Mistletoe and the Major by @AnnaCampbelloz is a Christmas in July Fete pick #holidayromance
Title: Mistletoe and the Major: A Christmas Novella
Author: Anna Campbell
Genre: Historical Romance
The Major is home from the wars at last… Edmund Sherritt, Major Lord Canforth, has devoted eight tumultuous years to fighting Napoleon. Finally Europe is at peace, and he can retire to his estates and the lovely wife he hasn’t seen since their brief, unhappy honeymoon. The innocent girl he loved from the first moment he saw her, but who shied away from him on their wedding night. The beautiful woman who greets him at Otway Hall on Christmas Eve is no longer the sweet ingénue he remembers. This new and exciting version of his beloved countess is strong, outspoken, and independent, and she’s willing to stand up for what she wants. The question is—does she want the husband who returns to her arms more as a stranger than a spouse? Now the real battle begins. Felicity, Lady Canforth, has had eight long years to regret that she sent her husband from a cold marriage bed to face brutal combat, danger and hardship. The only child of elderly parents, Felicity came to marriage innocent and ignorant, and unable to conceal her shock at the sensual power of the earl’s caresses. Before she found the nerve to offer Canforth a more generous welcome, he was called away to war. The Major left behind a countess who was a bride, not a wife; a woman unsure of her husband’s feelings, and too timid to confess how fervently she desires the man she wed. Fate has granted an older, wiser Felicity a second chance to win her husband’s heart. Now nothing will stop her from claiming victory over the famous war hero. This Christmas, she’ll deploy every ounce of courage, purpose and passion to seize the life and love she’s longed for, ever since Canforth left to serve his country. Whatever it costs, whatever it takes, she’ll lure the dashing Major back into her bed, where she means to show him he’s the only man she wants as her lover—and her love. After years of yearning and separation, will a Christmas miracle heal the wounds of the past and offer the earl and his bride a future bright with love?
Otway, Shropshire, Christmas Eve, 1815
Flick’s lips turned down in a self-derisive smile. “I owe you an apology. That was a poor welcome I gave you. An empty house, and a wife stinking of the stables.”
Actually when he’d first touched her, Canforth had caught the scent of crushed flowers and something that was Flick alone. He’d remembered that fragrance immediately—it would always be the aroma of heaven. There might have been a hint of horse and hay, too, but he hadn’t cared. He’d been too busy fighting the urge to bury his face in her hair and tell her how much he’d missed her. Which would have ruined things between them forever. If he leaped on her like a starving wolf the minute he came home, she’d run for the hills.
“It’s still my home, empty or not, and I gave you no warning I was coming. But you haven’t told me why you’re spending Christmas alone.”
She took another sip of wine. “I didn’t feel like going through all the hullabaloo this year. It…it seemed easier to miss you here at Otway than in a noisy, happy crowd of people, however much I love them.”
Shock made him sit up straight and stare at her. “You missed me?”
The question surprised her. “Of course.”
“But I’ve been away for ages.”
She gave a grim laugh. “I know.”
By Jove, that was dashed nice to hear. Dashed nice. To think, she’d missed him. Perhaps his case wasn’t quite as hopeless as he thought. He leaned back and stretched his legs toward the fire. “Well.”
A smile lit her eyes to burned caramel. “Well, indeed.”
She set aside her wine and picked up her sewing, as if she hadn’t changed his world in the space of a second. “It means a plain Christmas dinner, I’m afraid. A returning hero deserves to have all the stops pulled out.”
Another silence fell, this one more comfortable than the last. Canforth finished his wine and let its warmth fortify the warmth seeping into his blood with every moment in his wife’s presence. For years, he’d been cold and lonely. Was his exile finally at an end?
He’d had no idea what welcome awaited him at Otway Hall. But this hadn’t been it.
Although so far, he had no complaints. He and Flick had never managed a proper conversation before. He prayed this was only the first of many to come.
“Compared to some of the places I’ve been since I left you, this is luxury indeed,” he said, as if there had been no break in the conversation. She’d been brave enough to admit she’d missed him. He could be brave, too. “And having you to myself for a few days without worrying about an army of servants or an influx of guests is perfect.”
She looked up quickly. “Really?”
She drank from her wineglass to hide another blush. And he still found it charming. “Would you like to go to the midnight service?”
He shook his head. “I’d rather keep my head down for a couple of days, before the villagers discover I’m back. Is that too ungodly?”
“No, it makes perfect sense. If you’d come back to a house full of servants, keeping your arrival quiet would be impossible. But Biddy and Joe won’t gossip, and this gives you a chance to settle in without anyone bothering you.”
Not quite true. His wife bothered him a great deal. “Will you go?”
“Oh, yes. I have so many reasons to be thankful.”
She smiled, and his lingering misgivings about the future faded to a distant rumble. He was home. He had time to make everything the way he wanted it.
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What I love most about the holiday season:
I love seeing all my family and friends at this time of year. Because it’s summer in Australia, it’s a great time for barbecues and beaches and pool parties.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
I love a book that pulls on my heartstrings over the Holiday season and this story of two people who have always loved each other but have never quite managed to find the way to be together (until now, that is!) is an emotional, romantic Christmas tale that should bring a lump to your throat and a glow to your heart.
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Runs July 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on August 1.
Australian Anna Campbell has written 11 multi-award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and Grand Central Publishing. As an independently published author, she’s released more than 30 bestselling stories. With The Worst Lord in London, she’s just launched a new series called Scoundrels of Mayfair, set amidst the glamour and sensuality of Regency London. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set stories, including RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice), and the Australian Romance Readers' favorite historical romance (five times).
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