Title: Beautified by Love
Author: Regina Jeffers
Genre: Regency Romance; May-December Romance; Christmas Magic; Contemporary Romance
“Letters from Home”
She is the woman whose letters to another man kept Simon alive during the war. He is the English officer her late Scottish husband praised as being incomparable. Even without the spirit of Christmas, she stirs his soul; in her, his heart whispers of being "home." However, the lady wishes to remain invisible and in her place as her cousin's companion. Can Major Lord Simon Lanford claim Mrs. Faith Lamont as his wife or will his rise to the earldom and his family’s expectations keep them apart?
“Lady Joy and the Earl”
They have loved each other since childhood, but life has not been kind to either of them. James Highcliffe’s arranged marriage had been everything but loving, and Lady Joy’s late husband believed a woman’s spirit was meant to be broken. Therefore, convincing Lady Jocelyn Lathrop to abandon her freedom and consider marriage to him after twenty plus years apart may be more than the Earl of Hough can manage.
Bonus Story: “One Minute Past Christmas”
(from George T. Arnold and Regina Jeffers) An Appalachian grandfather and his granddaughter are blessed with a special ability—a gift that enables them briefly to witness a miraculous gathering in the sky each year at exactly one minute past Christmas. The experience fills them with wonder, but they worry their secret “gift” will end with them because, in forty-four years, no other relative has displayed an inclination to carry it on to a new generation.
Excerpt from Lady Joy and the Earl:
Irritably, she realized she had held her breath until his gaze found hers. A slight smile lifted his lips. Their gaze held for several elongated ticks of the clock. Jocelyn could not look away. She knew she should turn and pretend not to notice his presence; yet, like a ninny, she studied his approach, enjoying the ease with which he moved. He was the one by whom she had judged all other males—not truly allowing herself to think kindly of others, especially her husband. “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself,” her grandmother was fond of saying. Unfortunately, for Jocelyn, James Highcliffe was the man who had broken her young heart.
Jocelyn purposely turned to remind her niece Constance not to appear too eager to greet Lord Hough. “It would be unseemly.”
“But it was kind of his lordship to agree to escort us, Aunt.”
“It was,” Joy reluctantly agreed. When she learned her brother had made arrangements with Lord Hough without consulting her, she was most upset at the prospect of encountering the earl again. She had purposely been in Kent with Lathrop when James Highcliffe had spoken his vows to another, and she was glad for it. Such was the reason she had agreed to an earlier date for her nuptials than the one James had named. Jocelyn knew she was not strong enough to witness his marrying another. “You see Lord Hough often at home?”
“More so since his wife’s death,” Constance explained. “But often enough, at church and such. How long has it been since you encountered Lord Hough?”
“Twenty-two years, four months, and eighteen days,” his lordship responded before Jocelyn could claim her wits about her.
Constance’s mouth stood agape. “How can you be so certain, my lord?”
Lord Hough winked at Constance before presenting Jocelyn’s niece a proper bow, a reminder to Constance to respond accordingly. “I recall clearly, Lady Constance: It was the day Lady Jocelyn married Lord Lathrop, and the viscount spirited away Aberford’s sunshine.”
Jocelyn willed the embarrassment from her cheeks. “Lord Hough bams you, Constance. His lordship possesses a great sense of humor.” The fact the numbers he quoted were accurate to the day of her exchanging her vows with Harrison Lathrop not only surprised her, but irritated her. Lord Hough had walked away from their blossoming romance when he was nineteen and she several months on the other side of sixteen. Two years later, she became Lady Lathrop. Four months later, James married Lady Louisa Connick, a woman he had never courted. For more than two decades, except for one brief encounter after her father’s death, they had never stood in the same room together, certainly never side-by-side.
Before Jocelyn could continue, Lord Sheldon appeared at Constance’s side. “Lady Constance, I believe this is our dance.”
“May I be excused, Aunt?”
“Certainly.” Jocelyn deliberately nodded to Lord Sheldon. “I shall be waiting for my niece’s return.”
Attempting to ignore the very masculine man standing beside her, Jocelyn watched Constance as her niece and Sheldon took their places.
“Would you care to dance, Joy?” Hough asked softly.
Despite her best efforts, Jocelyn’s heart hitched higher just hearing her family’s pet name for her on Hough’s lips.
In a frustrated warning to control her emotions, her eyebrows drew together in a fierce frown. “A chaperone does not dance.”
When she turned to him, his cinnamon-colored eyes presented her a long, slow look. Staring into those eyes, Jocelyn recognized the familiar merriment she had known years prior. “Do you not recall the steps, my lady?” he teased.
“When was the last time you danced, James Highcliffe?” she challenged.
“Your sixteenth birthday,” he said without hesitation.
The idea shocked her. “Surely you and Lady Hough shared a dance upon occasion.”
His brow climbed a fraction. “I am not accustomed to exaggerating when speaking of significant events. I assure you, Louisa and I never danced. My late wife despised the exercise, but I recall your being quite fond of twirling about a dance floor and your being excessively light on your feet and on mine.”
Jocelyn blushed, covered the emotion with a flick of her fan. “Not any longer,” she said tersely. “Girlish fantasies. A woman who has borne two sons can no longer be termed light on her feet.”
Lord Hough leaned closer to whisper in her ear. “Do not fish for compliments, Joy, for you must surely own a looking glass. But if you do not, simply know, in my eyes, you remain the most beautiful woman of my acquaintance.”
“Your lordship—” She meant to caution him against such forwardness, but her eyes landed upon his lips, and all thoughts of anything but whether his kisses remained as exciting as the last time they had shared one filled her head. At length, she managed to say, “The night must be black in order to view the stars, and, I fear, I often stand in the darkness, which is where a woman of my age belongs.”
“Nonsense, he declared. “And I’ll have no reprimands from you on the subject,” he said in what appeared to be bemusement, “or I will be compelled to kiss you into silence.”
Joy struggled against the shiver of desire skittering up her spine. There was a time the man standing before her was her world—a man who had presented her the freedom to be herself. She would not make that mistake again. Lathrop had taught her all the lessons she required about disappointment.
“No kissing, my lord,” she hissed through tight lips. “No cuddling. No dancing. No flirting. I am Constance’s chaperone, and, until my brother’s return, you are our escort. If you are interested in female companionship, I am certain there are many in this ballroom willing to oblige, whether you desire a mistress or a wife.”
His voice, when responding, was both low and demanding. “We will kiss, Lady Lathrop.” His words were deliberately stressed. “And cuddle and flirt and dance. And when I choose a wife, it will be you. I’ll have no mistress—only you, Joy, as the chatelaine of my manor and of my life.”
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Beautified-Love-Regency-Christmas-Novellas/dp/1724004840?keywords=beautified+by+love&qid=1538138770&sr=8-2&ref=sr_1_2 Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NZSBVZ7/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=beautified+by+love+by+regina+Jeffers&qid=1606076335&sr=8-1 Kindle Unlimited https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?passThroughAsin=B08NZSBVZ7&_encoding=UTF8&shoppingPortalEnabled=true
Share a holiday family tradition:
Stir-up Sunday is November 22, 2020. It is when, by tradition, we make the Christmas (or plum) pudding, which is served at the end of a traditional British Christmas supper. Although I am American, 88% of my DNA is found in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The puddings made today reflect more of the Victorian influence than they do the porridge called “frumenty” in the 14th Century.
The pudding is made with 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and His Disciples, and every member of the family must stir the pudding with a wooden spoon, going from east to west, in honor of the Wise Men.
The Sunday before Advent Sunday (the last Sunday of the Church Year) is referred to as Stir-up Sunday. This is because the Collect for the day (the main prayer) in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549. (used in the Anglican churches) says: “Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded...”
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
First, there are two short novels and one short story to entertain the reader. Each has a Christmas theme, and each tells a story of “family” in the truest sense. Most certainly, there are souls who need to be found and need to trust again, for no one is without “baggage”. Yet, each tale will have the reader believing in the pure need of humankind to know love and family.
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Drawing will be held on January 4.
With 50+ books to her credit, Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era-based romantic suspense and historical romances. A teacher for thirty-nine years, Jeffers often serves as a consultant for Language Arts and Media Literacy programs. With multiple degrees, Regina has been a Time Warner Star Teacher, Columbus (OH) Teacher of the Year, and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, as well as a Smithsonian presenter. She has been a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, the Frank Yerby Award for Fiction, the coveted Derby Award for Fiction, the International Digital Awards, and the Chanticleer International Book Award, among her many accolades.
Social Media Links:
Every Woman Dreams https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Austen Authors http://austenauthors.net
YouTube Interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzgjdUigkkU