Friday, November 29, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide: A Christmas Hope by Anne Perry

It’s gotten so I look forward to Anne Perry’s annual Christmas offering almost as much as my beautifully decorated tree, plum pudding and my children’s faces on Christmas morning. It’s become another tradition, for me and a personal treat. And, truly? I should wait and see if it appears under the tree, but I never do. (And so it never does.)

A Christmas Hope (Ballentine) is Perry’s 11th Victorian Christmas mystery and, like the others that have come before, it is charming and dependable. Pretty much, really, just the way Christmas should be.

Claudine Burroughs is dreading Christmas. It is, to her, the worst of all seasons, forcing her to face up to the fact that the dreams and aspirations she’d held earlier in her life are fading fast, along with -- she fears -- the faint good looks she had. The coming of Christmas only serves to remind her of all she has not -- and likely will not -- attain.

This is the mood she is in when she meets Dai Tregarron at a party. He is a poet who makes her feel a glimmer of the spirit she once had. An hour later he is accused of a horrible crime: killing a young prostitute who had been smuggled to the party. Claudine believes in Dai’s innocence and sets out to prove it and in the course of her investigation, she discovers secrets that will shock her fashionable London set to its core.

Thank goodness, however, it is Christmas, the season of miracles, and anything is possible. Claudine is able to come up with a resolution that not only clears her new friend, but celebrates the best of the season in a number of ways.

Perry’s many fans know that her Christmas books do not feature the very best of her writing or the snakiest of her plots. However, they are warm, charm-filled and absolutely of the season. Happy holidays! ◊

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