Published by Cedar Fort on October 9, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday, Romance
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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Miss Marian Wynswich is a rather unconventional young lady. She plays chess, reads Greek, and is as educated as any young man. And she's certain falling in love is a ridiculous endeavor and vows never to do such a thing. But everything changes when she receives a Christmas visit from someone unexpected a young and handsome English lord.
The summary on the back of the book does not give you much info, so here’s just a little more. I’m not going to give away too many details, just because the story is so much fun to just discover on your own. So here are the bare essentials: Marian’s spunky, outspoken, and not accomplished in the ways that many young women are during her time period. She doesn’t sing or play the piano. She didn’t go through all the classes and training that one goes through to learn how to be a lady. No, she’d rather make ointments and work with medicines to heal all of her stray animal friends (and a few people, too). She doesn’t have curly hair and brown eyes. She doesn’t care, though! She can beat you at chess, and read Greek and Latin better than anyone. She speaks her mind whenever she feels so inclined, and that gets her into trouble sometimes. She’s also read every book in her father’s library. A bookish girl after my own heart. Speaking of her father, he passed away and left his family in a very dire situation. When Marian’s brother comes home with a rich, but unattractive and undesirable suitor for her older sister, Ariadne, Marian is determined to figure out a way to stop this awful courtship. She believes that people should only marry for love, and that it has to be a LOT of love or it’s not even worth it. As she and her brother play tricks on this man alongside the very handsome Gilbert Collinworth, Earl of Ingraham, she begins to question her decision to never marry. Perhaps love is better than she thinks!
This book was endearing, and oh so sweet! It’s the kind of sweet you hope to read during December, but not so over the top that you want to throw you Christmas cookies in the trash because you’ve reached your maximum sugar intake for the season. I loved Marian. She’s exactly the kind of personality-type I was/wished to be at the ripe old age of 16, so I identified a lot with her as I read her story. She doesn’t follow the normal trend, and manages to stand out in her own special way. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, is very mature, and won’t take crap from anyone. She’s so much more amazing at sticking up for herself and speaking her mind to authority figures than I was, though, and I envy that a little. She’s resilient, a tad emotional, and enjoys acting her age sometimes (when she’s not having to force herself to be a grown up). And Gilbert is amazing. Just like Marian, he was not created from the same mold most males of his time were. He’s a funny troublemaker who likes to stir the pot. He becomes quite an ally to Marian, making her be quiet when she wishes to speak her mind. Their banter back and forth is so much fun to read, not to mention his moments of being so tender and caring… oh, and those twinkling eyes. I kinda fell in love with that Gilbert Collinworth.
Marian’s brother, Alistair, is a really awesome brother. I wish I had one just like him. He teases Marian non-stop, but when she needs him to lean on, or to cry on his shoulder, he’s sensitive and very caring. I can just picture those two bantering over chess or at the breakfast table. They have one of those sweet brother/sister relationships that I hope my future son and daughter have one day (long, long into the future!). We don’t get to know the rest of her family extremely well. Her mother is pretty high maintenance and snobby, and Ariadne (seriously, how on Earth do you pronounce her name!?) is pretty spineless and quiet. She clams up and goes with the flow–a great contrast to Marian. Percy (the oldest brother) is firm, but you can tell he doesn’t want to be. He became the man of the house, and with that comes a great responsibility. He’s a softy, though, and ends up making you smile as well. You can tell that the entire family is very loving and cares about everyone deeply. Of course, I object to the arranged marriage, but that’s all part of the the time period. A poor family marrying their daughter off to an old rich man, whom she will never love is something we read a lot about in regency romance novels.
I did not mean to do such a thorough character analysis, but the characters are what make this story so enjoyable! I mean, when you come right down to it, this storyline has been done before. A little suspense and mystery is thrown in (which I loved, by the way), but for the most part it’s been done. The characters are what set this book apart from all the others, plus the fact that it’s during Christmas, so it’s much more magical already! Bottom line, when I think of the story, I think about the people before the plot. That’s a big deal. The descriptions of lovely snowy scenes and intense moments of danger also make this book something special. Oh, and the kissing scene is pretty dang cute too!
While I did see this book on a shelf at a local Christian bookstore, I would not mark this as strictly Christian fiction. The Christmas service at the church is only a few paragraphs, and there’s really no other talk of religion. So, if you’re a bit leery of this book for that reason, don’t worry! You won’t be preached to. I also wouldn’t mark this as young adult fiction. Girls during this time period were forced to grow up early, so even though Marian is only 16, she’s where many of today’s mid-twenties to even late-thirties women are.
So, I can happily add another adorable Christmas romance to my list of keepers! This December is turning out to be a month of great finds so far! Thanks again to netgalley and Cedar Fort Publishing for giving me this complimentary copy, in exchange for my honest review.