Lady Myrtle McQuoid has always felt a little forgotten, and this season is no exception. When her boisterous family vacates their London townhouse for the country, Myrtle finds she’s been left behind. But she just needs to stay warm, keep her belly full, and distract herself until her relatives realize their mistake and turn back to collect her. Surely that won’t take long.
Brooding widower Val Bancroft, the Duke of Aragon, has shut himself off from the world. He craves blessed solitude—a loyal dog, a silent house, and his own company are all he requires. Certainly not the nonstop chattering of the joyful, opinionated young woman next door.
But with a potential threat lurking in the winter shadows, Myrtle may need to pluck up the nerve to approach the reclusive duke. And Val is not one to turn his back on a vulnerable lady.
Amid the silent nights of London, beneath a blanket of snow, could the light of a new, warm love be kindling?
If you've seen the movie Home Alone, you will in short order clue in to the fact that the movie's plot is a major influence on our heroine's story. An eighteen-year-old young woman, newly returned from finishing school, mistakenly left behind by her family in a large, empty, leaking house. No food, no fires, no servants...and two burglars casing the place. But, what have we here? A grieving, reclusive, widowed duke just across the street? The possibilities are limitless and Caldwell cannily takes advantage of them all.
I love a grumpy-sunshine pairing and, boy howdy, do these two qualify. Val just wants to be left alone but chatty, carol-singing Myrtle, with her wild curls, huge dimples, and smile that won't quit keeps showing up at his door. Again, and again, and again. It seems the grouchier he gets, the wider her smile becomes. His horse likes her. His huge, scary-looking dog who doesn't like anyone but Val is a total marshmallow in her hands. And Val? He's quickly becoming befuddled, bewildered, and thoroughly charmed. He doesn't need this irrepressible bundle of sunshine in his life. Or maybe, she's exactly what he does need.
Caldwell brings a perfect blend of lighthearted laughter and emotional depth to this story of two people who both feel alone and out of step with those around them but slowly grow to realize they are exactly right with one another. There are hijinks and a bit of danger, plus sweetly poignant moments that tug at the heart. There's also a dog - Horace - who darn near steals the whole book. I adored him. I adored Myrtle with him. I can only imagine how he's going to be with any children Val and Myrtle have. I'm already smiling at the thought. If Caldwell has any thoughts about a novella (maybe next Christmas?) for this new family down the road, I'm all in!
A couple small issues: I loved Myrtle's constant singing but having all the lyrics included on the page got old fast. I skimmed through most of them. Also, I have a feeling some readers may be uneasy with how young and innocent Myrtle seems (she turns 18 during the book). To them, I would say, keep reading. I felt a bit of that in the early chapters of the book but found the ensuing growth and depth of her character during her journey organic and believable, leaving me happy with the balance of feelings and power within her relationship with Val. These two are meant to be.
The Duke Alone is going straight to my keeper shelf where it will be revisited this Christmas and every Christmas to come. It made me laugh, made me cry, and left my heart overflowing with joy.
When a book can make you laugh and cry you just know it's going to be great!!!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for the lovely review. You have made this book sound like a true treasure. I like the idea of cheerful trumping grouchy. Thanks again. Hope everyone is well.ReplyDelete
I gave it five stars on Goodreads. I really enjoyed it.ReplyDelete
I am so excited for thisbook! Just in time for my holiday reading!ReplyDelete
I got an ecopy of this thru a Goodreads Giveaway and am enjoying it very much - isn't Myrtle fun! It makes me think it's a bit of a homage to Home Alone - waiting to read more to be sure.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the great review! I just requested this from the library.ReplyDelete
New author for me! Love your reviews! 5 stars I will check this one out.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the review. This sounds like a charming story and one I will enjoy. I am interested in seeing how she handles having Myrtle deciding to constantly showing up at the Duke's house how he reacts to it.ReplyDelete