How the Duke Stole Christmas by Award-Winning Author @alannalucas27 #ChristmasinJulyFete #giveaway #
How the Duke Stole Christmas
Can the magic of Christmas melt his frozen heart?
Theodore Winslow, Duke of Greystone, has no wish to celebrate Christmas, but he’s returning to his ancestral home for his widowed mother’s sake. Knowing her mission is to secure him a wife, he’ll be keeping his heart on ice—better that than to have it repeatedly broken.
Patience Leybourne is spending Yuletide at Castle Greystone, hoping to revive the happiness of family Christmases past. When she’s asked by the Dowager Duchess to do the decorations, she’s delighted. But the next morning she finds her mistletoe and garlands torn down. Who could be so lacking in festive spirit?
It’s the Duke of Greystone himself who’s destroyed Patience’s efforts to bring cheer. And there’s no comfort or joy in realizing he’s the mystery man whom she so passionately kissed at a masked ball. How will she manage to endure his company all the way through to Twelfth Night—when that fiery attraction is still burning between them?
Castle Greystone rose proudly from a bluff, the rough countryside at its back mocking Greystone as he neared the house, memories flooding his mind; painful memories that had not died with the ones that had betrayed him.
The walls around his heart, around his soul, stood firm. He would not let anyone penetrate those walls, especially after what occurred at Lady Trumble’s ball two months prior. For one brief moment, he’d believed he could let his guard down, that he could find happiness again. One waltz with a blue-eyed beauty had tempted him in a way he’d never thought possible.
Not just a waltz. That moonlit kiss had been his undoing, but then…
He had been festering for months over what had happened that evening. Between the gossip and whispers—and Miss Leybourne’s deceitfulness—he had found no peace. More than anything, he regretted arguing with his mother that very night. In the heat of the moment he’d spewed awful lies.
“Mother, do whatever suits you. I just don’t care. I will not be returning to Castle Greystone. Not for Great Aunt June’s eightieth birthday celebration. Not even for Christmastide.” His spiteful words echoed in his ears as they ate away at him, one syllable at a time.
Truth be told, he did care. That’s why he had to return home, to prove to her—and himself—that he could care. He knew she was just as hurt as he was, but he didn’t know how to make it better. It had always been simpler to keep his feelings buried deep and keep his distance.
The wind whipped at his back, pushing him home as the rain pelted his face, jeering at his poor decision to embark on this journey on such a miserable day. But he had left himself no choice with all the procrastinating he’d done over the past week as to whether he should or should not come.
Karl’s hooves sank in the slushy mud slowing their pace. He rubbed his mount’s saturated neck, urging him on. They would be at Castle Greystone within the hour and he would ensure the horse was well-rewarded.
He’d just entered the stable yard when he was met by one of the stable lads. “Your Grace, we were not expecting…” His words came in short apologetic spurts.
Greystone dismounted, tossed the reins to the groom, and stormed off to the house. The terrible weather and delayed arrival had put him in a foul mood. It was better for him not to speak rather than lash out. Since the hour was late, he would not disturb his mother tonight. Besides, after a hot bath and a good night’s sleep, he would be better company.
The force of the wind pushed the door wide, revealing his rather shocked butler. “Your Grace,” Boris said, trying to contain his surprise.
The moment he went into the entry hall he knew something was amiss, and it wasn’t just that he detested this house and all the memories within it that continued to taunt him. He inhaled deeply and was met with the crisp scent of evergreen. He detested Christmastide. He detested the whole damn season. He stormed in the direction of the odor, with Boris on his heels.
“We were not expecting…and Her Grace…”
Greystone waved his hand to silence the butler. “Who did this?” He growled as he entered the Great Hall. He knew very well his mother would not go against his wishes and have the house decorated, not after all these years.
Dread sank into his gut.
Was she ill? That would be the only reason she would defy his wishes.
He did not wait for Boris to respond. “I want it all taken down tonight. I do not want even a trace of mistletoe left behind.” His growl rumbled through the hall. He reached up and tore down a long garland. “All of it.”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
Greystone glared about the room. Every strand of ivy, every ribbon, every decoration goaded him, reminding him of all that he had lost.
His eyes focused on a shimmering red ribbon perfectly tied around a garland draped across the large mantle. The image of a blonde-haired beauty with charcoal eyes flashed through his mind. A warm summer’s day, deep dimples, and a sweet smile still provoked him after all these years. He strolled to the mantle, grasped the red bow and ripped it down. Greenery, broken branches, and torn ribbon flitted to the floor. He did not want to remember.
He stormed to the side table, pulled the stopper from the decanter, and poured a healthy serving of brandy. He downed the amber liquid in one burning swallow that settled into the depths of his stomach. He just wanted everything to go away, decorations and all.
What I love most about the holiday season:
Spending time with family, but that’s not reserved for just the holiday season. One of my favorite traditions is decorating the tree with my kids while my husband makes a special dinner.
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Alanna Lucas grew up in Southern California, but always dreamed of distant lands and bygone eras. From an early age she took interest in art, history, and travel, and enjoys incorporating those diversions into her writing. Alanna makes her home in California where she spends her time writing historical romances, dreaming of her next travel destination, and spending time with family.
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