A Gift of Love from Lindsey
Romance author Johanna Lindsey gave her readers the perfect Christmas gift two years ago with her seasonal tale of love, The Present. This year, Lindsey once again demonstrates her holiday spirit with another tale of Yuletide yearnings, this one with distinct Dickensian overtones. Home for the Holidays is a deliciously delectable tale of romance, revenge, and high passion, spiced up with a dash of irony, a sprinkling of wit, and a smattering of holiday magic.
Young Larissa Ascot has her hands full as the holiday season draws near. Not only is her father long overdue for his return from his latest excursion on the high seas, but her younger brother is seriously ill with some mysterious malady. Just as she thinks things can't get any worse, they do. All of her father's creditors panic suddenly, calling in their markers and refusing to issue any more credit. Larissa starts selling off possessions in an effort to make ends meet, but then the final blow is struck. Mere days before Christmas, she is served with an eviction notice that requires her and her brother to be gone from the house within 24 hours.
The culprit behind all these financial woes is wealthy businessman Vincent Everett. Vincent's thirst for vengeance is triggered when he receives a suicide note from his younger brother, Albert, who apparently decided to end it all when his fledgling shipping company met with financial ruin. The target of Vincent's vengeance is the man who was Albert's chief competitor: Larissa's father. In a gesture of fake beneficence, Vincent offers Larissa and her brother temporary lodgings under his own roof, intending to seduce the lovely Larissa for his coup de grace. But his plan backfires when he falls in love with Larissa and then discovers the ugly truth about the dealings between Albert and Larissa's father. Too late, he realizes that he may have lost the only thing that really matters to him -- Larissa's love.
Lindsey's trademark flair for writing romantic tales filled with rich, historic detail and boundless passion shines bright in Home for the Holidays. With a holiday setting and a story that reflects the true joy, magic, and meaning of the season, it's the perfect gift for romance readers.
Beth Amos is the author of several novels, including Second Sight and Cold White Fury.
Read an Excerpt
Vincent Everett sat in his coach across the street from the fashionable town house in London. It was one of the colder nights of the winter season, but he had slid the window open so he could see clearly across the street. He wouldn't be surprised if snow was imminent.
He wasn't sure why he was there, subjecting himself to inclement weather. He didn't doubt that his secretary, Horace Dudley, would serve the notice that gave the occupants two days to vacate the house. It wasn't that this was another stepping-stone in his decision to ruin the Ascot family, who lived there. It was more likely that he was simply bored and had had no other plans for the evening.
Even the decision to ruin this particular family wasn't an emotional one. Vincent hadn't experienced any real emotion since his childhood, nor did he ever again want to know such pain. It was much, much easier to exist with a stone for a heart, made simple matters such as evicting a family during the Christmas season just a matter of course.
No, the methodical destruction of the Ascots wasn't emotional, but it was personal. Vincent's younger brother, Albert, had made it personal, when he had put the full blame for his failed business and finances on George Ascot.
Albert had lost most of his inheritance, solely on his own. However, he had learned from his mistakes. He had taken what little was left of it and tried to start a business that would support him, so he wouldn't be a continuous drain on Vincent. And to give himself some pride. He had bought several merchant ships, opened a small office in Portsmouth. But apparently Ascot, an established shipping merchant himself,had been afraid of the competition and had set out to undermine Albert's efforts at every turn, to break him before he even began.
These were the details in Albert's letter, which was all he'd left behind before he disappeared, that and an astounding number of debts that continued to land on Vincent's door. Vincent feared that Albert had taken himself off to quietly kill himself somewhere where he wouldn't be found, as he had threatened so many times. What else was he to think, when Albert's letter had ended with "This is the only way I can think of, to no longer be an embarrassment or burden to you"?
Albert's demise had left Vincent without family, though to be honest, he'd never really felt a part of his own family, so his lack of one now hardly made a difference to him. His parents had died just after Vincent reached his majority, within a year of each other, leaving only the two brothers. With no other relatives, even distant ones, the brothers should have been close. Not so. Albert might have felt a closeness, or more to the point, a dependency, but then Albert expected the world and everything in it to revolve around him, a silly notion that their parents had fostered by making him their joy, their amusement, their favorite. Vincent had merely been the reserved, boring heir they never took notice of.
It was amazing that Vincent had never hated his brother, but then you had to experience emotion to hate. By the same token, there had been no love, either, for his weakling of a brother, merely a tolerance because he was "family." That he had picked up the gauntlet, as it were, on Albert's behalf was more a long-standing habit, as well as a matter of pride. It was a blight on his own name, that George Ascot had successfully crushed an Everett without consequences. He would soon know differently. It was the last thing that Vincent could do for Albert, to at least pay back Ascot in kind.
The snow he had been expecting arrived, just as the door opened across the street to Dudley's knock. Vincent's view was hampered by the white flakes, but he could still make out a flowing skirt, so a female had answered the knock. Ascot himself wouldn't be there. Reports were that he had set sail on one of his ships in the first week of September, and more than three months later, had yet to return to England. His absence was making this retaliation simple. When Ascot did return, he would find his credit canceled with many of his merchant suppliers, and his home lost to him due to lack of payment on demand.
Vincent hadn't decided yet whether to continue his campaign after tonight or to wait for Ascot's return. Tonight's eviction would be a decisive blow, the culmination of several weeks' work, but hardly satisfactory when Ascot wouldn't be there to know of it yet.
Actually, this whole matter of revenge was rather distasteful. It wasn't something he wanted to do, had ever done before, or likely ever would again, but was something he felt he had to do this one time. So he would as soon get it over and done with. But Ascot wasn't obliging in that, being out of the country for longer than expected.
He should have returned by now. Vincent had counted on his being back by now. Waiting was not something he did well. And waiting in his coach, in the cold, when he didn't need to be there and still wasn't even sure why he was there, was starting to annoy him, especially since Dudley was taking his sweet time delivering the notice. How bloody long did it take to hand over a piece of paper?
Across the street, the door finally closed. But Vincent's secretary still stood there facing it, unmoving. Had he accomplished his task, or had the door been closed on him before he could? What the devil was he doing, standing there in the snow doing nothing...Home for the Holidays. Copyright © by Johanna Lindsey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.