A Holiday Season at Clifton Hall
The Romany have been barred from Lancashire for ten years under the old duke. The new duke, however, has new rules and encourages them to travel thither this Christmas. It's a special season for the royal Romany House of Brishen. They have a new royal babe and a wedding to celebrate.
Or do they?
Stari Besnik is betrothed to Chal Brishen, the Romany King's youngest brother. The marriage negotiations have taken so long, she doubts his commitment to her. Meanwhile, Chal is doing everything he can to meet her father's demands for Stari's bride price, as is the Romany men's tradition. He determines to do this without his brother's help. He wants no man aiding him to earn his bride!
Impatient to be with the man she loves, Stari seeks to gain what's required at an old market. When she's accused of theft and imprisoned, her life with Chal seems further away than ever. The penalty for theft in a market town is death by hanging - and no Romany does well under English law.
Can Chal gain his bride by Christmas? And who's the real thief with such a strong connection to Clifton Hall?
A Holiday Season at Clifton Hall is a Regency Christmas novella following on from Always a Princess and The King's Mistress.
It includes the prologue to the final title in this series: An Impossible Duchess.
Seduction of Tokyo
by Heather Hallman
For years, Pierce Roth and Kiyo Iwai have been avoiding the pull between them, and Pierce's inevitable engagement to his partner's sister, Euphemia Lyons, will put an end to any possibility of Kiyo and Pierce connecting.
But Pierce doesn't want to marry Euphemia, and Kiyo doesn't want to leave the bank. Her bookkeeping job pays well, and she needs the money to support her family.
If they give into their desires, too many people will be beyond disappointed in both of them, but the thought of losing Kiyo has Pierce making plans that might give way to the life he wishes to lead.
Now all he has to do is convince Kiyo he's playing for keeps.
Your Regency Christmas Taster...
“We’ve brought no trouble here,” Stari declared quietly. “However, the trade is fair.” She spoke through gritted teeth, extending her palm.
The fellow shrank away as though she’d the pox. “I’ll not take yer hand, gypsy. I’ve still business to make today.” His glance raked once more over her skirts, glaring disdain.
Despite his rudeness, Stari hoped Lydia wouldn’t seek another stall. They’d been among the English long enough. She longed to return to the woods outside this dark, dank, ill-scented town.
“Oi!” A shout behind made them all turn.
The providore stood, red-faced with fury as he waved an empty basket in one huge, hammy fist. “Thieves!” he bellowed, his glare riveted on Stari. “You’ll pay for my eggs, girl! One way or another.” He advanced menacingly towards her as louder shouts came from the growing crowd behind him.
“No!” Stari cried out, aware the gallows awaited any thief in a market town – and a Romany woman had precious little with which to barter. “I’ve taken nothing.”
Lydia’s palm slid into hers, tensed and ready. “We’ve taken nothing.” Out of the corner of her eye, Stari
spied the Frenchwoman hurrying away, her little boy lifted up into her arms, clutching something close inside his coat. Eggs?
She raised her free arm to point out the true culprits, remembering, suddenly, the desperation in the woman’s face. The joyless stare from her young son. What if eggs are all they have for Christmas? Like all Romany, Besnik had endured lean times, but the Romany aided each other. If a Romany house had no meat for Christmas, another furnished it in a fair trade. A Frenchwoman struggling to feed her hungry child in England had no recourse at all.
Stari’s arm fell slack. She closed her lips, praying the French mother and her son stayed safe. Meanwhile, the crowd hemmed right round her, louder, larger, and more menacing as they called for the law.
“Fetch the Watchman! Hang the thieves!” Their cries grew uglier. The pushing and shoving sent her forwards, practically into the goosepen.
Stari’s gut lurched as she struggled to hold her stance, flushing as cruder suggestions were made about disposing of two women in the Oldyards. They’d be lucky if the watchmen arrived in time.