Friday, December 25, 2015

Book Review: A Husband For Christmas, by Paula Tanner Girard (Third review for The 6th Annual Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge)

This is my third review for
The 2015 Christmas Spirit Reading
Challenge, hosted by

(I have already posted two
reviews on my YA blog,

A Husband for Christmas
(Trilogy, Book 3)
Paula Tanner Girard
Zebra Books
(Kensington Publishing Corp.)
December 1, 1997
Christmas Romance, Historical Romance, Holiday Romance
Source: Amazon

Book Synopsis:
Lady Caroline Cavendish wants the perfect beau for Christmas. Instead, she's been given a baby! Someone has left a baby girl named Poppy in her carriage, and Lady Caroline is enchanted. But fate soon puts them in the hands of the infamous Bandit King. If anyone can reform him, it's Lady Caroline; if anyone can capture her heart, it's this remarkable rogue. And with a little child to guide them, they may find what everyone needs for Christmas--the incomparable gift of love. A Regency romance original.
My Review

Regency Christmas romance novels are my favorite type of romance to read during the Christmas season. This is, of course, because they remind me of Jane Austen's works. Also, there's just something very special about this period in English history.

It's wonderful to see Austen's legacy reflected in these books, although they might not be quite at the level of mastery she commanded. Still, they do abound in witty dialogues, and, like Austen's novels, faithfully observe and comment on the upper classes (and sometimes the lower classes, as well) of this fascinating time period.

Girard was an American writer, yet, thanks to her travels in England (and, I'm sure, thorough research, as well), she wrote very polished novels, with perfect historical accuracy and a keen eye for characterizations. The result is that she appears to be a British-born author.

A Husband For Christmas is the third book in a trilogy that began with Charade of Hearts, and then, A Father for Christmas. Now I want to read the two previous books!

This short novel, with its touches of humor, also reflects the legacy of Charles Dickens. The back story of the little girl named Poppy could have come straight out of Oliver Twist, for instance.  I found this combination quite interesting -- Austen's witty observations of high society, and Dickens's concern for social justice. The result? A most delightful reading experience!

At the beginning of the novel, Lady Caroline is the typical pampered aristocrat with a sense of entitlement and a rather large ego. By the end of it, she has grown to become more compassionate, kinder, and much more approachable. This is in large measure due to the little girl, Poppy, who mysteriously appears in her carriage one day. However, it's also due to the witty, tongue-in-cheek observations of her French maid, Suzette, who knows how to handle Lady Caroline, unbeknownst to that worthy.

In fact, I could go on and on about Suzette! I love how wisely she counsels Lady Caroline, while letting her think that all her decisions are self-determined. Furthermore, Suzette always refers to herself in third person, although she will at times slyly insert the first person in the middle of a comment. This is a shrewd move, as she subtly distances herself from these comments, while letting Lady Caroline think that she speaks this way because she's a foreigner. Below are some of her comical, and very spot on, remarks:

"Suzette thought him most pleasant, mademoiselle," said her maid. "It is my opinion that his lordship thinks that anyone as beautiful as you must by nature be charitable as well." (pg. 38)

"Mademoiselle must practice the patience. Suzette is trying to show you that the point is not at the end of a straight line." (pg. 79)

"Suzette really didn't have to go beyond the kitchen. It is amazing what information is available right under us. You should go there sometime." (pg. 173)

In short, I found this character entirely delightful!

As for Lady Caroline's love interest, Kendale, he was very dashing, indeed. I liked that he was not a member of the aristocracy, although he had been sponsored by a member of that group, who had rescued him from a future life of crime, when Kendale was just a boy. Although he had no title, Lady Caroline was attracted to him from the very first. He's a very charming, kind, unassuming person, with a great head for business, as well; he has made a fortune with his own fleet of ships.

And then there's Poppy. What a sweet, adorable, little girl she is! She immediately wins Lady Caroline's heart, as well as the hearts of her entire household staff. Taking care of her becomes a full-time job for all of them, for Poppy is fond of playing peek-a-boo. She totally brings out Lady Caroline's maternal side, consierably softening her aristocratic sense of entitlement.

There are many touches of humor in this novel. Much of it is provided by Suzette and Poppy, but another of the characters, Elroy, who is Lady Caroline's uncle by marriage, is outrageously hilarious. He's about her age, a total fop, and fond of gambling. His constant whining, aside from being annoying, is also very funny. Still, his heart is in the right place, where Lady Caroline is concerned. His insistence on calling her "Caro" grates on Lady Caroline's nerves, and adds to the fun.

Most of the action in the novel takes place in and around London, and the reader is treated to some nice descriptions of that city's most famous parks, as well as the social scene of the time. 

The one thing I didn't quite like about this novel was the fact that one of the characters was involved in the kidnapping of several aristocratic heirs, and got away with it. The whole thing, though, was a bit confusing. This was toward the end of the book, which, incidentally, was also a bit too melodramatic, although I did enjoy it, anyway.

Aside from the above, A Husband for Christmas is an engaging, totally enchanting tale, a comedy of manners in true Austen style. Reading it will make any historical romance reader's Christmas lighter and more joyful, as well!

if I were to use stars for rating on this blog, I would give this book four of them! 

About the Author

October 19, 1929 - November 28, 2008

Born in South Bend, Indiana (USA), Paula Tanner Girard  was an artist as well as a romance writer.
She graduated from Principia College in 
Elsah, Illinois, with an Associates of Arts degree.
She then transferred to The Academy of 
Fine Arts in Chicago for additional training in
studio art. 
She married Jerry Girard in 1951, and they
had three children, subsequently moving
to Maitland, Florida (USA).
Ms. Girard also earned a BGS degree in
Elementary Education from Rollins College, 
in Winter Park, Florida, and a Master 
of Education degree from the
University of Central Florida. She worked as
an art teacher for ten years.
Her first Regency romance novel, 
Lord Wakeford's Gold Watch
was published in 1995.
Among her several novels are: Charade of
Hearts (1996), A Father for Christmas (1996),
A Husband For Christmas (1997), and 
The Reluctant Groom (1999).
She was a member of Romance Writers
of America, Central Florida Romance
Writers, Volusia County Romance Writers.
and Virginia Romance Writers.
(Source: Tributes)

Online Links


Carol said...

This sounds like a good one. I wish I had read more romances this season - none were really grabbing my attention.

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Carol!

Yes, this was definitely good! The characters were great; in fact, I actually liked them more than I did the plot. And, of course, I LOVE the Regency period! I recommend reading Regency romances during the Christmas season. Somehow, they seem to go so well with this joyful holiday!

Thanks for commenting back!! : )