Darcy Burke is the USA Today bestselling author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily-ever-after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations.
A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids-who each seem to have inherited the writing gene in some form-and two Bengal cats. In her "spare" time Darcy is a serial volunteer enrolled in a 12-step program where one learns to say "no," but she keeps having to start over. Her happy places are Disneyland and Labor Day weekend at the Gorge.
A scandalous proposal on Christmas Eve with Darcy Burke
Happy holidays everyone! I’m so thrilled to be a part of A Historical Christmas Eve this year! My theme is a scandalous proposal on Christmas Eve. I’d originally planned to write about an existing set of characters, probably a couple from my Secrets and Scandals Series, but then I had an idea to write a scene using ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas as inspiration. This is a stand-alone “story,” but you never know, you might just find out what happens to Miss Spall and the duke next year! So without further ado, I bring you . . .
More Than a Rogue
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the ball
Not a wallflower was dancing, not even Miss Spall.
She tapped her foot in time and hoped for a glance
A spinster by fate, this was Miss Spall’s last chance.
It was all right, she’d reasoned. Her sisters were wed,
She would tend Grandmother, confined to her bed.
The ballroom sparkled with candlelight and cheer
Festive garland with mistletoe and . . . who was here?
A formidable figure strode onto the scene.
Felicity knew him—the Duke of Aberdeen.
Not knew him of course, but recognized him for sure
If he asked you to dance, you must simply demur.
For he was a scoundrel, a rogue, a right scandalous sort
His reputation outrageous and seduction his sport.
When he turned toward Felicity, she stifled a gasp,
Then he came toward her. Was she about to dance at last?
“Miss Spall,” he said, his voice deep and thrilling.
“Might I have the next waltz, if you are willing?”
Felicity’s heart raced though she had to decline.
But if she accepted, it could be so divine.
“Your grace,” she said, “I don’t think that would be wise.”
He arched a black brow. “It’s not a compromise.
We’ve been introduced, albeit long ago,
Unless you’ve been promised to some other beau?”
“I have not, but then even you must admit
If we dance, I shall be the latest on-dit.”
He smiled. It was dazzling, anyone would agree.
Her knees turned to jelly, and her gut churned like the sea.
What was the harm in accepting his invitation?
It wasn’t as if they were starting a flirtation.
“All right,” she said, because this would be a memory to be saved,
It would warm her when she regretted all the times she’d behaved.
He led her to the dance floor and took her into his arms
Looking up into his face, she saw every one of his charms.
The touch of his hand on the small of her back
Was enough to provoke a vapor attack.
But she retained her wits and delighted in his embrace,
And without thinking, asked, “Why me, your grace?”
He chuckled low and deep, the sound tickling her spine,
“Because you are the one with whom I would align.”
She nearly tripped then, his words shocking her greatly.
“Align how?” She tried to continue sedately.
“In marriage of course. I realize this is abrupt,
But I’m in need of a partner, one who isn’t corrupt.
I’m weary of debauchery and require a mate
Who will care for my castle and happily steer me straight.”
Felicity blinked and frowned, trying to puzzle this out.
She was a wallflower, a spinster, somebody to flout.
“Oh, don’t do that.” His voice was soft as fresh snow.
“You’re far too pretty to wrinkle your face so.”
“You flatter me, but then that’s what I expect from a rake.”
“Perhaps get to know me, and your own opinion make.”
She could see she had cut him—was no one else aware
That he was a gentleman beneath his raffish air?
Just as she was a lady no one cared to discover,
Perchance he was more than a rakehellish lover.
“I’m still quite perplexed. I have little to offer
My dowry is small, a most meager coffer.”
“I have wealth enough. No, what I need is finesse,
You’ve spirit and beauty, I’m smitten, I confess.”
As he twirled her around, she tried to make sense
Of all he had said and came up feeling dense.
“I do not understand,” she said with great confusion.
“You scarcely know me at all, this must be an illusion.”
He laughed warmly then, sparking a heat in her belly
“It’s real, I assure you. I’m not Machiavelli.”
He looked into her eyes, his gaze most sincere.
“Trust me, Miss Spall, please say yes to me, my dear.”
‘Twas a scand’lous proposal, asked in an unusual way
Yet it was the most romantic thing she’d heard anyone say.
Her life stretched before her, lonely and dull
Why not say yes, and end this empty lull?
“I’m not smitten with you, but I’m willing to try,
You seem more than a rogue, so my answer is aye.”
The music drew to a close, and his smile grew wide
“You will do me great honor when you become my bride.”
With that, he steered her to where the mistletoe swayed,
Then kissed her hand and said, “You are more than I prayed.”
Her heart swelled with hope and happiness beyond reason
She’d never be alone through another long Season.
“I am yours, Aberdeen.” Their future seemed bright.
“Happy Christmas to you,” he said, “And good night.”
Major Elijah Hollister never wanted to be an earl, particularly not when it meant losing his brother. When a bold adventuress shows up at his door seeking a treasure map, Elijah suspects his brother’s death may not have been accidental and that the lady knows more than she’s willing to share. Whether she’s a friend or foe, Elijah plans to keep her close—and hope the temptation of her kisses doesn’t ruin them both.
Miss Catriona Bowen can almost taste the fruits of her years-long quest to find one of Britain’s greatest treasures. The discovery will deliver the recognition and respect she deserves as an antiquary, despite the fact that she’s a woman. However, to find the map that will lead her to success, she must ally herself with a stoic, yet provocative gentleman with a different goal. And when a villain threatens their lives, she realizes too late that love is the greatest treasure of all.
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Up For Grabs:
- 1 eBook copy of The Code de Valery and Romancing the Earl
- When I was growing up, my dad always read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to my brother and me, and now I read it to my kids. Do you read it? What are your favorite holiday traditions?
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