One Christmas With The Earl
(The Seldon Park Christmas Novellas Book 1)
December 23 â January 3
About the Book:
It's the Christmas season and Lady Amelia St. Vincent, spinster sister of the Devil Duke of Enwright, finds herself in something of a quandary. While attending Lord Raynecourt's annual holiday house party she has been relentlessly pursued by a veritable army of men after her hand in marriage. Not to mention her obscenely sizeable dowry. She is at her wit's end when the dashing Lord Fitzherbert Frost, the current Earl of Houghton, appears as if by magic and comes to her rescue, saving her from yet another fortune hunter.
Now paired with Lord Frost during a rather absurd treasure hunt through the manor house, Amelia must decide if she is willing to trade one night in the earl's bed for a lifetime of ruination. Or whether the magical power of love can melt even the frostiest of hearts before it is too late.
This 36,300-word novella, which is a companion piece to the "Tales From Seldon Park" series, is written in the modern, Regency romance style for a slightly hotter and sexier read. It may not be appropriate for younger audiences.
He turned back to look at Mellie now, his blue eyes dark like a stormy sea at night, so rich and vivid with color that she thought she might drown in them. "I was six and twenty when she left me. And she was not the first to do so either, though she was the first to do so in such dramatic fashion. There is simply something decidedly unlovable about me. Women might desire me, they might crave my body, but they do not love me. There can be no other explanation." Fitz knew he was being brutally honest - perhaps too honest - but he knew of no other way to be.
To his shock, Mellie snorted in derision and clutched her hand tighter around his arm. "And that, my lord, is a lot of nonsense."
He raised an eyebrow, his expression dark. "You think so?" His voice was a whisper.
"I know so," she tossed back quietly as she handed him the book of poetry once more. "You were simply with the wrong women. All of them. When the right one appears, she will love you just as you are. And you will love her in return. There will be desire and passion, yes, but there will be love as well. And I also feel certain that you will have no trouble conversing with her."
"And Roslyn and the others?"
Mellie tossed her head. "That was desire, Fitz. Nothing more. They were not the correct women for you."
"Yes, well forgive me my cynicism, but I am getting rather on in years. And I have long since accepted that I will have to trade love in exchange for heirs. And sooner rather than later." He shrugged. "My parents had an arranged marriage. Many of my friends still do. Perhaps that would not have been such a bad thing." He stroked the cover of the book again gently and she saw a sad light creep into his eyes. "But my father gave me free choice before he passed. For my siblings, he arranged their marriages, but for me? He told me to select my bride on my own, that as the future earl, I deserved a different sort of happiness considering the burdens I would be forced to shoulder. Perhaps he should not have done so."
Mellie couldn't say why Fitz's father, the previous Lord Houghton, had done such a thing. She knew why her father had done so for her, however. And it was that bit of wisdom that she offered him.
"Or perhaps your father knew that a man like you would never be satisfied with a bride he did not choose, just as my father knew I would never be satisfied with such a husband. There was far too much of my mother in me for his liking at times." She tugged him away from the window and into the warmth of the room before leaning back against one of the soft leather chairs that dotted the Raynecourt library. She allowed the silence to float between them for a long moment. "Or perhaps he knew the sting of a love forever lost because of duty and honor. But whatever the reason, he gave you a choice, and that is not something many men in your position are granted. You should be glad of it. You should use the opportunity to find love. Not run from it."
In the quiet stillness of the library, Fitz considered Mellie's words. She was right, in a way. He had been given a gift. But his lack of social skills when it came to women had held him back for so long. In fact, Mellie was the first woman he could converse with freely, though he had no idea why that was. Perhaps because he felt comfortable with her. Or maybe it was simply because he was not trying so hard for once, partly because he did not think he truly had a chance with her. Though she was beautiful, she was also very different from the other debutantes he had encountered over the years. She, too, had seen a great deal of the world and no longer held the wide-eyed innocence of unbridled youth.
To some men, that might seem like a detriment, but to Fitz, it was an attraction that he could not deny. And there was no denying that he was very, very attracted to Mellie. She must have been attracted to him as well. At least a little. After all, she had kissed him the night before.
And just then, he had a burning need to see if that kiss had been merely a gesture of gratitude or if had been something more. He was hoping very much that it was something more. Something very much like passion.
Around them, time seemed to slow and he could tell by the soft expression in Mellie's eyes that she was under the almost hypnotic spell of the afternoon as well. A fire crackled and hissed merrily in the fireplace, spreading a delicious warmth through the library. Beyond the wavy glass of the windows, the snow continued to fall quietly, blanketing the room in a stillness. In fact, nothing else seemed to be moving within all of Fieldown. It was almost like they were the last two people on earth.
"And what is love, Mellie?" Fitz finally asked, his voice incredibly soft. "Do you know? For I am certain that I do not. I am not sure I ever will. Or is love merely a lie we tell ourselves when all we have ever found is nothing more than fleeting passion? God knows, I have found passion often enough. But never love."
She shook her head. "I don't know what love is. And I, too, am uncertain that I ever will. But I do know that your Lord Byron believed it is something powerful enough to both live and die for. And that it is something beyond ourselves and this world. It is more than passion." She shrugged one elegant shoulder. "It is love. The beginning and end of all things. What more can be said?"
"What more indeed," he whispered as he closed the distance between them. Then without waiting for her reply, Fitz pulled Mellie to him and kissed her deeply.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-christmas-with-the-earl-bethany-sefchick/1122958173?ean=2940150875135
About the Author:
Making her home in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, Bethany Sefchick is a former Emmy-award winning television producer. She lives with her husband, Ed, and a plethora of Betta fish that she's constantly finding new ways to entertain. In addition to writing, Bethany owns a jewelry company, Easily Distracted Designs. When not penning romance novels or creating sparkly treasures, she enjoys cooking, scrapbooking, and lavishing attention on any stray cats who happen to be hanging around.
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