At a house party in the countryside, the joyful spirit of the Christmas season threatens to sweep Georgiana Trent under the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue who broke her heart two years ago. Little does she know that Lucas Godwin has no intention of leaving until he has reclaimed her as his own.
This novella was originally published in 2015 as part of the anthology What Happens Under the Mistletoe.
An engaging, readable novella, Sweetest Regret tells the story of lovers reunited at Christmas. Georgina Trent, daughter of the influential diplomat, Sir Philip Trent, is used to acting as her father’s hostess, but is annoyed when he announces he has to travel to Constantinople immediately, leaving her with a half-dozen house-guests to deal with until Boxing Day. To make things worse, he tells her that one of the guests has stolen an important letter, he wants Georgina to find it and he has summoned Lucas Goodwin, one of his most able subordinates, to help her.
Georgina is infuriated. Not only is her father leaving her in the lurch, he is throwing her into the orbit of the man who broke her heart two years ago. While living in Munich with her father, Georgina met Lucas who was not only handsome and charming, but someone she could talk to and whom she felt was genuinely interested in her opinions. They spent a fair amount of time together until one day, she discovered that he had up and left for a posting in Paris without so much as a goodbye. Devastated, Georgina concluded she had been silly for thinking that a man like Lucas would be interested in an unassuming, ordinary-looking woman such as she, and picked up the threads of her old life.
Lucas is every bit as annoyed to have been summoned to Harlboro Hall as Georgina is to have him there. Their reunion doesn’t get off to the best of starts, but as they search for the missing letter, they discover that the pull of attraction between them has never really gone away, and eventually find out exactly what led to their parting two years earlier.
This novella is well-written and the fact that there is a pre-existing relationship between the two principals means that the love story doesn’t feel rushed. Ms. Duran does a very good job in showing the level of hurt and sadness that lies between them, and in describing Georgina’s life as being secondary to her father’s career and her deep-seated frustrations at the way he has treated her over the years. And Lucas gets an equally well fleshed-out backstory; he is the son of a scandalous match between the son of an earl and the coachman’s daughter, so he has had to work doubly hard to prove himself and get to where he is in his profession. Both are likeable, attractive characters that are easy to root for, and I liked the way Lucas is prepared to put everything on the line for the woman he loves.
Other reviewers have pointed out the huge howler in the story; we’re told that a couple of characters have gone out looking for a Christmas tree at 5.45am, which means they’d be stumbling about in darkness for a couple of hours, as it’s never light here until much before 8am in the latter part of December. There are a few others, too, one being that Sir Philip is referred to as “Sir Trent” – which is a big no-no; a knight or baronet is always “Sir firstname”. Another is the name of Georgina’s home – Harboro Hall – just doesn’t look like an English place name. Harborough would be more likely.
Those errors apart, Sweetest Regret is an enjoyable seasonal novella and while not the author’s best work is well worth a look if you’ve got an hour to spare.