'Twas the Night After Christmasby Sabrina Jeffries
Sabrina Jeffries gives us a gift to cherish: “a moving Regency with heart, soul, and holiday spirit” (Publishers Weekly) about an unexpected Christmas reunion that’s sparked by a cunning ruse, family secrets, and the mysterious ways of the heart.
New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries unwraps a touching/b>/i>/b>
Sabrina Jeffries gives us a gift to cherish: “a moving Regency with heart, soul, and holiday spirit” (Publishers Weekly) about an unexpected Christmas reunion that’s sparked by a cunning ruse, family secrets, and the mysterious ways of the heart.
New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries unwraps a touching Regency tale brimming “with heart, soul, and holiday spirit” (Publishers Weekly)!
Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has never forgiven his parents for inexplicably abandoning him to distant relatives as a child. Nevertheless, when he receives word that the stranger he calls “Mother” is gravely ill, the unabashed rogue makes a rare return to Montcliff, his country estate. There he finds that the woman is perfectly healthy—and that he has fallen for a cunning ruse crafted by her lady’s companion, Mrs. Camilla Stuart. The lively vicar’s widow, too bright and beautiful not to arouse the scoundrel in Pierce, is determined to reconcile the Earl and Lady Devonmont. None of them can predict the secrets, both heartening and shocking, divulged between a mother and son, and between two lovers, each haunted by their pasts, that will make Christmas night at Montcliff one to remember—and the glorious night after, one to treasure for a lifetime.
"Bestseller Jeffries delivers a moving Regency with heart, soul, and holiday spirit.... The compelling, fast-paced, and lively tale wraps up with several surprising, tear-jerking twists."
"Jeffries' latest historical romance is an enchanting holiday charmer with a complex and captivating plot; characters that interact with emotional authenticity; and a rich set of conflicted, heart-tugging obstaclesall of which combine to provide a satisfying happily-ever-after set against a fun holiday backdrop. Skillful writing and storytelling, compelling sexual and emotional tension, and a cast of realistic, vulnerable characters contribute to a lovely, spirited Christmas winner."
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Read an Excerpt
Thirty-one-year-old Pierce Waverly, Earl of Devonmont, sat at the desk in the study of his London town house, going through the mail as he waited for his current mistress to arrive, when one letter came to the top, addressed in a familiar hand. An equally familiar pain squeezed his chest, reminding him of that other letter years ago.
What a naive fool he’d been. Even though he had grown bigger and stronger, even though he’d become the kind of son Father had always claimed to want, he’d never been allowed home again. He’d spent every school holiday—Christmas, Easter, and summer—at Waverly Farm.
And after Titus Waverly and his wife had died unexpectedly in a boating accident when Pierce was thirteen, Titus’s father, General Isaac Waverly, had returned from the war to take over Waverly Farm and Titus’s orphaned children.
Even though Pierce hadn’t received a single letter from his parents in five years, he’d still been certain that he would finally be sent home—but no. Whatever arrangement Titus had made with Pierce’s parents was apparently preserved with Pierce’s great-uncle, for the general had fallen right into the role of substitute parent.
Despite all that, it had taken Pierce until he was eighteen, when neither of his parents had appeared at his matriculation from Harrow, to acknowledge the truth. Not only did his father hate him, but his mother had no use for him, either. Apparently she’d endured his presence until he was old enough to pack off to school and relations, and after that she’d decided she was done with him. She was too busy enjoying Father’s fortune and influence to bother with her own son.
Pain had exploded into rage for a time, until he’d reached his majority, at twenty-one, and had traveled home to confront them both . . .
No, he couldn’t bear to remember that fiasco. The humiliation of that particular rejection still sent pain screaming through him. Eventually he would silence that, too; then perhaps he’d find some peace at last.
That is, if Mother would let him. He stared down at the letter, and his fingers tightened into fists. But she wouldn’t. She’d poisoned his childhood, and now that Father was dead and Pierce had inherited everything, she thought to make it all go away.
She’d been trying ever since the funeral, two years ago. When she’d mentioned his coming “home,” he’d asked her why it had taken his father’s death for her to allow it. He’d expected a litany of patently false excuses, but she’d only said that the past was the past. She wanted to start anew with him.
He snorted. Of course she did. It was the only way to get her hands on more of Father’s money than what had been left to her.
Well, to hell with her. She may have decided she wanted to play the role of mother again, but he no longer wanted to play her son. Years of yearning for a mother who was never there, for whom he would have fought dragons as a boy, had frozen his heart. Since his father’s death, it hadn’t warmed one degree.
Except that every time he saw one of her letters—
Choking back a bitter curse, he tossed the unopened letter to his secretary, Mr. Boyd. One thing he’d learned from the last letter she’d written him, when he was a boy, was that words meant nothing. Less than nothing. And the word love in particular was just a word. “Put that with the others,” he told Boyd.
“Yes, my lord.” There was no hint of condemnation, no hint of reproach in the man’s voice.
Good man, Boyd. He knew better.
Yet Pierce felt the same twinge of guilt as always.
Damn it, he had done right by his mother, for all that she had never done right by him. Her inheritance from Father was entirely under his control. He could have deprived her if he’d wished—another man might have—but instead he’d set her up in the estate’s dower house with plenty of servants and enough pin money to make her comfortable. Not enough to live extravagantly—he couldn’t bring himself to give her that—but enough that she couldn’t accuse him of neglect.
He’d even hired a companion for her, who by all accounts had proved perfect for the position. Not that he would know for himself, since he’d never seen the indomitable Mrs. Camilla Stuart in action, never seen her with his mother. He never saw Mother at all. He’d laid down the law from the first. She was free to roam Montcliff, his estate in Hertfordshire, as she pleased when he wasn’t in residence, but when he was there to take care of estate affairs, she was to stay at the dower house and well away from him. So far she’d held to that agreement.
But the letters came anyway, one a week, as they had ever since Father’s death. Two years of letters, piled in a box now overflowing. All unopened. Because why should he read hers, when she’d never answered a single one of his as a boy?
Besides, they were probably filled with wheedling requests for more money now that he held the purse strings. He wouldn’t give in to those, damn it.
“My lord, Mrs. Swanton has arrived,” his butler announced from the doorway.
The words jerked him from his oppressive thoughts. “You may send her in.”
Boyd slid a document onto Pierce’s desk, then left, passing Mrs. Swanton as he went out. The door closed behind him, leaving Pierce alone with his current mistress.
Blond and blue-eyed, Eugenia Swanton had the elegant features of a fine lady and the eloquent body of a fine whore. The combination had made her one of the most sought-after mistresses in London, despite her humble beginnings as a rag-mannered chit from Spitalfields.
When he’d snagged her three years ago it had been quite a coup, since she’d had dukes and princes vying for her favors. But the triumph had paled somewhat in recent months. Even she hadn’t been able to calm his restlessness.
And now she was scanning him with a practiced eye, clearly taking note of his elaborate evening attire as her smile showed her appreciation. Slowly, sensually, she drew off her gloves in a maneuver that signaled she was eager to do whatever he wished. Last year, that would have had him bending her over his desk and taking her in a most lascivious manner.
Tonight, it merely left him cold.
“You summoned me, my lord?” she said in that smooth, cultured voice that had kept him intrigued with her longer than with his other mistresses. She had several appealing qualities, including her quick wit.
And yet . . .
Bracing himself for the theatrics sure to come, he rose and rounded the desk to press a kiss to her lightly rouged cheek. “Do sit down, Eugenia,” he murmured, gesturing to a chair.
She froze, then arched one carefully manicured eyebrow. “No need. I can receive my congé just as easily standing.”
He muttered a curse. “How did you—”
“I’m no fool, you know,” she drawled. “I didn’t get where I am by not noticing when a man has begun to lose interest.”
Her expression held a hint of disappointment, but no sign of trouble brewing, which surprised him. He was used to temper tantrums from departing mistresses.
His respect for Eugenia rose a notch. “Very well.” Picking up the document on the desk, he handed it to her.
She scanned it with a businesswoman’s keen eye, her gaze widening at the last page. “You’re very generous, my lord.”
“You’ve served me well,” he said with a shrug, now impatient to be done. “Why shouldn’t I be generous?”
“Indeed.” She slid the document into her reticule. “Thank you, then.”
Pleased that she was taking her dismissal so well, he went to open the door for her. “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you, Eugenia.”
The words halted her. She stared at him with an intent gaze that made him uncomfortable. “That’s the trouble with you, my lord. Our association has always been one of business. Intimate business, I’ll grant you, but business all the same. And business doesn’t keep a body warm on a cold winter’s night.”
“On the contrary,” he said with a thin smile. “I believe I succeeded very well at keeping you warm.”
“I speak of you, not myself.” She glided up to him with a courtesan’s practiced walk. “I like you, my lord, so let me give you some advice. You believe that our attraction has cooled because you’re tired of me. But I suspect that the next occupant of your bed will be equally unable to warm you . . . unless she provides you with something more than a business arrangement.”
He bristled. “Are you suggesting that I marry?”
Eugenia pulled on her gloves. “I’m suggesting that you let someone inside that empty room you call a heart. Whether you make her your wife or your mistress, a man’s bed is decidedly warmer if there’s a fire burning in something other than his cock.”
He repressed an oath. So much for this being easy. “I never guessed you were such a romantic.”
“Me? Never.” She patted her reticule. “This is as romantic as I get. Which is precisely why I can offer such advice. When we met, I thought we were both the sort who live only for pleasure, with no need for emotional connections.” Her voice softened. “But I was wrong about you. You’re not that sort at all. You just haven’t realized it yet.”
Then with a smile and a swish of her skirts, she swept out the door.
He stared bitterly after her. Sadly, he did realize it. Leave it to a woman of the world to recognize a fraud.
Matrons might panic when he spoke to their innocent daughters, and his exploits might appear so regularly in the press that his Waverly cousins kept clippings for their own amusement, but his seemingly aimless pursuit of pleasure had never been about pleasure. It had been about using the only weapon he had—the family reputation—to embarrass the family who’d abandoned him.
Leaving his study, he strode to the drawing room, where sat his pianoforte, his private defiance of his father. He sat down and began to play a somber Bach piece, one that often allowed him to vent the darker emotions that never saw the light of day in public, where he was a gadabout and a rebel.
Or he had been until Father’s death. Since then his petty rebellions had begun to seem more and more pointless. There’d been no deathbed reconciliation, but also no attempt to keep him from his rightful inheritance. And no explanation of why he’d been abandoned. None of it made sense.
The fact that he wanted it to make sense annoyed him. He was done with trying to understand it. The only thing that mattered was that he’d triumphed in the end. He’d gained the estate while he was still young enough to make something of it, and clearly that was the most he could hope for.
Of course, now that he was the earl, people expected him to change his life. To marry. But how could he? Once married, a man had to endure the whims of his wife and children. He’d grown up suffering beneath the whims of his parents; he wasn’t about to exchange one prison for another.
He pounded the keys. So for now, everything would stay the same. He would go to the opera this evening to seek out a new mistress, and life would go on much as before. Surely his restlessness would end in time.
Leaving the pianoforte, he was walking out of the drawing room when the sight of Boyd heading toward him with a look of grim purpose arrested him.
“An express has come for you, my lord, from Montcliff.”
He tensed. His estate manager, Miles Fowler, never sent expresses, so it must be something urgent.
To his surprise, the letter Boyd handed him hadn’t come from Fowler but from Mother’s companion. Since Mrs. Stuart hadn’t written him in the entire six months she’d been working for him, the fact that she’d sent an express brought alarm crashing through him.
His heart pounded as he tore open the letter to read:
Forgive me for my impertinence, but I feel I should inform you that your mother is very ill. If you wish to see her before it is too late, you should come at once.
Mrs. Camilla Stuart
The terse message chilled him. Based on Mrs. Stuart’s recommendation letters and references, not to mention the glowing accolades heaped on her by Fowler, Pierce had formed a certain impression of the widow. She was practical and forthright, the sort of independent female who would rather eat glass than admit she couldn’t handle any domestic situation.
She was decidedly not a woman given to dramatic pronouncements. So if she said his mother was very ill, then Mother was at death’s door. And no matter what had passed between them, he couldn’t ignore such a dire summons.
“Boyd, have my bags packed and sent on to the estate. I’m leaving for Montcliff at once.”
“Is everything all right, my lord?” Boyd asked.
“I don’t believe it is. Apparently my mother has fallen ill. I’ll let you know more as soon as I assess the situation.”
“What should I tell your uncle?”
Damn. The Waverlys were expecting him in a few days; he still spent most holidays with them. “Tell Uncle Isaac I’ll do my best to be there for Christmas, but I can’t promise anything right now.”
“Very good, my lord.”
As far as Pierce was concerned, the Waverlys—his great-uncle Isaac and his second cousin Virginia—were his true family. Mother was merely the woman who’d brought him into the world.
He ought to abandon her in death, the way she’d abandoned him in life. But he still owed her for nurturing him in those early years, before he was old enough to be fobbed off on relatives. He still owed her for giving birth to him. So he would do his duty by her.
But no more. She’d relinquished the right to his love long ago.
Meet the Author
Sabrina Jeffries is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Royal Brotherhood trilogy, the School for Heiresses series, and the Hellions of Halstead Hall series. The winner of numerous awards, she also headlined the novella collection The School for Heiresses and contributed to the holiday anthology Snowy Night with a Stranger. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I was in the mood for a good historical romance when I saw ‘Twas the Night After Christmas. I read the blurb, it looked good, so I went for it. This was my first time reading a book by Sabrina Jeffries and I was impressed. I was a little worried about reading a book this far along in a series I’m unfamiliar with. If you have that same fear, don’t worry about it. I never felt left out because of my lack of history with the characters. I’ll be picking up the previous books in the series and they’ll be topping my “to read” list. I really appreciated that there were also no spoilers which will ruin the previous books when I go back and read them. The shining star of the book is Camilla. She’s exactly the type of woman I love in a romance book. She’s smart, strong, nurturing, loving and is made even more endearing because of her flaws. She brings out the best in those around her. She sees the pain Lady Devonmont is experiencing over the estrangement with her son and decides to take matters into her own hands. Camilla sets her meddling sights on Pierce, the son, even though she has no idea what’s at the heart of the estrangement. It’s a disaster waiting to happen! Pierce starts off cold, angry, hurt and confused, but Camilla slowly manipulates and not so gently draws him out to the point where even he can’t stop himself from liking her. Camilla and Pierce were perfect for each other. Obviously, the romance is the main story here, but the side characters were good too. Camilla’s high spirited son always brought a smile to my face. Pierce’s mother drove me crazy but I couldn’t help but feel for her, and Fowler was stuffy and awkward but endearing in his own way. I was surprised at how well I connected with each of them. When I say Pierce’s mother drove me nuts, I mean that. If she had been standing in front of me, I would have had to restrain myself from shaking her. Her refusal to let her secrets go was infuriating. Honestly, what secret could be so important that a mother would risk losing her son over it? Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin the surprise for you. All I will say is that it made sense when I finally found out, and that is the only thing that could make all my frustration worthwhile. ‘Twas the Night After Christmas is the perfect holiday read. It has the comforting, traditional, homey feel I associate with the holiday as well as a good romance. This book would make a great gift for any historical romance reader.
Author Sabrina Jeffries takes an intriguing look at how misunderstandings and pride cause a split between mother and son that only a Christmas miracle and a meddling companion can mend. Narrator Michael Page does an excellent job giving each character their own unique sound. His vocalization of the emotions felt by the characters will bring you to tears, have you ready to slap someone, and laughing as he guides you through the story. Pierce Waverly, Earl of Devonmont, has been an unabashed rogue most of his life. Basically abandonment by his parents and sent away to boarding school, he was raised by distant relatives. Since his father’s death, Pierce has taken on taken on the responsibilities of his title, but has never forgiven his parents - especially his mother. An urgent message come from Mrs. Camilla Stuart, his mother’s new companion, saying she is seriously ill. Unable to stop himself, Pierce races to Montcliff only to learn it was a cruel trick by Mrs. Stuart hoping to get mother and son together. Pierce also finds Camilla is nothing he imagined a vicar’s widow to be. Drawn to her, he finds himself staying longer at Montcliff. Meanwhile, he also discovers there may be more to his mother’s past than he knew. In addition, Camilla has secrets of her own that she tries to keep from Pierce. The author has created characters with great depth as we see the kindness in Pierce coming to the surface and the longing in Camilla. There is also the brave face of Pierce’s mother and the innocence of young Jasper. The descriptions of the era, setting and customs places the listener (reader) in the middle of the scene bringing it all to life. ‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS will tug on your heartstrings and then have you laughing out loud. This historical romance is mingled with surprises, loyalty and the magic of Christmas for a delightful story. FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Enjoyable Christmas story that loosely ties back to the Hellions of Halstead Hall series but no fear it reads great as a stand-alone if you have not read the series and personally this one was my favorite so if you only read one this would be it. 'Twas the Night After Christmas is now on my Holiday rotation list and I will be reading it for years to come. There was a lot of heart and soul in this story and I didn't want to put it down. I own all of Sabrina Jeffries books and enjoy her stories and series; however, this one really spoke to me and is now one of my top picks in my SJ collection. I like there was a bit of a mystery and character conflict mixed in with the romance and thank you very much SJ for giving us a leading lady with curves!!!
Absolutely loved it! Fantastic Christmas read with wonderful characters and an ending that made me cry happy tears. Couldn't ask for anything better! Curl up in front of your Christmas tree and enjoy this one!
Ms. Jeffries's latest book "Twas the Night After Christmas" is a holiday warmer with characters having high emotions during the time of the holidays. Skillfully written, her characters Pierce and Camilla contribute to a lovely Christmas story. Both of them find that they lived similar hurts in the past. Trusting each other, a friendship will bloom between Pierce and Camilla. I loved Camilla's son Jasper. Camilla cannot understand why Pierce ignores his mother. Being a straight-forward person, Camilla will try to solve the mother-son problems. You will have to read the story to find out! This book should be on your Christmas list for the ones you love. Full of emotions, this book is a story of forgiveness..Let yourself be carried away by this beautiful Christmas romance. I highly recommend Ms. Jeffries's "Twas the Night After Christmas"
It was a good romance, easily putting down though. It took me more than three days to finish it, and that's not normal for me with a really good book. I think the author lost the romance in the drama between mother and son.
I enjoyed reading this book very much. The story line kept me up to The wee hours in morning. The mother and son story could happen now With many a family today. As far as love story. Love is love and never goes out Style. Have a great day
I loved this story from the beginning. There's love, forgiveness, and joy all rolled into one while celebrating Christmas. Pierce is brought home under false pretenses. While learning to forgive, he learns to love again--not just his mother, but to give his heart to Camilla and change his roguish ways.
A very enjoyable Christmas story. Sabrina Jeffries writes a touching story about Pierce and Camilla . The beginning of the book with Pierce as a child was heartbreaking, but it leads one to understand why he grew into the man he became. His heart was hardened by the circumstances of his childhood. He didn't hate his mother but had a raging anger towards her. Enter Camilla, a widow, whose own childhood was not a bed of roses but who had emerged a stronger woman because of it. Pierce's mother, Lady Devonmont, had her own demons and was so full of pain you can almost feel it. All three main characters, along with Camilla's son, bring a lovely story about the true meaning of Christmas. Family overlooking flaws in each other, but most of all learning to love one another.
GovernessInRed's Book Review: Sabrina Jeffries never fails to entertain. There is substance to her writing. It's smooth and seductive and ever-so-satisfying. This holiday themed book is spectacular. Once begun, I could hardly put this down. Very, very well written with an engaging storyline and compelling characters. This relationship grows slowly and Ms. Jeffries patiently guides us through a clever maze of characters. I found myself smiling, laughing and almost crying through several parts of the book. This is escapism at its finest. She stared him down, daring him to do his worst.Then he kissed her. Hard. Fiercely. On the lips.It startled her so much that she jerked back to gape at him. "What in creation was that for?""To shut you up," he said, eyes ablaze. Then his gaze dropped to her mouth, and the blaze became smoldering coals. He removed her spectacles and tossed them onto the nearby bed. "But this one, my dear, is for me."
I have the series I just wish they came guicker
‘Twas the Night After Christmas is a story about second chances. The hero, Pierce Waverly thought he was abandoned by his parents at a young age when he was left in the care of his cousin, Titus Waverly. After Titus and his wife are killed in an accident, Pierce is left in the care of his Great Uncle Issac Waverly. He thought because he was emotional and weak that he couldn’t come home until became stronger. As the years passed, Pierce grew to hate his parents and wanted nothing to do with them. He ignored every letter his mother wrote him. Instead, Pierce filled his life with booze and whores. When Pierce was 29, his father passed away and he inherited everything. Now his mother wants him back in her life and he ignores her. He thinks she just wants money. Two years pass and Pierce receives a letter from Camilla Stuart, his mother’s lady companion, stating that his mother his gravely ill. Pierce decides to go visit his mother. Once he arrives, he realizes that his mother is perfectly healthy and that Mrs. Stuart made up the whole thing to reunite Pierce and his mother. Pierce is furious, but completely smitten by the widow Camilla and her young son Jasper. Can Pierce forget about the past and forgive his mother? Can Pierce learn to love again? This is a wonderful story filled with love and contentment. Learning about the Christmas traditions in the early 1800’s was fascinating. I highly recommend this book.
'Twas the Night After Christmas Pierce Waverly, Earl of Devonmont spent his early childhood at a boarding school and breaks with the Waverly family whom he later thought of as his own. His father despised him, his mother said cruel things to him when he came of age. Thinking his mother had a short time to live he races to her home asd was very surprised that she was in very good health. Camilla sent a missive to him leading him to believe that she was not. Mrs. Camilla Stuart is companion to Lady Devonmont. She is a widow of a Pastor with a small son. Camilla is an orphan who never knew her parents. Camilla stands up to Peirce about his treatment to his mother. Camilla has attempted to bring Peirce and his mother together for the Christmas holiday. Lady Devonmont is Peirce's mother. SHe was very cold and distance to him in his growing up years. The lady has a secret and is not forthcoming with it much to her son's dismay. This is a wonderful Holiday story. A must read for all Sabrina Jeffries fans.
I really enjoyed this book. The Pierce Waverly in this story is different than the Pierce Waverly in the other books in the series. He really needed Camilla and Jasper, but most of all he needed his mother. They took the long way around, but they came to understand each other and found the love that was always there. Camilla is a very strong woman and was just what Pierce needed to help him see the way out of his resentment. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Sweet and Lovely
I loved this book. It had everything a good Christmas romance should have...humor, deep emotions and you need a box of tissues. This book was such a good romance. You will fall in love with all its characters. Pierce and Camilla are a perfect match and you just want to squeeze little Jasper. It also showed you what lengths a mother will go to to keep her child safe and protected for life. I highly recommend this book. It follows a series but it can be read as a stand alone book.
After reading Sabrina Jeffries' other historical romance series, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one! I enjoy her strong female leads, and was not disappointed in Camilla. Not to mention that it is rare to find a romance heroine with "curves". Pierce was swoon-worthy and fits right in with her other heroes! I'm glad he got his own story!
I really enjoyed this book. I was sorry when it ended. I really liked the main characters.