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Friday, December 8, 2017

A Historical Christmas Event with Theresa Romain

Theresa Romain is the bestselling author of historical romances, including the Matchmaker trilogy, the Holiday Pleasures series, the Royal Rewards series, and the Romance of the Turf trilogy. Praised as “one of the rising stars of Regency historical romance” (Booklist), she has received starred reviews from Booklist and was a 2016 RITA® finalist. A member of Romance Writers of America® and its Regency specialty chapter The Beau Monde, Theresa is hard at work on her next novel from her home in the Midwest.

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SEASON FOR SCANDAL is the tale of Edmund, Lord Kirkpatrick—who’s kind to everyone thanks to old secrets that weigh heavily on his heart—and Jane Tindall, who has loved him since girlhood. When financial troubles threaten to overwhelm her, Edmund proposes a marriage of convenience. He doesn’t know the lady’s heart is already his; she doesn’t realize the danger that stalks him.

The more Jane learns about her new husband, the more she admires his goodness and becomes unsatisfied with anything less than his wholehearted love. She leaves his household, the rift creating a holiday scandal that has all London talking. But when Edmund trusts his wily wife with his secrets and places his safety in her hands, he realizes he’s fallen in love with her—and that the only Christmas gift he wants is her return.

The scene below takes place when the danger is past and the couple are (somewhat awkwardly) trying to reconcile.

If there was one thing Edmund had come to expect from Jane, it was that he would never know what to expect from Jane.

Even so, he was surprised to turn the corner and see her standing in the corridor outside the drawing room, clutching a length of brown paper around her shoulders. “Are you cold? Maybe I really should buy you a new gown.”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s meant to be a sort of gift. Oh, this was stupid. I knew it.” Crumpling the paper in her hands, she let it fall.

“Wait.” Edmund dropped the tube he was holding, then strode over to catch her before she could turn away. “Wait. Don’t run off. You’re standing under mistletoe.”

“Yes. That was stupid, too.”

“Ordinarily, it’s impolite to contradict a lady. But the usual rules don’t apply when a kiss is at stake.” Edmund searched her face: wide eyes, stubborn chin, lovely mouth. “May I?”

Her lips parted. Since she didn’t say no right away, he took that as a yes, and he bent to kiss her. Just a feather-soft whisper, a promise.

With me, Jane, it’s always a promise. So he had told her once, and he poured the truth of that into this kiss. Tasting her, sweet and slow as honey. Her mouth opened, lips soft, her tongue a gentle flicker of heat that shot warmth through his whole body.

His hands caught her shoulders, holding her closer. As long as he was kissing her, she couldn’t leave; as long as he was kissing her, that was enough.

He was falling, and he loved the fall.

Too soon, she pulled away. “The servants. They’ll be here any minute with the tray.” Her cheeks had gone a lovely shade of pink.

“They know what mistletoe is for.”

“It was only because of the mistletoe that you kissed me?” Her jaw got that stubborn look.

He grinned. “Who do you think had the mistletoe hung all over the house, Jane?”

She was still mulling that over as he picked up his dropped parcel and followed her into the drawing room. And she was right; it was only a minute or two before a servant brought in a tray of sandwiches, a teapot, and cups of mulled wine, sweet-spiced and strong. As the tray and plates were arranged, Edmund pretended to poke up the fire, wondering what the hell had just gotten into him.
Actually, he knew: he had just had his first real kiss.

For the first time in his life, lips had brushed lips without having to close upon secrets; for the first time, he had wrapped a woman in his arms without feeling the need to keep his distance.

When the servant left them alone again, Edmund and Jane settled side by side on the carpet before the wide fireplace.

He stacked up cold chicken and wedges of cheese for each of them, then returned to an intriguing subject. “Jane, tell me more about the gift that required you to be wrapped in paper.”

She dropped the bite she was holding. “Huh. Um. It was foolish, as I said.”

“If you give me a foolish gift, I’ll give you a foolish gift. And no, it won’t be a bonnet.”

She managed to smile. “Well. It was me. That is—you told me not to return unless I was here to stay.” She spread her hands. “Here I am if you want me.”

His ears seemed to ring, high and faint. “You’re here. To stay. Do you mean it?”

“Yes.” She shoved a huge bite of chicken into her mouth.

“That’s not a foolish gift. That’s the best gift.”

She choked. He pounded her on the back. It was really more of a pat or a caress, and it was a good thing she began breathing again because he could only concentrate on one thing: “You’re going to stay.”


“Why did you think that was foolish?”

She looked away. “If you didn’t want me here, I would have felt very stupid indeed. I’ve always felt a little as if I’m chasing after you, begging you to love me. You gave me an escape tonight by telling me I needn’t stay. But I want to have it decided. I want to know what you want of me.”

“I want you to stay. I’ve always wanted you to stay.” He touched her chin, that lovely stubborn chin, and turned her face toward him. “Every time you called here, then went back to Xavier House, I felt I’d lost you all over again. As long you weren’t sure of me, I thought it would be better not to see you and not to be hurt.” His hand dropped, fingers clenching. “Well. That’s where I was a fool, because not seeing you was its own kind of pain.”

She studied him, her eyes flecked with gold from the firelight. “You missed me?”
“I missed you,” he repeated. “I love you.”

The only sound was the tick of the clock on the mantel; the pop of coals in the fire.

“Nothing to say, Jane? I can hardly credit it.” He tried to speak lightly, so she would not know how her silence pressed upon him.

“I trusted you not to lie to me.” She folded her legs so she sat in a tight ball. “You’re telling the truth? Not just trying to make me feel better?”

“I’ve never known how to trick you into feeling better, my dear. This is the truth. I love you. Do you want me to say it some more?”

She considered. “Yes.”

“I love you, Jane. I think I have for a long time, and I didn’t realize it. Like someone who’s gotten so cold he’s gone numb, and when feeling starts to return, it’s such a shock that he mistakes it for pain.” His throat went tight. “And then it gets better, and then it’s the best thing imaginable.”

“Your love is like frostbite?”

“Oh, damn. That’s not what I meant. Look, I could read you a poem. I know just the right one.” He narrowed his eyes. “Wait. You’re laughing at me.”

“A little.” She smiled; an eyes-crinkling, cheek-dimpling grin. “Say it some more.”

Unladylike Risk

Jane Tindall has never had money of her own or exceptional beauty. Her gifts are more subtle: a mind like an abacus, a talent for play-acting—and a daring taste for gambling. But all the daring in the world can't help with the cards fixed against her.

And when Edmund Ware, Baron Kirkpatrick, unwittingly spoils her chance to win a fortune, her reputation is ruined too. Or so she thinks, until he suggests a surprising mode of escape: a hasty marriage. To him.

On the surface, their wedding would satisfy all the demands of proper society, but as the Yuletide approaches, secrets and scandals turn this proper marriage into a very improper affair.

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  1. Hooray for mistletoe, Theresa!

    1. Right? Giving people an excuse to kiss for centuries. :)

  2. Thank you for inviting me to visit today! I've been enjoying this blog event so much.

  3. Happy Holidays, Theresa! The cover of SFS is so beautiful and festive. I love Holiday theme books. :-)

  4. Married for the season! YES, I love when they marry hastily and fall in romantic.

  5. I haven't started on this series as of yet but it sounds beautiful.