Welcome to my Twelve Books for Christmas blog. Over these first twelve days of December I'll be introducing you to twelve romance books to warm your heart and make you feel all Christmassy. :) They'll all make wonderful presents for a friend, or you could even treat yourself.
My Christmas book today is a Harlequin Regency romance, The Governess's Secret Baby, by the multi-published Janice Preston. A story with the 'ahh factor'. :)
The beauty who tamed the beast
New governess Grace Bertram will do anything to get to know her young daughter, Clara. Even if it means working for Clara's guardian, the reclusive and scarred Nathaniel, Marquess of Ravenwell!
Nathaniel believes no woman could ever love a monster like him, until Grace seems to look past his scars to the man beneath. But when he discovers Grace is Clara's mother, Nathaniel questions his place in this torn-apart family. Could there be a Christmas happy-ever-after for this beauty and the beast?
I have come this far...I cannot give up now.
She sucked in a deep breath and reached for the huge iron knocker. She would make her enquiries, set her mind at rest and return to the village. She had no wish to walk through that forest as the light began to fade, as it would do all too early at this time of year. She only had to knock. And state her business. Still she hesitated, her fingers curled around the cold metal. It felt stiff, as though it was rarely used. She released it, nerves fluttering.
Before she could gather her courage again, a loud bark, followed by a sudden rush of feet, had her spinning on the spot. A pack of dogs, all colours and sizes, leapt and woofed and panted around her. Heart in mouth, she backed against the door, her bag clutched up to her chest for protection. A pair of wet, muddy paws were planted in the region of her stomach, and a grinning mouth, full of teeth and lolling tongue, was thrust at her face, snuffling and sniffing. A whimper of terror escaped Grace despite her efforts to silence it. In desperation, she bent her leg at the knee and drummed her heel against the door behind her. Surely the human inhabitants of this Godforsaken place couldn’t be as scary as the animals?
After what felt like an hour, she heard the welcome sound of bolts being drawn and the creak of hinges as the door was opened.
‘Get down, Brack!’ The voice was deep and brooked no disobedience. ‘Get away, the lot of you.’
Grace turned slowly. She looked up...and up. And swallowed. Hard. A powerfully built man towered over her, his face averted, only the left side of it visible. His dark brown hair was unfashionably long, his shoulders and chest broad, and his expression—what she could see of it—grim.
She could not have run if she wanted to, her knees trembled so. Besides, there was nowhere to run to, not with those dogs lurking nearby.
‘You’re late,’ he growled.
Time seemed to slow. The man continued to not quite look at Grace as her brain examined and rejected all the truthful responses at her disposal.
‘I am sorry,’ was all she said.
‘You look too young to be a governess. I expected someone older.’
Governess? Are there other children here apart from Clara? The parallels with her own life sent a shiver skittering down her spine. She knew the reality of growing up with cousins who did not accept you as part of the family.
‘I am fully trained,’ Grace replied, lifting her chin.
Anticipation spiralled as the implications of the man’s words sank in. If Lord Ravenwell was expecting a governess, why should it not be her? She was trained. If his lordship thought her suitable, she could stay. She would see Clara every day and could see for herself that her daughter was happy and loved. That she was not viewed as a burden, as Grace had been.
The man’s gaze lowered, and lingered. Grace glanced down and saw the muddy streaks upon her grey cloak.
‘That was your dog’s fault,’ she pointed out, indignantly.
The man grunted and stood aside, opening the door fully, gesturing to her to come in. Gathering her courage, Grace stepped past him, catching the whiff of fresh air and leather and the tang of shaving soap. She took two steps and froze.
The hall in which she stood was cavernous, reaching up two storeys into the arched, beamed roof. The walls were half-panelled in dark wood and, on the left-hand side, a staircase rose to a half-landing and then turned to climb across the back wall to a galleried landing that overlooked the hall on three sides. There, halfway up the second flight of stairs, a small face—eyes huge, mouth drooping—peered through the wooden balustrade. Grace’s heart lurched. She moved forward as if in a dream, her attention entirely focussed on that face.
Amazon (universal link)
Janice Preston writes emotional, sensual and satisfying Regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She grew up in Wembley with a love of reading, writing stories and animals and has worked as a dairy farmer, a police call-handler and a university administrator. She has two children, two step-children (all now adult) and a gorgeous, cheeky grandson. She now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and two cats and enjoys swimming, yoga and pottering about the garden when the sun is shining.
I asked Janice to tell us about her family's festive traditions
Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they?
My first tradition is a bit odd! Our Christmas dinner MUST have mashed carrot and swede on the plate, even though I dislike swede and my husband dislikes both carrot and swede! We always have my in-laws round on Christmas day, and usually one or more of our four adult kids and their other halves, and they mostly like it ok. I do eat it, and it’s better than swede on its own, which I would never touch, but I can’t seem to let go of this one tradition from my childhood! Christmas dinner wouldn’t be the same without that colourful addition!
The only other tradition is a glass or two of sherry while I’m cooking Christmas dinner. I never drink it any other time but it helps with the stress of serving everything while it’s still hot.
When do you open your Christmas presents?
Always in the morning. Nowadays, with no young children in the house, it’s after breakfast, helped along by a glass or two of champagne (which again warms me up nicely for cooking the dinner!). When I was young—and when my own children were young—the presents were always attacked before breakfast, at some unearthly hour in the morning!
If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be?
Ooh, interesting. I would love to chat to Jane Austen, but not over Christmas lunch, I think. I’d love to have JK Rowling as a guest. I’m in total awe of her imagination and would love to discuss naming characters with her – I always find names incredibly difficult to decide upon, and so many of her names are fabulous! Mind you, I’d probably be tongue-tied and all fan-girly!
What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking?
It’s already on my wishlist – Snowdrift and Other Stories, the short story collection by Georgette Heyer.
What is the most unusual Christmas present you’ve ever had/given?
I’m the world’s least imaginative present-giver, I’m afraid. I really struggle to come up with anything unusual or unique. As for gifts received, my son and daughter-in-law once gave me a lovely pendant that had a few lines from my second novel in it. One of my most memorable presents was in 1965 when I was 9, living in the suburbs and horse-mad. I begged and begged for a book called Horses of the World by Daphen Machin Goodall, that I’d seen in WH Smith. It cost £2.10s in old money (£2.50 today)—which seemed a vast amount of money to me. I was thrilled to open my present on Christmas morning to find the book inside, and I still have it. I think its condition bears testament to how loved and well-read that book has been over the years!
Website - www.janicepreston.co.uk
Facebook Author Page - https://www.facebook.com/janice.preston.author/
Twitter handle - @janicegpreston
Amazon Author page - http://bit.ly/JPAuthor
Thanks for dropping by, Janice.
Thanks again for having me Karen. Your questions have put me right in the mood for Christmas. Bring it on, and Happy Christmas everyone!
Bring a little sunshine into your life!
Sassy, feel good romance by Karen King. Just right to cosy up with on cold winter nights. Published by Accent Press