Title: The Christmas Wager (Second Edition)
Author: Jamie Fessenden
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 14, 2016
Genre(s): Historical Romance
Page Count: 149
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Lord Thomas Pendleton, second son of the Duke of Branmoor, needs to discharge a debt to his friend Andrew Nash. In doing so, he must return to the family estate he fled six years earlier after refusing to marry the woman his father had chosen. To Thomas’s dismay, Branmoor Hall is no longer the joyful home he remembers from his childhood, and his four-year-old niece has no idea what Christmas is.
Determined to bring some seasonal cheer back to the gloomy estate, Thomas must confront his tyrannical father, salvage a brother lost in his own misery, and attempt to fight off his father’s machinations.
As Christmas Day draws near, Thomas and his friend Andrew begin to realize they are more than merely close friends… and those feelings are not only a threat to their social positions, but, in Victorian England, to their lives as well. (First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2010.)
NOTE: In his blog, Jamie Fessenden writes that “The Christmas Wager” was his first sale as a writer, published by Dreamspinner Press in December of 2010. This second edition gave Jamie an opportunity to correct some anachronisms and Americanisms in the original version as well as errors with British culture and the Victorian era. The second edition is also almost 50 pages shorter.
Thomas loses a wager with his close friend Andrew and to settle the debt agrees to bring him home to Branmoor Hall for a country Christmas. But Thomas hasn’t been home in six years and finds a very different Branmoor Hall than he remembers. His brother is apparently still in deep mourning for his dead wife, their daughter Susan has no idea what Christmas is, there are no Christmas decorations anywhere and no plans for the Christmas ball.
What follows is a sweet tale of rediscovering Christmas as well as rediscovering lost love and lost opportunities. In keeping with the rather genteel Victorian setting, as Thomas comes to understand what he feels for Andrew, there are no explicit sex scenes but a growing realization of their love, and what the future holds for them:
It would be a hard life, a life of false facades and hiding the truth from people who might otherwise be their friends. The fear of discovery would dog them for the rest of their days—the fear of scandal, of incarceration, hard labor, even execution. He would never have chosen to bring Thomas into this. But he could not deny that the thought of Thomas loving him filled him with a joy so great it eclipsed all the rest. They would survive. Together, they would manage to endure.
If you enjoy historicals with a gentle pace and a sweet story to tell coupled with a happy ending, I recommend you give “The Christmas Wager” a read this holiday season!
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