Lady Charlotte Woodridge always had a mind of her own. Being the daughter of a duke comes with obligations and expectations, something she disapproves of wholeheartedly. She strongly detests how society works and that she is supposed to treat people differently because of their rank and standing. When a man over twenty years her senior asks for her hand in marriage and her father agrees to it, she fights back with all the stubbornness she can summon. She wants to marry for love, not because she is told to marry. When her father agrees to a compromise, it leaves her upset. Lady Charlotte has one month to find her true love and receive and accept a proposal. Was that even possible?
I received this book from the author for free. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary.
“’I give you until the end of this month to find love and accept a proposal. If you can’t find what you are looking for, I will announce your engagement to Lord Kenworthy.’
‘You can’t be serious, Father! A month? How am I supposed to find love in a month? It is December already.’”
Sappy Christmas books are a hit or miss with me, but I went into Joining Hearts for Christmas excited and ready to don a goofy smile. I picked it up two weeks before Christmas so I was certainly ready for all the holiday cheer. However, I was shocked by the opening pages and the author’s note.
It’s a sweet note and very personal, however, it should have definitely been an afterword because it creates skepticism and doubt for the reader going into the book. Whereas if it had been an afterword at the end, it would have been a surprise. This is a Christmas Regency Romance novella, of which the target audience is: lovers of regency romance. Right? The author nonchalantly mentions, in the front of the book, that she’s not a fan of regency romance and has only read books by three other regency romance authors that she liked. That’s not what I want to hear from an author whose regency romance I am about to read. This admission immediately disconnected me from the book and made me view this story as the author’s experiment rather than a heartfelt Christmas story. So the author’s note, unintentionally I’m sure, threw up red flags that made me MUCH more critical of the story than I would have been just starting the novella without the author’s note.
So, as a result of that information floating around in my mind as I started the story, I struggled to not compare it to other regency romances that I’ve loved. And I really, really tried to set that aside and just read the story. But it was pretty much a hopeless challenge. From the first page, it felt as if the author crammed every cliche that she knew about regency romances (and probably what she dislikes about regency romances herself) into a tiny 148 pages and published it. In addition to that, the novella is almost completely dialogue; there aren’t even dialogue tags until the end of the first page. I would complain about that in any universe about any genre of book, because there was no way to pause and reflect on our main character and what she was feeling. We were just eavesdropping on her conversations, so I really had a difficult time connecting with her and supporting her–since most of her dialogue was simply whining about her situation to those who would listen. There was no depth to her character, so I never felt sorry for her.
The only other major issue that I had was inconsistent point of views. Charlotte should have never been able to describe the feelings of those she talked to, yet, she did. Often. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in books, so it grated on my nerves every time it happened.
Overall, like I said at the beginning, I truly, truly went into this book open-minded and excited. It’s been a while since I’ve visited a regency romance and this one looked so cute. But my excitement deflated more and more as I got further into the book. It’s clean and there are some sweet conversations, but it was a pretty disappointing read for me all things included.