Celebrate with me: the upcoming release of my Christmas novella, which, as part of Ellora's Cave's Blush Cotillion Christmas Traditions series, will be released digitally and in a print anthology with other Christmas traditions stories! What do you think of the cover? I have to say—I think it rocks!
A Twelfth Night Tale
by Susana Ellis
Cotillion Christmas Traditions
Release Date: November 21, 2013
About A Twelfth Night Tale
Without dowries and the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. But when the eldest attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, suddenly it seems as though Fate is smiling upon them.
Lucy knows that she owes it to her younger sisters to encourage Lord Bexley's attentions, since marriage to a peer will secure their futures as well as hers. The man of her dreams has always looked like Andrew Livingston, her best friend's brother. But he's always treated her like a child, and, in any case, is betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to put away childhood dreams and accept reality.
Andrew has returned from the Peninsula with more emotional scars to deal with than just the lame arm. Surprisingly, it's his sister's friend “Little Lucy” who shows him the way out of his melancholy. He can't help noticing that Lucy's grown up into a lovely young woman, but with an eligible viscount courting her, he'll need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself. (178)
Jane was chatty as usual, prattling on about the wedding, her latest letter from Theodore and the coming events for the Christmas holidays.
“We are expecting you all at our house for Christmas dinner as usual,” Lucy broke in. “Mama has a new recipe for plum pudding and she’s anxious to see what you think of it.”
The Livingstons had been guests of the Barlows for every Christmas dinner since Mrs. Livingston’s death. Jane and Andrew’s mother had been a wonderful hostess and a great advocate for the Yuletide traditions, and after she had passed away, Mrs. Barlow had begun the practice of sharing the family Christmas with their good friends and neighbors. There was never a dull moment in a household with five such lively daughters as the Barlow girls, and the Livingstons were not allowed the luxury of brooding over the past during a time of year meant to be joyful.
“Yes indeed,” piped up Mr. Livingston. “Your mother sets a fine table and it’s always a pleasure to be among so many pretty young lasses, is it not, Andrew?”
“Most assuredly,” said Andrew, with an appreciative smile at Lucy. “If Miss Barlow here is any indication, the Barlow girls must be growing up quite agreeably.”
Lucy flushed. “You must come to the church tomorrow night for the Christmas Eve pageant,” she put forward. “My sisters and I are all in the play, and Jane will need an escort.”
Andrew raised his eyebrows. “You are all five in the play? I don’t recall so many females involved in the nativity.”
Lucy laughed. “I’m the director,” she said. “Laura plays the part of Mary, Lydia is one of the wise men, Louisa is a shepherd, and Lila is a camel.” She grinned. “The script originally called for domestic animals, but Lila being Lila, refused to settle for anything so mundane.”
“Who, then, is the Christ Child?” inquired Andrew after the laughter had subsided.
“Louisa’s cat, Beau,” Lucy told him. “We meant to use the Tadsens’ baby in the beginning, but he wouldn’t stay still and kept crying, so we tried several dogs and cats for the part, and Beau was the most cooperative.”
More smiles circled the table, and Andrew agreed that he would be pleased to escort Jane to the pageant.
“How could I possibly refuse? This production is certain to be the highlight of the county. You should accompany us, Papa,” he said, turning to his father.
“Perhaps I shall,” said Mr. Livingston.
Jane and Lucy excused themselves, leaving the two gentlemen to their port.
“Oh Lucy!” Jane said when they reached the drawing room. “I’ve had the most marvelous idea! Well, it was your doing, really.”
“Me? What did I do?” Lucy was mystified.
“You invited Andrew to the pageant! Brilliant thinking! He’s been holed up in his bedchamber like a grumpy bear for weeks now, even before Cecilia jilted him. We need to get him out of the house. Encourage him to meet other people and stop feeling sorry for himself.”
She gave Lucy a speculative look. “And now that I think about it, you would be the best person to do it. Cheer him up, I mean. I haven’t seen Andrew in such a lively frame of mind since…well, before he went off to war.”
Lucy was horrified…and hopeful. “You want me to be in charge of cheering up Andrew? Why not you? You are his sister.”
“I’ve tried everything I know, and it’s no use. You are with him for an hour and he’s laughed twice!” She grasped Lucy’s shoulder. “Look, I’m not asking you to marry Andrew or anything like that. All you have to do is come for visits, bring your sisters, persuade him to get out of the house, things like that. You can do that, can’t you? For my sake?”
“Well…” said Lucy doubtfully.
“You do like Andrew, don’t you? Want him to regain his spirits?”
“Of course.” That was the problem. She liked him far too much. It wouldn’t do to get her hopes up and then have them dashed to pieces.
“Then it’s settled.”
And in spite of everything, Lucy was glad that it was.
About the Author
A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.
In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.