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His Christmas Pleasure

By Cathy Maxwell

Abigail Montross is in search of Freddie, the man she fancies herself in love with. She walks into a room and sees a man standing in front of a mirror, a pistol pointed at his head. She runs over, jumps on him and they fall to the floor behind a settee. As they start to discuss what just transpired, they hear a man's voice calling Abby's name. She looks down and realizes that the man she has just rescued is Andres, the Baron de Vasconia. Andres looks at her and puts his fingers to his lips to let her know that he will be silent. She stands up and confronts Freddie. She tells him that she wants him to elope with her. She has an inheritance that she will receive when she weds. Freddie tells Abby that his father doesn't approve of her; he will be announcing his betrothal to Abby's cousin, Corrine, tonight at the ball.

Forgetting that the Baron is in the room, she pleads with Freddie to change his mind. He refuses. Andres has decided that Freddie is a cad. Andres, recently jilted, knows the pain that Abby is feeling and makes up his mind to rescue her. He stands up and informs Freddie that he is taking Abbyout to the ballroom to dance. Abby, not knowing what to say, goes with him, leaving Freddie shocked and trying to talk to the Baron about the way he ties his neck cloth.

When they reach the ballroom, Abby tries to recover. Once they start to dance, they both begin to relax and have a good time. Once the dance is over, a voice from behind begins to attack the Baron. It is Lady Dobbins. She and the Baron had an affair until he recently ended it. Lady Dobbins rails against the Baron and then turns her cruel words to Abby. Abby is in complete shock and shame. Not knowing what else to do, Abby slaps the Baron, runs off to find her parents and begs to go home.

On their way, Abby's father informs her that he has found a possible husband for her -- a widower with 13 children, who also happens to be one of the Lords of the Treasury. She’s shocked; how can her father do this to her? She'll talk to her mother alone and ask her to help change her father's mind.

The next day, several women show up for a visit. In the midst of all the questions about the event’s of last night, she turns to see the Baron standing in the doorway. All chatter stops, and all eyes fall on him. He asks to have a word with her in private, and they go out into the garden and sit on a bench, as the women left in the sitting room watch them. Andres proposes to Abby but tells her the marriage will be more like a business deal between the two of them. He needs her inheritance to start his stables and to raise a line of horses from the stock his father had started. Abby knows she needs a way to escape her father constantly trying to marry her off to some man he feels is a good match, but she has no desire to marry. She agrees but insists they elope because her father will never approve. He agrees with her. So now, the adventure begins.

Abby meets Andres at the agreed spot and time. However, just after she arrived, her father shows up. The chase is on. They run out the back door, get into the waiting phaeton, race through the streets of London, and make it out of town. They marry, spending the night to consummate the marriage so her father can't have it undone. The next morning, as they make their way downstairs for breakfast, they see Abby's father sitting at the table. He informs them that Abby will not get her inheritance for two more years and that she will not be able to ask him or her mother for help. There will be no dowry. Abby is in total shock. Andres stands up, takes his wife's hand, informs her father that they will be just fine and leads her out the door. He will take care of his wife. The question is how? He is almost out of funds.

Cathy Maxwell has done a wonderful job with this story. It shows what a newly wed couple with almost nothing can do when they work together to build a dream. Abby and Andres learn how to make sacrifices and how to support each other to make things work and come together. They find that in spite of themselves, their marriage is more than just a business arrangement. Their hearts have other plans. Because they've both been jilted, neither is ready to open their hearts completely allowing them total trust of each other. Abby finds she is made of stronger stuff than she thought, and Andres finds out what kind of man he really wants to be by watching his wife and admiring her strength.

This is the first Cathy Maxwell book for me. She brings everything to life and makes you feel like part of the story. I didn't even put the book down when sitting at the dinner table. (Believe me, that didn't make me very popular.) It's a good lesson in how couples should work together. During the chase through London, I felt like I was in the carriage with Abby and Andres. Maxwell does a great job of letting you feel the emotions of the characters. Some things you see coming, and some you don't. This book will not disappoint you. I can't wait to read more of Maxwell. Two thumbs up.

The Book

Avon Books /HarperCollins Publishers
November 30, 2010
Historical Romance / London, October 1810
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The Reviewer

Linda Young
Reviewed 2010
© 2010