Favorite author Elisabeth Fairchild wields her talented pen with grace in this charming Christmas tale.

Charles Thornton Baxter, the fifth Viscount Balfour, absolutely despises the holiday season, especially this year. Bereft of his recently deceased, long-time advisor, he must take on all of the preparations for his famous Christmas ball himself. His gloom becomes deeper and more complete when an expedition down Regency Street becomes an unmit-igated disaster, thanks to an unfortunate encounter with his quite lovely neighbor, Miss Mary Rivers.

Mary Rivers has come down to the city from the country to help with her ailing grandmothers comfort and care. Even though her grandmother is running low on financial resources, Mary does not share Viscount Balfours melancholic pessimism. Instead, she greets each day with a cheery smile and a hopeful heart.

Can the handsome Balfour learn to see the world through Marys hope-filled and innocent eyes? Or will he continue to fall prey to cynicism, doubt and suspicion?

Writing with vivid perception and a keen eye for the ridiculous, Ms. Fairchild imbues her striking characterizations with touching emotion for our reading pleasure. (Nov., 221 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer