Saturday, November 24, 2012
What Happens at Christmas by Victoria Alexander
It used to be that new releases by Victoria Alexander were a must buy for me. The later Effingtons weren't as interesting as the first and the Last Man Standing didn't really capture my imagination. Oh, don't get me wrong, they were still good, but not the storytelling I had fallen in love with.
I wouldn't say that this book is a return to those early Alexander books because, really, I enjoyed it so much more. Even with having to read it as a teeny-tiny pdf from NetGalley, I tore through this book. "Lord Stillwell's Excellent Engagements" is now on my list to buy and I can't wait even a few days.
The story is sort of simple, Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy, but he waits until the day before she weds someone else to make her aware of his feelings. She, understandably, is more than a little upset about the wait and says some rather harsh things. Then he says harsh things and runs away to America. Neither of them is truly to blame for the mess but they certainly don't do anything to help themselves.
Well, it's eleven years later and Grayson Elliot is back to visit his cousin at Christmas. It turns out that Camille, (the now widowed) Lady Lydingham is going to be at her childhood home as well.
But from there (is this still the first 30 or so pages?), it gets a bit more complicated. Camille has been raised (as most women were in those days, Alexander, through Elliot's character very fairly notes) to marry for money and status. She's always dreamed about a prince and now she's found a displaced one. One who is interested in experiencing a <i>real</i> English Christmas. Except that her family is out of the country. No problem, she'll hire some actors. Of course, Grayson knows that these people aren't her family. He uses the chance to wriggle his way into the "play" and win himself a chance to work his way back into Camille's heart.
Why not five stars? Well, at the end, there kept being more misunderstandings. Normally, this would have immediately knocked the book down to a three-star for me, but Alexander did have the characters wrap it up fairly quickly.