Tag Archive | Cotillion Christmas Traditions

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.

Susana Interviews Mrs. Barlow, the Mother of the Heroine of “A Twelfth Night Tale”

Susana is going all out to celebrate the release of A Twelfth Night Tale!

giant_treasure

Besides the Grand Prize—a Giant Treasure Box—she is giving away a Twelfth Night Tale Christmas charm bracelet (silver-plated) for one random commenter on each of the twelve stops of the tour.

Click here for the Rafflecopter for the Giant Treasure Box!

A Twelfth Night Tale Giant Treasure Box*

  • lovely gift box
  • A Twelfth Night Tale Christmas charm bracelet (silver-plated)
  • Father Christmas figurine
  • Three Wise Men figurine
  • Thomas Kinkade photo collage
  • Treasuring Theresa mug
  • Treasuring Theresa necklace
  • Treasuring Theresa keychain
  • two Christmas ornaments from Scotland (Mary Queen of Scots and fleur-de-lys)
  • two decks of Ellora’s Cave playing cards
  • two perfumed soaps from Scotland
  • fizzing bath salts from Scotland
  • Celtic pen from Scotland
  • “jeweled” soap
  • nail clipper keychain from London
  • stuffed toy bear

*In lieu of the treasure box, a winner from outside the U.S. will receive a gift card from the book retailer of their choice.

My time-traveling Regency lady, Lady Pendleton, came down with a stomach ailment and was unable to travel to Oxfordshire to complete the series of interviews she agreed to before returning to the 21st century. (Prior to that, however, she did manage to interview Jane Livingston, the hero’s sister, while they were both enjoying the Little Season in London.) And she somehow contrived to send Mrs. Barlow, Lucy’s mother, to me at my winter home in Florida for a brief interview. Someday I’m going to get her to tell me how she does these things. (And get her to take her back to Regency England with her—wouldn’t that be a historical researcher’s dream?)

Susana: Welcome to Florida, Mrs. Barlow. I hope you enjoy your stay. May I offer you some refreshments?

Mrs. Barlow: [looking around her in wonder] No thank you, Miss Ellis. My stomach is still a bit queasy from the journey.

Susana: Oh dear, I hope you are not coming down with the same ailment that has sidelined my friend Lady Pendleton.

Mrs. Barlow: Lady Pendleton? Oh yes, the…uh…woman who sent me here. She’s a bit…eccentric, is she not?

Susana: [hiding a smile] Indeed she is, Mrs. Barlow. But kindhearted and quite harmless, really.

Mrs. Barlow: [looking relieved] I’m glad to hear it, Miss Ellis. This is all quite a shock, you know. She said you wished to inquire about my daughter Lucy?

Susana: Er, yes. It’s research for a story I’m writing. I understand you have five daughters?

Mrs. Barlow: [Sighing] Indeed I do. Five daughters to marry off and no sons.

Susana: And Lucy is the eldest?

Mrs. Barlow: Yes, she is already eight and ten years of age and of an age to make her bow to Society, but unfortunately, her father and I have not the means to stake her. [Shaking her head] A house in London with servants is enormously expensive. We cannot even stand the cost of providing her with a suitable wardrobe. [Sighing] It is very sad, really. Lucy is a delightful girl who would be a splendid wife, but there are few eligible gentlemen here in Charlbury.

Susana: I understand the young man next door recently returned from service in the Peninsula. Livingston, I believe. Andrew Livingston. Could he be a prospect, do you think?

Mrs. Barlow: [Sighing deeply] No, unfortunately he’s betrothed to some London chit. Since before he took up his colors two years ago. I suppose they’ll be marrying posthoste now that he’s returned. A shame really, because Lucy has always had a tendre for him. The Livingstons are an unexceptionable family and quite well-to-heel, and it would be a great thing if Lucy were to be settled so near—but no, he’s never seen Lucy as anything but a child, and besides, he’s spoken for.

Susana: What a conundrum! Are there no other ways for young ladies to meet eligible gentlemen in the country?

Mrs. Barlow: Occasionally, someone’s cousin or nephew comes to town for a visit, but there are few eligibles in that lot. There are assemblies, of course. Oh, that reminds me. [Perking up] There was a quite agreeable viscount at the last assembly who seemed quite taken with Lucy. He danced twice with her. Perhaps he will come to call soon. Oh my, that would be a marvelous thing for my girls! To have their sister a viscountess who can sponsor them in London when the time comes! I must urge Lucy to encourage him!

Susana: Was she equally taken with him, then?

Mrs. Barlow: [shrugging] These things resolve themselves over time. I don’t believe she was repulsed by him. He looked well enough, for an older gentleman, and his manners were unexceptionable. It is said that he was a considerate husband to his late wife, and seems to be devoted to his three daughters.

Susana: Oh, he’s a widower. No doubt looking for a mother for his daughters.

Mrs. Barlow: And an heir, of course. He still needs a son to inherit, and Lucy is young enough to manage that.

Susana: [Doubtfully] I suppose so, and yet…one could wish a love match for her.

Mrs. Barlow: [Stiffening] Lucy is a practical girl, and not at all the sort to waste time dreaming of the impossible. She will make a wonderful wife and mother and take great pleasure in using her elevated circumstances to assist her sisters.

Susana: I’m sure she will, Mrs. Barlow. I did not mean to imply otherwise. Please forgive me if I offended you.

Mrs. Barlow: [Relaxing] Of course. I’m afraid this is a topic about which Mr. Barlow and I frequently cross swords. He says Lucy is still young and will find her own way. But he’s never been the most practical man, and I suspect he’d be just as glad to have all of them at home with us forever.

Susana: An indulgent father then. [Glances at the clock]. Oh dear, it’s almost time for our visit to end. I wonder if you’d like to take a walk around the park, Mrs. Barlow. It’s such a lovely day, and you might enjoy the flora and fauna here in central Florida. Perhaps we’ll even see an alligator in the lake.

Mrs. Barlow: An alligator! Goodness!

Susana: From a distance, of course. But there are palm trees and snake birds, and plenty of sun to warm you before you go back to chilly England

Mrs. Barlow: [shivering] Chilly indeed! The weather has been exceptionally cold this year. By all means, let us walk a bit in the sunshine.

And so ends the interview. It may interest you to know that the winter of 1813-1814, when A Twelfth Night Tale takes place, was one of the coldest on record, so much so that in February the Thames froze and a frost fair was held for four days, during which an elephant was led across the river under Blackfriars Bridge. 

About A Twelfth Night Tale

twelfthnighttale_4inchA wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions.

Without dowries and the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. But when the eldest attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, suddenly it seems as though Fate is smiling upon them.

Lucy knows that she owes it to her younger sisters to encourage Lord Bexley’s attentions, since marriage to a peer will secure their futures as well as hers. The man of her dreams has always looked like Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and, in any case, is betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to put away childhood dreams and accept reality…and Lord Bexley.

Andrew has returned from the Peninsula with more emotional scars to deal with than just the lame arm. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend “Little Lucy” who shows him the way out of his melancholy. He can’t help noticing that Lucy’s grown up into a lovely young woman, but with an eligible viscount courting her, he’ll need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

Available

Ellora’s CaveAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo

Excerpt

Jane was chatty as usual, prattling on about the wedding, her latest letter from Theodore and the coming events for the Christmas holidays.

“We are expecting you all at our house for Christmas dinner as usual,” Lucy broke in. “Mama has a new recipe for plum pudding and she’s anxious to see what you think of it.”

The Livingstons had been guests of the Barlows for every Christmas dinner since Mrs. Livingston’s death. Jane and Andrew’s mother had been a wonderful hostess and a great advocate for the Yuletide traditions, and after she had passed away,

Mrs. Barlow had begun the practice of sharing the family Christmas with their good friends and neighbors. There was never a dull moment in a household with five such lively daughters as the Barlow girls, and the Livingstons were not allowed the luxury of brooding over the past during a time of year meant to be joyful.

“Yes indeed,” piped up Mr. Livingston. “Your mother sets a fine table and it’s always a pleasure to be among so many pretty young lasses, is it not, Andrew?”

“Most assuredly,” said Andrew, with an appreciative smile at Lucy. “If Miss Barlow here is any indication, the Barlow girls must be growing up quite agreeably.”

Lucy flushed. “You must come to the church tomorrow night for the Christmas Eve pageant,” she put forward. “My sisters and I are all in the play, and Jane will need an escort.”

Andrew raised his eyebrows. “You are all five in the play? I don’t recall so many females involved in the nativity.”

Lucy laughed. “I’m the director,” she said. “Laura plays the part of Mary, Lydia is one of the wise men, Louisa is a shepherd, and Lila is a camel.” She grinned. “The script originally called for domestic animals, but Lila being Lila, refused to settle for anything so mundane.”

“Who, then, is the Christ Child?” inquired Andrew after the laughter had subsided.

“Louisa’s cat, Beau,” Lucy told him. “We meant to use the Tadsens’ baby in the beginning, but he wouldn’t stay still and kept crying, so we tried several dogs and cats for the part, and Beau was the most cooperative.”

More smiles circled the table, and Andrew agreed that he would be pleased to escort Jane to the pageant.

“How could I possibly refuse? This production is certain to be the highlight of the county. You should accompany us, Papa,” he said, turning to his father.

“Perhaps I shall,” said Mr. Livingston.

Jane and Lucy excused themselves, leaving the two gentlemen to their port.

“Oh Lucy!” Jane said when they reached the drawing room. “I’ve had the most marvelous idea! Well, it was your doing, really.”

“Me? What did I do?” Lucy was mystified.

“You invited Andrew to the pageant! Brilliant thinking! He’s been holed up in his bedchamber like a grumpy bear for weeks now, even before Cecilia jilted him. We need to get him out of the house. Encourage him to meet other people and stop feeling sorry for himself.”

She gave Lucy a speculative look. “And now that I think about it, you would be the best person to do it. Cheer him up, I mean. I haven’t seen Andrew in such a lively frame of mind since…well, before he went off to war.”

Lucy was horrified…and hopeful. “You want me to be in charge of cheering up Andrew? Why not you? You are his sister.”

“I’ve tried everything I know, and it’s no use. You are with him for an hour and he’s laughed twice!” She grasped Lucy’s shoulder. “Look, I’m not asking you to marry Andrew or anything like that. All you have to do is come for visits, bring your sisters, persuade him to get out of the house, things like that. You can do that, can’t you? For my sake?”

“Well…” said Lucy doubtfully.

“You do like Andrew, don’t you? Want him to regain his spirits?”

“Of course.” That was the problem. She liked him far too much. It wouldn’t do to get her hopes up and then have them dashed to pieces.

“Then it’s settled.”

And in spite of everything, Lucy was glad that it was.

Contacts

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Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) • Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)

Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Kate Dolan and “Sense of the Season”

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 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

The inspiration for this story came from searching for a place to stay in England for the first night of our summer trip. Looking for someplace not far from Dover, I found a B&B called “Centuries” in the town of Hythe, right on the coast. It’s situated in an old ragstone building that served as an almshouse from the 13th Century up until the 20th Century. The pictures on the website looked so cool that knew I just had to stay there. Fortunately the rates were quite reasonable, they had vacancy (since this was several months in advance) and the owners love history as much (or more) than I do. Even though I hadn’t set foot in the place yet, I knew I wanted to use the building as the setting for a story.

It didn’t  fit my original idea for a “Christmas Traditions” story, so I picked a different tradition—giving alms to the poor.  Of course, then I had to write the story and submit it before I actually had the pleasure of staying at “Centuries,” but I knew I would have the chance to make some revisions before publication to add details about the place. I also used another historic home about ten miles away, Godinton House, and I incorporated as characters some members of the family who lived there at the time the story was set. And then during revisions, I decided I needed another site in the northern part of the county and was able to use another really cool house (with it’s own moat and clock tower) Igtham Mote.

senseoftheseason_msr low resBefore this trip, it had been over 20 years since I’d been to England, and it might be another 20 before I get to go again, so I was trying to soak up every detail and visit as many historic houses as I could to use in future tales. I can’t tell you how many times I made my husband stop the car so I could take a picture of something that caught my eye. Eventually I just started taking pictures through the windshield. They’re not exactly frame-worthy, but they will help me remember potentially useful details.

I would love to set another story in Hythe at an earlier period when the town was in its heyday as a medieval  port. Many pilgrims from the Continent landed at Hythe on their way to Canterbury Cathedral. Maybe someday I’ll write my version of Canterbury Tales. Who knows?

To learn more about “Centuries” including the archaeology work done on the site, visit http://www.hythekentarchaeology.com/.

About Sense of the Season

There are many people William Fletcher would prefer to never again encounter in life, but if forced to rank them, he just might put Matilda Blakethorn at the top of the list. She humiliated him at the age of nine, and truth be told, scared the wits out of him for years after.

So now, waking up after a night of heavy drinking to find her looming over him is a bit of an unpleasant surprise. Especially since he has no place else to go.

Matty Blakethorn doesn’t recognize the bedraggled stranger sleeping on the floor of the St. Bartholomew’s Almshouse. But when he unwittingly ends up staying to help with repairs, the old acquaintance is renewed.  And while neither Matty or William is anxious to admit the troubles that have driven them to such a humble place, Christmas is a time of sharing and giving and reconciliation. When William finally reveals his greatest failing, Matty must decide whether she can again face the demon that already destroyed her life once before.

Available

Ellora’s Cave • Barnes & Noble AmazonKobo

About the Author

headshotgoldjackethairstickingoutKate Dolan was a terrible lawyer, so her decision to turn her back on the corporate world was a great relief to everyone, especially those in the corporate world. Since leaving the rat race, she has worked as a newspaper columnist, preschool teacher, bookkeeper and jump rope coach. A self-proclaimed “history nut,” she volunteers as a living history interpreter at historical sites near her home outside Baltimore and loves to share facts about the past, especially the gross ones.  When she grows up, she hopes to become a professional roller coaster rider with her daughter. She writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary Christian mysteries and children’s books under the name K.D. Hays.  Connect with her on Facebook  or at www.katedolan.com.

Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Susana Ellis and “A Twelfth Night Tale”

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 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

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Celebrate the Release Day of A Twelfth Night Tale!

Susana is giving away a fabulous sterling silver necklace and A Twelfth Night Tale Christmas charm bracelet (silver-plated). Click here for the Rafflecopter!

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About A Twelfth Night Tale

A wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions.

Without dowries and the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. But when the eldest attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, suddenly it seems as though Fate is smiling upon them.

Lucy knows that she owes it to her younger sisters to encourage Lord Bexley’s attentions, since marriage to a peer will secure their futures as well as hers. The man of her dreams has always looked like Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and, in any case, is betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to put away childhood dreams and accept reality…and Lord Bexley.

Andrew has returned from the Peninsula with more emotional scars to deal with than just the lame arm. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend “Little Lucy” who shows him the way out of his melancholy. He can’t help noticing that Lucy’s grown up into a lovely young woman, but with an eligible viscount courting her, he’ll need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

Available

Ellora’s CaveAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo • Sony

Excerpt

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

A Blush® Regency romance from Ellora’s Cave

Chapter One

The Barlow Home

near Charlbury, Oxfordshire

23 December 1813

“It’s so kind of you to call, Lord Bexley. The flowers you sent are simply lovely, are they not, Lucy?”

Unable to miss the warning tone in her mother’s voice, Lucy sat up straight in her chair and smiled sweetly at their caller.

“Oh yes indeed. They are undoubtedly the most beautiful I’ve ever received, my lord.”

Of course, she did not mention that they were the first flowers she’d ever been sent by a gentleman. And considering that there were few opportunities to meet eligible gentlemen in the quiet little neck of the woods where the Barlows resided, the arrangement was quite likely to remain the only floral tribute to come her way.

Her caller beamed with pleasure. “They were the best I could find at the florist, but of course they cannot hold a candle to your beauty and sweetness, Miss Barlow.”

Lucy swallowed and forced herself to reply. “You embarrass me with your flattery, my lord.”

“Not at all,” he insisted. “You were quite the belle of the Christmas Ball last evening, Miss Barlow. I was much envied to be allowed the honor of two dances with you when so many gentlemen had to be turned away.”

The “Christmas Ball” was merely a small celebration at the local assembly rooms. Her mother had encouraged her to favor Lord Bexley, but in truth, Lucy herself had not found him objectionable. He was an accomplished dancer and quite distinguished-looking, in spite of the fact that he had at least twenty years over her. At eighteen, she was of an age to be out in society, and Lord Bexley, a wealthy widower from Warwickshire, was undoubtedly the most eligible gentleman in the county. Recently out of mourning, he was seeking a new wife and a mother to his three children, and as Mrs. Barlow kept telling her, Lucy should be flattered that he seemed to be favoring her for the role.

Well, she was flattered. Wasn’t she? The number of young ladies far exceeded that of eligible gentlemen, and she didn’t wish to be left on the shelf. With her family in financial difficulties and four younger sisters to be married off, Lucy knew she owed it to them to marry well and do what she could to find her sisters suitable matches as well.

She was prepared to do her duty and make the best of it, but somehow, when she thought of marriage and children, it was not the kindly Lord Bexley who came to mind. It was the face of the strapping, dark-haired Adonis with laughing gray eyes who lived on an adjoining estate with his younger sister—her bosom friend Jane—who had teased her unmercifully from the time she learned to walk. She couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been in love with Andrew Livingston—she’d even asked him to marry her at the age of five when he’d been twelve and about to leave for Eton. He’d laughed and quipped that it would be like marrying his sister, and she’d nursed a broken heart ever since.

She sighed as she frequently did when she thought of Andrew and his affianced wife, and her mother glared at her. Fortunately, Phillips wheeled in the tea cart and Mrs. Barlow’s attention was mercifully diverted.

“Please do the honors, Lucy. An excellent opportunity to practice your housewifely skills.”

Lucy flushed. Could her mother’s intentions be more obvious? But Lord Bexley did not seem to notice. He smiled kindly at her somewhat shaky inquiry as to his preferences, and thanked her graciously when she brought him his tea and a plate of cherry tarts.

“Quite charming,” he commented as he regarded her with obvious approval. It was unclear whether he was speaking to her or to her mother, and Lucy wasn’t sure how to respond.

Fortunately, there was a shriek followed by the sound of fierce arguing from the back rooms of the house. Lucy turned instinctively to the door, which was promptly thrust open and filled by the figure of her sister Lydia, who was breathing hard and wringing her hands in agitation.

“Do come, Lucy! Lila and Louisa are having one of their rows again, in the kitchen of all places. Lila broke one of Cook’s mixing bowls, and Cook swears she’ll leave if someone doesn’t stop them and you know you’re the only one who can, Lucy!” She flushed when she saw Lord Bexley and her mother’s angry face. “Oh…pardon me, I didn’t realize we had a guest.” She backed out into the hall, shooting Lucy a pleading look as she did so.

Relieved for an excuse to terminate the social call, Lucy muttered her excuses and scrambled out of the room. But not before she heard her mother’s mortified apology and Lord Bexley’s soothing reply that he found it quite agreeable to discover a young lady so accomplished in the maternal skills.

Goodness, he really was intent on courting her! She should be flattered. She was a sensible girl, and it was pointless to set her cap at Andrew Livingston, in any case. Lord Bexley would be an excellent match for her. His three daughters could not possibly be as troublesome as her two youngest sisters, after all.

She gritted her teeth and hurried to the kitchen, the ineffectual Lydia as usual trailing behind her. The second eldest Barlow daughter was as helpless as their mother at controlling the two youngest children. When Lucy married and left the house, as she would in time, her bookish middle sister Laura was going to have to take up the reins.

About the Author

P1smsqA former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.

Contacts

Web site • Email • Facebook • Twitter • Linked In • Pinterest • Google+Goodreads

Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) • Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)

Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Aileen Fish and “Helena’s Christmas Beau”

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 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

Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions can cover the gamut from big events to the little things like hanging the stockings year after year. In Helena’s Christmas Beau, Helena is a stickler for making certain some things are done—and done right. Her Christmas season begins with “stir up day”, when the puddings are made, giving them time to ripen properly before the holiday meal. And there is a ritual to the day that involves everyone in the household, lest it bring bad luck to the family. Traditions and rituals are all well and good, until you run into someone who can’t see the purpose in them!

What inspired you to start writing?

helenaschristmasbeau_msr smallI was always writing when I was a child, and by eight or nine I had announced I wanted to do it when I grew up. When I was twelve, I heard S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders at the age of seventeen, so I started my first novel. I think I got three chapters in. It took a lot of spurts of starting and stopping before I submitted my first novel anywhere, and finally came down to seeing everyone else succeed to make me push hard enough to sell my first novella.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Don’t be afraid to change critique groups until you find a group you can work with. Feedback is necessary to improving your writing, but don’t let them change your voice! Write, rewrite, polish then submit.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?

Each story is different. Sometimes I come up with a plot idea or a trope, then think about who would work best in this setting. My main focus at the start is the conflict. What will make it difficult for them to get together at the end? That line of thought finalizes the plot and characterization.

About Helena’s Christmas Beau

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

Facing her second Christmas since the loss of her fiancé, Helena relies on her favorite traditions to bring back the joy of the season. Yet from stir-up day to bringing in the greenery on Christmas Eve, her cousin’s brother-in-law, Duncan, is underfoot, questioning her every action.

As Duncan plays along with the outdated rites, he realizes how much he’s missed Helena’s laughter. When he hears she plans to re-enter the Marriage Mart next spring, he is struck with jealousy. Is he falling in love, or simply under the spell of the holiday season?

A Blush® Regency romance from Ellora’s Cave

Available

Ellora’s CaveAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo • AllRomance eBooks • Sony

About the Author

aileenWhen Aileen Fish was eight or nine, she told the mom next door that she wanted to be a writer, but she hated writing her stories down. At twelve, she wrote her first novel after reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Well, she wrote most of it. That writing it down part got in the way again.

Aileen’s early works as an adult included a parallel-world Young Adult fantasy based on Native American mythology, which she wrote with the help of Ray Faraday Nelson in the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Workshop. Her short fiction at that time was primarily dark fantasy, and her first sale was “Saturday Night” in the Summer 1991 issue of After Hours Magazine.

Obviously, Aileen has trouble remaining in the real world. Even as she ventured into romance, there was always a paranormal twist. She has tamed the inner beasts and demons into short periods of submission, which allow traditional historical romances to escape onto the page. Oh, and she no longer has that problem with finishing a story. Now, it’s a matter of finishing fast enough for the next hero to get his turn.

Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Cynthia Moore and “Snug in a Snowstorm”

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 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

An Author’s Reflections: Cynthia Moore

What inspired you to start writing? My favorite books when I was a child were Nancy Drew mysteries, Cherry Ames nurse stories and Charles Dickens novels. I remember immersing myself in these books to the point that I felt I was living the life described inside the pages. I thought about how wonderful it would be to write my own story filled with characters and situations from my own imagination.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?  When I first started writing novels, I would be very concerned that every sentence I put down on the page was perfect. This caused me to worry so much about the content that very little of the story was ever written down. Instead, I kept deliberating the pros and cons in my head. Now I have found that if I write what I’m thinking without worrying about the structure, I can always go back later and fine tune the words and the sentences. At least I have something to work with and it’s not just floating around inside my brain.

What comes first: the plot or the characters? When I come up with an idea for a story, the characters and their personalities drive the plot. In other words, if my heroine is fiercely independent, the plot will involve an equally strong-willed hero who vows to change her attitude so that she realizes she needs him in her life. From there, I set up the circumstances and the entanglements of their journey until they reach the ‘happily ever after’ ending.

Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about? A few months ago, I was asked to submit a work of poetry or a short story into a gothic-themed art show.  I had never written anything in the gothic genre before but I did manage to produce what I felt was a very moving two page story. I have taken that short piece and made it into a prologue for a full-length novel. I hope to be finished with the story before the end of the year.

What are you reading now? My maternal grandmother was an avid reader. She discovered Betty Neels stories in the early eighties. She gave me a few of her books and I was immediately hooked on them. Her novels are of the few works that I am able to read over and over again without ever losing interest. I’m presently reading her story Tangled Autumn for the fifth time.

About Snug in a Snowstorm

Lady Isabella Porter and Lord Gerard Malden have known each other since they were children. Isabella thinks of Gerard as someone who teased her unmercifully and made her feel inadequate as a young girl. This is a very unfortunate state of affairs for Gerard because he has loved Isabella for many years.

A sudden, fierce snowstorm and misplaced notes informing both of a change of plan mean Isabella and Gerard are forced to spend the Christmas holidays together in very unusual circumstances. Gerard realizes he must use the time he has been given with Isabella to change the opinions she formed as a girl so she may look upon him with favor and, if he is fortunate, lasting affection.

Available

Ellora’s CaveAmazonSony • Kobo

Excerpt

An Excerpt From: SNUG IN A SNOWSTORM

Copyright © CYNTHIA MOORE, 2013

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

“Open up, Jasper!”

snuginastormIsabella hastily opened the door. “May I be of…Gerard?”

“Yes, it’s me.” He moved past her and shut the door. A dusting of powdery snow fell from the collar of his heavy coat. He stared at Isabella with obvious exasperation. “What in blazes is going on? The front porch is covered with bags of all sizes, Jasper is not here to answer the door and you greet me wearing the cook’s apron.”

“It appears the note that informed you of the change in plans never reached either.” Isabella made a point to hide her feelings of relief when she realized Gerard would be on hand to assist her with this rather astounding state of affairs. For some reason that she would think about later, she was hesitant to be in a position of obligation to him.

“What note?” Gerard shook the frozen slush from his caped coat and placed the garment on top of her recently discarded pelisse.

“It seems that your sister’s baby decided to arrive early. Your parents were informed of the fact and they left for London yesterday. Apparently a missive was dispatched to each of us telling of their intentions. I never received anything and obviously neither did you. I arrived here a short time ago to find only a caretaker in residence, his wife who is sick with a bad cough, and a groom to take care of the horses. We are all tired, cold and hungry. I plan to fix a meal for us tonight and will return to my home tomorrow morning.”

“Quentin is in charge?” Gerard reached up to loosen his cravat and then he removed his other garments, leaving on only his shirt, breeches and boots.

“Yes. What…whatever are you doing?” Isabella glanced at him and then could feel herself begin to blush as she noticed the outline of Gerard’s muscular chest clearly visible through his shirt. She hastily looked toward the floor and in doing so got a glimpse of his firm thighs encased in formfitting breeches. She quickly refocused her gaze and attempted to study the frieze of dancing cherubs that decorated the domed ceiling above them.

“The snow is coming down quite heavily, no one is going anywhere for a few days. It’s obvious you need assistance. I’ll bring the bags up to your rooms. My valet has gone with my coachman to the stables. He should join me momentarily.” He turned toward the door.

“Wait.” Isabella’s voice shook as she realized she was stuck in close quarters with Gerard for an extended period of time. Well, she wouldn’t concern herself with the awkward situation now. There were many things to be seen to first. “I need my herbal supplies to fix a special tea for Mrs. Quentin’s cough.”

Gerard held the door open and indicated that she should precede him. “Take whatever you need.”

Isabella was momentarily astounded as she observed the pile of bags that were gathered on the porch. Equally surprising was the sight of the thick white blanket of snow that was rapidly covering everything outside. She refocused on the bags and glimpsed the black leather handle of the satchel she required. She hastily moved forward to pick it up. “My groom should also be available to help you.”

Xmas, Arizona 065Gerard bent over to grab a few of the cases. “Don’t concern yourself, Isabella. Because of the scarcity of servants, I’m sure all of us are going to have to pitch in and do things we normally don’t do while we are here.”

Still, Isabella hesitated, somewhat unsure of how to act with Gerard at present when their roles were changed in such an extreme manner. “Well, I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me.”

Gerard followed her into the house. “I know where to find you. Let’s try to make the most out of this Christmas together.”

“Yes, yes, that would be wise.” Turning away to make her way down the hallway, Isabella frowned in confusion as she replayed Gerard’s last words in her mind. Was he planning some kind of mischief to make the holiday more memorable? She certainly wouldn’t put it past him to do something to put her in an embarrassing position once again. Perhaps that was why she was hesitant to be under any obligation to him. She took a deep breath as she entered the kitchen. There was no time to worry about Gerard and what his plans were at present.

About the Author

I’m a native Southern Californian. When I was very young, I discovered my local library and the exciting potential of escaping the real world inside the pages of a good book. As a teenager, I became a huge fan of British literature. After reading most of the Victorian classics, I came upon Regency period novels in 1987. It was love at first read. Since my chance introduction to this wonderful era in time, I have read over three thousand fiction novels and own a large collection of research books on the period.

Cotillion Christmas Traditions: Saralee Etter and “Lydia’s Christmas Charade”

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 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 Saralee Etter

saralee-2-webfileSusana: Tell us a little about yourself.

Saralee: I love to read, and always knew that writing was the only career for me. What could be better than to think up stories all day long? I day-dreamed constantly, so it seemed ideal.

Sadly, however, I couldn’t see a way to make a living writing the romantic and exciting stories that filled my head. Instead, I wrote other things: Newspaper articles, public relations releases, legal briefs.

Now I’m beginning to share the stories that I’ve been dreaming about for so long. They’re mostly light-hearted and fun.  I’m an armchair time-traveler, so writing stories set during the English Regency period is the perfect way to enjoy history, romance, and delightful adventures all at once.

Susana: How long did it take you to get published?

Saralee: About 5 years from the time I began writing my first novel. As I mentioned above, I’d been writing newspaper articles and other non-fiction material, but that kind of writing is very different to writing a novel! I had to learn a whole new skill-set.

My first novelistic attempt was a sprawling historical romance/comedy/adventure/spy/mystery/ thriller I called “Death in a Powdered Wig.” The entire 128,000-word epic now lives in a three-ring binder on a shelf in the basement – where it will stay.

I wrote one other complete novel before Cerridwen Press (now Blush) published my traditional Regency romance, A Limited Engagement, in 2007. When you read Lydia’s Christmas Charade, you will meet Anthony Moore, one of the characters from that book. I liked young Anthony so much that I really wanted to tell his story, too.

Susana: What hobbies do you enjoy?

Saralee: I’m an avid reader, always with my nose in a book. I prefer to feel the weight of a book in my hand, but I also read a lot on my computer or phone (no ebook reader yet, but hope to get one soon). I enjoy making things with my hands – sewing, making beaded jewelry, and crocheting. I’m learning to knit.

Cooking is another fun activity.  I love looking at recipes! There’s something so wonderful about beautiful food in lovely settings. Luckily, I live right near a family-owned you-pick vegetable farm as well as a large orchard, so I’ve got access to plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables.

Readers: What kinds of stories do you like to read? Light-hearted and happy ones, or the kind that make you weep and sigh? I know people who like both kinds.

Also, I’d love to know if you share any of these interests, or if you have other hobbies or activities that are fun to do.

About Lydia’s Christmas Charade

lydiaschristmascharade_msrDutiful, practical Lydia knew that her father, a wealthy commoner, planned to announce her engagement to a nobleman at their Christmas house party. But she didn’t expect her prospective fiancé to be in love with another woman!

Anthony wasn’t usually so reckless. But something about the unknown lady’s sweet manner and pansy brown eyes made him want to share a bit of juicy gossip with her. Everybody knew Lord Danville needed to marry an heiress to save his family from financial ruin. Nobody but Anthony would mention it to the heiress herself.

To fix the mess he’s created, Anthony must woo Lydia on his noble friend’s behalf—and Lydia will have to decide between duty and desire.

Available

Amazon • Barnes & NobleEllora’s Cave • Kobo • Sony

Contacts