***copy provided by publisher through NetGalley***
Ethan Fortescue, Earl of Devon, is on his way to Cornwall, in order to finally close his family home, Cleves Court. The place is both the source of good and bad memories, but the bad are winning.
Then he comes "home" and finds it alight and filled with revelers, thanks to his housekeeper's Christmas spirit. When the housekeeper turns to be the only woman he's ever loved, Theodosia Sheridan, the shock is complete.
Thea has dreamed of the moment Ethan would finally come home, but in her dreams the reunion was always a happy one. Reality is a different beast all together, since Ethan is much changed from the boy she knew and loved. This Ethan is bad-tempered, drunk most of the time, demanding, surly, and determined to close his ancestral home forever.
Thea now only has until the Twelfth Night to convince him otherwise...And maybe give them both a Christmas present they'll never forget.
I've come to love Anna Bradley's ability of creating layered, flawed and realistic characters I'd love to know in real life, and of presenting wonderful stories of star-crossed love and painting wonderful pictures with her words.
Unfortunately, this story fell rather short of that. While I liked Lord Devon in Charlotte's story, where he played the part of her friend, would-be rescuer, and even Cupid, in his own story he was just an ass.
Maybe he had his reasons, but the one I came to know in his story, was rather disproportionate to what happened to him, and was as much his own doing for "bowing down" to rumors, and creating the persona those that spread those rumors wanted and expected him to be.
I liked his heroine just a little bit more. I found her shrewish, obstinate, and her determination to get what she wanted no matter the cost rubbed me the wrong way. And yes, as Ethan did, I also suspected an ulterior motive after she "succumbed" to his advances.
I found them both slightly childish for their age, I hardly got the we're-old-friends-vibe, so the descent into romance was quite a stretch, but that's probably because there was so little story involving their past together. There wasn't space, I guess with all the drama of the present, with Ethan being a surly jerk, Thea going out of her way to be as disrespectful to rank (no matter their common past) as possible) and unlikable, and the antics of the three children temporarily living under their roof.
It felt like there were pieces of the story missing, important pieces to make it all glue together, to make it a better, more rounded story.