by Sandra Madden

October 2004
ISBN: 0-8217-7765-3
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Annapolis, Maryland

June, 1878

Standing in front of the minister, Clementine Calhoun could hardly believe the words coming out of her mouth as she promised to love honor and obey a total stranger! Having traveled halfway across the country from her native Texas to honor the wishes of her late father, a Navy sailor who betrothed her to his commanding officer's son, Rand Noble, when she was no more than a baby. Wanting to be rid of his embarrassingly socially inept sister who was on the fast track to spinsterhood, Clementine's brother comes across the old agreement and sends her to the Nobles so she can fulfill the promise made by their father. Totally out of her element in the sophisticated and proper world of naval society in Annapolis, Clementine hopes she can learn to be a proper Navy wife to her new handsome husband.

Widowed for over four years, Dr. Rand Noble has been living the life of a carefree rake much to his fatherís dismay. So, when his father insists he honor the long ago pact between him and his friendís daughter, Rand reluctantly agrees just so he can finally have the son he always dreamed of having. However, after one look at his beautiful new wife and her very independent spirit, Rand begins to want more then he originally planned for in marrying Clementine, he has found someone who stirs his heart.

Always on the prowl for new, fresh plots in the world of Historical romance, I was extremely intrigued with Sandra Maddenís spin on arranged marriage in Kiss Me At Christmas. The story of a Naval officer in the infancy of the United States Navy is certainly different then your run of the mill Victorian love story. Texan Clementine dances to her own tune; she smokes, swears, drinks hard liquor, and dresses and walks like the cowboys of her native land. But Clementine does try her hardest to adapt to the social niceties of Maryland to win Randís love. Under her father-in-law's and her good friend Ruby's tutalege, she learns to tone down her Texas drawl and to dress and act more like a lady. At times, Rand can be a bit pompous and selfish by not meeting Clementine halfway. However, he is a devoted surgeon and dutiful officer who does start displaying other redeeming qualities. As an added bonus there is a sub-romance plot involving Rand's father and Clementine's friend Mrs. Ruby LaRue, a psychic/medium who finally brings the old man to heel! In fact I began to enjoy their romance story more than the one surrounding the main characters! You will find this story a good, quick read, and one that will leave you with a warm Christmas feeling inside.

Reviewed in December 2004 by Bonnie.

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