I squealed with delight when Sabrina Jeffries' 'TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS arrived in the mail for me to review:
. . . I feel I should inform you that your mother is very ill. If you wish to see her before it is too late, you should come at once.
Mrs. Camilla Stuart
Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has led an unabashed rogue’s life, letting no woman near his heart. Inexplicably abandoned as a child to be raised by distant relatives, he never forgave his parents, refusing to read any of his mother’s letters after his father’s death. Then came a letter that shook his resolve. A Christmas visit to Montcliff might prove his last chance to discover the truth of his past, and come to terms with the stranger he calls “Mother.”
But two surprises await him at Montcliff. His mother is perfectly healthy, nowhere near a deathbed, as her meddling lady’s companion led him to believe. The second is Camilla Stuart herself, a lively vicar’s widow, too bright and beautiful not to arouse the scoundrel in Pierce. Though she alone is reason enough to prolong his stay, he is soon faced with other tantalizing riddles: What secrets lie in his mother’s past to explain his childhood abandonment? Why is the captivating Mrs. Stuart so determined to mend the breach between mother and son? Meanwhile, Camilla herself is caught up in love’s complications since the arrival of the irresistible earl. As his bold flirtation and suggestive whispers draw her dangerously close, can anything protect her vulnerable heart? If they are destined to share real happiness, there must be honesty between them—yet telling him the truth about her own life may shatter that chance.
None of them can predict the startling revelations to come. Or the secrets, both heartening and shocking, divulged between a mother and son, and between two lovers haunted by their respective pasts, that will make Christmas night at Montcliff one to remember—and the glorious night after, one to treasure for a lifetime.
|Image from Wikipedia, citing the Projet Guetenberg (link)|
When I posted my review on Goodreads (at this link), I noticed LSUReader rated it with four stars. I invited LSUReader to join me in a "dueling" review. Today, I answer her questions ... and later this week, she'll answer mine!
Kim: The book blurb references two surprises for Pierce at the Dowager House. There was at least another ... and the days spent with those three surprises lead to a fourth. I am being vague to not spoil the story for other readers. As you noted, forgiveness is the theme, so there has to be a conflict. Sabrina tapped into the "norms" of the Regency era and the customs of titled families to create that conflict - fear of scandal, security, and reputation - that rocked the three central characters. Sabrina excelled at drawing me into that fear while still making it a lighthearted, even heartfelt, story set during the holiday season.
|Berrington Hall in Herefordshire|
Image from Prichardson, released to public domain (Wikipedia)
Pierce's estate lies in Herefordshire.
LSUReader: Hero Pierce Waverly was introduced in Sabrina's Hellions of Halstead Hall series, and several of those characters briefly appear in TTNAC. If you read that series, how did your earlier "acquaintance" with Pierce influence your view of him here? If this was your first introduction to him, does it encourage you to read the earlier series?
Kim: Pierce appears in 2 of the five books in the Hellions of Hallstead Series. I read the other three, so I was not familiar with Pierce. He could have been the garden variety Regency rake in those two books, but he is not in 'TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS. Pierce could spend days on Freud's couch, analyzing why he pursues the image of carefree womanizer when he is, privately, a thoughtful man who indulges in the pinafore. Pierce does inspire me to read the two books I missed from the series - I'd like to see him "in action" as the roving rogue.
|TWO STRINGS TO HER BOW by John Pettie|
Image from Wikipedia/Public Domain
LSUReader: It was nice to see so many supporting characters fully fleshed out--the staff of the dowager house, estate manager Mr. Fowler, Mr. Manton the investigator--who was your favorite among them and why?
Kim: Sabrina takes on the mantle that it takes a village, a country village, to tell a story, especially one of forgiveness. Supporting characters add dimension to the circumstances and keep the hero/heroine honest of their feelings. I chuckled at the "competition" between the staff of the dowager house and Pierce's household; it reminded me of Upstairs/Downstairs and even Downton Abbey. Mr. Manton was a surprising warm character in the last quarter of the book, especially in light of his connection to Pierce's youth. But I was cheering for Mr. Fowler to be appreciated by Piece and noticed by .... I won't tell. You have to read the book! Mr. Fowler was a dedicated employee who did not judge Pierce or his mother. He was honest and forthright with the staff, including Camilla. In the end, he wasn't as stern as the dowager's staff thought he was.
|The Dower House at Dean Castle in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire|
Image by Roger Griffith, released to public domain (Wikipedia)
Mahalo, LSUReader, for your questions! I look forward to your answers! 'TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS will be available on Tuesday, October 30. Check out Sabrina's website (at this link) for the synopsis, excerpt, scoop, accolades, and links to purchase. I am giving away a special prize today to celebrate its release - a Hawaiian holiday tote bag 3 titles from the Hellions of Halstead Hall series:
- THE TRUTH ABOUT LORD STONEVILLE
- HOW TO WOO A RELUCTANT LADY
- TO WED A WILD LORD
To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment holiday shopping - do you prefer Christmas fairs, shopping malls, or catalogues?
2. This giveaway is open to all readers.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, November 3, 10 pm in Hawaii. I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 4.
Kim in Hawaii
Make sure you visit Sabrina's website, sabrinajeffries.com, for fun tidbits!
|Four from the Goddess Blogs (at this link):|
Suzanne Enoch, Julia London, Sabrina Jeffries, and Karen Hawkins
RWA Librarian Day 2012