#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens returns to romantic Scotland to usher in a new generation of Cynsters in an enchanting tale of mistletoe, magic, and love.
It’s December 1837, and the young adults of the Cynster clan have succeeded in having the family Christmas celebration held at snow-bound Casphairn Manor, Richard and Catriona Cynster’s home. Led by Sebastian, Marquess of Earith, and by Lucilla, future Lady of the Vale, and her twin brother, Marcus, the upcoming generation has their own plans for the holiday season.
Yet where Cynsters gather, love is never far behind—the festive occasion brings together Daniel Crosbie, tutor to Lucifer Cynster’s sons, and Claire Meadows, widow and governess to Gabriel Cynster’s daughter. Daniel and Claire have met before and the embers of an unexpected passion smolder between them, but once bitten, twice shy, Claire believes a second marriage is not in her stars. Daniel, however, is determined to press his suit. He’s seen the love the Cynsters share, and Claire is the lady with whom he dreams of sharing his life. Assisted by a bevy of Cynsters—innate matchmakers every one—Daniel strives to persuade Claire that trusting him with her hand and her heart is her right path to happiness.
Meanwhile, out riding on Christmas Eve, the young adults of the Cynster clan respond to a plea for help. Summoned to a humble dwelling in ruggedly forested mountains, Lucilla is called on to help with the difficult birth of a child, while the others rise to the challenge of helping her. With a violent storm closing in and severely limited options, the next generation of Cynsters face their first collective test—can they save this mother and child? And themselves, too?
Back at the manor, Claire is increasingly drawn to Daniel and despite her misgivings, against the backdrop of the ongoing festivities their relationship deepens. Yet she remains torn—until catastrophe strikes, and by winter’s light, she learns that love—true love—is worth any risk, any price. A tale brimming with all the magical delights of a Scottish festive season.
As the twenty-first book in the Cynster series Ms. Laurens has by now created a group of characters that have become like family to readers. In this heartwarming, mysterious, and sweet holiday romance the Cynster clan has gathered to celebrate Christmas and do a bit of matchmaking along the way. In her usual style, Ms. Laurens nicely balances believable and endearing familial interactions with a burgeoning romance between people struggling to reach their HEA.
Though there are some issues with the story, when it comes to expressing the love and support each of the Cynsters have for each other it shines. They're a family who believes in the power of love and want everyone to find their HEA. To acheive that, each generation unites to bring Claire and Daniel together through well-intentioned machinations. Claire and Daniel are an entertaining couple who've met before and it's apparent that they're still drawn to each other. Claire's been through a lot in the past though and has been left bruised because of it. Daniel wants a HEA, the kind he sees from the other Cynsters, and with their help he charms his way past Claire's fears in a heartwarming journey to HEA perfect for the holiday. Seeing the Cynster family interact brought a smile to my face as their banter is witty and playful. Each generation interacts with the other with the elders being just as funny and wild as the younger ones. The warmth and joy of the holidays shines through and gives readers a warm and fuzzy feeling that makes this a delightful holiday read.
This isn't a perfect read though, nor is it a favorite in the series. There's a large cast of characters that makes you feel overwhelmed and drags out the story longer than necessary. Those who haven't read much of the series may feel frustrated and a bit lost too. The mystery feels a bit out of place and a distraction though it's always nice seeing the family work together to solve a problem. The romance itself leans more to the sweet side than the steam I count on from Ms. Laurens, but as this is a holiday read I can understand why their interludes were toned down. All in all this was a good addition to the series that gets you excited for the next generation. It brings you all the joy and happiness of the holiday to get you in the mood in an entertaining and heartwarming way. Fans of the Cynster series will find this the perfect holiday gift and here's to many more Cynster books in the future!
My rating for this is a B.
*I got this book from the publisher for review in exchange for my honest opinion.