REVIEW: Mistletoe and the Major: A Christmas Novella by Anna Campbell
Previously published in the anthology Under the Kissing Bough.
The Major is home from the wars at last…
Edmund Sherritt, Major Lord Canforth, has devoted eight tumultuous years to fighting Napoleon. Finally Europe is at peace, and he can retire to his estates and the lovely wife he hasn’t seen since their brief, unhappy honeymoon. The innocent girl he loved from the first moment he saw her, but who shied away from him on their wedding night.
The beautiful woman who greets him at Otway Hall on Christmas Eve is no longer the sweet ingénue he remembers. This new and exciting version of his beloved countess is strong, outspoken, and independent, and she’s willing to stand up for what she wants. The question is—does she want the husband who returns to her arms more as a stranger than a spouse?
Now the real battle begins.
Felicity, Lady Canforth, has had eight long years to regret that she sent her husband from a cold marriage bed to face brutal combat, danger and hardship. The only child of elderly parents, Felicity came to marriage innocent and ignorant, and unable to conceal her shock at the sensual power of the earl’s caresses. Before she found the nerve to offer Canforth a more generous welcome, he was called away to war. The Major left behind a countess who was a bride, not a wife; a woman unsure of her husband’s feelings, and too timid to confess how fervently she desires the man she wed.
Fate has granted an older, wiser Felicity a second chance to win her husband’s heart. Now nothing will stop her from claiming victory over the famous war hero. This Christmas, she’ll deploy every ounce of courage, purpose and passion to seize the life and love she’s longed for, ever since Canforth left to serve his country. Whatever it costs, whatever it takes, she’ll lure the dashing Major back into her bed, where she means to show him he’s the only man she wants as her lover—and her love.
After years of yearning and separation, will a Christmas miracle heal the wounds of the past and offer the earl and his bride a future bright with love?
Dear Ms. Campbell,
When I read the except for this novella, I was interested in seeing how two people, then newly married and just beginning to work on their relationship, would handle a reunion after a long – eight year – separation. The story didn’t let me down.
Edmund Sherritt is finally home. After eight years fighting for King and Country across the Peninsula and the Pyrenees, he sits in the cold, drinking in the home he hasn’t seen since he rode off leaving his young bride of two weeks. Unsure of what welcome he’ll receive, his travel has slowed the nearer he’s come. Will Felicity – Flick – be there and can they begin again? They didn’t have time to even get to know each other and though he’s cherished the letters she sent, they’ll have to start from scratch.
Felicity is shocked when the stranger who rides in pulls his scarf down and reveals her husband – as well as a horrid looking scar down his face (It’s just a flesh wound!) With no letter to announce his imminent arrival, she looks like a drudge in her old gown with her hair in a braid. Edmund misjudges her dismay at the pain he must have suffered for distaste but what really concerns her is how he will adjust to the woman she’s become. She might have written him with questions about estate management but she’s been the one holding the reins and responsible for the well being of the house and tenants. Does he still expect the shy eighteen year old he left all those years ago?
I think this one nails the uncertainty both Edmund and Felicity feel as well as the hopefulness that blossoms as they begin to talk. They are married but have only their short London standard Regency courtship followed by a fourteen day honeymoon and that marred by his shyness and her uncertainty. Not knowing the other’s feelings, their reserve – he’s initially more demonstrative greeting his ecstatic graying, faithful dog than he is his wife – makes perfect sense. From his scars, Felicity knows he’s been through hell – not that he told her anything of it when he wrote – but she knows enough not to press for too much at first.
Separately they long for more though are prepared to settle for comfortable. That is until nightmares draw Felicity to Edmund and, well, their desires take them from there. Here I felt that it isn’t just long delayed passion padding the scorching pages. These are two people who care deeply and who are surprised and elated to discover their emotions are reciprocated. Edmund’s confession of how her village gossip filled letters were eagerly anticipated as a taste of home by his troop reminded me a bit of some of Carla Kelly’s stories. The reason behind his burn scared hands is moving.
Though this is a shorter novella, it’s perfect in length, heartfelt in emotion and a great addition to holiday reading. A-