REVIEW: A Match Made in Mistletoe: A Regency Novella by Anna Campbell
A mistletoe wish…
All her life, Serena Talbot has been in love with the handsome boy next door, Sir Paul Garside. She always eagerly looks forward to Paul’s visit to her family over the Festive Season, even if he usually brings along his dark, sardonic friend Lord Hallam. This year, Serena is determined that Paul’s kiss under the mistletoe will lead to a proposal. Even if she has to enlist every ounce of Christmas magic she can get her hands on to make that happen.
But the mistletoe gets it wrong!
When Serena slips a sprig of mistletoe from the village kissing bough under her pillow, it’s not Paul who turns up in her dreams as the man she’s going to marry, but brooding, intense, annoying Giles Farraday, Marquess of Hallam. Still more annoying, once everyone arrives for the annual Christmas house party, she can’t stop watching Giles, and thinking about Giles. And kissing Giles, whether there’s mistletoe about or not. Now Paul wants to marry her, and Giles wants to seduce her–and Serena has a bone to pick with the old wives who came up with all this superstitious nonsense in the first place.
A Christmas of confusion lies ahead! Will mistletoe magic lead the way to a happy ending?
Dear Ms. Campbell,
Well, I’m running the gamut of grades so far with these novellas. But I would like to point out for those who check ratings at Amazon that I believe the high number of 1 star reviews are due to a file glitch rather than an actual grading of the novella. I bought my copy in mid November and the download was fine so hopefully that’s fixed.
Serena has always been in love with Paul. It seems everyone in the neighboring counties and as well as their pigs know it. This Christmas she’s going to get what she’s always wanted and that is for Paul to finally propose. Only in her dream, she dreams of marrying Giles – silly “mistletoe under her pillow” legend! Yet when the hordes of relatives and friends descend on Torver House, she notices Giles. Now isn’t that odd? And he seems to have a gentler side than she ever saw in addition to his quietness. A sweetness that flusters her a bit. A loneliness she’s just now SEEING and a romantic streak she would never have imagined.
Meanwhile Giles braces himself for what he knows is coming – a joyous household celebration of his friend Paul to the only woman Giles has ever and will ever love. Lucky bastard. Giles would hate Paul if he didn’t acknowledge that he liked the man too just as everyone likes smiling, golden boy Paul. The sod. Giles is even honest enough to admit that they’ll make a lovely married couple and that Paul will probably make Serena happy. It sounds like some heavy drinking might be in Giles’ future after the celebrations are over since he stands to lose not only the woman he loves but the family who took him in as an orphan and is the closest thing he has now to the real thing.
Strange thing though – Serena is finding that Paul suddenly paying her close attention is irritating. Yes, she’s longed for him to look at her as a potential wife and to notice she’s all grown up but now that he’s doing just that, she wants to avoid him. Very confusing. So she sneaks out to the village church where Giles finds her.
Serena has heard the rumors that Giles doesn’t lack for female company in London and has the bright (Romance book) idea that Giles can help her. She’s tried of Paul taking her adoration for granted and confesses to Giles that even though he tells her that she’s got Paul in the bag, so to speak, she’s never kissed a man and doubts her feminine wiles to wind Paul around her finger. The “teaching her to kiss” scene arrives right on time. Usually I hate these types of scenes and was mentally groaning but this one started out fun. Giles moves them out of the sanctuary because the thought that all her dead ancestors were watching them gave him the creeps.
Then lo and behold – this scene was smoking hot and continued to be funny. Giles takes the chance to tease Serena a bit – truly all in fun and she takes it as a challenge and knocks his stockings off. Then Paul unexpectedly shows up and it’s touch and go to keep what they were doing a secret. Now Serena is really confused because if she loves Paul, why is she thinking constantly of Giles and his kisses? And why does she want more – more kisses and just … more?
And this is where my grade dipped a little. Serena is young and untried and a novice at the arts of love but she makes the decision to see more of Giles alone and begins their lessons again and takes it a bit further – all the while knowing it’s wrong and still using Giles to try and make up her mind about Paul. She thinks that doing that is wrong and unfair to Giles and … keeps at it. And after he calls it quits and she storms out, she admits to herself that she’d go back and start kissing him again and enter what ever might come from that – still thinking she’s going to accept Paul’s proposal. Yeah, I know that’s not going to happen and she’s confused and changing her mind to realize who she really loves but the fact that she was putting poor Giles through all this and wouldn’t even admit to herself that maybe she needed to hold on a moment and get her priorities straight before tonsil locking with any man bothered me.
“In that case, it’s wrong to kiss me.”
She flinched from that stark assessment. “You knew all this when we started.”
“Yes, well, it turns out that I have more of a conscience than I knew.” His smile was bitter. “Paul’s a friend, and you’re an innocent, and all three of us deserve better than this.”
Giles has got that right.
So now what? Paul’s no dummy, Serena’s still in a quandary and Giles is in despair. Well after the Christmas night festivities there’s a whole lot that changes including on heck of a black eye for Giles and a surprising reaction from Lady Talbot who has a very dry sense of humor in dealing with potential catastrophes. Right then and because of Serena’s mother, I can see why Giles thinks of the Talbots as family and Torver House as his real home – that’s where love is. Will everyone realize in time who’s really in love with whom?
Impassioned words tumbled from his lips, although they sounded more like an accusation than a vow of eternal fealty. “Goddamn it, Serena. I’m in love with you.”
She took a tottering step toward him and extended her hands in a pleading gesture. “Do you want to tell me again? And this time, please try not to sound as if you’re challenging me to pistols at ten paces.”
This one was cooking until Serena about drove me – and Giles – bonkers. If Serena had grasped what Giles told her about their second bout of carnality a little sooner, this one would have had a little higher grade but I still like most of it enough for a B.