REVIEW: Candle’s Christmas Chair by Jude Knight
When Viscount Avery comes to see an invalid chair maker, he does not expect to find Min Bradshaw, the woman who rejected him 3 years earlier. Or did she? He wonders if there is more to the story. For 3 years, Min Bradshaw has remembered the handsome guardsman who courted her for her fortune. She didn’t expect to see him in her workshop, and she certainly doesn’t intend to let him fool her again.
Dear Ms. Knight,
After enjoying the trade/aristocracy novella “Lord Calne’s Christmas Ruby” last year, I knew I wanted to read another of your stories this year. The cover for this story caught my eye while the blurb promised another out-of-the-ordinary story. A female invalid chair maker seemed as if she’d have a tale I just had to read.
Lord Avery’s recent inheritance of his title has something to do with why he is at Bradshaw Carriages in Bath seeking an invalid (Bath) chair. His hey-go-mad father died in the carriage crash but his beloved mother was badly injured and he wants something to help restore what mobility is possible for her. The delightful surprise Candle (there’s a reason for his nickname) finds there is the woman he fell in love with three years ago.
Minerva (Min) Bradshaw tries to maintain her cool poise when faced with the handsome Guardsman she fell in love with three years ago before being told he was only courting her for her money. Fleeing the country house party where she’d never felt welcome, she has tried not to think of him since. But here he is.
The mystery behind why Min left so suddenly and why Candle didn’t try to follow her is quickly cleared up. So I’m thinking – what is there left? Aha, what is left is to watch Candle’s determined and public courtship of Min and to cheer him on.
Now that he’s (pretty) sure that Min loves him, nothing is going to stop Candle. There’s got to be a way to convince her that 1) he loves her madly and 2) that he doesn’t care that she’s middle class. The spiteful girls at Min’s Bath day school did a number on her pride but Candle doesn’t care about any condescending comments about her background. After all, his (wonderful) mother is from the merchant class and his (see above description) father did marry her for her money. Candle wants to show Min that he loves her for herself.
The way he devises is ingenious and made me smile. Candle’s method might be a few years earlier than the first published books about it but it has a long history world wide and had been introduced to England by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu decades earlier so I was willing to set aside my initial doubts about Candle knowing what to choose and Mrs. Bradshaw (to whom he initially sends his gifts because he won’t compromise Min) knowing how to interpret these. Min’s cousin Daniel’s tongue-in-cheek suggestions as to what Candle is trying to say were funny ,too.
It was delightful to see how good Min is at her job and how much she loves it. The battles she’s had to fight make sense as well as the probable future she would have faced once her father retired. In early 19th century England, that’s no doubt the way it would have been. But Candle has a final gift to offer her that he hopes will swing the issue in his favor.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching him work to win the woman of his heart and dreams and seeing Min dare to hope that she might have a future with the man she loves, after all. A-