Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Christmas Kiss / Winter Wonderland - Elizabeth Mansfield

These were my first stories by Mansfield and they wont be the last. Although not reaching a keeper status the stories were interesting and full of potential.

A Christmas Kiss

GIFT OF TREASURE...When James Everard announced that he had invited a young lady home for the Christmas holidays, his father, the Earl of Gyllford, was astounded -- and skeptical. Could it be that Jamie was finally showing an interest in something other than horseplay with his friends?
But when lovely Miss Evalyn Pennington arrived at Gyllford Manor, it was the earl who found himself inexplicably drawn to her winsome beauty. Having been dismissed from her post as a governess, Evalyn would long remember the kindness of being welcomed at Gyllford Manor when she had nowhere else to turn. The elegant home was resplendent with the richness of holiday cheer -- the warm glow of the yule log, the sumptuous sights and smells of the Christmas feast, the glittering parties, and the laughter of children at play.

But neither Evalyn nor the earl expected the light of love that filled their Christmas with some very special gifts....

A young man wants to help a governess in trouble. To find her another job he plans to take her home so his aunt can get to know her and give her a character. The problem is his father and the aunt believe he has brought her home as his fiancée thus starting a big misunderstanding when the father starts falling for the girl.

I did like the main characters and their motivations, I felt the misunderstanding went on for a bit too long and especially that the hero and heroine should have spent more time together so we could see them falling in love. That’s the only way it would make sense for Evalyn to be so hurt when he decides to avoid her. But I did enjoy their relationship and thought that was an original hero, very kind and understanding and even lenient with his servants when they get in trouble.

I did like the set of secondary characters and the secondary romances that were developed. I must say I’m finding that my favourite Christmas stories all seem to include more than one romantic couple so maybe this is a trend in my reading.

Besides wanting more interaction between the Earl and Evalyn what didn’t work so well for me was the mystery plot, I don’t think we really needed a villain to bring those two together and the mystery wasn’t really all that developed with it ending almost before it’s begun and Evalyn not even knowing anything.

Grade: 4/5

Winter Wonderland


It took one stinging rejection to chill Barnaby Traherne's heart to love...At his first society ball, beautiful Miranda Pardew haughtily turned down his shy request for a dance. Since that disastrous night, Barnaby vowed that no woman would make a fool of him again. Love was for others, perhaps, but not for him.

Over 10 years have passed since that encounter. But it seems like yesterday when Miranda comes into his life once more. She is still a stunning beauty, but time and circumstance have left her poor, alone and in need of employ. When she is hired as a governess for his brother's children, Barnaby must reconcile his painful memories-and his desire.

For amidst the warmth and merriment of the Christmas season, Miranda's return may be the blessing of a lifetime...

I had a harder time with this story than the first one although it has one of my favourite themes – it’s a second chance at love story.

My first problem is that the heroine really was mean and cruel to the hero 10 years before. Despite her having changed a lot we never really know much about that besides that she was unhappy in her marriage. It was just like she was a totally different person. Then the hero, despite having been deeply affected by her attitude, feels in love again as soon as he sees her. I just wasn’t convinced, both that he would still be in love with her and that she had conveniently changed into a totally different person.

Other than that is was an enjoyable story, with the hero’s sisters in law planning to marry him off to a young girl and him being attracted to the governess who was the beauty of his youth fallen on hard times. At first she doesn’t recognise him and can’t understand why he is so rude to her. But when she is told she regrets her behaviour and does apologise to him. But it just didn’t seem enough, I needed to know more about her. I needed for them to talk more about the past and how they spent those 10 years.

I did like the hero’s family, he had 4 older brothers that were intent on protecting him and his sisters in law were fun to read about. It made me wonder if they had their own books.

Grade: 3.5/5

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