Tag Archive | Barbara Miller

Barbara Miller: Christmas Fete

Cotillion Christmas Feasts

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2014 is the final year of Ellora’s Cave’s Cotillion Christmas anthologies. Enjoy these sweet Regency Christmas tales this year while you still can!

Message From Barbara

Barb July 08When the theme of a holiday feast was presented for the 2014 Christmas novella challenge I wanted something different, so I pulled out a Regency cookbook by Verity Isitt called Take a Buttock of Beef. You could say I made up the menu for the novella before I made up the characters. Of course I just mention the dishes without giving the recipes but most are straightforward.

I had experienced only a dessert fete, but decided to make the background for the story an all day fete at a country house, almost like a winter country fair. Who would put on such an event? Only someone who is passionate about Christmas. My heroine Dinah Claypool has never had a truly perfect Christmas but keeps trying. When she meets Richard Chandler she finally finds someone who cares about all the things she does. But he has a secret that could ruin Christmas for Dinah forever.

I started writing Christmas Fete during Christmas week 2013 to keep myself in the spirit. I thought back to what Christmas used to mean to me and it was always about making other people happy. The anticipation of them opening their surprises far outweighed any joy I got out of my presents. What was true for my parents and siblings is still true today for friends and relatives. I spend all year thinking about the perfect gift for them and the items just leap out at me. Frequently they are books, sometimes even the very novella I’m working on.

About Christmas Fete

511yitb0k3L._AA160_When Dinah’s father inherits an estate, he decides she and her brother must go settle the matter. They arrive to find the place in need of much repair—and holiday spirit. As Dinah plans a cheerful fete for Christmas in hope of winning over the locals, she finds herself winning over someone else as well—Richard, the handsome man who lives next door.

Richard never expected to meet someone like Dinah—a woman who is headstrong and decisive. A woman he could spend his life with. Unfortunately, Richard needs a Christmas miracle to extricate himself from a tricky obligation.

If it’s a miracle he needs to be free, Dinah is determined he’ll get it—that way they can spend their Christmas fete together and everyone can enjoy their happily ever afters.

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Excerpt

Richard wet his lips, which had gone numb. “I’m not sure how it happened.”

“You were compelled to offer for her,” Dinah whispered.

“Somewhat reluctantly. Later I suspected she manipulated me into it, but that does her an injustice. I did offer.” He saw tears sparkling on Dinah’s lashes and raised a finger to brush them away but she ducked her head.

“Should we announce your engagement during the festivities? People will hear of it soon enough.”

“Please don’t. I keep hoping something will happen to prevent it, the earth crack or a violent storm that will blow the two of us away from here, never to return. I want to be with you, only you, always. Life with Ophelia will be living a lie.”

She smiled at his fantasy. “And yet you are bound to honor your generous impulse.”

“I don’t want to. I only offered because I had never met anyone like you before, never met you, who seem to be the only like-minded soul I have ever found on this earth. You understand me.”

“I am in the same case. I never thought about marriage until I met you, someone who actually cares, who takes me seriously.”

He took her in his arms and kissed her, the heavy coat falling to the floor. If only this moment could go on forever. He could imagine their future life, lose himself in it, but then she dipped her head with a sigh.

“I am so glad we did that at least once,” she said.

SusanaSays3Susana Says

…heartwarming & sweet Regency Christmas tale: 4/5 stars

At a time when marriage is considered the ultimate destiny of all young women, Dinah Claypool is remarkably content with her role as the sensible one of the family, her father being rather unworldly and eccentric and her older brother, a good-natured rakehell. It isn’t until her father sends her to Hammersmith Hall, the estate he has just inherited, that she meets Richard Chandler and begins to think seriously about the wedded state.

What she doesn’t know is that just prior to her arrival, Richard rather half-heartedly offered to marry Ophelia, the daughter of the previous earl, when she wailed to him about having nowhere to go. No matter that he regrets it almost immediately, particularly after meeting Dinah; he can’t jilt Ophelia without causing a scandal.

And speaking of scandal, Dinah discovers to her surprise that her father has been reviled in the area for twenty-five years for jilting Ophelia’s mother. Why has he never mentioned it before? Could that be the reason he sent her instead of coming himself? Could it be true that Ophelia’s mother was his one true love and not Dinah’s own mother, who died when she was small?

Christmas Fete is a delightful Midsummer Night’s Dream sort of story, where the Spirit of Christmas must work its magic to untangle one mismatched couple before true love can prevail.

About the Author

Barbara Miller teaches in the Writing Popular Fiction graduate program at Seton Hill University and is Reference Librarian at Mount Pleasant, PA Public Library. She has published historical and contemporary romances, mysteries, young adult books, a story book and a paranormal novel. Two of her plays have been performed at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival. You may email scribe@fallsbend.net or visit www.fallsbend.net.

Other Stories in the Cotillion Christmas Feasts Series

Christmas Fete by Barbara Miller

The Size of the Scandal by Jillian Chantal

Her Very Major Christmas by Saralee Etter

A Christmas Scheme by Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

It’s Never Enough by Cynthia Moore

Short and Sweet Holiday Treats

If you’re looking for a quick HEA fix for the holiday season, here are some suggestions. Not all are holiday-related and not all are sweet, heat-wise, but all are bargains and great reading!

A Holiday Anthology, Vol. 1 by Rose Anderson

holiday anthologyA Holiday Anthology, Vol. 1 is a  FREE collection of short Christmas stories By Exquisite Quills Authors and Friends. It has been written for adults who love romance stories but is family friendly. Each story is unique and is meant to give a sampling of the writing of that author. From contemporary to historical, the Exquisite Quills authors and friends wish you a happy holiday filled with wonderful books.

  • Christmas Knight by Victoria Adams
  • Star of Wonder by Rose Anderson
  • The Kissing Ball by E. Ayers
  • The Christmas Risk by Beverley Bateman
  • Fallen in Love by Helena Fairfax
  • Snow Job by J.D. Faver
  • Christmas Miracle by Jennifer Garcia
  • Highland Hogmanay by Romy Gemmell
  • Almost Christmas by Vonnie Hughes
  • The Unexpected Christmas Gift by Susan Jaymes
  • Shooting Star Holiday Express by Gemma Juliana
  • The Christmas Gift by Jean Lamb
  • A Faery’s Wish by Jane Leopold Quinn
  • Joyeux Noel by Zanna Mackenzie
  • Gifts to Treasure by Kaye Spencer

Free download on Smashwords.

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A Grosvenor Square Christmas by Shana Galen, Vanessa Kelly, Anna Campbell, and Kate Noble

Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.

Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?

1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen

Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?

1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly

Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.

1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell

At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.

1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble

Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…

You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?

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Mischief and Mistletoe by Tanya Anne Crosby

Suspecting he can never be the man Emma Peters wishes him to be, Lucien Morgen, the fifth duke of Willyngham, decides to break off their long-standing engagement… only to discover the innocent fiancé he set aside for years has unexpectedly blossomed into a passionate, irresistible woman.

As the family counts down to Christmas, everyone else seems to realize Lucien and Emma are truly meant to be–except the oblivious couple. With the help of some very mischievous children, Emma and Lucien are about to discover that a little mischief beneath the mistletoe might just open their hearts to love.

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Christmas Roses: Love Blooms in Winter by Mary Jo Putney, Patricia Rice and Susan King

Love Blooms in Winter. Three rare, historical romance novellas by acclaimed writers Patricia Rice, Mary Jo Putney, and Susan King are collected together here for the first time in this exclusive eBook, Christmas Roses. “The Snow Rose”, “The Black Beast of Belleterre”, and “The Kissing Bough” weave tales of the joy of unexpected Love, at a special time of year, Christmas – as only these talented writers can. Discovery in the midst of a clash of clans, hidden desires from an unexpected suitor, and a love once lost and found combine for a truly romantic journey through history. This tantalizing collection of historical romances also includes all-new introductions and recipes to add to the delight of the season.

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The Gladiator’s Girl by Amy Hearst

Rue, a slave girl in an ancient Roman ludus, has been searching for love all her life. Her mistress often gives her to victorious gladiators for pleasure at their school as a reward for competence in the arena.But Rue has only experienced cruelty from men until she meets Ducius,a muscled and handsome gladiator who relishes their love and revives Rue’s wilting spirit. He treats her gently and nurtures her, and Rue begins to believe in the future again.Their relationship grows ever deeper each time they come together. But the shadow of death haunts them whenever Ducius sets foot upon the sands of the arena, and Rue is certain she will never escape the bonds of slavery. They both search for a path to permanent happiness, a path that can only be determined by their master.

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A Winning Streak by Téa Cooper

Will the path of true love incur the wrath of the virgin Goddess Artemis?

Abandoned at birth, Atalante, protege of the goddess Artemis, is forced into an untenable position by her estranged father, the King of Arcadia—renege on her vow of virginity or condemn her suitors to a sacrificial death. The aristocratic courtier, Melanion, cannot believe anyone would be foolish enough to put their life on the line for the dirty little predator whose reputation for speed and cruelty is legendary. That is until he falls under Atalante’s spell.

Consumed by desire and jealousy, Melanion is determined to win Atalante’s hand or die trying. He calls upon Aphrodite to assist him, little realizing that her noisome brat, Eros, has the pair of them in his sights and is determined to inject a little spice into their lives. Spice that will devastate the path of true love and incur the wrath of the virgin Goddess Artemis.

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Kisses, She Wrote: A Christmas Romance by Katharine Ashe

Christmas in town has never been so steamy . . .

Handsome as sin and scandalously rakish, Cam Westfall, the Earl of Bedwyr, is every young lady’s wickedest dream. Shy wallflower Princess Jacqueline of Sensaire knows this better than anyone, because her dreams are full of the breathtaking earl’s kisses. And not only her dreams—her diary, too.

But when Cam discovers the maiden’s not-so-maidenly diary, will her wildest Christmas wishes be fulfilled in its pages . . . or in his arms?

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Her New Year’s Knight by Selene Grace Silver

The holidays are a time for family. So what if Darla doesn’t have one. She’s a trained psychologist and well-versed in all the dangers of inflating the importance of one week of the year. Besides, she has her clients who need her. Unfortunately, one of them seems to have a dangerous obsession for her. She doesn’t need Santa to bring her a family. What she really needs to find under the tree is a strong protector.

This novella runs 110 pages. It contains explicit descriptions of sex. Recommended for mature (17+) readers only.

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All That’s Unspoken by Constance Phillips

After eight years, Hailey is back in Caseville, Michigan. Just months after her mother’s death, her siblings want to put their father in a nursing home and rent out the family farm. If that wasn’t enough, the prospective tenant is Nate, the high school crush she left behind the day after they acted on their mutual attraction.

After high school, Nate Jenkins planned to leave small town behind, but life dealt him a different hand of cards. He’s now back in Caseville, raising his daughter and running his family’s diner. His daughter’s speech disorder has been improved by therapeutic horse riding and if he can lease the old Lambert farm, he can get her a horse of her own. The only thing standing in the way is Hailey, the same woman who left him eight years ago without even saying goodbye.

Can they get over all that’s unspoken between them?

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Council Courtship by Constance Phillips

When Tristan Ipsly becomes eligible to fill a vacated Council seat, he thinks his chances are non-existent. Especially since he is the sole member to a house the fell to the revolution and his contender Edwin Vettore is an elder from a house that adheres to Canon teachings.

If fairykind has a chance at survival, it will come on Tristan’s wings of change. Or so Quinn Vettore believes. But voicing her support for Tristan will anger her grandfather, and he’s the one man who can stand in the way of a courtship between Quinn and Tristan.

Will Edwin successfully keep both Quinn and the position out Tristan’s grasp, or will the Council yield to change?

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Twelfth Night Wager by Regan Walker

THE REDHEADED RAKE
It was a dull day at White’s the day he agreed to the wager: seduce, bed and walk away from the lovely Lady Leisterfield, all by Twelfth Night. But this holiday season, Christopher St. Ives, Viscount Eustace, planned to give himself a gift.

THE VIRTUOUS WIDOW
She was too proper by half—or so was the accusation of her friends, which was why her father had found her a husband. But Lord Leisterfield was now gone a year, and Grace was at last shedding the drab colors of mourning. The house felt empty, more so during the coming Christmastide, and so tonight would begin with a scandalous piece of theater. The play would attract rogues, or so promised her friend the dowager countess. Rogues, indeed. The night would preface the greatest danger—and the greatest happiness—that Grace had ever known.

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The Holly and the Thistle by Regan Walker

A chance meeting at Berry’s wine shop, a misunderstanding and Christmastide all come together to allow the most handsome Scot in London to give Lady Emily Picton the best Christmas gift ever: a marriage not of convenience, but of love.

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Three Timeless Loves by Claire Delacroix, Terri Brisbin, Eliza Knight

Not short, but a great deal, especially if you like Scottish time travels!

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The Christmas Cuckoo by Mary Jo Putney

Major Jack Howard, a weary veteran of the Peninsular Wars, has just returned to England and intends to travel to an unwelcoming family home for Christmas. But when a pompous secretary gives him too many orders, Jack hops on the next stagecoach leaving the London inn, not caring where it’s going. Too much whisky to stave off freezing leaves him sleeping it off in a different inn, and when an attractive young woman asks if he’s Jack Howard, he happily goes home with her.

Despite vile weather, Meg Lambert drives to the local inn to collect her brother’s friend Jack Howard, but since she’s never met the man, she doesn’t realize that she’s brought home the wrong Jack Howard. Jack realizes her mistake when he awakes the next morning with an aching head—but he finds a warmth and welcome with Meg and her family that he’s yearned for all his life. He can’t bring himself to admit that he’s a cuckoo in her nest—but what will happen when Meg’s brother and the right Jack Howard turn up for Christmas???

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A Lass For Christmas by Jane Charles

Lady Madeline Trent had grand plans for her future until she learned her family’s awful secret. When a fall through an icy lake lands her in the arms of a handsome Scot, her future is more unsure than ever.

Lachlan Grant, the Marquess of Brachton, may hold an English title, but he’s a Scot through and through. He’s bound and determined to marry a lass just as Scottish as he is, at least until his fate is altered one snowy night.

A Lass for Christmas is a novella of approximately 27,000 words and the fourth story in the Tenacious Trents series.

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Mistletoe and Magic by Katie Rose

SusanaSays3SUSANA SAYS: A delightful holiday romance: 4/5 stars

Penelope Appleton has an unusual gift—that of seeing visions of the future. Among other things, she foresaw both of her older sisters’ love matches, and then, finally, she sees her own.

When she and Jared Marton clasp eyes on each other at the Christmas Ball, they both know they are destined for each other. Unfortunately, Penelope sees something else as well—a newspaper headline proclaiming Jared’s death on Christmas Eve.

In an attempt to protect her heart from the devastating blow of losing her true love, Penelope determines to avoid Jared. But the smitten attorney doesn’t give up easily. No matter what Penelope contrives to discourage him, he manages to find a way to counteract it. And Penelope finds herself falling for him in spite of herself.

Mistletoe+and+Magic+(Novella)But Penelope’s visions have always come true, so she can’t help becoming more and more anxious as Christmas Eve approaches.

This novella is a sequel to Rose’s “Courting Trouble” and “A Hint of Mischief.” “Mistletoe and Magic” stands by itself, however, which I can verify since I have not read either of the preceding novels.

“Mistletoe and Magic” is a delightful Christmas read that will no doubt spur other readers on to obtain the first two stories and discover how Penelope’s sisters met their matches.

Available

AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo

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Cotillion Christmas Traditions series

cotillionchristmastraditions                    printbook copy2

This series of eight sweet Regency novellas has previously been featured on this blog. These stories are also available in two print volumes: Cotillion Christmas Traditions and Cotillion Christmas Celebrations.

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A Regency Christmas Collection by Hetty St. James

Three Regency Christmas stories available in digital form as well as print and large print. Previously featured on this blog.

Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Barbara Miller and “Twelve Days of Christmas”

Christmas Traditions is the theme of this year’s Ellora’s Cave Blush Cotillion Christmas series. Eight stories focusing on Christmas traditions during the Regency will be released digitally, and then in print version as two anthologies. The first to be released is Barbara Miller’s Twelve Days of Christmas.

The eight stories in the series are:

10/10/13: Twelve Days of Christmas, Barbara Miller

10/17/13: A Christmas Caroline, Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

10/24/13: Festive Persuasion, Charlene Roberts

10/31/13: Lydia’s Christmas Charade, Saralee Etter

11/7/13: Snug in a Snowstorm, Cynthia Moore

11/14/13: Helena’s Christmas Beau, Aileen Fish

11/21/13: A Twelfth Night Tale, Susana Ellis

11/28/13: Sense of the Season, Kate Dolan

Interview with Barbara Miller

Susana: What comes first: the plot or characters?

Barbara: One character comes first and that hero or heroine has to invent their counterpart. I thought up Tamara first and she helped me create the perfect hero for her. She discovers Ash to be flawed but with self-doubt more than anything. It’s not her job to save him but he decides it’s his responsibility to save himself in order to be worthy of her. The plot must serve the characters and their relationship, not the reverse. Plot is easy to fix, but if you make a misstep with character creation you have to start over.

Susana: What is your writing method?

Barbara: I write via a bizarre and scary method I call active outlining. I write all the dialogue first with the connective tissue being bits of synopsis place holding the plot together. Once I get to the end of the patchwork of conversation, it know how it will end and I construct the action or plot. Then I fill in introspection and tagging. Finally I do description and transitions. It’s quick and crazy, but I have to be careful not to turn in too early a draft. Six iterations gets the book close to finished, but I still have places where the editor wants more introspection.

Susana: What author has most influenced your writing?

Barbara: Georgette Heyer was by biggest influence. I was amazed that she could get humor into even the gravest situation. My goal is to get humor into every book. It’s such a part of life it needs to be present in every story.

About Twelve Days of Christmas

TwelveDays of Christmas coverTamara Gifford gets herself invited to Oakley Hall for Christmas to rescue her brother from the reportedly depraved Lord Oakley. When she arrives she discovers that Ashford Steel is a former soldier trying to adjust to governing an estate. He is happy to have his mother and Tamara for company since his brother is supposed to be spending the holiday at Tamara’s house in London.

Though they are both angry at the deception of their brothers they enjoy banding together to find them while Ashford tries to remember the tradition of what Lord Oakley is supposed to do on the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Tamara gives him sound advice about how to go forward with his life rather than looking back. In return he helps her to see that she must make a life for herself and let her brother go. After they locate the young men and rescue them, Tamara agrees to marry Ashford, but what her brother wants to do with the rest of his life could tear apart their hard won love.

Available

Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Ellora’s Cave • Kobo • Sony

About the Author

Barb July 08Barbara Miller teaches in the Writing Popular Fiction graduate program at Seton Hill University and is Reference Librarian at Mount Pleasant, PA Public Library. She has published historical romances, mysteries, and young adult books and has had two plays performed. You may email her at scribe@fallsbend.net or visit www.fallsbend.net.

Featured Regency Anthology: A Christmas Cotillion Surprise

An Amazon Traditional Regency Anthology

by

Blair Bancroft, Barbara Miller, Kate Fox, Kate Dolan

Amazon Buy Link

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The Last Surprise by Blair Bancroft

http://www.blairbancroft.com/

Not all surprises are good ones. In the midst of a glorious first season, Lady Christine Ashford’s life is wholly disrupted by tragedy. The death of her father, the Earl of Bainbridge, leaves herself and her younger sisters summarily exiled from the family estate to distant relatives in Yorkshire to wait for the return of the elusive heir to her father’s title. There, life quickly becomes untenable.

The new earl’s return from the colonies gives Christine and her sisters a chance to escape their scheming Yorkshire relatives, but only through an unexpected marriage to this new, unknown man who has taken her father’s title and his lands. As the year turns to Christmas, the season of new life and joy, Christine must decide if she can embrace the spirit of the season—and her new husband.

Christmas Bequest by Barbara Miller

Blush sensuality level: This is a sweet romance (kisses only, no sexual content).

The shocking news comes right before Christmas—Patience Mayhew’s beloved brother Jack was lost in the Battle of Nivelle. Since his son is but a toddler, Jack left his estate in trust to his best friend Stuart—the man who, years ago, broke Patience’s heart.

Stuart Marsh is just as shocked as Patience at Jack’s bequest. How can he possibly run Heatherfield when Jack’s widow resents him and sister detests him? But as he settles in and sees how much work Heatherfield needs, he realizes it’s his chance to prove himself to Patience all over again. He wants nothing more than to lift the burden from her shoulders and prove that Christmas miracles exist—and that love, real love, never truly fades away.

A Blush® romance from Ellora’s Cave 

Double Masquerade by Kate Fox

Blush sensuality level: This is a sweet romance (kisses only, no sexual content).

Jane, the Honorable Miss Lumley, is in a bind. She can’t help boasting about her friendship with author Mr. Michael Girard, whose sweeping new series of adventurous tales set on the high seas have fetched a high price at a Nottingham book auction.

Darkly debonair bookseller Lachlan, Lord Stathmore, finds Girard’s stories improbable but knows they will sell. When Jane’s impassioned defense wins him over, he asks her to arrange a meeting with the mysterious Mr. Girard.

But how can she, when she herself is the stories’ scribe and she is forced to keep the real seafarer’s identity secret? A Christmas cotillion offers a solution. But while men’s clothes and a mask might be enough to hide her identity, will her double masquerade be enough to conceal her rising passion?

A Change Of Address by Kate Dolan

http://www.katedolan.com

Blush sensuality level: This is a sweet romance (kisses only, no sexual content).

Jane, the Honorable Miss Lumley, is in a bind. She can’t help boasting about her friendship with author Mr. Michael Girard, whose sweeping new series of adventurous tales set on the high seas have fetched a high price at a Nottingham book auction.

Darkly debonair bookseller Lachlan, Lord Stathmore, finds Girard’s stories improbable but knows they will sell. When Jane’s impassioned defense wins him over, he asks her to arrange a meeting with the mysterious Mr. Girard.

But how can she, when she herself is the stories’ scribe and she is forced to keep the real seafarer’s identity secret? A Christmas cotillion offers a solution. But while men’s clothes and a mask might be enough to hide her identity, will her double masquerade be enough to conceal her rising passion?