I collect Christmas stories throughout the year and save them to read at the end of the year. All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke looked promising, but I couldn’t finish it. And I won’t be picking it back up.
“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Robinson” is Delilah Marvelle’s contribution to the anthology, and it had a lot of things going for it. Older woman, younger man–I love this trope. Woman falls in love with letters written by another man is another idea I like. So I jumped into this story with great expectations. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me. I think Marvelle’s writing simply isn’t for me. It’s quite melodramatic, and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief. The story opens at a party where Jane Robinson discovers that her husband didn’t write the letters she fell in love with. She confronts him; they argue; he dies. Afterward, she sells all her belongings and moves to a rooming house where Martin’s aunt lives. Martin, of course, is the man who really wrote the letters.
I liked Martin well enough, but Jane was another matter. I don’t get how she flitted through any social circle she wanted. She’s also quite prickly with Martin, a man she knew in their adolescence. I guess she was supposed to be spirited, but I didn’t understand why she couldn’t be a little courteous. And how realistic is it that she would turn down money from her dead husband’s brother because she wants to make her own way? I kept reading for a little while, but I soon realized I didn’t care what happened to Jane, so I stopped reading.
Enter Maire Claremont’s “The Twelve Days of Seduction.” It begins with Adriana on the verge of losing her position as governess to a duke. The duke, it seems, has learned that she “is nothing like a governess should be.” She is *gasp* a novelist. So she can’t be governess to his ward. But he will consent to having her as his mistress. And he kindly states that she can still see his ward, because they care too much for each other to be separated. For some reason it’s not appropriate for her to tutor the child any longer, but she can spend time with her after she becomes his mistress.
I gave both stories a try, but this is a DNF all around.