“He pulled her into an embrace, pushing back her bonnet and laying her head against his shoulder. She let the feeling of being cherished seep deep into her bones. She slid her hands up his chest to wrap around his neck and pull him closer.”
LADY CHARLOTTE’S CHRISTMAS VIGIL is a heart-warming holiday story about the power of family, trust and true love to inspire hope in the face of uncertainty.
Lady Charlotte Tyree is a capable and intelligent woman with a strong moral character and a love of family that has led her to prioritize the care of others over her own marital prospects. Having experienced only one social season before assuming responsibility for her elderly parents at the end of their lives, Charlotte is approaching an age at which she fears her fate as a “maiden aunt” is sealed.
However, instead of dreaming of an opportunity to fulfill her potential as a wife and mother, she is dreaming of ancient history, architecture and frescoes – the majesty of the City of Rome. Driven by a reverence for the art, beauty and culture embodied in the great churches of Rome and a desire to experience nature through travel, Charlotte has taken the bold step of accompanying her brother, the Earl of Ambler, on his Grand Tour – an educational rite of passage for aristocratic young men and an opportunity to experience the cultural history of Europe.
Suggesting that her presence will encourage upright conduct in her younger brother, Charlotte begins the trip with the socially-expected presence of a female chaperone. However, when her chaperone seeks to divert Charlotte from the Tour to socialize with family connections, Charlotte makes the scandalous choice of continuing the Tour without the presence of a female companion. When her brother nearly succumbs to a contagious fever in Venice, Charlotte is left in a vulnerable position and on the edge of social ruin.
When this beautiful and headstrong British aristocrat appears in the parlor of Doctor Salvatore Caresini speaking of her brother’s sudden fever, Salvo is filled with conflicting emotions. The outspoken, unchaperoned woman carries herself with a grace and vigor that captivates his thoughts. Notwithstanding, the illness her brother may carry, Putrid Fever, is one that has taken the lives of numerous Venetians and spreads quickly through contaminated water and personal contact. It is also the illness that claimed the life of his beloved wife, leaving his three children without a mother’s love.
Upon arriving at the apartments which Lady Charlotte and her brother have rented for their stay, Salvo’s worst fears are immediately confirmed. Despite her protestations, Salvo refuses to allow Lady Charlotte to provide any further care for her brother, appointing another caregiver of his choosing, and taking the bold step of carrying her from the room.
Unwilling to consider abandoning her brother and left with no place to turn, Lady Charlotte accepts an invitation to stay with Salvo and his family. Though she does not immediately feel warmly welcomed in the doctor’s home, she soon finds herself enjoying the experience of being needed, and appreciated, for her talents. Baking Christmas cookies, educating Salvo’s sons and teaching his daughter how to style her hair, Lady Charlotte becomes known as “Lottie” to Salvo’s family. A dear and trusted companion, soon Salvo cannot imagine his home without Lottie and her vibrant presence. But then the tragic Putrid Fever finds its way into Salvo’s home and threatens the lives of his young sons…
LADY CHARLOTTE’S CHRISTMAS VIGIL is a heartwarming and well-written story that will appeal to lovers of holiday romance, historical romance, wholesome love stories and beyond. Caroline Warfield deserves significant praise for crafting a thoroughly-researched novella and her writing style is beautiful and refreshing.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that there are a few small editing errors in the reviewer copy that I received. Furthermore, it is a bit humorous to note that Lady Charlotte’s “rich, dark hair” seems to become “golden” in Chapter 6 of the story. That said, the overall quality of this lovely work is such that these issues do not detract from a truly enjoyable experience and would likely be overlooked by many readers.
Based on this novella, I would recommend the writing of Caroline Warfield to aspiring authors as an example of excellent research and delightful writing style. I sincerely look forward to reading more of her work and, in over two years of reviewing Romance stories, LADY CHARLOTTE’S CHRISTMAS VIGIL is a stand-out novella.
Though LADY CHARLOTTE’S CHRISTMAS VIGIL is a bit more wholesome than most romantic stories currently on the market, I think it would be enjoyed by a very broad readership. I would classify this story as a holiday “must read” as I would encourage romance enthusiasts, even fans of contemporary, sizzling romance, to give this sweet novella a try this winter season.
This review appears on my page at The Romance Reviews: http://www.theromancereviews.com/AdelaideRose