No good deed goes unpunished…
To save her hen-witted sister from scandal, Philippa Sanders ventures into a rake’s bedroom—and into his power. Now her reputation hangs by a thread and only a hurried marriage can rescue her. Is the Earl of Erskine the heartless libertine the world believes? Or will Philippa discover unexpected honor in a man notorious for his wild ways?
Blair Hume, the dissolute Earl of Erskine, has had his eye on the intriguing Miss Sanders since he arrived at this deadly dull house party. Now a reckless act delivers this beguiling woman into his hands as a delightful Christmas gift. Is fate offering him a fleeting Yuletide diversion? Or will this Christmas Eve encounter spark a passion that lasts a lifetime?
Publisher and Release Date: Anna Campbell, October 2014
Time and Setting: Christmas, 1823-1824, English countryside
Genre: Historical romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
Anna Campbell is one of my favorite historical romance authors and I can always count on her to tell a truly beautiful love story. Her sexy yet sweet plots, her lush writing style, and her exquisite ability to create breathless romance make for a lovely holiday story.
Philippa Sanders has always been the good, quiet, and serious sister, compared to her hoydenish and beautiful sibling, Amelia. Which is why Philippa is in Lord Erskine’s bedchamber on Christmas Eve: she is trying to do the right thing and retrieve an ill-advised and provocative letter that Amelia wrote to Lord Erskine just before Amelia’s engagement was announced.
Philippa has only bad impressions of Blair Hume, Lord Erskine. She believes she’s immune to his roguish charms, something that rankles his manly pride and ego. Unlike her, he has noticed her and how she all but rebuffs him. But when they’re trapped together in a closet, she discovers he might not be such a terrible person after all.
‘It’s Christmas Eve. I’m taking a rest from wickedness.’
Philippa’s calm demeanor surprises Blair, as most women would be screaming bloody murder at being trapped with a renowned rake. Of course, appropriate to the 1823 time period, if they’re caught together, even if nothing happens, they will have to marry. But his kindness to her in their dilemma makes her brave enough to ask for one kiss, a kiss that quickly turns incendiary.
Before they’re forced to marry, Philippa had plans to return to the countryside and live out a quiet life on her mother’s estate. The prospect of marrying out of obligation horrifies her as much as she is attracted to Blair and his sense of honor.
There is a brilliant and critical scene that Campbell could have taken another way but to her great credit, she doesn’t. It reveals a strength of character in both Blair and Philippa, creates trust, and also nicely advances their slowly growing love story.
Blair’s honor is almost too good to be true but, at the age of twenty-eight, he has tired of his debauched lifestyle. He also finds he really cares about the vulnerable and sensible Philippa, especially that her family treats her so shabbily.
Their love story develops at a surprisingly leisurely pace for a novella, but it seems just right, with intense sexual attraction blended with consideration, honor, and protectiveness. Both Philippa and Blair realize their marriage has been forced, yet they agree to make the best of it, discovering many attractive traits in each other: Blair’s sincerity, determination to do the right thing, and kindness to her, and Philippa’s kindness to her undeserving sister and family, her intelligence, wit, and gentleness of spirit. All of which combine to make the love scenes both naughty and very, very nice.
Her Christmas Earl is a wonderfully enjoyable and romantic bon-bon, perfect for a quick read during your busy holiday season.