As always, the Harlequin blurb is pure, ridiculous cheese. Ignore it; this author deserves better.
A Christmas baby…
Grant Rivers, Earl of Allundale, is desperate to get home in time for Christmas. But when he stumbles upon a woman all alone in a tumbledown shack, having a baby out of wedlock, it’s his duty to stay and help her.
…leads to wedding vows!
Grant knows all too well the risks of childbirth, and he’s seen enough tragedy to last a lifetime. So once he’s saved her life, Grant is determined to save Kate’s reputation too…if she will consent to marrying a stranger on Christmas Day!
His Christmas Countess (Lords of Disgrace #2) by Louise Allen
I read this one as a paperback, and I forgot what a great experience that can be. Especially so with a Christmas book, with a pretty cover and a Christmas wreath on it! I become so much more absorbed in a “real” book.
If I want to read historical romance, my first stop is usually Harlequin/Mills and Boon. For all the snobbery – even amongst romance readers – the simple fact is that there’s better and more historically accurate HR coming from this publisher than any other.
His Christmas Countess is better than the first book in the series, which is really saying something because I loved the first one and added it to my “Best of 2015” list. What makes this series so great is that the books are perfect standalones. No annoying, lengthy catch-up scenes to show how happy and fertile past characters are.
Louise Allen is one of those rare, magical authors of the subgenre who knows how to create a true sense of an era, and has her characters acting accordingly.
She adds in little bits and pieces from the past without clobbering us with a history lesson. And her characters take social rules of the time into account and act according to them, rather than tossing them all aside and behaving like “feisty” Disney characters.
One of my favourite things about this book is the way both characters behaved towards each other. There were heaps of secrets and misunderstandings, but even if they first reacted in anger, they then stopped and thought about it, and behaved sensibly and maturely. They respected each other even before they had a real reason to.
Another thing I loved was the way the relationship developed. They’re thrown together at the very start, but trust and love and family come later.
This book takes us across two Christmases, with a full year in between, which does two good things: it makes the relationship believable, and it stops the Christmassy feel from becoming cheesy.
To top it off, the plot beyond the actual romance is both tied to the relationship but also solid enough that this doesn’t just become a book about two people being together. That’s where a lot of romances lose me.
Recommended for fans of Regency romance.