Review: A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh

Posted December 6, 2018 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 23 Comments

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Review: A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh
A Christmas Promise

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Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday Romance
Published by Dell
Released on October 26, 2010
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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The Delight

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?


Romance Roundabout #368 HR
Mt. TBR #112
Library Love #15
Oldies But Goodies #14
HoHoHoRAT #5
Books N Tunes #54
Mannheim Steamroller’s Hallelujah Tune:


  Review Lady Jenny's Christmas Portratit by Grace Burrowes



About Mary Balogh

Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling ‘Slightly’ sextet and ‘Simply’ quartet. She has won numerous awards, including Bestselling Historical of the Year from the Borders Group, and her novel Simply Magic was a finalist in the Quill Awards. She has won seven Waldenbooks Awards and two B. Dalton Awards for her bestselling novels, as well as a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

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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.

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3 years ago

I love Christmas concerts and performances. Brings about warmth and coziness.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  vvb

I agree, Velvet! I get so caught up in the atmosphere of it all and then there is the music. 🙂

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer

Great review. I love arranged marriage tropes so I will add to my list.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago

She did the trope so well. Hope you like it when you get the chance, Kimberly. 🙂

Carole rae
3 years ago

I do love the xmas premise in HRs too. :3 And cowboy ones 😉

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Carole rae

Yep! We share that, Carole. I can read them all month long. 🙂

Tracy Terry
3 years ago

Perhaps a bit too heavy on the romance front for my liking but its definitely one to keep in mind for any future Christmas challenges I find myself participating in. At the moment I’m loving working my way through the festive reads on my TBR pile.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Terry

LOL, yes, it is definitely a romancy one. It’s definitely a good bet for a Christmas challenge. Hope you are enjoying the ones you picked for your challenge, Tracy! 🙂

3 years ago

I made the mistake of going to Amazon and reading some 1 and 2 star reviews. They liken the sex to almost forced rape? What’s your take on that? I’ve never read this author and had been wanting to.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Lorna

I saw those, too. I think those readers went into it not with the understanding of the forced marriage trope or maybe some personal baggage that made them see things from a certain point of view. They might have seen the characters’ not liking each other and the hero’s experience and her virginity as rape, but I did not. First of all, she was clear-headed and she was consenting. He was angry and not gentle, but he wasn’t cruel. In fact, she was just as angry and turned up the heat between them. That was the one and only time… Read more »

3 years ago
Reply to  Sophia Rose

Ah, okay that makes sense. Thanks!

3 years ago

Christmas concerts are my thing. I am a big liver of music so anything involving musicals, singing etc I am in it.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Nadene

Me, too. When all the singing, dancing, concerts and music are present, I’m a happy person, Nadene. 🙂

3 years ago

oooooo! sounds intriguing!

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Sharonda

Oh yes, this pair were something else. I had a good time with their story.

Angie Elle
3 years ago

You know that I went right to my library’s site and borrowed this book. LOL It sounds so good! I love all the holiday traditions in historical novels. It always sounds so cozy.

Great review. 🙂

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Angie Elle

LOL! I’ll wring my hands that you enjoy it, Angie. 🙂

Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books

I do enjoy a good arranged marriage trope. These characters sound great and it sounds like the author did a great job illustrating the progression of their relationship. Glad you found a gem in your pile of books 🙂

Sophia Rose
3 years ago

Yes, she really did great bringing them from hostility to love in a good progression. I enjoyed this one.

Rachel @Waves of Fiction

I love Mary Balogh’s historical romances so much! I haven’t heard of this one, but I’m putting it on my TBR, the forced marriage troupe is one I really enjoy, as well. Wonderful review, Sophia Rose!

Sophia Rose
3 years ago

Yeah, her backlist is huge. It’s hard to keep track of all of them. 🙂

3 years ago

The forced marriage trope can be great if handled well. They sound pretty mismatched and hostile at first and I can only imagine how fun it is to see them grow closer. And neat how things were resolved, but not too quickly or too slowly, that sounds realistic. And the Christmas activities sound like a fun addition to the story.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Lola

I agree completely. There needs to be enough resistance to make it believable, but also enough building feelings to keep my interest. It had some adorable Christmas scenes.