It's the angry kiss couple!
Twas the Night After Christmas, by Sabrina Jeffries, is part of the Hellions of Halstead Hall series, just in case you're keeping track. However, it is a standalone book, no continuing curse, murderer, missing siblings in this one - no there isn't anything you have to remember from the past books to keep you from enjoying this one. Spoilers ahead!
This is a standard romance yarn by veteran writer Ms. Jeffries. There isn't any new ground broken or world shattering romance pathos to be seen. Which is mighty puzzling considering this tome is being published in hardback formatting first. That means this story is a tad bit pricey for just a simple romance that isn't different from other romances out there. However, for die-hard Sabrina Jeffries fans, this might make a nifty Christmas gift. And, that's the end of that whine.
Now, let's take a look inside our story. First we have our angst-filled hero, Pierce. He has a giant two-by-four on his shoulder. If you have read any of the other books in this series, you may recognize him as one of the secondary characters from To Wed a Wild Lord and A Lady Never Surrenders. Mr. stubborn hero-guy has a blind spot in the person of his mother, Lady Davenport. He has cut her out of his life. He believes she abandoned him as a child and then again as a young man. So, he has built up a cold solitary wall. And, this wall consists of half-truths, innuendo and assumptions based on what he perceived as a young boy. He is not interested in finding out the truth, listening to his mother's explanation or anything that might change his mind or show that he has been wrong all these years. What he has been interested in is hurting his mother by leading a hedonist lifestyle over the past few years. He needs someone to just smack him in the head.
Ta-ta-ta-dah! Enter our put-your-nose-in-other-people's-business heroine Mrs. Camilla Stuart. Camilla is Lady Davenport's companion, you see. And, she must must must help the sad lady who's son has neglected her and made her sad. You see Camilla also has a son, Jasper. So, you understand she knows a thing or two about mother luv. Ms. nose-in-your-business sets out to right some wrongs, reunite poor Lady Davenport and her naughty son, Pierce. And, what a messy bumpy tense catastrophe that turns out to be.
All four of the main characters in this book, Pierce, Camilla, Lady Davenport, and Jasper are well-developed, interesting personalities. I loved how they interacted and played off of each other. The slow layering that Ms. Jeffries applies was wonderful to behold. And, by the way, Jasper is written as a six year old who actually seems six years old. He also comes close to being a scene stealer. What a charmer.
Then we have The Big Secret. The tension created by Lady Davenport's secret kept me turning the pages in an-tic-i-pa-tion. My mind was buzzing with all kinds of "maybe it's this" or "could be that." Although, I thought the big reveal was drawn out just a little too long. I was becoming a little impatient with doors being shut in my face toward the end of the book
I also had a minor quibble with the angry kisses. It didn't seem to me that our couple could embrace and smooch unless they had an argument first. So, every time they had a fight I knew what was coming.
And authors gather round, let me impart a word of advice... sort of. Be careful when comparing possible future hero material to animals. In the case of this book, a black Labrador. I know in this book we were supposed to perceive, something slick, smooth, svelte. But some people have overweight Labs and when they look at them snoring away on the floor the image in the book is shattered.
Anyway, this was a good book. It has a bite your nails mystery, some lovely characters and some poignant moments. While I'm not sure it was hardback material, I am sure that it is a book you will want to curl up with under a blanket while sipping some hot chocolate.
Time/Place: Late Regency England or Post Regency
Sensuality: Medium Hot