The always original Barbara Metzger celebrates the holiday season with a merry romp in which an earl's three beautiful daughters find their true loves with a helping hand from their matchmaking papa.

Lord Carroll and his wife Lady Bess are the perfect couple. Wealthy, still deeply in love after more than 20 years of marriage and blessed with three darling daughters. But the earl wants more-grandchildren, to be exact. That, however, requires husbands, and not just any husbands.

What better way to find the proper son-in-law for his eldest daughter than rounding up a gaggle of eligible suitors for a house party and ball? Too bad that Joia takes the rakish Lord Comfort in instant dislike...

Then there's quiet daughter Holly, who everyone expects to marry her childhood friend, a military-mad young man determined to join the fight against Napoleon. Why, then, do her eyes turn toward his father, a quiet man just recently returned from years abroad?

And finally there's the spirited Merry, who falls hopelessly in love with an inarticulate soldier who accompanies a family friend home for the holidays.

But even though all the earl's plans have seemingly come to happy fruition, he has one last secret wish that might just cost him the love of his life.

Always a joy to read, Ms. Metzger makes us both laugh and cry as her highly appealing characters find love and happiness in the most unexpected ways. (Nov., 217 pp., $4.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer