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REVIEW: A Christmas Wedding Wager by Michelle Styles

Dear Mrs. Styles,

037329478601mzzzzzzz.jpgWhen I reviewed one of your Roman era historicals, I made some comment about how I wondered that you weren’t writing about Roman Britain since you’re so near to “The Wall.” Perhaps one day you’ll still place one of your books there but for now, this Victorian is a nice departure from what fans might have come to expect from you. Plus it’s set in Newcastle Upon Tyne as well!

Miss Emma Harrison begins the novel by flirting closely with a type of heroine who can get on my nerves at times. The “must help Daddy fulfill his dream” heroine can become obsessive in her efforts to make sure that her father’s ultimate goal/dream is finally realized in the face of all protests from the hero. Emma has some depths though and you show us the stifling life of a Victorian well-to-do young woman from which she escaped. I like that civil engineering hasn’t always been her secret goal in life and that, in fact, she comes to it rather late in life and only then discovers that she likes it and that she’s good at it. I also like that the men with whom she works feel more comfortable with a man in charge of the project as it seems to me that this would be the prevailing attitude of the day.

I like that Jack Stanton, while having his initial moments of pride and resentment towards the woman he feels ignored his offer of marriage seven years before, quickly moves past those understandable feelings and concentrates on the reason he’s come to inspect the bridge project his company is financing. He’s a businessman and he demonstrates what you tell us about him with his meticulous care in checking the site, the plans, the calculations and anything else that could impact the reputation he’s worked so hard to acquire over the past seven years. When he catches on to what’s really happening, he doesn’t try to take petty revenge but is concerned with the failing health of the man who mentored him and who gave Jack his first chance.

We learn a little about bridge building but not enough to take over the story. You show us that Emma and Jack both know what they’re doing but no huge hunks of facts get dropped on our heads as we’re watching the reconciliation between these two. One thing that really stood out for me was how you depict the cold! Standing out in the sleet, getting covered with snow, bundling up for going sleighing– brrrr, I could feel it. And since this book is set in November/December in Northern England, it nicely sets the mood.

One thing that did bother me about the story were the misunderstandings that come from Jack. Emma is pretty straightforward about their relationship once she knows that she came to a wrong conclusion – she goes to Jack and apologizes for her misunderstanding of his actions but he seems to deliberately let her think the wrong thing and jump to those conclusions. I dunno, maybe I missed the parts where he doesn’t realize that he’s misleading her.

I thought the villain was a little over the top at the end but nicely under the radar until then. I did have trouble believing that Davy saw light in the tower and Emma is missing and for ages, no one goes to check it out? Huh? But I did like the long term method the villain uses to work his wicked ways. It goes nicely with his background and makes sense. I wonder if you’re not going to get a rep for this, first in the Viking book and now in this one.

“A Christmas Wedding Wager” shows what you can do with a slightly more modern historical period and I think will help keep you from being pigeonholed as only writing Roman era stories. I love that you’re writing about your own backyard now. Are the Christmas revelries you describe/mention still routinely done in northeast England? And what is a Saint Monday? Thanks for getting me in the mood to tackle hauling down the Christmas decorations from my attic. B

~Jayne

This is available as a duo with Helen Dickson’s “Wicked Pleasures” in the UK
and as a single title Harlequin Historical in ebook (only $3.83!) and mass market in North America.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

12 Comments

  1. Keishon
    Dec 04, 2007 @ 14:01:28

    I bought this one. Good to see you enjoyed it, J. Here I was whining and crying about her books not being available in the US. Thank GOD for Harlequin ebooks and you can’t beat that price.

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  2. Sarah
    Dec 04, 2007 @ 14:19:31

    I bought it as an ebook. I can’t wait to read it. I’ve enjoyed most of her Roman titles so I’m eager to see how she does with a different setting. Based on this review, it sounds like I have a lot to look forward to.

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  3. Jayne
    Dec 04, 2007 @ 15:33:01

    Jane tells me that tomorrow eHarlequin is having a massive sale. So far stupie here can’t find this notification at their website but I am persevering and plan to buy some other Harlequin Historicals. I love that you can not only buy this month’s books but last month’s and next month’s as well. Michelle’s previous book, The Roman’s Virgin Mistress, is one of the ones still available for purchase.

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  4. Jane
    Dec 04, 2007 @ 16:41:24

    Yes, according to a newsletter I received from Harlequin, they are doing a 12 days of Christmas sale and tomorrow’s sale is 50% off all ebooks. So you can get your cart ready today and pay tomorrow.

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  5. Jan
    Dec 04, 2007 @ 17:55:47

    Oh good, a Christmas book! I really miss the Signet anthologies. They always put me in the spirit for the holidays. Thanks for pointing this one out Jayne!

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  6. Keishon
    Dec 04, 2007 @ 18:05:59

    So you can get your cart ready today and pay tomorrow.

    Choices, choices.

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  7. Michelle Styles
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 06:02:27

    Jayne –
    Many thanks for reviewing this. I am so pleased you enjoyed it and that it helped to put you into the mood for Christmas.

    Right, let’s see. TPTB had a change of heart about the first Viking book you reviewed back in October. It is going to into the US market in May 08. They decided to test the US market for Vikings…The second Viking goes into the UK market in June 08.

    A Saint Monday is the term that was given to the practice of labourers/navvies taking off the Monday after payday. Basically they were sleeping off their hang overs. It was called that because lworkers were allowed various local saints days off and continued to take those days off as standard practice up to the mid 19th century. Therefore it was given the name of Saint Monday. I will not say if this still goes on or not…but I suspect it has a different name. ;)

    Christmas in the North East of England has changed a bit since early Victorian day. But I do know that goose feasts continued to be really popular when there were still factories and coal mines…now it is far more going out for a Christmas meal.
    Turkey is very popular but it is still possible to do a Christmas goose. They think there will a shortage of goose fat this Christmas because of bird flu. Goose fat is fantastic for getting roast potatoes to be golden brown.
    The colour of Father Christmas’s robes changed from green to red when the concept of St Nicholas was imported from the US in the 1870/1880s. Until very recently the UK Father Christmas wore bishop’s robes and was thin. He now is starting to be called Santa and wears US style red clothes.
    The Assembly Rooms still hosts dances and still has its chandeliers and the Theatre Royal is there as well.
    Unfortunately the we do not get the snow we once had, but there a few outdoor skating rinks now…
    I am currently on the second half of a Regency duo set in the Tyne Valley, and before that completed a linked story to ACWW — An Impulsive Debutante (UK Sept 08) — Lottie Charlton’s story, and that one starts in the village where I live. My editors like my North East set stories.
    I have one more Viking to write and then it sort of depends. But it would be fun to do a Roman Wall set one.
    Anyway, many thanks again for reviewing ACWW. As ever, I find your comments very useful.
    Happy Christmas,
    Michelle

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  8. Jayne
    Dec 06, 2007 @ 19:53:04

    Well Michelle I always learn something new when I read your books which is something I love to do. The Saint Mondays make sense once you explained the concept. Kind of like a flexible New Year’s Day. I guess the Charles Dickens’ Christmas that everyone thinks is such a tradition of long standing really isn’t, is it?

    That’s good news about the Viking book being released here earlier than planned. And you’re going to have your work cut out for you making me cheer for Lottie. That girl needs a head slap. [g]

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  9. موقع زواج
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 15:42:23

    I love Christmas books and am definitely going to download the ebook here and get going on it. I love the option of being able to download a book on the spot. Hopefully this option will become more popular with time!

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  10. Jayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 18:51:29

    I love the option of ebooks. Since this book is 4 months from its release date, the chances of finding it in a store are slim to none but with ebooks, voila!, it’s yours immediately.

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  11. Shannon Brown
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 14:37:32

    I love the reader that Amazon sells that lets you read books like this one in ebook form on demand. It makes traveling so much nicer.

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  12. Jayne
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 17:04:16

    Shannon, aren’t ebooks awesome! I have a perpetual backlist at eharlequin because of the easy availability. Michelle has a new book in her Viking series due out next month that’s already for sale there.

    ReplyReply

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