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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A Historical Christmas Event with Cheryl Bolen

Cheryl Bolen is the award-winning USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of more than three dozen romances set in Regency England. She and her recently retired professor hubby are the parents of two grown sons, neither of whom read her books. They all do enjoy traveling to England, and she’s particularly enamored of watching her University of Texas Longhorns play football and basketball—when she’s not reading about dead Englishwomen.

I am honored to be featured on the Ramblings from This Chick blog where I’m offering a brand-new prequel to my USA Today bestselling novel With His Ring, which is the second title in the six-book Brides of Bath series. With His Ring is a marriage-of-convenience story that comes about when Glee proposes marriage to Blanks so he can meet the terms of his father’s will and inherit his fortune. Of course, she doesn’t admit that there’s never been a time in her life in which she hasn’t been in love with him!

The Christmastime prequel, which takes place many years earlier, is titled Glee’s Gift. I hope you enjoy it.

Glee’s Gift

“The Pest’s following us.” George Pembroke rolled his eyes but did not turn to gaze at his younger sister as he and Blanks—Gregory Blankenship—crossed the frosty grass to their “secret” hideaway in the woods of Hedley Hall’s vast parkland.

Blanks had no such compunction. He turned and watched his best friend’s sister laboring to keep up with the longer stride of the older boys, her coppery hair whipped by the winter winds. He intended to wait for her.

“Why are you stopping?” demanded George, his brows drawn.

“So Glee can catch up with us.”

“We don’t want her.”

Blanks knew what it was to not be wanted, and he would never inflict that humiliation on sweet little Glee. “You, my dear fellow, may have two sisters, but owing to the fact I have none, I am most happy to bestow my brotherly regard upon Glee.”

Truth be told, Blanks was far too intimidated in the presence of George’s stunning elder sister to manage anything more than the barest civility, but with Glee he had no problem being her protector. The poor girl needed a champion. There was her ever-teasing brother as well as her capacity for getting into scrapes, and she truly did require a defender against her propensity to incur injuries.

When she finally caught up with them, her normally creamy cheeks were bright red with cold, and Blanks noticed her hands were the same hue. “Where are your gloves?” he asked, effecting a stern demeanor.

She shrugged. “I hadn’t time to find them if I meant to join you.”

“You weren’t invited to join us, Pest,” George snapped.

Blanks shed his own thick, leather gloves. “Here, put these on. Even if they’re twice as big as your hands. Your skin’s much more delicate than mine.”

“Oh, but I can’t.”

Blanks glared. “Do it, Pest, or I’ll allow George to send you back.”

She complied. The gloves looked ridiculously silly on the little thing, but knowing she was warmer made him feel better.

Soon they reached the old Tudor hunting tower that was nestled amidst the now-barren trees. Before they climbed the steps, George removed a piece of parchment from the sack he was carrying and began to write. No Girls Allowed.

“You need to put No Girls Except Glee,” Blanks said.

The noon sun glinted off George’s golden locks as he glared at the lad who’d been his closest friend since they’d met at Eton as seven-year-olds some five years earlier. Finally he sighed. “How do you spell except?”

“A-C. . .” Blanks shrugged, then turned to Glee.

“She can’t spell, either,” George quipped.

“Then put, No Girls But Glee.”

After George scribbled out the letters, he tacked the sign up on the foundation and began to climb the tower.

Blanks wasn’t sure that visiting the hunting box was such a good idea on this wretchedly windy day. It was even more miserable up here than it had been on the ground. Wind pierced gaps in the weathered timber of their twelve-foot square enclosure. His gaze settled on a shivering Glee. A moment later he began to laugh.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

“I was just thinking about the names your parents gave their daughters, Felicity and Glee. I daresay if Lord and Lady Sedgewick had another girl she’d be burdened with a name like Joy or M-e-r-r-y.”

They all laughed. “If ever I have a little girl, I just may take one of those names,” Glee said. “Speaking of happiness and joy, we’re awfully joyful you’ve come to spend another Christmas with us, Blanks. Does your family not miss you?”

He had to restrain himself not to harrumph. He was as unwanted as the pox in his own family where the Wicked One his father married doted only on her son and resented that Blanks would deprive her son from inheriting the Blankenship fortune. The Wicked One saw to it that her son got all the praise and all their father’s attentions and Blanks got all the criticism. But Blanks would never admit any of this to anyone. A fellow had his pride. All George knew was that Blanks did not get on with the Wicked One.

“It’s better for family harmony that I come here. Blanks shrugged. “It’s a pity I have no fortitude.” One day he’d like to stand up to the Wicked One.

Glee smiled. She was such a pretty little girl. “It’s our good fortune. We Pembrokes and Sedgewicks love you, Gregory Blankenship.”

He did feel wanted at Hedley Hall. He had come to think of Lord Sedgewick’s family as his. Being here felt comforting.



Lady Sedgewick sat in her sitting room bending over her embroidery hoop. “Yes, my love?”

“What is fortitude?” Glee must find out. Blanks was always saying how much he wanted to have fortitude.

It was a moment before her mother composed an answer. “I would say fortitude is like a magnet. It’s something one uses to gather about them necessary things they don’t wish to dislodge.”

Glee nodded. She’d always been fascinated over magnets. A pity there was not one to be found at Hedley Hall.


It was the custom in the Pembroke family to exchange gifts whilst sitting before the Yule log on Christmas Eve, the night that had become Blanks’ favorite night of the year. There was nowhere on earth he would rather be than here in the bosom of these wonderful people who’d embraced him with more affection than he’d ever known.

Though Hedley was a big, caverness old house that had been built over generations, this drawing room where they gathered was as comfortable as a pair of old boots. Its ceilings were not too high, and thick woolen Turkey carpets covered the floors. He and the family members piled upon the three velvet sofas that formed an intimate U around the blazing fire.

Unlike with Blanks’ own family, the Pembrokes treated him the same as they did their own. Even that first year he’d come, he’d been astonished when his gift was identical to George’s.

He’d often wondered what his life would have been like had his mother not died in child bed giving him life. Would she have been a loving matriarch like Lady Sedgewick?

He could at least show his gratitude with his purse. As the son of an extremely wealthy man, Blanks’ pockets were deep enough to enable him to bestow generous gifts on each member of his adopted household—and extravagant gifts they were. This year each female received a costly Kashmir shawl while George and his father were the recipients of muskets said to be of so fine a quality that the Regent himself possessed one.

All Blanks’ gifts were opened with appreciative ooos and ahs. The flaxen-haired Felicity demurely draped the sapphire-colored shawl he’d given her about her elegant shoulders while Glee jubilantly paraded about in her seafoam-colored one that was too large for her small frame. Their mother looked regal in her snowy shawl, smiling broadly at the boy she called her adopted son.

After all the presents had been opened, Glee moved to him and handed Blanks a box tied with red satin ribbon. “I’ve saved my present for you for last. I know you’ve been wanting it for a long time, and I went to soooo much trouble to find it.”

Blanks took the small box and opened it. Reposing in its center was a piece of metal. He was speechless. The last thing in the world he wanted was to offend Glee, but what in the bloody hell was it? He quirked a brow.

George popped up and came to look over Blanks’ shoulder. “What’s that supposed to be?”

Glee put her little hands to her hips. “It’s his fortitude. You know how he’s always saying he wants fortitude. Mama said a magnet would do.”

“Oh.” Blanks removed the magnet from the box. He realized she was right. He was always lamenting his need of fortitude, but he’d not realized anyone had ever taken notice of his words. In his entire life, no one ever had. No one except Glee.

“I’ve never heard of anything so stupid,” George said.

Blanks turned slowly to give his closest friend an I’ll-belt-you-in-the-mouth stare. “Apologize to your sister. She’s just given me what is unquestionably the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received.”

“Forgive me,” George mumbled to his youngest sister as he gave the magnet a quizzing look.

Her emerald eyes shimmering with delight, Glee nodded but was unable to remove her smiling gaze from Blanks.

“How can I ever show my appreciation?” Blanks asked her.

She crooked her dainty finger. “Follow me.”

She went to stand beneath the mistletoe ball.

All eyes in the room riveted on the young couple.

Blanks moved to her. The top of her little head reached his chest. He settled gentle hands on her shoulders and lowered his head to brush his lips across her cheek.

And that was Glee’s first kiss from the man whose name she would one day carry.

Glee Pembroke has turned down countless offers of marriage because she has secretly been in love with her brother's best friend, Gregory Blankenship, all her life. When she learns Gregory will lose his considerable fortune if he's not wed by his twenty-fifth birthday, she persuades him to enter into a sham marriage with her. What he doesn't know is that she plans to win his heart. She will do everything in her power to make him happy – including mimicking the ways of a "fast" woman since he's noted for alliances with women of that sort.

Why did he ever allow himself to marry the maddening Glee? He'd thought they would have great fun, but at every turn, she exasperates him. Why does she persist in wearing the bodice of her dresses so blasted low? Why do other men persist in flirting with her, his wife? And why in the blazes has his heretofore complacent life been turned upside down by this sham marriage? He finds himself longing for a real marriage, but for reasons he cannot divulge, that can never happen.

Purchase:Amazon | B&N | Apple | Google | Kobo |


Up For Grabs:
  • 2 eBook copy of any of Cheryl's Individual Christmas Books
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  1. :) Enjoyed what you shared!

  2. Merry Christmas! Thanks for sharing 💂

  3. So glad you like it. Glee is such a fun character.

  4. Loved this! Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas

  5. I loved the Christmas story about Glee & Blank! I really am looking forward to reading more of their story!

    Hook em Horns!

    1. It shows me as "Unknown" but my name is Billye.

  6. Hook 'Em to you, Billye, and thanks for the kind words.

  7. Awwww, that was such a sweet prequel, I loved it!! Thank you so much for sharing it with us, Cheryl. Merry Christmas:)

  8. So, are we gonna beat Utah on New Year's Eve? I liked your sweet short story, thank you for writing for us. Merry Christmas to you and your family. And may 2020 be filled with joy and love and peace.

    1. Gosh, Annette, I sure hope so, but I'm very nervous. Each year I think we're coming back, but it's just not happening. Thanks for stopping by, and merry Christmas to you.

  9. Now I need to read the whole story. Gave me goosebumps

    1. Exactly what I wanted to hear, Lisa! Thanks and merry Christmas.

  10. What a lovely Christmas prequel! Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas!

  11. That was a sweet story. I have read all the Bath Brides and have forgotten Blanks and Glee's story. I desperately need to do some comfort rereading after the holidays are over, and my current TBR challenge expires. Doing the challenge definitely gets me reading more, maybe I should make 2020's list all rereads. Now wouldn't that be fun. No guilt that I'm not getting my new stuff read. Who am I kidding. Michelle H

    1. Your TBR sounds like mine! There's never enough time to read all the great books on my Kindle.

  12. That is such a sweet story!
    Thank you.
    Happy Holidays!

  13. I really enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing
    Carol Luciano
    Lucky4750 at aol dot com

  14. What an adorable prequel! Sounds like Glee is a great kick butt female!

  15. Marriages of convenience are one of my favorite tropes. Expectations always seem to change but the HEA is assured!

  16. It must be hard to love someone who sees you as a sister.

  17. Looking forward to reading The Brides of Bath Series. Thank you

  18. Can’t wait to read how Glee turns Gregory’s head and gets him to turn the sham marriage real.

  19. That is the most cutest kiss story! Can't wait to see what happens!