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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Caught in a Snowstorm...with Anne Barton and Giveaway

Caught in a Snowstorm on Christmas Eve - Anne Barton

Anne lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Her weaknesses are reality TV, cute-but-impractical shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Places to find Anne:


Alec Landry, the handsome Earl of Torrington, lost his wife five years ago. Since then, he’s kept mostly to himself. But he hired a governess—Miss Charlotte Winter—a few months ago…and he’s been crushing on her ever since.

The Earl’s Christmas Wish
by Anne Barton

Alec had planned on spending Christmas Eve sipping brandy in front of a crackling Yule log.

Instead, he was trudging through half a foot of snow in the wooded area of his country estate, freezing his ass off, and looking for a flea-ridden cat.

A white cat. In the snow.

“Willoughby!” he called.

“He’ll never show himself if you shout like that.” Charlotte Winter shot him a quintessential governess look that was only somewhat compromised by her rosy cheeks and full lips. “He needs to feel safe.”

“I’d like to be able to feel my toes.”Alec scanned the frosted landscape and the heavy grey clouds that hung in the darkening sky and sobered. “If we don’t find him soon, we’ll have to return to the house.”

Charlotte’s brow knitted and her emerald eyes flashed. “We must find him. Abigail will be crushed if we don’t.”

“I know.” Alec hated the thought of disappointing either his golden-haired daughter or her beguiling governess. He even felt a little sorry for old Willoughby, who’d gone on a walk with Charlotte and Abigail earlier, gotten spooked by a fox, and run up a tree. They’d tried to coax him down, but Willoughby was too petrified to budge. Charlotte had wisely returned home with Abigail and unwisely promised that she’d go back for Willoughby. Though adamant she could manage the rescue mission on her own, Alec had insisted on accompanying her.

Even if there hadn’t been a godforsaken snowstorm raging outside, he’d have leapt at the chance to spend an hour or two in her company.

“I think this is the spot, but the trees look different covered in snow.” Charlotte gazed at the branches above, exposing the graceful column of her neck.

For a moment, Alec let himself imagine pressing his lips to the smooth skin there. He fought the temptation to slide his hands beneath her fur lined cloak and run them over the tantalizing curves of her body.

Apparently unaware of his wicked thoughts, she sang out, “Here, Willoughby. Here, kitty.”

They both tilted back their heads, looking into the lattice of boughs above them, but saw no movement. No sign of a crotchety cat.

“You should call out for him—nicely,” she added quickly. “He’s always been drawn to you.”

Alec snorted. “He’s always been drawn to my desk.” One would think a cat could find a more comfortable perch than a stack of papers. His favorite pastime? Nudging Alec’s ink pot toward the edge of his mahogany desk.

“Willoughby!” he barked.

“Softer,” Charlotte urged. She stood so close that he could feel warmth radiating from her, could smell the citrusy scent of her hair. A few dark tendrils had escaped the confines of her hat and flurries clung to them, giving her the look of a snow fairy. Sweet Jesus.

“Here, Willoughby, old boy,” he said—feeling like quite the idiot.

“Better,” she whispered, her voice as seductive as a caress. “Wait. I think I see him!”

Alec looked up, and a large chunk of ice smacked him in the face. Damn Willoughby and his twitchy tail. Still, the sight of the cat, nestled in the crook of the trunk and a branch like some fat snowbird, filled him with relief. Now to get him down. Alec kicked at the snow around the base of the trunk, picked up a long stick, and raised it in the air.

Charlotte gasped. “What are you doing?”

“I’m just going to poke him a little.”

“No! He’ll fall.”

Well, yes. That was the point. “I’m going to catch him.”

“You could miss.” She undid the tie at the neck of her cloak and threw it on the ground.

It was Alec’s turn to gasp. “What are you doing?”

“Climbing the tree,” she said—as though it should be obvious.

“Charlotte, he’s ten feet high.”

“Which is why we can’t just knock him off the branch and hope to catch him.” She walked up to the trunk and grasped the lowest branch. “I’m coming, Willoughby.”

For the love of— “Wait. I’ll get him.”

She tossed him a saucy look over her shoulder. “What? You don’t think I can climb a tree?”

“I don’t doubt that you can, and by the way, it’s something I’d very much like to see. However, it might be easier for me.”

She planted her hands on her shapely hips. “And why might that be?”

“Because I’m not wearing a dress.”

She stared at the hem of her gown which was frozen stiff and embellished with little clumps of snow. “Very well,” she said lifting her chin. “You climb the tree, and I’ll stand here, ready to catch Willoughby if he falls.”

She plucked her cloak off the ground and draped it between her arms, fashioning a net of sorts.

“What if I fall?” Alec grinned.

“Don’t ask me to choose between you and Willoughby.”

“I’m fairly certain I know who’d win.” Alec swung himself up by a branch and dug the heels of his boots into the trunk.

From his perch, the cat let out a loud meeooow.

“I’m coming,” Alec muttered. He hoisted himself up the tree, inch by icy inch, until he was eye-to-eye with Willoughby, who trembled and clung to his branch like he was hanging on for life, which he probably was.

“Come here, you big fur ball.” Alec’s forearms ached from the strain of holding onto the tree, but he managed to shift his weight and reach out toward Willoughby—

Mwraaar! The cat shrieked like a phantom as it leapt over Alec’s extended hand, landed on the back of his head, and dug his razor-like claws into Alec’s neck.

He tried to pry the paws off him, lost his precarious footing, and slid down the length of the trunk, landing hard on his ass and sprawling backward. “Damn.”

Willoughby, who’d abandoned ship just before Alec ran aground, meowed.

Charlotte ran to Alec and dropped to her knees. “Are you all right?” She leaned over him, her forehead creased in concern, and cradled his face between her palms. Her breath made puffy little clouds in the air between them. Alec would have been content to lay there in the snow, gazing into her luminous eyes all night.

“I’ll live. How’s Willoughby?”

“You were magnificent,” she said breathlessly.

“Was I?” he asked, more than a little pleased that she seemed to have forgotten about the cat.

“Mmm. You have a scratch here.” She traced a line on the side of his jaw with her gloved fingertip, and his breath caught in his throat.

This was a pre-Christmas gift. And he could not waste it.

“Charlotte,” he began, “I know you’re planning to leave us tomorrow.”

“Yes,” she said softly. “I’m going to my aunt’s, until Twelfth Night. I’d have left this afternoon, if not for Willoughby.”

“Then I owe that lazy beast a debt of gratitude.”

“Pardon?”

He propped himself up on an elbow and caressed the curve of her cheek. Her eyes grew wide, but she didn’t draw back. “I’ve been thinking that Abigail would love to have you here, with us, for Christmas…and I would too.”

Alec held his breath, waiting for her response.

At last, a smile lit her face. “I suppose Aunt Lucinda could manage without me.”

Happiness—like he hadn’t felt in five Christmases—flooded his chest. He sat upright and gently pulled her forward, till their foreheads touched. “You don’t suppose this is a mistletoe tree we’re sitting under, do you?” he asked.

“There’s no such thing…but we could pretend, if you like.”

Desire thrumming through his veins, he pressed his lips to hers. She melted into him, eagerly returning his passion, kiss for kiss, touch for touch. She tasted like peppermint tea and cinnamon, and her tongue tangled with his so sweetly he was sorely tempted to lay her down in the snow and pleasure her until she—

Good God. Reluctantly, he released her. Unless he was mistaken, Willoughby was clawing his way up the back of his greatcoat.

Charlotte laughed. “I don’t think he likes standing in the snow. Perhaps we should take him home.”

“Home sounds like an excellent idea.” He tucked a purring Willoughby into the crook of his arm and helped Charlotte to her feet. “Merry Christmas, Charlotte.”

She leaned her head into his shoulder and slipped her hand into his. "Let me know if you see any more mistletoe trees.”

Alec chuckled. “The woods are full of them.”


SOME RULES SIMPLY BEG TO BE BROKEN

A dressmaker in London’s busiest shop, Miss Anabelle Honeycote overhears the ton’s steamiest secrets—and (occasionally) uses them to her advantage. It isn’t something she’s proud of, but the reluctant blackmailer needs the money to care for her gravely ill mother. To make up for her misdeeds, Anabelle keeps to a firm set of rules:

  • Never request payment from someone who cannot afford it.
  • Never reveal the secrets of a paying client.
  • Never enter into any form of social interaction with a client.
Her list keeps her (somewhat) honest—until she encounters Owen Sherbourne, the Duke of Huntford. Not only does Owen nip Anabelle’s extortion plans in the bud, the devilishly handsome Duke soon has the sexy seamstress dreaming of more than silks and satins. With Owen, Anabelle enjoys pleasures she never imagined. . . until a scandal from the past resurfaces. Now her rules could mean his family’s ruin. Owen’s searing kisses carry the promise of passion, but how will he react when Anabelle’s most devastating secret is finally revealed?

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |

Want to win some goodies from Anne? Check out whats up for grabs.


Up For Grabs:

To Enter:
  • Leave a meaningful comment or question for Anne
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**Don't forget to head over to Not Another Romance Blog to check out author, Valerie Bowman's story.


Good Luck and Happy Holidays =)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

80 comments :

  1. thank you a lot for this short story
    happy holidays!

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  2. thx for ur donation anne barton...
    can't wait to read ur book ^^

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  3. I can't wait to read this. Thanks for the exerpt

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it, Sheryl! This scene isn't actually from my book...but if you enjoyed it, you'd probably enjoy my book too. Happy holidays!

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  4. That was a sweet, lovely Christmas story. It brightened my day!

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  5. What a fun story, Anne! You have a wonderful voice.

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    1. Thank you, Keli (for being a wonderful critique partner and friend)!!!

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  6. your writing is exciting :D I love the cover of the book! cannot wait to read it :) Happy Holidays

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    1. Thanks, Lily--I adore the cover too! I hope your holidays are filled with love and happiness!

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  7. OK, I'm sighing here like a love sick fool. I loved that! It's sweet and funny both at the same time. I have to read "The Earl's Christmas Wish." I adore stories about governesses and since I'm a cat lover, you have covered all the bases here, Anne, and I'm sure you've produced a winner. This baby is going at the top of my Wish List. Thanks for sharing the excerpt.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and hope you don't get slammed with a huge snowstorm up your way in Maryland.

    Connie Fischer
    conniecape@aol.com

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    1. Hi Connie--Thanks for the kind words! I'm so glad you liked it. I actually only wrote this one scene (and not a whole story) based on these characters...but you've convinced me that maybe I should give them their own book! P.S. I'm a cat person too! Merry, merry Christmas to you!

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  8. I loved the short Anne and look forward to reading When She Was Wicked. Happy Holidays.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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  9. Thanks, Carol. Happy Holidays to you too!

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  10. When She Was Wicked sounds like a fun read. Looking forward to reading it.

    Armenia
    armiefox at yahoo dot com

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  11. Bwahahaha - I'm just going to poke him a little. That made me laugh out loud ;)

    Thanks for such a cute story! Have a wonderful & safe Holiday!

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  12. Ha! Sometimes men just don't get it. ;) Thanks and I hope you have a great holiday too.

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  13. Congrats on your upcoming debut release, Anne. I love the premise of "When She Was Wicked."

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    1. Thanks, Jane--I'm very excited! Happy Holidays!

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  14. Thanks for a fun post and congrats to Anne on her new release! This sounds fantastic and is definitely being added to my want list ;)

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  15. Loved The Earl's Christmas Wish and I'm looking forward to reading more of your work Anne.

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  16. Love the teasing between Charlotte and Alec.
    bituin76 at hotmail dot com

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    1. Aw, thanks, Jan! I love a hero who can laugh at himself. :)

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  17. I'd love to read this book.
    theresa n
    weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  18. That was a delightful story. Thanks so much for sharing. Do you think you will ever write an epilogue novel for Abigail with appearances from Alec and Charlotte? That would be super sweet~

    kp_kazamei(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Oh, I like that idea, kipha! Might make a good novella... I'm glad you liked Alec and Charlotte. :) Happy holidays to you!

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  19. This sounds intriguing.

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  20. What a wonderful little read, thank you so much, I really enjoyed, and I look forward to reading more of your stories.

    joylynne66(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  21. Hi Anne -

    Having a cat of our own I loved your story about Willoughby and would still be stuck in a tree if not for the love of a woman by a man who would do any thing to please her! Since we have a cat my husband would be siding with Alec!

    Congratulations on the upcoming release of When She Was Wicked coming out in January - I can't wait to find our what you have planned next!

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    1. Thanks, Jeanne! The sequel to WHEN SHE WAS WICKED is called ONCE SHE WAS TEMPTED, and it's due out in the Fall of 2013. It features Anabelle's sister, Daphne...who has a few scandalous secrets of her own. :)

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  22. Very sweet..I think I need to find a mistletoe tree!

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    1. Ha! Thanks for dropping by, and happy holidays! :)

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  23. I haven't read When she was Wicked, but I really liked the short. I love the idea of Anabelle being a blackmailer, sometimes a girl does what she has to in order to survive. Can't wait to read it and find out what happens.

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    1. Exactly, Ann--a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do! And sometimes she fails spectacularly... :)

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  24. I really like the title, When She Was Wicked, grabs me. Makes me think, I'm always wicked. haha Great story.
    What keeps you motivated?

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    1. Thanks, Julianne! Nothing wrong with being a little wicked. ;) The thing that keeps me motivated is the fun of writing and the satisfaction of finishing a story. I love it!

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  25. The scene was fun and sweet. When She Was Wicked sounds like it'll be good.

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  26. I can't wait to read When She Was Wicked! Thanks for the chance to win!

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  27. An unplanned tryst in the snowy woods which leads to steamy kisses and my imagination follows them to a blazing fireside and.......... What a scenic chapter and I can hardly wait to read this first novel. Congrats to Anne Barton!!!

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    1. Aw, thank you! I just realized that most of my stories take place in the spring and early summer...your lovely comment makes me want to write a winter book! Thanks for visiting today!

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  28. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mary Jo! The red cover seems fitting for a Febrary release. Happy Holidays!

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  29. Thanks for the great Christmas short.
    Congrats on the release. This book sounds fantastic. Can't wait to read When She Was Wicked. Thanks for the giveaway and Happy Holidays.

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  30. looking forward to read this book :)

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  31. That was a very delightful little short, thanks so much! You've convinced me I really need to read more of your work, I'm definitely looking forward to reading When She was Wicked! Have a wonderfully Merry Christmas!
    smoofrog at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Tonda! Merry Christmas!

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  32. I have not read any of your books but I have put you on my Christmas list. So if Santa is willing I am able.

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    1. Come on, Santa! :) Merry Christmas, and thanks for dropping by!

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  33. Hi, Anne! You are a new author for me. I really enjoyed Charlotte's, Alec's, and Willoughby's story. I want more! Thanks for the giveaway! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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  34. Oops! Forgot my email.

    kscathy AT yahoo DOT com

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  35. Haha! That rascally Willoughby! A white cat in the snow! I really enjoyed your short. Congrats on your new book! A blackmailer as a heroine sounds intriguing. Happy Holidays!
    winnie968 at yahoo dot com

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  36. LOL, Winnie--I think Willoughby ended up being the star of the scene. I'm glad you like the premise of the new book. I was a little worried people wouldn't like a blackmailer heroine, but she has really good reasons...

    Happy holidays to you too!

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  37. OHH the book looks fantastic just by the blurb!

    BrittanyG@gmail.com

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  38. now I want to know what the secret is - that often how I get hooked.

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  39. What a great scene. I need more!

    Thanks so much!

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad you liked it! Happy Holidays!

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  40. Hi Anne! I already won this book, but wanted to stop by to say Hi and to show my support!

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    1. Molly, that's SO nice of you! I really appreciate you dropping by and hope you had a wonderful Christmas. :)

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  41. I enjoy your books. I can't wait to read the newest one. Thanks for the short story :)
    Happy Holidays,
    lorih824@yahoo.com

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  42. Hi

    I so enjoyed the story. I have been looking forward to When She was Wicked to come out as it looks so good.

    Thanks for the chance
    Pam
    tpibrew@msn.com

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  43. this was a lovely story...thanks for sharing! You're a new author to me and this sounds like a wonderful read, I'll check your books out! have a wonderful 2013!
    ivegotmail8889(at)yahoo(dot)com

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