While I have recently been reading a handful of ebooks for my seasonal reading (i.e. with a Christmas theme), none of them was long or impressive enough for me to warrant a review. It was more like reading Christmas features in a paper or magazine; I do not review that, either.
But "What Happens At Christmas" by Victoria Alexander was a full-length book, and an enjoyable one at that.
The time is the late 1800s, the place is an English country estate, Millworth Manor.
30-year-old wealthy widow Camille has set her eyes on a handsome prince from some obscure middle-European country, and to ensure his proposal, she wants to give him what he's dreaming of: A proper English Christmas.
There is just one little problem: She does not deem her own family proper enough to present them to a member of Royalty.
She comes up with an idea that seems brilliant at first: Simply hire a family - have a troupe of actors pretend to be her mother, sisters and staff at the manor.
Of course all sorts of mishaps ensue, rather entertaining for the observer but not quite as much for those involved.
To complicate matters, the man she loved when they were both young chooses to return now of all times - 11 years after they last saw each other.
There are few surprises in the story, but it is still fun to watch the events unfold. Some people other than the actors turn out not be quite who or what they claim to be, and it does take a few twists and turns before hero and heroine can finally sink in each other's arms.
If you know Georgette Heyer, you get a pretty good idea of what this story is like. It's all there - the cast of characters, some of them rather quirky; the manor; the intelligent and headstrong heroine; the dashing but not always very nice hero, and most of all, the humour.
One thing you will never find in Heyer's books, though, is the relatively steamy sex scene (there really is just the one). Nothing out of the ordinary and not vulgar; not strictly necessary, either.
The Christmas theme is not only present in the festive decoration of the manor and other preparations, but also in the way friendship, love, family and forgiveness (quite a lot of that) are part of the story.
I'd not heard of the author before, but she has written a whole "Millworth Manor" series.
Victoria Alexander's homepage is here.