“Five berries equal the five separate kisses I challenge you to steal.”
Notorious rake Henry “Hal” Stuart, Earl of Redbridge, is certain he’ll win his Christmas bet— until he learns he’ll be stealing Lady Elizabeth Wilding’s kisses. A woman who refuses to be charmed! Once jilted, Lizzie must guard her heart, because the ton is unaware of her scandalous secret— her son!
Despite their increasing attraction, she can’t risk the persistent Hal bringing down her defenses. But when her former fiancé returns, Lizzie realizes that perhaps Hal’s the one man she can trust— with her heart and her son…
This is my first Christmas book of the year and it is a doozy, and it can’t be kept just for Christmas “His Mistletoe Wager” should be read now and then again and again and then at Christmas and then again…
Be mine for ever, Lizzie. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m a little bit in love with you. Good grief!
Was he? How had that happened?
He needed to stop speaking. Clamp his wayward jaws shut.
“I can’t marry you.”
“It would be totally wrong…”
Five years earlier Elizabeth (Lizzie) Wilding is waiting in the church for the love of her life, only to be horrible jilted by only to be told by a note hastely scribbled. She is broken this man was suppose to be her happy ever after, she had given him everything even her innocence only for him to jilt her. Leaving her facing scandal and censor, not only that but leaving her pregnant.
Now she is five years older she has sworn off men for the rest of her life, she has built a wall around her heart and no man will ever broach it again, the only man she wants in her life is her son; George. She has decided that now her son is getting older she is to leave her aristocratic life and move to Yorkshire in peace where her and her cute as button son, George can live without all the cloak and dagger, creeping around as what happens now. She has planned to live her life as a widow, which is entirely proper and also she knows that as a widow her son will be accepted. But unfortunately for lizzie her father has yet again decided that she needs to get herself back on the marriage market and it would be in her best interest to find a gent and get married.
To not only complicate things and make matters worse for her, she has caught the attention of the rakish and womanizing Henry Stuart, the new Earl of Redbridge, for whatever reason he has suddenly decided that she is exactly what he needs to get through this Christmas. He makes her a bargain that she cannot possibly pass up, but in dealing with the devil himself will she be able to fulfil her dream of living independently? Or will she succumb to his charms?
The initial meeting between her and Hal is really very funny, he forces himself in to her little bubble and she is just so irritated by him. She literally think of him as a pesky wasp that first needs swatting with a good old fashioned barbed, tongue lashing. When that doesn’t work she decided that the only way to make the wasp go away is to ignore it, which is highly amusing.
“I am in no mood to engage in polite conversation or anything else this evening.” She flicked her eyes back towards the dance floor and turned her body away from his, allowing the uncomfortable seconds to tick by.
Men were like wasps. If you ignored them, they eventually went away.
She heard the slight creaking protest of wood and realised he had eased his big body into the chair alongside . She gave him her best unwelcoming frown and curtest tone.
“I do not recall inviting you to sit.” This insect clearly needed swatting…..
Lizzie has been through the mill, the way her ex-fiancé treated her was awful and the scoundrel should be well and truly ashamed of himself, but instead he waltz’s back into society as though butter wouldn’t melt. He is nothing but an arrogant two faced, and too far up his own arse lout, who can also bring a lot of trouble down on her family. Not just her, but her father. Let me that say that her father did what any father would do in the circumstances, that his daughter was in, but now trouble is being brought down on his head for his actions.
I really like Lizzie, people from society may think of her as an ice queen and a boring old spinster who wouldn’t know fun if it danced naked in front of her, but that’s just a visage. That’s how she wants everyone to think her to be, that way she is protecting her damaged heart and her young son. She is a really good mother to him she tries her very utmost best for him, and her plan to move to the country to live as a widow is proof of far she will go to make sure her son gets the very best life. And to be perfectly honest, I can’t fault her for her plan to live in a secluded cottage in Yorkshire. The girl is on the money.
I like her father as well, the way he protects his daughter from the society vultures, he makes sure that after the jilting no scandal will tarnish Lizzie’s name. He even goes against the grain of the time by letting Lizzie keep her illegitimate son which was very rare as most unwed aristocratic women had their children taken away to hide the scandal. I applaud him for that and I highly applaud him for what he did, maybe not the best course of action but applaudable anyway.
Hal has got to the point in his life where he is bored of the rakish behaviour, he want’s something more to fill his days. Not just a quick tryst with a willing widow, he finds that since gaining the title he has found an whole new love of books and politics and how things are run.
He has spent his life going against the grain and flaunting his rakish ways for all and sundry to see but now that he has taken his rightful place in parliament he finds that he enjoys the debates. He is growing into the Earl we know deep down he is and, we as readers can see what he’s missing in his life and why he isn’t as bothered with bed hopping as he used to be. But as ever with our heroes it does take them a while to get to the conclusion that; Yes, he needs a woman! A good, strong woman who can put him in his place.
But I am jumping the gun ahead a little here, his brother-in-law the fabulous Aaron Wincanton sees how down in the dumps Hal is, so he sets him a wager. Hal has to steal five kisses from a woman – of Aaron’s choosing – in five different places before the end of the Christmas season. And another term to the wager; appropriately named “His Mistletoe Wager” is that Hal’s sister and Aarons’ wife; Connie does not find out about it!
Hal is appalled by the prospect of trying to woo five kisses out of “Sullen Lizzie” the most guarded, ice queen he has ever known. But the minute he speaks to her, he knows that there something about this woman. he sees how when he tries to speak with her she closes down she erects that brick wall and refuses anyone entry into her thoughts, he starts to see her as so much more than what she appears to be and the unveiling of this wonderful young woman to him is beautiful.
There is so many layer’s to this man, he is charming roguish and seeing as he is a big kid himself he is great with children, his two adorable nieces – who are just like the mother Connie and Georgie. He is the typical cheeky and fun uncle that everyone wants in the family.
“Where have you been!” Instantly, she clamped her silly jaws shut.
“Be still my beating heart. You sound astoundingly pleased to see me.” His words grated.
I do love a Christmas story and this is such a sweet, festive tale that can be read at any time. For me Lizzie’s personal struggle and trials that she has to face and what she has gone through is the centre stone of the book, and that’s what Heath is particularly very good at. She brings the character’s alive and as always Heath transports you to another time and place with her charming and enigmatic writing, which is as ever spot on.
For me Aaron does steal the book, but that’s probably because I have a soft spot for him. I love what Heath’s done with him and his family it’s so good catching up with Connie and Aaron and seeing how well their doing and how they are still the super cute couple they were in the end of their book.
Over all Ms Heath has done it again, she had created a fun Christmassy and intriguing love story and one that I highly recommend.
This was a ARC Copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
His Mistletoe Wager is released on 1st October and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.