REVIEW: Sunshine for Christmas by Mary Jo Putney

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Searching for sunshine…

Lonely and depressed by far too much rain, Lord Randolph Lennox decides on impulse to take the first ship leaving London for the sunny Mediterranean. Chance brings him to Naples—where it’s also raining. But the rain clears and as he discovers the city, a pleasant young English governess rescues him from an altercation with a flirtatious girl and her protective family.

Miss Elizabeth Walker is between jobs and taking a holiday in Naples when she meets the quiet, handsome Englishman. When he proposes that she act as his guide for the next few days, she accepts because they enjoy each other’s company. Elizabeth matter-of-factly recognizes that of course she’ll fall quietly in love with him and nothing will come of it, but she’ll have some lovely memories to cherish in her old age.

…and finding a second chance at love…

As they come to know each other better, Randolph starts thinking thoughts of forever, but that seems impossible—until fate takes an alarming hand.

Dear Ms. Putney, 

After the success with “The Christmas Tart,” I decided to roll the dice again. I will be honest and say that Lord Randolph’s initial response to the Italian religious ceremony he sees and some talk about the differences between Italian girls and staid Englishwomen didn’t go down well with me. Then I thought, well, that’s probably how an Englishman of the time, who had not been to the country might actually respond. I liked the heroine enough that I kept reading. I wish his valet had had more of a role though. 

After he is saved from an angry Italian father and angry Italian fiancé, Randolph wisely puts himself in the hands of the intelligent Englishwoman who saved him. He quickly recognizes that Miss Elizabeth Walker is the best person to guide him around Naples and the surrounding countryside and show him more than the tourist Italy than his original guide did. Elizabeth is between jobs (Italian families view having an English governess as a matter of prestige) and happy to take this handsome, amiable, easy to be around gentleman about and show him the “real Italy.” Randolph might initially view working class trattoria pizza with skepticism but he’s soon a convert. 

Making up his mind about what he wants, Randolph bungles his next move. Can a night stranded in the countryside get these two to open up about their past losses and perhaps look to a future together?

Randolph and Elizabeth are nice characters who are nice. There, I’ve said it. They are nice together as well. Elizabeth’s reaction to discovering that Randolph is a Lord pleases him – she’s not that impressed nor is she overawed. She seems to like him for himself and he knows he likes her. He married once, has had a thwarted love relationship in his life, and inspiration hits him that perhaps marrying after (deep) insta-friendship is a better option. 

Elizabeth knows she’s a plain, tall, outspoken woman. She loved and lost before and fatalistically realizes that she will probably fall for this charming man. She will enjoy her time with him, tuck the experience away in a lavender scented hankie, and take out the memory to smile at when she’s older. Her shocked response to his offer is shrugged off by Randolph in one enormous Big Mis on both sides. Luckily they have time to talk things out and discover what he really meant and why she thinks they won’t do together. They also celebrate Christmas in a very unusual way but as Elizabeth is a Vicar’s daughter, she (like Linus) gets the “true meaning of Christmas” sermon just right. B

~Jayne    

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Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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