Because of You

Bedding the Heiress

The Earl Claims His Wife

In the Bed of a Duke

The Lady is Tempted

Married in Haste

The Marriage Contract

The Marriage Ring

A Scandalous Marriage

A Seduction at Christmas

The Seduction of an
English Lady

Tea For Two

Temptation of a Proper Governess

The Wedding Wager

When Dreams Come True

His Christmas Pleasure
by Cathy Maxwell
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-06-177206-1
I would like to preface with saying that I really did enjoy reading this book. As far as plot goes, this one is solid. I have to give this book four hearts out of five, instead of five out of five, based on really one thing alone: False advertising.

Now, I know that the fault here probably lies mostly with Avon Historical Romance and not with Cathy Maxwell, but I still felt played by the end of this His Christmas Pleasure.

Here's why. With a title like His Christmas Pleasure and the tag lines "Will a wedding night be her Christmas gift?" and "She is the gift he longs to unwrap on Christmas Morning." I would expect Maxwell's book to, oh, I don't know, be about Christmas?

Not so much. Yes, the story does (in part) take place around and on Christmas, but really, this story could have taken place at any point in the calendar year and would have still made perfect sense. It could have been "His All Hallows Eve Pleasure" or even "His Arbor Day Pleasure." Ok, maybe I'm stretching that last one a little, but still. Is she his Christmas pleasure? Not really. "Will a wedding night be her Christmas gift?" I seriously doubt it since her wedding night was in the mid fall.

Heck, Christmas isn't even addressed until the last hundred pages, which is two-thirds of the way into the story!

So to this, I have two things to say. First, is that this book didn't need to trade on the gimmicky holiday market to do well. It's darn good on its own without the false Christmas cheer. Second, Avon Historical Romance, in this instance, you are a lying liar that lies. This is not a holiday romance. You played me. So to you, I frown and harrumph.

Moving on.

His Christmas Pleasure focuses on the blossoming relationship between Andres and Abby.

They meet at a ball, when Abby, in an attempt to have a secret rendezvous with her love Freddy, stumbles across Andres who is holding a gun to his head while he contemplates his currently bleak life. Abby tackles him in an attempt to keep him from killing himself. Andres explains that he wasn't going to kill himself and before the issue is resolved, Freddy comes knocking. Considering Abby is lying on top of a stranger...alone...she gets up and meets Freddy while Andres ducks behind some furniture. Freddy informs Abby that he's marrying her cousin (she's richer) and that he would still like to see her on the side. Abby is heartbroken.

Andres is a super sexy Spaniard who trades on his looks to get what he wants. He is also a broke, illegitimate son of a baron, posing as a legitimate son, in order to curry some favor with the upper crust of British society. He needs someone to fund his dream of owning his own stables, as he does not have the money to do so himself. Andres is a womanizer and unfortunately, woos the wrong woman. The woman turns out to be a wee bit on the melodramatic side and throws a colossal tantrum at the ball where Abby tackles Andres. His ex-lover"s husband finds out and makes a deal with Andres. He will give him Stonemoor, a large tract of land with a manor house on it, in return Andres is to leave London and never return. Andres accepts and now needs money to fund his dreams. He's going to need to get married to a wealthy woman in order to fulfill them, so he goes to Abby.

Abby wanted to marry Freddy. But now that that wasn't going to happen, her father has had enough of her delaying her eventual marriage and finds her a new husband. He's far older than she and has thirteen children. Abby is not happy with this. She does not want to marry this man but her father won't listen to her. Andres shows up, tells her straight up that he needs her money in exchange for marriage. Abby accepts. Better to be married to someone you can tolerate, than someone you can't.

Abby and Andres run away together to Gretna Green (the Scottish Capital of getting hitched in a hurry) and get married.

Then all hell breaks loose.

Like I said before, I thought the story was great.The plot is solid, the characters are likable and the setting is very well done.

Abby is a strong individual who often surprises the reader (and herself) at just how capable she is. Andres is also well crafted and had me rooting for him on more than one occasion.

The rebirth of Stonemoor is something Abby and Andres strive for, and through their home's journey from shabby to home sweet home, it brings the two lovers closer together.

Oh, and are they lovers. Abby tires for the whole "We should stay strictly platonic because this is a marriage of convenience," thing, which lasts all of about four days before she changes her tune. After that, these two are lovers who are working on loving each other.

Maxwell's writing style is solid, her love scenes descriptive (without being explicit), and her focus is unwavering. There are no unnecessary tangents or unusual quirks that pull the reader from the story.

All in all, I quite enjoyed His Christmas Pleasure, and would recommend it gladly. But don't worry if you don't get around to reading it until the after the holiday season, as the only thing truly Christmas-y about the book is the cover.

--Lindsey Seddon

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