Published by Madison Street Publishing on October 1st, 2018
After seven long years in Devon, Lady Maud Worlington returns to London to reclaim life on her own terms, but a nefarious shadow and the prospect of financial ruin dog her steps. An impulsive and unforgettable kiss under the mistletoe creates a connection with Geoffrey, the handsome, young Duke of Tilbury. Yet as pleasant as it is to have a suitor, Maud is not sure how a boy of one-and-twenty can prove an equal partner in life and the equal of all the forces mounted against her.
The Duke of Tilbury considers himself as adept at managing matters as he is at swordplay, but his beautiful new acquaintance Lady Worlington has other ideas about how to manage her complicated life. Intrigued by their stolen kiss, Geoffrey pursues Lady Worlington's affections, only to be foiled by the lady's own doubts, by rivals for her hand, and by a sudden death that affects both their families. When Jacob Pevensey, the investigator from Bow Street enters the scene, the duke becomes a prime suspect in the murder case. Truths are unearthed that Geoffrey would rather keep hidden, and the twelve days of Christmas race toward a perilous end.
This novel takes the medieval events surrounding the sinking of the White Ship and transposes them to Regency London. It is the third book in the Pevensey series, but can be read as a standalone.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Widowed six months ago, Lady Maud Worlington has moved back to London with her family, and what should have been a quiet dinner became instead a ball to celebrate the betrothal of Maud’s brother Will to Lady Helena Angiers. That’s when Maud first encounters the dashing Geoffrey, the Duke of Tilbury and Helena’s brother and guardian. Geoffrey is more than intrigued by the beautiful widow, while she wants nothing romantic to do with him: he is five years younger than she is; how could a romance ever be possible?
To begin with, I must mention that one star was promptly removed from my final rating due to this unforgivable mistake: Geoffrey, the Duke of Tilbury, is referred throughout the book as “Lord Tilbury”. Not to mention his grace being addressed as “young man” by Geoffrey’s future father-in-law, and “Sirrah” by Maud, whom Geoffrey had just recently met. This did not bode well for accuracy – historical or otherwise – which, alas, was soon confirmed. Had it not been indicated in the blurb that the story was set during the Regency, I would not have guessed beyond the nineteenth century, as there was no clear indication of the era. Needless to say, A DUEL FOR CHRISTMAS was a very difficult read for me. Although it was obvious from the start that this was not the first book of the series – which I had not noticed before – I didn’t feel I had missed anything.
Ms. Lortz’s writing flows well, the pace is steady, and the book is professionally edited. However, I found that much time was lost on trivialities at the beginning instead of building the connection between Geoffrey and Maud, who actually spend very little time together. I was surprised that, in spite of that, their romance was believable, if a platonic one; A DUEL FOR CHRISTMAS is definitely a clean romance. The second romance, which had probably started in the previous instalments, felt more organic, and the characters spent more time together. It is obvious that the author is much more at ease with the mystery element of the story, but it could also be because there were way fewer mentions of “Lord Tilbury”, which were, to my ears, akin to fingernails on a blackboard. The family dynamics were very complex and quite interesting, and I was shocked as to who died; it was very unexpected. Geoffrey was charming, although I could not comprehend some of his decisions concerning his sister. I would recommend A DUEL FOR CHRISTMAS to readers who enjoy a light and frothy romance with a bit of suspense, and for whom historical accuracy is inconsequential.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.