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Have Yourself A Very Wicked Christmas!
Six of today’s most popular regency romance authors come together to deliver a holiday anthology full of passion, promise, and scandalous dalliance.
In Heather Boyd’s The Christmas Affair, a lonely shopkeeper offers shelter to a beautiful, not so innocent miss to overcome the bitter memories of Christmases past, but could such a wicked connection ever lead to a happily-ever-after?
A dashing spy with marriage on his mind seeks to rekindle the spark by any means possible with the woman who claimed his heart in Love at First Dance by Barbara Monajem.
A scandalous widow rescues the man of her dreams - but his secrets could destroy their love in Nicola Davidson's Joy to the Earl.
A masquerade ball was no place to be reckless with your innocence, and yet one scorching look at the masked highwayman urges Miss Partridge to do just that in Mistletoe and the Marquess by Wendy Vella.
In Lord Misrule by Donna Cummings, a young widow chooses a handsome rogue to be her first lover, but his regrets from a past Christmas may end their affair before it even commences.
A blue-stocking becomes a courtesan to escape a murderer in The Glittering Prize, an intrigue-filled romance by Beverley Oakley about finding love where it’s least expected.
This is an all-new collection of stand-alone complete works.
This is a 2 day event and today we are featuring excerpts from
Donna Cummings, Nicola Davidson & Beverly Oakley.
An Excerpt from Lord Misrule by Donna Cummings
Juliana had missed out on so much already. Did she want to miss out on even more?
Before she could answer her own question, there was a discreet knock at the door. Her butler, Sanders, entered, proffering a letter on a silver salver.
She stood up, grabbing it, knowing already who had written it. She walked to the window overlooking the garden, opening the missive while trying to settle her heart into a normal rhythm.
It was impossible once she read Lord Blaise’s brief note:
My Christmas gift to you –
Twelve entertaining days.
Twelve sleepless nights.
I await the pleasure of your response.
Juliana plopped into a nearby chair, fanning herself so briskly with the letter her curls fluttered wildly. Lord Blaise had taken a simple everyday salutation and imbued it with a meaning that could not be mistaken.
Was it madness to accept such an offer? Perhaps it was. She should pack her belongings and head this instant to Bedlam, taking up permanent residence there.
Yet how could she resist? The few moments she had spent in Lord Blaise’s proximity had been impossibly arousing. It was not difficult to imagine what the man could accomplish in twelve days and twelve nights.
Juliana dropped her head against the back of the chair, staring at the ceiling, wishing it contained the answers to her dilemma.
“I have no idea what I should do,” she muttered. “Which decision will prove to be the mistake? Which choice will be the one filled with lifelong regrets?”
An Excerpt from Joy to the Earl by Nicola Davidson
There was something incredibly soothing about physical labor.
Wiping his sweat-lined forehead with his shirtsleeve, Jack glanced at the pile of planks he’d sawn and planed in preparation for constructing new side fences for the first and third stalls in the main stable building. The stables were not in good shape at all, with patches of damp, rotting timber, and broken stone in several places. Really, the roof needed repairs as well, but that was beyond his expertise, besides the fact that trying to clamber up onto an uneven roof with an unstable leg was a disaster waiting to happen.
He snorted at the thought. Waiting was not exactly the operative word.
For God’s sake, he’d had Rosalind in his damned lap. She’d been kissing him back, looking and sounding like she wanted to be there, like she didn’t find him frightening or repulsive. But then as soon as she mentioned his eyes, all the fears, all the anger and shame and bitterness at being different had crashed over him like a rogue wave, and he’d pulled away. Then of course he’d flung his limp at her too, the one person who might not be nearly as horrified with it as others.
“Fucking hell,” he swore under his breath. Would there ever be a time he didn’t hate his own body? Or a time when he didn’t do everything wrong when it came to interacting with other people?
“Can I come in?”
Jack turned too fast at the husky voice in the doorway, wincing as his weaker left leg buckled and forced him to steady himself with one hand on the stone wall. “Your stables, Lady Nelson.”
“Don’t you dare Lady Nelson me. And two hours is more than long enough to brood. It is freezing out here. Do you want to catch a chill?”
“Oh, I understand. You want to be freezing cold again so I remove all your clothing and all of mine and we lie naked beside the fire until you warm up, is that right?”
He sucked in a breath at the thought. “No.”
“I’m not,” he bit out. “I don’t just want to lie next to you. I want so much more…”
The words trailed off, the anger that had given voice to the need gone as fast as it had arrived, and he looked away. But Rosalind didn’t leave or swoon or shriek at his blunt announcement. In fact, she marched toward him, her gown hem swishing against the scattered straw and sawdust on the cool, damp floor.
“So. You want more, do you?” she said softly, right behind him. “Such as?”
Heat danced along his cheekbones. What the hell did he say now? What did an experienced man do in these situations? The lady would surely slap him if he said “I want to fuck you.” It might be better to say “I’ve never done this before, but I want to be inside you more than anything in the world,” yet that was the ultimate prize. He needed to work his way up to such an occasion, lest he hurt her with his big, stupid, clumsy body. Then perhaps it wouldn’t be so painfully obvious he had no experience whatsoever.
“To touch you.”
“Just touch me?” she said idly, and he shuddered as her hands came to rest on his hips and her cheek rested against his back. “Not…kiss me?”
“Of course I want to kiss you.”
“What about lick me? That tongue of yours is delicious. As are your lips. I’ve been wondering how they might feel on my breasts.”
Jack swallowed hard, shifting from one foot to the other as his cock surged. “Last time by the fire you were wearing your chemise and I couldn’t see your nipples very well. I’d like to know exactly what color they are. And what color they are after I suckle them. What they taste like in my mouth. How they feel when soft, and when swollen and rigid.”
“Then do it.”
“Here?” he said, stunned.
“Yes, here,” she replied, walking into a small tack room opposite him and sitting on a pile of folded horse blankets. “You owe me an orgasm, Jack, and it is time to pay up.”
An Excerpt from The Glittering Prize by Beverley Oakley
A valuable treasure, an abandoned maiden pursued by a murderer, and a charming rogue who’s failed to fulfill his brother’s deathbed request… These are the ingredients which underpin the first meeting between the hero and heroine of The Glittering Prize in the following excerpt.
In a dimly-lit, low-ceilinged salon above a row of shops in Soho, a great celebration was in full swing.
“Mistress Kate has some rather fetching interlopers tonight.”
Digby, the new Viscount Ruthcot, looked up from the uninspiring plaice and cold vegetables on his plate and followed the direction of his companion’s stubby pointing finger. Of course, one didn’t come here for the food. A dozen gentlemen and their escorts sat around Kate’s oval table eating dinner, while others, the real enticement, lounged elegantly on chairs around the room, or were dancing in an area by the fire which was cleared of furniture. These were the opera dancers; actresses who’d finished their performances for the night and had come looking for a different audience—potential wealthy patrons who might be dazzled by their beauty and choose to squire them home, or set them up in some neat little establishment if they were really lucky.
The supper rooms presided over by London’s arguably most notorious hostess of the demimonde was a regular bolt-hole for Digby following his nights of hard gambling. He’d been indulging in this louche existence since he’d been introduced to London revels as a callow youth and, at thirty, assumed this somewhat meaningless, but nevertheless, life of few responsibilities, paid for through a sizeable inheritance from a doting aunt, would continue.
The unexpected death of his elder brother just three months before, coming so soon after their father’s, had brought him up short.
Inheriting a title and a host of unwanted responsibilities, Digby had tried hard to moderate his behavior, and made the excuse that Mistress Kate’s was a much-needed panacea for a week moldering in the country and attending to his duties as the new Viscount Ruthcot.
Harry Harding, beside him, made an appreciative noise. “That one over there’s a beauty. See—eating beside the ginger-head. Now, he’s hardly a swell of the first stare. Not that I believe he is a gentleman. No; not Kate’s usual clientele at all. As for the young lady, never seen her here before, and I’d know if I had. What a beauty. She certainly don’t look like the usual bachelor fare.”
Digby glanced from the gimlet eye of Harry’s half-eaten plaice to his friend, now staring down the table trying to place the newcomers. Harry was shaking his head, muttering, “No, can’t say I admire the cut of his coat. Swimming in the River Tick by the looks of it. Wonder what the story is.”
Turning to his neighbor on the right-hand side, Harding apparently sought to learn details, while Digby stole another glance at the female. She was indeed a beauty.
She happened to glance up to find him looking at her and blushed hotly.
Digby inclined his head, aware that his smile was rich with innuendo as she looked away. The young woman stood out as much for her magnificent crown of lightly-rippling golden hair, delicate-featured oval face, and finely-arched brows above serious eyes—he wished he could ascertain the color—as she did for the out-of-place modesty of her clothing.
Harding leaned back from his confabulation and patted his stomach with a sigh. “Seems the young fellow is a hopeful trading on some obscure association with Kate. A callow youth, as anyone can see. Not Quality, that’s for sure. No idea who his light o’ love is though she’s the loveliest bit o’ muslin I’ve seen in a while. Doubt he’ll keep her for long. Might have a crack at her myself.” His mouth split into a grin. “Finished, have you? Mind if I polish off the rest? What did I say? Oh yes, you can dance with her first while I finish your food. Maybe she’ll take your mind of your little obsession.”
Little obsession was not what Digby would have called the woman at the center of his greatest mystery; disappointment, bungle—it was all those things and more—but Digby realized he’d grievously failed more than just his brother when he’d not made the apparently desperately important appointment at St Paul’s churchyard with which his brother had charged him. Not that it was entirely his fault that he hadn’t.
As Henry sequestered his half-eaten plaice and limp cabbage, his old friend asked, “Any news on the lost maiden? Guess you’ve not found the gel, else you’d have said, eh wot?”
Digby shook his head, tormented as ever by the reflection that his brother’s final request was one of the few occasions Richard or any other member of the family had entrusted him with some important responsibility. Not that Digby had known at the time it was his brother’s last request. The letter scratched in haste by his brother from his carriage and given to John, his batman, to post had caught up with Digby on his return from the Continent. John had remained in the area to help with the investigation into his death—though nothing had come of it—and had supplied Digby with the terrible details much later.
Details that had given Digby sleepless nights ever since for Richard had died as a result of trying to save this young woman. The young woman he’d exhorted Digby to meet and protect.
Harding tapped the table to get Digby’s attention. “Ain’t no use torturing yourself over your brother’s fantasy.
“She was not a fantasy; she was real,” Digby murmured, quoting Richard’s written description which he’d engraved upon his heart: “A young lady of unsurpassed purity and virtue, plunged into desperation and who, blameless, though heroic, is very much in need of urgent protection.”
“Yes, and ain’t that a pretty way to put it? Would turn me into a warrior if I had to seek her out. But does she exist? She wasn’t where she was supposed to be.”
“I wasn’t where I was supposed to be,” Digby growled. “In case you don’t recall it, that was your fault.”
Harding’s faraway look obviously took another direction. “Oh yes, I was in quite a state after that cockfight, which now I think about, is where I remember seeing that jackanapes.” He hooked a thumb in the direction of the whey-faced gentleman seated beside the goddess dressed like a nun. “He must be more full of juice than he looks if he could afford to lose as much as he did that afternoon. Anyway, to return to the subject at hand. Good man for being on hand when I was casting up my accounts after getting into that ungentlemanly scuffle. Not like me at all, and sorry it turned out so ill for the lass. Truly, I am. No doubt Richard’s maiden got herself safely to where she needed to go. No respectable young woman can be completely alone in the world.”
It was this with which Digby had to comfort himself.
This lovely Anthology is also available at iTunes.
About Donna Cummings:
I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances. I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.
NICOLA DAVIDSON worked for many years in communications and marketing, as well as television and print journalism, but hasn’t looked back since she decided writing wicked historical romance was infinitely more fun. When not chained to a computer she can be found ambling along one of New Zealand’s beautiful beaches, cheering on the champion All Blacks rugby team, history geeking on the internet, or daydreaming. If this includes chocolate—even better!
Beverley Eikli writes slow-boil historical romances laced with intrigue, often with a thriller ending. Sorting out the trials and tribulations of her bold, flawed, heroines keeps her up late most nights, however a husband who is her real-life hero, and two gorgeous daughters, help keep her grounded.