TBR Day. A Matchmaker's Christmas / Donna Simpson. 2002

A Christmas book? Yes, well, Hurricane Ike literally blew through Ohio on Sunday, knocking out our power and pretty much ruining my plans to use an ebook that's been sitting on my hard drive for over a year for this month's TBR read. Things still aren't quite back to normal (The Kid is off school for the 3rd day in a row), so I needed something that wouldn't take long to read. A traditional Regency fits that bill, and the first one I grabbed was this one:

Donna Simpson is the author of about a dozen traditional Regencies, including one of my favorites, Lord St. Claire's Angel. She writes paranormals now as Donna Lea Simpson. I must admit that I haven't read any of those yet, but I certainly enjoyed the half dozen or so of her Regencies that I have, including this one.

A Matchmaker's Christmas is actually 3 romances for the price of one. The primary romance is between Beatrice Copland and Sir David Chappell. Beatrice is the companion of elderly Lady Bournaud. Lady Bournaud realizes that she's nearing the end of her life and decides to do a little matchmaking--she'll pair her long-time companion with her godson, David. What sets this pair apart is the fact that they're older than your typical romance h/h. Beatrice is nearly 40, and David is 47 with a grown son. Another unusual feature of this book is that it takes place far from London--on the edges of the moors of Yorkshire. Lady Bournaud throws a Christmas house party in order to bring Beatrice and David together. To add to the numbers, she also invites a pair of young people that she wants to throw together. A second couple also arrive separately and unexpectedly, creating a bit of a tangle.

The primary story between Beatrice and David turns out to be complicated by the fact that the two of them share a past, although David doesn't recognize Beatrice at first. Beatrice had been the friend of David's long-dead first wife. Beatrice has carried a boatload of guilt around for 20 years over the circumstances of the wife's death and is actually relieved when David doesn't know who she is. Meanwhile, the four young people are busy pairing off, in part to the dismay of Lady Bournaud who wants to see a different pairing. All of this comes together nicely in this sweet, rather gentle story that epitomizes the traditional Regency--manners and mores of polite society dictate how the characters can relate to one another.

I have to commend Ms. Simpson for making all of this work within the shorter format of the old trad. The author manages to adequately describe the house, the nearby village, and the moors, without going into long descriptive narrative. Her characters are individuals and not cookie-cutter members of the haut ton. For example, we have a curate who is about to become vicar in his own parish, and a young woman of good family who happens to have grown up on the frontier of Upper Canada. Miss Allen has been sent to her mother's family in England specifically to make a good marriage. She has a hard time fitting into the polite society she's ill-equipped to deal with. All of the characters are likeable and we get a good look into who they are and what they want.

I can definitely recommend this book (if you can find a copy of it). With shorter days, cooler weather, and halloween candy on sale at Kroger's--you just know Christmas isn't so far away after all.


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