A Christmas Bride / Christmas Beau
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A Christmas Bride / Christmas Beau (Stapleton-Downes #7)

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  430 ratings  ·  68 reviews
In a pair of classic Regency-era Christmas romance novels from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh, the holidays herald the greatest gift of all: unexpected, all-consuming love.

A Christmas Bride

The very wealthy Edgar Downes has promised his aging father to finally take a bride—specifically, to wed a titled lady by Christmas. London is full of pretty, proper, and...more
Mass Market Paperback, 499 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by Dell (first published January 1st 2012)
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I was whelmed.

It is possible that these two novellas suffered from being read back to back, but on the whole, they weren't amazing.

In A Christmas Bride, Edgar Downes decides to marry a well-born woman of roughly his own age. He fixes on an apparently happy widow in a scarlet dress and there is a very low pre-negotiation hookup. Then he discovers that she is Secretly Tortured. And then they get married because... he wants to, and she is too filled with self-loathing to fight him? And then of cour...more
Karla Brandenburg
A Christmas Bride - Helena Stapleton is a proud widow, cleverly hiding deep emotional scars beneath a confident facade. Along comes Edgar, a wealthy merchant and not one of the ton, in search of a titled bride. He has no need for wealth, but his father yearns for him to achieve some level of status as a result of their hard work. When Helena and Edgar lock eyes, sparks fly, but Helena is certainly not loveable, much less worthy of someone's forgiveness. That does not stop her from treating Edgar...more
Both books were rereads for me, and my original opinion still holds. A Christmas Bride is a powerful book, one of those rare romances where the heroine is redeemed. The book is too dark to be one of my favorite, comfort-read Baloghs, but I think it it a remarkable story well told. I am glad Balogh wrote that epilogue later though. It adds a reassuring note to the HEA.

Christmas Beau is more predictable, and I'm not a fan of revenge plots. Still, it's a Balogh, which means that even if it's not on...more
Amy (and her hounds)
Quite dark for Christmas romances. But unlike many popular authors who re-release early stories that show how bad they were in the beginning, even Balogh's early stories are well-paced and -plotted. And I do enjoy romances in which the protagonists are average people...it takes a flair to make them worth caring about, but when it works, it's fantastic. And Mary Balogh, like Lisa Kleypas, makes it work.
A Christmas Bride:

It took me a bit to get into this one b/c I really disliked the heroine. It's difficult to take a former antagonist and make her the heroine. Eventually I came to accept her, begrudgingly, but I never did like her. Still, the story was very unique and intriguing. The hero, especially, was fascinating. We don't see much about the non-gentry/aristocrats in regency romance. The wealthy merchant class is usually not something most writers touch because it doesn't fall into the temp...more
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Mary Balogh is one of my favorite romance authors. I did not discover her until many of her early books were out of print and way to expensive to buy used. I find it fun to see how her writing had changed and where some ideas have made their way into her newer books. While neither of these stories rank among my favoirte Mary Balogh books I enjoyed both.
Karyn Gerrard
3.5 out of 5 rounded up to 4.

Two previously published stories from the 1990's. Both solid, good reads. The heroine in the first story grated to no end, however, I adored the hero. He was too good for her. The second story, it was the hero who grated, but seeing these are Xmas stories, redemption plays a big part in the plots.
Melissa J. Katano
A Christmas twofer…..

A Christmas Bride

Wealthy cit Edgar Downes promises his aging father that he'll look for a bride to bring home for Christmas. As Edgar has been educated as a gentleman, his father wants him to find a bride from among the Ton. Helena, Lady Stapleton, decides to take a lover, and chooses Edgar. Although both enjoyed their one night of passion, neither is intent on continuing the affair…..

Enjoyable read.

A Christmas Beau

Judith Easton ran off with Andrew Easton, jilting Max, the E...more
Found Helena in A Christmas Bride a little hard to like - mainly because she didn't like herself. Christmas Beau was a real heart warming tear in the eye sort of story - perfect for this time of year!
I love Mary Balogh's Christmas stories. She really makes Christmastime a major character in the story which is what it's all about in my opinion.
For a Christmas short story read these were a little darker than I thought they would be, but I enjoyed both short stories.
I really liked A Christmas Bride, I was more lukewarm about Christmas Beau.
Lita Bouquard
2 dark, lengthy "short" stories that have characters with dark souls. The first story is about a beautiful widow who is socially likeable but personally quite hateful. She has punished herself for reprehensible actions she committed as a young bride. When gentlemanly-like business man Edgar Downes is entertained in society he expects to be rebuffed by many. He is proud of his achievements in life and has no desire to be anything than what he is- a forceful working man. He has promised his father...more
Janice Liedl
These two books were wonderful but unusual romances, each featuring a character who needed the healing of some Christmas magic. Heavy on the Christmas elements as you might expect from the title: if you don't like the holiday or appeals to a Christmas spirit, back away now.

Also, if you have trouble with characters who bring a lot of baggage along with their romance, this pair of stories isn't for you. Helena in the first and Max in the second have both a lot of anger and bitterness darkening the...more
Carrie Olguin
Two full length stories in one package. The Christmas Bride is better than Christmas Beau, the latter I found rather slow.

The heroine in the Christmas Bride is sharp and abrasive and strangely compelling. She's a childless widow who believes she brings misery to any person she cares about; she doesn't deserve happiness. She wears a cynical and haughty mask to keep people at a distance.

At a ball, she sees the hero and decides to flirt with him. Instead, she seduces him.

The hero is a wealthy cit w...more
Wow, a lot of darkness and angst from a pair of Christmastime novellas.
One thing I will say is, both stories are typically Mary Balogh in that the characters (love 'em or hate 'em) are fleshed out and intriguing. The plots of both are original, too: Bride featured the redemption of a heroine - a rare feat - and Beau was a revenge story of two people who did everything wrong and still came together.

Bride is the story of Helena and Edgar. Edgar, a prosperous businessman, has promised his father to...more
Two books in one.

Christmas Bride is about a wealthy merchant-class man, Edgar Downes, who promised his father to wed--or be engaged to--a lady to bring home for Christmas. The problem is his wealth will only buy him so much in place of his birth, and the girls whose families are poor enough to take him on seem very young and nowhere near as tempting as the widow Lady Stapleton.

The characters struck me at times as a little overwrought and melodramatic--dire secrets hinted at that once revealed, d...more
Cherie Jensen
A Christmas Bride:

Edgar is in love long before he realizes it. Why else would he put up with such game playing?! This story also brings closure to "A Precious Jewel" another story about non-alpha characters. I'm not quite sure I feel that Lady Helena is redeemed but certainly she needs forgiveness. I would have wished someone more willing to be forgiven for Edgar but if he is happy, I'm happy.

Christmas Beau:

The Marquess of Denbigh, Maxwell, is not a nice guy. Wanting to hurt someone else because...more
It is not often that a novella--at least, not in the romance genre--delves into the darkness and pain of the human soul. Then again, both of these novellas are nearly full-length novels, and both are written by Mary Balogh, whose recent works have dealt increasingly with more complicated characters and situations than are the standard fare. It makes for a refreshing, absorbing change, albeit not quite the escapist literature I had thought I was checking out from the library.

In "A Christmas Bride...more
Read the 1st a while ago, read A Christmas Beau yeasterday and just loved it. Misunderstandings abound as they always do. I love the way Balogh writes, and I was sitting in Disneyland, finishing this as I waited for my daughter to get off a ride, tears pouring down my face at the lovely (but not unexpected) ending. The love story of a lonely man who does not know how to show his feelings, and a young woman who doesn't understand her physical reaction to him, and how they both learn to love.
Two stories in one book. I enjoyed the second a little more than the first. Both stories of older women, widows with a bit of a past. In the first, the woman has kept herself from a real relationship because of her shameful actions when she was newly married to an older man. In the second, the woman doesn't realize what effect her youthful actions had on the man she abandoned for another.

In both cases, the past lives on in the present. So many times in romances the "problem" that keeps the inten...more
A perfect book for the holiday season. Strong characters in a Regency setting. Very descriptive writing with period detail. In A Christmas Bride, Edgar Downes promises his father to find a bride by Christmas. Instead of some lovely young lady, Edgar falls in love with the widow Helena, Lady Stapleton. Helena is hiding a secret from her past and Edgar must help her overcome her guilt before they can find happiness together. In Christmas Beau, Judith Easton, a young widow, is invited to a Christma...more
The first story I enjoyed very much. It was vintage Mary Balogh. The second story -- Christmas Beau -- I had trouble with, which is strange because I've never found a Mary Balogh story I haven't liked. Maybe it's because I came down with a head cold during the time I was reading this second one, but I had trouble liking the male lead, Lord Denbigh. I found his behavior unsympathetic and actually quite cruel, the "punishment" he hoped to mete out hardly fitting the "crime." Many other readers hav...more
Sharon DeVault
I really enjoyed these holiday stories, and was happy to see some familiar faces from some of Mary's other older books.
Usually I love Mary Balogh. And this one averages out to a 3. A Christmas Bride I'd give a 2 and Christmas Beau a 4.

I couldn't warm up to Lady Stapleton in A Christmas Bride. And if I don't really like a heroine it is hard to care when or if she gets her man. Ms. Balogh writes with dark themes and since I've read just about all her work, I am used to it, but this situation was just ewwww. Too Mrs. Robinson for me.

Christmas Beau was much better. Classic story of 2 people who have feelings neither...more
I picked this up looking for some light fluff. Instead I got dark brooding combined with mawkish sentimentality. These are both psychological dramas of villains obsessing over the effects of their evil deeds, all wrapped up with over-the-top Christmas sentiment. There are only so many ways of telling the stories of unhappy lovers surrounded with unexpected snow, greenery gathering, caroling, and the “joy of the season.” Putting two of them together is rank stupidity. None of the frothy irony I w...more
Liz B
Three stars, because I remember liking both books. But I don't remember a single blessed detail about either one.

So I'm guessing that if you like Mary Balogh's books (which I do!) and it's near Christmas (which it is at least once a year) or if you're in the mood for Christmassy heartwarmingness, then this is--these are?--the book/ books for you.
Rohan Maitzen
I only finished the first one of this pair, but since we're packing away the holiday stuff tomorrow and I'm a stickler for keeping it in its place, I'll save A Christmas Beau for next year. A Christmas Bride was just OK. It took the "dark back story as an obstacle to the happily-ever-after" trope a bit too far for me--it just dragged on and on. I liked Edgar, though: he is obviously Mr. Thornton, redone in Regency costume.
A Christmas Bride was reasonably enjoyable, but I found Christmas Beau annoying. Judith certainly didn't deserve Max, even if she came to realize and regret what she had done in the past. I was hoping for some heartwarming Christmas stories but I just ended up frustrated and sorry I wasted my time, especially with the second one.
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Mary Jenkins was born on 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high-school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curl...more
More about Mary Balogh...
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