It can safely be said that Lord Barnaby Greenwood is not having the best of Christmases.
He’s penniless, up to his eyeballs in debt, and about to lose his estate. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that when a local property developer offers a lot of money to buy King’s Wood from him, Barnaby is very tempted. But his father had always impressed on him that the green wood was sacred and must be protected at all costs, so he finds himself saying no.
He knows this will result in the loss of his home, but duty comes before everything. However, that fateful decision leads instead to a magical Christmas for Barnaby, complete with an old god who grants him a favour, and a beautiful statue that comes to life.
Cosmo is perfect for him. He’s funny and kind and completely enraptured with Barnaby, and for the first time in his life, Barnaby falls in love. But how can this lead to anything but heartache, when on the last stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, Cosmo will go back to being a statue and take Barnaby’s heart with him?
From bestselling author Lily Morton comes a truly magical romantic comedy.
I shake my head. “This is real, isn’t it?”
He looks steadily at me. “This is magic, Barnaby Greenwood. It is the furthest thing from reality that can be.”
I bite my lip. “It’s incredible. Nothing like this ever happens to me.”
“Well, that is sad. Good people deserve good things.”
“How do you know I’m good?”
He throws his head back and laughs merrily. “Oh, Barnaby. Do you forget your youth so easily?”
I flush. “Oh my god, you were listening to me? You could hear me?”
He winks. “I was. Statues can hear and understand. Apart from one exception per day, we are marble and granite, bronze and alabaster, but we can still hear and understand. And nothing interested me so much as your tales of school woes and your terrible crush on the games teacher.”
I rub my nose awkwardly. “He was rather good-looking. That’s fairly mortifying and rather boring for you. I do apologise that you had to lie unable to move and just listen to my adolescent angst, although that does make you an ideal companion for a teenager.”
“Barnaby, I have lain in this house as a statue for hundreds of years. I have seen generations of your ancestors be born and die, and nothing has caught me as much as you. So many pass through this room and they look, but their glances are brief, and their eyes move on as quickly as bees to flowers. You would come and sit and talk to me as if I were human, and I found that extraordinarily pleasing. So, I kept an eye on you for that, and what I saw saddened me.”
His mouth turns down at the corners. “Because when you were young, you burnt bright as a flame. You were sweet and happy, and to see that youthful fire and energy dissipated by money problems and grief is saddening to me.”
I sigh. “There isn’t much that I can do about that, I’m afraid.”
He watches me for a long moment, his pale green eyes intent and warm. “There is a lot that we can do.” He stands up. “Let us go.”
“Go?” I echo, staring up at him. “Go where? Have you missed the fact that you’re bloody naked?”
“We have much to do,” he says, ignoring me. He clicks his fingers at the dog, and he jumps down, taking a position at his master’s foot, a pose similar to the one he adopted as a statue. “And very little time to accomplish things.”
I gape at him and then have to scurry to catch up with him as he sweeps out of the room, his canine shadow at his heels. “Wait. Where are you going?” I pant. “What do we have to do?”
He doesn’t reply, making his way down the long corridor instead.
To me at least, Christmas is the most magical holiday. Starting when we are kids and most of us grew up believing in Santa and the decorations and lights and food and family. So a book, set at Christmas with LITERAL magic in it? Yes, yes, yes.
This is not the first book that Lily Morton has written that is set at an old estate that was formerly owned by a duke or a something or other with great status. And as it is passed down through the generations, people no longer make money by status alone and the estate is starting to fall into disrepair.
But this estate is bordered by woods that are, apparently, filled with magic. And when Barnaby (owner of the estate) is being pushed into selling those woods, magic comes to light. In the form of Barnaby’s favorite statue. Who comes alive. He will only be alive until the stroke of midnight on Christmas and while Barnaby has no idea how a now living statue can help him financially, he was going to take advantage of his dream man being a living, breathing man.
Cosmo not only shows Barnaby magic, but also love. Being treasured and loved for who he is. And with Barnaby being in his early 40’s, it is a perfect example of how not everyone is a well built 20 something as a main character. 40 something, kind of broke and perhaps a bit soft in the middle are worthy of love.
Cosmo also helps Barnaby figure out how to save his estate.
This was such a fun, magical romp. Statues that come to life for an hour. Statues that come to life for more than an hour. History and secrets and Christmas. Townspeople and employees and…magic.
This is must read and I think it might be a reread for me next year at Christmas.
4 pieces of eye candy
Lily is a bestselling gay romance author. She writes love stories filled with heat and humour.
She lives in sunny England with her husband and two children, all of whom claim that they haven’t had a proper conversation with her since she got her Kindle.
Lily has spent her life with her head full of daydreams, and decided one day to just sit down and start writing about them. In the process she discovered that she actually loved writing, because how else would she get to spend her time with hot and funny men?
She loves chocolate and Baileys and the best of all creations – Chocolate Baileys.