Title: Megan’s Christmas Knight
Author: Beth Warstadt
Genre: Sweet Romance
At her lowest, after recklessly betraying the devastating secret of a trusting friend, Megan stands on a cliff in the face of a wild, oncoming storm hoping it will blow her out to sea. Deafened by the gale, she is stunned to be grabbed by a hooded rider on a white horse who whisks her away from certain death. He carries her to the calm refuge of a hidden cave, but when she turns to see the face of her rescuer, he has vanished.
Stories of the mysterious phantom, who appears only to bring help to those in need, send Megan on a determined search for the truth. What she discovers is a kind, complicated man who slowly reveals his need for her even as he is guiding her on a quest for the truth about herself.
Man and horse startled her when they swam up from the dark entrance to the cave. As soon as he saw her, he pushed off his hood and visited her with a smile that turned her brain into melted chocolate.
Heat flushed her whole body when he took her hand and kissed it, a gesture so old-fashioned and gallant, she would have doubted its sincerity from anyone else. He continued to hold her hand as they began their stroll across the plains. Still he did not speak.
As she relaxed, she became intensely aware of the life around her. The sun was warm on her face, and she closed her eyes, trusting him to lead her with sure steps. She did not open them until they stopped.
“You are leaving,” he said. It was the husky, soothing sound she had longed to hear.
“Yes,” she answered. “I have to.”
He stood up silently, took her hand, and led her away from the rocks to the place where the horse grazed contentedly. As they neared, the animal shifted into a ready stance, and its master climbed on.
“Good-bye,” Meg said sadly.
He reached down to her, his sad expression reflecting her own. She took his hand and pressed it.
In one fell swoop, he pulled her up behind him and took off.
Terrified, she saw the dark opening ahead and knew this time they were not going to stop in the safety of the cave. This was the true event she knew she deserved. He had waited until no one would be looking for her and stolen her away, going she knew not where to a fate she could only guess.
She held tightly to the body of her kidnapper. They barreled in and toward the rear without any change in speed. She braced herself for impact, but they passed through the solid rock wall without a micro-second’s hesitation. The passage on the other side was the blackest darkness she had ever known. Though she could not see, she cowered from the low ceiling and walls that were so close they touched the ends of the hairs standing up on her arms. Horse and rider raced on with absolute confidence, as though they could either see in the dark or knew the tunnel so well that they had no fear of a misstep.
She wondered if the beautiful, angelic face of her kidnapper had transformed into the grotesque visage of a hellish demon. Where was he taking her? Would she ever see light again? Was this her punishment for her crime? For weeks she had felt with melancholy and self-loathing that she would burn in hell for what she had done, but now that the possibility was real, she changed her mind.
Of course, it was far more likely that he was merely a man, a stalker who had been watching for his chance and grabbed her to rape her senseless before he murdered her and left her dismembered body where no one could ever find it. Her parents would never know what had happened to her. Her nephews would grow up with her presence as only a shadowy vapor in their childhood memories. Would her co-workers and former friends, so viciously angry when she left them, have wished this end for her? Would they assume she had run away and be angrier, cursing her to the end she was about to face? In the darkness, in the midst of her terror and dread, her tears fell on the back of her captor for all that she had lost and would never know again.
Was it that in her terror time stretched out into eternity, or did they truly ride for hours in the darkness before she saw a light at the end of the tunnel? Instead of relief she wished for the darkness. This would be the place of her torture and murder, of unthinkable degradation, pain and horror. She wondered how she would handle the agony. Would she plead for mercy, offering to do anything he wanted so that he wouldn’t kill her? Would she beg for death in the face of hours of torture and pain?
They burst through the doorway and into the light. The horse immediately slowed and calmed, and the man in front of her relaxed. He threw his leg over and slid off the horse, then lifted her down next to him. She saw that it was the same beautiful face with the kind blue eyes that she had come to know. He didn’t look like a man who intended to throw her on the ground and do horrible things to her until she was dead. Her legs were weak, and he steadied her as he led her toward a nearby house.
When her eyes adjusted to the light, she saw that they had come to an English village not unlike the one she had left behind. The cottages and shops were all lit invitingly in the advancing twilight. She shivered in the colder air, and he put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her close as they walked.
They passed the first house and a scattering more until they came to a building that was not only bigger on the bottom, but also had a second floor on top. It was the first on a street of shops, all with large picture windows casting squares of light on the well-worn path below.
They pushed through the door into a tavern. A boisterous, happy crowd filled the room, a tankard in every hand and delicious food on every table. Children twirled and danced to the music of a roving fiddle-player, dodging here and there to avoid careless adult feet. The partiers interrupted their revelry briefly to raise their drinks in salute to her companion. He acknowledged them with a smile and a wave and led her to a quiet table in the corner.
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Share a holiday family tradition:
I still make stockings for every member of the family, including my husband, sister and best friend, though my children are grown men. I even fill my own, just to maintain the tradition of a real visit from Santa Claus.
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
Megan’s Christmas Knight weaves Christmas magic into the realistic fabric of the story so the magic itself feels real. The reader will be carried away, just like Megan, by the romance and beauty of the holiday spirit.
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Runs December 1 – 31
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From the first sentence of anything she writes, readers have no doubt that Beth Warstadt is a southern girl, born and bred in Nashville, Tennessee. She met her Connecticut Yankee husband while they were undergraduates at Emory University, where she achieved her Bachelor’s and Master's degrees in English. They live in Suwanee, Georgia. In addition to Megan's Christmas Knight, Beth is the author of Soul Lost and Maisie's List.
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