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A Christmas Bride (The Ideal Wife #3) (Dark Angel #5)A Christmas Bride (The Ideal Wife #3) by Mary Balogh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s the holiday season so it seemed appropriate to read a Christmas romance novel. A Christmas Bride by Mary Balogh is a wonderful Austen-like book packed with inner turmoil and passionate romance. It is a romance novel in the purest sense. There is no mystery to unwind or vampires to fight. It is simply a story about two people falling in love. And yet to use the word “simply” seems to undervalue this novel. It is filled with strong personalities and opinions and involves the complex workings of the human heart.

Lady Stapleton is on the other side of thirty. She has been married and made a widow. She lives a comfortable life of independent means but she never quite fits into the high society. She hasn’t been involved in any scandal and she has never flaunted any affairs with men, even if she dresses boldly and just a tad bit sexier than the average lady of privilege.

Edgar Downes is extremely wealthy and is loved by his father and sister. But he has always been aware that a man of wealth and professional achievement does not make him a gentleman of society. While his sister has made into the ton, he has always been on the peripheral. Now at the age of thirty-six his father requests that his last wish in life be to see his son married to a real lady and produce an heir. Being a man of commitment, Downes leaves his comfortable country home and heads off to London to view the young maidens forced by their over-enthusiastic mothers in pursuit of a husband.

Remember this is a time when a married woman was practically owned by her husband. The men did the decision-making and the wives did the child-bearing.
How could two headstrong people ever find love when one would always be the master of the other? That could only with the help of a romance writer like Balogh. She has given each of her characters flaws and backgrounds that on the surface make them appear incompatible and yet once you get to know them you can see how they would indeed make a fine match.
Interwoven into this story is a strong sense that Christmas is a time for people to come together to celebrate life and love. A Christmas Bride is a heartwarming read that will help to get you into the Christmas spirit and help you rest after a hard day of work or shopping.

Dell, part of the Random House Group, has just republished A Christmas Bride in combination with another Balogh Christmas classic, Christmas Beau. Maybe you can bring some Christmas cheer by gift wrapping these Christmas stories for the avid romance reader in your house.

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