Form: e-book, mobi format
Genre: historical romance
Target audience: adults
Series: Brothers Sinister Holiday Novella
I got this one from Rameau as a gift – thank you very much my dear! I hope you won’t regret it! ;p
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Miss Lydia Charingford is always cheerful, and never more so than at Christmas time. But no matter how hard she smiles, she can’t forget the youthful mistake that could have ruined her reputation. Even though the worst of her indiscretion was kept secret, one other person knows the truth of those dark days: the sarcastic Doctor Jonas Grantham. She wants nothing to do with him…or the butterflies that take flight in her stomach every time he looks her way.
Jonas Grantham has a secret, too: He’s been in love with Lydia for more than a year. This winter, he’s determined to conquer her dislike and win her for his own. It all starts with a wager and a kiss…
I usually have my issues with novellas and this one was no exception. Still the problems I encountered here ran deeper than my usual ‘ it was too short’ carping. For a novella it was actually quite substantial but this time I didn’t relate to the main characters and the whole premise as well. Proving once again that I am not a great romance fan. Oh well.
First of all I admit I liked how Ms Milan presented our good doctor – a cynical young man with few inhibitions concerning conversational topics in polite company. I do regret he wasn’t allowed to tell one of his famous gonorrhoea jokes, though. One thing about him surprised me a bit: he was so strangely altruistic, never even enquiring about a dowry, just looking for a pretty face. I would understand if he was a son of an aristocrat or a rich squire; however why a son of a scrap metal shop owner didn’t want to get a bit richer, pocketing several hundred pounds with a bride, as almost any gent wanted to do at that era, was a bit puzzling… it seemed that Ms Milan forgot that she was writing about a self-made little town doctor, not one of those dukes. Oh well, I could survive that. Especially that I also was impressed by the author’s research concerning the Victorian medicine problems and how it was included in the plot. However Miss Lydia was one big dark spot in this overall cheery Yule romance picture and pray, tell me, how to like a book which heroine doesn’t appeal to you?
If you read The Duchess War (reviewed by me here), the first full-length novel of this series, you will already know a lot about Lydia – she was the sidekick of Minnie, the main female lead. I didn’t like her there and, unfortunately, the novella wasn’t able to change my mind.
Lydia is your average bland, smiling miss who can see advantages of every situation and is cloying and cheery even though, theoretically at least, she has had little luck in her short life – such is the premise which, I suppose, was to emphasize the steely core of that young woman.
It didn’t persuade me, not for a moment.
You see, Lydia was seduced at the tender age of 15 (not a big spoiler) and abandoned, pregnant, by her dishonest lover. Then she miscarried but her family was able to hide that fact because they had already managed to go away with her to Cornwall. Lydia returned, regained her health and…nothing worse happened. Her loving parents allowed her to continue living in the relative safety and comfort of her family home, supporting her admirably at every turn. She could attend church and social gatherings, she had friends, her reputation remained practically intact. Even the fact that Lydia’s child was born prematurely and died, a very painful experience indeed, in the long term was very convenient as it helped her to keep up appearances. All rosy and nice – so where is the hardship and grit? Where are the obstacles to overcome? Where is the admirable show of an exquisite strength of the character? Imagine just for a moment what would happen if Lydia actually had that child and was thrown out of the house by her irate parents, all on her own, without any means to support herself…
Oh wait, there were psychological scars as well – our Lydia hated when someboy called her ‘darling’ because that’s what her first lover used to say. She was also a bit distrustful when it came to gentlemen (small wonder) but, on the other hand, she missed sexual intercourse and, for obvious reasons, she was very unlikely to indulge herself outside of the wedlock. Ok here we get the tension. Add to that the fact that doctor Grantham as a young student paid her a professional visit with his mentor so he knew about her past. Now whenever he looks at her Lydia thinks he is judging and criticising her mistake and naivete whereas he is just admiring her face and wits. Sweet but somehow I found it lacking.
My final remark: doctor Grantham falls in love with Lydia just because she tells him ‘no way, not me, find another girl’. Perhaps some obstinate young men do like overcoming such obstacles just for the glory of winning with a difficult opponent but eight out of ten eligible, sexually starved bachelors would indeed go and find another mark – prettier, richer and more willing. Here you go. I managed to write a whole essay about a novella. Perhaps it wasn’t so bad after all?
I think I could live without finding out more about the love life of Miss Lydia and doctor Grantham. I do not regret reading this one, from time to time it was fun, but overall hardly different from other cute Yule romance novels. Which is not a compliment in my mouth.