The Earl's Christmas Pearl
Romance and the 1991 family film Home Alone are unlikely bedfellows, and Megan Frampton’s The Earl’s Christmas Pearl isn’t even the first romance to give us a historical version of the plot. Her take is an amusing and breezy Christmas novella.
Pearl Howlett has accidentally been left behind at her family’s London home by her mother, the scatterbrained Duchess of Marymount, who had hoped that during their shopping trip she might meet an eligible man. Pearl doesn’t mind – well, not much – that her mother trundled off in the family carriage with a bunch of presents but without her; her family is a cacophony of noise at the best of times, and she utterly treasures the chance at independence, even though it’s just days before Christmas. Deciding to feel her oats, she takes a walk unchaperoned – and when she missteps and totters on the street, she has her arm seized by a surly man. Thankfully, said man is very handsome in spite of his dourness, which she returns in kind.
That man is Owen Dwyfor, Earl of Llanover, and he and his dog, Mr. Shorty, were on the way back to the home of his godmother Lady Robinson when he saw Pearl stumble and couldn’t resist helping her. Owen’s life has been less than optimal lately – his father’s passed away, leaving him with the Earldom and the heavy mantle of all of his responsibilities, three unmarried sisters and a mother who’s less than helpful and are rude to the women who have pursued him, as well as an impoverished estate. He’s begged his family to help, but they’ve been unhelpful, presuming he can shoulder the burden just fine. He twisted his ankle in a gopher hole while trying to help with the sheep shearing and now he’s in London recuperating at Lady Robinson’s. Owen is, in short, not a happy camper.
Neither is Pearl by the second day of her sojourn. She deigns to visit Owen, and soon they’re forming a sarcasm-tinged friendship – and find that spending time together over the holidays brings its own rewards. Soon Owen has a reason to smile, and Pearl’s is enjoying new experiences (both in and out of bed!), but then Owen’s sisters and mother arrive, horribly complicating things. Whatever shall they do?
The Earl’s Christmas Pearl is just plain cute. In trade for that cuteness you’ll have to ignore the book’s shortcomings, but if you’re willing to do so you’ll probably like it.
I really liked Owen, who is a naturally merry person who’s been ground into the floor by all of life’s circumstances. He’s smart enough, capable and sometimes nicely swoonworthy. Pearl comes off as childish and a little naïve at times. She’s a fun person though, with a zest for life and a desire to see the world that makes her appealing.
And they share a really nice, zesty chemistry that moves the story along at a decent clip. There are lots of cute, cozy domestic moments – and Mr. Shorty is properly adorable, while Owen’s sisters and mothers are funny and hectoring, if somewhat stereotypical.
There are some problems with the way the story is told. The length of the novella requires an intense compression of events, so Owen and Pearl go from hating one another to masturbating in front of one another in five days. The sense of history and behavior and speech are a bit too modern feeling (not to mention the fact of Pearl’s lack of chaperone not being a huge deal).
The Earl’s Christmas Pearl is a simple, quick and easy on the mind read and I enjoyed it in spite of its flaws. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone who looks for more of a nod towards the ‘historical’ from a historical romance than characters in period dress.