Genre: Regency Christmas Novella
POV: 3rd Person
My Grade: B+
This Wicked Gift is debut author Courtney Milan’s impressive contribution to the The Heart of Christmas Regency anthology. It’s a highly original story featuring working-class characters.
Lavinia Spencer runs her family’s lending library. Making enough money to cover basic expenses plus her ailing father’s expensive medication is a struggle, but Lavinia does her best. Determined to give her father a Christmas to remember, she’s been saving her pennies to pay for a delicious Christmas feast. One evening, Lavinia realizes her Christmas savings have disappeared – and more besides. Suspicion immediately falls on her irresponsible younger brother. James has fallen foul of a con man and is required to make good on a promissary note worth ten pounds.
William White is a lowly clerk to the cantankerous Lord Blakely. He owes his reduced status to his father’s former business partner, Adam Sherrod, who swore to look after him following his father’s death, but reneged on that promise. William has just learned from Sherrod’s solicitor that he was left a measly £10 in Sherrod’s will instead of the £5000 he was promised. William feels frustrated and hopeless, doomed to toil in a tedious and poorly-paying job for the rest of his life.
When William overhears Lavinia’s conversation with her brother, he acts on impulse. He offers to settle James’s debt with the money he has just inherited in return for an afternoon with Lavinia. Lavinia is shocked by his scandalous proposal but agrees…
I thoroughly enjoyed This Wicked Gift. It features one of the most original loves scenes I’ve ever read in the sense that it is told from the hero’s perspective. William is an imperfect hero but his motivations are understandable. Lavinia was a good match for him. The ending was a little too neat for my liking but it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of this entertaining novella.
Courtney Milan’s first full-length novel, Proof by Seduction, will be released in January 2010. I definitely plan to read it.