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Monday, October 22, 2012

Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight by Grace Burrows

Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight by Grace Burrows
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (365 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

'Tis the Season for Scandal...

Years ago Lady Louisa Windham acted rashly on a dare from her brother, and that indiscretion is about to come to light. She knows her reputation will never survive exposure. Just as she's nearly overwhelmed by her dilemma, Sir Joseph Carrington offers himself to her as a solution...

But Sir Joseph has secrets as well, and as he and Louisa become entangled with each other, their deceptions begin to close in on them both...

Just dealing with one’s fate creates loneliness and exhaustion in Lady Louisa Moreland’s experience.

Louisa loves her family and they love her, even though her genius baffles them all. But they put it to good use for themselves often, even if they don’t understand it. One indiscretion that grew out of this habit back when her brothers were in the university gives them all concern. It was done on a brother’s dare.

They set out to rectify it—not an easy task. This weaves a subtle tension and secrecy throughout the story.

Louisa wants to take herself out of the marriage market and leave an open field for her two younger sisters. She worries enough about her scandal hurting her family and she certainly would not want it to bring scandal to a husband. Her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Moreland have a loving marriage and want the same for their Louisa. She is precious to them. They are not above secret, well-meaning manipulation. In reality, they rather enjoy it. One can almost see the sparkle in their eyes.

Sir Joseph Carrington, the Moreland’s neighbor who is “only a knight” and calls himself a pig farmer is, in fact, a very wealthy man with many layers to his personality. He fought in the Peninsula Wars with two of the Moreland’s sons. He came home with a lame leg that gives him lots of pain, but he is still very happy to have his leg. His is grateful for ordinary things like a good bed, food, shelter—things he saw many people without during the war.

He does have some unique habits. For one, he reads poetry to “Lady Ophelia” his prize sow and talks to her about his problems especially about the need to find a suitable wife. He is a widower with two little girls. But he hates having to go “wife shopping” in London during the Season.

On a fox hunt that neither really wants to be a part of, Louisa and Joseph lag behind and talk. He says a “blood sport” is an oxymoron. He saw too much blood and killing during the war to see anything sporting about the letting of blood of any kind. She relates to his feelings and talks sensibly and un-self-consciously—not the usual in his experience.

Joseph see her quite differently than she sees herself. He sees a tall but dainty, dark-haired beauty who speaks her mind. Moreover she has no designs on him or his wealth. He appreciates her sassy mouth and he especially appreciates her “sassy bottom”. To him, she is out of his league as far as wife material is concerned, but she is a great friend and he will help her anyway he can.

Louisa enjoys his company. He is not the simpering, mincing type she sees often at social gatherings; nor is he like the many suitors who want her dowry and to gain a prestigious place in society by marrying a duke’s daughter. She knows he is not what one usually considers handsome, but he has a special appeal with his sanguine looks, heavy brow, and bold nose. His bravery she admires and his smile full of humor, warmth, and affection makes her feel good.

He champions Louisa when her brothers seem unable to do so. She learned to outmaneuver her brothers a long time ago. They have a hard time protecting her in a predatory society, so they enlist Joseph to help. He is her “knight in shining armor”.

The exquisite, openly honest love that grows gradually between them is memorable with tense conflict moments, humorous moments, and breathtaking lovemaking moments.

Grace Burrows weaves in many characters from the previous Moreland books. They are vibrant, intriguing, and just as captivating as ever. If one has read previous books in the series, it is like catching up with old acquaintances. The Duke and Duchess of Moreland are so true to character—still meddling, still in love, and still harassing each other just enough to keep things interesting between them. Louisa’s siblings and their spouses and her two younger sisters are woven into the story in delightful and meaningful ways.

Some of the male characters with less than admirable traits create havoc at times and keep everyone on edge. Mr Grattingly is truly an antagonist one loves to hate.

Grace Burrows creates amazing characters that capture and hold one’s attention. The reader is swept along with compelling events, sparking dialogue, humor, surprises, setbacks, and undercurrents of conflict and tension. Ms. Burrows’ subtle ways of character development add to the enjoyment of the story. One can almost see Louisa waltzing "as weightless as sunshine, fluid as laughter".

Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight transports the reader to another time, another place, and captivates with extraordinary characters. It sweeps the reader along never slacking it grip on one’s attention. Most of all, it sends the heart racing with love scenes that seem to stop time.

Like the other books in the Moreland series Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight is a keeper.