Publisher: WOLF Publishing
Release Date: October 18th 2022
Genre: Romance – Regency – Christmas
Part of Naughty or Nice: A Holiday Regency Anthology – Once Upon an Aggravatingly Heroic Kiss Review / A Diamond for Christmas Review / The Governess Gamble Review / The Countess’s Christmas Groom Review / A Very Daring Christmas Review / Gentleman of Christmas Past Review
The final story in Naughty or Nice, and I’ll hopefully get my full review for the anthology up soon. I enjoyed this one a little more than #6, but I think it’s another that would have benefited from being a little earlier in the collection. Markgraf Alexander Kottenfurst is invited to England for negotiations and, determined to do his duty, he’s keen to get on with the talks right away. But the men he’s supposed to be talking to insist he’s to enjoy his holiday first. Meanwhile, Prudence is under strict instructions from her parents to behave, or she will be shut in her room for the remainder of the party.
Prudence is supposed to be impulsive, but it largely feels like we’re told this more than shown it, with some of the things her parents punish her for feeling a bit much, or they had to be overexplained – I wasn’t sure if half the time we were supposed to be siding with Pru or her parents! They drag her to her room for the smallest reasons, and it gets a bit tedious. The romance aspect was sweet, but similar to Gentleman of Christmas Past, this one tried to introduce complications that there was no room to really explore, meaning a few things here felt too quickly brushed over.
To me, the main problem here is a pacing issue, as we have moments that feel rushed alongside the more political aspect feeling a bit stretched out, to build up Kottenfurst’s character, yet the ‘agreement’ they strike at the end felt a bit much. It just felt largely out of balance, with too little time dedicated to the couple we’re supposed to be rooting for. It also feels like characters change their minds or get over things just a little too quickly – another problem with not having the room to explore things more.
Bond is a good writer, but the novella leaves little room for extra plot-points alongside the romance, and here particularly parts of the story felt rushed or dropped too quickly.