I cant tell you how many historical romances I have read that are just like His Mistletoe Bride. In fact, I imagine in a month’s time I won’t be able to remember much at all about this book--and that's
this book's central problem: it is forgettable.
It’s a fairly standard story about a young girl, Phoebe Linville, who travels from America to England to meet her grandfather after the death of her parents. By the time she arrives in England, the grandfather is dead but has made his heir, her very distant relative Major Lucas Stanton
(now the earl of Merritt), promise to take care of Phoebe. Lucas and Phoebe don’t seem very compatible--he was in the army, she a peace-loving Quaker, but sure enough, in due course their attraction becomes clear.
Some of the action in the story takes place at Lucas’s new home, Mistletoe Manor, whose servants are from a family named Christmas (which the author seems to think is really amusing, though I didn’t find it worth more than an initial grin).
Aside from a small sub-plot about smugglers, the bulk of the story lies in the relationship between Phoebe and Lucas.
So many historical romances seem to rely on two major plot devices to create tension: ‘the Big Misunderstanding’ and ‘The Hero Can’t Say I Love You.’
Author Vanessa Kelly goes for the second option, which is pretty weak; after all, as a modern-day Brit, I can say we’re not too fussed about what people say.
It’s far more important what they do, and I believe this was also the case several hundred years ago. I just couldn’t find myself interested in Phoebe’s requirement for these three magic words.
I also had an issue with some of the Quaker speech, the ‘thee’s and ‘thy’s (and, more specifically, the lack of ‘thou’s). A note at the end explains that the Quakers stopped using the nominative form ‘thou’. I assumed as I was reading the book that this was an error by the author and it really wound me up, but apparently this is how it was. Phoebe may occasionally slip into Quaker speech, but nothing else about her really shows any sign of genuine belief in her Quaker heritage.
It could have been something that added to the story as we were given insights into her thinking about her change in circumstance. All we do hear about
are some very basic ideas about the worth of people in different stations in
life. We are treated occasionally to Phoebe and Lucas’s thoughts, but nothing in depth to show their real character.
His Mistletoe Bride is a sum of very many lacking parts, and I found it fairly dull and unmemorable.