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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tough start but unusual turn...
This story by Mary Balogh is the only one in which I have cried at the end, and I don't usually cry over books. The book starts out unpromisingly with an aristocrat being blackmailed into marriage by a dying merchant. He finds the merchant's daughter to be cold, title-obsessed, and unfeeling - and also surprisingly passionate. She sees him as a gambler and a wastrel,...
Published on February 24, 2001 by bookjunkiereviews

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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The sex ruined the romance
The book started with a promising premise. Dying father arranges a marriage between his daughter and an impoverished earl. Each character on their own were decent people placed in an untenable situation. Ellie is torn for grieving her father and wanting to make him happy. Randolph is manipulated into saving his estate but he's a decent man honoring the debts incurred by a...
Published on January 4, 2012 by JenKoko


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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tough start but unusual turn..., February 24, 2001
This story by Mary Balogh is the only one in which I have cried at the end, and I don't usually cry over books. The book starts out unpromisingly with an aristocrat being blackmailed into marriage by a dying merchant. He finds the merchant's daughter to be cold, title-obsessed, and unfeeling - and also surprisingly passionate. She sees him as a gambler and a wastrel, and remembers only that he has shown her no love nor sympathy. The marriage therefore starts off unpromisingly, especially when the father-in-law dies shortly afterward and the heroine refuses to wear mourning for longer than a month.
However, both have severe misconceptions about each other. The hero, Randolph, is not a wastrel. The heroine, Eleanor, is not cold nor unfeeling. How they come to these realizations without the usual Big Misunderstanding dominating the story-line is what I will leave you to discover. Suffice it to say that there is a wonderful sled race, some rather amusing relatives of the bride, and no less than three minor romances that nevertheless do not take our attention away from Randolph and Eleanor as they struggle to a better understanding of each other.
And as to why I cried? Well, it has something to do with why Eleanor did not cry at her father's death and what finally happens in the conservatory.
There are no villains, just some remarkable misconceptions based on initial behavior at a very trying time. As such, this book is both refreshing and yet oddly touching. If I could find a copy of this book, it would be definitely a keeper.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Father's Gift., August 9, 2004
By 
Eleanor Transome loved her father dearly. He called her his treasure. He only wanted her happiness. Eleanor Transome's father was dying. So he bought Eleanor a husband!

Randolph Pierce, the Earl of Falloden, is on the brink of ruin, he needs money quickly. He must preserve Grenfell Park, the debt-ridden home of his youth. With much reluctance, the Earl of Falloden accepts the coal merchant's terms. He will wed Eleanor Transome, a young woman he has never met.

Two very different people from two very different worlds. Two very separate entities. They were man and wife, a stranger from a class she hated and she from a class he despised. Yet, there was more to it than that. They had to make a life together. They could derive mutual satisfaction from each other. He would take pleasure from her and she would take pleasure from receiving him. For Eleanor did not want to be alone. Eleanor wanted to love someone, Eleanor wanted children.

Balogh again hits the jackpot. A CHRISTMAS PROMISE is delightful. It is a quiet story about two people who: meet, observe, and fall in love with each other. Nothing unusual -- except these two people are already married. Balogh relies on a Christmas theme to enhance her story delighting her readers with the traditions of Christmases past. A time when families gathered, for days, to celebrate the joy of the season. A time when Christmas celebrations revolved around life's simple pleasures: horse drawn sleighs, sledding at night, gathering yule logs, or rejoicing in a star-filled Christmas sky.

Again Mary Balogh proves she can write a romance book. At the end of A CHRISTMAS PROMISE, Mary Balogh wisely chooses her poignancy pen. Quietly I wept as Eleanor opened her father's final gift and then I rejoiced when the hero offered his heart. A CHRISTMAS PROMISE is a Signet Regency Romance book and is currently not in print; presently an interested reader must obtain it on the secondary market. Grade: A

Grace Atkinson, Ontario - Canada.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful Christmas tearjerker, December 21, 2001
This review is from: A Christmas Promise (Hardcover)
Mary Balogh writes some truly wonderful books, and this is definitely one of them. Randolph, Earl of Falloden, is struggling under the vast mound of debt left to him by his spendthrift cousin, the previous earl. He is astonished when a cit, a *coal merchant* of all people, comes to visit him to inform him that he's bought all Randolph's debts. And he will write them all off, and give Randolph half of his fortune, if the Earl will marry his daughter. (...)
This is a lovely, poignant love story, in which a couple who seem completely unsuited to each other in the beginning gradually come to understand, and to love, one another; and it's set in the magical season of Christmas, a time which Mary Balogh does so well. If you can find a copy of this somewhere, snap it up!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The sex ruined the romance, January 4, 2012
By 
JenKoko (Ellicott City, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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The book started with a promising premise. Dying father arranges a marriage between his daughter and an impoverished earl. Each character on their own were decent people placed in an untenable situation. Ellie is torn for grieving her father and wanting to make him happy. Randolph is manipulated into saving his estate but he's a decent man honoring the debts incurred by a wastrel cousin. There was reason for each to begin their relationship not liking one another. And if the marriage had proceeded as two strangers slowly thawing to each other, it would have been a special story. But the forced sex of story made them behave horribly and set up unforgivable crimes against each other.

SPOILER ALERT: The father forces the marriage to happen in November because he is soon to die. (The story ends on Christmas Day.) Fine. He insists they live together for a year after his death. Great, it makes them spend time together. But then he also demands the marriage be consummated on the wedding night. Horrible mistake. They are perfect strangers with little reason to like each other. It turns this sex scene into a horrible borderline rape. (Not true rape only because she submits to it to please her father, but absolutely no tenderness between them and painful for her.) Then to make matters worse, Balogh has them have more sex over Christmastide just because she wants a baby and he wants to prove his dominance over her. No foreplay, no seduction. It harkens back to the bodice rippers of the 70's/80's where all romance love scenes were scenes to demean and objectify women yet miraculously they "liked it".

How the heck did these two supposedly fall in love then? Why would they even be attracted to each other physically or emotionally? There was absolutely no tenderness between them.

Had the story eliminated the sex scenes and let the romance grow organically (i.e. two perfect strangers getting to know each other), then it could have been beautiful. As it is I came away hating Randolph, Ellie and her father.

On a side note for Amazon ebook pricing: I paid the full price of $7.99. Really?! I thought ebooks were meant to be more affordable because the production and housing costs are less. Publishers are ruining my desire for romance ebooks with their outrageous pricing schemes. Especially since it's getting harder to find a decent book in the offerings. This one is barely worth a $1.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Balogh at her best, January 5, 2011
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This review is from: A Christmas Promise (Mass Market Paperback)
Mary Balogh is one of my favorite regency romance writers since I discovered by chance "Indiscreet". I do not usually pick one of her books when I'm in the mood for a very easy read because her books are much more about feelings and interesting characters than about speed of action and love/ sex scenes. Just to clarify, I am not a fan of all her books, but "Christmas promise" was a splendid example of how good she can be. The story is of a coal merchant daughter and an impoverished lord forced in matrimony for interests each of them wrongly assume for the other. What makes Mary Balogh style is the way an arranged marriage developed beautifully and pretty realistic. I did not felt that Ellie was colder than circumstances would have made her, nor that Randolph behaved in a way different from the expectations of his class. Mary Balogh characters are introvert most of the times, with a very clear expectation to behave according to Regency England's code of behavior. While the forced couple hated each other in the beginning, their way to express it was cold, distant and polite. Under this circumstances I did not felt like the wedding night was anything else than expected: started as a physical act seen as a duty by both parts and ended in something fierce due to their battle of wills.
By chance I've read this shortly after Christmas, with snow in front of my window... And I really felt like I was in the country, enjoying a wonderful Christmas with a very special family living life to fullest. I was totally engrossed in the story and I highly recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts out rocky with disturbing sex scene but gets better, December 13, 2012
This review is from: A Christmas Promise (Mass Market Paperback)
I hated the wedding night sex which was rape-y and disturbing. After they jolly relatives show up, and the two characters warm up to each other, it gets better.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Mary Balogh book., October 27, 2010
This review is from: A Christmas Promise (Mass Market Paperback)
I think this book represents Mary Balogh at her finest, and I rate her as one of my favorite authors. I have a copy that is completely tattered from the repeated readings it has received over the years. I am thrilled that I will be able to buy another one to give it a rest (maybe even two). Eleanor Transome's father, after finding he has little time left to live, buys a husband to take care of her after he's gone. Randolph Pierce, Earl of Fallodean, is appalled to find himself in the position of having to marry a coal merchant's daughter, but has very little choice in the matter. For her part, Eleanor feels just as bitter about being required to marry him. After marring virtually as soon as they meet, Eleanor's father passes away leaving her in the hands of a stranger whom she resents, and who feels the same way about her. To fulfill a promise to her dying father, Eleanor sends invitations to her family to celebrate Christmas with her and her new husband. The Earl had already invited friends of his own and made the mistake of telling her to invite whomever she wanted. Eleanor's family is loud, boisterous and treat Randolph in a very familiar manner. One of my favorite parts of the books was when Eleanor's uncle refers to Randolph as "Randy." As the holiday unfolds, the couple gradually starts seeing what each had missed in the other. Eleanor's family are warm, loving and help to create a magical Christmas for all, especially Randolph who has never known one. There are different story lines that evolve with Randolph's friends that help to bring the richness and depth that Mary Balogh is so known for. I always cry at the wonderfully touching scene at the end of the book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable if not wholly original, February 13, 2011
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This review is from: A Christmas Promise (Mass Market Paperback)
mary balogh has argued that different authors can take similar plots and produce very unique stories. "a christmas promise" as one such effort - a fresh rewrite of georgette heyer's "a civil contract." i liked that balogh made her heroine eleanor more self-confident, attractive, and spirited than the heroine in the original heyer novel, and that she tried to make eleanor's father a more politically correct character (instead of being a 'vulgar' individual obsessed with getting a title for his unattractive daughter, he is transformed into a warm and loving father who wants to see his daughter well-situated before he dies of cancer). there were other aspects of the story i liked less, mainly that the characters' transition from mutual dislike / formality to being in love seemed a bit abrupt and not fully convincing. the resolution of the hero's previous "love" also seemed a bit flat. still, an entertaining read, and a nice remake of a difficult plot premise. i enjoy most of balogh's work and i'm very much looking forward to "the secret mistress" when it comes out this summer.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Talk about a rocky start to a marriage. . ., December 29, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Christmas Promise (Hardcover)
This marriage has a horrid beginning. The first love scene is a bit rough. The characters do indeed hate each other. In fact with as much as they hate each other in the beginning, they have no right to be as in love with each other as they are by the end. Actually, I'm amazed that Balogh pulled it off. I liked both characters by the end despite how terrible they were at the beginning, and that has to take talent. Not Balogh's best, but still very readable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars We'll written but very slow, November 27, 2013
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This book had an in depth plot but the characters took way too long to even like each other. It was until the last two chapters that they even started caring for one another. It wasn't my style of romance personally, and it was just too slow. Then when they finally did realize they loved and cared for one another the book just ends, I was quite disappointed. It was my first timer reading this author and I don't think I will do so again.
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A Christmas Promise
A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh (Mass Market Paperback - October 26, 2010)
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