Lady Julia Whitney is at her wit's end. Her perfect beau just won't propose! But she's struck upon a plan to ensure her marriage by Christmas. Between masquerades and mistletoe, she finds herself fully compromised…by the wrong man!
Captain Dunbar cannot believe he's fallen for this chit's game! Now he must marry society miss Lady Julia with nothing to connect them other than incredible passion. But he's about to discover that the best Christmas presents come in surprising, and delightful, packages!
Very good book. Julia has found the man she wants to marry, but he isn't cooperating. It doesn't help that her father thinks he's a fortune hunter. So Julia comes up with a plan to force the issue. Unfortunately for her, she ends up with the wrong man. Alec has come to Julia's home following his sister, who he believes is in danger of doing something stupid. As a captain in the navy, he has spent most of his life with men and is taken unaware by Julia's actions. Suddenly, what he thought was an interlude with an experienced woman turns into so much more.
I must admit that I didn't like Julia much at the very beginning. Tricking a man into marriage is never a good idea. She came across as rather spoiled. It was rather amusing to see her get carried away in the heat of the moment, not having realized that things could go farther than she planned. I thought that she redeemed herself pretty well when she wanted take the blame for the whole fiasco.
I did like Alec. Yes, his actions weren't the best, but at least he thought he was with someone of like mind. When the truth came out, he immediately stepped up to do what was right. What especially impressed me was that he didn't lay the blame at Julia's feet, but instead tried to protect her from her father's anger.
Once the initial brouhaha is over, both Julia and Alec accept that their marriage is inevitable, and determine to make the best of it. Alec especially sees the benefits, in that the passion between he and Julia had been incredible. Getting to know each other outside the bedroom, where they have no trouble at all, is a roller coaster process. Alec begins to see Julia as a warm and generous woman who puts everyone else's needs before her own. He is also still somewhat distrustful, believing that she is pining after the other man. He has moments of great kindness and understanding, such as when she discovers that the woman she thought of as her friend had actually betrayed her in the worst way. He is also a bit rough around the edges and tends to be rather blunt. This frequently gets him in trouble when something he says doesn't come out quite the way he meant. Julia quickly sees that Alec is a much better man than David ever was. She'd like to make their marriage work, but there are times that she thinks he doesn't even like her, much less want to be married to her. It seems to her that every time she tries to do something nice for him he takes it the wrong way. She loves what they have together behind closed doors, but she wants more than that.
Things are moving along quite well, when a major misunderstanding comes between them. Julia takes an action attempting to protect Alec's sister, Lizzie, but he jumps to the wrong conclusion. To make matters worse, he says some very cruel things and refuses to allow her to explain. I was impressed with Julia's ability to appear unmoved and carry on as if nothing had happened, and I loved the way that it drove Alec nuts. Eventually he realizes how badly he behaved and that he really wants to make things right. His method was a bit on the elaborate side, but ended up being very effective. I really loved the way that he brought the whole family into it.
The only other thing I would have liked would be a glimpse into their future. I would like to know if Alec went back to the navy or stayed ashore and took up his duties to his estates.