Winter Fire

Written by Jo Beverley
Review by Margaret Barr

December 1763. It is challenging to take seriously a novel featuring females called Genova, Calliope, Thalia, Regeanne, Sheena, and Damaris. But in this story only one name really matters—Malloren—and Beverley plays it for all it is worth. The Marquess of Ashart, mistrusted cousin of the Malloren clan, accompanies his two doting, dizzy aunts and their companion, Genova Smith—who has taken custody of an infant which Ash steadfastly denies having fathered—to Rothgar Abbey for Christmas. To mask his purpose, he enters into a false betrothal to Genova.

Genova warns her supposed betrothed that if he seduces her, he must marry her. Ash regards her humble birth as an impediment yet persists in making advances, though he decides to wed her blue-blooded rival. While the Mallorens and their guests make Yuletide merriment, Ash and Genova become friends and lovers, leading to complications and misunderstandings.

Beverley dilutes the effectiveness of her story by laying on too much Malloren family lore and cumbersome classical references. Not her best work, but recommended to her fans.