Raised amidst the rubber plantations in Thailand with missionary parents, Sabrina Jeffries likes to say she rode to her bestselling success on the back of an elephant. In truth, Jeffries has earned numerous placements on the New York Times and USA Today lists with Regency historicals that readers savor for her trademark sexy blend of witty dialogue and enterprising characters. It’s no accident she has been dubbed “The Queen of the Sexy Regency Romance.”
About that plantation business—living in the boonies of Thailand afforded Sabrina endless hours to read Jane Austen novels and other classics voraciously. Not surprisingly, back in the States, she went on to earn a doctorate in English literature from Tulane University—and a craving for Cajun food.
While Sabrina is at ease with refined academia types, she enjoys using her literary skills to pen novels of romantic fiction. She sold her first book in 1991 and has 33 published novels to her credit. Whenever she struggles with a plot point, she shuts off the computer and tackles a jigsaw puzzle, and before long, bingo! Problem solved. Another stress-reliever for the inventive author: creating her popular Will and Jane’s Excellent Adventure comics. Displaying Sabrina’s fine-tuned sense of humor, the comics feature a William Shakespeare caricature figure and a Jane Austen action figure.
Caffeine addict, Third Culture Kid, chocoholic, and popular novelist with more than six million books in print, Jeffries defies labels. Her biting humor and simultaneous warmth endear her to her 10,000 Facebook fans, Pinterest followers and loyal Goddess blog readers. At home in front of a crowd—any crowd (no really, just hand over the microphone and get ready for some fun)—Jeffries is a sought-after speaker, as evidenced by her 2010 gig as emcee for the National Romance Writers of America’s 30th Anniversary Awards Ceremony.
While Sabrina treks through remote locales in the name of research and rubs elbows in the big cities with other industry professionals, she says her favorite destination is home. She lives in Cary, North Carolina, with her two best guys—husband, Rene, and adult son, Nick, who has inspired her to actively champion the cause of autistic children.
Places to find Sabrina:
An Excerpt from Sabrina Jeffries’ ‘Twas the Night After Christmas Part 2
(head over to Not Another Romance Blog for Part 1)
(head over to Not Another Romance Blog for Part 1)
When they turned startled looks on him, he forced the frown from his face. Not for the world would he let them know how their talk of Christmas trees stabbed him through with sharp memories. “Candles on a tree are dangerous.”
“Not if the tree is green,” his mother put in. “And it will only stay up for a day or two.” She busied herself with sopping up gravy with her bread. “No point in keeping it up until Twelfth Night if you’re not even going to be here for Christmas.”
If she thought her unsubtle hints that he should stay would work on him, she was mad.
“True,” he said firmly. “Then it will be fine for so short a period.”
“Good,” his mother said with a hint of belligerence. “Because I think a tree would make the holiday truly lovely.”
Casting him a shuttered glance, Mrs. Stuart sipped some wine. “I agree. It sounds like a perfectly charming custom.”
“And an expensive one, given its short duration.” Which was probably the point. He faced his mother. “How much will this cost me, anyway? You’ll need baubles and candles for your precious tree, not to mention—”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Pierce. I have all that already. The baubles, as you call them, are the same ones I store in the attic every year.”
That caught him entirely off guard. He’d expected her to disguise a request for funds by saying it was for her precious tree. “You want nothing purchased for this tree?” he persisted, ignoring Mrs. Stuart’s smug smile.
“Certainly not. The point is to perpetuate the traditions of one’s family. My glass ornaments come from your grandmother, and the other decorations are fruit and nuts, all of which can be found here on the estate, even the candles.” She brightened. “Oh, and paper cutouts! We must do those. Don’t you remember, Pierce? We used to cut tiny little angels—”
“I remember,” he said bitterly. “Trust me, I remember only too well.” When the two women lapsed into an awkward silence, he added, “But in case you haven’t noticed, Mother, I’ve grown too big for angels. Devils are more my style.”
“Ah, but I don’t think devils are a good idea for a Christmas tree,” Mrs. Stuart put in, as if to draw his fire.
He turned toward her with a challenging glance. “And why is that?”
She didn’t waver. “Well, for one thing, pitchforks are exceedingly difficult to cut out.”
He blinked, then gave a rueful laugh. Damn the woman, but she made it hard to stay annoyed. And when she stared at him with a silent plea in her eyes, he relented for the moment.
Relaxing back against his chair, he took a sip of wine. “You’d feel differently if you’d ever tried cutting out a tiny halo, Mrs. Stuart. Or stars, for that matter.
Mine always ended up round, which goes against every rule of star artistry.” He leaned close to say in a confiding tone, “Apparently, they’re expected to have points.”
“Are they?” she said brightly. “Then clearly I shall have to stick to moons. Those are allowed to be round.”
“Ah, but would you put a moon on a Christmas tree?” he asked. “The three wise men following the moon doesn’t have quite the same effect.”
“And it’s not in the Bible besides,” she said, clearly struggling not to smile.
“I wouldn’t know,” he drawled. “That’s not a book I’m terribly familiar with.”
“A fact that you regularly demonstrate to the world,” his mother said archly.
He stiffened. He’d almost managed to forget she was there. “Yes. I do.” He stared her down. “Every chance I get.”
He was on the verge of pointing out that if she’d wanted some say in his behavior, she should have stayed to see him grow up, when Mrs. Stuart broke in. “In any case, since his lordship won’t be here to join us in decorating the tree, I will be eager to assist you, my lady.”
“That would be lovely,” Mother said.
“And then perhaps his lordship could come back for a day or two to see it when it’s all done,” Mrs. Stuart said in that managing voice females sometimes used. The one that didn’t work on him.
“As I said before, that’s impossible.”
His mother looked crestfallen. “You used to enjoy the season.”
It was on the tip of his tongue to point out that she’d put an end to all that by making holidays synonymous with being unwanted. But he wouldn’t give her the satisfaction,.
“Do whatever you wish with your tree,” he muttered, now thoroughly annoyed again. He drenched a chunk of beef in gravy and devoured it. “Just leave me out of it. My days of relishing such mundane pleasures are long past.”
“That’s a pity,” Mother said. “Mundane pleasures are about the only kind we have here in the country.”
With a meaningful glance at Mrs. Stuart, he waited for his mother to ask for some new toy to keep them amused, or perhaps a costly trip to Italy, where she could indulge her love of expensive things to her heart’s content.
Then she went on, “But we do enjoy them.” She smiled at Mrs. Stuart. “We sing and play and act charades and have our own sort of fun. Camilla is very good at reading aloud—very dramatic.”
He was still stunned by his mother’s prosaic idea of “fun” when the door opened and a footman came in bearing some confection.
“And we have an excellent cook,” Mrs. Stuart said cheerily as her portion was placed before her. “There’s nothing mundane about that pleasure.” She took a bite and her face lit up. “Her almond blancmange is sheer heaven.”
He arched one eyebrow. “I take it that you share Mother’s love of sweets.”
“I do, indeed,” Mrs. Stuart said, dabbing a bit of custard from the corner of her mouth. “Dessert was rare at the orphanage, I’m afraid, and now that I can have it whenever I please, I never seem to tire of it.”
He’d forgotten that she was raised an orphan. For a moment, he flashed on a little girl coveting every pastry she saw in the London bakeries, and his chest tightened inexplicably at the thought of her having something so simple routinely denied to her.
“Don’t you like sweets yourself, my lord?” she asked, jerking him from his dark thoughts.
“He never did,” Mother answered. “Pierce was a most unusual child—he would rather have fruit and cheese for dessert.” She cast Pierce a tentative smile. “That’s why I had Cook prepare some of that, too.”
And with a little flourish, the footman placed a plate of apple slices and a selection of cheeses before him.
Mrs. Stuart’s earlier words clamored in his brain: If her feelings are as false as you seem to think, why does she have a chest full of your school drawings and papers?
Why does she read to me your childhood letters, pointing out your witty turns of phrase and clever observations? Why does she keep a miniature of you by her bed?
He could feel himself weakening, feel the barricades crumbling a little, and it sparked his temper. Damn it, she could not just whisk away years of neglect with a plate of fruit and cheese and a few remarks about his childhood! He’d had as much of this as he could stand.
He forced a nonchalant smile to his lips. “I’ve grown up now, Mother. What I like best for dessert these days is a good cigar.” He rose. “And since that’s the case, I’ll step outside to indulge in one now that the meal is done.” He bowed stiffly in her direction. “Good night.”
Then he leveled a hard gaze on Mrs. Stuart. “Au revoir, madam.”
She blushed at his oblique reminder that her evening with him wasn’t yet at an end, but she managed a smile. “Au revoir, my lord.”
He strode out of the dining room, relieved that he was done. Mrs. Stuart had made better use of his bargain with her than he’d expected. She and his mother had obviously decided to plague him at dinner with talk of Christmas trees and prettied-up tales of his childhood until he turned to putty in their hands.
Well, he wasn’t without defenses of his own. If Mrs. Stuart intended to make him uncomfortable at dinner, then he would damned well return the favor. Since he couldn’t seduce her, he’d have to consider other options. Cards wouldn’t serve his purpose, and so far she’d proved herself adept at parrying his barbs in conversation. As for reading to him . . .
His eyes narrowed. She had a penchant for reading aloud dramatically, didn’t she? Good. Then he would give her something damned interesting to read.
. . . I feel I should inform you that your mother is very ill. If you wish to see her before it is too late, you should come at once.
Mrs. Camilla Stuart
Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has led an unabashed rogue’s life, letting no woman near his heart. Inexplicably abandoned as a child to be raised by distant relatives, he never forgave his parents, refusing to read any of his mother’s letters after his father’s death. Then came a letter that shook his resolve. A Christmas visit to Montcliff might prove his last chance to discover the truth of his past, and come to terms with the stranger he calls “Mother.”
But two surprises await him at Montcliff. His mother is perfectly healthy, nowhere near a deathbed, as her meddling lady’s companion led him to believe. The second is Camilla Stuart herself, a lively vicar’s widow, too bright and beautiful not to arouse the scoundrel in Pierce. Though she alone is reason enough to prolong his stay, he is soon faced with other tantalizing riddles: What secrets lie in his mother’s past to explain his childhood abandonment? Why is the captivating Mrs. Stuart so determined to mend the breach between mother and son? Meanwhile,
Camilla herself is caught up in love’s complications since the arrival of the irresistible earl. As his bold flirtation and suggestive whispers draw her dangerously close, can anything protect her vulnerable heart? If they are destined to share real happiness, there must be honesty between them—yet telling him the truth about her own life may shatter that chance.
None of them can predict the startling revelations to come. Or the secrets, both heartening and shocking, divulged between a mother and son, and between two lovers haunted by their respective pasts, that will make Christmas night at Montcliff one to remember—and the glorious night after, one to treasure for a lifetime.
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Good Luck and Happy Holidays =)