What Happens at Christmas

Victoria Alexander. Kensington, $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7582-5568-6

Alexander’s divine Victorian Christmas confection provides an abundance of wit and warmth. Camille, the widowed Lady Lydingham, hires a troupe of down-on-their-luck actors to masquerade as her family and staff in order to entice the handsome, if shifty, Prince Nicolai Pruzinsky to propose. What could go wrong? Everything, starting with the unexpected reappearance of Grayson Elliott, Camille’s long-ago love, who’s bemused to arrive at her house and be asked whether he’s there to audition. Alexander takes full comedic advantage of every possible plot twist as the farce threatens time and again to come crashing down. Actors flub their lines and disasters cascade, and it’s up to Camille, Grayson, and Camille’s delightful twin, Beryl, to shore up the increasingly shaky burlesque and keep the prince’s proposal on track. This star belongs at the top of the tree. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Nov.)