Excellent romance and Christmas treat. Usually holiday-themed books are stinkers, either forced into the holiday or just too quickly written to be very good. Not the case with A Christmas Promise. This is a wonderful book, read anytime of year, but what a fantastic Christmas present for yourself. The romance is paced beautifully, the characters fully developed and the Christmas element is a real part of the story. My only complaint is that I find her love scenes short on anything a woman would really like. Her style is a bit old-fashioned - a dry bang-bang seems to work for her heroines, but not for most real women. I am always surprised when writers pen that type of love scene (even in the 90's). That said, this is a bit steamier than most Balogh books. Otherwise a wonderful book I'll read again and again.
Randolph Pierce is a penniless lord, and Eleanor Transome is the rich daughter of a dying Cit. Her father practically blackmails Randolph into marrying his daughter, and she believes herself to be in love with another, but allows herself to fall in with her father's wishes and marry the Lord. They hate each other at first site, until a trip to his county home, and her warm and loving extended family come together at Christmas time. Then the season works its magic.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. The old-fashioned Holiday customs were fun to read about. I enjoyed the way the author would tell the story from both protagonists' points of view. I enjoyed most of the characters, but found the heroine a bit tedious at times, as she would always be wanting to pick a fight with the hero, when he would be offering the proverbial "olive branch".
This is classic early Balogh. A couple is forced to marry which was arranged by Ellie's father before his death. So Ellie and Randolph get off to a very rock start. They were antagonistic through much of the story, but slowly learned to fall in love during a family Christmas celebration. Wonderful characters with a sweet romance; surprisingly, the love scenes were rather lusty considering this was written in the early nineties. 3.5 stars.
Randolph Pierce, the Earl of Falloden, is approached by businessman Joe Transome. Mr. Transome tells the Earl that he has bought all of Randolph's debt. Mr. Transome wants Randolph to marry his daughter, Eleanor, or he will demand payment of the notes. He only has a short time to live and wants to see his daughter settled and married to a man with a title. With no choice, the Earl agrees and soon finds himself married to Eleanor, a woman he believes cares only about herself. Eleanor agrees to the marriage because it is her father's last wish. Now she must make the most of her Christmas with the stranger she has married.
This arranged marriage starts out on the wrong foot. It takes the whole book for both Eleanor and Randolph to get rid of their preconceived notions and see the real person that they married. I thought their misunderstandings were dragged out way too long. It could have been cleared up if they had just had a conversation. The love scenes also left a lot to be desired. This book was written over 20 years ago, but I don't think the wham-bam sex scenes were even popular back then.
I thought the best part of the book was the Christmas celebrations. Eleanor's family and Randolph's friends descending on the newlyweds with their Christmas traditions gives this book a holiday feel. My rating: 3 Stars.
Poor Randolph Falloden -- poor despite his earldom and through no fault of his own -- is approached by wealthy coal merchant Mr. Joseph Transome who offers him the hand of his daughter, Eleanor, in exchange for having all his debts paid. He will also receive half the dying man's considerable fortune. Eleanor, knowing her marriage is her father's dying wish, is no more happy than Randolph. And thus begins Mary Balogh's enchanting story about two pAssionate, resentful young people whose hate for each other turns into something quite different during Christmas. This is a surprisingly sensual book for its time (1992). I read it frequently and now that I have it in hardcover, I'm passing it along. If you love a romance, you'll love this book.