REVIEW: Captain Kempton’s Christmas by Jayne Davis
Lieutenant Philip Kempton and Anna Tremayne fall in love during one idyllic summer fortnight. When he’s summoned to rejoin his ship, Anna promises to wait for him.
While he’s at sea, she marries someone else.
Now she’s widowed and he’s Captain Kempton. When they meet again, can they put aside betrayal and rekindle their love?
A sweet second-chance Christmas novella.
Dear Ms. Davis,
I seem to have the British Navy, Regencies, and Christmas on my mind so your book seemed to leap out at me and wave its cover. Though it’s a Christmas novella, it avoids sugary sweetness and delves into why a romance went wrong and what, if anything, can be done to repair the damage.
The Regency setting is well done with our Naval Captain hero finally home in 1814, on half pay, and wondering what to do now that Bony has abdicated. He journeys to the home of a relative for Christmas and along the way thinks of the brief romance he thought would lead to marriage before learning that the woman who had promised to wait for him didn’t.
Traveling to the same place, our heroine, now widowed, also remembers that summer and the man she fell in love with. She knows he will be there but to her chagrin, learns that he is unaware she will be there. Would he not have come had he known? She has no idea as he never answered either of the letters she sent telling him why she did what she did.
Feelings run high when they encounter each other and after some (understandable) bitterness, the events that clouded their romance begin to draw back. Will explanations be given and if so, accepted and understood?
Even though this is a novella, I never felt it was rushed or that things left out. Instead the story feels whole and complete. Both main characters as well as most of the secondary ones are well drawn and given personalities. Even characters who are only referred to are described so that I can understand them and their actions.
Anna and Philip begin the story with hurt feelings and a touch of frost but even after they clear the air and start to rethink what is possible for them, they don’t rush into a HEA but due to the very things which caused Anna’s actions, pause and seriously contemplate what they should do. Duty to family was important then and I liked that Anna doesn’t just toss this aside. There are some lovely other characters who do their best to see these two finally have their chance but as one tells Philip, he’s got to put some effort into winning the woman he still loves and if he can’t figure out what is holding her back, he doesn’t deserve to get her.
This is a gentle holiday read that has characters who put some thought into both what went wrong between them and more into what to do now. I especially appreciated that it doesn’t just go from “Darling I love you!” to The End but spends time making sure that’s really the best thing. B