The Heir

The Soldier

Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish
by Grace Burrowes
(Soucebooks Casablanca, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1-40226-154-1
Dirty diapers are the kind of thing most people prefer not to think about. Imagine my dismay the mother of two small children, one of which is not yet potty-trained when the first two-thirds of a book by one of my favorite authors of historical romance, Grace Burrowes, consists primarily of changing nappies. Ugh.

Lady Sophia Windham, daughter of the powerful duke we've met in previous novels, is our heroine in Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish. The oldest of the duke's legitimate daughters and, we're frequently told, the most sensible, Sophie's got the holiday blues and manages to wrangle a few days in Town alone before she must join her family at the seat for Christmas.

Sophie's first move is to escort a young maid and the maid's illegitimate infant to the station, where she is paying for them to return home. There, the maid makes a break for it, and Sophie, who has never handled a baby in her life despite having numerous younger siblings, is saddled with one very unhappy little Kit (who is, as I'm sure you've guessed, the progenitor of all those dirty linens). The Baron Sidal overhears the commotion and, being a man trapped at the station due to a blizzard as well as someone who loves babies, lends a hand. From there, he ends up ensconced at the ducal London home for days, using the weather as an excuse to linger.

Wilhelm "Vim" Charpentier's procrastinating stems from two reasons, one of which is new but quickly developed: lust for Sophie Windham, a woman he assumes to be a higher-up among the household staff. The second is a deep-seated grudge against his own family home, the sight of which never fails to remind him of a long-ago humiliation.

When Sophie's brothers, Val Windham, Westhaven, and Devlin St. Just, finally show up to take her to her parents, Sophie's secret is out, and she discovers Vim's title as well and that his family seat is very near Moreland. They spend the last quarter of the book holed up in Kent doing the usual historical romance stuff, the dullness of which is saved by the presence of the Windham brothers and His and Her Graces, the Duke and Duchess of Moreland.

In the grand tradition of many a holiday novel, this one is lifeless and uninspired. If you've read my previous reviews of Grace Burrowes' work, you'll know that it pains me to write that, as I have loved everything so far in the The Duke's Obsession series that surrounds the eight remaining children of the Duke of Moreland. Fans of the series will want to read it, diapers and baby vomit aside; but make a note that, though Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish was released in October 2011 and The Virtuoso in November, chronologically in the series, The Virtuoso comes first (and is much more entertaining).

--Sarrah Knight

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