A CHRISTMAS PROMISE by Shelley Bradley
Zebra, October 2001
Lady Juliana Linford has lost her husband, but she swears she won't return to her father's control, nor to the man her father had intended to be her husband. Admittedly, her own choice of a husband might not have been much of a success, but at least it was her choice.
Lord Ian Pierce has loved Juliana since they were children together. When he learns of her husband's death, he travels to India to meet her and bring her home to England. Along the way on the months-long journey, he intends to win her love and her hand in marriage. If he has to tell a few lies to get there, it's a price he's willing to pay.
When Juliana agrees not to reject Ian's offer until Christmas, he believes he has time to act. Yet everything he does results in her becoming more angry with him. Can't she see that he really does know what is best for her? Certainly the choices she has made for herself have been complete disasters. Certainly she can't deny the sexual attraction that sizzles beneath even their slightest touch.
Author Shelley Bradley writes compellingly of early Victorian England (the 1850s) where manners and elegance remain important, yet where women can now dream of independence and of making their own decision. Ian is an interesting character because he really does seem to know what is best for Juliana, yet who can't avoid angering her even when he does what she wants most. Although Juliana's manipulative father is on stage for only a small number of pages, he is a finely drawn figure that one can almost imagine getting to know better.
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