Damien Morton is madly in love. Unfortunately, it’s with his best friend’s widow, Lady Danver. Damien is not worthy of Celia. Or so he thinks. Desperate to escape his feelings for her, he plans to leave the country at the first of the year. Celia treats him as a family friend and nothing more—until they share a heated kiss beneath the mistletoe…
Celia is shocked by the passions that surge within her at her dear friend’s kiss. One touch and one taste aren’t enough to satisfy her cravings, and she is startled into action. Damien has stirred something inside her that she never expected to experience again, and she must have more. Full of shameless desire and emotions newly discovered, she decides to pursue Damien and won’t be deterred. Will she be able to convince him to stay—both in her heart and life—forever?
First off, I have to admit that I am not a fan of novellas. Never have been, will probably never be one. Yet when I saw the author of this one I was delighted to read it. It is a mere 20,000 words–barely 70 pages, but within its short framework this adept author has told a story that is a holiday delight.
There are few if any surprises in this tale, nothing that will surprise readers, especially those who read historical romantic fiction. Most novellas are way too short to do an adequate task of framing the backdrop of the story, developing the characters or even doing justice to the plot. That is not true here. Ms Erickson uses an economy of words to bring the reader into the heart of the story quickly without feeling that important ingredients are missing.
Celia is a widow with a young son–a woman living with her husband’s family. She is content, but she is way too young to believe that her life or any future love relationships have passed her by. She and Damian have been friends for a very long time. Her son calls him Uncle Damian. Yet the Christmas kiss–the one everyone in the room awaits expectantly when these two find themselves under the mistletoe–not only reveals Damian’s attraction of long standing but also awakens Celia to the fact that Damian may very well be the man she has been seeking to fill her life.
As a commentary on the social realities of that day, Damian’s sense of inadequacy are revealing. A part of an aristocratic family, to be sure, but a man with no title or any financial expectations. Celia is the widow of a titled English gentleman. How can he ever expect to have any part of the future with her? This short tale is the story of how they resolve those seeming roadblocks to their relationship.
This is simply one of those novellas that is fun to read, is the kind of holiday tale one begins during a quiet evening sitting by the fireplace, enjoying a bit of holiday warmth and the sense of the season. It brings the past into the contemporary, it engages the imagination with all the sights and sounds of that far off time, and it simply entertains beautifully. No deep tragedies or uncertainties; this is simply a delightful tale of love and romance which begins under the holiday mistletoe and is filled with the fun of a well-written historical romance. It is winsome and engaging; just the thing to add to the fun of the season.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.