Bookworm Sez
‘His Mistress by Christmas’ will put the jingle back in your bell

“His Mistress by Christmas” by Victoria Alexander; c.2011, Kensington; $19.95 / $22.95 Canada; 352 pages
You don’t make a lot of demands. This year is the exception.

Specifically, if there isn’t a certain little box beneath the tree, there could be trouble. You’re fully expecting it to be there, so it’d better be. It should be wrapped in shiny paper with a gold – no, a silver – bow. And what’s inside had better be just as glimmery as the outside and it better be very, very expensive.

You’re a woman of few desires, and one of them is sparkly. For Veronica, Lady Smithson, her deepest Christmas wish is for a man – but not a husband. In the new book “His Mistress by Christmas” by Victoria Alexander, Veronica may get more than she wanted.


That’s what Portia, Lady Redwell, thought about her friend Veronica, Lady Smithson. True, it had been three years since Veronica’s husband died and that’s a long time to be in mourning, but the lustful look on Veronica’s face when she saw Portia’s cousin, Sir Sebastian Hadley-Attwater, well, there was just one word for it: scandalous.

Terri Schlichenmeyer

It was doubly shocking, then, when Veronica whispered that she didn’t want to be married again. She merely wanted to be Sebastian’s mistress.

Sir Sebastian had been around the world, visited foreign countries, and had met heads of state and village chieftains. Daring and adventurous, ladies were quite drawn to him, though he was a firmly avowed bachelor – which is why Sebastian surprised himself by falling head-over-heels in love – instantly – with lovely Lady Smithson.

He also decided instantly that he would marry her. But when he proposed, just days after their first meeting, Lady Smithson turned him down flat.

She wanted Sir Sebastian very much, but not as a wife. For most of her life, Veronica had been headstrong, decisive, and independent. She was used to her freedom and had no intention of being some man’s “chattel.” She could love Sebastian, but she could never marry him.

She did, however, agree to spend Christmas at his new country home outside London and he agreed to her terms. A holiday in the country – just the two of them – would be the perfect way to embark on their quiet affair… until love and two well-meaning families stepped in and messed up a perfectly good Yuletide plan.

When it comes to bodice-ripping historical love stories, “His Mistress by Christmas” is pretty typical. You’ve got your handsome rogue, your headstrong redhead, furtive kisses, an argument, misunderstanding, reconnection, and Happily Ever After.

The difference is that this book adds a twist that might draw readers who don’t normally go for romances: author Victoria Alexander blends a bit of “Taming of the Shrew” into this novel. There’s also a touch of romp, a feel of modernity (even though the story is set in Victorian times) and a surprisingly blistering bedroom scene, so beware before wrapping this as a gift.

If you’re the romance lover, though, “His Mistress by Christmas” promises to put the jingle back in your bell. For you, this is a book to demand.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3-years-old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.