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Monday, December 10, 2018

A Historical Christmas Event with Janna MacGregor

Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers.

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Miss Clarissa Bickham is dreading Christmas and all the kissing her relatives are sharing as they gather at her grandparents’ house this holiday. Her beloved fiancĂ©, Mr. Ethan Thornton, has been missing for six months while fighting undercover against Napoleon’s forces. When Ethan comes back a changed man, Clarissa must prove that her love is true while finally understanding that mistletoe kisses are what make Christmas miracles happen.

Miss Clarissa Bickham bit her lip to keep from cursing her older brother, John Bickham and his new wife, Jane. Their grandfather, Mr. Nelson Bickham, had sent Clarissa to collect another cup of mulled wine, but the newlyweds blocked the refreshments from all sides. Then John had the audacity to pull out his mistletoe sprig and leaned close to Jane for a kiss. After what had to be a least a minute, John finally pulled away, then plucked one berry from the bundle. Immediately, he eyed his wife as if wanting another. Without further ado, he kissed his wife soundly. Jane grinned and a delightful smile lit John’s face.

If they did it one more time, Clarissa would have no recourse but to dump her grandfather’s mulled wine over their heads. It wouldn’t be her fault if the happy couple were outraged. It’d been her grandfather’s idea to give every man and woman over the age of sixteen a sprig of mistletoe with berries as a welcoming gift for attending the annual holiday house party at Coventry Crossing, her grandparents’ manor house. Even her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bickham had been delighted with their sprigs.

Frankly, it was a little nauseating. Clarissa had never seen such a vast amount of kissing and laughter and silliness over a parasitic plant. However, she had no one to blame except her grandfather’s sudden change of heart.

Truthfully, there was only one way to describe her grandfather.

A curmudgeon.

He normally desisted having everyone descend upon Coventry Crossing during the holiday season and let everyone know about his displeasure by growling and snarling throughout the festivities. Their grandmother always ignored his antics, but his predictable behavior was the reason her brother John called him Badger behind his back instead of grandfather.

But for some odd reason, this holiday season their grandfather had softened his attitude during Christmastide. He even smiled and laughed at all the frivolity and the accompanying glee that surrounded him this year.

But this flurry of romantic behavior by the rest of her family bordered on excessive.

“Come, girl. Where’s my wine?” Her grandfather bellowed.

“I’ll be there shortly, but John and Jane are—”

“Kissing again?” Her grandfather giggled like a school boy. “Do they have any berries left?”

“We’re down to our last two,” John answered while Jane’s cheeks flushed a brilliant red.

“Two, too many,” Clarissa mumbled.

“What’s that, girl?” Her grandfather motioned her to his side.

Jane handed her a new cup of mulled wine. “I apologize for keeping your grandfather waiting.”

Clarissa nodded her head in thanks.

“Do try to smile, Clarissa,” John chided. “You’re so much prettier when your lips are turning up instead of down.”

She ignored her older brother’s teasing and went to stand by her grandfather’s side.

He took a sip of the wine and sighed in relief. “I don’t know why we don’t have this all year round. Seems a shame to only serve once a year.”

For the first time that evening, Clarissa smiled. It wasn’t even one of her usual forced smiles, but an affectionate one.

“There’s my girl’s smile. I’ve missed it.” Her grandfather patted her hand, his touch warm and comforting. “Christmas is for smiles and celebrations.”

Her breath hitched at his softly spoken words. “Not hearing from Ethan for six months takes the joy out of the season for me.”

Her grandfather nodded. “I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t hear from your grandmother for six months.”

“Not seeing or hearing from my beloved is like having a hole where my heart should reside.” She reached inside her dress pocket and fingered the sprig of mistletoe her grandfather had given her. Since she’d arrived at Coventry Crossing, her grandparents’ home, Clarissa went to bed every night dreaming she’d kissed Ethan. In his honor, she always picked a berry in the morning. Now there was only one left on her mistletoe.

She closed her eyes and shook her head sharply. She should throw the bloody thing out. It was a hurtful reminder of all she’d lost this year.

“You think he’s never coming home?” her grandfather asked gently.

A sharp pain in the center of her chest caused her breath to catch. Though he didn’t mean to, his simple question gutted her. She took a deep breath and swallowed the pain the best she could. “I can only hope he’ll come home one day.”

Tonight, she and Ethan Thornton, the second son of the Earl of Hawkridge, had planned to marry at Coventry Crossing during the annual party. But last spring, Ethan had been sent on a secret mission to France behind enemy lines. His last missive to her was six months ago. She hadn’t heard from him since.

“I’m sorry, my girl.” Her grandfather bowed his head for a moment as if saying a prayer, then lifted his gaze to hers. “But you need to keep the faith. Hope only goes so far.”

Clarissa’s grandmother, Elizabeth Bickham, sidled up beside them. “You two are gloomier than January in London. We can either bring in more mistletoe and holly or open presents this Christmas Eve.”

“Mistletoe.” Her grandfather scrunched his nose. “It’s more fun.”

Clarissa took her grandfather’s advice then and there and said a little prayer. Dear God, please let grandmother convince him to open presents. I can’t bear to see another happy couple kiss. Not now, not tonight.

Her grandmother pulled her sprig of mistletoe, then examined it. “I have two berries left. Who do you think I should share them with?”

Her grandfather’s hand shot out, and he pulled his wife onto his lap, the quick movement belying his age. “Those berries are mine.”

“Just like you’re mine,” her grandmother whispered.

Her grandfather chortled. “Always and forever, my dear wife.” He turned to Clarissa as he tucked her grandmother closer to his chest. “My girl, why don’t you go to the small study and give your grandmother and me some privacy. Your present is there.” Without waiting for an answer, he turned back to his wife and kissed her soundly on the lips.

Clarissa practically ran down the hall to escape the happy noise and the loving sight of seeing her grandparents together. Scalding tears pooled in her eyes. She was delighted that they had such a loving marriage, but tonight, all she wanted was to see Ethan one more time.

Quickly, she arrived at the study door and twisted the knob. She stepped into the cozy room where a large fire held court behind her grandfather’s familiar desk. Some of her fondest memories were in this room. She closed her eyes as the memories rushed forward to greet her. It was where she first met Ethan. They’d even shared their first kiss together here last Christmas, then made plans for a life together.

She willed herself to stop such thoughts as a rogue tear escaped. She’d best find the present, open it here in private, then thank her grandparents before making the excuse of a megrim so she could go to her chamber and grieve. She pushed away from the door determined to find her present and end her torture.

That’s when she noticed him gazing out the bay window into an endless black night. Even without the light reflected by the fire, she would have recognized him immediately.

“Ethan, you’ve come home.” Her voice trembled. “Thank God in heaven, you’re home.” She rushed forward to embrace him but stopped when a mere foot separated them. He still hadn’t turned around. Gently, she reached out and touched his shoulder. “Ethan, it’s me, Clarissa.”

Still facing the window, he bent his head as if deciding what to do. He’d always been tall, but in the last year, he’d become broader in the shoulders, and more muscular all over. She always thought him handsome, but tonight with his blond hair brushing his shoulders, he reminded her of an angel, perhaps an archangel.

“Clarissa.” The familiar husky whisper sent delicious chills through her. Without another word, he pivoted on one heel and faced her.

A patch covered his left eye.

She subdued her shock at his haggard appearance and looked her fill as her gaze caressed his. He looked tired and weary from his travels, but he was alive and had come back to her. She didn’t ask what had happened as she already knew. He must have been injured while working for their king and country.

For one long moment, they stared at each other. Unable to bear being separated any longer, she launched herself into his arms. “My love, you’re finally here.”

Her sudden movement took him by surprise, and he stumbled backwards before righting himself. His arms tightened around her, and in his embrace, she felt like she was finally home.

“Ethan.” His name escaped like a solemn vow. “I love you. How I’ve missed you.” Happy tears streamed down her face. “Every day I wondered where you were.”

He drew back, and his deep green eye narrowed. “You have no idea how I’ve missed you.” He raised a hand and caressed her cheek. “This is what I dreamed of every night—what kept me alive. You, standing before me. You brought me home. I refused to die over there without seeing you again.”

She leaned forward hungry for his touch and for him. When he didn’t lower his head for a kiss, she clasped her hands around his neck and lifted herself on tiptoe. “Kiss me.”

He stiffened and closed his one eye. “Does it…bother you?” He didn’t move as he waited for her to speak.

There was only one way to answer.

She pressed her lips against his. Everything that was wrong with her world righted itself in that instant. She deepened the kiss, and he let her. As her tongue met his, she shared all her joy, hopes and dreams in that tender kiss. She wanted him as he was. Though she was angered and saddened that he suffered, it didn’t keep her from wanting to rejoice that their own Christmas miracle had happened.

Eventually, she drew away desperate for another look at his face. “Does that answer your question?”

He nodded gently, then rested his forehead against hers. More intimate than a kiss, he gently rubbed his nose against hers. “You’ll still marry me?”

“My lovely, foolish, dear man. Didn’t my kiss answer your question?” She reached up and pressed her lips to his then whispered. “Yes, I want to marry you. More today than yesterday, and more tomorrow than today. I’ll kiss you all night just to convince you.”

He laughed, and the merry sound was more welcome than church bells on Christmas morning.

“How long were you waiting for me? Why didn’t my grandfather and grandmother tell me straight away?” Needing to touch him, she combed her fingers through his soft hair.

Ethan traced a finger across her lips. “My darling”—his deep voice rumbled with emotion—“I asked your grandfather not to send you straight away.” He exhaled. “I had to gather my courage to face you.”

Her heart pounded as she realized how difficult it had been for him to come to her. “Thank you.”

“For what?” His gaze searched hers.

“For finding the strength to come home to me. For loving me.” She kissed him again. For as long as she lived, she’d never have enough of his kisses. She now understood her grandfather’s wishes for the mistletoe sprigs this year. She pulled her sprig out of her pocket with the single berry left.

“What do you have?” Gently he took the tiny sprig. His large hands and long fingers dwarfed the greenery.

“Grandfather gave everyone a sprig this year so they could have kisses whenever they wanted. He said kisses were to be cherished and enjoyed anytime and anywhere.”

“Wise man,” Ethan said with a chuckle. “You only have one berry left?”

She looked into his gaze, and all she could see was their happy future. She smiled, and he smiled in return.

“Every night, I kissed you in my dreams. Each morning, I picked a berry in honor of our kisses. This is the only one I have left.”

“Then we’d best make the most of that single berry.” He leaned close and touched his lips to her ear. “Look behind you.”

She turned to discover the largest branch of mistletoe she’d ever seen under a table. “There must be hundreds of berries on that branch.

“Your grandfather told me he saved the biggest branch for my sprig.” Ethan’s familiar, deep rumble of laughter tickled her ear. “I think we’re going to be busy for a while.”

Her kissed her again with such fervor that Clarissa had little doubt that all of her Christmas wishes had come true.

“Your grandfather is a wise man.”

“I agree. One can never have enough mistletoe kisses.”

Happy holidays!

A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied, in The Good, The Bad, and The Duke by Janna MacGregor.

Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream―opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?

Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?

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Up For Grabs:
  • 1 $20 Amazon Gift Card, a Vera Bradley Journal + a copy of The Good, The Bad and The Duke

To Enter: 
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  1. I like the excerpt. It sounds really good. I love a good historical romance. Thanks for sharing! I am in northwest Missouri, so I am not that far from you in KC. Go Chiefs!

    1. Hi Marcy! Thank you so much for the kind words! Yay for KC football! I hope you're staying warm! XO Janna

  2. How sweet! I could not imagine not seeing your love for 6 months!

    1. Hi Sue! Thank you so much! Wouldn't that be hard not to have any way to communicate for that long and not know if they're okay? Anyway, you're so sweet to stop by! Good luck. Best, Janna

  3. Hi Janna! I love your romantic Christmas story! Happy Holidays!

    1. Hi Sharlene! Thank you so much for the love! I hope you have a fabulous holiday season, too! XO! Janna

  4. Hello! Thank you so much for the chance!! I love your stories!!

    1. Hi Lorie! What a wonderful thing to say! I appreciate it so much! XO! Janna

  5. Love your books! :) Looking forward to reading your next one.

    maybe31 at

    1. Hi Thank you so much! The next one features Lord William Cavensham! XO! Janna

  6. This was an adorable story! The grandparents were sweet.

  7. Thanks for the excerpt, it was fun! I am happy that this blog is still active. Kate Sparks

  8. Thank you so much for this cute short story. I love your Cavensham series and will be diving into Paul and Daphne's story soon. I do have a question for you, though. When is William going to have his story, and will his friend Lord Sykeston have his own HEA?

    1. Hi Sandra! You are so welcome! I'm so happy you enjoyed it! The Rogue Most Wanted will publish in June of 2019 and it features William and his HEA! Now, I have big plans for Lord Sykeston, but not in these last two books. I can't wait to tell you all about it! Best, Janna

  9. Hi Janna! Thanks for sharing your writing with us...Happy Holidays!

    1. Hi Amy! You are so welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read it! Happiest of holidays to you, also! XO! Janna

  10. That was a sweet read. Question: What is your usual timetable between book idea, then your research , and when you finally start to write?

    1. Hi Marle! Thank you so much! I'm so happy you enjoyed it! It's a rolling process. It typically takes me a good five months to write and edit a book for publication. I use the remaining time to think and research my story idea. I already have the idea for my next series, so I'm working on that now! Happiest of holidays, Marle! XO! Janna

  11. Great story! I have to say I was quickly scanning your bio info on the top of this page and thought it said you were born and raised in a brothel not the bootheel.....

    1. Hi Amy! I'm having a cup of coffee as I write this and almost spit it out over the keyboard! LOL! I love it. My poor family would howl in laughter at such a fact! ;D
      Anyway, no. I was born in the bootheel! XO! Happiest of holidays. Best, Janna

  12. Happy Holidays Janna! This was so sweet! Thank you for bringing a smile. Love your stories!!!

    1. Hi Lori! Thank you so much for the kind words! You've made my day! Thank you for the smile, too! Happiest of holidays! Best, Janna

  13. I'm a historical romance buff - right up my alley!

    1. Hi Melanie! I'm so happy you stopped by today! Thank you for reading my story! Happiest of holidays! Best, Janna

  14. I love historical romance, thank you for the excerpt.

  15. I am a Regency Romance fan! I thoroughly enjoyed The Good, the Bad , and the Duke!

  16. what a wonderful excerpt. i love your book cover art. who does them for you?

  17. Great story! I'm loving the Cavensham Heiresses series!

  18. I love the excerpt thank you,

  19. I am thoroughly enjoying the Cavensham Heiresses series! Thanks for the chance to win!

  20. I Flove the play on the words in your title ! (The Good The Bad and the Ugly)

  21. I needed Kleenex after reading this excerpt (well, after reading all your books!) xoxo

  22. I love it! The first year we were married DH was deployed (he came home the day after our first wedding anniversary) but at least we were able to send letters back and forth, we wrote each other just about daily. 25 years later we still have our letters packed away somewhere.

  23. I could not be without my hubby for that long. =)


  24. Hi Janna! Better late than never. Sorry. I loved the sweet story. Grandparents and mistletoe are the ticket.

  25. You are new to me. I am adding you to my wishlist!

  26. Your new book The Good, the Bad and the Duke was totally awesome!!! I throughly enjoyed it. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of it!!
    Wishing you and yours a very happy and blessed holiday season.

  27. Enjoyed the excerpt! I will check out your books.

  28. I've heard wonderful things about The Good, the Bad, and the Duke. Thanks for visiting!

  29. I like the sound of this book.

  30. The Good, The Bad, and the Duke sounds like a great read. I am looking forward to reading it.

  31. Love your excerpt sounds like a great read.

  32. I loved The Bad Luck Bride. I can't wait to read more of this series.

  33. Thanks for a lovely beginning and an even happier ending.

  34. I have never read a book by you! I would love to read one! Sounds like your an amazing author!

  35. What a lovely story. Loved the grandfather! Merry Christmas!

  36. Hi Janna:) I so love holiday romance stories!! Merry Christmas to you and yours! xox