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Saturday, December 22, 2018

A Historical Christmas Event with Stacy Reid

Stacy Reid writes sensual Historical and Paranormal Romances and is the published author of over sixteen books. Her debut novella The Duke’s Shotgun Wedding was a 2015 HOLT Award of Merit recipient in the Romance Novella category, and her bestselling Wedded by Scandal series is recommended as Top picks at Night Owl Reviews, Fresh Fiction Reviews, and The Romance Reviews.

Stacy lives a lot in the worlds she creates and actively speaks to her characters (aloud). She has a warrior way “Never give up on dreams!” When she’s not writing, Stacy spends a copious amount of time binge-watching series like The Walking Dead, Homeland, Altered Carbon, watching Japanese Anime and playing video games with her love. She also has a weakness for ice cream and will have it as her main course.

I’m so happy to be here sharing a peek Primrose and Gabriel’s journey to happy ever after, my hero and heroine from Wicked Deeds on a Winter Night, one of the fifteen sizzling novellas in Seduced Under the Mistletoe – an anthology of steamy historical romances released November 2018!

A little about Wicked Deeds on a Winter Night: Primrose Markham and Captain Gabriel Northcote cannot deny the hunger burning between them. A wicked night of passion on a winter's night might lead to the greatest love, or a forever promise might end in betrayal.

The sound of clinking glasses and laughter filtered on the air. Taking a deep breath and clasping above her stomach to stop the wild flutters, Primrose stepped through the ajar door into the spacious drawing room. It seemed like everyone but the lord and lady of the manor were present. All the cousins and the aunts and the close friends who’d been invited had arrived sometime throughout the night and earlier throughout the day. 

After her walk with Gabriel this morning, they’d gone to the church in the village where several carriages had arrived, rumbling and crunching through the snow.  The sermon of charity and love had been inspiring, and the pews had been overfull, with several people standing.   

They’d returned to the manor a few hours ago, and the festive feel had continued with parlor games, with some guests braving the steadily falling snow to skate. Now about twenty people were in the drawing room, laughing and chattering, drinking champagne and mulled wine, while Lady Beatrice, a most charming young lady, played a jaunty carol at the grand pianoforte close to the roaring fire. Gabriel held the sheet for her, and they seemed to be having quite a lovely time. Primrose looked away, wondering if he enjoyed Lady Beatrice’s company or merely tolerated it at his mother’s insistence.  

Refusing to dwell on that small kernel of doubt, Primrose moved further into the room, smiling warmly at those who favored her with small greetings. Pinecones, evergreens, and mistletoes decorated every room in the forty-room manor, and the drawing room was possibly the most tastefully and cheerfully designed. A large evergreen spruce tree had been cut and placed in the corner. It had been decorated with large bows of bright scarlet ribbon, precious glass baubles that had come all the way from Bohemia and silver candleholders with white candles. The candles had not been lit yet but would be when the night lengthened. 

 And beside it, a table laden with wrapped gifts. Gift giving and entertainment was planned for later in this drawing room. There would be singing, parlor games, and stories by the fire.  

“Miss Markham, how delightful of you to join us, come, come, let me get you a glass of champagne,” Mr. Andrew Netherby, a cousin, greeted quite loudly. 

This had Gabriel’s head snapping around and looking up. Lady Beatrice missed a few notes, ire firing in her eyes at losing Gabriel’s attention.  

But pleasure permeated Primrose because she felt quite presentable in her dark green gown with the palest green satin underskirt, wide ruffled sleeves, and lace collar. It exquisitely molded to her frame, the front lined with twenty buttons curving the material to her shapely corseted frame. It had taken a great deal of her savings to pay the local modiste for this creation. Her dark curly hair had been coiffed in an elegant chignon with a few loose curls caressing her cheeks. But she had wanted to be beautiful today, and from the shocked inhalation of Gabriel, the money had been well spent. 

 Admiration also flared in the viscount's eyes before he'd turned away, a slight frown on his face. She'd wondered at it but quickly dismissed him, as her love commanded every part of her awareness.   

Gabriel was devilishly handsome in a dark blue jacket, gray waistcoat, dark trousers, and pristine white shirt and cravat. His dark hair was perfectly groomed, and his beautiful dark blue eyes ensnared her. Then he winked, and she laughed softly. 

He made to move toward Primrose, and his brother who'd been standing to his left snagged the cuff of his jacket. The move had been quick and discreet, but she saw it. Wariness rolled through her, accompanying a loathsome, odd feeling in her stomach. The countess had invited her to her table for Christmas dinner for the past few years, but Primrose had politely declined, choosing to travel to Durham instead. She’d sensed she would be out of place, and possibly a curiosity for those who would wonder why the governess had been invited to the table. 

She accepted this year because she had been slowly feeling a sense of belonging, and she’d decided it was time to shed the prejudice that had long lingered in her heart when the countess and the earl had been the soul of kindness since her employment.  

 “How radiant you look, Primrose," the viscountess said with a broad smile, approaching with her son nestled peacefully in her arms. 

“Lady Weatherton,” she greeted dipping into a small curtsy. 

“Please, I believe it is time we put formality aside, please call me Verity.” Then her cheek dimpled in a charming smile.  

Motherhood suited the viscountess, the glow in her eyes and on her cheeks created a piercing pang in Primrose’s heart for similar happiness. She shot a sidelong glance at Gabriel as he conversed with his brother, fervently hoping that soon they would marry and start their own family. She’d never felt this way before, had never dared want anything this desperately for fear it would be ripped from her. But how she wanted him, and the future he promised.  

Whatever heated debate he had with his brother in the corner seemed to end. The tension within her unknotted though she couldn’t help thinking their quarrel was about her. She dearly hoped not. The earl and the countess strolled into the drawing room, commanding everyone’s attention. They were such a beautiful and charming couple, he tall and handsome with his dark blonde hair barely streaked with grey. And she petite with lustrous dark hair piled high in an intricate design, and her blue eyes, very much like her youngest son’s, glowing with warmth and happiness. 

They mingled with everyone, partaking in a few glasses of wine and light chatter. Dinner was announced shortly after.  

"It would afford me much pleasure if you allow me to escort you into dinner," Gabriel murmured, holding out his arm. 

Primrose's breath caught, sharp and quick. She hadn’t seen his approach. In his eyes, she saw the need for her to trust him, and with a small smile, she accepted the proffered arm. 

His mother looked briefly startled, then her firm, elegant jaw tightened visibly, before her face smoothed and she smiled. They proceeded into the dining room which had been exquisitely arranged. The large dining table was decorated with the finest white linen, evergreens, and flowers. Everyone took their place, and several courses were served, starting with cream of parsnip soup, followed by roasted duck with cranberry sauce, standing rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding, golden stuffed turkey, lamb served with an onion sauce, baked trout, and venison in a raised pie.  

Primrose felt a part of the intimate gathering and wished it would last forever. Wine and champagne flowed freely, and the laughter was joyful and surprisingly raucous. Gabriel chatted and regaled everyone with several tales, and he looked so happy and handsome her heart soared. A few times he sent her a discreet half smile, but she hadn’t the courage to return it with so many people looking on.  

After the meal, several members returned to the larger drawing room, where gifts were excitedly exchanged. Others dispersed into the smaller sitting room to play parlor games, and a few gentlemen retired to the library for a glass of port, and brandy.  

When Primrose made to join the parlor games, Gabriel caught her eye and lifted his chin towards his family seated on the sofa near the roaring fire, exchanging gifts. Nervousness bloomed through her. The leading family was not alone, as a few cousins lingered by the pianoforte. She hoped now was not the time he would make the announcement, and she discreetly shook her head. He frowned, and not meeting his gaze she made her way over to one of the crΓ¨me sofas close to the large evergreen tree.  

Primrose laughed delightedly when everyone handed her small packages of various sweets. There was much good-natured teasing, and they seemed surprised when she too gave them gifts— delicately embroidered handkerchiefs for the earl and the viscount, and lavender sachets, ribbon lace, nightcaps, and bookmarks for Verity, the countess, and Annabelle.  

Verity had encouraged her to place her gifts under the tree, and Primrose went and got the small brown package she’d gotten weeks ago for Gabriel. She handed it to him. 

“Oh Miss Markham got Uncle Gabriel a gift as well,” Annabelle cried, clapping her hands. “How fortunate you made it home to receive it,” she said with a charming smile, blue eyes very much like her brother’s glittering with happiness.  

Primrose flushed as all attention turned to her. Gabriel seemed quite unruffled by it all and lowered himself onto a sofa and unwrapped his gift. George made his way over, unabashedly peering over his brother’s shoulder. 

“What is it?” Annabelle cried. 

“A filigreed fountain pen and an inkwell,” Gabriel murmured softly. His eyes shone with rich pleasure and love when he stared at her. 

“A pen,” the countess said with mild surprise. “An odd gift to be certain. The library has numerous quills and ink. But I suppose it is what Miss Markham can afford.” 

"Miss Markham gifted me these because she knows of my dream to become a writer. Thank you, I will put them to excellent use." 

The family threw a surprised glance at each other, and Primrose had the uncomfortable awareness that he'd not shared his ambitions with his family before now. 

He too handed her a gift, and she unwrapped it with trembling fingers. The family appeared too interested to Primrose's mind. Parting the delicate tissue, she gasped softly at the most exquisite pair of gloves she'd ever seen. Verity shot a quick glance at George, before smiling at them. Primrose’s heart started to race when she saw that there was more. Surely it was too much, and his family would think it odd. But of course, he planned to reveal their tendre, and this was the first step of his declaration.  

Next, she lifted a most elegant light blue with swirls of green Kashmir shawl. A flush of pleasure went through Primrose. The countess gasped. 

“Thank you,” she said, smiling at him. “I shall treasure them.” 

He turned to his family who peered at them with undisguised interest.  

Nerves erupted in her stomach as Gabriel asked his mother, father, George, and Verity for an audience in the smaller sitting room. They threw him puzzled frowns when he escorted her with him behind their small procession. They were, however, too polite to protest her involvement if they were of a mind to. They withdrew from the drawing room and the raucous fun and made their way down to the hall.  

She clenched her hands in front her, trying to calm her nerves. Thunder sounded in her ears, drowning out the merriment all about her. Her vision tunneled as she stared at the door to sitting room, getting ever closer with each step. It felt like the longest journey she’d ever made. An exodus to a life-altering moment.  

Everyone entered, and the door was closed firmly. The hearth roared, and several gas lamps were lit, bathing the room in an intimate glow. Yet Primrose felt cold…and uncertain.  

“Mother, Father, George, Verity,” Gabriel began. “I’ve asked Miss Markham to marry me, and she has done me the great honor of accepting,” he said with quiet intensity. “It would please me if we should have your support.” 

The countess jerked as if she’d been slapped.  

An awkward silence fell and spread. Primrose felt the heavy, accusatory gaze of his family as if she had committed a grave sin in daring to accept his proposal.  

“You are engaged to Miss Markham?” his father demanded, his eyes snapping between them. 

Gabriel held out his hand to Primrose, and it took an inordinate amount of courage to slip her hand in his and move closer to his side. “Yes, Father.” There was no mistaking the pride in his voice, and some of the tension eased from her.  

“Gabriel your conduct goes beyond the line of what may be tolerated by this family,” his mother said indignantly. 

The earl’s face was a mask of studied indifference as he stared at Primrose. Once she’d thought him handsome and kind, a most attentive husband and father. Now a cold distaste curved his lips.  

Bile rose to the back of her throat, and the air felt thick and heavy. She tried to tug her fingers from Gabriel's, but he would not allow it. She peered up at him, and almost gasped at the tender amusement glowing in his eyes. 

How could he be so unconcerned with their judgment glaring at them? 

“I love Miss Markham,” he said with a small smile. Then he shifted his regard once more to his family. “Mother, I’ve only heard you sing her praises and—” 

"As a governess!" The countess's hand fluttered to her chest. She sniffed and waved her hand to encompass the family. “This…whatever this is Gabriel is in poor taste. We have quite different expectations for you, and you'll not disappoint this family!” 

Primrose felt the tension creep through him, and shifted closer, lending her warmth even as she drew strength from his unflinching stance. 

His mother swayed as if she’d finally given the matter the serious consideration it deserved. “This is beyond the pale,” she whispered. “What of Lady Beatrice?” 

“I do not love Lady Beatrice, nor have I indicated an attachment on my part.” 

His father stepped forward. “Has Miss Markham compromised you?” 

Primrose felt her body trembling, her chest tightening with tears. 

Gabriel stiffened. “Don’t be outrageous and insulting father, ” he said bitingly, and much colder than Primrose thought he would speak to his father. 

His mother appeared daze as she glanced at her husband. “Edward do something. Our son is foolish in allowing this…this…social climbing leech to grab onto him!” 

“Mother!” Gabriel snapped. “I’ll not have you disrespect, Miss Markham.” 

Primrose pulled her strength around her quickly, the pride and pain and the determination that had helped her survive the years settled over her shoulder like a warm coat. “I do not love Gabriel for his money or connections. He…he’s everything.” My everything. So inadequate to express the depths of feelings she had for him, but there it was. 

“You will not marry a lady who does not elevate your standing within society,” the earl said firmly, tugging his countess close. “If you do not wish to marry Lady Beatrice that is fine, but you’ll find a suitable bride.” 

“No. I’ll marry the woman I love or not marry at all,” Gabriel snapped, perhaps more sharply than he had meant to. 

“Then you will leave this house immediately with her.”  

The cold, harsh words felt like a blow to Primrose’s chest. Love and family were fundamental to Gabriel, it was one of the things she'd most admired and loved about him. This denial from his family would shred him. A sharp tremor of uncertainty quivered through her. 

Gabriel stepped forward. “Father—” 

His father's face was a grimace of offended fury. "You'll not get a penny from me if you marry her. Your allowance and the family connections will be cut off until you come to your damn senses." 

Though said in smooth even tones, the earl's edict fell in the drawing room like the rumble of a thunderclap. Sympathy plastered Verity’s face, while George’s expression was unbending. The earl made toward the door, leading his countess as he turned. Then George and Verity followed. Gabriel’s family left the small sitting room together, not sparing them another glance. 

Her heart raced, and her throat constricted. She’d expected their disapproval, but never did she think the loving family she’d grown to feel a part of would treat her with such disdain. She labored to take a breath, her poor Gabriel. What had she done? “I am so very sorry,” she whispered, her voice thick from the tears she fought not to shed. “Gabriel, I’ll leave—” 

He kissed her and with a muffled cry of fear and desperation she returned his kisses. Their lips parted on a ragged sigh. “Let’s go outside,” he murmured. 

Her heart clenched at the shakiness and uncertainty in his voice. Primrose followed him as they exited the room, down the hall, and used a side terrace door to spill out onto a cobbled path leading to the western gardens.  

She drew in a long, cleansing breath of fresh air, feeling petrified to face him and what his family’s objection would mean for their future. Gathering her courage, she clasped his arm and turned him to face her…and lost her breath at the love shining in his eyes. 

“You’ll not leave me,” he said fiercely, speaking directly to the fears beating in her heart. 

“I do not want to be apart from you, Gabriel. But I know the love you have for your family, and I cannot ruin it!” 

He smiled. "Is that what you're worried about?" 

She searched his face intently. “Yes? Aren’t you?” 

“Do you love me?” 

“Most ardently,” she vowed passionately. 

"We will work from there because I love you and nothing will change the fact I want you as my wife. Nothing.” 

With a choked sob she flung herself into his arms, hugging him fiercely and wishing upon the star streaking through the darkened sky that Gabriel was right, and the fears in her heart were for naught. 

Hope you enjoyed!

Fearless heroines. Irresistible heroes.

Fifteen stories of Yuletide romance, brimming with scandal, sizzling passion, and the promise of true love.

From the snowbound Highlands to candlelit ballrooms, follow our feisty heroines as they unmask secret identities, scorn etiquette, and defy danger. See them submit to fierce warriors, sinful scoundrels, and masterful lords.

Purchase: | Amazon |

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  1. Thank you for the chance to win your Giveaway.

  2. I sure hope they get their happy ending!

  3. I’m new to the author’s writing, but I’ll be on the look out of her books. Thank you for the story!

  4. Sounds really good. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I can't wait to read the anthology! Thanks for the chance to win!

  6. I love finding new authors! So excited to read your books!

  7. Good story and it is already on my Christmas TBR Christmas anthologies. Thank you for the giveaway.

  8. Regarding the cover: I always find that placing a loveseat under the mistletoe is just inviting...complications! That's why I never invite dukes and highland warriors and country maidens to my Christmas parties!

  9. Thanks for visiting with us today. Merry Christmas.

  10. Enjoyed the excerpt! Happy Holidays πŸŽ…

  11. Sounds good can't wait to read this. Pretty cover.

  12. Hi Stacy:) I've read quite a few of your books and am absolutely hooked on your style of writing, I adore your books!! I look forward to all your future releases:) Thank you so much for the chance.

    1. Hey Carole! Thank you so much. And you are very welcome. :)

  13. Hi! Wishing you and your family happy holidays!!!

    1. Thank you, Linda, and best wishes to you and your family as well! :)

  14. Replies
    1. oh wow! This is a hard one to answer Bonny, I love so many books. At this time I would say Mercury's War by Lora Leigh. I've read it more than 10 times. :)

  15. Merry Christmas Tracy! Looking forward to your stories in 2019!

    1. Thank you Lori, Merry Christmas to you too! :)

  16. Replies
    1. Merry Christmas to you too Lilah! I ate too much, I am still trying to recover.

  17. Great scene! Thanks for sharing. Happy Holidays!

  18. thanks for the chance, love seeing new authors