Jo Beverley is THE disciplined Regency author. Few can match her historical detail, traditional customs, or setting skills. However, although Jo Beverley’s CHRISTMAS ANGEL is a well-written story, somehow, along the way, it lost me!
Leander Knollis, the Earl of Charrington, knows it is time to take a wife, but he has one rigid rule: the woman must never fall in love with him. The perfect candidate is the widow, Judith Rossiter. Obviously, she was deeply in love with her first husband. If fact, in the village, they still call her "The Weeping Widow." Yes, Judith is a good choice and for an extra bonus: she comes with two small children! How marvelous! Suddenly, the Earl of Charrington’s "urgent" family is ready!
Although, this "marriage of convenience" is the answer to Judith’s nagging financial problems, she still wonders what the man is up to! The Earl of Charrington could have any woman in England, so why her? Yet, Judith is no fool and she readily accepts his proposal and as far as his "golden" rule of: no love! That won’t be a problem! Judith’s first husband had been a penniless noble-minded poet and their marriage was nothing but a travesty. Silently, Judith vowed never again!
"Pitfalls" and Jo Beverley are synonymous and in CHRISTMAS ANGEL, Ms. Beverley has the "mother lode." The Rossiter children are terrific as the story’s secondary characters and the "instant" family format is a great idea. It allows Beverley to use delightful humor and helps to build a bustling, believable atmosphere.
So how and when did Ms. Beverley lose me? I suspect it was her handling of the hero’s character. At first, the character of Leander Knollis is dark and compelling, then Beverley’s inventiveness quietly slipped away. The story’s spark and dark-complexion went missing and the story turned into a "leisure stroll." Although, Jo Beverley has the skill to pull it all off, disappointingly in the end, CHRISTMAS ANGEL was a letdown!