Ah! Christmas time! It conjures up ideas of Yuletide logs, snow, and family! Including for the Lady Elizabeth, Marchioness of Langlow, that wretched rogue of a brother-in-law, Richard St. Claire, who turns the female staff on their collective heads and wreaks havoc on any maid foolish enough to be burnt. Dratted, dangerous man!
When we first meet St. Clair he is at his despicable highborn worst, with no care for how their employers will treat his ex-flirts. The chase is the thing! The possibility that these susceptible young woman can be dismissed without a reference, thrown onto the refuse heap of humanity, ruined if not in deed then in fact is atrocious. With no prospects and no living these young women would be forced to make ends meet in whatever way possible. Thoughtless, selfish, cad! I was totally disgusted with St. Clair at this stage.
Fortunately, he later exposes the sensitive side to his nature that with careful nourishing will help him grow into a better person.
When St. Clair does falls in love, he falls hard and it takes an age and many mistakes later for him to be able to recognize what has happened.
Celestine Simons is from an old and honourable family. Fallen on hard times, Celestine takes the position of governess at the home of St. Clair's brother, the Marquis of Langlow. Celestine is plain, intelligent and generous. Suffering badly from arthritis she is not the type to make a connoisseur of beauty take a second look. St Clair is an unrepentant rake, a rogue. When his sister-in-law throws down the gauntlet and declares her female staff off limits St. Clair determines to pursue the new governess. When St. Clair realizes his true feelings for Celestine, he is just as focused in pursuing his love for all the right reasons as he was for pursuing her for all the wrong ones.
As the story progresses, so does the redemption of St. Clair.
Celestine is a rather wonderful character, physically frail but with a strong and luminous personality. The question is, does St. Clair even deserve her?
In the end this is a grand old fashioned love story! Indeed it is just is the perfect Christmas Cinderella love story with a twist.
A NetGalley ARC