Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29860-0
Historical Romance, 2015
Catherine Harding is in a pickle. You see, she is single and pregnant. And her baby is letting her know, without any doubt, that it’s check out time… while Kate is busy being on the run from her brother, who wants to take the baby away from her. So here she is, doing the necessary with a horse looking over her shoulder, a bit like that famous scene with the virgin mother minus the whole god is beautiful thing. Or maybe a divine being is indeed watching over her, as our medically knowledgeable hero Grantham Rivers happen to be around.
His grandfather is about to croak and he wants to reach the man’s home and see his son for Christmas, but he has to help Kate first. Realizing that he needs a mother for his son, and that marrying him could prevent Kate’s brat from being perceived as illegitimate, he proposes to her in the spur of the moment.
So, there you go. A marriage between strangers, who soon grow to love one another.
His Christmas Countess is a Christmas story, obviously, so an amount of Hallmark-Disney-orgy kind of running sweetness is perhaps to be expected. And, by right, this is a painless, fluffy read. But I don’t know, maybe I’m just a cranky rear end of a camel, but I soon get weary of the heroine’s constant self-depreciation. Oh, he’s being so nice… to her? Really, he’s so kind… to lousy old her? Can it be, can that big fat chubby jutting out from his crotch is really because of… plain old her? Can you believe it, he loves… boring, helpless, simple, plain old her? Yucks. After a while, that entire act starts to seem insincere, disingenuous, just like what happens if Taylor Swift and Anne Hathaway somehow manage to make a saccharine baby together, and I really feel like force feeding her some vinegar or something.
Grant is a less annoying character, if you can overlook the fact that he and his three friends are all part of the author’s “Fire! Water! Earth! Wind! Oh, bugger off Heart, that’s such a lame power best kept for heroines…” series, and that Grant is the water part of the Captain Planet’s Series for Hot Boys. Yes, the author actually calls these blokes “Elementals”, which is only acceptable if they are a boyband, which they aren’t. Anyway, Grant here is a pretty nice fellow, and he ends up trusting Kate despite his trust issues caused by sneaky women in his past. He does the right things and say the nicest things, in other words – the perfect savior for any heroine who needs a man to sweep her up and clean up all her issues – which is, of course, what he does for Kate. I suppose I should like him – he’s part nerd and part hunk, after all – but somehow, when we pair him up with Ms Taylor Hathaway here, he ends up being even more of a dull trophy peen for the heroine than he probably should be.
The plot is predictable – the villain whom I expect will show up does so, et cetera. The only pleasant surprise here is that Miss “Really? You Like My Bosoms? Like, Really?” Oh-So-Humble here doesn’t go all out in being some cracked-up martyr or idiot. She’s just this insincere tart constantly angling for compliments.
I don’t find anything really objectionable with His Christmas Countess, really. And, alas, I don’t find anything memorable about it, either. Days from now, I may recall vaguely an occasional desire to throttle the heroine each time she bats her eyelids and go, “I immediately orgasmed like a turbo rocket overload the moment he touches me like that… surely that can’t happen to mousy, simple, boring, plain old me! Right? Right?” And, weeks from now, I probably won’t remember even that.