Thursday, November 26, 2009

Christmas Beau - Mary Balogh

His Vengeance Was Sweet

Judith Easton knew that even the spirit of Christmas wouldn't stop the Marquess of Denhigh from settling the score with her. For the beautiful young widow had injured Denhigh's rigid pride years ago by jilting him for another man.

Now that Judith was free from her nightmare marriage to that other man, the bold and handsome Marquess made no secret that he had her in his sights and wanted her in his arms.

But how could she trust the tender words on his lips when she could sense the hardness of his heart? And after she had made so grievous a mistake in love once, how could she ever trust her own heart's desire again?

There's nothing better to start my Christmas reading this year that picking up one of Balogh's wonderful Christmas novels. Christmas Beau is a revenge story but it is also a story about healing and love.

Eight years ago Judith, then betrothed to Viscount Evendon who she thought was cold and feeling, eloped with Andrew Easton who she thought was charming and passionate. Unfortunately her husband soon revealed himself as rake and a gambler and now that she is a widow Judith feels her two children were the best thing of her marriage.

Max is now the Marquess of Denbigh, eight years ago he had been much in love with Judith although too shy to tell her. He was devastated with her elopement and now that she is a widow and back in town he is decided to get his revenge.

Max and Judith meet each other at several social functions. While seems charming enough Judith senses that all is not as it should be and would prefer to stay away from him. Unfortunately for her Max charms her children and her sister in law and soon she finds herself accepting an invitation to spend the holiday season at his home in the country.

Max is a lonely man who has managed to assemble around him other lonely people to spend Christmas and so spend a happy holiday. Not only that but Judith finds that he is funding the upbringing of a number of young girls and boys rescued from the London slums that a friend of his is trying to educate so they can have a better future.

It's easy to see how Judith's opinion changes and she starts falling in love with Max, and it's sad to see how he is actually a good man but he can't let go of the past and of how hurt by her he was. Eventually Max does follow through with his plans but Christmas is a season for healing, for understanding and for forgiveness and they both end up speaking of the past and accepting their feelings.

A lovely story very evocative of all the good feelings of the season and with interesting characters including the secondary ones. There's also a very nice secondary romance that also enhances the spirit of the season.

Grade: 4.5/5

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