Tag Archive | Cynthia Moore

Cynthia Moore: It’s Never Enough

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 Cynthia

It all started with the theme-Christmas Feasts. I wanted to set up an opening scene showing the heroine unable to sleep because she is hungry. She convinces her maid to accompany her to the kitchen for a late night meal. I needed the heroine to encounter the hero in the kitchen unexpectedly. They should each show embarrassment as well as longing and concern for one another (an obvious hint at continued affection on both sides). Then I had to come up with a reason why they were each holding their emotions in check. That’s when I decided that there would be a misunderstanding between them the night before the hero goes to war. This mistake has festered and bothered each of them in the months the hero has been away. She is confused and heartbroken, he is full of longing for her but he believes he did the right thing to set her free so that she could be with the man she loved.

About It’s Never Enough

Lady Selina Durwood has been in love with Lord Robert Crestor since she was a young girl. As the years passed by and their relationship matured, it was assumed by all who knew them they would eventually marry.

Robert makes a decision to join the British cavalry to assist in the fight against Napoleon. While attending a ball the night before he leaves, Robert observes his best friend Justin Wexley, Marquess of Rockton, speaking to Selina. They both appear to gaze longingly into each other’s eyes while they talk. Robert assumes they are in love with each other. Later that night, he informs Selina that she is released from any expectations of marriage with him.

Invited to spend the Christmas holidays with her parents at his family’s estate, Selina agrees to attend believing Robert is still stationed with his cavalry in Brussels. Upon entering the kitchen with her maid for a late night meal, she unexpectedly encounters Robert.

Will Robert come to realize he made a very unfortunate conjecture about his friend and Selina? Can Selina forgive Robert for the heartache and pain she has lived with since he set her free and went away to battle? The true strength of their love for one another is put to the test in this holiday story.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

December 23, 1815

“Ellie! Miss Worth! Please wake up!”

“What…what? Whatever is the matter, my lady?”

“I’m famished. I can’t sleep. My stomach is growling like an angry bear with a bee in its ear! You need to accompany me to the kitchen.”

9781419993367_p0_v1_s260x420Miss Worth yawned loudly and then looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry, my lady. We were traveling all day to get here and I ate a huge meal in the servants’ quarters this evening. I’m plumb exhausted as well as stuffed. Are you sure you’re hungry, my lady?”

Selina walked back into her own room and reached for her wrapper. She tied it securely at her waist and thrust her feet into the slippers that were on the floor near the bed. “You know what has happened lately whenever I go to balls or parties and I have to sit at a table and eat food surrounded by people I don’t know. I get nervous. I worry someone will ask me a question just as I take a mouthful of meat. Or a piece of cabbage will get stuck in my teeth and it will shine like a green beacon for everyone to see when I smile. I end up taking a few small bite before the hostess rises from her seat and announces it is time for the women to leave the gentlemen to their brandy and cigars. Such a thing occurred tonight.”

Miss Worth sat up in her cot and frowned at Selina from the connecting room. “But, my lady, Lord and Lady Dunstable have been friends of your parents since before you were born. And you’ve known Lord Rockton for many years. Surely you have no trouble eating a meal around them?”

Selina began pacing across the carpet that lay in front of the hearth. She needed some sort of activity to keep her mind off her hunger pains while she waited for Ellie to get ready. “Of course I don’t. But several new acquaintances are joining us here for the holidays. A Lord John Bartley, his sisters, Miss Bartley and Miss Francis Bartley and Lord Bartley’s friend, Sir William Elsmere. They were all at the table this evening.”

Miss Worth struggled to her feet and trust her arms into her wrapper. “Oh yes. I believe I heard the butler mentioning the arrival of more guests. He seemed very upset that Lord Crestor hadn’t made an appearance, my lady.”

“Robert…um, Lord Crestor? He is busy with the Cavalry Brigade in Brussels. He can’t make time to be with us now.” Selina stopped pacing and frowned down at the glowing bits of coal in the hearth.

“But, my lady, Napoleon is safely imprisoned on Saint Helena. Surely Lord Crestor could take some time away from his duties to be here for the holidays?”

“You seem unduly concerned by his absence, Ellie.” Selina raised her eyebrows as she looked at her maid.

“I’m the one who dried your tears after he left, my lady. I know how much you love him.”

“Yes, well, Lord Crestor made it perfectly clear that any thoughts of affection I might have had were misplaced when he released me from any prior claim to him just before he left to join his regiment in April.”

“My lady, you know that he hadn’t formally asked for your hand. He wanted you to be free in case he should be killed in battle.”

“We’ve been over this before, Ellie. He obviously didn’t care for me as much as I did for him.” Selina forced a smile upon her face and picked up the lighted taper on the bedside table. “Come, my mouth is watering when I think of the roasted quail and apple tarts that are taking up space in the larder this very moment.”

They made their way down the stairs, through the darkened entryway and tiptoed past the housekeeper’s quarters at the back of the house until they reached the door leading to the kitchen. Selina put a shaky hand against the frame as a loud rumble of hunger omitted from her stomach once again. Without further ado, she turned the knob and entered the room.

“Selina…um, Lady Selina? Is that you?”

Her hand trembled and the candle wavered as she heard the sound of the deep, soothing voice of the man she had known and loved since childhood. She raised the candle and focused her gaze on the figure that had risen from the nearby table. She stifled a gasp when she saw him clearly. He had lost a considerable amount of weight in the months since he had gone away to battle. His black hair was still thick and wavy, brushed back off his forehead. But his cheek bones seemed more pronounced and prominent on his face. He had taken off his coat and draped it over the back of a chair. His cravat was untied and his white linen shirt hung loosely across his chest. As she looked into his hazel eyes, she had the impression that he was holding himself in check-hiding something from her. “Robert? Uh, Lord Crestor? I thought you were still in Brussels.”

Susana Says

SusanaSays3…sweet and light holiday romance: 4/5 stars

Can a gentleman be too honorable?

Robert believes his betrothed is in love with his best friend, so he releases her from the relationship before he takes off for the war on the Continent.

Selena is left heartbroken when her betrothed gives her the freedom he believes she wants and then takes off for war.

Now he is back for Christmas with his family and a party of friends that includes Selena and the man he thinks she loves. He doesn’t understand why they have not married after so much time has passed, and besides, show no partiality for each other even now.

Cute love story set among English holiday traditions and culinary delights. Short enough to finish at one setting. Enjoy!

About the Author

author_photoCynthia Moore is a native Southern California girl. At a very early age, she discovered her local library and the exciting potential of escaping the real world inside the pages of a good book. In her early teens, she became a fan of British literature. After reading most of the Victorian classics, Cynthia found English Regency romance novels in 1987. It was love at first read. Since her chance introduction to this wonderful era, Cynthia has read over three thousand fiction novels and she maintains a large collection of research books on the period. She is extremely proud to be able to say she has several published novels taking place during the English Regency.

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

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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: 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

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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.