Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: 12 Dukes of Christmas, #7
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Eve Shelling longs to be a serious journalist, but when her exposé about the founder of Cressmouth aka Christmas is published, her father, the owner of the Cressmouth Gazette is livid and says they only write about Christmas. She argues and he agrees to let her write one “non-Christmas” story as long as he approves the subject and the story before it is published.
Sébastien “Bastien” le Duc and his brother Lucien are the local blacksmiths in town, they came to Cressmouth many years ago when they were rescued from the “terror” in France, but even after 18 years, they long to return to their home. Now that the wars are over and it is safe to return, they have a plan to go just as soon as they sell the smithy. Lucien wants to leave immediately, but Bastien says they need to some time and plans to leave on twelfth night.
Eve is watching the swans – the subject of her non-Christmas story, when her friend Margaret Church joins her and suggests she write a feature about a local citizen. Eve loves the idea and when they notice the le Duc brothers, she decides they are perfect for her story. Eve doesn’t trust men, past experience taught her a hard lesson and she vows to never be duped again. But her interest in Bastien is purely professional, she has no interest in him personally – Really! Alright, he is handsome and well dressed, so much so that his admirers call him “Beau”, but there is more to him than his fashion sense and that is what she needs to learn.
When Bastien approaches Eve about taking out an advert in the Gazette, she jumps at the chance to spend time with him writing the perfect listing for the smithy. She tells him of the swan story and he offers to introduce her to a local artist who would be happy to draw something for the paper. She immediately questions his motives, why would he help her? He says she is helping him, so he will help her.
As the days pass, Eve and Bastien’s friendship deepens and stronger feelings grow, but they each have secrets, Bastien is leaving soon and she has dreams that don’t include handsome, well-dressed blacksmiths, only a fool would fall in love…
I thought this was a sweet novella with more depth than I was expecting. Bastien and Eve are both likeable characters with a great chemistry between them. I thought the story was well written, paced nicely, had a bit of steam, a bit of heartache and a very well thought out HEA. This is the seventh book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone title. I am happy to recommend this title and look forward to future installments in this series!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the Publisher*