Title: The Earl’s Mistletoe Bride
Author: Joanna Maitland
Copyright: 2010 (Harlequin); 283 pgs.
Series: Harlequin Historical #1018
Genre: Historical Romance
From the back: If it hadn’t been for handsome Jonathan, Earl of Portbury, Beth might never have seen another Christmas! Destitute and suffering from amnesia, she was lucky to be saved from the freezing cold and given a roof over her head. A year later the earl returns, seeking a bride. Discovering his foundling is now a beautiful woman, he resolves to give her a new identity. This Christmas, under the mistletoe, the earl will make Beth lady of his manor!
Comments: The blurb is a bit misleading: Jonathan does, in fact, find her in a storm around Christmas — he’s on leave from the army and returns to his duties shortly after, with Beth in the care of his dear friends Rev. & Mrs. Aubrey. However, he returns six months later, when he resigns his commission. Their marriage takes place before her true identity is discovered, which takes place before Christmas.
Much of the book takes place during the summer and fall time frame, as Jonathan spends time readjusting to civilian life, seeing to his properties, avoiding his mother’s attempts to get him re-married (he’s a widower), and spending time with the Aubreys and their “ward”, Beth.
Jonathan first marriage was a disaster. Since he doesn’t want his spendthrift and irresponsible brother to inherit, he knows he must remarry to get an heir. Jonathan isn’t interested in the young debutantes his mother keeps sending his way. He is looking for someone who is content with a quiet, country existence — Jonathan’s not a fan of the London social scene and rather be at Fratcombe. He comes to realize that Beth is just the type of woman he seeks — she’s lovely, intelligent, and practical. Jonathan enjoys being in her company and they can have rational conversations together.
The problem is that Beth still can’t remember. Nightmares leave her physically ill. It’s obvious by her manners and her deportment that she is a gentleman’s daughter at the very least — but not a wealthy one. Beth could be a companion or governess and believes she’s not worthy of being a countess. Though Beth’s in love with him, she initially rejects Jonathan on the grounds that he doesn’t know her true identity and it could hurt him socially if the truth ever came to light.
I enjoyed the story, even though it really wasn’t a Christmas book. Mistletoe does play an important part, but not necessarily in the way it would normally. I liked that Jonathan truly meant that he didn’t care about her true identity — and didn’t abandon her or reject her when the truth finally comes out.
Start: 8 December 2012
Finished: 10 December 2012