Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: Out now
How we got this book: Print ARC from the publisher and digital ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss
Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has been estranged from his mother for most of his life. When his mother’s new companion, Mrs. Camilla Stuart, writes to tell him that his mother is seriously ill, he goes home. But when he learns that the lovely widow tricked him in order to effect a holiday reconciliation, he refuses to stay—unless she meets his “terms.” Somewhere between trying to seduce the beautiful Camilla and struggling with the cruel memories of his childhood Christmases, Pierce discovers that not only does forgiveness go two ways, but that love can blossom even in the coldest of winters.
This blurb came from Goodreads.
E: I have enjoyed reading Jeffries’ previous Hellions of Helstead Hall books and have reviewed a few earlier: Book 4, To Wed a Wild Lord and Book 5, A Lady Never Surrenders. When I found out that she had another book in that same series coming out I was looking forward to reading it. When we were given the opportunity to review ’Twas the Night After Christmas I was really excited. I was hoping that Jeffries would provide more unusual heroines and heroes not to mention amusing interactions between them. I certainly got that from Jeffries along with some poignant moments that had me reaching for a tissue.
MiscJoy: Every year, I look forward to putting a few holiday themed books on the TBR pile. I know we haven’t yet celebrated Halloween, but for me, Christmas can’t come soon enough. This story has all the elements you would expect in a Christmas story: family secrets, hurt feelings, tragic childhoods and underneath the anger and pain, a longing to belong and be accepted. It reads well as a stand-alone novel for those not familiar with the series.
E: Like MiscJoy said this installment works well as a standalone. The characters from the previous five books are only mentioned tangentially so if you decide to give this a read you don’t have to worry about starting at Book 1, The Truth about Lord Stoneville. There were several things I enjoyed about this book. One was exactly how stubborn and determined all of the characters were. Both Camilla and Lady Devonmont each had secrets that they were not going to share. Not out of a desire to hurt anyone but in an attempt to prevent hurt or to protect someone. Even if those secrets could have made life easier for them in certain ways. I also liked how despite Pierce’s anger and negative impression of his mother he came running when he was told she was seriously ill. Despite his later words, his actions in making the trip said a lot about his basic character. The supporting cast also played an important role and while some had limited page time they filled in my mental picture of the area and how things worked away from the bright lights and late nights of London.
MiscJoy: Yes, I liked that about Pierce as well. In fact, I enjoyed all the characters in this story. As we first learn about Pierce as a young boy during what will become a pivotal life event for him, his hurt and anger is completely understandable. We think we know what another person’s motivations are because of the hurt we experience only to learn we know nothing at all of what another person was going through. In the absence of any other information, Pierce comes to the only conclusion he thinks is possible regarding his mother and it certainly seems like he isn’t far off the mark. But people keep secrets for many different reasons even if the keeping of them often causes a different kind of pain then they hope to prevent. Although he tries to inure himself from the rejection of his family, he doesn’t let that stop him from doing right by his mother when he is older.
I really enjoyed Camille’s character. Through her, we are able to see multiple sides to this family and realize that not all is as it seems. I enjoyed the banter between her and Pierce. Some of the dialogue left me giggling:-) Camille’s ability to cut through the surface posturing, get at the heart of a matter and speak plainly about it provided a healing balm to Pierce, even if he didn’t realize it at the time. The development of their relationship felt real to me – even if it happened quickly – and the confines of propriety must certainly have chafed them both.
E: Oh I loved the banter! I think my favorite ones were the conversation when Camilla tries to convince Pierce to stay for one night and then the conversation later that night. I still laugh thinking about it. Those two conversations really set the tone for them I think. Even though Pierce was basically a good person there were times when the person he tried to become in the past would come out and I just wanted to give him a shake or a toss in a watering trough. Thankfully he was able to overcome those lapses and try to fix what he had done wrong. As much as they frustrated me those moments made Pierce a more rounded character and therefore his growth through the novel believable.
Camilla made her mark on me when she refused to give up on the possibility of reconciliation between Pierce and Lady Devonmont despite the number of times both told her to leave it alone. It takes a certain amount of caring and determination to continue to persist. She also had her flaws including being tempted by things that society said she not show any interest in. Despite that temptation and the fact that she did do some things that were not acceptable she refused to take the easy way and sacrifice the chance of a future for her son. As with Pierce, Camilla’s flaws made her likeable as a character.
MiscJoy: Camille and Pierce really did give each other as good as they got! I liked how she would take his asshatery and deflate it. I think the author did a wonderful job of showing the development of each character as the story unfolded. We were given glimpses into each character’s thoughts and psyches which helped to bring the characters to life. I didn’t expect to feel sympathy for his mother, but as we came to know her better I could understand how she made the decisions she did. A woman in the 1800’s really had limited choices.
E: Like usual in Jeffries’ stories they tend to contain at least one twist towards the end sometimes more. ’Twas the Night After Christmas contained two twists that I caught. Don’t worry I will not spoil them for you *grin*. The first one involving Lady Devonmont wasn’t quite what what I expected but I think it fit very nicely and as Joy said I became a lot more sympathetic to her character as the book progressed even before the twist. The second one I think almost seemed like cheating one of the characters out of their individual hard work. To me the book seemed stronger without that. Despite my dislike of that particular twist Jeffries provided me with an entertaining, humerous, not too sappy holiday historical of a different flavor. I enjoy how she uses different settings and characters without relying on what appears to be the standard mix of balls, vouchers, riding in Hyde Park etc.
I give ’Twas the Night after Christmas a B
MiscJoy: I see what you mean about that second twist. On the other hand, this is a Christmas story after all and those seem to come with an “all wrapped up in a pretty bow” kind of ending this one being no exception. But, yeah, it was a bit over the top. What did trip me up however were some of the slice-of-life scenes that seemed to slow the pace a bit and left me skimming. Fortunately, there were only a few of those and the sparkling banter, the developing relationships and poignant scenes more than made up for it. Overall, ’Twas the Night after Christmas was a delightful story and an easy pick for the holiday season.
I give ’Twas the Night after Christmas a B
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