(Blackshear Family, #0.5)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
It should have been simple…
With one more errand to go—the purchase of a hunting falcon—Andrew Blackshear has Christmas completely under control. As his sister’s impending marriage signals the inevitable drifting-apart of the Blackshear family, it’s his last chance to give his siblings the sort of memorable, well-planned holiday their parents could never seem to provide.
He has no time to dawdle, no time for nonsense, and certainly no time to drive the falconer’s vexing, impulsive, lush-lipped, midnight-haired daughter to a house party before heading home. So why the devil did he agree to do just that?
It couldn’t be more deliciously mixed-up…
Lucy Sharp has been waiting all her too-quiet life for an adventure, and she means to make the most of this one. She’s going to enjoy the house party as no one has ever enjoyed a house party before, and in the meanwhile she’s going to enjoy every minute in the company of amusingly stern, formidably proper, outrageously handsome Mr. Blackshear. Let him disapprove of her all he likes—it’s not as though they’ll see each other again after today.
…or will they? When a carriage mishap and a snowstorm strand the pair miles short of their destination, threatening them with scandal and jeopardizing all their Christmas plans, they’ll have to work together to save the holiday from disaster. And along the way they just might learn that the best adventures are the ones you never would have thought to plan.
This is such a delightful story and a wonderful introduction to Cecilia Grant’s books. Not since reading my first Courtney Milan book have I been so excited about a new-to-me author. Even within the constraints of this novella, Ms Grant brings her characters to life and creates a story full of originality and charm.
Following his parents’ death, Andrew Blackshear has shouldered responsibility for the upbringing of his younger siblings. He has always endeavoured to set a good example by being the epitome of a gentleman… propriety and decorum are the principles he lives by. It is on a trip to the wilds of Norfolk to collect a Christmas gift for his sister that he finds himself stranded with a lady who tests his principles to breaking point.
An only child, Lucy Sharp has led a secluded life with her rather unconventional father. She loves him dearly but wants to do the things that all other young ladies do. So when she is invited to her aunt’s Christmas house party, she relishes the opportunity to enjoy herself. Never does she imagine that she will find herself stranded with the most pompous and judgemental gentleman it has been her misfortune to meet.
Despite being a stuffed-shirt, there is something endearing about Andrew. Perhaps it’s the way he clearly loves his siblings and does everything in his power to to give them the happiest Christmas he can, or seeing him thrown off-balance whenever he is around Lucy. His internal thoughts are so funny…
She ought to be told, with utmost obliqueness and discretion, of course, that such a gaze produced inconvenient stirrings in a gentleman, and could leave lingering impressions that might burgeon, in his private hours, to un-virtuous effect.
…not forgetting the embarrassing sex dream!
Lucy’s warmth, kindness and common sense provide the perfect foil to Andrew’s decorum and she is clever enough to run circles around him.
“I’m sorry, Miss Sharp.” He met her gaze unblinking. “I’m afraid I am unable to render you that service.”
“Why?” She tilted her head, as blunt and guileless as a five-year-old who’d been denied a sweetmeat, and every bit as untroubled by manners.
Her kindness is shown in her understanding of the Porters’ true situation and her determination not to embarrass them and how she ensures that her maid, Perkins, can see her family for Christmas.
Often novellas don’t provide sufficient page time to develop a believable relationship between the hero and heroine but Ms Grant succeeds brilliantly. All the obstacles that are thrown in their path force Andrew and Lucy to work together to find solutions, allowing them to get to know and understand each other. It feels as if they have known each far longer than a just a few days and I readily accepted their falling in love.
I fell in love with Ms Grant’s witty and elegant writing style…
Somewhere in the last minute his heart seemed to have lurched off its moorings like a hot-air balloon and now it drifted unsteadily about the cavity of his chest.
His fingers had wandered to his own particularly naked region and taken up a light, un-purposeful sort of stroking. Even this much was a sin, to be sure, and a failure of his self-command.
She slipped her thumbs into his jacket where it opened to make way for his cravat, thumbnails dragging against the linen of his shirt and tickling his chest in gloriously impertinent fashion.
MY VERDICT: I have no hesitation in recommending this enchanting novella and I know the rest of the series will be high on my reading list.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read February 2016
Blackshear Family series (click on the book covers for more details):