Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish Mass Market Paperback – Sep 21 2011
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About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. Her Regency romances and Scotland-set Victorian romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. The Heir was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010, The Soldier was a PW Best Spring Romance of 2011, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wishand Once Upon a Tartan have both won RT Reviewers' Choice Awards, Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight was a Library Journal Best Book of 2012, The Bridegroom Wore Plaid was a PW Best Book of 2012. Two of her MacGregor heroes have won KISS awards. Grace is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
"Ain't a bleedin' bedamned room t'be had in all a bleedin' Lun'nun, guv!"
The innkeeper raised his voice to holler over the racket created by one screaming infant. "Stables is full up too, and more bleedin' snow on the way! Beg pardon!"
He hustled away and started bellowing over the din in the common for somebody to mop the bleedin' floor. Not surprised at the lack of accommodations, Vim moved off in the interest of sparing his bleedin' ears.
Though moving wasn't easy in the crowded confines of the common.
The floor was a slick expanse of that particular type of mud created when snow, horse manure, and dirt were tracked in from the semifrozen quagmire of the inn yard, and yet it was hardly the worst feature of the crowded room. The stench rising from the floor blended with the aromas of wet wool, unwashed bodies, and overcooked mutton stew to offend even the lowliest nose.
Overlaying it all was the incongruous scent of cinnamon, as if a little spice would confer on the scene some sense of seasonal good cheer.
Which was not bloody likely.
Piercing the noisome air, over the cursing and muttering of stranded travelers, over the scrape of boots and the swearing of the hostlers in the yard beyond, came that sound most capable of driving Wilhelm Lucifer Charpentier to madness.
A crying baby.
Vim had noticed the little blighter when all the passengers on his stage had been told to debark here in the very heart of London, because the weather was precluding further progress on the journey south. Like benumbed sheep, they'd all stumbled into the inn, toting their belongings with them only find an assault on their ears was to be the price of thawing their toes.
The child's crying ratcheted up, from indignant to enraged. The next progression would be to inconsolable, which might last hours.
Happy bedamned holidays.
Vim knew people in London. People who would act pleased to see him. People who would smile and welcome him as an impromptu guest for the duration of the foul weather. Happy people, offering him wassail while they laughed their way through the same hopeless madrigals and selections from Handel's Messiah.
He shifted his gaze from the scene beyond the window to the woman holding the unhappy baby a few feet away.
"I beg your pardon, madam. May I be of assistance?" He tipped his hat and had to fist his hands at his sides, so strong was the urge to pluck the offending infant from her arms. "The child appears distressed."
She bobbed a curtsy while holding the child. "I've explained to him that such a tantrum is hardly seemly, and I do apologize for the noise." She focused her gaze on the child. "You are a naughty fellow, young Kit, banging your tankard and shouting down the rafters..."
She went on softly remonstrating the baby while Vim recovered from the prettiest pair of green eyes he'd ever beheld. Overall, she wasn't a pretty woman-she had a full though solemn mouth in the usual location, underscored by a definite chin and a nose somewhat lacking in subtlety. Her hair was dark brown and pulled back into a positively boring bun at her nape. But those eyes...
And her voice. It was the voice of a pretty lady, soft and luminous with good breeding and gentility, though she was using it to try to gently scold the child into better behavior.
"May I?" He held out his arms, meeting those green eyes when she looked faintly puzzled. "I have some experience with children."
She passed him the child, moving close enough to Vim that he realized she was not particularly tall. She had a dignity about her, though, even holding a bellowing baby.
"His mama should be right back. She just went around to the back for a moment." The lady cast a hopeful look at the door-a hopeful, anxious look.
Vim took the child, who appeared distracted by the change in venue-though likely only temporarily.
"You will hush," he said to the baby. This pronouncement earned him a blinking, blue-eyed stare from his burden. "This good woman is tired of your fretting, as is the entire room and likely half the block. Behave your little self, or we'll call the beadle to haul you off to gaol. That's better."
He put the baby to his shoulder and began to gently pat and rub the small back. "He just finished his luncheon, didn't he?"
The woman colored slightly. "I believe he did."
Still on the breast then, which was going to be a problem.
"I don't believe his mother will be returning." He said it calmly, an observation about the weather, nothing more.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Voice down, madam, lest His Highness start to fretting again, hmm?" He turned his body to provide the woman a little privacy, his larger frame effectively blocking her from the rest of the room.
"Sir, you just said you aren't sure his mother will be coming back. A trip to the necessary will hardly keep her until spring." She hissed the words, suggesting she lacked a parent's instinctive capacity for dissembling before children.
"The necessary is not in the direction of Piccadilly. She took off at as smart a pace as this footing will allow."
"You must be mistaken." Except a certain shift in the lady's expression told him the mother's behavior might not be entirely out of character.
"She's a solid young woman, blonde, attired in a purple cloak?" The baby rooted on his shoulder. "I have a handkerchief in my pocket. Would you be so good as to extract it?"
Again he'd spoken calmly, babies being fiendishly perceptive even before they learned their first words. The lady was perceptive too. She stuck a hand into the pocket of his greatcoat and produced the handkerchief without further comment.
"Lay it on my shoulder."
She had to go up on her toes to do that, which meant amid all the stink and filth of the common, Vim caught a whiff of something... lovely. A hint of late spring. Cool, sunny, sweet... pink-throated roses and soft climbing vines of honeysuckle.
She stepped back to watch him warily.
"I suspect his recent meal has left him a tad dys"-the baby burped loudly and wetly-"peptic."
"My goodness." She blinked at Vim's shoulder, where the infant was now beaming toothlessly at all he surveyed. Vim shifted the child and retrieved the handkerchief, which had protected his greatcoat more or less from carrying the scent of infant digestion for the rest of the day.
"How long do you intend to wait for his mother?" The child swung a tiny hand and caught Vim's nose.
"Joleen was to board the Portsmouth stage." Another anxious visual sweep of the surrounds.
Vim took a step back so the lady might have a view out the window. He also disengaged his proboscis from the baby's surprisingly strong grip.
"I was told the coaches are all putting up for the duration, madam. My own travel has been interrupted because of it." The baby knocked Vim's high-crowned beaver straight at the woman beside them. She caught it deftly in one hand. When Vim dipped his head, she positioned the hat back where it belonged.
"That is a naughty baby," she said, eyeing the child.
"He's a boy baby. They all have more energy than they know what to do with, until they sleep like the dead, restoring themselves for their next round of mischief."
This recitation seemed to please the little fellow, for he smiled directly at Vim, a great drooling expression of benevolence disproportionate to his tiny size.
"I think Kit likes you."
"He likes having food in his tummy and a warm place to cuddle, the same as the rest of us. You can linger here, but I honestly do not think the mother will return. May I have your coach brought round for you?" Though the pandemonium in the yard suggested it would be far simpler to escort the lady to her conveyance.
"I only brought the gig, and it's right around the corner." She reached for the baby, but Vim took half a step back.
"I am happy to carry him for you."
Top Customer Reviews
Plot: Sophie finds herself in charge of an abandonded baby, just before Christmas, with no idea how to care for it. Vim finds himself unexpectedly thrown into the role of mentor, as he delays his travels to help Sophie get settled. Here is where the book lost a star for me. The plot is a little too contrived. How could a Duke's daughter really end up alone with a baby, with not even a servent? How would a man of Vim's station know so much about caring for a baby?
That being said, the bonding that takes place between the H&H over the few days they are together is sweet and believable. The love scenes are medium hot, not steamy, but satisfyingly warm. The story is quite well done. The one complaint that I had about her first three books was the extreme brevity of the HEA. This is not the case for this book. This book has a lovely ending with lot's of time to savor the HEA.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Lady Sophie comes from a large rambunctious family. She has a heart of gold and when her servant abandons her baby, Sophie finds herself a reluctant guardian of a squalling infant in a coaching inn near the Christmas Holidays. To her great relief, Vim Charpentier is there to lend a helping hand.
They mange to get to her London home and Vim is under the impression that Sophie is the housekeeper or cook of the great town house, certainly not the daughter of a very noble family. Vim knows his way around babies, as he is an older brother. He assists Sophie as much as possible. Vim is a handsome thoughtful man, who is a world traveler but not a jaded rake. He is on his way to his uncle's house when he finds Sophie. At first, he does not let on he has a title, liking the atmosphere he has created with Sophie the servant. He likes her too much and worries if she should discover he is more than a commoner the magic would disappear.
Sophie truly falls fast for Vim. Why wouldn't she? He is so kind and he truly cares for their young charge. Sophie almost feels lost thinking of his departure. Sophie also keeps her identity a secret and she does this for the very same reasons as Vim, she enjoys the anonymity of being a commoner.
Together these leads create an idyllic atmosphere in her home. Sophie cooks and performs other domestic chores and Vim diapers, burps and rocks the baby and helps Sophie out with shoveling snow and making fires for cheery rooms. Their homey bliss comes to an end when Sophie's brothers arrive to escort her to the family estate. They are not to keen at first to see Vim in their home and Vim is not happy to discover Sophie is from such a vaulted family. Fortunately his uncle lives close to Sophie's parents and he can pursue her with full knowledge of her identity.
The second part of this novel loses the charm of the first. Sophie is not forthright with her feelings and Vim struggles to understand her actions. I do too. Sophie was obstinate and began to doubt Vim. Sophie was confusing, she blew hot and cold with Vim, and she didn't listen to good advice. Overall I am giving this novel 3.5 stars. The first half is wonderfully sweet with many poignant moments but the second half was not so enjoyable. Sophie's character underwent quite a change. Instead of the strong minded woman of the first chapters she was rather weak willed when it came to pressure from her brothers and she was too stubborn when she was with her leading man.
Add to the mix a mutual desire for anonymity, a case of mistaken identities, lack of caution and judgment. Things take a turn when Sophie's three brothers appear and Vim learns her true identity. Though Vim has a title of his own, he never expected to woo a duke's daughter.
Full of missed chances and misunderstandings, these star-crossed lovers make for a fun read.
ISBN-10: 1402261543 - $7.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (October 1, 2011), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Has Christmas cheer vanished by April and you'd like a little of it back? That's what happened to me, so I read "Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish."
The book takes place in a London townhouse during a blizzard. That was a clever way to suspend, temporarily, the rules of society. The daughter of a duke can do as she likes: wear old dresses, cook for herself, putter around and be herself. Until she is left with a servant's cast-off infant and a mysterious gentleman who knows how to care for the baby--something the heroine finds baffling. He is a kind, caring, warm man--something that the baby makes more obvious.
The book made me long for old Georgette Heyer stories. She set up her premises so cleverly that the characters always act logically. Readers can try to poke holes in her tales, but every time they think "Wait! Why didn't the hero . . . ." They will remember that Heyer covered that contingency and the hero is following the only course open to him.
The lack of such credibility was my main difficulty with this book. The hero is an expert on babies--although he has spent much of the last decade traveling the globe--because he has younger sisters. The heroine is one of 10 children, but she knows nothing.
The hero has spent the last 10 years hiding from an embarrassing incident that could have been explained in 10 minutes by any of his family.
The hero and heroine do not recognize each other's names, although their country homes are next to each other.
The hero's uncle and aunt have difficulties of the kind that evaporate when examined. They are said to be alone and lacking care, yet they have three daughters and a flock of grandchildren who seem to love them.
There were just too many holes in the story, and I kept falling into them.
Even in the 21st century, this behavior seems reckless at best.
Of course, he's a very nice man, she is kind-hearted, they really like each other...all works out in the end...I know it is a romance, but jeez, Grace, how about grounding your work in just a *little bit* of reality?
Sophie, the heroine, has a kind heart and wishes to meet a man who has character and is not shallow. Wim's,the hero, youthful disappointments and scandal make him distrustful of women and people in general. Both heroine and hero have had sorrow during Christmas Seasons past so would prefer to avoid this time of year.
A crying baby brings them together. The relationship develops between Sophie, and Vim, as they begin to see the virtues of each other. As the story proceeds the secrets of the past are discovered and bring a very satisfactory present and future. The book's ending personifies the meaning of Christmas.
Minor characters in Grace's books leave the reader with a desire for more about them. When I finish one of her books I find myself longing for the next.
My criteria for an outstanding books is when the character become alive, in my mind, and I cannot stop thinking of their story and their future lives, I have to remind myself they are part of the author's imagination Not people I can read about in the Britannica and discover their future.