Published by Dell
Released on October 26, 2010
One of the beauties of joining a reading challenge is that it can give you the oomph needed to choose an older book from off yours or the library’s shelves. I am not a new fan of the author, but I did come along later in her writing career so there are plenty of older backlist books that I still want to read. Slowly, but surely I am getting to them.
A Christmas Promise is one of my favorite historical romance premises, but one that has to be handled just so for me to enjoy it. I speak of the forced marriage scenario. In this case, we have a man who inherited his dissipated cousin’s title, but also his tremendous debts. To save his family home and honor, Randolf Pearce will let a wealthy coal merchant strong arm him into marrying his only daughter. He was nearing an understanding with another lady and had a mistress. He hates the very thought of exchanging the title the man wants for his daughter for the money to settle debt so he goes forward with steely determination that is met by the frigid disgust in his intendeds eyes. Eleanor Transome is doing this for her dying father and nothing else. She has been ill-treated by the upper classes and expects more of the same by her would-be husband whom she assumes is a spendthrift gaming who idled away his family fortune and now will do the same with hers.
The pair are icily hostile from the beginning and cut each other deeply to protect their own hurts and vulnerabilities, but a country house Christmas on Randolf’s family estate with a few of his friends and Elly’s boisterous middle class relations might be just what is needed to thaw this pair and give love a chance.
This one started out with a pair of people as distant as two mismatched, hostile people can get. The author captured the class differences and misunderstandings that would come with such an arrangement. They both had their reasons for accepting and for loathing each other. I cringed with how they ripped at each other and felt the doubt that they were going to make it work even on a civilized polite level. Then, slowly and sometimes it was two steps forward and three steps back, things changed as their eyes were opened to their misconceptions and who the person was they had married. I thought the author brought all this about in a steady and well-developed way. First of all, the troubles were balanced so that both carried the fault. But, secondly, things didn’t resolve too soon, but neither did it happen too late.
The angst of their tumultuous early days of marriage was balanced byt the holiday actives and the surrounding cast of characters in her family and his friends. All the Regency era Christmas traditions from hunting for mistletoe and bringing in the Yule Log, carolers and wassail, children’s concert and Christmas service, gifts for the estate workers and family games in the drawing room, sleigh rides and playing in the snow. Elly’s family were so spontaneous and fun. I loved watching Randolf appreciate their warmth and spirit and tentatively join in.
So, it was a well done forced marriage scenario that also delivered on the old-time holiday cheer and sparkle of romance in the air. I would definitely recommend it to those seeking an older read and just that trope.
One of my favorite activities during the holiday season is ‘Ye Olde’ Christmas Concert. I love going to a concert of Handel’s Messiah, Mannheim Steamroller, choral cantatas, or the kids doing their fun and amusing school concerts. There’s something in dressing up special, getting my paper program, taking my seat, the warming up of the instruments and the hushed voices of the audience, the anticipation as the lights go down and the stage lights come up. Even the most mediocre of music takes on a sparkle when its a Christmas Concert for me. I appreciated in A Christmas Promise when Randolf and Ellie hosted the village children’s concert in their ballroom and it made me think back to all the concerts I’ve enjoyed.
What about you?
Do you enjoy going to Christmas Concerts or Holiday Plays?
What has been your favorite?
Mt. TBR #112
Library Love #15
Oldies But Goodies #14
Books N Tunes #54
Mannheim Steamroller’s Hallelujah Tune: