Saturday 23 December 2017

A Regency Christmas and some Mistletoe. #Christmas #Regency #Romance @wackyjackyful

A Regency  

Jackie Williams


Gathered since the time of druids as a symbol of peace, hope, and harmony, mistletoe became a fun Christmas pastime in more recent times. Although my new Regency romance has preceded the plant’s popularity by some years, it seemed too delightful an opportunity to miss, and so Charlotte, my impetuous heroine of A Gallant Gamble has out-done all her rivals and placed a ball of the lucky charm especially to enable her unmarried friend Elisa to catch every available kiss.

Including one from the deliciously handsome but ostracized, Lord Jeremy Rookwood.

A short excerpt from
Innocent Indiscretions
(Unrivalled Regency book 7)

Elisa straightened her shoulders as she and Charlotte walked down the wide staircase and into the ballroom. She couldn’t think of rejection at a time like this, her friends had been too generous. They had cared for her unconditionally. She had no right to be upset. And she wasn’t.

She caught sight of her reflection in the mirror over the fireplace. The diamonds about her throat glittered in the light of a hundred candles. So extravagant, so uncalled for, and yet impossible to reject.

Another diamond, altogether different, glistened on her eyelash, but she instantly blinked it away. This was her first ball, her coming out. Nothing would spoil this wonderful day. She would not cry, even if her tear was one of happiness.

She would be twenty-one in less than a week. She was cared for, looked after, even loved. For she refused to doubt that those who had taken her in loved her. They must. No one could be this kind, could give so generously without feeling something.

Yes, she had been reckless, stupid even, but had she deserved to be sold, cast out of her family home and onto the charity of others? No! She refused to believe that the impulsive actions of a sixteen year old could be seen as so deliberately wanton. She had been innocent, naive, excited, and perhaps a little reckless, but none of those things warranted her banishment. 

“Champagne, my Lady.” A footman bowed his head as he held out the tray.

She smiled and took a glass, bringing it to her lips as she surveyed the ballroom. It had been transformed throughout the day and now scents of spiced oranges and rosemary boughs blended with an array of festive colour. Candles decorated with ribbons and bows adorned the fireplace. The champagne bubbles tickled her nose.

“Thank you, Mr. Forbes.”

The footman returned her smile as he spoke again.

“And might I add birthday felicitations.”

She sipped again.

“A little too soon, but I thank you all the same.” It was her coming out and her twenty first was only five days away. The ball was to celebrate both occasions.

The rustle of silks at the door drew their attention as Charlotte appeared carrying a ball of mistletoe.

“Forbes! Excellent. Just the person I need to see. Would you mind?” She pointed up to the doorway as she held out a pin.

Forbes placed his tray on the credenza.

“Of course, my Lady.” He looked sceptically up at the doorway. “I hate to pour cold water on your idea, but I think even I am going to need a stool.” He reached up speculatively, his not inconsiderable height reaching to within inches of his goal.

Elisa’s eyes widened as she recalled Charlotte telling her of the new Christmas tradition. Kissing beneath the Mistletoe.

“But you cannot put it there. I am to greet my guests just by the entrance. I cannot possibly kiss all who enter.” Her cheeks flamed as she spoke. She had never been kissed by anyone let alone knew how to kiss back.
Charlotte laughed.

“But you could kiss those who deserve one most. Like Lord Jeremy Rookwood.” She ignored Elisa’s sudden gasp of breath. “It will be his first public outing after the death of his father I believe. I suspect he will be as nervous as you and could do with a little encouragement.”

“Charlotte!” Elisa’s cry was as heated as her cheeks. “I am not going to kiss Lord Rookwood. Or any other man. It would be too unseemly.” Her lips trembled at the thought as Forbes stretched up onto his toes and managed to pin the berried ball to the doorframe, but she had no time for further protests as several things happened at once.

Music struck up as a crowd hurried in through the door at the other end of the ballroom. Alexander, Duke of Ormond and his wife, Lily, resplendent in understated elegance led the parade. Giles Denvers and his wife, Lady Anne, followed, and other close friends gathered behind.

A gust of wind made the hundreds of candles flicker as another footman threw the front door of the house open and the first guests began to be announced. Charlotte grabbed Elisa’s hand and pulled her into her place just as Sir Geoffrey, Charlotte’s husband appeared at their side. The next few minutes were a whirlwind of names and charming faces, silk dresses and jewels. Elisa wasn’t sure that she would remember half of the guests, let alone all.

Her smile never left her face as well wishers either kissed her hand or her cheek. She bobbed so many curtsey’s in return for salutations, she wasn’t sure that her knees would be strong enough to stand dancing, but the line eventually trailed away as the last guests arrived and she turned back into the ballroom.

She couldn’t help glancing up as she walked through the doorway, surprised to see the mistletoe ball almost denuded of berries, but Forbes’ grin told her of his ruse. Between many giggles and much laughter, he had handed out sprigs for the guests to kiss beneath.

“There is but one berry left, Miss, but Lord Jeremy Rookwood is yet to arrive.”

The blush which had left her cheeks returned rapidly.

“Perhaps he is not going to come, though you need not keep the berry on my behalf. Perhaps you would like to keep it for your own enjoyment with Mrs. Forbes.” She laughed as the smile left Forbes’ lips and his hollow cheeks paled.

“No indeed, my Lady!” His eyes widened in apparent horror. “Ah! There is the door once again! The last berry will not be wasted after all.” He spun round in relief as the bell clanged, but stopped dead at the under footman’s words.

‘Lord Rowallan, and Lord Albert Trevallian.’

Geoffrey Talbot’s steady hand at Elisa’s elbow stopped her dropping to the floor as her long estranged father and his aging, bewhiskered friend were announced.

Lord Rowallan gave an infinitesimal bow of his head.

 “Sir Geoffrey. I am afraid that your invitation arrived too late for a response. My wife is unable to attend, but I hope you don’t mind me introducing a distinguished friend.” The man ignored his own daughter completely.

Geoffrey’s brows creased as Lord Trevallian stepped forwards. He hadn’t met the man before, but he had heard the rumours. Three marriages. Three young brides. Three tragic deaths. He stared for a long moment, assessing the man. Tall, but not particularly heavy set. Old, definitely, but clearly fit. A hard blue stare, his eyelids never blinking. The hairs at Geoffrey’s nape stood on end, but his innate good manners came to the fore and he returned the slight bow.

“I don’t believe we have had the honour, Lord Trevallian.” He acknowledged the older man.

Lord Trevallian’s icy eyes travelled over Elisa, lingering on her décolletage for far longer than was polite. He glanced back at Geoffrey when the ensuing silence became uncomfortable.

“No indeed, Sir Geoffrey, but I am here to remedy that omission on this happy occasion.” He leaned forward and grabbed Elisa’s gloved hand. His thin lips brushed the lace and Elisa recoiled as a waft of foul breath touched her wrist. She trembled at Geoffrey’s side. Geoffrey’s frown deepened.

“Yes, a joint coming out, Christmas, and twenty first birthday are an excellent excuse for a small party.”

Lord Rowallan lifted his chin.

“And an engagement too. My friend is here to announce his betrothal.”
Geoffrey bowed once again.

“My felicitations, Lord Trevallian. Might I ask who your bride might be, and if she will be joining our party too?”

Lord Trevallian’s high pitched snigger set his cigar stained whiskers quivering.

“But you jest, Sir. Of course she will be joining us. She is already here.”
Geoffrey glanced towards the gathered guests who looked on from the ballroom with some interest.

“I am all agog. Who can you possibly mean?”

His Lordship raised his bushy eyebrows and waggled them dramatically as he stared at Elisa.

“Why, Miss Rowallan, of course! We have been betrothed for some time but her father thought this the perfect opportunity to make our engagement public.”

Geoffrey let out a great bellow of laughter as he glanced at Elisa.

“Ah, my Lord, your jest is a good one, but you must be three times her age. This is Christmas, not April Fools. Come, let me introduce you to the rest of Elisa’s guests and perhaps you can find a more suitable prospect there.” He attempted to turn the elderly man towards the ballroom, but Lord Rowallan intervened.

“I see that my daughter has not told you of her situation. I don’t know why I should be surprised. Elisa has always thought she knows best.” He narrowed his eyes at Elisa and smoothed his hair as a gust of air ruffled it. “She has been betrothed to Lord Trevallian since her fifteenth birthday. They will be married in five days time on the eve of her twenty-first.”
Elisa stepped back, her hand pressed against her throat in horror.

“No, father! You cannot mean to marry me off to him. I absolutely refuse.”

Lord Rowallan looked down his long nose.

“I see you have not learned to control yourself during your years of exile, but regardless of your lack of propriety, you cannot refuse. You have not yet reached your majority. Until your birthday on Christmas day, you will bow to my will.”

Lord Trevallian smiled and showed a row of crooked, yellow teeth. He tapped a bony finger on Geoffrey’s arm.

“Sir Geoffrey, Miss Rowallan has known of this arrangement for a long time. It can be of no surprise to her and I wonder that she has never mentioned my interest to you, but I have waited as long as I can. We must be married this Christmas eve.”

Furious at Lord Rowallan’s presumption after five years of ignoring his only daughter, Geoffrey shook the reptile’s clasping hand from his jacket and was about to show both men the door, when a movement caught his eye.

It seemed that another late guest had been allowed in. The newcomer approached the startled group, sliding his coat from his shoulders and handing it to Forbes. Forbes raised an eyebrow at the man, glanced quickly at his master’s sudden smile, and shoved his foot against the ballroom door as he handed the new guest something back.

Tawny haired and long limbed, Lord Jeremy Rookwood strode across the hallway and stood in front of Elisa. He bowed over her hand and then held up a small sprig of leaves attached to a lone white berry.

“Jeremy?” He had come! “It must be five years.” She wasn’t sure that her eyes deceived her.

Jeremy smiled gently and reached out to touch her cheek.

“Five years too long, Elisa.” He growled before dipping his head and covering the astonished woman’s mouth with his own.

Jackie Williams
I was born in Essex England during the mid sixties but I missed all the fun. Being only young, I assumed that all Beatles were six legged creatures and Flower Power was something to do with the vigorous way my mother kneaded the bread dough.

My wonderful parents brought me up with a huge love of books. We read anything and everything. Bedtime stories were a treasured time of adventure and mystery. My sister and I sat wide eyed in wonder and to this day I worry about Dinah and Dorinda being pricked with pins because they grew so fat, and I never pull faces at the a waning moon (or was it a waxing one?) just in case my chops stay that way . (The Wind On The Moon)

I began reading romance while still at school. The fuel for many a teenage fantasy leapt from between the covers of wildly romantic books and my passion still lingers now for all those dark haired heroes.

My own beautiful teenage daughter persuaded me to write my first romance. She was only fourteen at the time and between books for children and adults. She couldn't find anything that ticked all her numerous and particular boxes and so she asked me to write a book, with all the exact ingredients just for her. Though not just a book for teens, she enjoyed the resulting tale so much that she shared it with her friends and I eventually published A Perfect Summer as an ebook on amazon.

But I have discovered that writing is not easily stopped once you start. It has turned into a grand passion that I just cannot hold back. The fingertips start tapping the keys and ideas suddenly come flooding, far too many for just one book and so I began another and then another, and I am still nowhere near done.

I hope you enjoy all of my efforts and I look forward to your comments and reviews.

If you are interested in finding out more, you can see what I get up to at:

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  1. I can not wait to read this book! Fabulous excerpt!

    1. Thank you! So glad you love it. Mistletoe is so festive!

  2. Oh, my! I was so caught up in the excerpt that I forgot about the mistletoe! I'm off to go make a purchase, since I have to find out what happens next. Wonderful post, Jackie! Merry Christmas!

    1. I love mistletoe. Always hopeful of a kiss!

      Innocent Indiscretions will be out in January. The rest of the Unrivalled Series beginning with Silence of Scandal (all standalone mystery romance sotries) are available now. They are best read in order to appreciate returning characters and places.

  3. Is this book out, Jackie? I couldn't see it on Amazon!!

    1. Innocent indiscretions will be out in January. The rest of the series is available now in both ebook and paperback. Xx

  4. I shall look out for it them!! Happy Christmas, Jackie!

  5. Another series to put on my to read list!!

  6. Brilliant read, Jackie! Clever woman, you ;-)


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx