Today the Bluestocking Belles proudly reveal the cover for our latest holiday collection entitled Holly and Hopeful Hearts. We are extremely proud of the work we’ve done on this box set, plus, 25% of the sales go to our mutual charity the Malala Fund. You, too, can make a small difference in the world by purchasing this set. With 578 pages for your reading pleasure, I guarantee you’re not going to want to stop reading this until you’ve reached the end!
My contribution to our set is called A Kiss for Charity and features my hero, Lord Nicholas Lacy and heroine, Grace, Lady de Courtenay. To say that these two get off to a rocky start is kind of an understatement, but you’ll just have to read it for yourself when the box set releases on November 8, 2016. In the meantime, I leave you with this brief excerpt of their first meet. Grace, along with her friend Mrs. Moriah Hernshaw, are attending a masqurade ball at Vauxhall Gardens.
A Kiss for Charity Excerpt:
When they reached their destination, Grace was amazed at the throng of people. Was all of London here this evening? A footman came to assist them, and Moriah was the first to leave the carriage. Grace extended her hand to the footman and stepped down. A sudden rush of people on the walkway caused the footman to lose his grip on her hand, and Grace quickly lost sight of Moriah as she became jostled amongst the enthusiastic group of individuals excited to be a part of such an event. She began to lose her footing on the walkway, but before she slammed into the ground,
Grace found herself captured in a strong embrace. Arms of steel wrapped around her waist to prevent her downward pitch. Her rescuer’s cape whirled around their bodies as though the cloak itself would conceal them from the night and those around them. Fathomless dark eyes were all but hidden in the black mask that concealed his features, yet, a flicker from the walkway lanterns hinted at their color. His eyes were brown, much like his hair, she surmised, if the curls that formed around the edges of his hat and mask were any indication. Grace gasped as he quickly maneuvered her off the pathway to save them from being run over by the eagerness of the crowd. She shivered, but not from the cold for she was far from chilled. No. She quivered from the warmth that raced up and down her spine at being this close to a man, let alone held intimately for the first time in many years.
“Are you hurt, my lady?”
His deep voice went straight to her heart. His low tone plummeted down to reach into the very depths of her soul to awaken a part of her that had been left dormant as though she had been waiting for him her entire life. Waiting… yes she had been waiting for someone to come along who would give her this sudden feeling of completeness, even though he was a total stranger. The realization of what she was doing hit her as if a bucket of icy water had been thrown over the top of her head. He was asking her something, but her brain could not wrap itself around what he had inquired.
“Pardon me?” she asked in a breathy whisper of astonishment, especially when she realized she had been caressing the lapel of his jacket beneath his cloak. His arm tightened around her. She watched in mild fascination as one side of his mouth turned up in a cocky grin. He knew exactly how her body was reacting to their close proximity.
“I asked if you were hurt, although I might also beg for an introduction.”
“I h-hardly think this en-encounter is a-appropriate,” Grace stammered. Was that actually her voice sounding so unsure of herself?
He leaned down, and, for an instant, she thought he was about to kiss her. “How utterly charming that I have you all tongued-tied.” His words whispered gently in her ear were almost her undoing.
Before she could comment, Moriah’s voice was heard above the noise of the crowd, and she quickly untangled herself from the man who did nothing to hide his disappointment.
“There you are,” Moriah declared as she stared up at the stranger. Grace could only imagine what was going on inside her friend’s mind, given their recent conversation. “I am sorry I lost you. Are you all right?”
Grace nodded. “Yes… of course. Thank you, sir, for your assistance this evening,” she murmured shyly to the gentleman whose lips turned up into a charming grin.
He raised his fingers to tip his hat towards her. “It was my pleasure to rescue a fair damsel in distress.”
Her eyes followed him through the crowd until he disappeared. Her heart hammered in her chest. What in the world had just happened?
“Gracie? Are you sure you are fine?” Moriah questioned.
She touched her lips almost as though she could imagine the feel of the gentleman’s mouth pressed intimately against her own. She looked at her friend. “I am not sure.” Her words lingered in the evening air and left her wondering what the remainder of the night would bring.
ABOUT HOLLY AND HOPEFUL HEARTS & links to the other novellas.
When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?
A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight
As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.
Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis
Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.
A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing
Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?
Artemis, by Jessica Cale
Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?
The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight
James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.
Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack
Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.
An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield
Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?
Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett
Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…
Holly and Hopeful Hearts
Coming November 8, 2016
Eight original stories, 578 pages of diverse characters, complex relationships,
and happily-ever-afters for $2.99.
Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | Amazon UK
Kobo | Smashwords