One of the ton's wealthiest, most accomplished beauties, Lady Madelyn Rathbone has turned down dazzling proposal after proposal – all because she simply cannot forget country squire Robert Langtry. Though Robert's modest birthright precluded a union between them two years ago, Madelyn is quite certain that he has now settled down and is unavailable to cure her silly longings for good. But a Christmas journey gone much awry and Robert's four mischievous wards are proving more than a match for Madelyn's firm resolve – and her heart!
Robert Langtry had convinced himself that his feelings for Lady Madelyn were youthful folly. But when they become stranded at his snow-bound estate amid one disaster after another, he is delighted to rediscover the vivacious, spirited woman he still loves – even though he knows he cannot let her surrender her life of glittering privilege just for him. Yet neither Madelyn nor Robert are aware that holiday magic is about to show them the sweetest joy of the season...
I had never read Kate Huntington but I love Christmas stories and decided to pick this one up. As soon as I started reading I realised that this book was part of series and that there were at least 2 books before this one. That did not detract from my reading however as the author provides enough information and the story develops for us to understand what happened earlier.
The story starts with guest arriving to a house party at the home of Lord and Lady Blakely. Among the guest are Robert Langtry and his four wards and arriving unexpectedly is Lady Madelyn Rathbone. The host are afraid of the meeting between them as Robert and Madelyn were in love once and broke up after her guardian refused the match due to their different stations and Robert refused to elope with Madelyn which leads to an angry separation.
When Robert and Madelyn meet again it obvious to us that they are still in love with each other, they do behave with the utmost propriety by we are privy to their feelings. It is also clear that Madelyn is not a well liked person, she seems to have a past history with both Viscount Blakely and Lieutenant Whittaker in which she was the other woman favoured by their families and who they rejected to marry their ladies. The complete opposite, Robert is well liked by everyone and in fact there is a plan to marry him to widow who is also spending the holiday season with Blakelys.
What I liked the most about the story is that creates characters that are definitely not black and white, they are human and they are not always likeable and nice.
Despite the fact that it is clear that Madelyn has matured from what the other characters knew of her previously she is still proud and arrogant sometimes. She and Robert “decide” to be just friends but there’s a growing attraction that they find hard to resist. However Robert doesn’t feel he has the right to propose marriage someone far above his status in society and Madelyn doesn’t think she can cope with their wards as she mentions time and again that she doesn’t know how to deal with children. She does seem to have some past history with his wards too and his oldest niece clearly dislikes her.
Some readers might miss seeing them falling in love (at least I saw those complaints in one review) but I was quite happy with the story and was quite blown away with how complex the characters were, that made feel for them and by the end I was quite rooting for their happy ending. Huntington does a good job of convincing me that what separates them can be overcome and in the end I knew I had a keeper in my hands. Looking forward to read the other books in the series.