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A Holiday of Love ... Anthology

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Holiday of Love (anthology)

Judith McNaught
Jude Deveraux
Annette Lamb
Jill Barnett

Historical/Contemporary/Medieval Romance
Published in 1994

Read in May, 2011 (1st read, 2010).
My rating:

                                                                [spoiler alert]

This review is solely based on Judith McNaught's novella "Miracles", the story of Nicki DuVille from Whitney, My Love and Julianna Skeffington from Until You. Nicki was also featured in UY. I have to mention that I don't always enjoy novellas due to some reasons such as the story, most of the times, ends even before I take some breath, sit back and relax. But, even though novellas are short, the satisfaction level mostly depends on the authors and the plotting/narration of the story in question. "Miracles" has 12 small chapters and an epilogue.

"Miracles", Judith McNaught

After my 2nd reading of the book...

H/h - Nicholas DuVille/Julianna Skeffington
Setting: London, 1824/25.

From my rating you can already see I didn't find this one quite satisfactory. Mostly because, I thought it could've been made a wonderful full-length novel. Nicki did deserve his own book after the parts he played in both Whitney, My Love and Until You. Though I hated him for the most part in this novella, I liked Julianna a lot and would've loved to see more of the character explorations. The story, honestly felt like, a b c d then straight to y and z. Finished! Hope you understand my meaning.

We already know from Until You that Julianna's parents aren't very rich. Her father is a mere baron and a man who's always drenched in Madeira. Her mother is really awful, a very pushy and ambitious woman. It's her plan to marry Julianna, who is very lovely to look upon, off to anyone with a title and money. But, Lady Skeffington can't help but targeting the biggest catches of the marriage mart. And this year, it's Nicki DuVille. He's part French, part Scot and is going to be the next Earl of Glenmore soon enough. But, Julianna doesn't wanna get married. She has her hopes and dreams, aspirations of becoming a writer, something that was inspired by her deceased grand mama Sarah. Julianna's dreams are only scoffed and then berated at by her mother but she hangs on. Nicki, on the other hand, is a dissolute man, a notorious womanizer but his life is boring and he craves something to pull him out of this.

When they first met at a park, Nicki and Julianna parted ways after a little word exchange. It was funny but also annoying the way Julianna's mom 'initiated' the introduction. Nicki didn't remember her of course. Then at a masquerade ball, after a failed rendezvous with the hostess, one of the high society hussies and his lover, Nicki sees Julianna in the garden. He'd just refused a tryst with that woman and was about to go to his room to get some sleep. Julianna, who was hiding from her mother and a bit drunk at that point, was praying to God and talking to her grandmama's spirit [ref: there are scenes with her grand mama that leads to this, I won't mention those]. When Nicki finds her crying and offers her a handkerchief, Julianna thought he was God. Ermm, yah ... I know, sounds absurd. Then of course she recognises Nicki (he didn't) and asks him to ruin her. It wasn't the usual way of ruining but a bit more dancing than usual, which was her thought. But Nicki, being the rake and seeing her in 'a bit too revealed' dress, confuses her as a courtesan. He thought she's pouting because her protector might've left her or something and he gladly offers his services in her 'ruining'. He took the word for an innuendo and goes as far as to think if she's any good, he'll offer to make her his mistress! *exasperated sigh*

As they move into his room, Nicki soon realized that she's not a courtesan from her shyness. After a few word exchanges, he snaps at her, asking if she's got any brains. Julianna, a bit offended, starts talking about the philosophies she'd learned from her grand mama and the philosophers she'd read. Nicki is impressed and then they kiss. Julianna gets scared and tries running away ... but, disaster disaster ... The hostess of the ball and Julianna's mother was at the hallway to Nicki's door, looking for her. They see her coming out of his room and you can guess what happens next. Julianna's getting a hasty marriage the very next day with all the loathing and contempt from Nicki's side and her mom's getting what she wanted all along. Poor girl. She didn't deserve what she gets next, which is where the story ends too hastily, in about 3 more chapters. I was pretty annoyed. Nicki dumps her at one of his smallest, not-so-very important estates and proceeds to forget about her just the way all the other JM heroes does (except for Royce and Ian); by screwing around, hither and yon! I WAS MAD!!!!!! :@

I mean, really Nicki? You choose to f*ck all these shallow, lose women but you punish/humiliate this girl, whom you yourself deemed as very intelligent and bright ... for what? Just because your overheated, narrow brain thought she duped you into marrying her? You heard her talking about furs and stuffs with her mom and you think she's a 'scheming little slut'? Oh of course, you'd know about those kinds since those are the types you always prefer. So, what was wrong with this little slut? Got you scared, didn't she? I take it back when I called you a gentleman in my review of Until You because you aren't one. You don't deserve a girl like Julianna, you hypocritical, cheating SOB! You never gave her a chance to explain herself while she tried and tried, in all the ways she could.

Finally, Nicki comes back to take her to his home for Christmas because his mother was very ill. Julianna already sold her first manuscript to a publisher and was planning her freedom. His coming back makes her hopes soar but is soon deflated by Nicki's announcement. And, even after everything, Julianna tries to do her best to make his family happy and wins his parents' affections. Then, when it was all coming to an end, Julianna knew Nicki would leave her again, so she does one thing that could explain her standing in this disaster. Julianna told her grand mama that she'd write her letters telling her things about her life even after she passed away. And, Julianna's been doing that for the last 3 yrs. She gives all the letters to Nicki; even though she knew she'd be exposed, vulnerable and there's every chance that he'd reject her efforts. And, Nicki was almost doing that when he starts reading one of the letters and ended up reading them all. These letters clarify things to him, makes him see Julianna in a new light. Then they make up and goes to make heirs, as the epilogue will tell you. El fin!

I really couldn't believe that after the abominable way he treated her, a few letters solved all of Nicky's problems, doubts regarding Julianna. Just like that? I 'yuked' at the details of his liaisons, those were just too much for me. Not so much by descriptions but by mentioning a few things. I absolutely hated it. And, I don't care for a hypocritical, mean, cheating hero much, which Nicki was from the beginning til the end. Also, if it was a full novel, I think I would've enjoyed the ups and downs of their relationship after the marriage and then their making up. There was no love scene in the book. I read somewhere quite sometimes ago that JM was planning to make a full novel out of this one but not sure if the info was correct. It's been a long time since this novella came out so I don't think there would be any full novel in the future. But if there is, I'd be willing to give it a try.

A very reluctant 2.5 stars.


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