His Mistletoe Bride
By Vanessa Kelly
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Phoebe Linville has always felt a bit like a fish out of water. Growing up in New Jersey, the child of a Quaker father and a mother who was the estranged daughter of an English earl, Phoebe absorbed many of the Quaker precepts but held on to enough of her mother's beliefs to be considered an outsider. Now, with both parents deceased and Phoebe facing a life of dependence on her rigidly Quaker half-brother, she receives an unexpected opportunity to experience the life her mother left behind but never forgot. A letter from her mother's father, asking forgiveness and begging Phoebe to come to him in London has her crossing the ocean to a new life and the family she's always dreamed of having. When she arrives however, it's not her grandfather who meets her but the new earl of Merritt who delivers the news that her grandfather has died and the even more shocking news that the old earl's last wish was that Phoebe marry Major Lucas Stanton, the new earl!
When a youthful love triangle leaves Lucas brokenhearted and estranged from the cousin who has been his best friend since childhood, he exchanges the ton for the army, leaving his family and London life behind. Surprisingly, it's as a soldier that he finds his place but now he's forced to give up his commission and return to England and the responsibilities of an earldom that he never planned to inherit; responsibilities that apparently include a sheltered young Quaker miss newly arrived from America. Though he still carries bitterness and animosity toward his cousin, the Marquess of Silverton (a rift that causes great concern among family members) and has vowed to never open his heart to a woman again, Lucas knows it's time to consider taking a wife and the arrival of a sweet, biddable young woman whom he can mold into the type of wife he needs seems the perfect solution. (You just know where this is going, don't you? ::grin::) The fact that she's beautiful is an added bonus. Now he just has to convince her to give him a chance and not bolt back to America on the first boat leaving England.
Lucas quickly realizes that a family is Phoebe's dearest wish and the best way to keep her in England. The Stantons warmly welcome her, surrounding her with love and acceptance and Phoebe quickly takes them into her heart but it's Lucas to whom she turns time and again for support and security as she finds her place in her new surroundings. Though Lucas is determined to guard his heart, his desire and affection for Phoebe continue to grow with each encounter while Phoebe struggles with all the changes in her life, including the new and unfamiliar feelings she experiences whenever Lucas is nearby. She's falling for him and, with time, he may open his heart to her but desires flare out of control in a public location and, before they're ready for it, Phoebe and Lucas find themselves married and bundled off to his country estate, Mistletoe Manor. There they must learn to work together while they rebuild their rundown estate, deal with a most unique staff of servants, keep impoverished villagers who have turned to smuggling to avoid starvation from being deported, or worse (they have vastly different ideas of how to deal with the problem) and define their own roles within their marriage. Lucas is entirely too used to giving orders (that soldier background) and Phoebe, for someone who was raised among Quakers, proves to be surprisingly outspoken and independent which, of course, makes their journey all the more entertaining. Add a lovingly interfering family and a staff that acts like family to a hero who learns that only through forgiveness can he truly be happy and a heroine with the fortitude to stand her ground and fight for the love and happiness they both deserve and you have a holiday treat that's not to be missed.