Crispin, the Duke of Hurst, is on his way to visit his uncle for the Christmas Season to enjoy the neighboring parties and outings when he comes upon ten year old Sybil sitting on the ground. After she admits that she had fallen from the tree while gathering greenery for decorating, Crispin gallantly lifts her onto his horse to escort her home, inadvertently causing her to cry out in pain. To his surprise, he is instantly accosted by Sybil’s older sister who attacks him with the shrubbery basket, forcing him to wrestle her to the ground. Realizing that he is a gentleman and not a molester, the young lady stops struggling, even though the handsome stranger is close enough to kiss. Neither will reveal their true identity so they dub each other Sir Ogre and Miss Christmas. It is only later Gwen Prim discovers that the man she attacked was a Duke. Gwen and her three younger sisters live with their older married sister, Louisa, and her husband Bray, the Duke of Drakestone (The Duke in my Bed, Book 1 of The Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels trilogy). Crispin is invited to join the family for dinner and he quickly becomes a favorite of the Prim sisters, especially Gwen. The two feel an instant attraction which through correspondence and several outings develops into a romance.
Whether you consider the Regency Romance, The Duke and Miss Christmas by Amelia Grey (Book 2.5, The Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels), a short story or a novella, there isn’t much substance to the plot with a stilted dialogue which is at at times boring. Ten year old Sybil behaves more like a five year old and while the interactions between the siblings are amusing, the length of the story keeps the author from fully developing the characters. However, since the sisters have appeared before in Book One of this series, we must rely on prior knowledge to get a complete understanding of the family dynamics. The romance between Crispin and Gwen is quick and underdeveloped. It is bothersome when Crispin moves from kisses to ravishment in a matter of minutes, with neither participant considering the possible repercussions of their actions (beyond the fear of discovery by Bray).
A quick read and although faulty, not without some charm, especially the details of the holiday celebrations. Three stars.
A thank you to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for providing an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.