Saturday, November 13, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Earl's Mistletoe Bride by Joanna Maitland

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English


If it hadn't been for handsome Jonathan, Earl of Portbury, Beth might never have seen another Christmas! Destitute and suffering from amnesia, she was lucky to be saved from the freezing cold and given a roof over her head.

A year later the earl returns, seeking a bride. Discovering his foundling is now a beautiful woman, he resolves to give her a new identity. This Christmas, under the mistletoe, the earl will make Beth lady of his manor!

This book starts out wonderfully, a woman, stumbling about in a snow storm, seemingly lost. She no sooner collapses, ready to give up, when she is plucked from the teeth of inclement weather and possible death by a knight in shining armor. Her mysterious man drops her like a homeless kitten at the vicars, then goes on his way.

The Vicar and his wife take this nameless woman in, she has a note in her pocket signed 'Beth', so that is what they call her. Beth settles into life at the vicarage and the small village, it is six months later, and she still has no inkling who she is, but her thoughts are filled of the hero who rescued her, Jonathan Foxe-Garway, Earl of Portbury, who after his rescue, left the very next day to serve in the Horse Guards in Spain. After six month of hearing of the honorable man he is, his devotion to duty and bravery on the battlefield, it only managed to stoke Beth's dreamy heroic imaginings of her rescuer.

On her way back from running errands in the village, Beth gets caught in a storm, turns her ankle, and who should appear? Her white knight, Jonathan, even more handsome and dashing than her vague remembrances. Imagine her disappointment when she realizes Jonathan has no recollections of her.

Jonathan may not remember, but he is affected by their meeting, Beth begins to fill his thoughts.
But Jon is a man damaged from war, plagued by nightmares. How can he ever live a normal life again?

I found myself caught up in this couple's story, the mystery of Beth's appearance in the town. Jon's war experience and the disaster of his first marriage, make him reticent to involve himself with any woman. He soon finds out that Beth is the bedraggled foundling he deposited at the Vicar's door 6 months ago, and interest he may be feeling surely cannot move forward, he is an Earl, he knows nothing of her past.

But the more the couple are thrown together, the more Jon cannot deny the spark between them, however, he makes a rather bloodless marriage proposal. After all, he did not require love or passion, in his world, they did not exist.

Beth for her part, is quite smitten with Jon, her knight, her hero. But she soon sees he is a man, with faults and secrets. As does she.

Their growing friendship and attraction was well done, very real, steeped in secrets, hidden emotion and eventually passion.
The mystery of Beth's identity and how she came to be in that town is resolved adequately, and the reason for her aversion to mistletoe.
But it is the relationship itself, of these two flawed, secretive people that make this a very satisfying read. Great characters, the secondary ones too, including Jon's interfering mother.

3 and 1/2 Stars out of Four

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