Publication date: November 4, 2013
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
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This is a delightful novella that is best served with a warm drink and a smile on your face, though the latter is most assuredly guaranteed through Regan Walker’s simplistic prose and interesting characterization.
Christopher St. Ives, Viscount Eustace, is a bored rake. While his closest friend, the Marquess of Ormond, enjoys his life as a happily married man, Christopher only experiences a perpetual ennui with his activities. To shake up his world, Ormond proposes a wager – that for a thousand pounds Christopher will seduce the virtuous widow, Lady Leisterfield, bed her, and leave her, all before Twelfth Night. Wanting to refresh his memory of the beautiful widow, Christopher agrees and plots his seduction.
Unfortunately for him, Ormond’s wife has already informed Grace, Lady Leisterfield, of the offensive wager, before his first move. Grace is mentally prepared for his rakish behaviors, but she was not prepared to find a humorous and kind friend in him, or to form a companionship with him that warmed the lonely alcove of her life. But when a blackmailer threatens to expose secrets in Grace’s life, will Christopher become her knight-in-shining-armor?
As expected, the focus of this story is on Christopher, rather than Grace. While Grace exhibits a lovely, serene aura that draws Christopher in, it is his eventual acceptance of defeat that brings him to love’s embrace. As Christopher protects Grace from her blackmailer, he began to fall in love with her, but the wager and his pride became his opponents in securing her love. From Grace’s perspective, it is understandable how easy she fell in love with Christopher and gave herself to him, but her own insecurities prevented her from declaring her love, to the point that she pushed him away for self-protection. The external conflict seemingly took a turn into a mysterious direction, but for its purpose as a catalyst, the author wisely left it in the background. It was always the combination of internal conflicts that prevented Christopher and Grace from being together, but in the end, a bit of Cupid-work from their friends and the cheerfulness of the Christmas season effectively banished their fears and led to a romantic ideal.
The airiness of this story is its most engaging quality, the way that the protagonists slowly felt more comfortable with each other surrounded by a bevy of fun, supportive friends. Grace’s gift was to fill that emotional gap missing in Christopher’s erstwhile purposeless life, and his gift was to infuse warmth and passion in Grace’s life, a life that, while not empty, had always been very lonely. While the story is not passionately sensuous, nor showcased a love of desperate qualities, it is nonetheless a fulfilling and heartwarming story to warm up readers from the inside during the winter months.
*I received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 tulips