Lady Violet and Sebastian MacHeath are trying to forge a cordial marriage out of unlikely beginnings. When they are invited to a summer house party, they accept, hoping to make the excursion into a belated wedding journey of sorts–or at least a respite from meddling relatives. No sooner do they arrive, than their host’s ward is accused of petty wrongdoing. As the charges escalate into familial acrimony and worse, Violet determines that a scheme is afoot to discredit the young man.
Unraveling the mystery before a criminal investigation goes too far will require that Sebastian and Violet trust one another as they haven’t in years. They can get to the bottom of the unfortunate developments at the house party, but can they solve the mystery of how to be husband and wife in more than name?
Two heartwarming holiday tales of true love set in a place where happily ever afters abound–the library, of course!
Worth More Than Rubies – by Grace Burrowes
All the Duke of Dunfallon wants this holiday season is a respite from the machinations of the matchmakers. When pursued by a particularly determined would-be duchess, he ducks into the West Bartholomew Street Lending Library. Librarian Emerald Armstrong sees a dapper gent in a bit of a hurry and mistakes Dunfallon for a curate overdue for his assignation with West Bart’s theological collection.
Dunfallon is intrigued by Emmie’s love of books, her disdain for society’s games, and her ferocious generosity of spirit toward all of the library’s patrons. She has no patience with posturing, and thus he takes the risk of admitting his true identity. To his surprise, Emmie doesn’t mind all that much that he’s a duke—some things cannot be helped—but she is far less willing to keep silent about Dunfallon’s other secret, the one he has been guarding from even his fellow peers.
If an honest woman is worth more than rubies, what will a duke sacrifice to earn her love?
Diamond in the Rough — by Christi Caldwell
Lady Diamond Carmichael, paragon of propriety, is horrified when she discovers her headstrong younger sister at the Royal Colonade Library reading books that would enrage their ducal father. Worse, this disaster-in-the-making has been abetted by a rude, low-born/outspoken/brash/blunt/cocksure… librarian named Mr. Abbadon Grimoire.
Abbadon clawed his way free of a life of poverty and crime thanks to the refuge he found at the Royal Colonade Library, and he’s determined to help other people find their escapes as well—in the pages of the library’s books. He issues Diamond a challenge: Spend a fortnight exploring the volumes on the library’s shelves; if after two weeks, she still wants to prevent her sister from visiting, he won’t interfere.
Abbadon soon realizes that beneath Diamond’s icy veneer beats the heart of a loyal, loving, and passionate woman, and Diamond comes to see that Abbadon’s devotion to books is a respect for truth and learning. A former guttersnipe and a duke’s daughter aren’t the stuff of matches made in Mayfair, but perhaps happily ever afters aren’t just for fairytales!
NOTE: This duet will be released on Sept. 27, 2022, through library channels (and for our international readers, through Kobo). Readers wishing to purchase the story directly can do so from either authors’ website. Wide-retail distribution for these stories is planned for the 2023 holiday season, when next year’s new duet takes its turn as a library exclusive!
Matilda Merridew, former hoyden of the first water, finds herself widowed, weary, and in want of coin. Along comes Marcus, Lord Tremont, with an interesting–and decent–proposition. Tremont will provide Matilda a handsome salary and keep a commodious roof over her head if she will relieve him of the burden of managing a houseful of unruly former soldiers.
Matilda accepts the post, and soon learns that the proper, soft-spoken earl has a far more dashing side. Marcus, whose lodestars in life have been order and duty, is drawn to Matilda’s determination and pragmatic good cheer. When Matilda’s past rises from the grave to destroy any hope of a happily ever after, Matilda and Marcus will have to decide if love truly can conquer all!
While Lady Violet Belmaine is busy sorting out the odd turns her life has recently taken, Hugh St. Sevier repairs to his Kent estate in hopes of embarking on the placid life of a rural physician. Alas, for St. Sevier, the village of St. Ivo has more secrets than it has pots of heartease, and the good doctor will once again find himself the target of rumors and threats.
Somebody is rigging St. Ivo’s hound races, setting neighbor against neighbor, and turning what should be a friendly entertainment into an occasion for brawling. As an expert on medicinal herbs and soporifics, St. Sevier comes under suspicion. St. Ivo badly needs a physician, and the village also needs somebody to unravel the intrigues that are tearing it apart. St. Sevier can’t get to the bottom of the mystery on his own, but help–in the persons of Lady Violet and Sebastian MacHeath, is on the way!
Two novellas set in the time of mistletoe…
Lady Mistletoe’s Holiday Helper (from Yuletide Wishes)
Lord Marcus Bannerfield is former military and all business. He has no patience with frivolity, but when he becomes guardian to two orphaned nieces, even he knows somebody had better decorate his household for the yuletide holidays. Lady Margaret Entwhistle’s business offers that exact service, but she doesn’t expect his lordship pay for her efforts with kisses!
Kisses and Catnip (from Love and Other Perils)
Max Haddonfield is a man of science with a soft spot for stray cats. When he donates one of his foundlings to a library to protect the books from hungry mice, he never dreams that Lady Antonia Mainwaring will reward his generosity by stealing his heart!
Ash Dorning has loved Della Haddonfield from afar for years. He has played the part of the cordial family connection and battled every demon from lack of funds, to meddling relatives, to a recurring case of the blue devils–while other men have won Della’s smiles. When Della lands in the midst of scandal, those fellows who fawned over her hand disappear behind the nearest potted palms, leaving Ash to waltz to the rescue.
Della is compromised by a thoroughgoing bounder, and only Ash’s loyalty stands between her and hopeless ruin. But Ash has played least in sight with her for too long, and too many secrets lie between them for Della to believe that Ash is motivated by anything other than gentlemanly duty. When troubles comes calling once again, Ash and Della either learn to trust their love, or they will lose everything they hold dear—including each other.
Robert Rothmere is hiding a past no duke should have endured, but he’s not hiding it well enough. Sooner or later, his enemies will learn that he spent years locked away at a private asylum. To get their hands on his wealth, they’ll try to send him right back to his worst nightmares. If Robert is to foil their schemes, he needs to marry a perfectly proper, blessedly boring, deadly dull duchess, immediately — and he knows exactly which quietly delightful lady he’d love to entrust with that role.
Lady Constance Wentworth has cultivated a reputation for utter forgettability. She never speaks out of turn (in public), never has a daring thought (that she admits aloud), and never comes close to courting scandal… as far as anybody knows. Her path crossed Robert’s years ago, though, and she’s never forgotten the extraordinary lengths he traveled to keep her safe when she hadn’t a friend in the world. She longs to be his demure duchess…but little does he know that to marry her would be utter madness
Oak Dorning is an artist determined to take his place among London’s most successful portraitists. Town life is expensive, though, so a temporary post restoring a few old paintings for a ruralizing widow strikes Oak as a prudent detour on the way to his brilliant future.
Verity Channing was married to a renowned artist, and knows firsthand how spiteful London sophisticates can be. A quiet life in the country is fine with her–also lonely and rather dull–until Oak finds scandalous treasures lurking in her art collection. When somebody sets out to ruin Verity, Oak must choose between his cherished ambitions and the lady who fills his dreams.