Review – The Earl of Christmas Past by Kerrigan Byrne

About the Novella:

There’s no room at the Inn…

Sprightly Victorian spinster Vanessa Latimer is stranded for the holidays in the Scottish Highlands by a relentless winter blizzard. She takes refuge at a centuries-old inn where the only available room is haunted by the ghost of a warrior who fell at Culloden Moor.

One who refuses to give up his side of the bed.

Johnathan de Lohr awakens to find a siren bathing in the chamber of sorrows that keeps his restless spirit imprisoned. Though he’s the ghost, John knows that the captivating woman will be the one to haunt him.

Unless they can figure out a way to set his tormented soul free.

Please note: This novella is also connected to The Victorian Rebels Series

Previously published in the anthology, A Very Highland Christmas.


My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Vanessa Latimer made the mistake of giving her love to the wrong man, fully believing he intended to marry her.  Not only did her former suitor marry someone else, he also published his intimate memoirs, in which he named names.  To add insult to injury, he found Vanessa to be sadly lacking in her amorous responses, and didn’t hesitate to say so.  Now, socially ruined, Vanessa is also outcast from her family.  She spends her time traveling, exploring, and taking photos.  This Christmas season, Vanessa finds herself in Scotland.  When her coach breaks down, she’s forced to seek shelter from a brutal storm at the Balthazar’s Inn.  Unfortunately, the only room available is “Carrie’s” room, one which is reputed to be haunted.

Johnathan de Lohr, the former Earl of Worchester, was an English officer during the battle of Culloden, well over a hundred years ago.  He lost his life, but found his spirit bound to earth, to the Balthazar’s Inn, to Carrie’s room.  He has no control over when he appears here, and in-between his appearances, he seems to become simply nothing.  When he is present at the inn, he doesn’t hesitate to scare visitors away from “his” room.  Johnathan has a different reaction to Vanessa, though.  At first, it’s her voice.  It’s so lovely for him to hear a lovely English accent again after over a century of Scottish brogues.  Then, as Vanessa prepares for her bath, Johnathan becomes entranced and aroused in a very un-ghostlike manner.

When Johnathan reveals himself to Vanessa, she is quite thrilled to be speaking to a spirit. (After her initial shock, that is.)  They begin to tell each other their stories, with Vanessa even confessing her ruin.  Rather than condemn her, Johnathan is angered that no one in her family came forward to defend her.  Vanessa tells Johnathan about his family today, as she’s even met the current earl.  Their easy camaraderie quickly leads to steamy passion, as Johnathan can assume a physical presence for a brief time.  Both of their hearts break, as they know they’ve found their perfect match, but all they can share is a few brief hours together.  Sure enough, in the morning, Vanessa awakes alone.  Despite her sadness, Vanessa has a possession of Johnathan’s, one which she is determined to return to his earthly remains at the family estate back in England.  When the current earl, a man Vanessa found to be cold and soulless, confronts her at Johnathan’s crypt, she fears her quest may have come to an abrupt end.

THE EARL OF CHRISTMAS PAST is a touching and steamy fantasy of a romance, which I loved reading.  This short novella can be read in a couple hours, but packs a substantial emotional wallop.  The trapped soldier, devoid of contact, trapped in a half existence, finds temporary happiness with a wonderful and giving young woman whose only mistake was to trust the wrong man.  There’s no chance of any future happiness for them, or, is there?  After all, Christmas IS the time of miracles.    ~Rose

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