One of the pleasures of participating in a boxed set is that you get to work with old friends, and meet new authors.Today I welcome an old friend, Meara Platt, and a new one, Anna Campbell.
Meara Platt is an award winning, international bestselling author and an Amazon UK All-star. She has traveled the world, works as managing partner in a boutique law firm in NYC, occasionally lectures and finds time to write. Her favorite place in the world is England’s Lake District, which may not come as a surprise since many of her stories are set in that idyllic landscape, including her Regency paranormal Dark Gardens series to be released in December 2016 by Dragonblade Publishing.
Why I Joined the Boxed set:
I was delighted when Barbara Devlin and Kathryn Le Veque invited me to participate in the Under The Kissing Bough boxed set because I’d worked with them -and you, Anna – in Kathryn’s Kindle World of the de Wolfe Pack and that was a wonderful experience. I wanted to work with all of you again, and the perfect opportunity came along with this Christmas set. I had already started writing If You Loved Me, another lighthearted romance in the Farthingale series, that took place during the Christmas season, but I was looking for that special, charming twist to make it irresistible to my readers. Of course, the kissing bough. Thank you Barbara Devlin! Adelaide keeps tucking that darn kissing bough under her pillow in the hope of dreaming of the man she’s supposed to marry, but Desmond keeps popping up in her dreams. The perfect touch! And now I’m so excited for everyone to read the story!
Blurb for If You Loved Me:
Adelaide Farthingale’s journey from York to London as Christmas approaches takes an unexpectedly romantic turn when Desmond Cameron, the Marquis of Blackfell, rescues her from an overturned carriage. The problem is, she’s on her way to London to meet her intended husband and can’t possibly fall in love with Desmond… but to her dismay, the kissing bough she’s placed under her pillow reveals otherwise.
Desmond Cameron has no intention of marrying a Farthingale, for as a marquis, he can aim far higher than the daughter of a merchant. But Adelaide, neglected by her father and raised in isolation in a lonely abbey north of York, simply tugs at his heart. She’s as hopeful as Desmond is cynical, and so eager to gain her father’s approval, that she’s about to sacrifice her happiness by marrying his business partner. Will Desmond let her go? Or will he admit that Adelaide is the Christmas miracle he’s been yearning for?
Adelaide hadn’t considered lying to Desmond. She was a terrible liar, which is why she was often punished for her insolence and sent to bed without her supper. “I’d enjoy spending time with you. Very much. But I don’t think Mr. Postings would approve.”
She noticed the flex and strain of his muscles as he shifted in his seat. “Ah, that name again. Who is he?”
“I’m not sure yet. I think he’s courting me. He visited me twice at the abbey at the suggestion of my father. Mr. Postings is a business acquaintance of his. They’re thinking of merging their interests.”
“And using you as the dividend to seal their bargain?” The question came out as more of a growl, Desmond’s disapproval obvious. She returned his frown. It wasn’t any of his bee’s wax, and if it would please her father and get her out of that abbey, who would it hurt?
She tipped her chin up and scowled. “England was built on royal alliances. What is wrong with that? And how many members of the ton ever marry for love? Very few. Most marry to acquire wealth and stature. What about you? Will you marry for love? You strike me as too cautious.”
He reached over and tucked a finger under her chin. “I may not care about following my heart, but you’re a Farthingale. Everyone knows that Farthingales marry only for love.”
Her scowl deepened. “I’ll marry whomever I choose and for whatever reason suits me.”
“Adelaide, that’s a load of hog swill. You’ll be miserable unless you marry for love.”
“Why do you care? Isn’t it my concern? You don’t even know me, so how can you understand my hopes or desires better than I do? I may be innocent, but I’m no sparkly princess who sleeps under rainbows and believes life is a spring meadow filled with wildflowers and soft, cuddly rabbits hopping about.”
She’d made her point and ought to have stopped, but she was tired and overset and hated that he was probably right. “If encouraging Mr. Postings’ courtship will gain my father’s approval and keep me from being sent back to the abbey, then I’ve gained as much as anyone else in this transaction, haven’t I?”
He slapped his hands on the solid wooden table and rose to his imposing height. Goodness, he was big. Handsome and big. “Move over, Princess Sparkles,” he said, coming around to her side of the table and nudging her down the bench to give him room to sit beside her. He edged her back until her shoulders met the corner of the wall and then he placed his hands on either side of her shoulders to neatly trap her. “You’d gain nothing but sorrow. It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to understand the sort of girl you are. You are precisely that sparkly princess who sleeps under rainbows.”
“I do not sleep under rainbows.” But she felt the ache to do just that, to have a perfect and happy life with someone she loved. She felt it to the depths of her being.
Australian Anna Campbell has written ten multi award-winning historical romances for Grand Central Publishing and Avon HarperCollins and her work is published in 18 languages. This Christmas, Anna has written two seasonal novellas, “Mistletoe and the Major” from the multi-author anthology Under the Kissing Bough, and the stand-alone, A Match Made in Mistletoe. Her website is www.annacampbell.com You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AnnaCampbellFans/?pnref=lhc and on Twitter at @AnnaCampbellOz.
Otway Hall, Shropshire, Christmas Eve 1815
Canforth leaned on the doorway cut through the carved screen, and if Felicity didn’t know better, she’d imagine him unchanged from the man she’d married. The gathering dusk hid that vicious scar, and his casual posture belied the way he favored his leg.
His expression wasn’t casual at all. Avidly his eyes took in every detail of this vast room, the heart of the medieval building around which the rest of the manor had grown. She read such a range of powerful feelings in his face. Love. Sadness. Joy. Relief. Curiosity.
“It’s just the same,” he said in disbelief.
“Of course it is.” Poignant emotion threatened to choke her once more. She’d better gain control of her reactions soon, or abandon any pretense that she and Canforth shared a dispassionate marriage.
“It’s mad, I know.” He paused, and she knew he battled for composure. “But through all the bloodshed and destruction, I’d think back to this house as a site of perfect happiness, until I was convinced it couldn’t possibly be as I recalled it.”
His intense tone made Digby whine and bump his grizzled head against his master’s hip. Canforth laid one elegant, scarred hand on the dog’s neck and looked around. “You’ve even put up the kissing bough. Did you guess that I was coming home?”
Stupidly Felicity blushed. During her honeymoon, kisses had been infrequent. In fact, she and Canforth hadn’t acted much like a honeymoon couple at all. He’d treated her with respect and kindness. And she, so young and inexperienced, hadn’t known how to ask for more. Especially once she reached the conclusion that Canforth had no argument with a temperate marriage.
“I held a party for the staff before I sent them off to their families for Christmas.”
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “So did you kiss a handsome footman or two?”
She affected an airy tone. “Oh, these days, the grooms are prettier than the footmen.”
He laughed and stepped fully into the room, Digby at his side. “You’re warning me about the competition?” He stopped under the colorful ball suspended from the ceiling. “Shall we, wife?”
Puzzled she looked at him. “Shall we what?”
He pointed up at the woven ribbons and mistletoe and holly. “After nearly eight years, a kiss doesn’t seem too much to ask.”
Heavens, she hadn’t blushed this much since she was a new bride. “You want to kiss me?” she asked shakily.
He rolled his eyes. “Flick, you’re my wife, and it’s been a long, cold road since last I saw your pretty face. For charity’s sake, give me a kiss. On my honor, I’ll make sure it doesn’t hurt.”
“I’m sadly out of practice.”
“I should hope so.” He stretched out his hand. “But I think we’ll manage the basics.”
With hesitant steps, she approached Canforth and took his hand. The shock of contact zapped through her like lightning.
“You’re trembling,” he murmured in surprise, as he drew her closer.
“I told you it’s been a long time.”
The Major is home from the wars at last…
Edmund Black, Major Lord Canforth, has devoted eight tumultuous years to fighting Napoleon. Finally Europe is at peace, and he can retire to his estates and the lovely wife he hasn’t seen since their brief, unhappy honeymoon. The innocent girl he loved from the first moment he saw her, but who shied away from him on their wedding night.
The beautiful woman who greets him at Otway Hall on Christmas Eve is no longer the sweet ingénue he remembers. This new and exciting version of his beloved countess is strong, outspoken, and independent, and she’s willing to stand up for what she wants. The question is—does she want the husband who returns to her arms more as a stranger than a spouse?
Now the real battle begins.
Felicity, Lady Canforth, has had eight long years to regret her that she sent her husband from a cold marriage bed to face brutal combat, danger and hardship. The only child of elderly parents, Felicity came to marriage innocent and ignorant, and unable to conceal her shock at the sensual power of the earl’s caresses. Before she found the nerve to offer Canforth a more generous welcome, he was called away to war. The Major left behind a countess who was a bride, not a wife; a woman unsure of her husband’s feelings, and too timid to confess how fervently she desires the man she wed.
Fate has granted an older, wiser Felicity a second chance to win her husband’s heart. Now nothing is going to stop her from claiming victory over the famous war hero. This Christmas, she’ll deploy every ounce of courage, purpose and passion to seize the life and love she’s longed for ever since Canforth left to serve his country. Whatever it costs, whatever it takes, she’ll lure the dashing Major back into her bed, where she means to show him he’s the only man she wants as her lover—and her love.
After years of yearning and separation, will a Christmas miracle heal the wounds of the past and offer the earl and his bride a future bright with love?
A Christmas Homecoming!
Anna, thank you so much for hosting me today to talk about my novella “Mistletoe and the Major” from Under the Kissing Bough.
I’m so excited to be part of the wonderful multi-author, multi-genre Christmas anthology, not just because I discovered an awful lot about mistletoe that I didn’t know before! All the stories look absolutely wonderful and are coming out just in time for my end-of-year romance binge. During this busy season, I always have a stash of great novellas waiting for me, because there’s a good chance that in all the hullabaloo, I mightn’t have time to read something full-length.
I always write a novella for the Holidays (this year I have two new seasonal novellas out!). The last two have been romantic comedies, Christmas romps if you like. But when Barbara Devlin invited me to join the Kissing Bough crew, I had a yen to do something a little more emotional and heart-warming. And what could touch more closely on love, acceptance and hope than a soldier returning at Christmas from long years of war to the wife he loves, but who he’s convinced doesn’t love him?
Hmm, I think by the time the mistletoe works its magic on gallant Major Lord Canforth, he’ll be over that particular misconception, don’t you?