Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!
Today we have a smooch from Christmas at Blackhaven Castle by Sophia James, but first ...
the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Joanne!
Congratulations, Joanne! Please contact natalie.anderson @ actrix (dot) co (dot) nz (minus the spaces) and she'll send you a copy of The Millionaire's Mistletoe Mistress.
And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Christmas at Blackhaven Castle by Sophia James ...
Christmas At Blackhaven Castle is part of a Christmas 2011 anthology called ‘Gift Wrapped Governess’ with Marguerite Kaye and Annie Burrows.
[Set up: In disguise, penniless Lady Seraphina Moreton seeks sanctuary at the Duke of Blackhaven’s castle just days before Christmas. Trey swore never again to be beguiled by a beautiful face, but as governess Seraphina gets close to his unruly, motherless children, he wants the festive joy she brings to stay well beyond Christmas Day... ]
Three hours later the smell of pine filled the room as his housekeeper brought in a plate of Christmas pies.
‘Baked in the dozens to strengthen their charm,’ she said, ‘and good luck for the twelve months of the New Year, Sir.’
Surrounded by red and green ribbon, a pile of gold and silver paper and balls made from the dry branches of last year’s climbing wisteria, Trey’s feet were knee-deep in spangle as he looked at the tree.
Ginger-and-butter shortbread had been strung with twine, the delicacies embellishing an already over-embellished greenery.
Lady Seraphina Moreton had no pattern of demanding the fir dressed as his late wife had been want to on the few times she had bothered. Everything went, according to his new governess’ philosophy, so that even the broken offerings the boys had put their hearts into creating, took their place alongside the expensive and irreplaceable heirlooms collected by the Blackhaven ancestors for generations.
There was hardly a pine needle still on show and the angel on the top that he had had the task of securing looked down on a hotchpotch of colour.
His children loved it.
‘Have you ever seen such a tree, papa?’ David asked him and he shook his head in honesty.
Seraphina Moreton laughed as he looked over to find her watching him, her dog jumping at the foil on a lower branch and nestled in a pile of paper.
‘I like the red apples best.’ Terry pointed out his efforts, three matching misshapen ball with sprigs of gold drunkenly hanging from the top.
As leaves he supposed. He made much of nodding.
‘The stars are mine, papa.’ Gareth brought a folded silver shape away from the riot of others behind it. ‘Miss Moore helped me draw them. I could make some for your library tomorrow.’
‘We have mistletoe as well.’ David took a sprig from a box at his feet and placed it carefully on his hand. ‘Where should we hang it?’
‘Above Miss Moore,’ Gareth screeched. ‘Then we can all give her a kiss.’
‘Above papa,’ Terrence amended. ‘Then she could give him one.’ His oldest son was already counting as he walked over with the mistletoe. ‘Twelve berries. Twelve kisses. You can have the first one, papa.’
A vibrant red blush crept up Lady Moreton’s cheeks but with three boys baying for a kiss, Trey felt it easier to do so. He had meant to place a light peck on her cheek, just a small token to fulfil an expected duty but he found the soft fullness of her mouth instead and his world exploded.
She felt his finger against her cheek, light as air, question in the last second before his lips slanted inwards, the full force of an unexpected magic making her press in. Trey Stanford was hers for this moment under a tree of Christmas and in a world of colour, the taste of him strong and real, his fingers at her nape, the shape of his body full down the front of hers as a deep pain of need entwined itself into all the corners of her heart. He was neither careful nor gentle nor calm. He was masculine fervour tempered with steel, a man who knew his way around a woman and was taking the chance of appetite even with his three children watching on.
Seraphina was breathless when he broke away. Kissing was nothing like she had heard it to be; tepid, shallow and lukewarm. It was hot and ardent and fierce, the meeting of souls through a joining of spirit, a giving and a taking.
As amazement bloomed she heard the shouts of the boys and David plucked one berry and threw it in the fire. It sizzled against the embers, a slight puff of smoke and then gone.
Romantic Times Reviews gave these light Christmas reads 4 stars: "These lovely holiday stories are perfect to whisk you away when the Season gets frantic."
If you'd like to enjoy a little light relief from the daunting business of Christmas, Sophia has 5 autographed copies to give away to visitors to her post today!
Gift Wrapped Governess is out in the UK and North America now!
Come back next Sunday, when the winners of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Rodeo Daddy by Soraya Lane will be posted!