To grant her dying father his last Christmas wish, Miss Annabelle Pemberton proposes marriage to her father's former ward, the rakish viscount Lord William de Vere. How painful it will be, though, to be trapped in a marriage of convenience with the only man she has ever loved.
Marriage to the wealthy heiress will help restore de Vere's decaying estates, but that is not why he accepts her bizarre proposal. He has grown to love her father as if he were his own, and if Mr. Pemberton selected him for his only child's husband, then Lord de Vere must honor the man's final wishes. Little does he suspect his father-in-law knows him better than he knows himself.
"HOME FOR CHRISTMAS"
20,000 words (about 85 pages)
Heat index: Sweet
For six long years, Captain David St. Vincent has dreamed of returning home to Ramseyfield—and to its prettiest resident, Elizabeth Balfour. To his astonishment, though, it is not Elizabeth, but her plain younger sister, Catherine, whose company he seeks.
Cathy Balfour has worshipped David for as long as she can remember. It was she who wept when he left, she who presented him with a cross to keep him safe while in service to the crown, and she who read and carefully collected the newspaper accounts of his sea battles. But how can one as plain as she ever hope to win his heart?
"CHRISTMAS AT FARLEY MANOR"
Best Historical Novella of 2011
(This novella was first published as an ebook in 2011.)
Approximate length: 21,000 words (about 100 pages)
Heat index: Sweet
This is a lovely story, tender and romantic, with a dashing hero and a beautiful heroine. A very satisfying read. – Linda Sims, Top Amazon UK reviewer
It wasn't to be a real marriage. . .
Harry Tate is an army captain of some means who is almost certain to die when he returns to Spain on the morrow. Elizabeth Hensley is a destitute beauty he's only too happy to help.
Two years later. . .
When they meet again at his ancestral home, Harry is now Viscount Broxbourne, bent on showing his wife how much he wants her to be his real viscountess by Christmas.
Lord Slade must marry an heiress in order to honor the deathbed vow he made to his father, and he needs Miss Featherstone's help in wooing her beautiful cousin. After her initial anger, Miss Featherstone agrees to his scheme, telling him she's doing so because she admires his Parliamentary record of humanitarian legislation and his reverence for truth. But the more he's with the two cousins, the more attracted he becomes to Miss Featherstone. What's a man of his word to do? Break a vow to a beloved father—or follow his heart with Miss Featherstone?
Worried about him and his children, George's sisters urge him to ask spinster Sally Spenser – a longtime family friend – to help care for his daughter and son. Sally's the perfect person. She's of high birth, has no money, and she adores his children. But George can't ask an earl's niece to become a servant! However. . .since he'll never love again, why not make Sally his viscountess? It would be a marriage in name only. For the children.
Sally's deep love of the children and fear that their father might marry an unfeeling stepmother that prompt Sally to agree George's proposal. Even though it will be unbearable living under the roof of the man she loves and knowing she can never have him.
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WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
"Does a wonderful job building simmering sexual tension between her opinionated, outspoken heroine and deliciously tortured, conflicted hero." – Booklist
"5 Stars – highly recommended." – Huntress Reviews
"Bolen's writing has a certain elegance that lends itself to the era and creates the perfect atmosphere for her enchanting romances." – Romantic Times
Widowed beauty, Arabella Lawson, Lady Farnsworth, knows the value of independence after being trapped in a marriage that left her unfulfilled. Although she longs for a lover at last, she’s expected to chaperone her flirtatious niece during her first season. However, given the way the girl keeps disappearing every chance she gets, there is little hope of a good or speedy result. While searching for her charge yet again, she blunders into one of Lord Rothwell’s scandalous assignations. This time it’s Arabella’s turn to be on the receiving end of his hungry kisses, and she’s far from prepared to make the most of the opportunity.
Gossip may paint Merrick Bishop, the Earl of Rothwell, as a notorious scoundrel when it comes to women, but this season his intentions are honorable. Duty bound to marry, he’s determined to discreetly court an open-minded bride and prove the gossipmongers wrong by being on his very best behavior… until in his frustration, he mistakenly kisses the wrong lady and discovers that everything about the encounter feels so very right. Merrick never once believed he had a chance with shy Arabella, and when the unthinkable happens, she turns to him not for an affair or hopes of marriage but for his friendship and protection from her own family.
Can a rogue with a reputation for breaking hearts convince a widow who only hopes for an affair that their feelings are not only the stirrings of desire but the beginnings of the deepest and truest love?
From USA Today Bestselling Author Kelly McClymer...a Christmas tale of love and redemption with a touch of the fey...
Christmas is a time for miracles, or so Kate Fenster, the youngest of the Fenster siblings, hopes when she heads to Ireland to confront her absentee bridegroom. The Earl of Blarney had called in her childhood promise to marry him. It had been a lighthearted bargain, she would marry him if he let her ride his prized stallion Diablo. Not quite trusting the silver-tongued Irish lord, Kate sets him to prove he is more interested in her heart than her dowry.
The courtship takes a dark turn when, just hours after their wedding, her bridegroom is called home to Ireland and refuses to return to her in England or allow her to come to him in Ireland. Kate, tired of waiting, must travel to another country to face her husband — and the fact that everything he had told her was only half-true. Now it is her turn to prove herself to him. To prove that she is the right wife for him. The one who will stand by his side while he rebuilds his lands, regains the trust of his people, and keeps his mad, fey sister safe.
Spurned by his mistress and vowing to never love again, Adam Birmingham, whose family is the richest in Britain, decides to get very drunk. As he's staggering home, he takes pity on a very small young lady who's lugging a very large trunk behind her. In the rain. Her destination is the home of his next-door neighbor, but no one answers the bell. Adam is compelled to ask the young woman to spend the night at his home. Promptly after showing her the chamber in which she'll sleep, Adam passes out on her chaise. It's not until the following morning he remembers that the lady's uncle has died.
When Adam learns that Emma cannot return to Upper Barrington and that she has nowhere to go, he offers marriage to the hysterical lady. His heart is so shattered, he will never love again. Why not make this helpless orphan happy? Soon after they wed, they become convinced that someone has forged her uncle's will--and likely murdered her uncle. Their resolve to bring the murderer to justice jeopardizes Emma's life. Knowing she's in danger brings out Adam's protective instincts--and something far deeper, something he'd thought to never feel again. . .
Daniel Goodenham, Lord North Barrows, regrets nothing more than the lost friendship with the one woman who treated him like a man, not a title. Fate has given him the perfect pretext to win her forgiveness—even if it means having to matchmake her to someone else. But now that she's back in his life, he’ll do anything to convince her to choose him instead...
This story first appeared in the Vexed anthology.