A Christmas Message by Anne Perry #SweetDelight

A Christmas Message by Anne Perry #SweetDelightA Christmas Message by Anne Perry

Series: Christmas Stories
Genres: Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Ballantine Books on November 1, 2016
Pages: 176
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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The Christmas Stories series has long been a holiday staple for me.  Each year I wait with anticipation which minor character from the author’s other Victorian mystery series will get their turn to do a spot of detection over the Christmas holidays.  Knowing that A Christmas Message was to be a jaunt with Lady Vespasia and her new husband Victor Narraway made this story hold some extra charm for me.

The story begins with Vespasia and Victor stopped over in Joppa on their journey to Jerusalem with the holiday trip being Victor’s gift to Vespasia.  They are a winter romance and only married for two years now, but along this journey, they are learning each other in ways that they hadn’t know before.  With their destination as Jerusalem for Christmas, Vespasia can’t help but wonder about Victor’s religious beliefs and also analyzes her own thoughts.

Another guest of their lodgings is murdered, but before his death, he managed to slip a final written request and a mysterious message written in a foreign language to Victor.  They are requested to deliver the message to the House of Bread on the Via Dolorossa on Christmas Eve.  The danger inherent in delivering a murdered man’s message does not prevent them both from determining that they wish to fulfill the request.  Their journey up to Jerusalem is fraught with mishap and threat, but also with the growing realization that their journey is spiritual and not just physical.

Alright, I am of two minds about this book.  While I was glad to have this time with Vespasia and Victor and witness their tender love, mutual respect, and closeness, I was also bewildered about what I got in this story.  I don’t mind stories that are infused with religious thought and theory, but I do mind when it’s not in a book or series known for being inspirational fiction.  It felt like a bait and switch somewhat.

I also found that ending abrupt, confusing, and dissatisfying.  It just stops after the big scene and doesn’t offer a denouement that will close out the story properly.  I mean the danger is over and they got some answers, but there is no wrap-up.

So, this was more a philosophical and religious story with a side of suspense and character development.  If you can adjust to that, then you’ll do alright since it was a decent story with a pair of favorite characters from the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I was first introduced to Anne Perry’s books during the Christmas of 1989 when I opened a gift from my parents and beheld a new to me historical mystery set during Victorian times.  I started reading that night and didn’t stop until the wee hours.  I was enchanted.  So, no surprise, a few days later, I was at the bookstore in town piling up on the back list of the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series.  See, my folks got me the ninth book in the series (reading out of order must run in the family).  I have been reading her books ever since.

Share with me about a book you got for Christmas that ended up leading you to a new favorite author or series.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I’ve actually never read anything that Anne Perry wrote. I’ve always wanted to. I didn’t realize her books are a type of mystery. I don’t think I would appreciate the bait and switch either, unless I knew I was going into it. Did you read her stuff before and not experience that? I would say maybe it’s because it’s a Christmas book – but she seemed to write a lot of them, so you would have known if you read her other stuff. I guess?

    • I’ve read probably close to eighty books by her. She’s a fantastic historical mystery writer. She has two series set during the Victorian Period, One during WWI, and several loose standalones that are historicals or fantasies. Her Christmas series is usually just a little religious b/c that’s how it was in Victorian times, but this one got really philosophical and metaphysical with it. It was just really different from the usual, I guess. Hope you get the chance to try one of her mysteries, Lily. 🙂

  • Hmmmm, so it sounds like the romance was great, but everything else… wasn’t? Tender romances are swoony and definitely something I enjoy reading, but I don’t know that this book and I would agree. I’d not heard of this author before! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed her work previously – hopefully future books will be better than this one!

    Great review, Sophia. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • Well, the romance and the setting descriptions as well as the early set up to the mystery were pretty good, but it was when it got lost in the metaphysical that it bogged down. Her regular series books are pretty intriguing mysteries which I love.
      Thanks, Alyssa! 🙂

  • Oh that’s frustrating. I don’t like bait and switch no matter the topic/genre. Glad there were bits that were enjoyable for ya, though 🙂

    • Yeah, I would have been okay if following the clues to solve the case included some religious discussion that pertained to the case. But this one went all existential and barely touched on the murder mystery and then rushed the end. I’ve been reading these for years and this was the first time it happened. It was just weird.