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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Echoes of yesterday in today's world --, 27 Dec. 2008
This review is from: A Christmas Courtship (Hardcover)
The merest gesture, the slightest word can cause the most immense dissension in a person's life. Many times we're totally unaware of the event, until later. Sometimes it comes like a bolt of lightning.

In a twist very like today's financial crisis, a similar circumstance two hundred years ago has placed Miss Blanche Amberley on the outside of the once-lavish lifestyle she once knew. Her new circumstances force her to meet her unexpected new love--Antony Mortimer, a banker's son--in his family's rented coachhouse. Such a meeting would have been unthinkable two years earlier, but sometimes, desperation leads to strange behavior.

The Mortimers are nowhere near the status of the Amberleys, making any match even more difficult, especially when Antony's father puts conditions on the potential betrothal. Even though his financial standing may not be what it once was, Blanche's father still has his high social standing, and it is this which Antony's father wishes to secure for his own benefit.

Blanche's brother Jonathan has enlisted in the army, and discovers to his amazement that a life in the military is his fondest wish. In fact, he aims to be added to the staff of Sir Arthur Wellesley, (one day to be known as Lord Wellington). To achieve this promotion, he has defeated another local soldier, Roderick Neville, son of Lord Normanton. Spoiled rich kids do not take well to defeat, and young Neville was no exception. Neither was his sister Athena, the now-widowed Lady Hetherington, who imagines herself betrothed to the new owner of Amberley Court, Major-General Sir Edmund Brandon.

And there we have the major players in this marvelously-textured story of ups and downs, twists and turns, trickery, treachery--and love. It takes place during the week before Christmas, 1808, in Amberley St. Marys, four miles south of Gloucester.

When Sir Edmund purchased the estate two years earlier, he and Blanche struck the wrong sort of sparks off each other, but as he's been off to Vimiero and war since then, she's not had to cope with his abominable presence. Certainly, she's read his name in the despatches, and her brother's hero worship has kept his image at the forefront, but there are more important considerations in her young life. Their father has not weathered the storm well, and his health is always precarious.

But the scene changes drastically when Athena comes for an unscheduled visit, shortly after Sir Edmund returns to re-open the great house once again. Jonathan has gone off to the military post in Gloucester, and Blanche meets and falls in love with Antony. It's all very straight-forward, except for that little gesture here or word there that sets everyone's straw house tumbling down around their ears.

The author, Jeannie Machin, never sets a foot wrong in this compelling novel, which will, after all, have a happy ending! It couldn't be A Christmas Courtship otherwise! It is a very satisfying book that can be read and re-read, year after year, without ever wearing out its welcome!
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Location: cleveland hts, ohio

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