From the back cover:
Every Christmas wish begins as a heart's desire...
Pretty, spoiled Priscilla Harrowby has been taught that the only thing that matters is marrying a rich man, and the only way to snare one is to act the giggling simpleton...until she meets dashing American Nick Cannon. For the first time, a man sees through her coy charade to the depths of her soul. They spend one night of passion together, and then Nick is gone, without a word to explain himself, leaving Priscilla vowing never to let love interfere in her life again.
When Nick had to return to America after his mother fell gravely ill, he wondered why Priscilla never responded to his note, and his offer of marriage. Upon his return to England, he discovers that the flittering girl he left behind has become a radiant woman who refuses to be wooed by any man. But at the biggest part of the Christmas season, on a night when true love is at stake, Nick devises a plan to win Priscilla's heart...and nothing less than "I do" will do.
And my review:
I was a little leery of buying this book, for several reasons. One, I'd never read the author before (though that usually doesn't stop me), two, I don't like spoiled heroines, and the back cover pretty much promises one, and three, as a general rule, I don't like "single nights of loveless passion that become true love" stories very much. Still this is a Christmas romance (and one set in one my favorite historical periods, the Regency), so I took a chance on it anyway.
Well, this book wasn't one I'd recommend, but not for the reasons I'd expected. The spoiled heroine actually wasn't that spoiled, and underwent a change almost right away, as soon as she met the hero. (Which means the synopsis doesn't really make sense when you think about it, since she never acting like a flighty simpleton around the hero, why is he surprised when he comes back to find a mature woman?) Also, the hero and heroine had decided to marry at the time that they spent their night of passion.
My problem was that I never really felt like I knew the characters. This was especially the case with the hero. He wasn't awful, he was just sort of there. Nothing special. I didn't connect with the characters, and the ups and downs in their lives didn't move me all that much. A good novel will engage the reader's emotions, and that just didn't happen here.
Also, the romance felt very rushed. It had just started to develop well when the characters abruptly decide that they're in love. It just didn't feel real. I kind of felt like the author realized that she was already halfway through the book, so decided that they're in love without really bothering to show the reader why or how. It was like she wanted to get the "falling in love" part of the book out of the way as soon as possible once she passed the halfway mark. Since I didn't feel like I knew the characters, I couldn't really see why I should cheer for them to be together. I need to really see why they should fall in love with each other, to the exclusion of all others, and I didn't here.
The second half of the book felt a bit cliched, as well, with big misunderstandings and scheming relatives being all that kept the hero and heroine apart. It's been done over and over, and I've read it done better, I'm sorry to say.
All in all, reading this book was kind of like having a movie on in the background but not really watching it. I didn't feel engaged in the story or moved by it at all. There are better Christmas romances out there. See my list "Christmas romance books worth buying" for a list of my favorites. But I'd recommend that you save your money when it comes to A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS.