Monday, December 5, 2011

Book Review: It Happened One Christmas, by Kaitlin O'Riley (first review for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge)

This is my first review for this wonderful challenge!

Please click on the button located on my sidebar
for a list of participating bloggers.

Hope you all enjoy!!

Title: It Happened One Christmas
Author: Kaitlin O'Riley
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 332 pages
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Genre: Christmas Romance, Historical Romance

I first saw this book while doing some Christmas shopping in a regular retail store that has a book department.  Since I am a very visual person, the cover called out to me right away!  Now, I have seen many beautiful covers on books, including romance novels, of course.  This one, however, is nothing short of breathtaking!  There's a luminosity about it that is totally in keeping with this beautiful season!  It also helps that the male model is a Harrison Ford look-alike...

As for the story itself, it's a standard, if very delightful one of two people, already engaged to others, who are fated to be together.  The novel is set in Victorian England, and the entire tale takes place during the month of December, 1873. Thrown into the mix is the story of a young boy, Tom, who lives with his mother in a horrible London tenement.  The influence of Charles Dickens is very much apparent here, and it gives the story some depth, thus making it much more than just another holiday romance.

Lisette Hamilton and Quinton Roxbury meet entirely by accident -- they literally run into each other.  They collide while Lisette is breathlessly running out of an alley and onto a street.  Both are thrown to the ground, he falling on top of her.  Both are instantly mesmerized by each other.  Lisette is sure that Quinton wants to kiss her right then and there.  They are actually unable to move for several minutes.... 

I know someone will inevitably groan at this point.  Admittedly, this sounds like a cheesy cliche, but one dear to every female heart.  The fact that this is naturally a humorous situation is very well exploited by the author -- this is, after all, the stuff of romantic comedies, and I for one love to watch such movies! 

As the plot develops, both protagonists make every effort to run away from their budding, albeit rather 'inconvenient' romance, only to keep running into each other, accidentally, and, at times, not so accidentally.  The inevitable first kiss is not long in coming, either -- it takes place when Lisette is visiting her 'ailing' mother in Brighton, a town right by the sea.  While taking a stroll along the beach, Quinton kisses Lisette with passionate longing, and this starts her wondering as to her long-time fiance's restraint in this department...

The problem is that both Lisette and Quinton had made other plans for their lives, while they were unknowingly being stalked by Cupid... Quinton has accepted a proposal of marriage from the Duke of Wentworth, on behalf of that aristocrat's daughter, while Lisette has been engaged for years to her childhood friend, Henry Brooks. 

Both of them, of course, are blissfully ignorant of the fact that their soul mate exists.  Both, of course, are also content to contemplate marriage to people who suit them in other areas, none of which have anything to do with love -- Quinton seeks political influence, so that he can implement much-needed reforms for the benefit of the poor, while Lisette merely wants a comfortable, safe marriage, under the erroneous impression that this is far better than a passionate, romantic one.

The author keeps the reader turning the pages, on pins and needles, waiting for the moment of truth, when both of these very likable characters will finally realize that they are engaged to the wrong people, that they are trying to achieve their goals in totally misguided ways.  Throughout, O'Riley gives us important insights into each of the protagonists' personalities, and we romantic females end up falling in love with Quinton, while liking and admiring Lisette, wishing she were our best friend.  We are also treated to all of the currents and eddies in the course of true love, in a very entertaining and delightful way.

The story of young Tom Alcott and his mother is a wonderful secondary tale, and ties in very nicely with Quinton's noble goal of providing proper housing for the poorer classes of the day.  O'Riley manages to thread Tom's story
into the main one seamlessly, capturing our interest even though we are aware of the Dickensian influence (I am especially reminded of Oliver Twist, although the events in this book are not the same at all).  

The secondary characters are wonderful as well.  I especially like Jeffrey Eddington, a friend of the Hamilton family, as well as one of Quinton's.   He thinks of Lisette as a sister, threatening Quinton with dire consequences if he in any way dishonors her.  I also like all the Hamilton sisters, with their lively personalities, although each is different from the other.  Genevieve Hamilton, their mother, is the typical 'martyr' figure, with all of her imaginary illnesses.  However, she also very shrewdly throws Quinton and Lisette together, at her home in Brighton, knowing full well that they are meant for each other.

To sum up, this is the perfect Christmas romance!  It's totally engaging (perhaps the pun is intended...), fun to read, and very romantic, as well as thought-provoking at times.  I heartily recommend it to fellow die-hard romantics like myself!

Oh, and by the way...another Hamilton sister, Paulette, will be featured in an upcoming book!  I'll be eagerly watching for it!!  


Kaitlin O'Riley

Where To Buy:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble


  1. The cover is beautiful! And I agree about the Harrison Ford look-alike :) Great review, thanks for posting!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  2. Yep, the cover is very catchy! While the story does fit a certain cliché, I guess there's a reason for said cliché to keep coming up and up in romantic comedies everywhere, in romance books and, specially, in Christmas time... so I figure it's not too serious!

    What really piques my interest here is Tom's story. I think you're right on the mark when you say that it adds depth to the novel, and if well handled it can set this one book completely apart!

    Besides, I do love Victorian tales :)

    Thanks for posting the great review!

    Ron @ Stories of my life

  3. Great review! This looks like one I may have to check out for next year. Thanks for sharing and for participating in the challenge. I hope you're enjoying it!

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Hi, Megan!

    Yeah, I wonder where they found the model! Or maybe the cover artist used some photos of Harrison. Anyway, I love the resemblance!

    You're very welcome for the post, and thanks the wonderful comment!! : )


THIS IS NOW AN AWARD-FREE, AND TAG-FREE BLOG. Thanks for the compliment, though! : )

As of today, 9/23/18, I have permanently enabled comment moderation, due to a sudden rash of SPAM comments. I appreciate your patience!

Thanks for your thoughts on my posts! I always reply here, as well as comment back on your blog. Have a WONDERFUL day!! :)