When her father threatens to marry Abigail Montross off to a man twice her age (and with thirteen children!), she decides to elope instead with the irresistibly handsome Baron de Vasconia. She knows all about his notorious reputation. He is the most seductive man in all of London, but he's vowed to protect her, so she allows herself to be tempted into his bed, promising to guard her heart at all costs.
Andres believes he's entered into nothing more than a marriage of convenience with a charming and very wealthy young woman. But the days—and nights—Abigail spends in his arms soon reform this rogue. He'll do anything to gain her love—until they each discover the truth about the other and old wounds are revealed.
It's the season of miracles and passion—when love not only awakens the senses but delivers the greatest gift of all . . .
Good story but not a Christmas read.
During the months of November and December I focus all my reading attention on my stash of Christmas books and looking at the cover and title of this book, I would have expected this, my last read of the Christmas season, to be a Christmassy choice. I was very disappointed it was not. The title and even the tagline on the front cover (Will a wedding night be her Christmas gift?) are completely misleading and it ticked me off. For one thing, our hero and heroine are married a few months before Christmastime, so the tagline is a joke. And there is not a hint of anything Christmassy until the middle of the second to the last chapter. Grrrr. I kept waiting for Christmas to kick in or a kiss to be stolen under the mistletoe. Yeah... didn't happen. Had I picked this book up at any other time of the year with a more appropriate non-Christmassy cover, I would have been happier. Instead it turned into a bit of a letdown, Christmas-wise. Let's dive in, shall we?
Abigail Montross first meets Andres Ramigio, the Spanish Baron de Vasconia when she discovers him in their host's library holding a gun to his head. After being tackled to the ground by this girl with red curls, he shows her that the gun was not really loaded but is touched she tried to stop what she thought was happening. But then Freddie, Abby's sweetheart, walks into the room and Andres hides to protect her reputation. However, he also hears their entire conversation which ultimately leaves Abby heartbroken and hurt. When Andres has heard enough, he makes his presence known and escorts Abby to the dance floor to get her out of the situation. But the drama doesn't end there. When a former lover publicly insults Abby by questioning Andres' taste in women, Andres defends his new-found friend. But Andres can't rescue her from the bomb her father drops during the carriage ride home that evening. Or can he?
Andres has problems of his own and when he is run out of town penniless, save for a property in the north, he remembers the heiress who caught his eye earlier in the evening and the incident with Freddie. With her money and his dreams of creating a successful horse breeding business on the property he now owns, he decides to approach Abby the next day. Naturally, all of society is abuzz after the incidents of the previous night and the Montross drawing room is met with many callers. But when Andres shows up with his proposition for Abby, she sees it as a way to be freed from Freddie, freed from spinsterhood and freed from another attempt at an arranged marriage. Set to meet the next day, Abby and Andres flee for Gretna Green and the adventure begins.
I really liked Abby and Andres and their interactions with each other, especially on their trip north to Stonemoor. Abby is a pretty, wallflowerish girl - a bit immature for her 25 years, but she has led a very sheltered life. Running away from the family she loved to avoid an arranged marriage to a man with 13 children was a mature decision and Andres wanted it to be Abby's choice with no regrets. There was definitely an attraction between Andres and Abby but he was very honest about his intentions and she knew what she was getting into. So it was nice to see Abby excitedly rolls up her sleeves and realize she had a purpose and things to keep her busy after she was married. Andres, the stunning Spanish Adonis, is a hard worker and we see that from the start as he tries to restore the good of his family name and strives to provide for his new wife, keeping her happy and making sure she does not regret her choice. But when Freddie suddenly appears, jealousy begins to create problems for Andres and Abby and both are forced to confront their feelings for each other head-on. Will they find love in time for Christmas?
A few things kinda glared at me in this book aside from the lack of Christmassiness. There are times when the author slips into short, little sentences that turned into 'he did this' and 'she did that'. Instead of showing us what happened with description or dialogue, its like the author got lazy and just started telling. The problem for me was that I found the change in storytelling very noticeable and distracting throughout the book. Another thing, which I found almost comical, was when the author would break her storytelling to let the reader know a piece of information. For example, on the bottom of page 182, Andres instructs their driver to continue on to Gretna. The very next sentence is the author explaining to the reader that Gretna Green is a Scottish border village that performs quick weddings. It was just kinda weird and broke the flow of the story. Why not turn it into a thought or recollection, say, from a book or a piece of gossip to convey that information to the uninformed reader? There was actually another time the author did this earlier in the book, but you get my point.
Overall, I did enjoy this story, but there was nothing stellar that really stood out to make this a book that I will reread. Just being honest. I liked it and am rating it as such but its not a keeper for me. Incidentally, this book happens to be book 4 in Ms. Maxwell's the Scandals and Seductions series and I have the other books in the series, plus one other in my TBR pile. The author does note recurring character appearances but emphasizes the books do stand alone. Works for me.
My rating: 6 - It was a pleasant read