Gabriel Shephard has never forgotten his humble origins. So when he discovers a war orphan at Christmastime, he resolves to find a home for her—even if that means asking help from the very family who found and raised him, only to cast him out for daring to love the wrong woman.
Lady Catherine Trevilan has spent five years poring over the British Army's casualty list, dreading the day she sees Gabe's name. She's never forgotten him, and she's never forgiven herself for not running away with him when she had the chance, though she's agreed to a marriage of convenience with a more suitable man.
When Gabe returns home on Christmas leave just days before Cat's wedding, a forbidden kiss confirms their feelings haven't been dimmed by distance or time. But Cat is honor-bound to another, and Gabe believes she deserves better than a penniless soldier with an orphan in tow. How can Cat reconcile love and duty? She must convince Gabe she'd rather have him than the richest lord in all of England…
I'm a sucker for a star-crossed lovers story and a Christmas historical romance, and I'd been wanting to try Susanna Fraser, so I was excited to find the two combined in her latest novel. It starts by filling us in on what's happened in the past and what is happening with the present and sets our hero and heroine on a Christmas collision course. Much has changed in the five years since Cat and Gabriel have seen each other, yet much remains the same, including their feelings for each other. But Cat is promised to someone else, and Gabe is only on a short leave from the war, plus he now has an infant ward to provide for. Renewing their friendship is dangerous with the tension still high between them and Cat's fiance also staying in the same house. But their nearness to one another after so long and the warm memories of Christmases past pull them together. But with Cat's commitment to another and Gabe's commitment to the war standing between them, it will take a Christmas miracle--along with the help of some friends--to keep them together.
This is a novella, so I know room for development is limited, (though the characterization is actually pretty good), but I found the road to happily ever after to be a bit too easy and convenient for our couple. Thus it made their declarations seem anticlimactic, the sex fairly ho-hum, and the outcome rather predictable. What I did really like about it historically was the insight into the Napoleonic War and a soldier's frame of mind. I also really liked the depiction of the big Wassailing celebration, though I do think the book could have used a little more Christmas in addition to that. And I also thought some pretty good stuff was skipped over between the last chapter and the epilogue.
Overall, I enjoyed this little romance, though I did not find A Christmas Reunion to be memorable enough to compete with my favorites in the genre. But it's certainly a pleasant way to while away an hour or two on a winter's evening with a dashing officer (who can sing!) and the lucky lady who won his undying devotion.
My Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
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