’re in Florida, like me, where Christmas day will be 80 degrees) with a dram of whiskey to pretend you’re in snowy Scotland, where you’ll…

Join Robena and Iain (who, by virtue of his name, I immediately mind-cast as Iain Glen (Ser Jorah!), you’re welcome), a village whore and a warrior who is being nudged by his pushy clan leader nephew to marry, as they reenact Pretty Woman, Scotland-style.

Be slightly frightened for Meggie as she and her grandma get snowed in at Lord Magnus’ castle, where he goads two of his less-creepy friends into a bet about which of them can get her to bed him first (despite the setup, I probably liked this one the most).

Watch Dougray decide to stop mourning his dead wife and begin to lust after his friend’s sister, Emma, who invited herself along to a boys’ weekend because she’s always held a torch for dear Dougie.

Get stranded at a cozy cabin with Barran and Emma, two strangers on a coach ride who end up spending Christmas together and get forced into marriage by some silly ancient custom.

Witness another convoluted plot engineered by rich, uncaring relatives that brings together Freya—a woman in desperate need for a husband so she can keep her niece, whom she’s raised since infancy—and Penn—a single, decommissioned soldier who conveniently knows the family pushing Freya into a loveless marriage—on a journey through the Scottish countryside along with the wisest five-year-old you’ll ever meet.

Most Festive: “A Highland Christmas Wager” by Lecia Cornwall

To be honest, these stories, despite being set in December, were not very strong on the Christmas vibes. If some of them didn’t have the date listed at the top of the chapter, I would’ve barely known that these weren’t just winter-adjacent tales used as an excuse to force the charactesr to snuggle to avoid being chilled.

Meggie, at least, fondly recalled the Christmas traditions her family shared and brought them up whenever she could. This one also included an amusing scene where Meggie and her beloved try to get to each other across a crowded room but people keep getting in their path, a la the lyrics of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (literally ten lads run between them with bells on their shoes, eleven pipers drone on behind them in parade formation, etc.).

Sort-of Festive: “Sweet Home Highlands” by May McGoldrick

Fun fact: May McGoldrick is actually the pen name for a husband and wife writing duo. I don’t know why that tickled me so much, but it did; good for you two! I think the inclusion of Ella, Freya’s conniving niece, made this story slightly more festive than the others by virtue of giving the characters opportunities to do things like ice skate and tell cozy bedtime stories.

Least Festive: “A Highlander’s Hope” by Terri Brisbin

Iain was able to take the month off and go visit Dunnedin because it was December and Yuletide, but there wasn’t much mention of holiday cheer, and since it was set in 1357, any traditions included weren’t exactly the kind we trot out today.

Melt My Marshmallows: Microwaved

Have you ever microwaved a marshmallow? It goes from regular to jumbo in about six seconds. Yeah, you now have an ooey, gooey marshmallow to stick on your indoor s’more, but it’s just never quite the same as one slowly roasted over the fire on a stick. That’s how I feel about many of the plaid-covered sexy bits of this anthology. You’ve only got so many pages to get to the good stuff, so it comes on quite quickly (sometimes after just a day of knowing one another), and while, sure, it’s got all the right anatomy words and plenty of instances where someone descends from a heavenly cloud of ecstasy, I usually prefer more of a slow-burn build-up to feel truly satisfied.

If you’d like to make this book a drinking game, please take a shot every time you read the phrase,  “Something about [insert female love interest] stirred/touched/called to something buried deep inside [insert male love interest] he long thought dead/lost/dormant.” Also take a sip whenever you read about Barran’s cock-a-doodle-doo—but only a sip, because it gets a lot of its own page time.

Mistletropes:

Getting snowed in (multiple times), missing home during the holidays, trying to get home before the holidays, wassail, ice skating, Christmas Eve balls, announcing big news during the holiday, lots of mistletoe, caroling in literal fashion, taking gifts to the poor, cutting the Yule log, and an old tradition about whomever steps through your doorway at the first of the year that is biased against fair- and red-haired men.

On A Scale from The Grinch to Buddy The Elf: Your Non-Christian Friends

This is a book for all those people who know December is drenched with Christmas and don’t really care for it, but their only wintery book options are peppered by covers of tinsel and Santa faces. Sure, the Christmas parts are implied, but the main focus is on keeping warm on a cold night.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Swerve. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Christmas in Kilts is available now.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.