Exclusive excerpt from Twelve Nights of Scandal!
I'm excited to share Twelve Nights of Scandal with the world in just a couple of weeks! This is a Regency Christmas novella featuring a heroine who becomes reacquainted with her (deceased) brother's best friend, Finlay Weston. The problem? He's about to become engaged to Amity's beloved cousin, Holly--who is *not* interested in a man she finds as dull as dust. But is it wrong for Amity to desire the man her cousin intends to reject? Stick around for a holiday scandal!
You'll get Holly's story next year in Twelve Nights of Ruin, which will appear in an anthology with my fellow Haute Ton Reader Society authors. Find us over on Facebook to get updates and sneak peeks!
How dare he.
Amity gazed around the other guests as she tried to put the unsettling contact with Finlay Weston out of her mind. The party included sixteen adults and nine children, whom at the moment were outside sledding under the watchful eyes of the nursemaid and two footmen. Seven of the adults were unmarried.
Six geese a-laying. Five golden rings. Amity’s mouth curved up at her unvoiced wit. She examined her prospects. Mr. Lunt, despite his unfortunate name, was her best bet. He owned property in Lancashire and was not an unattractive man if one overlooked his inability to carry a tune and trend toward baldness. As married names went, Amity Lunt did have a lumbering quality to it, however.
Her next best prospect was Mr. Aimes, a short man with a prominent forehead and a hairline that appeared to be running away from his face as quickly as possible. Although Mr. Aimes had a much better singing voice than Mr. Lunt, his laugh had the harsh bray of a donkey. He held a decent living as a vicar. Marrying Mr. Aimes wouldn’t offer a much better living than what she had now, but Amity knew how to scrimp and save. She could set aside a few shillings for her sisters.
Still. Amity Aimes was an infelicitous name at best.
Her final option was Mr. Tillet. Quiet. Sober. Inscrutable. Amity didn’t enjoy his presence enough to consider him for any reason beyond the pecuniary. He never laughed. He rarely smiled—and if he couldn’t find a reason to smile at Christmas, Amity didn’t have the heart to tie herself to such a dour man for the rest of eternity. She had promised her mother to try and find a husband, and Amity resolved to do so.
The only other unmarried man in the room was Mr. Finlay “Poker-Arse” Weston, and he was not an option. How dare he.
How dare Finn touch her breasts, even for the most innocuous reason? The memory of Finn’s tall form at her back and his large hands brushing intimately against her body sent confusion churning through her. Amity didn’t appreciate the way her skin heated at the slightest glimpse of Finn’s broad back from across the room. She managed the problem by avoiding looking at him as much as possible. Finn hoped to marry Holly. Holly wanted to marry a lord something-or-other she’d met in London.
What did she want?
“Amity?” Holly looked at her expectantly. Lost in thought, Amity hadn’t noticed her cousin’s offer of a small parcel.
“Oh!” Amity said, recovering herself. Holly’s bright blue eyes met hers. “Thank you.” She had dreaded this moment. Amity had stitched a small square of linen left from the bedsheets with Holly’s initials and a sprig of greenery beneath. She had traded her share of the egg money for wool thread; silk being out of the question. She had been too ashamed to give it to Holly, once she saw Holly’s collection of three reticules perched on a shelf in her wardrobe. “I didn’t realize there was to be a gift exchange. I left mine in your bedroom.”
“No matter. Go on. Open it.” Holly clapped her gloved hands. Her curls danced. In her white dress with green and gold accents she looked like a perfect match for Finn. He sat across the room near the fire, his legs parted as he leaned back in his chair. Amity swallowed. He had definitely grown into his ears. And his legs. Finn had always been taller than she and Ellis. Amity didn’t like the slippery, hollow ache that looking at him produced in her. She didn’t want to want him. Not when she could never have him. Finn was destined for her cousin, and Amity’s loyalty to Holly overrode whatever this temporary feeling for her old friend was called. An infatuation, that was the term. Amity lifted the heavy rectangular box lid with apprehension.
“A writing set,” she breathed. A stack of thick paper as soft as her ruined dress lay in the tray. A goose quill and wax-sealed pot of ink lay in the tray, along with an unused block of sealing wax. Amity stroked the wood. It must have cost a month’s worth egg money. Two months, even. “Holly, I’m speechless.”
“No more ridiculous scraps of paper, scatterbrain. I want proper letters from you all next year.” Holly clapped her hands. Amity bounced out of her chair to embrace her cousin.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Near the mantle, Finn’s dark gaze sent heat through Amity’s entire body. She narrowed her eyes at him and broke contact, yet warmth streaked through her and pooled in her belly.
Holly didn’t want him.
Amity swallowed. Amity Weston had a nice ring to it.
How dare she?
Preorder now - exclusive on Kindle Unlimited starting December 1, 2019!