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~A Country Christmas~

by Elizabeth Doyle

      Heroine:  sturdy, statuesque

     Teased unmercifully for years by the town bully, and forced to wait hand and foot on her lazy, spiteful brother, impetuous Charlotte Bass harbors no dreams of ever tying herself down to a man.  Instead of marriage, she fantasizes about escaping from her small town and searching the globe for a place where she can be herself, and practice in peace the art no one around her seems to understand.   

     But all that changes the day her brother brings home a Harvard classmate as a houseguest for the Christmas holidays. 

     Handsome Shaun Matheson is as elegant a gentleman as even an artist like Charlotte could ever imagine.  His genuine concern for the put-upon young lady warms her heart, and when his sweet lips salute hers, she begins to think that marriage, at least to this fine man, might not be so horrid after all.

     But Shaun, unable to stand up to his heavy-handed father, quickly resigns himself to life without Charlotte, and leaves that broken-hearted young lady behind with nary a second glance.  With no other recourse, disillusioned Charlotte accepts a betrothal from her only other suitor: Giles Williams, the very same bully who tormented her all her life!

     In her heart of hearts, Charlotte knows she and Shaun belong together.  But can these two wounded souls swallow their pride, defy their families, and find their way back into each other's arms?

What worked for me:

      I don't generally read a lot of American-setting romances, which really is odd given that two of my first love stories were the "Anne of Green Gables" and "Little House on the Prairie" series.  Reading "A Country Christmas", I felt I could perceive shades of Anne and Laura in Charlotte.

     There were certainly a plethora of horrible, hateful people to despise and pity in this story.  (I didn't share Charlotte's type of home-life, but I too had a Giles Williams in my life from the cradle 'til the day I graduated from school, so I could sympathize with the poor girl on that count.)

     I enjoyed the secondary romance between Charlotte's bosom friend Sarah and her beau, and wouldn't have minded seeing more of it.

     Of the two marriage proposals I definitely preferred the latter with its perfect timing!   And the ending of the story had a certain poetic justice to it which left me smiling.

      Size-wise Charlotte was still a plump young girl at the beginning of the book, but by its conclusion had matured into a lovely, voluptuous young lady. 

       What didn't work for me:

     Perhaps I'm influenced by having read more traditional British romances set in this time period than I have American ones, but I felt the tone of this story lent itself to a later time, perhaps the close of the19th century rather than the stricter, more formal 1830s.

     I can't go into it without spoiling plot points, but there was a scene revolving around a winter storm which had a few elements which didn't work for me.


    This well-written story with its gentle humor was like warm gingerbread with whipped topping: comfortingly sweet with a hint of spice.

Warning: there are some steamy scenes in this book.

If you liked "A Country Christmas" you might also enjoy "Wishes", "The Bride of Willow Creek", "Beckett's Birthright", "Land of Dreams", "No Ordinary Princess", "The Bluebird and the Sparrow",  or "The Hero's Best Friend".

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Good-bye, Mom.

I love you and will miss you forever.


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