As part of H&H's Hot for the Holidays program, we're thrilled to share a limited-time peek at 12 special holiday stories! All 12 e-novellas are on sale now (you may have seen us talk about this H&H-St. Martin's Press program before), but we're offering H&H members the exclusive chance to read the whole story for free—it's our gift to you. But here's the thing: Stories will be available for ONE DAY ONLY over the next two weeks, so grab a blanket, a mug of hot chocolate, and get reading before they disappear with a wink and a smile!
Lieutenant Ian Worth needs a wife by Christmas, and he can’t afford to be choosy. He has to find her, woo her, and wed her before he goes back to sea—all within a matter of days.
Anne Lesley is a shy spinster with no prospects, and nothing and no one to recommend her but her own self. She accepts the lieutenant’s hasty offer only for the comfort and security it will bring. But when a midwinter storm snows her and Ian in, they both find they got much more than they bargained for—laughter, light, and a Christmas filled with honest to goodness true love…
Correction: We have added the prologue, which was missing from the earlier post. We apologize for the error.
It was only fitting that a ramshackle fellow like Ian Worth should arrange to take a girl to wife in the dim, drafty taproom of the Ball and Anchor, a tumbledown public house on the road to nowhere. Nowhere—in Ian’s case—being Portsmouth Harbor, where his ship rode restively at anchor in the dripping, swollen Solent.
Time and tide were running out.
“We’re agreed to it, then?” His companion struck out his hand, and took one last, narrow look at Ian through the tavern’s thin blue smoke, as if he were belatedly trying to gauge the level of Ian’s sobriety.
But Ian wasn’t drunk. He was hungover. And desperate. “Agreed.”
This was what he had come to—ordering up a wife with the same casual trepidation he normally reserved for stowing volatile powder aboard his cutter. Gingerly taking on dangerous, combustible cargo.
The likelihood of a hasty, patched-up marriage not blowing up in his face like so much black powder was practically nil, but no less than he deserved for trying to become engaged in a taproom.
But damn his eyes if such hazardous odds weren’t exactly his favorite sort of gamble.
[Log in or register to read The Scandal Before Christmas]