This is a tale of a wicked Marquis; wicked in the sense that women chase him and he never runs away. Jason's rejected a family-planned marriage when the girl was only seven and not at all interesting. Now he sees Abigail at a ball and everything changes. But she spurns him, much to his surprise. And he's well and truly caught.
She's in terrible danger, and must fight not only the man she's growing to admire, but a wicked guest at the house party who has rape on his mind.
Here's an excerpt from when she's starting to think he's not so terrible after all!
"As she stood at the window she saw a few flakes of snow drifting down, and she smiled in delight. Of course! There had to be snow at Xmas. Too much would spoil it for those who spent a lot of time riding, but the skies didn’t look too threatening. An inch or two would be absolutely perfect. Pulling on her walking boots and grabbing a heavy shawl, she headed down the backstairs and out the kitchen door. Jason had given his assent to a decorated house, and she meant to make this mansion of his the most festive of any he could imagine.
She had no sooner set foot outside the back door and taken a deep breath of the frosty air before she spotted Jason, sitting on a bench and staring into space. He did not even notice her at first, and she went to stand directly in front of him.
“Blue-deviled, my lord? Come help me look for some mistletoe. I trust you have some on this vast property?”
For a long moment he didn’t answer. Then he rose smoothly to his feet, although his eyes pierced her with a look she didn’t even try to interpret. He was proving to be so much more complicated than she’d expected. He definitely wasn’t completely pleasure-seeking, as she’d thought, but she had no idea what motivated him.
He looked down at his riding boots.
“Are these enough do you think? I can ask Mrs. Tuttle is there are any galoshes.”
Abigail laughed. “I’m ahead of you, my lord. She has already collected dozens of them, although I don’t know from where. All your guests will need them tomorrow when we start bringing in the greenery. For now I just want to tramp the property and see if I can spot some mistletoe for the footmen to gather tomorrow.”
His smile was tight, but better than his expression of a short while ago.
“If I recall one Christmas I spent here while growing up, they had mistletoe in the servants’ hall. Of course we never actually decorated the main quarters. But there must be some on the property.”
Abigail felt a pang of pity she didn’t want to feel. So he’d been a lonely boy. No doubt he’d been so arrogant nobody wanted to play with him.
“Then come ahead, my lord. I think this might take a while, if you can spare the time and the energy.”
He grinned at her.
“Ah, at last. A tiny barb. I was beginning to worry.”
She opened her mouth to reply, then turned away and started stalking ahead of him. The snow was only about and inch or two deep, and she walked rapidly, stopping every now and then to cast her gaze up to the treetops. Suddenly she grabbed his arm and shrieked.
“There, Jason, that big tree to the left.”
He’d stopped still. “You called me Jason.”
She dropped his arm as if it were a live coal.
“I apologize, my lord. I fear that’s how I thought of you as a child. Before you became a horrid creature called Jad.”
He took her face in both his hands. “I would be so honored if you would always call me Jason. Please tell me you will. With you, I don’t want to be Jad.”
His eyes were boring into hers as if her answer was the most important thing in his life."
Do comment, I love to know what readers are thinking. I'll give away one copy of Xmas with the Marquis, if you'll just tell me how you like Regencies and Xmas stories..
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