I always like revisiting characters, when authors write novellas that bring us back to a family of characters, I'm basically throwing my money back at them. Jennifer Ashley has written two novellas taking us back into the Mackenzie family and I like them both just fine. This is the first, which begins about eight months after The Duke's Perfect Wife ended. Chronologically, it's also set after The Seduction of Elliott McBride because Elliott and Juliana are mentioned briefly but this book was published first.
Each couple has his own little mini plot, though some are better than others. Ian and Beth's, is always, the best. Beth has broken one of Ian's Ming Bowls and the whole family is on tenterhooks because it has been a disaster for Ian in the past. Hart and Eleanor's is probably the next best, as they await the birth of Alec, the little boy we were introduced to in the epilogue of Perfect Wife. Ainsley and Cameron have a sweet story about their daughter, which gives Daniel something to do. Mac and Isabella have almost nothing to do except Mac is creating a gift for Isabella. I was disappointed to see that they didn't have their own strong storyline.
It's clear that Ian is Jennifer Ashley's favorite brother to follow, because his is the only story that interweaves throughout the entire book. There are some minor subplots--Mac's valet Bellamy almost looks as though he's getting a story, but it's only two quick scenes. David Fleming gets a lot of POV scenes for some reason that's never entirely clear. I wonder if Jennifer Ashley intends to give him his own book or was playing around with the idea here. Lloyd Fellows also shows up and has a minor subplot.
This is a sweet revisit of characters we fell in love with during the first four books, but it's a bit scattered and all of the characters and plots are not evenly given time to breath. I could have done with fifty more pages, I think.
I am most disappointed in the lack of Bellamy. We were given a lovely POV scene early in the book where Bellamy is thinking of retiring--he finds a girl in the snow and rescues her. And that's it -- we get one scene from him, and then later we find out almost accidentally that she's been allowed to stay as a maid and maybe she ends up with Bellamy? It's not clear, and it hasn't come up again since.
I also didn't know why I was given so much of David Fleming. He was given POVs, we found out he was really in love with Eleanor, but there's really no reason that he given more scenes than Bellamy or even Mac. His part in the plot is incidental.
I really liked the small moment we got with Lloyd and Louisa, picking up on their moment from Perfect Wife. I like when subplots string from book to book, keeping you invested in the characters.
Something that distracted me in a way that I wasn't expecting was the odd chapter breaks. Jennifer Ashley tends to break her chapters in the middle of scenes, and that's necessarily bad but it's realllly abrupt in this book and most of the chapter breaks seem arbitrary. It always took me out of the moment.
A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift
Overall Response I always like revisiting characters, when authors write novellas that bring us back to a family of characters, I'm basically throwing my money back at them. Jennifer Ashley ...