In this Dukes Behaving Badly holiday novella, a young lady entertains a sudden proposal of marriage-to a man she’s only just met.
What does a lady do when a man she’s never seen before offers his hand in marriage? Lady Sophronia Bettesford doesn’t scream and run away. Instead, she accepts the shocking proposition. After all, what’s her other choice? To live with her cousin, caring for six children and a barnyard full of chickens?
James Archer has roamed the world, determined never to settle down. He’s faced danger and disaster…he fears nothing and no one except his mother and her matchmaking ways. So when ordered to attend a Christmastime house party filled with holiday cheer and simpering young misses, he produces a fiancée!
Sophronia and James vow to pretend to be in love for one month. But when they each promise to give each other a Christmas kiss it becomes clear that this pact made out of necessity might just be turning into love.
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Megan offers an excerpt from NO GROOM AT THE INN
Sophronia gazed down into her glass of ale and repeated the word, even though she was only talking to herself. “Poultry.”
It didn’t sound any better the second time she said it, either.
The letter from her cousin had detailed all of the delights waiting for her when she arrived—taking care of her cousin’s six children (his wife had died, perhaps of exhaustion), overseeing the various village celebrations including, her cousin informed her with no little enthusiasm, the annual Tribute to the Hay, which was apparently the highlight of the year, and taking care of the chickens.
All twenty-seven of them.
Not to mention she would be arriving just before Christmas, which meant gifts and merriment and conviviality. Those weren’t bad things, of course, it was just that celebrating the season was just about the last thing she wanted to do.
Well, perhaps after taking care of the chickens.
The holidays used to be one of her favorite times of year—she and her father both loved playing holiday games, especially ones like Charades or Dictionary.
Even though he was the word expert in the family, eventually she had been able to fool him with her Dictionary definitions, and there was nothing so wonderful at seeing his dumbstruck expression when she revealed that no, he had not guessed the correct definition.
He was always so proud of her for that, for being able to keep up with him and his linguistic interests.
And now nobody would care that she was inordinately clever at making up definitions for words she’d never heard of.
She gave herself a mental shake, since she’d promised not to become maudlin. Especially at this time of the year.
She glanced around the barroom she was sitting in, taking note of the other occupants. Like the inn itself, they were plain but tidy. Like she was, as well, even if her clothing had started out, many years ago, as grander than theirs.