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Friday, December 11, 2009

Improper Holiday by K. A. Mitchell

Improper Holiday by KA Mitchell
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Historical, Holiday
Length: Short Story (75 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 4 cherries
Review by: Cactus

He followed all the rules…until one man showed him a dozen ways to break them.

As second son to an earl, Ian Stanton has always done the proper thing. Obeyed his elders, studied diligently, and dutifully accepted the commission his father purchased for him in the Fifty-Second Infantry Division. The one glaring, shameful, marvelous exception: Nicholas Chatham, heir to the Marquess of Carleigh.

Before Ian took his position in His Majesty’s army, he and Nicky consummated two years of physical and emotional discovery. Their inexperience created painful consequences that led Ian to the conviction that their unnatural desires were never meant to be indulged.

Five years later, wounded in body and plagued by memories of what happened between them, Ian is sent to carry out his older brother’s plans for a political alliance with Nicky’s father. Their sister Charlotte is the bargaining piece.

Nicky never believed that what he and Ian felt for each other was wrong and he has a plan to make things right. Getting Ian to Carleigh is but the first step. Now Nicky has only twelve nights to convince Ian that happiness is not the price of honor and duty, but its reward.

Warning: Just thinking about reading this book in 1814 could get you hanged, so the men in this book who enjoy m/m interaction of an intimately penetrative nature are in a hell of a lot of trouble.

Old lovers rekindle an explosive spark and their passion won’t be denied this time. Set in snowy historical times, Nicky schemes to reignite the love and passion he felt in stoic Ian’s arms. To do so, he must employ the mischievous nature of Ian’s sister, Charlotte, and her good friend Emily. A few helpful nudges and a vial of scented oil later, Nicky’s plan to seduce Ian succeeds. Yet that is just the first hurdle as now Ian must also agree to an inventive plan to give everyone a very happy ending.

This story is a sure win with historical romance fans. The setting is rich with color and detail, drawing a snowy holiday party with romantic flair. The characterization is solid and well drawn from the stuffy, angst-driven Ian to the flirty, wild child in Nicky. Even the bratty yet mischief-filled Charlotte is given interest and depth as the various planning and scheming between various members of the party slowly are explained. The romance between the two men is not the only affair and the novella manages to show enduring love through small touches, looks, and sacrifices.

The story is well crafted and well written with a deft touch to the characters while remaining historically accurate. The story itself focuses on the characters and notably Nicky and Ian as they renew their acquaintance and catch up on lost time. There is a lack of external conflict which is nice and allows the characters’ own turmoil to direct and progress the story. The details of the time period and setting come alive with colorful descriptions and textured scenes. The author has no doubt done her research and historical fans will delight in the small details that make up a great holiday love story. There is a small bit of angst that is easily overcome and a few daring, uncomfortable scenes for the intrepid heroes but the ending is as good as the historical period can allow.

The ending is perhaps the one sticking point that I had a problem with and others may or may not. Being as historically accurate as this particular story is, the end resolution is inventive, creative, and mostly satisfying. Clearly this is as good of a solution that can be created due to the constraints of the time period. There are other solutions offered in the story but none are really serious – even if they suit the romantic element more. So while the ending is as good as it can be, it left me a little wanting. I would have preferred a better ending but I also acknowledge this isn’t possible for the story to remain true to the setting.

Overall this is a delightful historical from a great author offering some hot, sexy men for the holiday season. Their romance definitely turns up the heat more than a few degrees and the story’s ending remains as accurate as possible. This will appeal to m/m historical romance fans most and fans of the author. Although some may be slightly disappointed in the ending as I was, I highly doubt any will dislike the story.

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