Mary Balogh makes Christmas her very own season in another spectacular Regency love story.

Gerard Percy finds his new title as the Earl of Wanstead to be more of a nuisance than anything else. What good is being a lord when you are engaged in fur-trading in Canada? Even worse, he will have to return to England and spend at least a minimal amount of time putting his new affairs in order.

His memories of growing up under his uncles guardianship on the old earls country estate are not happy ones. And after the girl he loved threw him over for his rich, titled cousin, he hoped never to see the place again.

Since he cannot avoid his duty, why not hold a Christmas party to liven up the place? But more than one surprise lies in store for him upon his arrival at the estate.

—the spirited beauty has turned into a repressed dowd. Just what kind of husband was his cousin, and are there reasons for her betrayal about which he knows nothing?

Ms. Balogh superbly skates the thin line between love and hate to keep us seething with curiosity as we learn to care deeply for her richly drawn characters. Another item for the collectors shelf. (Nov., 224 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer