Hi, everyone! Lilia Birney here. I am pleased to announce my latest release for Night Shift publishing, Lady Penelope's Christmas Charade. I was fortunate to work with a talented and gracious group of women on my first two novellas, one of which was included in last year's holiday anthology Summons from the Duke.
Lady Penelope's Christmas Charade is my first full-length novel, and I set it during the Christmas season for one very specific purpose. The hero and the heroine of my novel have both given up on wishes long ago. And only during this magical holiday season can they find the strength and courage to make a Christmas wish for more in life.
My heroine, Penelope Annand, has everything her heart could desire. She's wealthy beyond measure. She has fine gowns and a lovely townhome in Grosvenor Street. She has a delightful group of friends who brighten her days. But for many years, she was married to a man who lived a lie, and after his death, she is lonely and distrustful of men.
My hero, Pierce Howe, is a professional thief-taker. As the police force for London was in its infancy back in the Regency era, men were often hired as detectives to track down criminals and bring them to justice. Pierce happens to be the best in the business. He relishes the prospect of bringing scoundrels to light, but hides his own secrets as well.
When Penelope's trusted maid turns up missing one chilly November morning, she hires Pierce to track the wayward servant down. Penelope is furious with Pierce's high-handed ways and will only allow him to work on the case if he treats her as an equal partner in the adventure. This leads to a series of close calls, intriguing trysts, and, of course, a charade or two--all the while, the two draw closer together. They both find they have the desire to make Christmas wishes again.
I love Christmas--I'm one of those lunatics who start listening to Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. We have so many ornaments that we've had to get two large Christmas trees to hold them all. And now that I have a daughter, I love watching her eyes light up with the magic of the season. This is indeed the most wonderful time of the year, and it was my pleasure to write a book that celebrates the wonder of the season.
As a giveaway, I am offering one free copy of Lady Penelope's Christmas Charade to a reader who comments below. Tell me, what's your favorite part of the Christmas season?
And here's a brief taste of Lady Penelope's Christmas Charade:
She gathered her skirts and took a step, only to be caught around the waist from behind. Unable to breathe from the pressure of the arm around her middle, she kicked backward, connecting with her assailant's right knee.
"Damnation!" A familiar voice swore, and her captor released her. Rubbing her ribs, she turned to see Pierce kneeling in the dirt.
"Pierce, are you terribly hurt?" She knelt beside him, tucking her skirt to pad her knees. "I'm so sorry. You frightened me. I didn't know it was you."
"I was worried when I returned to the carriage and you weren't there," he gasped, rubbing his kneecap. "I should know now, I need never worry for your safety again. Who knew a lady's boot heel could be quite so painful?"
"You shouldn't have grabbed me so," she replied tartly. "How was I supposed to react? Here we are in the yard of a most notorious brothel—any man with a grain of sense would have approached me differently."
"Believe me, madam, I am regretting my mistake most heartily at the moment." He gingerly flexed his leg, grimacing slightly. "What the devil are you doing out of the carriage anyway?"
"I saw a servant passing by, and thought it would be wise to question her." She took his leg in both of her hands, pressing it gently. Heavens, what a strong, muscled leg he had. She was thankful for the darkness, which hopefully covered her blush. "Does this hurt?"
"I'll survive." He leaned back on his elbows in the grass, staring at her from under lowered brows. "I was concerned for your safety, Lady Annand."
"Thank you, but I can defend myself. As you now know." She withdrew her hands from his leg, keeping her eyes lowered. If he read her thoughts at that moment, how he would laugh at her—how everyone would laugh. The Ice Goddess, reduced to nothing but a bowl of porridge after touching a man's knee.