Ella Quinn’s Regency novella, Madeleine’s Christmas Wish, is a delightful story full of action, intrigue, and, of course, romance. Here we pick up a thread from her Marriage Game Series, Book 2, the Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh, where our main character, Georges (Marquis Cruzy-le-Martel) sets out to rescue the lovely Madeleine (Comtesse du Beaune) who has been forced to depart France for a British brothel where her virginity will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The two protagonists had been pledged in marriage as youngsters, prior to the takeover by Napoleon, and Georges has watched over his bride-to-be lovingly from afar. In order to assist Madeleine in avenging the sinister Monsieur Coupe who is trying to take control of her family’s estate, Georges insists they marry. She agrees, with the stipulation that the marriage not be consummated so it may be annulled when they reach France. In spite of their close proximity as the two travel back to their homeland to rescue Madeleine’s mother and sister, Georges keeps his promise but allows himself the luxury of titallating his “wife” with everything but the sex act. In the end, however, he wants her to come to him willingly out of true love, not lust.
Although Georges is a ruthless spy, working for the British to defeat Napoleon’s takeover of his beloved France, Madeleine brings out his tender side, but be assured that he is not above committing violence to protect his own. Georges strives to get Madeleine home for Christmas, her favorite holiday, despite numerous obstacles, and through Quinn’s descriptions, the various holiday traditions common to France come alive for the reader.
Quinn takes us on a fascinating journey with well defined characters and more than a bit of romance. My only criticism is that I feel Georges was much darker in the previous novel of the series, treating women with disdain, and prone to revenge against any who double crossed him. There is a hint of his violent tendencies in this novella, but his personality is more mellow than I expected. I actually disliked his character prior to the start of this book, although he redeemed himself as the story progressed due to his tenderness towards Madeleine. Yet these idiosyncrasies distracted from my total enjoyment.
Quinn’s breezy style enhanced the story and I’m sure the siblings of the two main characters present an opportunity for a new romance novel or two. I thank Kensington Publishing for allowing me a free download of Madeleine’s Christmas Wish in exchange for an honest review. It was a pleasure to read and I give it four stars.