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Thursday, December 19, 2013

|Review| A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh

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Title: A Christmas Promise
Published org. Dec. 1, 1992. This edition: Oct. 26th, 2010
Genre: Historical romance
Rating: A
Goodreads summary:
A love that cannot be bought or sold proves to be the greatest gift of all, in this heartwarming classic that demonstrates once again why New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh is among the most celebrated authors of historical romance.

Weddings are supposed to be joyous occasions—especially when a couple seems as well matched as Randolph Pierce, Earl of Falloden, and his bride-to-be, Eleanor Transome. Ellie brings to the marriage a vast dowry, while Falloden, though distant, is handsome, tremendously desirable, and possessed of a title most young ladies can only dream of sharing.

Yet Ellie is not most young ladies. She knows that she must honor her dear father’s dying wish for her to wed the proud earl, but she dreads a lifetime in a union without love—and how can Falloden claim to love her when he married her only for her fortune? As Christmas descends upon the Falloden manor, the warmth of the season may yet melt away the trappings of duty and wealth, leaving behind only a man and a woman destined for each other’s arms.

I came across A Christmas Promise at this blog post at Heroes & Heartbreakers. I read the post and immediately decided that A Christmas Promise would be my post-finals read and boy, was it a good decision. I have honestly not enjoyed a romance as much as I did while reading A Christmas Promise in a while. It made me laugh. It made cry. It made me swoon. As in LEGIT SWOONING. My heart experienced ridiculous things while reading this novel, y'all. Like hoooly hell, talk about sweet romance!!

A Christmas Promise is an arranged marriage story and if you know anything about me, know that I love arranged marriage stories (and I love Hardy Cates, I'll never miss a chance to give a shout out to BED *wink*), and if you want to know another thing about me, I love hate-to-love stories. Not FAKE hate-to-love where the hate is actually secret love, no, I enjoy legitimate hate turned into legitimate love and this was the case with A Christmas Promise. Eleanor doesn't know Randolph. Randolph doesn't know Eleanor and they were forced into marriage under tough circumstances. They both had incorrect assumptions about the other so they both entered their marriage unhappy and not willing to give each other a try and it was GREAT. I loved the biting sarcasm. Eleanor is a new favorite heroine of mine. That lady is TOUGH and she knew how make to make things tough for Randolph.
"I thought perhaps," he said, "you might be interested in knowing me. That perhaps we might learn to be friends."
"You want me in bed," she said, and her voice was as chilly as his heart. "Shall I go there?"
Snap snap snap, GET IT. God, I love tough heroines. She might have been too stubborn at times, but who cares! Finally, a heroine that wouldn't take any shit from the hero!
"It was hatred at first sight."
It was!! However, since this is a romance novel after all, slowly but surely Eleanor and Randolph started getting along. First they made a pact to cut out the sarcasm and agree to live together in peace since they're joined until death does them apart. It was a gradual change from the animosity in the beginning to tolerating each other to learning about each other and opening each other's hearts to love (god, what a cheesy sentence. Who am I?). I. Loved. It. It reminded me of Confessions from An Arranged Marriage which is also a super well done hate-to-love romance novel that I will forever and ever love.

Another fantastic thing about A Christmas Promise, and the reason it's being featured during this Christmas feature of ours, is that it's a story set during Christmas time. Now, it's not a story conjured up from nothing to be sold at Christmas time for the holiday romance lovers, no, this is terrific story set during a terrific time and Mary Balogh does it justice. There is snow. There is sledding. There is mistletoe. There is family and it's it's just wonderful and real. Eleanor has a big, boisterous family and they made this book (and Christmas) fun. Pretty much 75% of the book is set during Christmas time and it's MAGICAL. The white snow, and illuminating moon and the sledding and the family fun. . . magical, magical, magical.

A Christmas Promise is a fantastic romance with even magical Christmas setting that makes this novel not just enjoyable, but a classic that I will revisit again, and again, and then again. Historical romance fans: this one is for you. Holiday romance fans: this one is also for you.

I know this is a super glowing review, but I truly loved the heck out of A Christmas Promise. It's a new a favorite historical romance of mine and when I say I will revisit this book, I really will be. This  is a romance that I need to experience more than once.

Rating: [A] A new favorite romance of mine that handles my favorite tropes PERFECTLY and it's also one of the best Christmas holiday romance books anyone can hope to read. I'm in love.

The Earl of Falloden glanced at the visiting card resting on the slaver his butler held extended toward him.

She was still smiling at him. She knew his thoughts. He was sure of it. Just as a husband and wife should know each other's thoughts. It was a strange, unreal moment.

He was just going to have to take her as she was. She would be damned before she would change to please him.

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