The Christmas Charm
Lynn Collum’s The Christmas Charm is the first in a trilogy about the three children of Mr. Addington, a younger son of a baron who left England to make his way in business on the continent. Mrs. Addington was an Italian, and the family is close and happy, although not wealthy. This book is the story of the oldest daughter, Adriana Addington. While it is a charming book with a hero and heroine who are likable and chock full of engaging secondary characters, its attitude toward people who are bookish did not sit well with me and marred my enjoyment considerably.
Lady Margaret, Dowager Countess of Wothford is Adriana’s godmother. She proposes that Adriana come stay with her as a companion since their father’s death has left the family in poor financial shape. Lady Margaret does have an ulterior motive for this offer. She wants Adriana to become aquainted with her grandson, William, Viscount Borland. William is handsome and rich, but bookish and boring. He has no wish to marry or travel and is interested only in collecting and reading old books. Under pretext of having him meet with his bookseller, Lady Margaret arranges for William to escort Adriana to her estate in Scotland – after all, it’s a long trip and Adriana and her maid need male protection.
William is not happy with the situation and Adriana isn’t either – she is not fond of reading and finds William to be a dull fellow indeed. The journey is livened up by Adriana’s habit of rescuing waifs. She takes a young woman in who has been made pregnant by William’s no-account cousin, she rescues a young boy, Nick apprenticed to a brutal brickmaker, and even rescues a pregnant cat who has been tossed into a pond by a farmer. Pretty soon the carriage is crowded and William has been forced to face the real world.
I guess I could call this a Regency Road Romance. Adriana and William (and a host of others) are forced to share a carriage and stay in cramped inns for several days. This gives them a good chance to get to know each other, warts and all, and for William to realize that people and places are just as interesting (and more so) in real-life as they are on the printed page. William comes out of his shell and shows himself to be more outgoing and resourceful than he thought himself to be. Adriana is quite likable especially her kindness toward those who are in trouble. All the secondary characters are engaging, especially Nick, who is a lovable little chatterbox.
The one thing that griped me about this book, was that reading is slighted not once but several times. Adriana refuses William’s offer of a book to read on the trip, she initially doesn’t want to read to him when he has been wounded by a bandit, when William meets a bookish woman at his grandmother’s she is so unpleasant they she made me angry. This whole book is suffused with the attitude that readers are dull and boring types. That seriously hampered my enjoyment of the book. While William was in danger of becoming a recluse, I don’t think it was necessary to slight reading as much as this book did.
Despite that big problem, there is much to enjoy in this book. It’s a good solid story with likable characters and it zips along at a merry pace. Adriana has a brother and sister who will get their own stories in the coming year – I may have to check them out.