It Happened One Christmas
by Kaitlin O’Riley
(Zebra, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-1-4201-1239-9
Lisette and Quinton, both betrothed to others, suddenly meet and life becomes much more complicated after they do in It Happened One Christmas.

Lisette Hamilton is a prim and proper young lady, she has been dependable all of her life helping in the family bookstore and devoted to caring for her mother through many minor but dramatic illnesses.

Lisette is betrothed to Henry Brooks, and waiting for the day when they will get married. She knows that their life together will be quiet and predictable, and she’s willing to forgo life’s adventures to achieve a gentle, respectable home life.

Quinton Roxbury is the son of an earl and moves easily in London’s elite circle. He’s now safe from matchmaking mamas as he’s engaged to Lady Emmeline Tarleton. While Quinton believes this is a good match as it’s beneficial to him on a few levels, he really has no more feeling than mild affection for Lady Emmeline.

One day, Quinton is out on a business errand and he quite literally runs into Lisette as she’s returning home. He bowls her over and pins her, accidentally, to the ground. Though their meeting is strange and very brief, it leaves an impression on both of them.

Fate intervenes, and shortly they see each other again. Then, it seems that they can’t stop running into each other and with each meeting, they like each other more. Lisette and Quinton both start to question the value of their safe love matches with their betrothed, and can’t help wondering what it would be like to shrug off responsibility and try to find a life full of love and hope of their own choosing.

It Happened One Christmas is a “what if” love story and while its premise is interesting, the actual tale that unfolds was quite mundane.

What if you meet the person you’re supposed to spend your life with – after you’re engaged to someone else? That is the basic question posed near the beginning of this tale, and it’s a good one. I was intrigued by the possibilities and the ways that O’Riley could have told this story between Lisette and Quinton.

My issue became that though time period appropriate, Lisette was such an uber proper, respectable, fussy young woman that the idea of her entertaining a thought of Quentin in any inappropriate way was laughable.

It was difficult to reconcile her thoughts with her actions, which I suppose was her dilemma but it came across to me as very fake over the course of the book. Quentin remained throughout the story as two dimensional, with nothing to really flesh out his character.

With a bland hero and a prissy heroine, it was hard to cheer and sometime even hard to work up interest in this love story.

It Happened One Christmas was a little too boring for me, I would pass it by on the bookshelf in search of a spicier read.

-- Amy Wroblewsky

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