He tried to think on all the worst parts of her, how she was annoyingly stubborn, and messy in the kitchen, though tyrannical when it came to where and how and when he put his away his things, and how she was so very matron-like when he was ill and she tended to him, though she wouldn’t let him near her when she was the one poorly, and.. and..

It was no use.

Even all that, he loved about her. It made her, her.

It can’t be.

And yet, it was.

The immutable, undeniable truth.

He was in love with Mena.

Historical romance readers will want to get their hands of Lotte R. James latest book, The Gentleman of Holly Street. 

Will this Christmas…

Change their lives again?

After self-made gentleman Freddie Walton rescued penniless Philomena Nichols at Christmas eight years ago, he never imagined that he would build his empire with her. Yet whilst they have created a life together as friends, Freddie can’t let their special connection become more than that. Not when his dangerous past continues to haunt him… But what happens when Freddie’s feelings for Philomena also refuse to stay hidden?  

I know I will never be disappointed when I read a Lotte R. James book. She is a wonderful storyteller. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she is a master at weaving this spell over her readers. I always get swept away in her stories, and this book is no exception. This book has a lot of meat; it’s chock full of lush and vivid descriptions. The characters are complex and add so much richness to the story. The story starts a little slow, but once things start to pick up, it keeps your attention right to the last page. I loved how Lotte blended this mystery of Freddie’s past into the overall love story. It added this element of unknown danger, which I found exciting, and I wasn’t expecting all the action that went with it.  

The story itself weaves between two different timelines. The first is the current timeline leading up to Christmas, and the other touches upon past Christmases that Mena and Freddie experience. Lotte does a great job at going back and forth between these two different timelines in a cohesive, thoughtful way. Through these flashback chapters, readers will learn more about Freddie and Mena’s past and what drives them. We also watch as their relationship deepens and see the moment they realize that their feelings for one another are more romantic in nature. 

This book is a friends-to-lovers trope love. I don’t come across many romances that focus on the friends-to-lovers trope (our book club can confirm this), so I was excited to see how Lotte would use it in her story. Overall, I loved these two, both independently and as a couple. They are strong-willed, intelligent, and care for others around them. Their history is rich, and they have that solid foundation that sometimes romantic couples are missing. There are plenty of hurdles that these two have to overcome (often from their own doing) before they truly become a couple. Freddie doesn’t believe that he is deserving of Mena’s love and also doesn’t believe that she could love him without feeling obliged to do so. Mena thinks she isn’t good enough to be in a relationship with Freddie because of her past living on the streets. A lot of this book is spent watching as these two try to deal with these internal struggles. This self-doubt results in a lot of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. But do not fear. They get the happy ending that they deserve. There are also lots of spice parts in this book that will help keep you warm during this wintery season.  

The Gentleman of Holly Street is a beautiful gothic romance that you will want to read again and again. 

Thank you, Harlequin, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.