Wednesday, December 4, 2013
New Review: Mary Balogh’s A CHRISTMAS PROMISE – A Currier & Ives Christmas with Angst
Eleanor (“Ellie”) Transome loved her father, a coal merchant who worked hard all his life to leave a legacy of comfortable wealth for his only daughter. She would not deny his dying wish for her to marry Randolph, the Earl of Falloden, who she’s never met but who has agreed to marry her and give her his title because he needs her father’s money to save his estate.
Ellie is barely holding it together as she sees the father she loves dying before her eyes; Falloden assumes her demeanor hides a cold woman. He consummates the marriage because he promised his wife’s father he would, but then he returns to his mistress. Ellie knows the earl and his friends see her as a “cit,” a commoner of low birth, and she has no respect for their snobbery. Christmas comes and the earl wants to go to his country estate where he has invited four of his friends. Ellie is told to invite some of hers. In a spirit of rebellion, she invites 20 of her working class relatives.
I loved spending Christmas with Ellie’s relatives as they launch into the snow to carry back greens and a Yule log and sled down the snow covered slopes. It is reminiscent of a Currier & Ives painting and will warm your heart. It’s a well-written story with lots of angst and some humor and good fun for balance. But it’s unusual in that the arranged marriage makes for lots of bitter words between them and lots of angst.
There were only two things that bothered me: There were so many characters I had no idea what they looked like nor could I recall who they were. The dialog was good and did indicate different voices, but without better descriptions, I had to imagine what most of them looked like. And the earl, who is supposed to be young and handsome, had the voice of an old man, rigid and staid, which I suppose he was for most of the story—and his lovemaking prowess was about as subtle as a toad.