I turned in a book today (yay!) and now I’m wandering around Beaufetheringstone House, aimless, searching for activity or company. After the excitement of last week’s masquerade ball, nobody’s around. Lady B had to head off to Brighton or Bath or someplace for a few days to visit an ailing friend, so she cancelled today’s regular Monday ball. After two years I think she still doesn’t trust us to throw a ball in her absence. Can you imagine? I mean, who wouldn’t trust seven perfectly capable women to throw a measly ball every few days?
Then I think about the sugar-paste sculptures I was reading about today. Pastillages of the early nineteenth century could be spectacularly elaborate and were used to decorate tables at dinner parties and other festivities. I vaguely recall seeing something like this on the refreshments table at one of our balls recently.
I have no idea where to get a sugar-paste sculpture. Do you buy one? Order it from a shop? Or do you ask your super fancy French dessert chef to make it for you?
I revise my gripe. I can’t even manage to decorate a refreshment table. How on earth could I throw a whole ball? A party planner, I clearly am not. Obviously Lady B knew what she was doing to cancel today’s ball.
Pondering sugar sculptures and other party favors, I stroll into the ballroom and stop short. A gentleman stands in the middle of the room. A ray of sunshine slanting through the partially drawn draperies casts his hair in a golden glow. A dark coat stretches over his broad shoulders and his boots positively sparkle. But, wait… Can that actually be a hint of lace I see peeking out from his cuffs? In 1818? Impossible. Not in this most fashionable of fashionable ball rooms.
As though he hears me, he turns and the lace cuffs become perfectly understandable. Before me stands a man so thoroughly comfortable with his natural appeal that he doesn’t need to ape fashion to ooze confidence.
“Cam? What are you doing here?”
A rakish smile tilts the corner of his mouth. He bows with a flourish of his cuff. “Miss Ashe. A pleasure.”
“But, you’re early. Your book doesn’t come out until December 3rd. The ball Lady B invited you to is the day before that.”
“Ah, but I arrived in town earlier than anticipated.”
“That doesn’t matter.” I walk toward him, making shooing motions with my hands. “You can’t be here. It’s bad luck.”
“I am not a bride on her wedding day, my dear. Your guests may see me before the pre-ordained moment without suffering. I rather suspect the opposite would occur, in fact.”
“Oh, gosh, you’re really conceited. But seriously, you’ve got to go.” I point toward the door.
He bows again. “As you wish,” he says, which of course (in my romantic imagination influenced at an impressionable age by The Princess Bride) always means “I love you.”
“I know you do.” In Kisses, She Wrote I give him a princess for his very own, after all. They both love me for it! But he’s looking at me a little weird now. “That is– uh– I know you want to be a polite guest. Heh. Now go.”
He goes. I watch him mount the gorgeous white horse he brought in here a few weeks ago with all those carriages, and breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t like to rush things, and Kisses, She Wrote won’t be out for four more weeks.
But I do know of some Christmasy romances that are already out now. In fact, I’m compiling a list of new and re-released Christmas romances on my website. In addition to collections of historical Christmas stories like A Grosvenor Square Christmas by Anna Campbell, Shana Galen, Vanessa Kelly and our very own wonderful Kate, on the list you’ll find full-length historical romances, cowboy romances, contemporary small-town romances, young adult romances, and even a few very steamy Christmas reads. I hope you’ll take advantage of the list. I’m adding to it regularly, so you can stop by until Christmas to find new reads.
Speaking of… I’m going to go find a chair and curl up with one of those books right now. I’ve found the perfect activity for today after all.
On those rare days when you’ve accomplished everything and there’s nothing left on your To Do list, what’s your favorite thing to do?