Title: Mistletoe Waltz
Author: Alanna Lucas
Genre: Historical Romance- Regency
Trust, patience and mistletoe must overcome a forced marriage, dark secrets, and a looming shadow that threatens all chance of Faith finding love with the Marquess of Hawthorne.
A HOLIDAY WISH
Marcus, the Marquess of Hawthorne, vowed never to fall in love. He should have vowed never to marry. Caught in a compromising situation, he’s been forced to wed the young woman he was trying to rescue. Beautiful? Yes. But his new bride’s apprehensions seem worse than his own, and as family and friends arrive at Deer Park to celebrate Christmastide, all he wants is for Faith to play the part of a happy wife and hostess.
She will not, however—or cannot. And when she commits yet another desperate act, this time with disastrous results, Marcus must save Faith once again. Now he must discover what drives her, what dark secrets keep her unable to trust or love, and what she truly desires. Only then will they, with the magic of mistletoe, overcome the pasts and taste the delights of the season.
Faith did not know what she expected to hear, but the arrival of his aunt was the last thing she would have ever guessed. When they married, Lord Hawthorne had made it perfectly clear that she was not to make herself known to anyone and that he had no intention of sharing the news with his family. She had wondered how long he would be able to keep their marriage a secret. The marriage of a marquess to anyone was bound to create a stir.
His next sentence was even more of a shock to Faith. “She is under the impression that we married for love.”
Faith could not believe her ears. She fumbled with the words, “Where...did she...” The guilty look on Lord Hawthorne’s face answered her unfinished question. He reminded her of a little boy who was desperately trying to get out of the trouble he should have never gotten himself into in the first place. “Why did you tell her that?”
He ran a large hand through his golden locks. His eyes narrowed, jaw clenched. She knew that look. Faith’s pulse quickened, and she took a step back.
He was silent for the longest time before his jaw relaxed. He took in a deep breath. “The reason is of no consequence. What I need from you is to pretend to be a loving wife.”
Faith should have known better than to challenge him, but curiosity got the better of her. “I think I should know the reason. How else am I to pretend?” The moment she heard the questioning tone in her own voice, she knew she had overstepped the boundaries.
Lord Hawthorne’s voice pulsated with anger and frustration. “This is my house. This is my family.” The glass around them vibrated with each word he spewed.
Faith backed up until she bumped into the table. She was cornered. Lord Hawthorne’s harsh tone reached the very core of her being. “Just because your father blackmailed me does not mean...”
Lord Hawthorne’s words faded, drowned out by the pounding of her heart. Faith closed her eyes, hoping this would soon come to an end. Her body started to tremble; beads of perspiration formed on her brow. The horrible feeling in her gut grew stronger and stronger. Please don’t hurt me. She wanted to scream, she wanted to...
A soft hand cradled her cheek. A gentle voice called her back to the present. “Shh, it’s all right.”
Faith stood for a long time. She was afraid to open her eyes, afraid it was a cruel joke. It had been such a long time since she was comforted. He stroked her cheek once again before removing his hand.
When at last she did open her eyes, Lord Hawthorne’s gaze was one of concern. In that moment something had changed between them.
In slow measures, her breathing returned. Faith did not want to lie, but the truth was even more distressing. “I’m sorry. Ever since that night at the inn...”
Shaking his head, Lord Hawthorne said, “You do not need to explain. I should not have lost my temper.”
Trying to regain her composure, she blinked away the remaining tears, cleared her voice, and sidestepped Lord Hawthorne, creating distance. She prayed that he would not question her further.
Bringing him back to the topic at hand, Faith reminded him, “You mentioned a proposition.”
Lord Hawthorne appeared lost in thought before blurting out his scheme. “I need to convince my aunt that I am happily married. If you act the part of a loving wife, you may remain at Deer Park and do as you please—providing there is no scandal—and I will continue to live in London.”
Faith had always dreamed of love and a happy marriage. Her dream had changed as of late. These past months had been peaceful, and she felt safe here. Dreams of love had been pushed aside. Living at Deer Park was more than she could have hoped for. There had been no fighting, and no.... “How am I supposed to convince her?”
The longer he looked at her, the more her heart pounded. Faith didn’t know if it was from fear or... She did not know how long she could maintain her composure under his scrutinizing glare. Biting the inside of her mouth, she began to count. One...two...
“Well...” He appeared just as unsure about how to create a loving marriage as Faith. She did not know anything about his parents, only that they had died when he was young. As with most marriages of the ton, his parents’ union was probably not a happy one. “You could use my given name, offer smiles, and...”
“I do not even know your given name.” She knew he had an array of titles and names, but had never referred to him as anything but Lord Hawthorne.
Lord Hawthorne took a step back, bowed playfully, and said, “Marcus, at your service, my lady.” Faith could not help but giggle. This side of him was so different than what she was used to seeing. “And you are?”
Faith curtseyed. “Faith. Pleased to meet you, my lord.” He raised a brow in correction. “Marcus.” Another giggle escaped her lips; the tension she had been feeling since his arrival had eased.
After the initial awkwardness wore off, they passed a most pleasant hour. Marcus began to walk with her back toward the house, pointing out his favorite childhood haunts. They had turned the corner when the sound of a dog barking was getting closer and closer.
“Balder, no...” Faith cried. But before the words could exit her mouth, Balder had charged Marcus, knocking him to the ground. The dog snarled at Marcus while his large front paws kept him in a prone position.
“I believe my dog is under the impression that you need rescuing.” Faith started to laugh at the dog’s attempt at chivalry.
What I love most about the holiday season:
I love decorating the house 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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