Christmas at the Castle
Here is the review of the final book of the 5-book (totally random) Harlequin Christmas Challenge and the only one being reviewed AFTER Christmas. Good thing the book has a plot continuing after Christmas…so it works out! Yes, we’re at the end…time flies by and I’m sad! Sometimes it was hard cranking out these reviews. Particularly the last few days, and I enjoy reading more than gathering my thoughts into a review, but I’ll miss it all. I love the winter holiday and hopefully I’ll get to do more of these.
But I closed off with a winner because this next couple are my favourite couple out of the other 4 I’ve introduced/reviewed on here. Without further ado, let me introduce Angus and Holly…
So like the majority of the romances I’ve read in this Challenge, Marion Lennox’s Christmas at the Castle is part of Harlequin’s line of sweeter/milder romances (basically sex off-page books). But don’t let the ‘sweet’ before romance fool you: this book (like many of the other mild romances) is full of sexual tension. And, as a writer, I find sexual tension is WAY harder to writer!
It reads like a fairy tale-come-true, but Holly’s sassy personality and Angus’ down-to-earth charm ground it in reality. I don’t hate the characters as much when I know they’ve both worked hard for their personal success and wealth. That as characters—aside from the central conflict being their love—they have separate lives.
Angus is a financial wizard and Holly is a chef. He plays the chequebook for Christmas, she’s his fake fiancée. And if that couldn’t get fairy tale enough, there’s a Castle…
Yes, as the new Lord/Laird/Himself, Angus from Manhattan becomes kilt-wearing, village-pillaging, maiden-ravishing Lord Angus McTavish Stuart, Eighth Earl of Craigenstone. For a guy who’s described as the classic ‘Tall, Dark, and Handsome’ alpha, Angus is not much of an alpha. He’s super sweet and SUPER funny (especially with Holly), and quite frankly I’m smitten and I’d wish he would ravish me.
Holly McIntosh is ADORABLE. She’s a combo of ninja + teddy bear. She’s an amazing heroine and possibly the only one I could picture with Angus. To continue the fairy tale motif/plot, Holly is introduced as a talented chef reduced to rags for Christmas and answers Angus’ post for help. Now she has to keep both her hands off him—and his off her because Holly doesn’t want a fairy-tale romance. She’s got too many trust issues and problems with love in general…
“I’ll do this on my own terms, if you don’t mind,’ she said briskly. ‘I need your job. I’d also quite like your fruit cake, but I don’t need anything else.’ (p. 27)
‘Nothing.’ She peeped a smile at him and he saw the return of a mischief that he suspected was a latent part of this woman. ‘So any thought that you might be having your wicked way with the hired help, put out of your mind right now, Lord Craigenstone.’ (p.27-28)
Yeah right. Of course she wants him to have his ‘wicked way’ with her. What red-blooded heterosexual woman wouldn’t? (But did anyone else have a giggle when they read “wicked ways”? Hehe.)
Oh, and from what I’ve learned in this Christmas Challenge, at least one of the characters has beef with Father Christmas and all he stands for.
Angus is the one with the beef in Christmas at the Castle. He’s had a crappy childhood in general and celebrating Christmas (like celebrating birthdays, etc.) was not a family affair. So Angus lacked love and he’s just associated all family-oriented events (like Christmas celebrations) to his own very negative experience.
But there’s always a HEA and I can assure you, dear (future) reader, Angus + Holly get theirs eventually…you’ll have to read for yourselves to find out where, when and how though. 😉
What I disliked: Personally I’m not a fan of the insta-love thing particularly when Holly + Angus quickly move from passionate love (lust) to romantic love (that perfect…or supposedly perfect combo of passionate and companionate love)… But the plot didn’t hoodwink me. I got what I cam for—no refund of my time needed. Just ‘cause I’m an unbeliever of ‘love at first sight’ I also believe I can be convinced, persuaded (ravished?) to the dark side…
There’s hope if I love Romances. And boy, do I love romances. And since I’m going to keep an open mind (and heart), you have to let Christmas at the Castle convince, persuade (ravish?) you, fellow cynic.