September 25, 2012
sequel to the Brides of Fortune Series
Lady Lydia Cole is twice ruined, having given birth to a child out of wedlock. With baby Eliza she starts a new life in Wales as the landlady of The Silent Wench Inn in the town of Newport. The last thing she wants is to find the new Baron Newport taking an interest in her affairs.
John, Viscount Jerrold, has been in love with Lydia for years and now that he is the new Baron of Newport he can at last woo her as he desires. But Lydia's heart has been broken twice before and she will not trust him easily. Can the magic of Christmas heal her heart and finally bring the two of them together?
On a Wicked Winter Night
A novella by Nicola Cornick
He was staring at her in blank astonishment.
“Lydia?” He said.
That neatly answered the question she had not quite dared to pose in her own mind, the question of whether Johnny had come to find her. He had not. Of course he had not. Four years before, she had rejected his offer of marriage. He would not be looking for her in order to renew it.
Lydia’s heart did a sad little flop down into her slippers and she was powerless to help it.
“Mrs Cole,” she corrected him with just the faintest hint of hauteur.
His brows rose. “You never were that.”
“I am now.”
His blue gaze was quizzical on her face. “Did you marry your cousin?”
“I don’t have one. As well you know.” He knew her family tree as well as she knew his.
“I thought you might have found one down the wrong side of the blanket.” Fully in control of the situation now, Johnny strolled across to her with all the insolent grace she remembered. He put one hand under her chin and lifted her face to his. Those blue eyes appraised her thoroughly. The touch of his fingers against her skin made her tingle. She wanted to pull away but knew she could not, not without betraying too much of her feelings. Her face warmed beneath his scrutiny.
“You look well, Lydia.” He was smiling now, that slow smile that she knew. Her cheeks heated. Her pulse tripped. She stepped back.
“I am well. Thank you.”
“And how is Eliza?”
Lydia felt touched that Johnny had asked after her daughter. So many people had wanted to pretend that the child, the proof of her mother’s fall from grace, did not exist. Not Johnny. He sounded as though he cared about her answer. He did care. She knew that. He had offered her the protection of his name out of sheer kindness. Which was one of the many reasons she had had to refuse him.
“Eliza is well too,” she said. “She is happy here.” She felt a clutch of fear. No one in Newport knew about Eliza’s illegitimacy. They all thought her a widow. If Johnny said anything the fragile security she had built for herself and her daughter would be shattered and they would have to start all over again. She was not sure she could bear that.
She drew in a deep breath to calm herself. Johnny would never give her away. Besides, he could only be travelling through. He would be gone soon.
“What are you doing here?” She knew she sounded abrupt.
“I might ask you the same question.” Johnny had started to unfasten his soaking jacket. Lydia, who had seen him wearing considerably fewer clothes than this over the years, nevertheless felt her throat dry to sand.
“I am the landlady of the Silent Wench,” she said. Her voice sounded odd, squeaky and husky at the same time. She cleared her throat. “This is my inn.”
She saw Johnny’s hands check on the buttons. “How enterprising you are.” He looked up. “Did you choose the name? And the sign board?”
Laughter crept into his eyes. “Your sense of humour. I like it.” The smile fled. “We all wondered where you had gone after Eliza was born.” He straightened, his hands falling to his sides. “I suppose you told Laura and Dexter and the others where you were?”
“I… Yes.” Lydia could feel what was coming. She could feel his hurt.
“But not me.” His voice was carefully devoid of expression. “I thought that we were friends.”
“We were!” Lydia stopped. They had been friends but that had changed when Johnny had offered to marry her. His offer, her refusal, had changed everything. “I didn’t…” She floundered, searching for the words that would mend, not cause further hurt.
“You didn’t trust me?” Johnny supplied the explanation with lethal politeness.
End of Excerpt. Like It? Order It!
"The Chicago Tribune calls Mischief and Mistletoe 'a stellar anthology'!"
— Chicago Tribune • Read the full review
"Eight wonderful authors write eight delicious Regency stories"
— My Book Addiction Reviews • Read the full review
"Touching, gently funny, satisfying and short enough to be read in one sitting, each story in this delectable anthology is a holiday treat."
— The Library Journal
"Heart-warming... A sweet gift for the reader."
— Publishers Weekly
"Romantic, passionate, humorous and exciting!"
— Romantic Times
"Intensely emotional... A story filled with genuine passion and an extremely determined hero"
— Single Titles
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