A Visit From Sir Nicholas - Victoria Alexander Puzzling fact: This is the first Christmas romance I've read. This is puzzling because I LOVE Christmas. I'm the type of jolly elf who makes hot cocoa and starts decorating the house the moment Hallmark Channel begins to air their cycle of Christmas movies. I take this shit seriously, is all. Consequently, even though A Visit from Sir Nicholas wasn't exactly gripping fiction, I tore through it like Buddy the Elf hopped up on candy canes. Because CHRISTMAS, you guys!

And the best part of all? Back in good 'ol 2004, Avon included a CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT in the paperback. Yes, I received a gift, and it isn't even Christmas yet. I don't care if Santa Ornament has all the durability of a cheap paper doll. It's still a Christmas gift and therefore awesome.

But let's get to the story. There isn't really much to tell, so this should be quick.

The Plot of A Visit from Sir Nicholas in 15 Words
Widow finally hooks up with guy she should have married ten years ago and CHRISTMAS!!!!

Alexander uses A Christmas Carol to enhance the story. I suppose it worked a little, although none of the characters even remotely resembled Scrooge or any of the other memorable characters. You could argue that Nick's abandonment of Elizabeth at the beginning of the story (one of those "I love you too much to let you be with horrible 'ol me" moves) is reminiscent of Scrooge leaving his sweetheart as a young man, but that's still a bit of a stretch.

Basically, this story revolves around Nicholas and Elizabeth completely failing at feelings (and expressing them) and then desperately trying to get back to each other despite the fact that no hurdles whatsoever encumber their attempts. Ten years ago (Christmas PAST), Nicholas was an ambitious young man who, despite being the heir to a wealthy earldom, wanted to make his own fortune because his dead dad was really bad with the bills or something. Unfortunately, while Nick was preparing to make his journey to America (where apparently ANYONE can get rich if they just BELIEVE enough), he fell in love with family friend Elizabeth, who was all but engaged to his friend Charles. At a Christmas ball, Elizabeth pretty much throws herself at Nicholas, but he's all like, "No! Charles is so much better for you. I'm not worthy." So Elizabeth ... takes him at his word and marries Charles. Ha! These are the kinds of brains we're working with in this story, friends.

Alexander fast-forwards to Christmas PRESENT. Elizabeth is now a widow, and she has two surprisingly not-annoying sons. It turns out that Charles, who ended up being a bit of a cheater, left the control of his fortune and assets for his family to none other than super successful businessman Nicholas. No one ever finds out why Charles did this, by the way. Elizabeth's brother, a marquess, doesn't bother to tell Elizabeth OR Nicholas about this little technicality until three years after Charles's death, at which point Elizabeth throws a hissy fit and Nicholas decides, "Hmmm. I think it's time to bag me the lady I should have married ten years ago."

There's a lot of talk of "grand passion," and Nick and Lizzie make a sweet enough couple. Since this is a romance novel, though, the two of them make something as simple as hooking up with a soulmate more difficult than fitting a square peg through a round hole. This is one of those stories in which nothing much happens aside from the H and h talking with each other about their feelings and two or three secondary characters talking with the H and h about their feelings. The Christmas spirit energized me until the final 1/5 of the book when I just couldn't stand the conversation and forced angst any longer. The plot started to resemble Christmas dinner leftovers after being left in the fridge for a week. Nobody really wants to eat that, but when one is *ahem* desperate enough to keep up the spirit, there's always SOMETHING else that can be prepared from the remaining scraps of turkey.

Overall, A Visit from Sir Nicholas is an average read. Nice characters, some fun Christmas nostalgia, a pleasant yet uninspiring romance. I just wish something more exciting had happened.