Monday, October 3, 2011

Lady's Sophie Christmas Gift--to Me! By Grace Burrowes

When my editor gave me an opportunity to write a Regency Christmas romance, my first reaction was, “Oh, lucky, lucky me!” Then I had to think up a plot, and lucky me felt decidedly daunted: What could I possibly write about Christmas that was new, worth reading, even worth stuffing in the stockings of romance readers?

Hmm. Then it occurred to me that Christmas is a lonely time for many and in the northern climes it’s a season when winter is wrapping its dark, cold grip around our emotional stamina and health. So… two lonely, weary people, some miserable weather, and…

A baby! Of course, a baby, since Christmas is supposed to celebrate a baby’s birth. With that theme in mind, I chose a humble, ordinary baby, a little fellow abandoned into the care of the two lonely people…

Proper, reliable Sophie Windham is trying to cadge some peace and quiet for herself at Christmas, a season when her family’s merriment grates on her nerves. She’s arranged to have a few days to herself at the ducal mansion, only to find herself left to care for little Kit. Sophie often takes in strays, but there’s a problem: She knows nothing about caring for babies.

Fortunately for her and Kit, handsome Vim Charpentier does. Though it takes untangling Vim’s unhappy Christmas memories, some well placed mistletoe, and dealing with Sophie’s three over-protective brothers (who arrive from the East bearing gifts, more or less), Sophie and Vim do find their happily ever after.

An excerpt, for your pre-holiday delectation:

Vim Charpentier had spent a substantial portion of the past fifteen years sailing for purposes of trade. He’d heard dozens of languages, eaten unpronounceable dishes by the score, learned of all manner of exotic practices between men and women, but he’d never before seen a woman truly, visibly fall in love.

While he knelt on the carpet beside a scarred old rocking chair in a lowly servants’ parlor, he saw Sophie Windham fall in love. It came over her in a matter of moments, put a soft sparkle in her eyes and a warmth in her smile, and most of all, it changed the way she touched the object of her affection.

Little Kit went from being a potentially malodorous infantile bundle of trouble to the one person on earth Sophie would die to protect.

“Such a strong fellow you are.” She smiled down at the baby in her lap, bringing his hands together then gently spreading them wide again. “I applaud your strength, Master Kit. A sturdy young man like you will be riding to hounds by his second birthday.”

Vim had the sure conviction Sophie Windham had never voiced such nonsensical utterances in her life. He tore his gaze from the lady and child and sat back to catch a glimpse of the weather through the windows.

Ye almighty gods. He needed to be leaving. The light would soon be gone, the temperature would drop, and the snow would only get deeper as darkness fell. It seemed like a metaphor for Vim’s life, but he could at least take with him the knowledge Kit would be safe and loved and as happy as one devoted female could make him.

“Miss Windham, I really must be going.”

That got her attention. She peered up at him, her expression disgruntled.

“Must you? Will you at least let me feed you before you go? The taverns and public houses will be full to the brim, and you have been quite kind to both Kit and me. I haven’t even offered you a decent cup of tea, so you really cannot be going just yet, Mr. Charpentier.”

She rose, her hold on the infant as confident and relaxed as if this were her fifth baby. She was perhaps old enough to have had five babies—she wasn’t a girl by any means—but her figure belied the notion entirely.

Sophie Windham was blessed with a body a courtesan would envy. Devoid of cloaks and shawls and capes, Vim could assess her womanly charms all too easily.

“I appreciate the offer, Miss Windham, but the sooner I’m on my way, the sooner I’ll be able to find lodging with friends. Your offer is much appreciated nonetheless.” He reached for his greatcoat, still draped over a chair, but she advanced toward him, determination etched on her features.

“Sir, I am virtually alone in this house with a helpless child dependent on me for his every need. I have no idea how to feed him. I know not how or when to bathe him. I haven’t the first idea when his bedtime should be or what do with him upon waking. The least you can do is impart some knowledge to me before you go wandering the streets of Mayfair.”

The angle of her chin said she’d stop him bodily. Maternal instinct, whether firsthand or vicarious, was nothing a sane man sought to thwart.

“Perhaps just a cup of tea.”

Before Christmas arrives, they share much more than cup of tea—much, much more. I’ll be sending a signed copy of “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish” to three commenters on today’s blog who tell us what their most unusual holiday gift was. To read more of Sophie and Vim’s story, or to order your copy, click this link:


  1. I would love to win a copy of this book! Thank you for the giveaway! =D

  2. Emily--Tardy? You're the very first commenter and your name is Tardy??? Are the romantic comedy authors paying attention?
    Thanks for stopping by Emily, and so early, too!

  3. Loved this a arc.....this series is soo great. I think my weirdest gift was when I had to work on Christmas store open everyday and my fave. cousin was here for only like 3 hours. They all came down to the store with dinner and I spent time with my cousin!

  4. PS..will buy it too. I need it on the shelf by The other two or three soon

  5. I am, Grace. Robin waves to Emily... I love the name. LOL

    Love the excerpt Grace, but then I knew I would. I can't wait to read Lady Sophie's Christmas Gift.

  6. Sounds like a wonderful story, Grace! Congrats on your release.

  7. My one of a kind Christmas present was when I flew back to west Virginia with my grandparents one year to spend my one and only white christmas with family I hadn't seen in years.

    Happy sales and even happier holidays.

  8. My stepmother is queen of unusual Christmas presents (that's putting it nicely). One year she gave me a set of fancy lingerie hangers. I'm a wear a thirst to bed kinda gal.

    Love love love your books. So excited for the next two!

  9. Loved the excerpt! Best wishes to you. I'll be putting this in my Xmas wish list. :)

  10. That was supposed to say t-shirt. Ugh!

  11. Greetings to all my Casa writer friends, and thanks for the good wishes.
    Bama, thou art the soul of brevity, which is a gift in itself.

    Lord Valentine Windham comes sauntering around the corner, waving his lace handkerchief to interject the following:

    Greetings to the Assemblage, and as for being a gift, one must urge the gentle reader to save a place on their holiday lists for MY story, "The Virtuoso," which a discerning eye at Romance Reviews (among many, many others) has declared a Top Pick. In the common parlance of your day, this means MY story is better than my brothers', whose titles-alas--slip my mind at present.
    Adieu for now,
    Lord Valentine

    St. Just adds:

    Premature senility in one so talented is such a sad, sad thing. The books our readers will not want to forget--will not be ABLE to forget--are "The Heir" and "The Soldier."

    To which the Earl of Westhaven adds:
    Hush, both of you, and for shame. This is Sophie's day.

    To which Sophie adds: He's right.

  12. AS I WAS SAYING....

    Leslie, your story reminds us that time spent with loved ones is the essence of the holidays, and Virginia, I'm thinking one white Christmas was enough for you?

    My parents live in San Diego, and I've had my share of shirt-sleeve Christmases. We in the north forget that a poinsettia can grow to six feet in its natural, warm, habitat.

    And yes, Heather, I did wonder what new Urban Slang use of the word "thirst" I'd missed. Maybe you, wearing your thirst, were up too late last night reading a romance novel?

  13. Loved the excerpt, Grace! Congratulations on a fabulous Christmas book!
    My most unusual Christmas present: A common screw in a tiny black film canister. The story goes like this: Husband always gave me something black and filmy for Christmas...and then the children got to an age when I couldn't parade around the house in the morning wearing my presents. So that Christmas he gave me a cotton nightgown and the little film canister! The promise of things to come when they all grew up!

  14. Loved the excerpt and cover. The most unusual gift I ever received was a wall hanging that was covered in feathers and beads. I couldn't tell which end was the top. It was hideous.

  15. Sound like a great story, Grace. I love Regencies, can't wait to read it!

  16. Ah, Christmas, my favorite time of year. Sounds like you have the perfect story to melt cold hearts and snow. And a fabulous cover, too! Congratulations.

  17. Carolyn, that cowboy of yours is a Christmas present in cowboy boots--for you. I wonder what HE'D say is the most unusual present you've given him? Hmmm?

    And Crystal, sounds like you were a recipient of something sorely in need of re-gifting. This does happen, usually where eccentric relatives are involved.

    CH and Amelia, I love winter because one has so much more reading time, with the holidays, the chilly weather, and the long evenings. Time to write, too.... I guess.

  18. I love how you came up with the idea for the story, Grace! Can't wait to read it! I love historical romance, any period, and the idea of a Christmas tale sounds perfect!

    My son gave me a garden hose for Christmas one year, after he'd run over mine with the tractor mower. :) That was my most memorable Christmas gift ever. He was about 14. :)

    But what I loved most was the year my son and daughter and mother got together to get me a laptop, because all writers need one. :)

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  20. One of my favorite gifts was when I was a child and my parents got me a wild barn cat lol. They really didn't care for animals and I had given up hope. I give credit for one of the weirdest(and worst) to my husband - a rug cleaner - oh, ugh. I keep telling hime nothing with a plug (unless maybe a computer or tv lol). As a joke one year he gave me an extension cord with a PLUG lol.

    It's hard to believe that it's time to start reading Christmas stories but yours sounds wonderful.

  21. I read Christmas stories all year round. They are so great at creating that cozy, heartwarming feel. Lady's Sophie Christmas Gift sounds like a wonderful read. I'm glad you focused on the lonelier aspect of this holiday. While a lot of people think to celebrate it with their nearest and dearest, some people don't have a family to turn to. I am looking forward to reading it.

    An unusual gift for me because it was unexpected and never hinted at was a mixer. Prior to that I had never used one but I got the hang of it.

    Cambonified [at] yahoo [dot] com

  22. Not sure if you would call this a gift, but the first Christmas my hubby and I were engaged, he spent part of the time with his family skiing. Then he came to join me and my family and was sicker than a dog to the point of an ER visit. Of course I had to take care of him; leave my car 200 miles away from where we were headed because he couldn't drive back alone! Quite the first Christmas together!

  23. This looks like a great read!I love Christmas books. It's my favorite holiday, and also my birthday.

  24. Terry, if a lap top isn't the gift that keeps on giving, I don't know what is--to you and to all your many, happy readers.

    Catslady, we do wonder where the handle came from--maybe that long ago Christmas Kitty had something to do with it? People give me cats a LOT, which is is nice.... I guess.

    Na, I was appalled to learn that Christmas Eve is the second most domestically violent night of the year, with Super Bowl Sunday (in the city that wins) being the worst offender. Maybe loneliness isn't the worth thing that can happen to us, but Christmas is the worst time to deal with it.

    Anon, I hope the first Christmas was the worst Christmas, and they've all been improvements since then.

  25. I don't know that it was so unusual as a request as much as it was unusual of when the request was fulfilled. When I was a kid, I always wanted an easy bake oven. I ever got it. Eventually I forgot about it. No big deal. You do not always get what you want for Christmas. A few years later (okay about 15 years) my mom finally got me that easy bake oven. I had absolutely no clue. We all laughed. My oldest was about 2 at the time and we all made cake and things with the light bulb of the easy back oven. It was a lot of fun! :) The cover is beautiful by the way!

  26. Would love to win a copy of this!! :) My most unusual present was a wreath that my cousin made for me which consisted of metalic silver leaves, berries, HUGE Metallic blue poinsettias, and sticks from her yard that she had spraypainted gold. It was hideous! LOL But I smiled and thanked her anyway... it's the thought that counts!

  27. Well, part of my x'mas gifts one year was an engagement ring from fianacee... Good thing he knows that it doesn't really count as a x'mas gift and there were others... :)

  28. My hubbie got me a flashelight! yes! LOL! Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to read this book!


  29. Wonderful excerpt, Grace. Your writing is so beautiful and I can't wait to read this story.

  30. Hmm... most unusual Christmas gift must go to my godfather and his wife for getting me this Anne of Green Gables stationary when I was much too old for anything like that. Nice of them to still get me gifts when I was a teenager, but something a little more age-appropriate (even just a nice card wishing me a good year or something) would have been better.

  31. Grace - Congrats on Lady Sophie and The Virtuoso! I loved The Heir & The Soldier and I can't wait to get my hands on these!

    As for Christmas gifts, a few years ago one of my 6th graders brought me a floor lamp. It was so strange, but he was so proud of himself! His mom told me he picked it out specially for me! As for why he thought needed a floor lamp...who knows! It's still in the garage at my parents' house. :)

  32. Oh how good this sounds!

    My copy is in the mail, but I'm thinking to read it at Christmas time...

    I'll be stuffing some Christmas Stockings with this one:)

    Melanie F

  33. Love it and congrats on the shout out from Eloisa James! Definitely love to read it.

    My most unusual Christmas? My husband was listening to what I said, but mis-interpreted it. He was making fun of my fear of spiders, so I made fun of his fear of snakes by singing their praises. Guess what was under the tree for me? A $75 field guide to snakes. Oh and a too salty bin of popcorn. At least the tin was pretty and I could return the field guide for stuff I really wanted. I did tell him I appreciated his efforts, but in the 20+ years since, he's asked for a list.
    juleejadams (at) gmail (dot) com

  34. Grace -

    The best and most unusal Christmas gift I received was the first Xmas we lived in a house that we built when our boys were a newborn and a toddler. It was also a time of recession much like we are having today.

    I had told my husband that for Xmas I wanted a box full or happiness for our boys. On Christmas day he presented me with a chest for toys that he had made, working on it during times I wasn't home, and told me it was not only to hold the boys toys but the memories of their childhood!

    We still have that toy box and our grandchildren love playing with the toys from their father's childhood!

  35. My friends, Did you all notice how SHANA GALEN JUST OUTED HERSELF AS BEING BORN ON CHRISTMAS DAY??? Shana, I hope you were a good girl this year, because something tells me you'll be the one getting the unusual presents in less than ninety days.

  36. GzNKz4evr--How many of us wanted an EasyBake oven, and how many of us would admit that now? I bet that Christmas and baking with you has become one of your daughter's first, best memories.

    Sara--when they get out the sticks and spray paint, you know the guest bathroom is going to get a new little piece of holiday cheer (for not more than ten consecutive days).

    May--My Mom and Dad were reunited at Christmas after a break up. Three of my six siblings were born in mid-September... happy holidays, indeed.

    Joanna, do we suspect you of going for the "surely this gal deserves a signed copy of the book for Christmas" sympathy award? Might not be a bad tactic--did he at least include some batteries?

  37. I don't know that I've ever gotten what I would call an unusual Christmas present except my second child/son was born on Christmas Day.

    I can't wait to read this story. It sounds wonderful.

  38. ANITA! I think you're doing a giveaway yourself here directly: MUST HAVE DETAILS, PLEASE (and before Christmas).

    Oh, Sarah BB, you put it in your parents' garage?! You're supposed to use that floor lamp to read my books by, and Anitia's, and Sara's, and Robin's... Just watch, that kid will become a world renowned furniture designer, and that lamp will go for large on Ebay.

    Anna... You must forgive your elders. Back in the day, there was no such thing as a tween, and childhood lasted until your parents said you were grown up. It wasn't an all bad system, provided your friends never saw your stationery.

    Hiya, Melanie! Be on the lookout for a certain Lord Valentine Windham to be crashing various blogs in the coming weeks--bookworm2bookworm being among his favorites. Thanks for stopping by, and if you want some book signed... Valentine will be sure to let me know.

    Says Himself, lowering his dark lashes: You may depend upon it, Madam.

    Julee J--Well, you're getting him trained, I suppose. Is it a Loooonggg list? You're a good girl... aren't you?

    Jeanne, what a lovely story. For a long time, when I was invited to a baby shower, I'd give the expectant mother an Ikea toy chest. Dad could assemble it, Mom could sit herself on it to watch over the wild rumpus, and the kids could hide in it--who needs toys?

  39. I am ready to start reading Christmas stories... this would be a great beginning!! Thanks for the opportunity!!

  40. Betty, I am too! One of the fun things about "Lady Sophie" was that I got to write it last year at Christmas time. The mood was all around me, and that helped move the story along.

  41. I love the sound of your story. Christmas is my favorite time of year. I do agree that holidays bring a certain amount of emotional pressure.
    As for my most unusual gift, well the tiny solar fan that you wear on your hat. It actual works though you need a sturdy hat to keep it up. :)

  42. This book looks so good and I can't wait to read it.

    My most unusual gift I received was a set of coaster from my mom. I was about 22 and still living at home. I don't know why she felt the need to give me coasters.

  43. I love Christmas stories, and this sounds delightful! Thank you so much for the giveaway!


  44. Ooooh...can't wait to read this one! I would LOVE to win a copy to read this Christmas!

  45. This book is divine! Thank you!

  46. Gayle C... And the thing about that solar fan as a Christmas present is you have to wait months (around here) for the kind of weather that makes a fan an asset (on your hat or anywhere else).

    Um, coasters, Danielle? Is that like the start of a hope chest or something (which my brothers referred to as a Fat Chance chest)?

    Rebe, Eloisa James called "Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish" an 'unashamedly sentimental read' of sweetness and charm. Makes you want to pour a flagon of wassail and cuddle up with it, doesn't it?

    Louisana, your name is in the hat and Sandy, yours is too?

  47. I think I've always gotten pretty normal Christmas presents. I don't want any more "stuff", so I say just get me some dark chocolate & good hand/body lotion and pickled watermelon rind. Then I can ask for the same thing every year & still enjoy it.

    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  48. Ok, Di... pickled watermelon rinds are an aphrodisiac or something? An heirloom recipe? A Georgia thing? In all my days, I have never heard of pickled watermelon rinds...

  49. Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, for so many reasons. This sounds like such a wonderful story. You are right of course, so many people are lonely or down that time of year. What a wonderful way to bring life back up. A baby. And what a lovely cover.

  50. Loved Lady Sophie's book but would enjoy a signed copy much more than my Ebook!

    My most interesting Christmas gift? To understand, you have to first know that any gift presented by my Grandmother was alway subject to a quick and careful look in the box before pulling it out so the rest of the relatives could see it. So at age 14 I was relieved to see what I thought was a plain, bright blue sweater and I pulled it out to show everyone at my Grandmother's urging.

    It was bright blue alright...with a large crocheted lion's head on the front complete with a 3 inch yarn mane and a tail that wrapped around one arm that ended with a large tassel that sprouted from the shoulder. For years after I prayed I'd just get underwear from her for Christmas!

  51. Krazymama, looks like you get just how wonderful a baby can be.

    And Kero, can you imagine what those undies would have looked like? Nothing so tame as days of the week, I'm thinking--and you know there's a site called Kindlegraph for getting your copy of a book virtually signed?

    Thanks to you both for stopping by!

  52. I already got the ebook version of this, but was surprised to see it was a pdf file. I would love a real paper book. My strangest gift was a ice mold for shot glasses. A shotglass made of ice? Why would anyone think of that? and why did my nieces think I would like that?

    winnie968 at yahoo -dot- com

  53. This story looks great!

    Robin D

  54. Winnie--There must be some drink best served in a shot glass of ice, but it's known only to frat boys. We could think up a name for such a drink....

    Robin, thanks for stopping by!

  55. Hi Grace!
    My most unusual holiday gift? Well I don't believe I've ever received an unusual one... maybe some fairly useless things or things I already have too much of (like bath and body products), but nothing unusual.

    I love Regency stories, but have yet to read a Christmas tale in that setting and this story sounds wonderful! Will definitely be adding this series to my wishlist. Thanks for the giveaway & CONGRATS on your release!!!

  56. Loved the excerpt, Grace. When he saw Sophie fall in love tugged at the heart-strings.!