Thursday, September 30, 2021

Showcase- Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Suzanne Enoch, Amelia Grey and Anna Bennett #historicalromance #Christmas anthology

Yes I know it's not even Halloween but is it really ever to early for a scrumptious Christmas romance. NO! And I've got a sweet treat not one or two but three fantastic historical romance authors each give fans a Christmas novella.
Enjoy!

ISBN-13: 9781250797445
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 09-28-2021
Length: 352pp
Buy It: Amazon/B&N/IndieBound

ADD TO: GOODREADS

Overview:

From the Scottish highlands, to the bustle and tussle of London, to a hotel on the outskirts of town, three unforgettable authors bring the joy of Christmas romance in Kissing Under the Mistletoe.








Great Scot! by Suzanne Enoch
Miss Jane Bansil knows she will never have a fairy-tale moment. Well past the marriageable age, she’s taken a position as a companion and is now stuck in Scotland for Christmas, alone even in the middle of the boisterous MacTaggert family. But when Brennan Andrews, an architect and cousin to the MacTaggerts, arrives to draw up plans for a new family home, Jane must decide if she will take a chance at a happily-ever-after, or settle into her small, safe life for good.

Christmas at Dewberry Hollow by Amelia Grey
Miss Isabelle Reed has no plans to ever fall in love. She has a perfectly acceptable life with her mother at the Dewberry Hollow Inn, thank you very much. But when Gate, the Duke of Notsgrave’s grandson, appears at Dewberry Hollow searching for a carving on a tree, Isabelle cannot help but get involved. But Gate’s charm and their instant attraction makes Isabelle question if she’s willing to take her chance at love once again.

My Mistletoe Beau by Anna Bennett
Miss Eva Tiding is determined to cheer her widowed father with the perfect Christmas gift. Even if it means breaking into the home of the rakish Earl of Frostbough who swindled Papa out of his pocket watch. But when the earl, Jack Hardwick, catches her in the act, they strike a deal: she’ll pose as his fiancĂ©e in exchange for the watch. Falling in love is not part of the plan—but with a little Christmas magic, anything is possible…


Read an excerpt:

Chapter One


Jane Bansil threw the heavy blankets over her head and burrowed deeper beneath the covers. Still the sound continued, a sharp, endless wailing that made her hair stand on end and seemed to emanate from everywhere at once. Grabbing a pillow, she pulled that over her head as well. Warmth turned into suffocating heat, but still the sound went on and on and on.

Finally, gasping for air, she flung off the blankets and the pillow and sat up. “For God’s sake, stop!” she yelled, then slapped both hands over her mouth, too late to hold in her very unladylike bellow. Blasted, stupid, infuriating bagpipes.

A knock sounded at her door. “Jane?”

Wonderful. Now she’d be caught both complaining and lying abed at seven o’clock in the morning. “Just a moment!” she called, and slid her feet onto the icy stone floor. Stifling a responding yelp, she stepped into her slippers, grabbed her robe, and flung it over her shoulders. “Good morning,” she said, pasting a smile on her face as she pulled open her bedchamber door.

Amelia-Rose Hyacinth MacTaggert, her blond hair loose and a heavy robe around her own slender shoulders, blinked at her from the hallway. “Did I hear you yelling, Cousin? Is something amiss?”

“I’m so sorry,” Jane returned, broadening her smile. “I was just talking to myself. With more volume than I realized, evidently. I didn’t wake you, did I?” Unable to help herself, she lowered her gaze to Amy’s thickening middle.

“Not at all. Niall went out hours ago to help find someone’s cow. Or so he claimed. I actually think he and Aden went fishing.” Jane’s younger cousin grinned. “I hope they went fishing. I don’t need him following me about all morning and flinging pillows beneath me. I would certainly inform him if I were uncomfortable.”

“Then I’m also happy you have the morning to yourself.” Jane took a half step back, not enough to be unfriendly, but she hoped enough to inform her cousin that continuing the conversation wasn’t necessary.

Amy, though, followed her retreat with a step forward. “Actually, Miranda and Eloise and Persie and I are going down to the village for breakfast at The Thistle. Evidently, it’s a tradition for the MacTaggert women to do so before Christmas, and we’re nearly out of time. Will you join us?”

Abruptly the wailing stopped. For a bare second Jane closed her eyes, pulling the silence around her like another cozy blanket. “I’m not a MacTaggert.”

“Not in name, but you live with a great many of us. Aside from that, you’re my family, which by extension does make you a MacTaggert. And you’re definitely a woman.”

She was that, and probably the only virgin left in the house, but she wasn’t so certain about the rest of it. The MacTaggerts, male and female and born to the family or married into it, were bold and boisterous and rather wild. None of those words came anywhere near to describing her. “Please don’t feel like I need to be entertained or something,” she said. “I have duties, you know.”

Reaching out to take one of Jane’s hands, Amy nudged her backward deeper into the bedchamber and shut the door behind them. “I need to speak plainly with you, Jane,” she whispered.

The morning’s annoyance at the bagpipes twisted into genuine alarm. “Are you well, Amy? If you need to return to London, I will of course accompany you. Is—”

“Jane,” her cousin interrupted, a smile again lighting her face, “hush.”

Clamping her mouth shut, Jane kept hold of Amy’s hand. The past few months swirled about them still, chaotic and full of adventure, romance, a trio of Highlander brothers, and a quartet of weddings—and now Amy’s pregnancy and arriving but five days before Christmas at a place none of the ladies had ever been before but now would be calling home for at least part of the year.

“I can never thank you enough for what you did for me—for Niall and me, Jane,” Amy said, squeezing her hand. “It cost you your home and your employment. I know you’ve assumed the position of Lady Aldriss’s companion, but … is that what you truly want?”

Jane winced a little. Another discussion about possibilities, when she’d exhausted them all ages ago. “I am a lady’s companion, Amy. What should I be, a baker’s apprentice?”

“Yes, but, I mean, I know my mother managed to make you feel grateful that she was willing to offer you a position as my companion. That is not all you have to be, though. Your family may not have been as wealthy as mine, but your birth is certainly equal to mine. What I mean to say is, if you wish to do something else, to find a different life, I will see to it that you—”

“I’m quite fine, Amy,” Jane broke in, her heart easing as she realized this was only about her cousin’s guilt at having the happier life. “I am three-and-thirty, far too old to be dancing through London looking for a husband, of all things.” She winced again at that thought. “And, as you know, I have a preference for quiet and peace.”

“Yes, but—”

“Being Lady Aldriss’s companion gives me all the exposure I want to life’s fineries. And she’s kind, if a bit intimidating, the first being very welcome, and the second being something to which I am quite accustomed.” Indeed, just discussing her former employer and aunt, Victoria Baxter, left her with a twitch and a hunch to her shoulders. Good heavens, she was pleased to be away from that and from being reminded constantly how grateful she should be to have a roof over her head and someone willing to put up with her timid ways enough to keep her employed.

Now she’d fallen into a position that, while Lady Aldriss expected competence and a degree of independent thinking, at least made her feel valued, if not entirely necessary. After all, the countess had a daughter, and this summer had added three new daughters-in-law to her family. A companion seemed superfluous, even to Jane. She’d been ignoring that fact for the past few months, however, and intended to continue to do so until she managed to convince herself that this was where she was meant to be.

“I just want you to be happy,” Amy pressed. “You are a good person, you know.”

“Thank you for concerning yourself about me, when you have so many other things on your mind.”

Amy put her free hand over her stomach. “I can hardly believe how differently this year is ending from the way it began. I was a burden, never proper enough, never saying the right thing, and never going to be able to make a beneficial marriage. Now I’m married to a Highlander, of all people, I’m deliriously happy, and I’m going to be a mother in three months.”

“And you’re in Scotland. Don’t forget that,” Jane added as the wailing bagpipe began again.

Laughing, Amy hugged her. “I know! We’ll have snow for Christmas. Can you imagine?”

“I can imagine. It nearly feels like it could snow here inside the house.”

Amy only chuckled again, but then she had a very handsome, very charming husband to keep her warm at night. At that thought, Jane’s cheeks warmed. It wasn’t jealousy, she reminded herself. She was as happy that Amy had escaped Mrs. Baxter’s household as she was that she had done so. It was only a realization that she was not one of the lucky people meant to have a happily-ever-after life.

“Say you’ll join us for breakfast,” Amy pressed, releasing her again.

“I shall try,” Jane hedged. “Lady Aldriss may need me this morning.”

She understood Amy’s sideways look: Not only had Lady Aldriss seen her four children married within twelve weeks, she’d also found a way to bring her estranged husband down from the Highlands after seventeen years of separation, and she’d managed to see all of them together with new husbands and wives for Christmas. In Scotland.

The woman didn’t need help. She’d offered a position out of kindness and charity, and Jane had accepted it out of necessity. It was supposed to be temporary, until something long-term where she could be more useful came along, but thus far she hadn’t even had a nibble.

“You might ask her if she requires your presence; she’s down in the morning room.”

Blast it. Lady Aldriss had already risen? “Oh dear,” Jane said, scowling. “Excuse me, Cousin. I must dress.”

“Of course. But ask her about joining us. We leave in twenty minutes.”

Once her cousin had left the room, Jane dove into her wardrobe for her warmest gown, a plain blue dress with long sleeves and a high neck. It rather resembled all of her other gowns, actually, but that had been the case for her entire adult life. A half-dozen practical gowns, two night rails, three bonnets, four shifts, two pairs of shoes, a quantity of hairpins, and some personal toiletry items both kept seeing to herself to a matter of moments and made it simple for her to prepare for a day or a week or a lifetime lived at someone else’s beck and call.

Blowing out her breath at her reflection in her dressing mirror, Jane decided her present melancholy was entirely the fault of the weather. Winter in the environs of London could be chilly, and on occasion a storm brought a dusting of snow, but here … Well, just beyond the main buildings of Aldriss Park the snowbanks rose above her head, and down the slope where Loch an Daimh hugged the lower reaches of hills and mountains for five miles around all the edges of the water were now ice.

Even her black, straight hair felt cold as she brushed it out. She would rather have left it down to cover and protect her ears and the back of her neck, but she’d worn the same tight bun for as long as she could remember. There were times she half expected her hair to knot itself into a bun all on its own, she’d done it so many times.

That, though, was just silliness. At least now, though, she could relax enough to indulge in thinking silly things from time to time. Previously it had taken all of her wits just to keep from overly annoying her aunt. And that was why, despite the snow and the cold and the very large number of MacTaggerts running about, she was rather happy to be in Scotland. Even with the bagpipes wheezing to life first thing in the morning.

On her way to the morning room she darted inside the large breakfast room for half a slice of toast, which she choked down as she reached the doorway at the far end of the hall. Rapping her knuckles against the frame of the half-closed door, she ran her tongue around the inside of her mouth to loosen the last of the sticky crumbs from her teeth.

“Come in.”

The low, rumbling voice clearly didn’t belong to any female, much less to Lady Aldriss. Even so, Jane took a breath and pushed the door open wide. “Good morning, my lord,” she said, dipping in a proper curtsy.

Lady Aldriss’s oldest son, Viscount Glendarril, turned away from the front window. “Jane. Ye after my mother?”

“Yes. I was told she was in here.”

“She was. When I informed her that the house didnae have any gold thread for mending, she started spinning in a circle and then vanished in a puff of angry smoke.”

“I—”

“I did no such thing,” Countess Aldriss commented, stepping up behind Jane. “I went to ask Pogan to fetch me what sewing materials remain here.”

“I should have done that, my lady,” Jane said, turning to curtsy again. “I overslept; I’m so sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“Nonsense,” Francesca Oswell-MacTaggert countered, moving past her to take the chair nearest the roaring fire. “I thought you were going down to The Thistle for breakfast with my daughters.”

“I … You don’t mind?”

“Well, I could send you up and down the stairs after needle and thread all morning, but since the house hasn’t had a woman tending it for seventeen years, I’m afraid what you might find.” The countess sighed. “Go have breakfast.”

“But if it’s tradition for the MacTaggert ladies, shouldn’t you be attending?” Jane pursued.

“Aye, she should be,” the viscount broke in, frowning. “That’s what I’ve been telling her for twenty minutes.”

“I am well aware just how unpopular I am here, Coll,” Lady Aldriss returned. “I am not about to go stomping about the village on my first day back in Scotland. They’ll throw tomatoes at me.”

“Nae, they willnae. It would be potatoes. But I’d see to it they didnae throw anything at ye.”

“Give them all a bit of time to become accustomed to the idea that I may be here more often, first,” his mother cautioned. “I’m in no hurry. Nor am I entirely certain your father and I are ready to reconcile.”

“Och. Ye’re back here at Aldriss Park. That’s someaught I’d nae have expected before I set eyes on ye walking up the front steps yesterday afternoon. Go find yer thread, then. I’ve a meeting with an architect.” He tilted his head, a slight grin touching his handsome face. “Four of us lads could live here in peace, all being men and reasonable. Now we’re ten, with bairns on the way. Temperance and I need our own damned house.”

They all got on fabulously as far as Jane could tell, but she could see why the eldest, especially, would want to be beneath his own roof. Aldriss Park, she’d realized after only one day here, could be very noisy, indeed. And that was quite the accomplishment, after the chaos of Oswell House in London.

“Jane, dear?”

She blinked, facing the countess. “Yes, my lady?”

“Go. If you run across any gold thread suitable for embroidery, please return with it. Otherwise, I suggest you make the most of social gatherings here. There aren’t many of them.”

Now it was a gathering? Oh dear. A breakfast had been more than enough. “Is that an order, then?” she asked briskly, drilling her stiff fingers together and attempting not to look like she was holding her breath.

Swift disappointment crossed the countess’s face and just as quickly vanished. “No, it isn’t. I only want you to have friends and a social life, my dear.”

“I have employment and my books. Both make me happy. And if I may be forthright, my lady, your daughter and daughters-in-law, including my cousin, are very kind and … confident, and they don’t seem to be afraid of anything. I am afraid of a great deal, most of all the looks they will pretend not to exchange when they want to go next to the milliner’s or the jeweler’s or the bakery and I try to beg off.”

Lady Aldriss settled her hands into her lap. Lord Glendarril muttered something under his breath and fled the room. “Considering that is the most words I’ve heard you speak together in six months,” the countess commented, “it would be foolish of me to presume that you don’t mean them. Do as you will. I won’t require you until after luncheon, to assist me with boxing gifts for Christmas.”

Oh, thank goodness. “Yes, my lady,” Jane said, dipping again.

“Wife,” came from the hallway door, and the broad-shouldered Earl Aldriss himself strolled into the morning room. “I require a word with ye.”

“Husband,” the countess returned, and subtly angled her head at Jane. “You’ve found me in a mood to listen.”

Stifling a yelp, Jane took the hint and left the room. She’d heard a few brief arguments while the earl had been visiting Oswell House in London, but from what she’d gleaned from overhearing bits of conversation among the MacTaggert men, the fights between Lord and Lady Aldriss had once been legendary. She had no wish to be in the middle of one of those.

With an unexpected few hours to herself, Jane went about exploring the rooms of sprawling Aldriss Park. Because she didn’t wish to hear the MacTaggert ladies’ response to learning that the countess’s paid companion wouldn’t be joining them for their outing, either, she stayed away from the entire front of the house, in fact, but all those contrary thoughts left her head as she discovered the library.

Considering the masculine feel of Aldriss Park, the well-stocked library surprised her. Yes, she knew all three of the MacTaggert brothers enjoyed reading, but she’d also spent the last six months at Oswell House in London in the company of a stuffed deer named Rory that had previously been proudly displayed in this very room. The two full suits of armor standing ready for battle against one wall had sufficient space between them that a full-grown red deer with very large antlers would have fit there quite nicely. She walked over to take a closer look at the well-polished metal.

“The one on the right there belonged to my great-great-granddad,” an unfamiliar male brogue came from the doorway behind her. “Ye can see the dent in the helmet where a mad Sassenach tried to put a club across his skull.”

There was indeed a marked indentation on one side of the ornate helmet. “He survived, though?”

“Oh, aye. I cannae say the same for the Sassenach.” A pause, and booted footsteps approached behind her. “Ye’re English. Are ye one of the brides, then?”

“No. I’m Lady Aldriss’s companion.” She wanted to turn around and see to whom she was speaking, but then she would stammer and her face would flush and she’d be … herself again. Squaring her shoulders, Jane took a step forward and ran her fingers along the dent. “You said ‘your’ great-great-grandfather. You aren’t one of the brothers, though.”

“Nae. I’m a cousin. Angus—the earl—is my uncle, brother to my mother, Ava. I’m Brennan Andrews.”

“Jane. Jane Bansil.”

“Pleased to make yer acquaintance, Jane Bansil. Though I do have to wonder why ye willnae turn around and look at me. Unless ye’ve heard, of course.”

Oh dear. “Heard what?”

“About the accident. Some years ago, I fell from a horse onto a wooden fence. Coll says it improved my appearance, but then it was his horse that threw me—the only benefit of that being him feeling obligated to hire me when he decided he had need of an architect.”

The architect Lord Glendarril said he would be meeting with this morning. Well, now she really wanted to look. Reminding herself not to stare, not to make a face or appear shocked in any way, Jane squared her shoulders and turned around.

Considering what she knew of the MacTaggerts, she’d half expected to see a walking, breathing god standing before her, the tiniest of scars brushing one otherwise perfect cheek. The reality, however, was somewhat different.

Brennan Andrews was a very fine-looking man. There could be no argument about that. Elegantly curved brows, black hair swept back from his face but nearly long enough to brush his broad shoulders, a refined nose and strong chin—and one fine green eye with a twinkle in its depths. The left eye, or the place where it should have been, was covered by a black leather patch, which did little to conceal the end of a scar trailing crazily down along his left cheekbone almost to his mouth.


Copyright © 2021 by Suzanne Enoch

Copyright © 2021 by Amelia Grey

Copyright © 2021 by Anna Bennett
About the authors:
Suzanne Enoch
Suzanne is known for her humorous characters, sexy bad boys, and whip-sharp, witty dialogue. She currently resides in Placentia, California with several hundred guppies and various other tropical fish, and handful of very loud, spinach-loving finches. And her collection of action figures and statues from “Star Wars”, “Lord of the Rings”, “X-Men”, and “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Everybody needs some inspiration, after all.

Amelia Grey
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Amelia Grey read her first romance book when she was thirteen. She’s been a devoted reader of love stories ever since.

Anna Bennett
Anna Bennett is the award-winning author of the Debutante Diaries and Wayward Wallflowers series. Her dream of writing romance began during a semester in London, where she fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. Now Anna’s living happily-ever-after in Maryland with her family, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen.

8 comments: