A Christmas Waltz, by Jane Goodger

>> Tuesday, February 16, 2016

TITLE: A Christmas Waltz
AUTHOR: Jane Goodger

PAGES: 338

SETTING: Late 19th century Texas and England
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: 3rd in a series.

To Lady Amelia Wellesley, it seems utterly romantic to surprise her dashing fiancé at his home in Texas so the two can marry by Christmas. But Amelia's surprise goes awry when Carson Kitteridge calls off their wedding as soon as she arrives, leaving Amelia in disgrace. . .

With nowhere to turn, Amelia finds an unlikely savior in Carson's brother, Dr. Boone Kitteridge. Boone offers to marry Amelia, sparing her the shame of returning to England unwed. But Boone isn't just protecting Amelia's honor; secretly, he finds her irresistible, and the thought of indulging his desire for her is too tempting to ignore. As Boone and Amelia forge a fragile bond, something goes terribly wrong--and it will take nothing less than a Christmas miracle for Amelia to discover who she is destined to love...
I'm a bit off historicals and Westerns are not usually my thing, but I heard a few people talking about the lovely hero of A Christmas Waltz recently, so I decided to give it a go. It started out well, and I do see what they meant about the hero, but ultimately, this one didn't really work for me.

Lady Amelia Wellesley is young and impetuous and madly in love with her fiancé, rich American rancher Carson Kitteridge. When his promised letter formally inviting her to come over to Texas to get married takes a bit too long to get there, Amelia tells herself the letter must have just gone astray and writes up a fake. Duly fooled, her brother the Earl sends her off to America with her maid/chaperone and a trunkful of lovely woollen dresses.

Turns out Carson's every word to Amelia was a lie. He's not a rich rancher, Two Forks is a tiny dump, rather than the lovely, prosperous town he described, and he never intended to marry her (to paraphrase his reasoning "Well, she wouldn't let me touch her otherwise, what was I supposed to do??"). Oh, and his brother, Boone, is not a bit slow. In fact, he's a doctor and runs the town's general store, and he's the one left to care for this strange lady once Carson runs off as fast as he can.

I quite liked the setup here. Yes, it's completely preposterous, but I suspended disbelief. Yes, Amelia's actions are incredibly stupid, but the narrative acknowledges this completely and never tries to tell us otherwise. Furthermore, it's all pretty consistent with her character. And yes, this is the third book in a series and that's kind of obvious, but I felt Goodger caught us up quite well (at least at the start).

And Boone was a lovely character. Boone and Carson grew up with a violent drunk of a father who idolised Carson and detested Boone (it's never really explained why). So while he took every excuse to beat up Boone, the man celebrated every one of Carson's actions. Carson's grown up to be a spoiled arsehole and a womaniser, while Boone (who had the fortune to escape as a young teen and be raised by a local), is cautious and somewhat awkward and has never had anything to do with any woman. He is fascinated by Amelia and thinks she's beautiful, and can't understand why Carson would run away from her.

So the first sections, while Boone and Amelia get to know each other and Amelia makes friends in Two Forks, were quite nice. I liked her (she might be silly, but she's kind), and found him sweet. But then Amelia's brother and his new bride show up, and the book started going downhill.

Basically, the entire rest of the book is based on Boone and Amelia refusing to communicate. Boone is particularly bad at this. There really is not much of a conflict. It seemed like the location could be one: Amelia really does not like Two Forks and misses home, but Boone feels he can't leave due to some responsibilities he has there. But that soon gets resolved (in a quite startling way that I felt cheapened the issues involved), and all we're left with is two people who just won't talk to each other honestly. And it wasn't even that their motivations for not speaking made sense!

We also have quite a bit of space devoted to Amelia's brother and his new wife (hero and heroine from a previous book), who did not intrigue me in the least, and some ridiculous and unbelievable interactions between Amelia and her former friends.

So this was quite a disappointment. I only finished it because there wasn't too long to go, since by the end I really didn't care about these people.



Wendy 17 February 2016 at 23:03  

I liked this one better than you - but recognize that it was a book that caught me "at the right moment." Because I had issues - the whole Just Talk To Each Other "conflict" being the biggest. By the end I wanted to smack them both into next Tuesday....

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