My rating: 3 stars / I liked it
A Christmas Novella from the bestselling Hearthfire Romance series by Michele Paige Holmes:
Five months isn’t enough time to grieve the death of her husband and marry again, but when the unexpected opportunity to take her sister’s place as the bride of wealthy New York businessman, William Vancer, presents itself, twenty-four year-old Charlotte Holbrook agrees. Their marriage of convenience will provide a secure future for her son, while William will be able to claim the inheritance he needs to expand his company westward.
To begin their perfect and perfectly safe arrangement, William allots the last twelve days in December to become acquainted with his new family—a task more easily accomplished than he had imagined. For in Charlotte he finds a tender heart and companion, while stepping into the role of father to her son, brings William a great measure of joy as well. Before the twelve days have passed, he finds himself wishing their marriage of convenience could be something much more.
For Charlotte, every day with William is one of overwhelming gratitude, as he anticipates and provides for her needs, as well as the fondest desires of her heart. More than material comforts, William offers friendship as well, and a loving concern that Charlotte has gone too long without. Guilt ridden, she struggles with her growing attraction and wonders how she can ever remain loyal to her first husband, while allowing herself to love William as he deserves.
This novella is one that continues the story of two secondary characters from the author's book, Marrying Christopher. The first few chapter would be confusing and overwhelming for a reader who doesn't already know the plot of the full length book, since there is a lot of information given mixed in with some frantic scenes, but after that the pace slows and the focus shifts to Charlotte and William exclusively. The major theme is remarriage and reconciling with grief from the death of the previous spouse. Charlotte has conflicted feelings as she finds herself caring for William and he is surprised by his quickly developing love for her and her son, when the last minute marriage was for financial reasons. Their special moments together are sweet and the twelve days after their wedding are a lovely journey of the heart set in the midst of the holiday season.
(Thank you to Ebooks For Review for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)