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Christmas in Crimson by Sandra Sookoo is a Christmas in July Fete pick #regency #holidayromance

Title: Christmas in Crimson (Colors of Scandal #18)

Author: Sandra Sookoo

Genre: Historical romance/Regency/Christmas/holiday romance

Book Blurb:

Nothing says Christmastide like a bit of intrigue, a lost treasure, and an unlikely romance.

When widowed Amelia (Belle) Stanton—Lady Ravenscroft—finds a raggedy military man using her barn as refuge from December rains, she’s not immediately concerned. Returning soldiers often crossed the countryside enroute to other destinations. However, there’s something about the way the handsome man speaks and holds himself that makes her doubt his story, to say nothing about the immediate heat between them.

The Honorable Montague Gabriel Hawkins is not on the attractive widow’s land in the Wiltshire countryside by accident. Sent by the Home Office, he is to reconnoiter and retrieve a valuable painting and other treasures stolen by Napoleon but hidden when it became evident France would lose the war. Once belonging to French royalty, the return of said items would bring a hearty fortune and accolades, but instant desire for the widow might distract him.

When the attempt to keep his mission a secret fails, Hawk is caught up in Christmastide activities. Belle is entirely too intelligent and soon she joins him on the quest. As they uncover clues and are waylaid by a torrid affair that ignites between them, danger follows closely in their footsteps. It’ll take some clever planning and holiday play acting to keep not only the priceless heirlooms safe but also themselves alive. By Christmas night, love might be theirs if luck is on their side.


The Honorable Montague Gabriel Hawkins—Captain Hawkins to the men he’d left behind when he got out of infantry—merely Gabriel to his contemporaries, and Hawk as he’d rather be called, couldn’t risk the chance he’d been followed to the Ravenscroft estate, but even a blind man could see that the cloaked person in his hold was not a rival or an enemy combatant.

It was, in fact, a woman, and the warmth of her seeped into his form. Additionally, she possessed enough curves to tempt a saint, and as the hood of her cloak slipped further down, her wheat blonde hair was visible in the shadows.

Well, damn. Lady Ravenscroft. He’d studied her dossier before ever arriving on this property, knew all about her life and why she resided here, even had committed her appearance to memory along with the rest. Yet at the forefront of his mind was the threat that other men searched for the same thing in this locale he did. Not exactly agents but private investors perhaps or desperate men in search of quick fortunes.

And that had made his current mission for the Home Office all the more difficult.

Then, the deuced woman bit the meaty part on the heel of his hand. Pain streaked up his arm to his elbow.

“Bloody hell.” Though that took him by surprise, as did her elbow to his stomach, which led to him gasping for air, he had the wherewithal to keep hold of her. He did not need her to sneak about asking questions. And from all accounts, she was timid and fearful enough to stay inside the manor, with the exception of her morning walk. That was the way he wished to keep it. However, he hadn’t been a celebrated spy for nothing. Right now, he wanted answers. “What the hell is wrong with you?” he hissed out in an annoyed whisper.

“Me?” So much irritation roiled in that one-word answer it almost made him grin. She squeaked when he roughly turned her about so she faced him in the empty stall but didn’t release his grip on her person. “What sort of man goes around trespassing on property that is not his, and then proceeds to take the owner hostage?” Outrage only someone of the Quality could produce rose in her tone.

Damn but he wished there was stronger illumination in the barn to see the color of her eyes. Though he knew from that dossier they were lake blue, he would have liked to spy them for himself.

“I would think only the best sort—or the worst, depending on your perspective. Besides, I have my reasons.” Outside of what the Home Office knew about her, she was much a stranger, and he wasn’t one to trust easily. The nature of his mission was too important to have it compromised due to her curiosity or interference. “None of which you need to know.” Because she felt so good against him, and it was raining outside, and in the very dim light coming in from the high window to the rear her dark rose lips had parted as if in anticipation, Hawk did the next logical thing that came to mind.

He kissed her. For the space of a few heartbeats, he pressed his lips to hers. A few drops of rain clung to those two warm, soft pieces of flesh, and suddenly he wanted to taste her more fully, for it had been all too long since he’d last indulged. As he slipped his free hand beneath the cloak to glance his gloved fingers along the side of her breast, eventually, Lady Ravenscroft stopped struggling then her tense muscles went pliant, and a tiny sigh escaped her. He grinned. Needing much more, he moved his other hand from the small of her back to her nape, pulled her close to his body, and then set out to kiss her properly.

Instead of finding an on-the-shelf widow or even a wilting lady frightened of her own shadow, which is what the dossier said she was, Hawk had the distinct feeling he’d caught a tiger by the tail. The lady kissed him back with enthusiasm and skill. One of her hands curled into his cravat, and that small tell of enjoyment spurred him onward. Daring much, he moved his lips over hers seeking, exploring, asking… introducing.

It was a fine line he walked, this having a mission and being two steps away from letting this woman, this veritable stranger, distract him from it.

Then she pulled away, stumbled slightly backward, and was all too breathless. “Why the devil did you do that?” Before he could respond, she lifted a gloved hand and slapped his cheek. The sound of the kid connecting with his skin echoed in the suddenly overly quiet barn.

Hell’s bells.

Hawk gaped as he put a hand to his heated cheek. “Why the blazes did you do that?” Not that he hadn’t enjoyed the kiss, but her swift rebuttal rankled.

Immensely enjoyed, if his partially hardened shaft was any proof, and the faint sting of pain from the slap only enhanced that.

“If you have to ask, you are more of an arse than I thought.” Anger wove through the words. She crossed her arms at her chest. Too damn bad the cloak of midnight blue wool she wore hid her body from his view. “Well? What have you to say for yourself?”

What indeed. This woman was quite the managing baggage, and he liked engaging in verbal banter with her. With effort, he reminded himself that he was here on a secret mission for the Crown, and that he had a part to play right now. None of that included trying to worm answers from this woman merely to satisfy his curiosity.

“I won’t apologize for the kiss.” It was as good a place to start as any.

She uttered an unladylike snort. “That wasn’t actually what I meant.” Yet she wasn’t so much of a harridan that she rebuked him for the liberty.

“Then you enjoyed it?” Despite the fact he was preparing to spin her a bit of fiction, a tiny part of him wished to know if she had.

“Of course not. You are a stranger.” The chilly haughtiness in her tones should have scared him, but instead, he only chuckled.

“You are a terrible liar, for a woman who didn’t enjoy being kissed—stranger or not—wouldn’t have returned the embrace with the enthusiasm you did.” Of that he was certain.

Buy Links (including BookBub):

What I love most about the holiday season:

The sights, the sounds, the coziness, and it’s my favorite time of the year to write about!

Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?

Who doesn’t like a romance set at Christmas? There are stolen kisses, a widow, a spy, and intrigue along with the yumminess of a holiday romance.

Giveaway –

One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card:

Open internationally.

Runs July 1 – 31, 2023.

Drawing will be held on August 1, 2023.

Author Biography:

Sandra Sookoo is a USA Today bestselling author who firmly believes every person deserves acceptance and a happy ending. That is why her characters are not in the usual style and oftentimes struggle with things out of the norm. She’s written for publication since 2008. Most days you can find her creating scandal and mischief in the Regency-era, serendipity and happenstance in the Victorian era, or historical romantic suspense complete with mystery and intrigue. Reading is a lot like eating chocolates—you can’t just have one book. Give her the chance with one book and you’ll be hooked.

When she’s not wearing out computer keyboards or mice, Sandra spends time with her real-life Prince Charming in Central Indiana where she also runs a gourmet cookie business and makes moments count with the man because the key to life is laughter. Inspired to storytelling by Walt Disney since the age of ten, when her soul gets bogged down and her imagination flags, a trip to Walt Disney World is in order. Nothing fills the well and fuels her dreams more than the land of eternal happy endings, hope and love stories.

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2 comentarios

27 jul 2023

Spending time with family is my fave part of holidays.

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N. N. Light
13 jul 2023

Thank you, Sandra, for sharing your book in our Christmas in July Fete!

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