It is the year 1816 in Rutland at Knasebrook Hall where Viola Marsh is a young lady with little freedom and even less prospects to change that, she is kept inside her nursery after an incident and can only leave on christmas eve to go wassailing and then to the ball later that evening, but only with her brothers escorting her. Lord Ricborough and his cousin Percy Gilling are two men looking for a specific woman to cement their very specific bond.
Viola is looking out of the window at the snow falling to the ground on Christmas Eve as her aunt helps her get ready to go out into it, it is the one night she is allowed out and she is not going to miss out, whether it is in a blizzard or otherwise, it might be the one night where people might not look at her like they usually do and she may be able to experience the normality of the festivities. She intends to sing, dance, be merry, stand beneath the mistletoe on the boughs of the old oak tree and then go to the family’s annual Christmas Ball with the rest of the invited, dance with her brothers and show off her new dress, it will be a change from eating with her aunt in the nursery, that is for sure.
As she leaves with her brother to go to the village, he is having to be courteous to her due to the weather, even though he does not want to, he assumes her intention is to go to the kissing bough as usual, although he feels there is no need as nobody would come up and will want to kiss her after the scandal and she responds that it is not likely that it would happen any other way either, so she will do it again this year as it is a tradition now and that the incident was not what it looked like or here fault in the first place.
Later on, after Viola’s brother has joined his friends, two of whom are Lord Ricborough and Percy Gilling, he sees her standing under the tree and is immediately taken in by her beauty, she is perfect and just what they are looking for, but finding the kind of woman they needed was something both thought impossible until Viola. As they separate from the others, they go and approach Viola under the bough and she is surprised to be kissed on the cheek by both of them at the same time and further by their proposition to her.
Will their proposition be accepted and will this trio be the pairing they all hope for, or will the innocence of one of them be the end of something which hasn’t even begun? The only way to find out is to read along and follow the path with the three of them.
Reviewed by @roxsannel