SPOILER FREE REVIEW 😊
3 1/2 Stars
Reviewed by Introvert Reader
Over 22 years and under two different publishers, Johanna Lindsey wrote 12 romances about the Malory & Anderson clans. These books were massive hits with her many fans, with some readers claiming them as favorites, especially Gentle Rogue. Her novel, The Present, is moderately short at just over 300 pages. It tells two parallel love stories set in different eras in England, portraying the Malory clan in the past and the “present.” No matter how time changes, the love lives of the family remain the same.
It is Christmas time. The Malory’s–wives, husbands, and children–assemble at Haverston, the family patriarch’s estate. Lord Jason Malory is a Marquis and father to Derek, the hero from Say You Love Me. Readers familiar with that novel should know the dark family secret. Derek is not a child of the legitimate union between his father and his wife. Jason had an affair with a mysterious woman and Derek was the result of that. The mystery woman is Jason’s long-time maid, Molly.
Jason’s marriage was for convenience. It is an unhappy one, as he and his wife have lived apart for years. Jason has always been a stickler for propriety and forever covering up scandals. It was a struggle reigning in his two wild younger brothers, Anthony and James.
Out of blue, a package in Christmas wrapping appears. The Malory’s open it to find a diary.
It details how the second Marquis of Haverston, Christopher, found love with a gypsy princess named Anastasia. Curious, the family reads the book aloud, discovering long-kept secrets.
The five couples from the previous installments have their roles in the book. Fortunately, my favorite Malory’s feature prominently throughout. There’s little focus on boring Roslynn and Kelsey and more on Uncle James, his wife Georgina, and niece Amy.
Derek, and his parents, Jason, and Molly are the main characters in the current timeline.
The Present tells of how the incongruous pairing between an English nobleman and a lovely gypsy came to be. It also details the romance between the mature quinquagenarian Jason and his forty-something beloved, Molly.
Christmas is a time of miracles. Indeed, it would be a miracle if Jason and Molly could openly declare their love for each other. A rigid class structure controls their society.
Nevertheless, the past foretells the future, and love wins out in the end.
Final Analysis of The Present
If you’re unfamiliar with the Malory clan, I wouldn’t recommend The Present as your first foray into the series. You can skip the first two books, but reading Gentle Rogue, The Magic of You, and Say You Love Me is essential.
While The Present isn’t Johanna Lindsey’s best book, it is a fine Christmas gift from Lindsey to her fans. This is a lovely holiday romance to read during the Yuletide season.