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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes

Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical, Holiday (Christmas)
Length: Full Length (404 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

All she wants is peace and anonymity...

Lady Sophie Windham has maneuvered a few days to herself at the ducal mansion in London before she must join her family for Christmas in Kent. Suddenly trapped by a London snowstorm, she finds herself with an abandoned baby and only the assistance of a kind, handsome stranger standing between her and complete disaster.

But Sophie's holiday is about to heat up...

With his estate in ruins, Vim Charpentier sees little to feel festive about this Christmas. His growing attraction for Sophie Windham is the only thing that warms his spirits-but when Sophie's brothers whisk her away, Vim's most painful holiday memories are reawakened.

It seems Sophie's been keeping secrets, and now it will take much more than a mistletoe kiss to make her deepest wishes come true...

Alone for a few days in the family’s opulent ducal mansion in London, Sophie sets out to do one of her good deeds and ends up in a crowded stage station with an abandoned, crying baby. Its cries bring Wilhelm (Vim) Charpentier into Sophie’s life and her dreams and wishes long put away bubble up with new hope. This kind man who understands babies and looks at six-month-old baby Kit with affection and approval makes Sophie long for things no “decent” woman would admit to.

Twenty-seven-year-old Sophie Windham is the sensible daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Moreland. Her exemplary ladylike behavior and her charity work with both people and animals are well-known. But restlessness had prompted her to beg off going to the family’s country home in Kent along with her parents. She promised to travel with her three brothers who would be going in a few days.

As a savage snow storm brings all activity to a halt in London, Sophie ends up with two male houseguests—baby Kit and Vim who is stranded and without lodging while on his way to spend Christmas at this estate in Kent.

Sophie and Vim do not use their titles when they introduce themselves, so neither is aware of the others station in life. In the cozy servants’ parlor of the mansion with a demanding baby to tend, they get to know each other without the usual pomp and circumstance associated with lords and ladies. Even though the mansion is without servants or family, the six-month-old baby makes a super chaperone as Sophie and Vim tend Kit’s needs, cook, and do mundane household activities while unintentionally quietly fall in love.

In the quiet still of night, Vim wakes to the sound of Sophie singing a lullaby to the fretful baby in her room. A peace, sweet and warm, gladdens his weary spirit, quickens an erotic pleasure in his body, and brings to life emotions that are new to him.

His oppressive loneliness for his “half-family” in Cumbria and his dread of going to his estate and its responsibility (that he had avoided for so long) abates. A sense of well-being bubbles up. Vim decides this may not be the depressing Christmas holiday he’d feared he’d have at his Kent estate Sidling where he is known as Lord Sindal.

The arrival of Sophie’s three brothers changes the human dynamics. While the brothers interrogate Vim, they can see their sensible sister has a special affinity for this man and agree, they will travel to Kent together and concoct a story to keep the parents happy about Sophie and Vim’s meeting. Each of the brothers recalls that they have Sophie to thank for helping them in times of great need. She’d helped them get their lives on track to a brighter future—a future that had looked black until she stepped in with her intelligence and common sense to set things straight. Their loyalty to her runs deep.

Grace Burrowes writes with an understanding of her characters that make them totally believable. She shows how their flaws and virtues war for supremacy and she does it with incredible tenderness and humor. She creates dialogue that brings life to the story as she quietly moves the plot along as she ratchets up the conflicts then bit by piece eases the tension as the characters face troubles and overcome them. Each character comes to know him or herself better as work through old hurts and move on toward a happy-ever-after.

Ms. Burrowes’ secondary characters add a unique richness to the story. Some of them were primary characters in her other novels—The Heir, The Soldier and Virtuoso. If you’ve had the good fortune to have read them, you’ll find out how these characters are faring in life (like catching up with old friends).

Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish shines with love, sparkles with humor, and shows the breathtaking special love between a mature man and woman, the inexplicable love for a child, and family love that withstands all and supports unconditionally.

Grace Burrowes’ exquisite writing style is a joy to read. Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish, like her other novels, is a keeper.