Christmas Romances Where Christmas is Integral to the Stories
These are two full length Regentcy romances where Christmas is important to the story. Sometimes there is only a tenuous relationship between the story and Christmas. Here, Christmas is important to the story. That is true especially in the second novel where a significant portion of the novel takes place at Christmas.
A CHRISTMAS BRIDE: Edgar Downes is thirty six and it is time for him to marry. He promised his father that he would have a bride by Christmas. Edgar is a lawyer turned businessman and he has created his own fortune. He is wealthy enough and has enough familiar connections to find a lady to marry. He comes to London to find his bride. That night he meets Helena, Lady Stapleton, a widow and the two end up in bed. Helena then rejects Edgar because she is punishing herself for her attempts to seduce her stepson 13 years ago. Despite the fact that neither is what the other is looking for, the two are continually drawn together. This book was a fine coda to the Stapleton-Downes series. It resolves some lingering storylines and brings many of the main characters together again. Helena was the villain in her stepson’s book but her motivations are explained here. I appreciated that there was no attempt to excuse her behaviour merely a greater understanding of what motivated her. I am such a fan of how Balogh can bring such emotion and understanding to complex situations and characters. Helena has been punishing herself and any possibility of happiness has to be rejected because she feels she doesn’t deserve it. Helena’s coldness and icy veneer make her a difficult character to get to know and like but I liked how Balogh worked through the difficult issues in Helena’s life. Rating; 4 stars.
A CHRISTMAS BEAU: Max, Marquess of Denbigh finally has his chance for revenge. Eight years ago, he was jilted a month before his wedding. His betrothed ran off with another man without even speaking with him. He had loved Judith and he has never recovered from the pain she inflicted. Judith is now a widow with two small children. Max intends on making her fall in love with him and then jilting her. It is Christmas and love and hate war within Max. Max was a character that I loved even as I could see him going down the wrong path. He is reserved and unsure how to show his feelings to Judith. That is one of the reasons that he lost her years ago. He feels very deeply and the pain and love within him tear him apart. One of the best parts of this book is the total integration of the Christmas season. The theme of lightness and darkness mirrors the battle going on within Max. The deliberate and measured pace of the story adds depth and complexity to the relationship. I loved how their relationship developed but I think Max was the best part of the story. Rating: 4.5 stars.