on December 6th 2017
Funny historical holiday romance - Grief-stricken widower Lord Matthias Waterford, master of Havensbeck Manor, sends messages in a bottle to his lost wife and child. He throws them into the river by night, never knowing they are being found and read by spirited vicar’s ward Bernadette Goodrich! A Christmas Ball brings the two together in a plot by a mischievous little brother and an interfering butler! By turns heartfelt and hilarious, Sleepless in Staffordshire is a charming Regency romance take on the romantic Nora Ephron film "Sleepless in Seattle" starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Bernie hadn’t realized that she’d made it all the way down to the landing of the inn stairs until his lordship moved slightly sideways and she found herself with a perfect view of his face. To see him at last! She pressed closer to the spindles.
He was not perfect, as she’d imagined. First of all, he was younger, perhaps thirty or so, although there was something weary in his expression. His face seemed carved of some fine and valuable stone. He was winter-pale, against dark-hair and dark eyes. Were they brown? Or perhaps blue. Shadowed by loss? He wore black, from his greatcoat to his trousers and boots. Even the scarf tossed loosely around his throat was the color of soot.
Yet for all his darkness, he did not appear threatening or even brooding. He seemed still. Not the stillness of a tranquil soul, overflowing with contentment. More the stillness of a hooded hawk held by its jesses in a falconer’s grip. Confined, not panicked so much as waiting.
Waiting for you? Hardly. He barely knows you exist.
So there he was, standing before her as a real and solid as a man could be. Not words on paper. Not a silly schoolgirl dream. A real man.
No, a lord. A heart-stopping, handsome, tragic, lonely lord who waited for a beautiful lady to free him, a princess on a quest sent to unlock his grief-chained heart.
Not her, in her canvas coat and her scuffed walking boots, a penniless burdensome orphan, trailed by her beloved, skinny, snot-nosed little brother.
Scuffling noise brought Bernie out of her avid crouch where she knelt clutching the spindles of the staircase like a naughty child banned from the party below. She straightened, and briskly brushed at her skirts even as she took a breath to make some silly excuse about her odd behavior.
It was only Simon. He also hunkered on the steps above with his entire head trust between the spindles, ogling the scene below. Bernie grabbed for the back of his jacket and yanked him toward her. His mouth she did manage to clap her hand over.
“Not a word, I shall boil your drawers in poison oak!” she hissed in his ear.
The threat held and he stopped struggling, although he emitted an offended sniff. She would never do such a thing on purpose, of course, but apparently the one accidental incident had made an impression.
In the moment of suppressing Simon’s urgency, who apparently intended for her to run downstairs and throw herself into his lordship’s arms, the man himself managed to make his farewell to the innkeeper and slip away. Bernie resisted the urge to clatter down the stairs and watch him ride away through one of the windows.
Simon glared at her with his eyes full of the trenchant disappointment that only an eight-year-old could convey. He clearly thought she was a complete idiot, and had allowed an obvious opportunity to pass for some sisterly reason that he had no patience for.
She didn’t answer his betrayed gaze, but merely pushed his hair back into place, straightened his collar and motivated him the rest of the way down the stairs with quick tap on his backside. “Aunt Sarah and Uncle Isaiah are expecting us. Shoo!”
The same goes for you, she commanded her wayward thoughts.
Good heavens, Lord Matthias was delicious!
Celeste is giving away a $5 gift card in order to purchase Sleepless in Staffordshire.
For a chance to win just comment below with the answer to this question:
Have you ever been kissed under mistletoe?