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A Candlelight Courting: A Short Christmas Romance Kindle Edition
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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5 Stars--the book had a profound impact on me. It touched me on some special level and lingered with me long after I'd finished reading it.
4 Stars--I loved this book. If I don't own it, I will buy it so I can read it again and again.
3 Stars--I enjoyed the book but may have had an issue or two with it.
2 Stars--I had more than a few issues with it.
1 Star--I hated it.
When Burthred comes courting on Christmas Eve, Meg rejects his advances. She has her heart set on becoming a nun and insists that he call her Christina, the spiritual name she has chosen for herself. She tries to make him swear on her box of holy relics that he will not pursue her, but he carefully words his oath to allow him to stay in her candlelit chamber and try to change her mind.
What Meg does not confess is that her reliquary box holds a secret.
Burthred needs a wife, and no one will satisfy him except Meg. He swore on his father's deathbed that he would marry her. But Burthred has a secret, too. When they come together before the Yule fire, their shared revelations will either join their hearts together or tear them apart.
I've been hearing wonderful things about Joyce's books for a while now, and I jumped at the chance to read this one. First of all, I love Christmas stories (even read my teen boys one of Mary Higgins Clark's Christmas offerings--and they liked it . . . probably because of the kidnapping). I've also been a fan of historical fiction--and not just romance. I'm as big a fan of Sharpe and Horatio Hornblower as I am of Austen.
I thoroughly enjoyed the lovely, subtle courtship Burthred conducts with reluctant Meg and especially as the characters are unfolded in the story. I learned to love them as they revealed their secrets (usually unwillingly) to each other. The most compelling part for me is when characters open themselves to others, making themselves vulnerable. I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil anything for you.
Meg, who prefers to be known as Christina, has had one dream her whole life. The only way she can accomplish this dream is by going to Wilton Abbey with her uncle. She has denied herself all the luxuries of life and spends her life repenting of her weaknesses so that her uncle will see her dedication and take her to the abbey.
Burthred has been Meg's betrothed since she was a baby, but she has never met him until this night. Her father drags Burthred into Meg's darkened room (she has refused herself light and warmth to further prove to her uncle downstairs of her faithfulness). Because of the dark, Meg can't see the deformity in Burthred that has kept any woman from wanting him... in spite of his strength and wealth. But even in the dark she can see his compassion and kindness.
Even though Burthred could easily overpower her with his strength, and force her to become his wife, he takes an oath to behave and respect her. Burthred does not need brute force because he has greater tools at his disposal: love, gentleness, compassion, honesty, unselfishness, and even a dose of logic.
As Meg gets to know Burthred, she is torn between being Meg - who would love to be honored and cherished by a man like this - and Christina - who has lived her whole life to accomplish this one dream, and the only way she knows that she can accomplish this dream is by going to the abbey. Falling in love with Burthred will NOT help her reach this goal.
When Burthred discovers what her dream is, he offers a way for her to become his wife AND fulfill her biggest dream. One of the last lines of the story sums it up best: "How could she have guessed before this night that she would find her own light, not in an abbey's walls of learning, but in Burthred's love?"
From the new authors I have been privileged to read Joyce DiPastena is fast becoming a favorite. I knew this was a short story when I started the book, but I must admit that it took me awhile to even understand what was going on in the story. Once I finished the book I thought what a unique plot and I found that I would want to keep this book to read again someday. Sorry, I could not give you a 5 star rating, but I still love your books and writing. BW in Texas