Every year for thirty years Lord Robert, the Viscount of Marchwood, throws a Christmas Ball. But this year the Marchwood Christmas Ball holds extra importance.
His daughter, Lady Audrey, has just turned eighteen, and it is time for her to be introduced into society. It is Audrey’s first, best, and potentially only chance of securing a husband. Especially seeing as there are rumours that the Marchwood money is running dry. But headstrong Lady Audrey is not sure she wants a husband. Ever since her mother died she has been left to her own devices. Though she is very close to her father, it was often the servants she turned to for companionship, particularly Thomas, who, five years older than her, was always the person she depended on for conversation. She is not ready to leave everything she knows, and the thought of abandoning her father breaks her heart. She is determined that only someone truly special will take her away from her home.
But with the ball centred around a masquerade theme, everyone is in disguise. And a handsome stranger threatens to steal Audrey’s heart. Could he hold the key to her heart?
And when she unmasks him will it be a good, or bad, Christmas Surprise?
|Image: Emily Murdoch / Writerly Yours|
A Christmas Surprise is a regency romance novella. The author, Emily Murdoch, who I interviewed yesterday, is a historian as well as a writer, so she definitely knows her stuff!
The novella is a quick, fun and light-hearted festive read. It's the perfect accompaniment to a warm fire, a hot cup of tea and these long, dark winter nights. If you need some help getting into the Christmas spirit, then this is the book for you!
The story itself is very simple. Lady Audrey must find a husband, and her father's annual Christmas ball is the perfect place for her to do so. The plot works well in this setting as it requires such little setup, so we can pretty much get straight into the story itself. Of course, it's rather predictable and the happily ever after ending didn't come as a surprise at all, but you don't read books like this to challenge yourself; you read them out of enjoyment and to relax.
I found the characters to be a bit of a mixed bag. Lady Audrey did get on my nerves a little at times. She is so stubborn and headstrong that she refuses to listen to anyone else (including her father) and after a while, her personality began to grate. I did feel as though we didn't really get to know Thomas very well, too, especially as he is such an important character. The little narration we had from him seemed fragmented and I didn't feel as though he came across in a very good light. After all, he was at points basically spying on a young girl more than 10 years his junior as she was being dressed... does that not seem a little off to anyone else?
Despite that, the storyline was fun. The whole concept of the masked ball was great as it allowed for so many dramatic possibilities, especially considering the usual rigidity of upper-class attitudes at this time. I felt that the story fit very well into the Regency period, and from the level of detail, it's clear that the author knows her stuff. The only thing I would say, however, is that I wasn't entirely convinced by the fact that no-one seemed fazed by Thomas and Audrey's relationship. A high-society lady marrying her father's valet? That's hardly a match that would have been allowed at that time, surely. I just didn't buy into Lord Marchwood's reaction to the news at all. That was the one part of the story that sadly just didn't feel authentic or realistic to me.
Regardless of that, the story as a whole is a great, quick read. Pick up a copy and delve into the class and elegance of the Regency period this Christmas!
Rating: 3 stars
A Christmas Surprise is available to buy now.
What's your favourite Christmas themed book? Let me know in the comments below!