Review – With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins.

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever–on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can’t let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                     With This Christmas Ring

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Merry Parks has just said a final farewell to her dear friend, Charlotte, who died shortly after giving birth to a daughter.  Charlotte swore that she and the baby’s father were legally married, and begged Merry to deliver the baby to her father to raise.  Merry promises her friend that she will do this, even though it will bring her to the home of a man she never wants to see again, her former fiancé, Alex.

Alexander Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is shocked when his former fiancée, Merry, shows up at his home with a child, claiming that his cousin, Will, is the baby’s father.  Five years ago, he and Merry were wildly in love and engaged to be married, when Merry abruptly ended their engagement.  Alex never received a satisfactory explanation why, and Merry refused all further contact with him.  Seeing Merry now brings back his feelings of love and longing, and he’s determined to find the reason Merry chose to leave him.  He requests that Merry bring the baby to Wrotham Castle, where Will and the rest of his family will be celebrating Christmas.

With much trepidation, Merry agrees, though she refuses to stay, only planning to see the baby properly acknowledged and settled in before she returns home.  It’s very painful seeing Alex again, as she never stopped loving him.  She only ended their engagement due to pressure from someone in his family, and didn’t tell him the true reason why because she didn’t want to cause a family rift.  She is barely through the door when she begins to be the target of veiled (and not so veiled) insults from  some of his family.  Thankfully, Will acknowledges the baby as his, and Merry begins to make arrangements to leave, only to find that the weather has other plans.

Alex thanks his lucky stars for the snowy weather, because he has decided that not only will he have answers from Merry, he intends to win her back.  He is very forthright with Merry, letting her know his intentions almost from the beginning, and I loved this.  Alex isn’t stupid, and he had his suspicions all along about why Merry left, and if his belief is true, he’s ready to make some changes.

I can admire Merry’s good intentions in not wanting to cause a breach between Alex and his family, yet at the same time, I was disappointed that she was unwilling to confide in him, and was willing to let such a strong love go.  She’s a stronger person now, and I cheered as she stood up for herself and decided to reach out for happiness.  Alex is stronger now, too, and nothing is more important than building a future with the woman he never stopped loving.  Their reconciliation is sweet and steamy, with Alex showing how honorable and passionate he truly is.

WITH THIS CHRISTMAS RING is a warm and romantic story with a second chance at love for two very deserving people.  I loved seeing how Merry and Alex changed from five years ago, yet their love remained steadfast.  Author Manda Collins showed the villain trying to paint himself/herself in a more favorable light, and offering rationalization for their actions, but I didn’t completely buy it.  This did, however, allow for there not to be a total breach in the family, which was Merry’s initial fear, and neatly wrapped up any loose ends.  I thoroughly enjoyed this engaging read with the Christmas happy ever after for Alex and Merry.


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