A Christmas Promise
As I write this review, I’m really trying to keep my temper under control. With few exceptions, the heroine of A Christmas Promise is the most irritating, pig-headed, unreasonable, whining twit I’ve ever read. I couldn’t get through this book fast enough and get that woman out of my life.
Lady Juliana Archer married the wrong man. He took her to India where he was serving in the Army. After five years he died. Though Juliana is alone and virtually penniless, she makes no plans to return home to England. Why? Because her father might just try to marry her off again. See, she married the wrong man to avoid marrying the right one. But, that’s our Juliana.
Lord Ian Pierce is the right man. He has been in love with Juliana since they were children. God only knows why. He was the man her father wanted for her, but Juliana would have none of it. When Ian and Juliana’s father plotted to show her the kind of reprobate Colonel Archer really was, instead of appreciating their efforts, she ran off with Archer, much to her later regret.
When Ian learns Archer is dead, he sails to India to tell Juliana that her father is ill and that she should return home as soon as possible. After all, a sea voyage from India to England will take a good six months; Father might be gravely ill or worse by the time she got back. Ian says he’ll foot the bill for all expenses, since she has no money. He even secures the Captain’s cabin so she’ll be more comfortable. Juliana reluctantly (reluctantly!) agrees. A few days after they’ve set sail, Ian confesses his feelings for her and again asks for her hand in marriage. She refuses. She would lose her independence. She would be miserable. She would be married to a thoroughly nice gentleman with the body of a Greek god, whose kisses leave her desperate for more, who would give her multiple orgasms every night and twice on Sunday. But no. Juliana tells him she does not love him, and never will.
He persists. Six months on a ship will give him plenty of chances to win her love. Small gifts. Meals together. Walks on the moonlit deck. But no. Juliana tells him she does not love him, and never will.
The first third of the book is spent on board the ship. Ian and Juliana become reacquainted, speaking of old times. It was like watching somebody else’s home movies. Somebody get me off this ship!
The remainder of the book consists of Ian pursuing Juliana, wooing her, giving her more gifts, teasing her, tempting her, showing her what a good life he can provide for her. But no. Juliana tells him she does not love him, and never will.
Late in the book, they have sex. Ian figures it’s a done deal. No proper lady, widow or not, would have sex and then refuse marriage. But no. Juliana tells him she does not love him, and never will.
And then there are the odd turns of phrase:
“Juliana hesitated. A tangle of emotion shaped her eyes, her mouth, but they were too entwined to decipher … reluctance turned her lush mouth down, hid her wide hazel eyes from his searching gaze.” — I got a distinct picture of a Picasso painting here, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.
“At her side, Ian gazed at her with a riot of messages that matched the untamed land around them.” — Did he use flash cards or what? Okay, I’m laughing right now. This was too funny. I’ve read it at least ten times, and it still doesn’t make sense. If you figure it out, drop me a line.
Embroiled in all this is a ghost story. Yes! A ghost is trying to get through to Juliana to keep her from making the same mistake the ghost had made (if that seems familiar, it’s because it’s been done about a hundred times this year alone).
Somewhere around page 300 (there are only 318 in the entire book), Juliana has some kind of epiphany (I’d had one long before that) and she decides, but yes! She does love him, and she always has!
After running poor Ian through the ringer with her refusals and denials, why he still wanted her is beyond me. Ian was a bit on the arrogant side himself, and his vigorous pursuit of Juliana came pretty close to stalking at times, but hey, stalking didn’t exist in history, did it?
Bottom line? But no. I did not love it, and never will. If you’re looking for a sweet Christmas love story, keep looking.