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Monday, December 16, 2019

A Historical Christmas Event with Shana Galen

Shana Galen is a three-time Rita award nominee and the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers' Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, "The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun," and RT Bookreviews calls her books “lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching." She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston's inner city. Now she writes full time. She's happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making.

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During this event three years ago, I began a story featuring guests at an English country house party snowed in at Christmastime. Shy, widowed Anabelle isn’t distressed to be snowed in. The man she has always had a crush on, Viscount Redmond, is also at the house party. I called the story “Hope for Christmas” because in the story, the viscount took notice of Anabelle, giving her hope she’d finally caught his eye.

Two years ago, the story picked up later that day at a ball where Colin Parrish, Viscount Redmond, asks Anabelle to dance. She agrees, and they pause under the mistletoe. I called it “A Ball at Christmas.”

Last year the lovely ball took an unpleasant turn when Anabelle is forcibly kissed by a man she does not desire and given a cryptic message about her late husband. Fortunately, Viscount Redmond is there to support her.

You can read all the previous chapters of the story here:

This year, in “A Scandal at Christmas,” Anabelle finds out the truth about her late husband. Will the revelation affect her budding romance with Lord Redmond?

A Scandal at Christmas

Colin, Viscount Redmond, was up earlier than usual. He paced the dining room of Lord and Lady Dorsey’s lovely country house, watching the snow fall outside. It was Christmas Eve, and the party was still snowed-in. No other guests were up and about yet. As the ball the night before had lasted until the wee hours, he imagined the other guests were still abed. He might have been abed as well if he had been able to stop thinking about what Lord Haggerston had yelled after Colin had pulled him off Mrs. Farthing. Haggerston had trapped Anabelle against a wall, and when she’d refused his advances, he’d yelled, “Farthing wasn’t quite the saint he appeared.”

Anabelle’s pretty face had drained of all color before Colin had pulled her away and led her to her room. He’d said goodnight, but he’d been troubled. Anabella was his friend Edward’s youngest sister, and Colin felt an obligation to protect her.

Truth be told, that wasn’t all he felt when he looked at her. She’d grown up into a beautiful woman—all honey-blond hair, large blue eyes, and very kissable lips. He’d kissed those lips last night under the mistletoe. He had thought it would be odd to kiss his friend’s little sister, but it had felt very, very right.

The dining room door opened, and Lady Dorsey entered. She stopped upon seeing him. “Lord Redmond, you are up early. I hope you have been given tea.”

He waved a hand. “I didn’t come down for tea. I was hoping to speak to Mrs. Farthing.”

Lady Dorsey nodded. “She told me what happened last night. I was pulled away by my cook, but I went to check on her later. She seemed quite distraught.”

Colin’s heart clenched at the thought of Anabelle worried over the vile Haggerston’s words. “I’d like to offer my assistance.”

“She is in the drawing room just now. I’ve come down to fetch us both tea and a plate of scones. If you would like to join us, I’m sure that would be appreciated.”

Colin followed her to the drawing room, carrying the tray for her. When he entered, he spotted Anabelle right away. She sat on a couch and was dressed in a festive red dress. But her expression looked anything but celebratory. She glanced up, and her eyes widened. “Lord Redmond!”

He set the tray on a table and went to sit beside her. “I came to offer assistance.”

Her cheeks colored, which did not surprise him. She had always been shy. “I’m not certain what you can do, my lord. Unless you know the secret regarding my late husband that Lord Haggerston refers to.”

Colin took her gloved hand in his while Lady Dorsey poured the tea. Anabelle stiffened at his touch. He spoke softly, “I thought we decided last night to put formalities aside. Call me Colin, Anabelle.”

“I-I assumed that was only while we danced.”

“I like how my name sounds on your tongue too much to limit you.”

Her gaze flew to Lady Dorsey who seemed overly busy arranging scones on a plate. Colin continued, “I thought we might discuss what Lord Haggerston said to you. Do you have any idea what he meant?”

She shook her head. “I thought about it most of the night, and I cannot think of anything James might have done to deserve such censure.”

Lady Dorsey handed Anabelle a plate with a scone, and Colin reluctantly released her hand to take one as well.

“Perhaps the best course of action is a private word with Lord Haggerston,” Lady Dorsey said. “I have never liked the man, but his wife is pleasant enough. We three can confront him when he comes down to break his fast.”

Colin looked at Anabelle. “Do you feel up to that?”

She nodded. Lady Dorsey rose. “Good. Then I will go ask my butler to bring him here when he rises.” She stepped out of the drawing room, closing the door behind her. Colin sipped his tea then set it down.

“Can we speak about last night?” he asked.

“What about it?”

“I kissed you,” he said. He didn’t think it possible, but her cheeks grew even darker pink. “I supposed you noticed that,” he said.

“You needn’t apologize,” she said, setting her own plate down. He couldn’t fail to notice that her hands shook slightly. “I should not have stood under the mistletoe. I did not mean to cause you any unpleasantness.”

Colin reared back as though slapped. “Unpleasantness?”

“I made things awkward between us. I understood why you wanted to stay away from me the rest of the evening.”

“Is that what you thought? That I wanted to stay away from you?” He supposed that was not altogether untrue. “Come to think of it, I did keep away from you, but not for the reason you think.”

Her brows lowered in consternation.

“I kept away from you, Anabelle, because I wanted to kiss you again. I thought I had made you uncomfortable.”

Her pink lips dropped open and she stared at him.

“Did I?” he asked.

She shook her head.

“If I did not make you uncomfortable, is it possible you enjoyed the kiss?”

“I-I did, my lord.”

He moved closer. “It’s Colin, remember?” She nodded. “Anabelle, might I kiss you again?”

“Now?” she whispered.


Then, to his surprise, instead of agreeing, she grasped his coat and pulled him close, kissing him. He’d never seen this side of her before. And he certainly had never imagined she might kiss the way she did. Her lips were sure and persuasive, and he was very soon left breathless and wanting more. It was a good thing he heard Lady Dorsey’s voice outside the drawing room, or he might have been tempted to take more. He drew back as Lady Dorsey opened the door.

“Mrs. Farthing and Lord Redmond, I have Lord Haggerston.”


Anabelle took in a sharp breath as the odious Lord Haggerston stepped in the drawing room behind Eva, her friend Lady Dorsey. Haggerston’s bushy mustache all but twitched as his gaze fell on her. Anabelle wanted to shrink away, but she sat straight. It helped that Lord Redmond—Colin—was beside her.

“Tea, Lord Haggerston?” Eva offered. Anabelle watched in silence as her friend offered Haggerston tea and scones and made small talk. Finally, the conversation turned in the direction she both wanted and dreaded.

“I understand you made a rather surprising statement about the late Mr. Farthing last night,” Eva said. Her hostess smile was fixed firmly in place as she sat in a chair opposite Haggerston. “As it was said in Lord Redmond’s presence, we asked him to remain. Mrs. Farthing has asked me to inquire further about it.”

“Could have just asked me yourself,” Haggeston said to Annabelle between bites of scone. “I’ve been wanting to come to you about it for months, but your solicitor held me at bay.”

Anabelle felt her chest tighten. “Then it’s a financial matter?” This was not good news. Not at all. Though James had left her with a small jointure, his property had gone to his cousin, who had a wife and children to provide for. Anabelle lived comfortably but economically.

“It is.” Haggerston reached into his coat, and finding nothing, reached into the other side, and finally produced a slip of parchment. He handed it toward Anabelle, who took it with shaking fingers.

She looked at the paper, but the words seemed to swim before her eyes. All she could make out were James’s signature and the number 3000. “I don’t understand,” she whispered.

“May I?” Colin asked. She handed it to him, and he examined the paper. “This is an IOU for three thousand pounds,” he said.

Anabelle’s head suddenly began to ache. She had hoped she’d read it incorrectly.

“That’s right,” Haggerston said. “It was signed and dated at White’s three years ago, not long before Farthing’s death.”

“You and James were gambling at White’s?” Anabelle asked, her voice weak and thread.

“That’s right,” Haggerston said. “Mr. Farthing lost and gave me his vowels. I have been trying to collect ever since. I don’t like to go to a grieving widow and ask for blunt—”

“Then don’t,” Colin broke in.

“But as time has passed,” Haggerston went on as though Colin hadn’t interrupted, “I believe it’s time Farthing’s debt was paid.” He gave Anabelle a look that made her skin crawl. “One way or another.”

Colin rose. “What exactly does that mean, my lord? What are you implying?”

Haggerston spread his hands, but he was smiling. “Nothing at all, Redmond. I simply want my blunt.”

Anabelle met Eva’s gaze and shook her head. “I don’t have that kind of money.”

Haggeston’s smile grew wider. “Then perhaps we can make some sort of arrangement.”

“I’ve had quite enough of this,” Colin said. “You seem to imply that if Mrs. Farthing cannot pay you in pounds, she must pay you some other way. With her body, I presume?”

Haggerston made a poor show of acting scandalized. “No, no. I simply meant she might sell a piece of jewelry or a piece of property.”

“If you have spoken with my solicitor, my lord,” Anabelle said to Haggerston, “you know I do not have any property or jewelry worth that much.”

“I see,” Haggerston said. “This is quite serious then.”

And it was. A gentleman always paid his bets. Legally, Haggerston could not force Anabelle to pay the IOU, but he could certainly besmirch James’s reputation, and by connection, hers as well. She would no longer be accepted into Society. Eva gave Anabelle a sympathetic look. They had been friends for years, and she would never exclude her friend, but Anabelle’s other acquaintances would most certainly turn their backs on her. She would be alone and friendless in the world. Of course, she still had her family, but her sister and cousins had families of their own. Edward was sure to marry soon. She did not want to impose on them.

“It is serious,” Colin said, “and I suppose it’s time I made my intentions clear.” He took Annabelle’s hand in his, and she started, having not really been listening to the conversation. “Anabelle,” he said. “Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

They call him the Doomed Duke.

Phineas Duncombe, ninth Duke of Mayne, should not be the duke. After all, he had four—count them—four older brothers! Phin never wanted the dukedom, and the suspicious circumstances of the eighth duke’s death lead Phin to question the Countess of Longstowe. The beautiful widow isn’t at all what Phin expected. He’s intrigued by her and determined to seduce her. The countess is not interested in Phin romantically, but when she comes to him with another request, he can’t deny it. A few days in the country with Lady Longstowe reveal two truths to the new duke. One, he cares for the countess much more than any other woman he’s ever known. Two, Phin either has very bad luck or someone is trying to kill him.

They call her the Wanton Widow.

Annabel was barely eighteen when she was married to the elderly Earl of Longstowe. A harsh, sadistic man, the earl’s death was not something Annabel mourned. Now in her mid-forties, Annabel enjoys her widowhood and has no desire to ever be under a man’s thumb again. Not even a handsome duke like Mayne, who is far too young for her anyway. Annabel’s one desire is to find the daughter who was taken away from her. For that she needs a man with power and status. She needs the Duke of Mayne. When the two are thrust together, Annabel struggles to fight her attraction to the charming Phin. She’s losing the battle. But can she ever trust another man, especially with the one part of herself she’s never given away—her heart?

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  1. That's a great cliffhanger. :) What a happy way to end the conflict. :)

  2. Ah.. we have to wait 12 months for her answer?!?!
    Great cliffhanger!
    I love this story! ❤️

    1. Thanks!! I have to wait too! I'm not even sure what she'll say.

  3. What a great ending. Thank you for that story. I' be been reading Shana Galen for years and love her books. Happy Holidays.
    Carol Luciano
    Lucky4750 at aol dot com

  4. Thanks for the continuing story, Shana! Merry Christmas!

  5. I have loved every book of yours that I have read so far. They are all so well done and gorgeous covers.

  6. What a great holiday story! Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas!

  7. What an interesting idea and great story! I didn't realize The Making of a Gentleman had won an RT Reviewers' Choice award, but that makes me so happy. It's still my favorite of your books. Armand is such a lovable character! And I laughed out loud during that book - when you weren't tearing my heart out.

  8. Wow fantastic excerpt! How much research do you have to do when you are planning a story? And is there an interesting fact that stands out to you? Merry Christmas

    1. Hi Suzannah! For a story like this, I don't have to do much because I stuck to a setting I knew. But for some of my other books, I have to read several books and take lots of notes and look up details. Most of the interesting facts I've learned are about the French Revolution, like a person survives 1 seconds after their jead is chopped off by the guillotine.

  9. I'm enjoying this story but I really don't like having to wait a year for the next part! ;)

    1. I'm thinking of turning it into a novella for next year.

  10. Loved the story and now will wait "im"patiently for the rest! lol Merry Christmas, Shana! xo

  11. Thanks for sharing the story. Now I need to go back and read the previous chapters.

  12. Any chance your Scarlet Chronicles will become audiobooks?

    1. Hi Miranda, all 4 of the Scarlet Chronicles books are available as audio books!

    2. Thank you! I see them on your Audible page now. I don't know how I missed them before.

  13. Do we have to wait a year before we know her answer?!

  14. What a cliffhanger! Can’t wait to read what you have in store for us next year.

  15. I'll probably have to re-read if it's going to be a yr till the release but it's always worth it!😍