Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

A Christmas Dance

Friday, January 1, 2021

A Christmas Dance (2014) Alissa Johnson

A Christmas DanceSet in London in an indeterminate time.

William Renwick, Earl of Casslebury needs a wife. He knows his is disciplined, so he hopes to find a woman who smile and laugh.

But he wasn’t in need of additional efficiency in his house. He was drowning in efficiency. He was in need of a feminine touch.

Miss Patience Byerly is in London for the Little Season only because friends of her father have been kind enough to take them in. But Miss Caroline Meldrin has become a friend, and has not made Patience for bad about taking her castoff dresses. (This sounds quite strange to a modern eye, but it was common for young women to have paid companions–usually destitute female relatives–so it’s not a particularly uncommon thing to happen.)

She found herself plucking at the waist of her gown. “Your parents wouldn’t allow me to apologize.”

“Of course not. It wasn’t your doing.” A sparkle of mischief entered her blue eyes. “You’re not going to try to apologize to me, are you? Because you know very well I was absolutely delighted with the excuse to leave.”

This is an almost perfect novella: It reads quickly and the characters are delightful.

Clearly, he was the only gentleman to discover the secret Miss Byerly. He found himself both pleased and irritated by the idea. He rather liked the notion of being the only man to recognize her charm. He cared less for the idea she’d never before received flowers. A woman like Patience shouldn’t want for flowers.

It also has lovely banter.

“Dodging children with sticky fingers and wet heads. Eating–”

“Why should their heads be wet?”

“The children? From playing Bob-Apple, of course.”

“Oh.” She thought about that. “Does it really require a complete dunking?”

“It does if one has an older sister who takes it upon herself to assist.”

I mean really!

“You’ve no Christmas traditions, then? No Yule log, no wassail, no silly games?”

“Not as of yet,” she replied, before giving a decisive nod of her head. “But I shall. There are plenty to choose from. Last year in Belgium, Caroline and I met a lovely family who brings an entire tree into their house and covers it with candles. And we met a gentleman from Sweden who said in his village a young woman puts a wreath of candles upon her head and goes about with a procession—“

“Are there any traditions you’d care to try that aren’t likely to set home and person aflame?”

You immediately want the best for both characters, and the impediment that stands between them–that Patience didn’t want to tell William–is a quite reasonable one, as is shown later in the story when a party goer accidentally discovers her secret.

But neither character is perfect, and I actually quite love the interactions both have with William’s nephews, as neither is quite comfortable dealing with the child.

Patience straightened and took a step forward. . .Then a step back. “What if I should drop him?”

William shook his head. “You’ll not drop him. A firm grip is part of the womanly instinct.”

She sent him a withering look. “And I suppose men are born with a natural urge to toss them about like sacks of flour?”

“We’re a stupid lot.”

Normally in a story you’d expect one of the two to be perfectly comfortable with the child, but here they are both awkward, and it’s adorable.

It’s just a lovely story, and a delightful comfort read.

Rating: 8.5/10

Categories: 8.5/10, British, Historical, Novella, Romance, Sexual Content     Comments (0)    

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