|A Christmas Scandal is a relatively safe, predictable love story between a bubbly young American girl and a serious, gorgeous English earl.
Maggie Pierce and Edward Hollings met in Newport, where they attended many of the same social events. Edward had all of the American mothers talking and pushing their daughters at him while he visited Newport. Maggie and Edward concocted a plan to make it look like they were courting, as they enjoyed each other’s company at the balls, but their false romance provided the cover they both wanted. Edward was looking to duck the marriage-minded mamas pursuing him, and Maggie was seeking to avoid a proposal from a local man. They both fell in love, but didn’t say a word about their feelings to one another. Each hoped that the other would say something, until Edward returned to England at the end of the summer.
Maggie is sad after Edward leaves, but she is determined to carry on with her life. Then, Maggie’s life truly falls apart. Her father is arrested and taken to prison for embezzlement, and she and her mother lose their home and all of their possessions, sold to attempt to repay creditors. Her friends disappear, servants quit and the Pierce women are shunned.
While all of these horrible things are happening, Maggie decides to visit her father’s partner to see how she can possibly help her father or reduce his sentence. In doing so, she places herself in serious danger, makes a mistake, and a terrible, life-changing event unfolds.
Afterwards, Maggie’s mother Harriet learns that Mr. Pierce will serve a five-year sentence for his crime. She comes up with a plan to save the family that will sacrifice Maggie, but Maggie agrees. Maggie will marry Arthur, the very local man that she was seeking to avoid with Edward, and he will care for Maggie and her mother. While Arthur is awkward, boring and cowardly, he is their only hope until he breaks off the short courtship with Maggie after hearing about her father’s fate.
Just when Maggie doesn’t think her life can get any worse, she receives an invitation to visit England with her mother for the birth of her best friend Elizabeth’s baby. She accepts, thinking that this may be her saving grace, but she soon finds that her beloved Edward and his sister Amelia are visiting Rand and Elizabeth for the holidays as well.
Edward has been miserable since he came back to England, and seeing Maggie again sends his emotions back into overdrive. Maggie is introduced to a very nice man named William while in England, and he begins to court her, with Edward standing by fuming. William is a safe, sweet older man and Maggie hopes that he can accept her past mistakes and her cover-up lies about her life in America. However Edward refuses to let Maggie get away this time and is determined to tell her how he feels. Their intensely emotional day of reckoning is approaching and neither of them is ready for it.
A Christmas Scandal isn’t much of a scandal, and there aren’t a whole lot of shocking revelations going around in this story. While most of Maggie and Edward’s courtship is as bland as vanilla pudding, their confrontations are vastly entertaining and their private moments are emotional and well-written.
Edward, our hero, has some good points and some bad ones. The pros are that Edward is an emotional man, willing to express how he feels, and he comes across in a lovely, sentimental way. His close relationship with his sister is endearing. The cons are that Edward seems to be the boring, cardboard earl too often. There are moments in the story when he becomes a non-character, melting into the background because he’s strangely inactive in the plot.
Maggie is an unrealistic heroine. Though there were moments that I liked her, she often presents herself in such a false way that it is hard to take her seriously. While all of these horrible events happen, she rarely seems distressed and always seems like she is acting or lying to those around her. How Edward found that attractive, I don’t know. Apparently Maggie had him completely fooled.