Review – While You Were Dreaming by Celeste Bradley

About the Book:

We return to Staffordshire, England, for another Haven Holiday romance — available now! From the New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Worthingtons comes a sparkling and uplifting Christmas romance! Heartbroken Vicar John Barton of Haven still regrets losing his almost-fiancée to the lord of the manor last Christmas. It’s hard to be excited for the annual Christmas Ball when he’ll only have to watch her dance with her handsome new husband all night!

The dramatic rescue of a beautiful heiress throws John into the path of oncoming love once more. Lady Emmeline Grey is the most beautiful woman John has ever seen, even while she lies comatose. Much more enticing than her irritating and skeptical cousin, ordinary Miss Norah Grey!

It’s never really bothered Norah that her lovely cousin gets all the male attention, because Norah has never met a man she actually wanted for herself before! How can she compete against dazzling Emmeline and gain John Barton’s attention when everyone in Haven (including the entire Grey family!) is excited about the match!

The Christmas Ball is Norah’s last chance. But if she betrays her dear cousin by confessing her love to John, will she ever be able to forgive herself? The entire charming village of Haven is back for While You Were Dreaming, a magical Haven Holiday romance inspired by the hit romantic comedy film, “While You Were Sleeping.”

Click on either title below for direct Amazon buy links to both books in this series:      While You Were Dreaming (Haven Holiday Book 2)                                                          Sleepless in Staffordshire (Haven Holiday Book 1)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

John Barton, the vicar of Haven, is still nursing his wounded pride and somewhat broken heart after losing his almost fiancée, Bernadette, to Matthias, the local Lord. John spent over five years planning his future with Bernie, and their marriage seemed a sure thing until she fell hard for Matthias.  John wants to hate Matthias, but he settles for cursing him and his own bad luck.  Yes, John is a cursing vicar, one who is constantly lifting his eyes heavenward in apology for his foul language.  One day John comes upon a serious carriage accident, and is just in time to rescue a young lady from a nasty fall.  When she opens her beautiful violet eyes and declares John to be her angel, his wounded heart begins to feel a stir.

Norah Grey is trying desperately to hold on to her beloved cousin, Emmeline, who is slipping from her grip, out of the carriage, and about to take a serious fall.  Rather than expressing her thankfulness to John, who arrived just in time to catch Emmeline, Norah grumbles in her typical curmudgeonly fashion.  Emmeline is a wealthy heiress, on her way to spend Christmas with Matthias, as she’s related to his deceased first wife.  Norah is her cousin, who has no fortune, no beauty, and no prospects.  She expects to continue to be a companion to her cousin, then to look after her children, when she marries and produces them.

John is taken to Matthias’ home, as he was invited to be part of the Christmas festivities.  He is smitten with Emmeline’s beauty, as he gazes at her unconscious form.  Because he is the vicar, he has access to visit the injured Emmeline, without it considered to be scandalous.  As Norah is usually at Emmeline’s bedside, he becomes better acquainted with the snarky, snappish, and very curvy poor relation.  He finds that he greatly enjoys her wit and her company.  Though Norah would never admit it, she is quite taken with the handsome vicar, who seems to be enchanted by her beautiful cousin.

Eventually Emmeline awakens, and things really begin to happen.  John spends time with both ladies, enjoying their company.  Emmeline, an expert in flirtation and using her looks to her best advantage, can sometimes stop John in his tracks with just a look from those famous violet eyes.  Through some soul searching, John finally makes peace with Matthias, and lets go of his past dreams of Bernadette.  He’s ready to move on, but with whom?  Everyone believes it’s Emmeline, but is it?

Just once. Just this one dance with him. A single, perfect heart-breaking moment to carry with her into her misty, uncertain future. He swept her into the dance and she lifted her chin and waltzed with the man she loved. “I love you. I know you love Emmeline, but I love you with everything I am. I just wanted you to know.” Of course, she didn’t say the words aloud.

I absolutely love the very human, very flawed cursing vicar.  He’s a good man with a true calling, but one who had a hard time letting go of the past.  Watching him heal was wonderful, as was watching him try to control his baser urges.  I really appreciate that while he was sometimes awestruck by Emmeline’s physical perfection, he was able to see the understated beauty in Norah, and recognize that she was the one he wanted to spend his life with.  I immediately bought the book which precedes this one, SLEEPLESS IN STAFFORDSHIRE, as it’s the story of Bernadette and Matthias, and how she left John behind.  I can’t imagine choosing someone else over John, so I have to check it out.

Norah is also not a perfect character, though she truly loves and takes care of her cousin.  She’s sometimes bad tempered, jumps to conclusions, and speaks very bluntly.  Still, her imperfections and John’s flaws seem to somehow fit together, making them perfect for each other.  WHILE YOU WERE DREAMING is a pure delight to read.  There is plenty of humor, but also warmth, and a cast of enjoyable secondary characters who make this book one entertaining holiday read.  WHILE YOU WERE DREAMING left me smiling, and happy to recommend this book to fans of Celeste Bradley’s excellent writing, as well as those who haven’t yet enjoyed her work.    ~Rose

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