Book Title: Christmas at Hembry Castle
Series: Hembry Castle Chronicles
Author: Meredith Allard
Publication Date: 1st December 2020
Publisher: Copperfield Press
Page Length: 120 Pages
You are cordially invited to Christmas at Hembry Castle. An unlikely earl struggles with his new place. A young couple’s love is tested. What is a meddling ghost to do? In the tradition of A Christmas Carol, travel back to Victorian England and enjoy a lighthearted, festive holiday celebration.
Downstairs at Hembry Castle was all a bustle as it had been for weeks. Poor Mrs. Graham was dusted from her cap to her boots in thick white flour. The powder ingrained itself in every hair, every line on her face, every flourish on her apron, every crevice on the folds of her work dress. No matter how many times a day she washed, ten minutes later she was once again covered in chalky white. If it wasn’t “Pies!” it was “Cakes!” and if it wasn’t “Cakes!” it was “Puddings!” and if it wasn’t “Puddings!” it was “Pies!”
Everyone with flexible limbs who was not of the family or their guests was put to constant use throughout the day and night of Christmas Eve. This maid was needed to fix this green velvet holiday dress with the white fur collar, adjusting the bustle just so. That footman was needed to carry this gentleman’s brown leather hunting bag to the stables. A constant hum of rushed footsteps carrying potato balls and Father Christmas shortbread and ham rolls and chestnut stuffing and roast turkey and “Pies!” of every variety could be heard up and down the stairs. The rhythmic stamping of dancing and skipping around the tree echoed in the kitchen. Footmen carried silver bowls of hot punch, mulled wine, and Madeira eggnog, so many bowls that the servants wondered how much are they drinking up there? Quite a lot from the boisterous laughter, the barely restrained shouting, and the off-key carol singing. The servants knew they would have their time to celebrate soon enough, with plenty of food, drink, music, poems, bon-bons, carol singing, and dancing of their own.
Mrs. Ellis smiled while directing traffic. She couldn’t help herself. The holidays were her favorite time of year no matter the headache of seeing a hundred things done at once. She looked toward the door of the servants’ entrance and remembered the previous Christmas. Last year that door had been left open to the cold and the snow, as it would certainly be again this year. The younger servants loved to slide down the snowy mound behind the courtyard, screaming with eggnog-induced laughter. She remembered the flush of red excitement on Edward’s face as he and Lady Daphne spent the day dancing and exchanging presents. Is that the day they fell in love, Mrs. Ellis wondered? She had a feeling it had started before then, but she was certain that was the day they both knew what was happening.
Oh! She would wring her grandson’s neck, that stubborn mule of a boy, that is, if she ever saw him again. He wouldn’t talk to her, or Lady Daphne, or even the Earl of Staton. But what she would say to him as soon as he showed his face again! And why was that harebrained boy hiding anyway? He was acting like he had to confess to being the Rugeley Poisoner. Yes, he had been let go from Fergusonandwately, but Mrs. Ellis didn’t see that as being such a terrible thing. They had taken advantage of her Neddie, she was certain of it, paying him a pittance when his stories were so very popular. Was Edward even still in London? Mrs. Ellis didn’t know. She thought of Lady Daphne upstairs, a smile on her lips, a sadness in her eyes, and wished it were last year again.
Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling paranormal historical Loving Husband Trilogy. Her sweet Victorian romance, When It Rained at Hembry Castle, was named a best historical novel by IndieReader. Her latest book, Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction, was named a #1 new release in Authorship and Creativity Self-Help on Amazon. When she isn’t writing she’s teaching writing, and she has taught writing to students ages five to 75. She loves books, cats, and coffee, though not always in that order. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit Meredith online at www.meredithallard.com.
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