Every week for the seven weeks, the Bluestocking Belles bring you a bit of fiction, some holiday customs, a recipe, and a gift. This week Sherry Ewing celebrates with her pair from A Kiss For Charity her contribution to the Belle’s anthology, Holly and Hopeful Hearts. Let’s check on how they are doing.
A Christmas Craving
25 December, 1813
Lord Nicholas Lacey was on a mission of grave importance. There was no time to waste this Christmas morn. The fact that he roamed the hallways of Highgrove Manor in his robe was a testament to the urgency of his step.
“Still cold?” he asked peering at the silver lid but already knowing her answer.
“Yes, of course, sir,” she murmured with a smile of conspiracy.
Nicholas nodded his thanks and hurried his stride, carefully taking the stairs two at a time, so as not to spill the chocolate he could smell coming from the pot on the tray. He came to his bedroom and was about to set the tray down on a nearby table, when a maid solved his dilemma of the closed door when his were hands full.
“Let me take that for you, sir,” she offered.
“You’ve helped by opening the door. I need to deliver this myself.”
He entered his bedroom but continued toward the open doorway on the opposite end. There was no mistaking the giggles from his daughter. The little minx wasted no time to be by his stepmother’s side this morn.
He paused before entering, just so he could remember such a scene for the rest of his days. His daughter was tucking a blanket on Grace’s lap until his wife took Blanche’s hand and set it on her protruding stomach. His daughter’s eyes widened.
“I felt the baby,” she exclaimed in amazement causing Nicholas to laugh. Blanch turned toward him and began waving her free hand for him to join them. “Hurry, Father! Come feel my baby brother or sister.”
“First things first, Blanche,” Nicholas declared and proceeded to set the tray down, pour two cups of the chocolate, before handing one to each of his ladies.
He laughed again and held out a bowl to her before lifted the lid. “You know I do,” he said, putting the lid down and offering a spoon to his wife. “Are you sure you want them cold?”
Grace took the bowl. “You know I do.” She took a scoop of the mashed sweet potatoes and pears and sighed in pleasure. “Marvelous. This is just what this baby has been craving all morning.”
“Mama, did you not say that just yesterday?” Blanche asked.
“And the day before,” Nicholas added.
“I cannot help it. I just love them. Besides, Cook has been a marvel managing to make these for me every day.”
“I would think you should be tired of them by now.” Nicholas leaned forward to kiss his wife. Blanche raised her cheek as well, and he gave another kiss to his daughter. “Cook is indeed a mystery on how she has kept the pantry stocked this time of year just so she can appease your appetite, madam.”
Grace took another taste. “Delicious. I can think of no greater way to start Christmas morning than with a bowl of these potatoes.”
A chuckle escaped Nicolas. “I believe, my lady, that I can do better than just bringing you your breakfast.”
“Yes, Mama. You should see all the presents beneath the tree. Can we open them now, Father?” Blanch asked.
Nicholas nodded to the door. “Get dressed and we will see you downstairs, sweetling.”
They watched their daughter run from the room in a squeal of excitement. With the closing of the door, Nicholas took the now empty bowl from his wife’s hands. Leaning down he began nuzzling her neck.
“Nicholas, darling… we must not keep Blanche waiting.”
He kissed her lips, tasting the sweetness from the pears still upon them. “She can wait just a little longer.” Picking up his lady, he carried her back to their bed.
A Kiss For Charity is a novella within the Bluestocking Belles’ holiday collection, Holly and Hopeful Hearts, and is available for sale now at online retailers.
MASHED SWEET POTATOES AND PEARS
This recipe has become a holiday staple in our home and, as my son could attest, he’ll eat them cold the next day for breakfast!
5 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large firm but ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
3/4 cup (or more) pear nectar (or pear juice found in the organic section)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground cardamom
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish. Pierce potatoes in several places with fork. Place on baking sheet; bake until very tender when pierced with knife, about 1 hour. Remove from oven. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears; saute until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup nectar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until pears are very tender, adding more nectar if mixture sticks to skillet and stirring often, about 4 minutes. Transfer to processor and puree.
Peel sweet potatoes; place in large bowl of electric mixer. Add 4 tablespoons butter; beat until smooth. Mix in pear puree, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared dish. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
Bake potatoes uncovered until just heated through, about 20 minutes.
If My Heart Could See You is Sherry’s debut novel and the start of her medieval/time travel series. Click on any of the links where you can download your copy:
When you’re enemies, does love have a fighting chance?
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/29vxW2d
About Holly and Hopeful Hearts
When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?
570+ pages 25% of proceeds benefit The Malala Fund for girls’ education, the duchess’s favorite charity.
About the Novellas:
A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight
As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Perhaps among the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party, she will find a suitable husband?
Marcel Fournier has only one ambition: to save enough from his fees serving in as chef in the houses of the ton to become the proprietor of his own fine restaurant. An affair with the duchess’s dependent would be dangerous. Anything else is impossible. Isn’t it?
Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis
Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.
The last thing widower George Durand thinks he wants is another wife, but his difficult daughter is proving difficult to handle. In any case, the admirable Miss Sedgely is far too young for him.
A love match is not even a remote consideration for these two. Or is it?
A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing
Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Lord Nicholas Lacey is captivated by a lovely young woman he encounters at a masquerade. Considering the company she keeps, she might be interested in becoming his mistress. From the darkened paths of Vauxhall Gardens to a countryside estate called Hollystone Hall, Nicholas and Grace must set aside their differences in order to let love into their hearts.
Artemis, by Jessica Cale
Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?
The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight
James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.
Sophia keeps secret her tendre for James, Lord Elfingham. After all, the whole of Society knows he is pursuing the younger Belvoir sister, not the older one left on the shelf after two failed betrothals.
Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack
Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.
When Lady Exeter insists on Anna befriending a marquis’s son, a man Anna thinks is far too crude, Anna learns all about the trials her mother went through to find love herself. Only time will tell if Anna can find true love this Christmas season.
An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield
Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?
Adam Halevy prospered under the tutelage of his distant cousin, powerful banker Nathaniel Baumann. He’s ready to find a suitable wife, someone who understands a woman’s role, and will make a traditional home. Why is Baumann’s outspoken, independent daughter the one woman who haunts his nights?
Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett
Miss Kate Woodville, teacher and bluestocking, enjoys her independence, thank you very much. But when a very determined viscount insists she accompany him on a mad dash through the snow to Gretna Green to stop his younger sister, Violet, eloping with Kate’s own brother, she has little choice but to go. She’ll risk the ruin of her own pristine reputation if it means she can save Freddie from Lord Stanton’s wrath.
As they race along the road north and then back to Hollystone Hall in Buckinghamshire for a New Year’s Eve charity ball, hearts and wills are certain to collide. But will anyone—Freddie and Violet, or Kate and Lord Stanton—find the path to everlasting love?
$2.99 normally for 570+ pages, eight all-new Novellas. 25% of proceeds to the Malala Fund for girl’s education, the duchess’s favorite charity.
DECEMBER SPECIAL REDUCED TO .99 THIS MONTH ONLY.
Buy Links for Holly and Hopeful Hearts
Amazon US: http://ow.ly/INwa3049Ey3
Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/LqCI304jGuS
About Sherry Ewing
Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical & time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Beau Monde & the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry is currently working on her next novel and when not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist. You can learn more about Sherry and her published work at the following social media links:
Website & Books: http://www.SherryEwing.com
Bluestocking Belles: http://bluestockingbelles.net
Hearts Through Time: http://heartsthroughtime.com
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