Cover Image: The Widow’s Christmas Surprise

The Widow’s Christmas Surprise

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Member Reviews

Not Quite What I Thought It Would Be

I chose this book at one of my favorite book review sites for two reasons: I love Christmas romance, and the idea of a steward being the hero intrigued me. I've read a lot of historical romance over the course of my life, and while I have seen other heroes not of the gentry, like stable workers or footmen, I could not recall ever seeing a steward as a hero. Unfortunately, the story disappointed on several fronts. First, there's not really much Christmas in the story. Yes, it takes place around that time of year, but it didn't feel like it was a focal point. Certainly, there is no Christmas joy and magic here. Second, the hero and heroine didn’t get much screen time until much later in the book. For me, I have to see them together often so I can actually see the evolving romantic growth arc between the couple. Hard to have a romance if the couple isn’t together much! Third, the heroine was not an easy woman to like despite all the difficulties we see her go through and know that she has suffered. She is incredibly young to have twice been a widow, still a teenager. That in itself seems implausible. She is still incredibly naïve about the world and men; her circumstances should have made her grow up a little more. I wasn't particularly wild about her controlling cousin, either. But what nearly had me setting down the novel and walking away was when the new heir and his family showed up. The new earl was despicable and only cared about himself and his family. He was willing to be underhanded and deceitful. I swear, as he hatched the new plan after he found out from the solicitor about an upcoming change to the family's resources, I could almost see him twist the ends of a mustache like a Victorian villain in a melodrama. The brightest spot in this novel was Hugh, the hero. He is kind, considerate, and compassionate. By the way, for a Christmas novel, there are surprisingly violent themes, like death by duel and suicide. All in all, I found myself disappointed in this book.
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Maria's husband is killed in a duel (after being found in another woman's bed) and one month later she gives birth--to a baby girl. Scorned by the ton, and stripped of an inheritance, she turns to her late husband's steward for comfort, a man who is loving, kind, but penniless. Faced with their impossible attraction Maria runs to stay with friends for Christmas. But the holidays may bring the greatest gift of all...

Okay, so I think most of my issues with this book are that my expectations were for a happy, festive romance with a mature widow finding love at Christmas time. This book really was not that. CW for mentions of attempted rape, suicide and adultery. (view spoiler)

Honestly though, I read the word widow and I expected an older heroine, someone who had knowledge of how the world actually works. Maria was very immature and spent most of the book crying, flailing and making a mess of things. I would have thought given she's been married, and widowed twice it would have forced her to grow up a bit. And as a countess surely she would have had lessons in manners and how everything works--she didn't even know what a dowager house was and had to be told be her cousin. I believe she was 18 or 19? But she came across as much younger. Also her flirting with the help only a handful of months after her second husband died made me eye roll.

As a contrast to all that, our hero Hugh is lovely and I really could not see what he saw in Maria (other than her looks). He is very sweet and caring and when tragedy befalls his family he sets about doing the honourable thing and trying his best to help his sister and the household.

Also maybe it's because I'm a mother myself, and a modern mother with different values, but I didn't like the way the baby was pretty much forgotten about. The opening chapter all revolves around her birth, and how Maria feels about having a baby girl, but then she's pretty much shunted to the side. I would have liked a few scenes just with Maria bonding with her, it would have given me more of a connection to her.

All in all I probably would not recommend this one, especially to someone looking for a holiday read. Some of the subjects talked about are very dark and heavy, and I had a really hard time connecting with any of the characters.

{Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review}
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I have read the books in this series, but have very little memory of Maria as being heavily featured in the others. Thankfully, you don't have to read these books in order (or at all) in order to be able to read this one. 

I went into this one knowing from the start all I needed to know. Maria was a very young, twice widowed woman who was in the midst of giving birth while her second husband prepared to fight a duel that he knew he could not win. A duel of his own making considering he was found in bed with a wife that was not his own. 

From the start I couldn't like Maria. I get it. She was first married at 16, her husband went to war two days later and was killed. She ends up falling for a rake and getting duped into a second marriage a year or so later (after getting knocked up). She has obviously not had an easy life - but why the heck is so she naïve that she doesn't know what a Dower house is? Or she can't see that she is being duped by the new Lord Kersey and his son? Of course, this could have something to do with the fact that her cousin is practically a shrew; seriously she tells poor Maria that she's made two unsuitable matches thus far and Jane will not have such a thing happen again while Maria is under her charge. Under her charge? Maria has been twice widowed woman, she doesn't need anyone in charge of her or chaperoning her for that matter. Especially when Jane has a lover herself that she's eager to be with. 

I could have probably overlooked those things as this author does weave together a good story that is capable of drawing the reader in despite a few over the top characters. However - for what is billed as a Christmas story? Not only does very little of the story actually take place on Christmas, but there are some pretty serious topic addressed (adultery, destitution and suicide among them).  As I'm sure you can imagine, this does not make for a very cheery or Christmassy story. I also would have liked to have seen Maria take her daughter's future into consideration when she's flirting with her late husband's steward when she's not even out of mourning for her second husband yet. Instead, the daughter seems to be little more than an accessory, brought out once in awhile just to remind the reader that she exists and then shipped off into the background again while her mother does whatever she pleases. 

However, I am sure this novel will appeal to fans of this author and this series. Just as I'm sure there will be people who pick this story up and immediately fall in love with it. But at the end of the day, it just was not for me. I would read more from this author however, as I have read other stories by her and enjoyed them much more than this one.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.
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After her husband is killed in a duel, Maria is left with nothing but the good grace of the new Lord Kersey but it is not how it seems.  Unknown to her, there was a will that left her well care for but the new lord has plans to have her marry his heir and retain all of the holdings.  The story also includes a new love interest for Maria, her new infant daughter, her cousin Jane and the Widow’s Club.  I enjoyed the story.  It is well written and a good read.  I would recommend reading this story as you will not be disappointed.
I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley and are voluntarily leaving a review.
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This is the first book I read in this series and it won't surely be the last because it's highly entertaining.
An enjoyable plot  full of twists and turns that kept me hooked, great characters (I rooted for them) and a sweet romance.
It's highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for kindly providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Not going to lie, being the magpie I sometimes can be, the first thing that attracted me to this book was the gorgeous cover. Credit where credit is due, whoever designed that has certainly hit the mark. Gloriously Christmassy and romantic.
However, the story itself was not quite so full of the Christmas feels for me. I’m an odd one and I’m rather partial to a Christmas murder mystery (on the Agatha Christie cosy side of things). My December reading is usually either Christmas romance or Christmas mystery, but I do like to know what I’m getting and the distinction. This particular romance novel was very heavy on some distinctly un-Christmassy themes such as suicide, adultery, attempted rape, and all other manner of skulduggery. Although having said that my favourite all time film It’s A Wonderful Life is about a man considering suicide so maybe it’s not so unusual. I thought the author wrote well and I certainly did want to know what happened next. I haven’t read the other books in the series but I think this can stand well enough on its own. Other characters are mentioned but their past stories are not vital to understanding this storyline. 
I do confess to a particular gripe I had with this book, and I hold my hands up and admit my bias as a modern day mother, with modern day ideals, but it really did not sit right with me how little contact or consideration the heroine paid her child. The child with which the story begins with being born, and I feel that we are lead to believe this child was to play more of an important role in the story. But she is just used as a plot point, and not referred to much again. I know traditionally many upperclass ladies will have handed over their children to wet nurses and have played minimal roles in raising that child. In this story though, I feel that it may have helped me warm more to this character if we’d have had a little scene or two which showed her caring, bonding and thinking of her child rather than just concentrating on her own wishes and desires. Overall, an enjoyable read, but not the light and fluffy Christmas read I was expecting.
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What that book blurb doesn't tell you, and I'm happy to fill the void, is that there are devastating barriers to the happiness of Maria and Hugh.  This book kept me turning pages into the wee hours because I couldn't put it down.  I just had to find out how an HEA would be resolved.  Jenna Jaxon's Widow's Club series has been a bit hit or miss for me but this one is definitely a terrific read. I think Ms Jackson has become a better author with each successive book in the series.  

This is a standalone book with characters from the other books in the series who make appearances.  But you will not be lost; each character is introduced if only casually. 

There is that Christmasy feeling and I don't think it is too early in the season to read a book with some Christmas.  In fact it just might put you in the Holiday mood.  That's something we all need during this pandemic.
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If you're expecting a nice lighthearted Christmas story, this isn't it! I was a bit thrown off when the subject of suicide was brought up. Don't get me wrong, the story isn't that bad but it has some serious issues and some of the characters just irritated me. 

Maria is one of the most immature heroines I've ever read and I really didn't feel any connection to her. As for her romance with  Hugh, I felt no sparks between them at all. I did cheer her on, though, when she finally stood up for herself!! As for Hugh, I found him to be a real sweetheart and I felt so sad for him at what happened to his brother. 

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
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I recieved a free copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Unfortunately, for me this was a DNF at around  25%.  I just could not get into the book.  I didn't care about the characters at all.  I just felt bored.  The other books in the series have also been a miss for me so I think I am going to take a break from this author for a while.
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Alan, Earl of Kersey, was preparing his will, in two hours he had to fight a duel and was unsure if he would survive. He didn't. He was a scoundrel and cad and not been faithful. His sweet young wife had been left nothing in his will. This was her second marriage, The first husband died at Waterloo.
Maria, Lady Kersey, delivered a beautiful baby girl. They had hoped for a boy to take over the title. Since she had a girl she could not inherit the title or the entailed Property. Once another was found she would have to leave unless he was super nice.
Mr. Hugh Granger was the steward at Kersey Hall and had been for some time. Her cousin asked if there was a Dowager House and what kind of shape was it in. Mr. Granger said there was and took them for an inspection. It needed some small repairs. She felt she needed to know him longer. She didn't want to make the same mistake she had made with Alan. His brother had been shot and his sister needed him home right away.
So much was going on in this story, waiting for the new Earl, his brother, the Tate tenants, etc. It kept the tale interesting and entertaining. The characters were warm and comforting, so realistic.  It was a worthwhile book.
I received this ARC from Net Galley and voluntarily reviewed it.
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There are times when I come across a book I don't connect with. Despite that, I always finish it hoping it gets better. This is the first time I've not been able to finish a book.   I didn't like the main character, Maria. She was a very silly, immature girl. She's 18,widowed twice and already flirting with another gentleman.   I just couldn't connect and couldn't finish. 
I was given an advanced copy of this book to review.
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I've read the other books in this series and this one didn't really hold my interest. I thought Maria was a silly young woman. Granted she was young, but having been a countess she should have had a little more character. I did like Mr. Granger. He was so honorable and seemed to be the only one thinking about Maria's reputation. There are some serious issues discussed in this book and although well done, not something I would expect to read in a Christmas story. Christmas didn't really play into the plot until the very end.
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This book was interesting and the premise was good, however the heroine, Maria, just seemed silly to me. Yes I understand that she is a bit young, but after being married and widowed twice, you would expect her to be a little more sensible. There were lots of little things about the story that didn’t ring true  , and the dialogue was clunky.
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Let me start by saying that Christmas historical romances are my all-time favorite thing to read. But I really did not enjoy this book. I would not have finished it if u had not been given a copy to review. Christmas plays a really minor role in the plot, and the actual romance is minimal too. I found it both boring, annoying, and depressing. 

Trigger warning: attempted sexual assault and suicide. (Just what you look for in a Christmas romance, right?) It focuses on a young (really young and immature) heroine who has lost two husbands and had a baby girl. She was left nothing to live on and has to grapple with her emotions and the heir. 

It is a later book in a series that I have not read. Maybe I would have liked it more if I had read those, but this one does not even get 3 stars for me.

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher and Net Galley in return for a fair review.
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An entertaining and well written regency romance.  Good plot and character development.  I highly recommend this book.  I received an advance ebook from the publisher and this is my unbiased review.
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Such a sweet, moving Christmas romance. Loved this one. Can't wait to read more in the series. 

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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The Widows Christmas Surprise by Jenna Jaxon
Twice Married-Twice Widowed. Unlucky or Cursed? The first time Maria was married at sixteen to William , all of two days before he shipped out and was killed in action. Her second husband, she was seduced by a handsome rogue and married due to being with child! He was killed before she delivered the child in a duel because he was in the harms of another!
The author actually has written Maria’s character growing up and being strong. There are a few times in the book that you want to slap her awake and also tell her bossy friend to butt out. However, isn’t that what real life is 🤪 we have to make our own mistakes and learn from them to be able to mature? We all have those well meaning friends and family who want to guide us or guard us from what they think could harm us or happen to us in the future? Life is all about chances and decisions right or wrong!
This book is a great example of a woman who has went from a child bride to a mature woman with a child to a woman who has desires and needs and has found herself and the one man she realizes is her love. 
I truly found this book endearing and it’s a book of endless love!
I received a advanced copy from NetGalley and these are my willingly given thoughts and opinions!
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I was so happy that Maria had her cousin Jane by her side throughout all of this. It definitely showed her what true family is and should act like. 
Hugh is a very noble man. He might not have nobility running through his veins but obviously that's not all it takes to be Noble.
There's not a lot of Christmas in this book. It focused more on the relationships in it which I appreciated.
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Hugh and Maria's story was the kind of romance I love to read. This book proves it doesn't matter your station in life, when love strikes, it doesn't care. Ms. Jaxon continues to write stories that make the reader feel they are a part of the story, watching from the chair.
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A poor effort to add to the Regency/historical genre. The author didn’t seem to do enough research or build out her characters enough. Maria was clearly far too young and stupid to really enjoy. If she was a countess, she would have been trained in manners, decorum, propriety and how the peerage worked. Apparently she was a trophy instead and no one really wants to read about 2-dimensional characters. I liked Mr Granger but was disappointed that he fell for Maria.

I was provided with an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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