Saturday, April 11, 2015

4.5 Stars for Victoria Alexander's What Happens at Christmas

What Happens At Christmas (Millworth Manor, #1)

What Happens at Christmas
by Victoria Alexander
Hardcover, 396 pages
Published November 2012 by Kensington
I found this bit o' treasure on BookBub for a great deal last December.  The cover is very innocent-looking compared to the rest of this adult romance series. My excuse for diving into the ENTIRE SERIES is this innocent cover, so look good and hard at the snow-globe setting and accept my innocence.  If you follow my blog, you know I don't "do" adult romance. My love scenes take place in my own bedroom with my own hero and I'm pretty stubborn about that.

I did read another book by Victoria Alexander, which I may review, and it was more of what I consider a "standard adult romance" with lots of innuendo and scenes and stuff. This series is unique, I like to tell myself, because the adult scene is (pretty much) contained to one chapter. There's adult situations, etc, don't misunderstand my meaning, but as an adult (who is married and "grown up" to some extent) who primarily reads Young Adult because of content level (not because I want to read about high school, no), but prefers "clean" romance, I have ADORED this entire series.

What Happens At Christmas introduces a hilarious family connected to Millworth Manor. Camille is the main character. She is a twin sister to a proper lady who is known for being scandalous in proper 1800's England. Her sister probably has a story somewhere... she's too detailed NOT to have a story, but I'm not sure I'm grown up enough to read it.

Camille is a widow, so we can toss the idea of "first time" out the window, which helped my sensibilities, anyway. She is known for getting into awkward situations from schemes gone awry. I did not at first like her character much, to be honest. Her morals are a bit upside down.

The hilariousness of this story happens when she decides it would be nice to marry a prince and snag him with a "perfect" English Christmas. Her family is far from perfect, so she hires actors to portray everyone. The concept sucked me in. The writing style had me laughing out loud. I was sold on the series, however, when NOTHING WORKED OUT.

The prince is not as romantic as he first appeared. An old friend drops in out of nowhere unexpectedly and turns every emotion upside down (yay, Grayson!) Actors get confused and "perfect" is left far behind... and then real family members drop in.  The more I read, the more I loved everyone, including Camille. Her family is outrageously fun and all proper behavior is abandoned to a mere, brittle shell of what it's supposed to be.

I loved it.

I'm giving this book 4.5 stars to leave room for others in the series I loved even more. If I could have warned myself I would have said, "when you reach the chapter where the clothes come off, just skip to the end of it and you'll have a clean read without missing too much story line."  The adult romance is quite explicit as would be expected from a bestselling romance author.

The high rating also takes into account how the characters remain through-out the series. Camille & Grayson are not my favorites, but I love that I know them.  I love that I met them first.