by Sandra Madden

Septemeber 2001
ISBN: 0-8217-7217-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

I normally do not read the historical genre, but something about this one appealed to me. Sandra Madden's Comfort and Joy was a surprise because I couldn't put it down! From the very first page I became totally absorbed. This is one of those books where the reader can easily slip into the story and become a part of that world.

Astonished is too mild a word for the way Charles Ryecroft felt as he woke up in a strange place snuggled up to a beautiful woman. He couldn't remember how he had gotten there or what he was doing there. If he was surprised to awaken in the humble surroundings of a poor Irish maid, imagine his shock in finding that he was married to that same maid. His memory of what had happened to him over the last several days was completely gone. Charles didn't know how he had gotten himself into this situation, but it was entirely improper for someone of his standing and breeding - the owner of a prominent publishing company - to be married to such a woman. There had to be a way to put an end to the marriage and soon. However, Charles discovered that it was the woman, Maeve, who had saved his very life after he had been beaten, robbed of his valuable painting, and left for dead in an alley.. Charles would have died was it not for the kindness and goodness of the O'Malley's. With this in mind, Charles figured that the least he could do was give Maeve the best Christmas ever. What he didn't expect was when he returned from Maeve's house to his home in Boston, his mother and her "friend" (we all know what those are about!) would show up at his door for the holidays. His mother decided immediately that Maeve wasn't good enough for her son and that as soon as the holidays were over Charles would have to divorce her and send her away. Maeve wouldn't go down easily, or without fighting for what she believed in. She worked very hard to learn what was considered "proper" and to overcome the Irish brogue that she spoke with. She soon became the talk of society and the belle of the ball at the largest most important Christmas party of the season. No one knew where she came from but they all thought she was the most beautiful creature they had ever laid eyes on.

Charles and Maeve are taken through a holiday season filled with laughter, tears, interference by relatives and friends, adventure searching for the stolen painting, and self-evaluation. Can Charles love a poor Irish maid? Will they be able to find the painting which Charles values far more than it is worth? Can they overcome the pressures of society to be together for true loves sake? Or will Charles' breeding and society's pressure destroy what could have been the most wonderful thing either of them has ever had?

This book is definitely worth reading to find out! There is not a dull moment as we slip into the story and see the world through the eyes of this unusual heroine. I stayed glued to the story from beginning to the end! This is one book that I recommend to anyone looking for some holiday romance and cheer.

Reviewed in November 2001 by Angela.

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