Once Upon a Christmas Eve (Maiden Lane #12.75)

Heavy work deadlines and more illness have caused me to miss posting some reviews prior to release dates, again. I had planned to play catch-up all through my week of vacation…which was spent battling some sort of respiratory flu with high fever. Let’s see if I can remind people about a couple of things that came out at the beginning of December…

First up is the (almost) finale to the “Maiden Lane” series. (Why do I say almost? Because Hoyt revealed in her newsletter that newletter subscribers will get a special story in serial format about Joseph Tinbox and Peach, titled Once Upon a Missive. So if you’re a “Maiden Lane” superfan but somehow not on Hoyt’s newsletter list, I suggest you subscribe.) In the meantime, we finally get the story of Lord D’Arque in Once Upon a Christmas Eve.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve front cover (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette)

THE PLOT: Adam Rutledge, Lord D’Arque, is no fan of Christmas, but he his a huge fan of his grandmother, so they’re off to celebrate Christmas when their carriage is wrecked. The closest house where they can find shelter happens to belong to Godric St. John and his wife Megs (of “Maiden Lane” #5, Lord of Darkness. Megs is related to a bunch of other characters, and I’m not going through them all!) The St. Johns are having a party that includes Godric’s sister, Sarah St. John. Sarah has her own reasons for still being unmarried, but her mother has invited an assortment of unmarried young men to try to turn her head. Of course Adam is entirely unsuitable, yet the two are drawn together. Adam will have to pass some tests to prove to Sarah that even unsuitable young men can be honorable.

MY TWO CENTS: What amazes me is that this story was written prior to the #METOO movement. Its release just couldn’t be more timely. You would think that society would have progressed somewhat from the late 1700’s in terms of treatment of women, sexual assault, and slut-shaming, but…maybe not as much as we should have.

So this story focuses very much on the meaning of consent, and gives the hero the chance to show that he is a champion of putting blame where blame truly belongs (which also ends up winning him the approval of his chosen lady’s family). Don’t worry, there are no graphic scenes describing sexual assault; the two instances explored in this book are just enough to make the point. And guess what? Men who stand up for women and their rights are hot.

COVER NOTES: Sarah wears this gown, and I’m always a fan of clothes from the story appearing on the cover. Plus, it’s gorgeous.

BOTTOM LINE: A timely story that wraps up a couple of characters we’d hoped to see again with deft but deferential handling of harassment and assault, which seems pretty universal given its setting and current events.

TEACUP RATING: Four-and-a-half out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available now in eformats.

NEXT UP FROM AUTHOR:  Hoyt has announced a new three-book series deal, although I don’t think we have any specifics yet. Also, don’t forget that Maiden Lane started out a as a three-book series, so there’s no reason to believe that this one couldn’t expand as well. I’m ready for a whole new world from Elizabeth Hoyt!

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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