by Victoria Alexander
Genres: Historical Romance
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A blazing fire, an English country house … and the ultimate game of charades. In this charming holiday novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander, a beautiful widow finds her plan for a Christmas proposal going perfectly awry …Camille, Lady Lydingham, knows precisely what she wants for Christmas—an official engagement to a handsome, dashing prince. Her very proper suitor expects a proper English family and the perfect Dickensian Christmas, which leaves the lovely widow with a slight problem. The last thing Camille wants is for the prince to meet her unconventional relatives. But with the aid of a troupe of actors, Camille intends to pull off a Christmas deception of massive proportions. At least until Grayson Elliot shows up. A dozen years ago, he declared his love on the day before her marriage to another man, then vanished from her life. Now he’s back, gate-crashing Camille’s already chaotic house party, playing absolute havoc with her scheme—and with her heart. Because for Grayson, losing Camille once was quite bad enough. Losing her twice? Unthinkable. And he’ll find a way to show her they belong together—for this season, and every Christmas yet to come …
I love holiday themed books, and this is the first I have read by Victoria Alexander, but I can assure you it will not be my last. What Happens At Christmas was a deliciously, hysterical, heart-warming tale that quickly put me in the holiday mood. I adored the characters the author brought to life in 1886 London and would love to meet them all again.
We first meet Camille, Lady Lydingham, and her twin sister Beryl, Lady Dunwell in the Ladies Tearoom at Fenwick and Sons, Bookseller. While they were not drinking coffee my beverage of choice I was so delighted that woman even then knew the coolest place to hang out was in a bookstore that serves hot beverages! Camille is a wealthy widow who is scheming to have a prince from an obscure country propose to her. Both she and her sister married the first time for financial security and this time she wants to marry for adventure. She is plotting to create the perfect Dickens’s Christmas to host the prince at their country home. Beryl sees this as yet another one of Camille’s clever plots that always seem to go awry, but none the less she finds herself assisting. In their discussion, Beryl confesses that she and her husband are smitten with each other and that maybe this time Camille should marry for love. The events that take place between December 21 and Christmas day had me laughing and turning the pages as one complication after another arouse. The biggest complication of all occurs when a man whom she once loved shows up on her doorstep after eleven years…
I adored Camille; she really does not know what she wants and has to figure everything out the hard way. She is oh so clever and the trouble this girl creates was brilliant. Long ago her heart was broken and she has never truly forgiven the man. Beryl is snarky and I loved her remarks and fierce loyalty to her sister. Gray, an orphan raised by his uncle as the second son, took off to the Americas after the woman he loved rejected him. He has made his way and is quite successful but has never forgotten the woman who broke his heart. I loved the interaction between Camille and Gray and at times wanted to shoot them both. While the prince was also vying for Camille’s hand he became a secondary character. The cast of characters who appear at Camille’s country estate were all unique and I enjoyed their mannerisms and the complications they added. Alexander takes the time to add depth to even the secondary characters and I so appreciate that about her.
What Happens at Christmas had a very clever plot and the twists the author added at every turn had me completely enthralled. It was so much fun to see what event would occur next, and I quickly connected with the characters right down to the butler. I have always loved feisty, strong heroines who seem to get themselves in a pickle and Camille was remarkable. There was not as much sexual tension as I would have liked, and we are only treated to a mildly steamy scene. I loved the romance and the race to get my happily-ever-after.
If you love historical romance and holiday-themed novels with feisty heroines and lovable heroes then What Happened At Christmas is definitely for you. Victoria Alexander has been added to my must read holiday books authors list.