Tracy’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars
Series: Regency Christmas Kisses, #1
Release Date: December 13, 2022
Edward Snowden Thomas Redford was the third son of a viscount and never imagined he would inherit the title, much less his brother’s bride, but that is exactly what happened. He learned his new destiny as he lay in a hospital recuperating from the loss of his arm, and several broken bones in his remaining hand and his leg, injuries he sustained in Spain battling Napoleon at Albuera. Now months later and mostly healed, Ed makes his way home to meet his future bride, but before he commits the rest of his life to duty, he is going to spend a few days at his friend Warrick’s hunting lodge. At least that was the plan before his rented horse was spooked and he was thrown during a snowstorm and forced to leave half his belongings and walk in the dark. As he sets out, he sees a faint light and makes his way toward it, hoping it is shelter. However, the light leads him to a young woman, digging a hole – in a snowstorm – without a coat – covered in blood. He introduces himself as Edward, which she assumes is his surname and he learns her name is Mary Anne, and after just a few minutes in her company, he is captivated.
Anne Larchmont, Merry Anne to her sister Harriet, had escaped her house and the preparations for her betrothal ball to visit her friend Isabella Spier. While visiting, one of Lord Spier’s tenants goes into labor and needs help, as her husband is in London with Lord Spier. As Isabella is blind, Anne offers to help, which is how she ended up in a field after dark in a snowstorm digging a grave for a cat. After the difficult birth of triplets and the sorrow of losing one of the infants, all Anne wants to do is bury the cat and sleep for a week. But all that changes when a handsome stranger joins her and offers her shelter for the night. As she has decided that she is going to refuse to marry her substitute betrothed, especially after waiting for his brother for over eight years, she agrees to a night with “Mr. Edwards” with the understanding that she is not a trollop. They set out for the cottage, moving faster when they believe they are being stalked by a wild animal. And they spend a lovely evening filled with nothing more than heated kisses and companionship together. The next morning they part, never expecting to see each other again. But fate has plans for these two and with the help of a shape-shifting matchmaker, they may just find their HEA.
This was an interesting novella, that used mistaken identity and unwanted betrothal tropes as well as a twist with a matchmaking shape-shifter, which was unexpected and surprisingly entertaining. This was a sweet story with great characters, low-heat love scenes, delightful secondary characters, and a HEA, complete with an epilogue. I enjoyed the story, but the writing was a little choppy and the dialogue shifts between characters was not always as smooth as it could be. Overall, it was an entertaining story that held my attention and one I would be happy to recommend.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*