Eloisa James – "An Affair Before Christmas"

4 Feb

GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Avon Books, 2007

The back blurb:
“One spectacular Christmas, Lady Perdita Selby, known to her friends and family as Poppy, met the man she thought she would love forever. Breathtakingly beautiful young Englishwoman, and theirs was the most romantic wedding she had ever seen. Four years later, Poppy and the duke have become the toast of the ton
Unwilling to lose the woman he still lusts after, the duke is determined to win back his beguiling bride’s delectable affections … and surpass the heady days of first love with a truly sinful seduction.”

This is novel number 3 I read by Eloisa James. This time, I wasn’t “bothered” (read: pulled out of the story) when James changed POV for a few sentences to a minor character (a servant, for example) or started a new chapter because of a change of scene and/or characters (resulting in some very short chapters). Either I’m used to it by now, or it was done more “smoothly.” Whichever it is, I enjoyed reading An Affair before Christmas.

Like the other novels I read by James, An Affair before Christmas is more an “ensemble” romance than a “straight” romance. Apart from the story of the main couple, there’s the ongoing story about Jemma, her husband Elijah and Villiers (although it’s not as prominent here as in the first novel) and smaller story elements that could or could not turn into a fully realized story line of its own. So there is a lot to keep up with.

Despite so much going on, I found the story of Poppy and Fletcher convincing and touching. The way James wrote about Poppy’s fight for freedom from her domineering mother was believable and made me cheer when Poppy finally got free. It was touching to read about Fletcher’s love of and devotion to his wife, especially after he realized that she didn’t enjoy their time in bed. His willingness to remain celibate and care for her still was a nice change from all the heroes who are so overcome with lust they can’t think straight (not that Fletcher was lacked there, but he was willing to try for his wife). The way he dealt with poppy’s mother at the end … just laugh out loud. And yes, thanks, Poppy’s change in character (or her maturing) didn’t happen overnight which made her development more believable. In fact, she and Fletcher even spent some months apart. I much rather have that – believability – than characters constantly snipping at each other just so that they don’t break what seems to be one of the first romance rules (“Don’t separate the heroine and the hero!”).

In short, what I like about An Affair before Christmas (and James’s other novels):
– “real” characters, meaning characters with flaws and who aren’t always easy to like but what makes reading about them really interesting and fun
– that I don’t know who a character will end up with (if with someone at all) the moment he/she appears for the first time
– intelligent dialogue
– often humorous writing

Hmm, I think there’s one other novel by James in my TBR pile. I’ll go and have a look.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4+ / 5


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