Read Christmas Brides (Three Regency Novellas) Online

Authors: Cheryl Bolen

Tags: #Regency romance

Christmas Brides (Three Regency Novellas)

 

 

 

(Three Regency Novellas)

 

A Christmas Wish

Home for Christmas

Christmas at Farley Manor

 

Award Winning Author

Cheryl Bolen

The Christmas Wish

Heat index: Sweet

 

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

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.)

Heat index: Sweet

 

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.

 

*Winner in Romance Through the Ages, sponsored by Hearts Through History

 

eBooks available from award-winning author Cheryl Bolen

 

Regency Historical Romance:

 

Marriage of Inconvenience

 

Christmas Brides (Three Regency Novellas)

 

The Regent Mysteries Series

With His Lady's Assistance

A Most Discreet Inquiry

 

A Lady by Chance*

 

My Lord Wicked

 

His Lordship's Vow

 

The Earl's Bargain

 

The Brides of Bath Series

The Bride Wore Blue*

With His Ring*

The Bride’s Secret (
previously titled
A Fallen Woman*

To Take This Lord (
previously titled
An Improper Proposal)*

 

Lady Sophia's Rescue

 

Christmas at Farley Manor

 

A Duke Deceived*

 

Romantic Suspense:

 

Protecting Britannia (Texas Heroines in Peril)

 

Murder at Veranda House (Texas Heroines in Peril)

 

A Cry In The Night (Texas Heroines in Peril)

 

Capitol Offense (Texas Heroines in Peril)

 

World War II Romance:

 

It Had to Be You
(Previously titled
Nisei
)

 

American Historical Romance:

 

A Summer To Remember (3 American Romances)

 

*Previously published in paperback

 

Table of Contents

 

The Christmas Wish

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

 

Home For Christmas

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

 

Christmas At Farley Manor

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

 

 

The Christmas Wish

 

By

 

Cheryl Bolen

 

 

Copyright © 2012
by Cheryl Bolen
 

The Christmas Wish
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author.

Chapter 1

 

It was really appallingly deplorable the way Miss Annabelle Pemberton perked up at the very mention of that scoundrel Lord de Vere. She was rather like one of Papa's pointers at the sniff of a hare. Whilst she had sat dutifully drafting a letter to Aunt Smithington-Fortenoy she heard Simms admit the far-too-handsome, philandering viscount, who was calling upon her father. Like a half-wit, she abandoned her letter, leapt to her feet, and rushed to the corridor in time to see Simms shake a puff of snow from Lord de Vere's beaver hat. Had she a tail, it would have wagged.

Miss Pemberton might not be able to control her lamentable interest in all things de Vere, but years of careful grooming by refined ladies of rank had schooled her to never display emotion. Very calmly, she paused on the upper landing and coolly observed the only man who had ever ruffled her serene countenance.

Could one ever tire of looking at the man? Her gaze began at his fashionably styled dark brown hair and moved to those near-black eyes set in a very fine face that was memorable for the well-defined cleft in his square chin. Men—being generally incapable of such distinctions—might not be able to perceive his handsomeness, but there was nary a man in England who could fail to envy Lord de Vere's tall, lean-muscled frame, narrow waist, and long, well-formed legs.

The supremely confident peer spread those well-formed legs, planting his booted feet on the marble floor, and casually looked up. “There you are, Belle.” The tenderness of his smile gave her a bubbling sensation.
Odious man
!

Her brows lowered. “You're to call me Miss Pemberton,” she admonished as she started to descend the broad marble stairway. Since he had succeeded at age eighteen a dozen years ago, she had not once referred to him by his first name as she had when they were younger, and since she had left the schoolroom seven years previously no one had addressed her by her first name. Except for Lord de Vere.

“What man calls his sister Miss Pemberton?”

She stiffened. “You are
not
my brother.” As she drew closer to him, she realized Lord de Vere's usual impeccable clothing was wrinkled, and dark stubble shaded his face.

“I shall always regard you as my little sister.” The way he peered down at her with smoldering black eyes belied his words. She cautioned herself not to read too much into his seductive demeanor. Expertise in the seduction of females was a skill that apparently did not depress easily—even with one he considered a sibling.
Odious man
.

“Really, de Vere, you are much too old to expect Papa to bail you out of another scrape.” She ran her eye over his disheveled state, scrunching her nose with distaste. “You have not been to bed, have you?”

“You know me too well.” His head hung. “I've come from Newmarket.”

“Then you've suffered heavy losses?”

He answered her with a solemn nod. “I pride myself on my knowledge of horseflesh.” He shrugged and gave her a half smile. “But my cursed horse came up lame.”

That de Vere was noted for his knowledge of horses she could not deny. When he was a lad, the de Vere stables were said to be the finest in the kingdom. Before his father lost the de Vere fortune at the gaming tables. “So you've come to beg a loan from my father?”

His eyes went cold. “Since the day he ceased to be my guardian, I have never asked your father for a farthing.”

“Then I beg your forgiveness for my assumption.” Her father's friends from Parliament—and even his chums going back to his days at Oxford—were often borrowing money from her wealthy parent. It was a natural assumption that de Vere had come today for the same reason.

“Since your father has been as a father to me, I owe him the explanation for my embarrassment. I shouldn't like him to learn it from another source.”

Since her Papa had no sons of his own, he
had
rather regarded de Vere as a son—even if she had
not
regarded him as a brother.

Simms shuffled into the central hallway where they stood. “Mr. Pemberton will see you in his library, my lord.”

Her worry over her father was somewhat relieved because he'd at least been able to leave his bed and move to the library.

De Vere spun back to her and sketched a bow.

Despite her resolve not to do so, she watched as he walked away, a full head taller than dear, white-headed Simms. The cocky, almost-arrogant demeanor that had defined de Vere during these years of hedonism suddenly vanished. She was reminded now of the thin lad he'd been with gangly legs and arms he'd yet to grow into and of his forlornness on becoming an orphan at eighteen. And something twisted in her heart.

She had far too many worries twisting her heart at present. When would the physician come? She had sent for him that morning. The fact that Papa had condescended to allow her to summon Marsden filled her with dread.

* * *

The prospect of facing his well-respected former guardian made de Vere feel rather like a lad who'd been summoned to the headmaster's. He smirked over the irony. De Vere had been an exemplary student with a hunger for learning. It was many years later that he became dissolute.

As he trod behind the stooped butler along Pemberton's opulent hallway of marble and gilt and hung with massive paintings by Italian masters, de Vere remembered what his father had told him about Robert Pemberton's former dissolute ways. For nine and forty years the enormously wealthy rake gave no indication he would ever settle into respectability. Yet for a woman who captured his heart and for the daughter who held that heart in her firm grasp, Robert Pemberton had abandoned his profligate ways as easily as a hound sheds its winter coat.

De Vere entered a library paneled in rich, dark wood and observed Pemberton sitting in front of the fire, a thick tome on his lap, spectacles dangling at the tip of his nose as he read. A perfect picture of respectability.

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