As part of the blog tour for Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem, the holiday box set by the Bluestocking Belles, characters from the novellas will be meeting up outside the covers of the book, appearing on Belles’ blogs throughout the month of October.
[This is Part One of a cross-book blog post. For Part Two, go to Sherry Ewing’s blog at: www.SherryEwing.com.]
Comment to win a print copy of The Bluestocking Belles’ Guide to a Good Time (random drawing): After reading this vignette, what do you think would happen if Guy and Sophie inhabited the same book?
At a holiday house party, there are always those young people too old for the nursery party (or so they say), but too young to participate in the dancing. At one such occasion, Sophie Templeton, from Under the Mistletoe, a fanciful child who likes to chase butterflies and kiss frogs, hoping one will turn into a handsome prince, meets up with Hugh and Guy Amberly, younger brothers to the heroine of ‘Tis Her Season. The thing about young people of this age, however, is that they are but a few years away from seeking matches of their own. One never knows if a childhood friendship might blossom into romance…
Sophie Templeton sits on a log beneath a tree watching her puppy, Tulip, frolicking in the snow. The pup gives her a bark, as if asking Sophie to join her, before diving into a snowbank. The puppy begins tunneling her way across the ground, then pokes her head up—a golden-haired snow dog with her tongue hanging out. Sophie gives into the impulse and plops down next to her dog, who begins licking her cheek. There’s nothing better than being outside in the snow, and Sophie begins creating her own snow angel, waving her arms and legs back and forth with a girlish giggle.
A young man appears on the track between the trees, ice skates slung over his shoulder, the puppy suspended by the scruff of his neck. “Is this your dog, Madam?”
Another boy sticks his head out from behind the young man’s shoulder. “Capital pup you have! Chewed a hole through Hugh’s saddlebag and ate everything before we even saw him, then led us a merry chase to get the bag back.” The boy holds up a leather sack, torn to shreds. “Smart dog, that’s certain.”
Sophie sees her poor puppy suspended in the air, struggling for her freedom.
“Tulip does not like to be manhandled. Surely you must be speaking of some other misbehaving dog. Please put her down!” She stomps her foot to make her point. It has little effect on the young man holding her beloved Tulip.
Hugh holds the dog out, “A girl dog. No wonder it is a pest.”
“What a mean boy you are!”
Sophie gazes at the other boy, who is attempting to hide his laughter. She motions to the youth still holding Tulip. “Is he always like this?”
Guy rolls his eyes and laughs, “He ‘will be the viscount someday.’ Takes himself seriously, this one.” He grabs the dog and hands it back to its owner. “Guy Amberly. This is my brother, Hugh. We are visiting at the manor house with our parents.” He holds up a pair of skates that has been dangling from his shoulder. “We were going to go skating, but haven’t come across the pond. Are you from near here? Can you point us in the right direction?”
Grouchy though he is at the pup having eaten the luncheon in his saddlebags, Hugh is not so mean as to kick the obnoxious dog scampering about, trying to chew on his boot and jump up to bite his fingertips, and manages to get in some petting of its head, as it bounces around. “Who names a dog after a flower? Poor thing will be demoralized all her days.”
“Can she track? Will she be a hunting dog?” Guy asks.
With a sudden start, Hugh draws himself up to full height—not very tall at all. “We had better go, Brother, before this young lady gets designs on me. One cannot be too careful when one is safeguarding a peerage. I’d hate to be compromised and forced to marry someone I’ve hardly met.”
Guy shoves his brother. “You pompous prat. No one wants you to marry their daughter.”
Sophie laughs, gives Tulip a hug, and then sets the pup back down. The dog begins to prance around Guy, before sitting down and barking at her rescuer. “Thank you for returning my dog. I am sorry about your lunch but I am certainly not looking to marry either of you.” Sophie continues to plaster a smile on her face. Hugh would certainly run as fast as his feet would carry him if he learned her father was a vicar!
“My sister and I are also guests at the manor. The pond is out past the garden area, and I know they also have sledding planned. I can show you where it is, unless you are afraid I might be trying to get a parson to wed us.” She laughs again and raises her brow at Hugh… as if she would wish to marry an arrogant boy like him.
“Will you come along to the pond with us, then?” Guy asks, blushing a bit and keeping his face turned away from his brother.
At least the younger boy seems a pleasant sort of chap. “If you do not mind a girl tagging along, it sounds like fun. I am Sophie Templeton, by the way,” she proclaims with a smile. “I have my skates up at the house, and I am certain the cook will be able to provide a lunch, to make up for Tulip’s bad manners.”
Hugh looks down his long nose. “It does seem unwise for a little girl to be roaming about unaccompanied. I will take you under my protection, and under the protection of the viscountcy—temporarily.”
Guy puffs out his chest and steps in front of Miss Templeton. “I will accompany the young lady, Hugh, not you.” He waves his hands at Hugh, trying to chivvy him away, with no success.
“My, my,” Hugh says, smirking.
“He isn’t even a viscount,” Guy grumbles. “Only a courtesy baron.”
“While you have no title at all, Brother.”
Guy gallantly holds out his elbow for Sophie. “To the kitchens, then? And skating?”
Sophie reaches out to accept Guy’s arm. No boy had ever asked to escort her anywhere, let alone claim he would take her under his protection, no matter that it was temporary. She smiles at Guy, while her cheeks begin to flush. “Thank you for your gallant offer.”
Trying to think of something witty to say, she asks, “Are you a good skater?” as they begin making their way to the manor. “My sister, Margaret, taught me how to skate, although she has not had much time for doing anything fun of late. Too busy helping with all the holiday preparations. She likes to help out wherever she can. Do you have any other brothers or sisters that are here with you? I always wanted another sibling but it is just me and Margaret.” Sophie realizes she is rambling about nothing that would interest two boys older than herself. She blushes again in embarrassment.
“We are here with our parents, the Viscount and Viscountess Effingale, and our sister, Charlotte,” Guy says, “She is older, and will be betrothed soon, so she has no time for games, either. But she isn’t much fun, anyway. Bossy sort.”
“I believe Margaret shares much the same disposition. My father has been meeting with would-be suitors for her. She is not happy, but do not tell her I told you, if you happen to meet her during your stay.”
“At last!” Hugh proclaims, when they arrive at the kitchen. “I am starving.”
Meet Sophie Templeton in Under the Mistletoe, by Sherry Ewing, and Hugh and Guy Amberly in ’Tis Her Season, by Mariana Gabrielle, both available in:
Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
In this collection of novellas, the Bluestocking Belles bring you seven runaway Regency brides resisting and romancing their holiday heroes under the mistletoe. Whether scampering away or dashing toward their destinies, avoiding a rogue or chasing after a scoundrel, these ladies and their gentlemen leave miles of mayhem behind them on the slippery road to a happy-ever-after.
***All proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.***
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This blog post co-written by:
Mariana Gabrielle is a pen name for Mari Christie, who is not romantic—at all. Therefore, her starry-eyed alter ego lives vicariously through characters who believe in their own happy-ever-afters. And believe they must, as Mariana loves her heroes and heroines, but truly dotes on her villains, and almost all of her characters’ hearts have been bruised, broken, and scarred long before they reach the pages of her books.
Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time.
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