Thursday, December 31, 2020
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
I barely squeaked in and read my goal of 120 books in 2020. Whew! There were some really great books released this year. It was SO hard to narrow it down, but here are my top twelve that I loved. (And it was super hard to choose which is why I have 12!)
The Doctor and the Midwife by Sarah Alva
Roommaid by Sariah Wilson
Forget-Me-Not by Sarah Eden
A Captain for Caroline Grey by Julie Wright
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Monday, December 28, 2020
I was so excited to see that Karen Tuft had a new release out! And we're almost twinners with books that have nearly the same titles! (I have The Marquess Meets His Match and hers is The Duke Meets His Match.)|
In this one we meet Susan Jennings who is nearly thirty years old and definitely "on the shelf." She's fine with her circumstances, though, until she receives an invitation to London that she cannot refuse. Once there, she meets a man named George, the Duke of Aylesham, who she's already had a negative encounter with years ago. He's still arrogant and rude, and Susan doesn't mind letting him know her opinions. But when political intrigue rears its ugly head, George and Susan are thrown into a set of circumstances that will have life-changing consequences.
I loved this enemies to lovers romance. It had great characters, witty repartee, and a pull-you-in plot to round out this fantastic story. I loved all the political intrigues and seeing George's reactions to dealing with a spoiled monarch and a woman who stirs his heart and tries his patience. Susan was such a great character as well, with her strength and vulnerabilities and how she finally started to see the real George. Their romance was so sweet! I do wish Susan's ex-flame would have gotten his comeuppance and I wish the book could have gone on a bit longer, but other than that, Karen Tuft never fails to deliver a story I can get lost in. I think The Duke Meets His Match is one of my favorite historical romances this year!
Get your copy here
Here's the back copy:
At thirty years of age, Susan Jennings has long been considered a spinster. Exceptionally intelligent, she has little tolerance for London and the dreaded Season—if that’s how one is expected to find love, it’s not for her. But when an invitation arrives that cannot be ignored, Susan leaves her comfortable life in the country and enters the fashion and frivolity she most despises. She quickly discovers, however, that there is more to loathe in London—and his name is George Kendall.
George, Duke of Aylesham, has learned to keep his distance from cloying females chasing the title of duchess. Susan Jennings, however, proves an entirely different challenge—a woman who has pushed him to the limit of his patience with their every encounter. But their simmering hostility is disrupted by a thoughtless slipup: to avoid a marriage of political strategy, George claims he is already betrothed. And when pressed for the name of the lucky woman, only one name comes to mind: Susan’s. Their forced betrothal proves advantageous, but when their verbal sparring must change in order to be convincing, the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred by something neither expected: love.
Friday, December 25, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
What are your plans today? Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
One of our favorite family traditions at Christmas is watching The Forgotten Carols. The story is so heartwarming and sweet, with some truly funny moments and lots of great music.
This year, we couldn't watch it be performed on stage, but there is a 2020 Theatrical version of it! I wasn't sure I would love the DVD version as much as seeing it live, but I did! The sets were great and there were a few changes to the show with some new music and new dialogue in some scenes. Michael McLean is amazing, as always, and the actress who plays Constance really shines. All of the extra touches, combined with the story and acting, really added to the overall charm of the show and finding the true joy of the season. Our whole family enjoyed it!
This is a timeless classic and one you'll definitely want to have in your family's library.
You can get your copy here
See the movie trailer here
Here's a little more about the show:The Forgotten Carols stage performance tells the story of Connie Lou, a nurse whose empty life is changed when Uncle John, a new patient she is attending, recounts the story of Christ’s birth as told by little known characters in the nativity story. The accounts from the Innkeeper, the Shepherd and others help the nurse discover what the world has forgotten about Christmas, ultimately encouraging her to open her heart to the joy of this special season.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Mrs. Katsaros has no desire to bring media attention to the jewelry heist, so she recruits her nephew, Quinn, and his FBI agent friend, Steve, to do some sleuthing off the record. When they discover that the missing ring is just one of many forgeries in the widow’s collection, they look to Gracie for help. They need her to act the part of Quinn’s fiancée. From the lights of New York to the shimmering islands of the Mediterranean, Gracie is swept into a thrilling hunt. But amid the search for the elusive thief, she and Quinn find themselves increasingly distracted by their growing feelings for each other. What neither realizes is how close the danger lies and how serious the vendetta is—because, apparently, it is worth killing for.
Friday, December 18, 2020
A Family for Christmas by Rose Pearson, is a Christmas regency. It looks so cute and it's FREE today! I know what I'm downloading to read this weekend.
Get your free copy here
Here's the back copy:When a penniless woman is gravely injured, she is saved by a handsome Lord and a kind Lady – only to have her chance at a better life threatened by the selfish nephew of her new Lady.
After burying her father, known for being a charlatan in their small town, Anna Campbell finds herself penniless, homeless, and alone. Her father’s death – and life – have left her lonely, longing for a home and a true family, but these dreams feel hopeless.
With nowhere else to go and simply trying to survive, she sets off for Winchester with the hope of finding work, and eventually her long-lost aunt. On her way, she is injured by a speeding phaeton and falls into a ditch. The handsome, kindly Lord Edward Westerham finds her and takes her to the home of Lady Tremaine, his great aunt.
Anna floats in and out of consciousness, but Lady Tremaine and her servants dutifully care for her. As Anna slowly recovers, she and Lady Tremaine find that they have much in common, despite coming from completely different worlds.
Soon, Lady Tremaine asks Anna to be her companion and teaches her how to be a lady. Anna feels safe and comfortable with Lady Tremaine, and finds herself falling for her savior, Lord Westerham. But she knows he cannot marry a commoner such as she.
However, Anna soon finds an enemy in Lady Tremaine’s unscrupulous nephew, Lord William Comey. Worried that he will be cut from the will in favor of Anna, and in desperate financial straits, Lord Comey becomes determined to destroy her reputation – and Lady Tremaine’s affection.
Can Anna overcome the schemes of a cunning conman?
Or will she lose her one chance at a proper family and possibly, true love?
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Of course, becoming a published author was a dream come true and I have 24 books out now. And while holding my books in my hand is still pretty thrilling, the best part of being an author is all the people I've met. Those in the military, medical, and legal professions who I so admire and who helped me make my stories authentic, those critique partners and beta readers who became friends, and those who have loved my books and reached out with sweet words that I hold very dear.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
I went to the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square concert where this was performed that year and Richard Thomas read it. It was such a powerful concert, I can still feel the sentiment and emotion from it. (And it was fun to see "John Boy" again. Growing up, my family never missed The Waltons back in the day!)
Christmas Day in the Morning is one story our family reads every year and I'm so glad to have this book now, with the beautiful illustrations (and music lyrics) in it. I didn't realize that in the original story, it was a man looking back on his most memorable Christmas. Once he's looked back on that memory of his boyhood, he writes his wife a letter of love and gratitude. There is also room in this book for the reader to write a letter of gratitude of your own and gift it to someone else. Such a great personalized gift to give!
You can get your copy here
Here's the back copy:
In this adaptation of “Christmas Day in the Morning,” Rob looks back on his boyhood and remembers giving an unusual gift of self—a gift that filled him with Christmas joy. Now, fifty years later, Rob realizes he can still give a gift from his heart.
The original Pearl S. Buck story, published in Collier’s magazine in 1955, concludes with the older Rob writing a letter of gratitude and love to his wife. As he does, Christmas joy is awakened in him once again. The final pages of this book provide a place for you to write your own letter of gratitude and love—a letter that will naturally be included when you give this book to a family member, neighbor, or friend. As you do, you may experience what Rob learned as a boy, and then again as a man: the gifts most likely to rekindle Christmas joy are not just the presents we give with our hands, but the gratitude we express from our hearts.
Richard Thomas, Emmy Award-winning actor of stage, television, and motions pictures, first presented this story in the annual live Christmas concert of The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. As a young man, Mr. Thomas came to international acclaim portraying the eldest son in The Waltons, a television series about a large family struggling to support itself on a farm during the Great Depression.
The Walton family was much like the family in “Christmas Day in the Morning,” and the character played by young Mr. Thomas was not unlike the boy Rob himself. As Mr. Thomas joined the Choir and Orchestra on stage, he entered a re-created farmhouse kitchen. In that setting, his warm, familiar presence reminded many of their past family Christmases. Audience members young and old were also reminded of their own childlike desires to be good, and to find their hearts bursting with Christmas joy.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Most of you know my new favorite TV show is SEAL Team. I binge-watched the whole series so far in just a few weeks, and the couple I like finally had their first kiss. In honor of that, I wrote a little one-shot about what our hero Jason might have been thinking as he took that long walk to get to Mandy. (This is just for entertainment purposes and I don't own any of the characters. No copyright infringement is intended.)
I hope my fellow Jason and Mandy fans enjoy it! (Takes place at the end of Season 3 Episode 20 No Choice in Duty.)
Jason had last spoken with Mandy a few hours ago, but her words had echoed through his head ever since: “The hardest part now is knowing I chose to become this person.”
She’d walked away, but the haunted look in her eyes had made him want to call her back. To remind her of the good she’d done because of the person she’d chosen to be. But he’d let her go.
And wished he hadn’t.
She’d been different since Caracas. Lost, somehow. Her drive and sense of purpose had dimmed. He’d always been able to count on her to find a clear path to executing a mission and helping him get the job done. She was thorough and good at what she did. But after seeing Samim’s widow, the small spark she’d had left inside her flickered out. As soon as the woman had started screaming at Mandy, he’d gotten her out of there, but he hadn’t been fast enough. Mandy believed every word Samim’s wife had flung at her and accepted them as fact. Nothing he’d said to counteract the damage had touched the shadows in Mandy’s eyes. He put his hands in his pockets and blew out a long breath.
He shouldn’t have let her go without helping to drive those shadows away.
He wasn’t used to this Mandy. She was trying to appear unruffled by everything she’d done and seen this deployment, but her guilt and anguish were just beneath the surface like a riptide waiting to drag her down. Mandy’s normal warmth had been replaced by the signature blank face of every other CIA officer he’d ever known. He could feel her slipping away and he didn’t like it. She was one of the few who had seen the best and the worst in him and it hadn’t shaken her. Seeing Mandy like this was starting to shake him, though. He wanted to protect her---he always had---but there wasn’t an enemy to shield her from in this situation. She was fighting her own demons.
And he didn’t want her to fight alone. Like he'd had to.
He knocked on her door and waited. When she answered, he took a moment to appreciate how beautiful she was. She was more than just a woman who looked great in a t-shirt and pair of jeans, with a smile that would make any man’s blood run hot. Mandy had a strength about her, a calm and confidence that made him and everyone else instinctively trust her. She could walk in and own a room or be an observer in the back, but she always stood out---especially to him.
She stared at him, her interrogating skills kicking in as she tried to read his facial expression. “You okay?” she finally asked.
That should have been his question. “I’m good.” Jason stepped closer. He didn’t have to ask if she was okay. He could see the dark smudges under her eyes, the weariness in her face. She hadn’t been sleeping. The demons were winning.
And he couldn’t have that.
He wanted to fight them off for her. To hold the darkness back. Looking into her eyes, he silently asked her permission and she gave it, backing up a step so he could shut the door before his lips came down on hers.
He walked her backwards until she was against the wall, never breaking the kiss. Over the years he’d let himself wonder briefly how it would be to kiss her, but he’d always hesitated to make that a reality.
Now he wished he hadn’t taken so long. The scent of lavender clung to her, which was a small miracle since all he ever seemed to smell in the heat of Afghanistan was sweat, earth, and sand. He inhaled again and pressed closer, raising his forearms to each side of her head, caging her between him and the wall. His heart pounded through his chest as their kiss deepened. Her arms found their way around his neck and she held on tightly, as if her knees couldn't hold her upright anymore.
He leaned his head back slightly to look at her. “Mandy,” he said, his voice hoarse, the only other sound in the room her unsteady breaths. “Are you sure?”
She didn't hesitate and pinned him with her gaze. “Yes.”
He brushed his lips against hers again, then trailed little kisses across her jawline to her ear. “We’ll get through this,” he whispered to her. She’d been on his comms---the voice in his ear---on more operations than he could count, warning him of danger and helping him keep his team safe. Tonight he wanted to be the one keeping her safe. “I’ve got you.”
He pulled her closer and threaded his hands through her hair. In the moment, she seemed so fragile, but he was going to help her be strong again. They’d always done that for each other.
“Jason,” she murmured, closing her eyes and leaning her forehead against his.
“I know.” He gently cupped her face and lifted her mouth to his. The pain and grief they’d suffered was wrapped up in the tenderness of the moment, giving them both a respite from the storm they’d been living and allowing the kiss to say everything their voices couldn’t.
Their connection was deep and undeniable. What he shared with her was more than friendship. He couldn't describe what she meant to him, but he didn’t have to. She was Mandy. His Mandy. Everything else faded away until it was just them. In this room. Right now.
And that’s all that mattered.
Monday, December 14, 2020
Friday, December 11, 2020
Graham fell for Bridget the moment he laid eyes on her. He was fully aware that he’d unwittingly done what his best friend and mentor wanted all along. Unfortunately, it takes two people to make a relationship, and the female part of this equation isn’t interested. Being something of a realist, Graham accepted the inevitable. It wasn’t so with Bridget’s father. He continued to play matchmaker, stubbornly refusing to admit that his interference only made the situation worse. Graham’s only comfort is the fact that none of Bridget’s relationships have as yet become permanent. But even that false hope is ripped away when she drops her bombshell.
Bridget can’t deny she’s led a somewhat charmed life. As the eldest daughter of a successful businessman, she’s never wanted for anything. After graduating from a prestigious college in New York, she didn’t have to draft résumés or suffer through stressful job interviews. Instead she went to work for her father creating updated interiors for his hotel flipping company. The only gray cloud in her personal sky is her father’s ridiculous idea that his ex-Navy pilot protégé and his daughter constitute a match made in heaven. His embarrassing attempts to force her and Graham together have made it necessary to keep her engagement to the man she does love a secret. But it’s only a temporary thing. She has no doubt about her ability to bring her father around to her way of thinking.
The best laid plans, right? When destiny shuffles the cards and deals out a new hand, unrequited love and an unsuitable fiancé could turn out to be the least of Graham and Bridget’s problems.
Bridget smiled a little as she led the way to the stairs. “I guess that means my brother and sister are behaving. I hope you realize it won’t always be like that.”
“I’d be disappointed if it was. It’s natural for kids to test their limits.”
“Is that what you did?”
She heard him chuckle.
“I still do it.”
She glanced over her shoulder and met his amused glance. “I’m not surprised.”
“You looked and sounded very smug when you said that. Didn’t you ever color outside the lines?”
By this time, they’d reached the wide landing on the second floor. Bridget did a quick mental debate and turned to the right. “I never wanted to.”
He came up beside her, looming over everything. “Maybe you didn’t have enough incentive.”
There weren’t many people who could make Bridget unaware of her most noticeable physical characteristic. She was taller than most of the people she ran across on a daily basis, including Roman. That wasn’t the case with Graham. Not even the high heels she wore in the office made any difference. In the tennis shoes she was wearing at the moment, his height advantage was apparent.
“Could be,” she said. “It’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.”
“That’s too bad.”
Bridget rolled her eyes as they entered Caden’s room. “Why?”
He sat the containers on the bed, a half-amused, half-serious look on his face. “You miss out on a lot of things when you play it safe.”
“Oh, really? Can I assume you limit the use of this…strategy to your personal life?”
His eyes started to twinkle, something she’d seen happen when he was speaking to someone else. It was quite a different experience to find it directed at her.
“Of course. I always play by the rules in business.”
She wasn’t sure if that was a subtle jab at Roman or not. “That’s what I thought.” She pointed to the set of folding doors covered with Ironman and Hulk posters. “You can start on the closet. I’ll work on the chest of drawers.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He pulled a plastic tote from the top of the pile and maneuvered past her. Bridget smiled to herself as she waited for him to open the closet doors. There was a few seconds of what could only be stunned silence, and then, “Shazam!”
She laughed so hard she had to sit down on the bed.
“What’s so funny?” he asked, his obvious confusion setting her off again.
Bridget pointed at him while she tried to catch her breath. “You! I didn’t expect to hear that from a battle-hardened ex-Navy pilot.”
“I adjusted my response to my audience.”
“How considerate of you! Are you ever caught off-guard?”
“A lot more than you think.” He waved a hand at the disaster behind him. “Any suggestions?”
“Start at the top and work your way down.” Bridget grabbed a box, walked over to the dresser, and opened the top drawer. It wasn’t in much better condition than the closet. Caden hadn’t inherited their father’s talent for organization. “Liesl’s room will be less chaotic. She’s not nearly as messy, plus she’s more into clothes and jewelry than Legos, video games, and action figures.”
“I noticed she likes to read. Other than her bedroom, my library is her favorite room in the house.”
When Bridget looked in his direction, the words forming on her lips dried up. Graham was reaching over his head for something on the top shelf. Her eyes locked on the ripple of muscles moving down his arms and across his back with the accuracy of a heat-seeking missile. Something stirred in the region of her belly. This was followed by a wave of warmth that defied the coolness of the room. Alarmed and embarrassed, she turned away, relieved he hadn’t witnessed her strange and completely unwanted reaction.
Graham usually preferred silence when he was working, but at the moment, he could have used some noise (no matter what form it was in) to take his mind off the woman standing a few yards away. He’d thought their brief, casual encounters at work were unnerving. Being alone with Bridget here was an entirely different level of disturbing. His highly-tuned senses sizzled with awareness, registering every breath, movement, and flip of her ponytail.
Dealing with these unsettling reactions didn’t keep him from knowing how difficult this was for her. When she let him in the house, he’d seen the trace of tears on her cheeks and heard the tremor in her voice. It had taken every ounce of self-control he had not to drop the boxes on the floor and take her into his arms, an action that would have embarrassed both of them.
If only he could think of something to say, but the light banter he employed with moderate success everywhere else seemed to have deserted him at the door of Caden’s room. All his addled brain could come up with as a conversation starter was ‘You smell really nice.’ Even as a compliment, it lacked imagination.
Behind him, he heard a drawer close. It was the perfect excuse to glance over his shoulder. Bridget looked up and met his eyes. Then she smiled. Graham’s heart did an award-worthy nose dive into his shoes.
“I was thinking of coming back with you today to spend some time with Liesl and Caden. Is that okay?”
Okay? It was the best news he’d had all week. “Of course. You’re welcome anytime. Liesl and Caden will love it. They miss you.”
“I miss them, too. It’s sad that it takes something tragic to make you aware of things like that.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself. All of us are guilty of having tunnel vision. The pace of life is faster than ever. It’s challenging to fit in everything.”
“It comes down to priorities. We make time for what we believe to be most important, all the while thinking that there’ll be plenty of time to get to those other things.”
“Sometimes we do get to them. It’s only after a window of opportunity closes that you realize how precarious life really is. There are no guarantees. There’s no insurance policy to protect you from the unknown.”
“Having served in the military means you know that more than anyone.”
He nodded. “It gave me a better appreciation of life as well as the freedoms we so often take for granted. This is off the subject, but I’m planning to take the kids to an air show. Caden mentioned wanting you to come, too.”
“An air show?” she asked, grinning. “That sounds right up your alley. When is it?”
“Two weeks from today.”
“I should be able to make it.”
He forced himself to say the rest. “Caden thought you might like to invite Roman, too. That reminds me of something I should have mentioned before. You’re welcome to bring Roman to the house when you come.”
He didn’t imagine the blush that entered her cheeks. Was it because she was still embarrassed about asking Graham for the money? Or was she remembering the remarks he made about Roman facing the consequences of his actions?
“That’s very nice of you. He hasn’t had many opportunities to get to know Liesl and Caden. That’s something I’m hoping to change.”
Graham was torn between wishing Roman would refuse and wanting the chance to size up the other man in person. Neither of those sentiments could be voiced aloud. “You’ll get to meet my mother today. She’s in town for the weekend.”
“What does she think about you being a guardian?”
“Nothing much surprises my mother. She has a unique talent for disregarding whatever doesn’t directly pertain to her.”
“That’s an interesting answer.”
“It’ll make perfect sense once you meet her.”
“Hmm. You’ve definitely excited my curiosity.”
That was something at least.
You’ll have me interfering in your life for at least ten more years.”
There was nothing he’d like more. He snapped the lid on the box. “A fate worse than death.”
“I bet you didn’t take that into consideration when you agreed to be a guardian.”
“A very premature action on my part.”
She grinned in acknowledgement, but he could tell she’d already moved on to something else.
“That’s probably what he had in mind all along.”
“Dad, of course. Don’t tell me you didn’t know he wanted you and me to…” she stopped suddenly, looking very much like her younger sister.
He knew what she meant, but couldn’t resist teasing her. “He wanted you and me to what?”
She sent him an exasperated glance that still managed to quicken his pulse. “Don’t act so innocent, Graham. You know what I’m trying to say.”
He laughed, thinking how pretty she was when she blushed and wishing he could kiss every inch of her pink cheeks. “I do know. What I can’t figure out is why you’re having so much trouble saying it. There’s no one here but us.”
He was given an excellent view of her profile, which was no less adorable than the rest of her.
“It’s embarrassing. I wish I hadn’t brought it up.”
“Why? It’s always better to get something out in the open rather than ignore it. Yes, it was uncomfortable, but in reality, it was harmless. We both know your father meant well. I took it as a compliment that he thought me good enough for you.”
Her head turned just enough to allow their eyes to meet. “There were few people Dad really liked and even fewer that he trusted. The fact that you were in both those groups says a lot. But what Dad didn’t want to accept is that love can’t be forced. It can’t be manipulated by throwing two people together. If it’s meant to happen, it will. If it’s not, then all the planning and scheming in the world won’t make any difference.”
Graham could testify to that. “I couldn’t have said it better myself. As awkward as this conversation has been, we probably should have had it sooner.”
“I think you’re right. It wouldn’t have made all Dad’s machinations any less annoying, but at least we wouldn’t have been worried about what the other person was thinking.”
“I thought we handled ourselves very professionally.”
“Me, too, but there were times when I wanted to sink right into the floor.”
“Would one of those times be when Daniel arranged a business lunch, and you and I were the only ones who showed up at the restaurant?”
“Yes. I don’t think I said fifty words throughout the entire meal.”
“It was probably less than thirty, but who’s counting?”
“That’s what happens when I get really angry and really embarrassed at the same time. My brain goes on strike. Anyway, that’s all in the past. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll be able to laugh about it.”
“Anything’s possible,” he said, reaching for another plastic container.
The sultry notes of “Havana” by Camila Cabello filled the room. Bridget reached into the pocket of her jeans and pulled out her phone. Graham could tell who was on the other end by the look on her face. He’d give anything to have her look that way for him.
“Excuse me for a minute,” she said, walking toward the door.
A ragged sigh escaped him as he turned back to the closet. Everything Bridget said about love was true. It can’t be forced or manipulated. Love happens on its own terms, and once it takes hold, it stubbornly resists every effort by its unsuspecting host to withdraw. Having become one of those helpless victims, he thought it very unlikely that he’d ever be able to ‘laugh’ about it.
I write sweet romances set in both contemporary and regency settings. My stories are about the journey to love, from that first meeting to the point where two people know their hearts are no longer their own. My characters aren't perfect. They make mistakes and have faults like the rest of us. They learn the sometimes painful truth that the path to love isn't always smooth, but it's a road worth traveling.
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Thursday, December 10, 2020
The picture book, Ming's Christmas Wish, is a sweet story of a Chinese girl who wants to fit in with the other children, but is not having much success. There are heartwarming moments and the story is full of beautiful descriptions of the setting that really pull the reader in. Ming's family has a surprising depth for a children's book as they've tried to adapt their way of life and traditions in America.
My favorite part of the book is when Ming goes with her father for the day and they visit lifelong friends who talk of the old days and share what the intricate carvings in their cabin mean. The author hints at prejudices toward the Chinese people, but the main focus was about a girl finding where she belongs in between two cultures and making new traditions. The illustrations were eye-catching and colorful for this tender Christmas story. This is one you'll want to add to your family's Christmas collection!
Get your copy here
Here is the back copy:Inspired by family stories.
Ming wishes for three things at Christmas. First, to sing in the school Christmas choir. Second, to have a Christmas tree like the one in the department store window. And third, to feel she belongs somewhere.
As a daughter of immigrants in 1930s California, Ming is often treated differently than other children at school. She’s pointedly not invited to sing in the Christmas choir. At home, when Ming lobbies her parents for a Christmas tree, her mother scolds her for trying to be American. Ming doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere: she’s not quite American enough at school, not quite Chinese enough at home.
Seeing his daughter’s unhappiness, Pop takes her into the mountains to visit a wise old friend. Always happy for an adventure with her kind father, Ming hopes to persuade Pop to bring home a mountain pine to be their Christmas tree. But he has something else in mind, something that will help Ming draw strength from nature, from their Chinese heritage, and from deep and enduring family ties.
Lord Christian Wolverton―known as Wolf in a covert group operating during the war against Napoleon―has been called home from his military duties. For the moment, his family responsibilities require him to suspend his more clandestine activities. But information falls into his hands that a traitor will soon try to tip the scales back into French favor and Christian doesn't have much time to stop it from happening.
Going to the one person who can help him, the powerful Duke of Huntingdon, Christian comes face to face with Lady Alice. She's a beautiful member of the ton with a very big secret―she's also a trained agent and already on the case. Forced to partner with her to lure the traitor out of hiding, Christian wants to quickly close the case himself, before Lady Alice is more closely involved. But Lady Alice has ideas of her own and she's going to prove her theories correct―with or without him.
Danger is closer than they think, however, and it's a race against time to expose the traitor's identity before British lives are endangered. Both Christian and Alice have strong opinions on who he is, but which one will be proven right?
“In a hurry, my lady?” he said, arching his eyebrows and slowing his step.
“I wouldn’t want to keep Lord Pembroke waiting,” she said, nearly pulling him along with her.
But Wolverton stopped altogether. Since he still held her arm fast, she did, too, rather abruptly. Alice looked up in surprise.
“I must ask you a question, my lady. Why were you asking Huntley about the Earl of Moreland’s son?” His voice was soft, as if she might spook if he spoke too loudly.
Alice gaped. How had he overheard? Swallowing, she forced herself to relax. “I met Thomas once and was shocked at his death, that’s all. There are so few details on what happened.” She gave Wolverton a demure smile, hoping to cover her earlier reaction. “But Lord Huntley reminded me that such things aren’t fit for the ears of a gently bred woman.”
He tilted his head as if considering her words. “Since it was reported that Pembroke was the last person to see Thomas alive, is it reasonable to assume that is why you’re so anxious to talk to him? To find out more details? If so, I’d like to know why.” His blue eyes bored into hers. He wasn’t going to give up easily, that much was clear, and she needed to claim her dance with Lord Pembroke.
Alice pulled her hand away from his arm and straightened her spine. “Lord Wolverton, this conversation has become tiresome, and I have promised this dance to another. If you will please escort me inside.” She turned and started toward the ballroom doors, but Wolverton caught up easily and blocked her way.
His hands were behind his back now, the picture of a gentleman, but his voice was edged with tension. “Be careful, my lady. Curiosity can be a dangerous thing.”
Julie loves to travel and her favorite cities she's visited so far are probably Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. In her free time she loves to read, write, teach, watch Hawaii Five-O, and eat Canadian chocolate. Not necessarily in that order.
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