Monday, January 5, 2009

The Christmas Treasure - Jeanne Savery

After sitting astride her mount for hours, and aching in places a lady dare not mention, Miss Ernestine Matthew finally arrived in a British outpost in war-torn Portugal. She'd been entrusted to bring her sister back to England, for poor Lenore's husband was missing in action and likely never to return. Ernestine had vowed never to form a similar attachment...until she met handsome Colonel Ave Sommerton—and all her best-laid intentions just went to Hades.

The more Ernestine fought her desire, the more she yearned to be in Ave's arms...and to believe that miracles could happen. Now, as the holidays neared, Ernestine felt all the wondrous hope of the special season—and a new year, brimming with love restored and happiness...found!

I had never read Jeanne Savery but being this a Christmas story and apparently set in Portugal I just couldn’t resist.

Ernie Mathewson goes back to Portugal with the mission to bring back her sister who seems to be unable to believe her husband (missing for 3 months) is dead and so doesn’t want to go back to England but would rather wait in Portugal for him to reappear. Ernie travels with her good friend Bertie and on arrival meet Colonel Somerton, Bertie’s commander.

I’m afraid I had a few troubles with the story beginning with the fact that this is set in Portugal but all the characters are either English or Spanish, don’t you find that odd?? The author does try to insert one or two Portuguese words for effect but either they are wrongly spelled (panelas not panellas) or they don’t seem appropriate for what they want (I find it highly unlikely that Queijadas de Sintra would be referred so in the beginning of the 19th century and were baked by everyone).

Then the characters, Norry (Ernie’s sister) keeps telling her that he husband is not dead and will come back, it seemed like they shared some sort of psychic connection and I found that odd in a non-paranormal. Norry says that so many times that I was a bit tired of it after a while. She is also being pursued by an officer who believes her a widow, since she had so many friends among the military men I couldn’t understand why one of them wouldn’t just set the officer straight and avoid some unpleasantness.

Now Ernie, she was a very stubborn lady that despite feeling herself attracted to Colonel Somerton, kept declaring her determination of not marrying a soldier and going as far as to say that they should all be orphans so women wouldn’t suffer when they die. Even if I can see how a war can lead to the death of soldiers and heartbreak it also sounded a bit too much that she kept repeating it at every turn.

Poor Colonel Somerton had a hard time with Ernie although that didn’t seem to disturb him much. Having decided she was the perfect woman for him he just kept on convincing her of it. Now I do feel, like him, that they were perfect for each other, but he was so determined to have her that even if she had a good reason to refuse him it didn’t seem he was letting her do it (there’s a scary thought). And I couldn’t understand why he didn’t tell her from the beginning that he was leaving the military and going back to England to try and recuperate his estate. Because he wanted her to love him as he was, as a soldier? It didn’t make sense to me.

There’s a mystery subplot about Norry’s Spanish little maid by whom their friend Bertie is in love and who may be on the run.

On the whole it wasn’t a badly written story, I just think some of the character’s actions did not made sense to me, some of the details didn’t sound right and it goes for too long. It would have worked better if it was a bit shorter.

Grade: 3/5




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