on November 16th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
At Christmastime, a stranger crossing the threshold means good fortune…When Josiah Hale, society’s favorite aristocratic architect, stumbles upon an isolated manor house in the middle of a snowstorm, he feels like he’s entered a fairytale world. And Sleeping Beauty in this secret corner of Yorkshire is lovely, vulnerable Maggie Carr, surely a princess disguised as a humble housekeeper. Is Josiah her prince – or the man who will break her heart and leave her life in ruins?
But is the stranger’s arrival lucky for the girl Christmas forgot?Maggie Carr has worked as a housekeeper at isolated Thorncroft Hall since her beloved mother died five years ago. No matter how often she tells herself she’s accustomed to being poor and alone, Christmas always stirs poignant memories of a time when she had a place in the world and a family to love. But this Christmas, a handsome stranger bursts into her solitary world and makes her feel like a desirable woman. Maggie has already lost so much to cruel fate. Now as the season advances and she finds herself in thrall to the man who challenges her loneliness and turns winter nights to sultry summer, what price will this irresistible passion demand of her?
Will the Yuletide enchantment vanish with the season’s decorations? Or have Maggie and her Christmas stranger discovered a magic to sustain them through a lifetime of happiness?
Thorncroft Hall, Yorkshire, December 1821
To Maggie’s surprise, Mr. Hale rose and pulled out a chair for her. Then he turned and fetched another glass from the sideboard. She wanted to insist that such courtesy was inappropriate, but the touch of his hand had stolen all her words. How he’d chortle if he knew that.
He sat down to finish his soup and take a last bite of bread with a snap of straight white teeth. While he ate, he eHe studied her under lowered black brows. This seemed to be a characteristic expression.
She was glad she’d taken the time to light a couple of lamps and stoke up the fire. The near darkness before had created an atmosphere that was much too intimate. What they both needed was a strong dose of the mundane. He poured her a glass of wine, ignoring her when she indicated that he should stop after a few drops.
He reached into his black jacket and withdrew a creased letter which he passed to her. “This is my most recent correspondence with Dr. Black. You’ll see he asked me to come here. I’m an architect.”
She remembered Mr. Hale muttering something along those lines when he dragged her downstairs. She’d been too furious to pay much attention. “An architect?”
He burst out laughing at her doubtful tone. “It’s true.”
She wasn’t sure what she’d expected him to do for a living. A soldier of fortune, perhaps. A strongman in a fair. A Bow Street runner.
Architect seemed too…civilized.
Not to mention architects catered to clients who made demands and expected a modicum of deference, when she’d already discovered that Mr. Hale was a man with his own way of doing things.
He went on. “You’re thinking I’m too rude to be an architect.”
“A successful one at least,” she blurted out, then blushed like fire. She wasn’t proving much more courteous than Mr. Hale.
He smiled at her, and her heart stumbled to a quivering stop. Astonishment held her transfixed.
Dear Lord, had she grudgingly conceded that he was attractive? She’d had no idea. When he smiled, the bear-like aspect disappeared, and his face creased into vivid charm.
Her fingers tightened on the untouched glass of wine. Heaven help her, maybe she should send him on his way tonight, however likely he was to stumble into a snowy ditch and perish from the cold.
“You’d be wrong, Miss Carr,” he went on, as if her world hadn’t changed in an instant with a man’s smile. “My brusqueness does my practice no harm at all. I have a well-earned reputation as a temperamental genius. The upper crust are quite convinced it’s de rigueur to have me stomping around their houses, shouting about improvements.”
Actually, she could imagine he was good at his job, if not with his clients. Something about him suggested confidence and competence. And however much he looked like a prizefighter, there was the evidence of that mouth and those adept hands to indicate there was more to him than brute force.
Anna is giving away a Kindle copy of The Christmas Stranger
To have a chance of winning the book just answer Anna’s question….
Imagine you’re stranded in an isolated manor house in the middle of a snowstorm and a handsome stranger wanders in and asks for supper. What would you cook him?
Maggie’s choice is fairly basic – vegetable soup and cold roast beef sandwiches. Me? If he was really handsome, I’d make him my famous beef stroganoff. What about you? What culinary delights would you whip up for your cold and hungry guest?