Christmas-themed romance stories that come out this time of year are usually reminiscent of THAT Christmas tale.  You know, the one where this one sells his watch and that one cuts her hair and both sacrifice what they hold dear in order to give something to the other. His Christmas Pleasure, by Cathy Maxwell, is no exception. While this novel has that theme running through it as well, there is something quite refreshing about a historical romance where there is no rake; the male protagonist is reformed even before the heroine gets to  him, and in that, this story is different.

Andres Ramigio, Baròn de Vasconia of Spain, has a reputation, but it’s not self-inflicted. Women seem to fall into his path, quite literally, and the one woman he has the misfortune to fall in love with, spurns him quite publicly. Abigail Montross, niece of a duke and daughter of a banker, is in love with an Earl’s son who is looking for more than a tradesman’s daughter for a wife. Set up in an arranged marriage by her father, she has already been engaged to and jilted by  another man. When she seemingly rescues Andres from his own father’s fate, their two lives become entangled in ways neither one of them expect. And after Abby’s father proposes another arranged marriage, she desperately looks for a way to avoid it. The Baròn has already seen the good in Abby, and unwittingly provides her with an escape. When he talks to Abby about a solution to their problems (he needs funds, she needs a way out),  it’s already evident that he’s halfway in love with her, which in turn, makes us love him even more.

When Andres persuades Abby to marry him, he’s the one who wants a proper wedding and a blessing from her parents. She’s the one who convinces him to elope. When they reach Stonemoor, the property given to him in Northumberland in exchange for a promise never to return to London, Abby realizes her new husband is not quite what he seems, but our faith in Andres is confirmed when he confesses all.

When Abby receives disturbing news from home in the middle of major misunderstanding with her new husband, and then hightails it back to London, there is little question that Andres will follow her, even if it means losing his home and his new livelihood in the process.

There are some wonderfully written scenes in this book. The showdowns between Andres and Abby’s determined father, the confrontation between Andres and a cuckolded husband, the coach ride that Andres and Abby share, the proposal scene in a garden with a roomful of women watching through a window, and of course, the final scene in the book where everything all comes right again, in a very surprising way, all reflect Cathy Maxwell’s ability at story-telling. This is a fun, quick story that will no doubt get the reader into the holiday spirit.

It was my Christmas pleasure to read it.

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