Tuesday, August 30, 2011
A Christmas Waltz
Lady Amelia Wellesley falls in love with Carson Kitteridge when he comes to visit England as part of a Wild West travelling show. He woos her and tells her all about his slow brother and his big ranch in Texas and asks her to marry him with the agreement that he will send for her and they will marry. But after several months Amelia realizes his letter probably got lost in the mail and forges a letter from Carson to present to her older brother and his wife and heads off to Texas with dreams of her new life. She arrives in Slow Fork to find that things are nothing like the way that Carson presented to her. Carson does not own a ranch, Carson is not interested in marrying her, and his brother, Dr. Boone Kitteridge, is far from slow. Boone is horrified that his brother led this beautiful woman on about his prospects with the promise of marriage and when confronted Carson hightails it out of town. With nowhere else for her to turn Boone offers to let Amelia stay with him in the apartment at the back of his general store.
Amelia does not know how she is going to get out of Small Fork since her maid ran off with her money, and while she finds it hard to come to grips with the unexpected turn her life is taking, she finds that Boone is a bright spot in an otherwise dismal looking future. Boone and Amelia settle into a semi- domestic life as she helps him run his store and they spend their evenings teaching her to cook and take care of a house. Her brother realizes something is wrong and brings his wife out to meet Amelia and when he discovers the sham Carson has perpetrated he is furious and demands something be done to save her reputation. Boone steps forward and Amelia realizes she has no choice but to accept and after the marriage is performed her brother and sister-in-law leave and she has to make herself fit into her new life. Boone knows that Amelia does not want to stay in Texas and does not want to be married to him, but he wants to make her happy and is willing to spend his life doing that. Amelia realizes she is married to a caring and wonderful man and they both have to trust in their love for each other.
While I am not normally a fan of Western historicals, this book immediately grabbed my attention because of the blending of English and Western cultures and the promise of some angst because of the circumstances surrounding her marriage to Boone. I had mixed feelings about Amelia because she was naive enough to fall for Carson's charm but she was also smart enough to quickly realize when she had been fooled once she was confronted with the truth and did not wallow in self pity. I did enjoy that her motives for romanticizing other people and being overly excited when the possibility of true love were explained and tied in to her past, without being dissected until I was bored to death. Boone was a little sedate for a romance hero, but he made up for it by being so caring and conscientious of Amelia and her feelings. His past was explored in detail, but it went a long way toward explaining the man he was and why he acted in that way. He was protective about the people in his life and made big sacrifices to make his friends feel safe and to make Amelia happy.
Their relationship progressed very slowly during the course of the book, which was for the best as I would not have liked it if she had gone from love with Carson to Boone without some major reflection and some time to process what had happened. The little scenes with them working together were beautifully written and I really enjoyed all the angst that accompanied their falling in love. It did get a little exhausting at the end when they were both worried that the other did not return their love, but I felt like it was more realistic in this instance because of the circumstances surrounding their courtship. There was not that much sex, but again it made sense, and it was romantic and sexy if not hot. I loved the descriptions of life in a small town and that said small town wasn't overly romanticized against the big bad city. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of life in London and life in Small Forks and the way that both of them handled their new lives and worked with each other. I did feel like past characters were thrown in my face, even if they weren't actually present- which made their "appearance" even more ridiculous.
Rating: A very good book with an interesting setting with two characters who had to work through a lot in order to achieve their happily ever after.