By Winter's Light (Cynster Next Generation #1)

By Winter's Light (Cynster Next Generation #1)

by Stephanie Laurens


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778317470
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Series: Cynster Series , #21
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 5.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens originally began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career; she has been writing historical romance novels for more than 20 years. Currently living outside Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two cats, she spends most of her days writing new stories in her signature 'Errol Flynn meets Jane Austen" style. Visit her online at

Read an Excerpt

December 23, 1837

Casphairn Manor, the Vale of Casphairn, Scotland

Daniel Crosbie felt as if all his Christmases had come at once. Letting his gaze travel the Great Hall of Casphairn Manor, filled to overflowing with six Cynster families and various associated household members, he allowed himself a moment to savor both his unexpected good fortune and his consequent hope.

About him, the combined households were enjoying the hearty dinner provided to welcome them to the celebration planned for the next ten days—as Daniel understood it, a combination of Christmas, the more ancient Yuletide, and Hogmanay. Seated about the long refectory-like tables on benches rather than chairs, with eyes alight and smiles on their faces, the assembled throng was in ebullient mood. Conversation and laughter abounded; delight and expectation shone in most faces, illuminated by the warm glow of the candlelight cast from massive circular chandeliers depending from thick chains from the highdomed ceiling. The central room about which the manor was built, the Great Hall lived up to its name; the space within its thick walls of pale gray stone was large enough to accommodate the Cynster contingent, all told about sixty strong, as well as the families of the various retainers who worked in and around the manor, which functioned like a small village.

With no family of his own still alive, Daniel had spent his last ten Christmases with the Cynster family for whom he acted as tutor—the family of Mr. Alasdair Cynster and his wife, Phyllida—but this was the first time in that decade that the Cynsters had come north for Christmas. The six Cynster families present—the six families closest to the dukedom of St. Ives, those of Devil, Duke of St. Ives, his brother Richard, and his cousins Vane, Harry, Rupert, and Alasdair—invariably came together at Christmastime. They were often joined by other connected families not present on this occasion; the long journey to the Vale, in the western Lowlands of Scotland, to the home of Richard Cynster and his wife Catriona in a season that had turned icy and cold with snow on the ground much earlier than expected had discouraged all but the most determined.

Out of long-established habit, Daniel glanced at his charges—soon to be erstwhile charges—seated at the next table with their cousins and second cousins. Aidan, now sixteen years old, and Evan, fifteen, had passed out of Daniel's immediate care when they'd gone up to Eton, yet Daniel still kept an eye on the pair when they were home—an action their parents appreciated and which the boys, at ease with him after all the years, bore with good grace. At that moment, both were talking animatedly with their male cousins in a fashion that instantly, at least in Daniel's mind, raised the question of what the group was planning. He made a mental note to inquire later. Jason, the youngest son of the family and the last of Daniel's true charges, was similarly occupied with the group of Cynster offspring nearer his age. Now eleven, later in the coming year, Jason, too, would start his formal schooling—a circumstance which had, for Daniel, raised the uncomfortable question of what he would do then.

Once Jason left for Eton and there were no more boys in Alasdair Cynster's household in Colyton, in Devon, for Daniel to tutor, what would he do for a living?

The question had plagued him for several months, not least because if he was ever to have a chance at the sort of life he now knew he wanted, and, if at all possible, was determined to claim, he needed to have secure employment—a place, a position, with a steady salary or stipend.

He'd been wracking his brains, trying to think of his options, of what might be possible, when Mr. Cynster— Alasdair—had called him into the library and laid before him a proposal that, in a nutshell, was the answer to all his prayers.

On several occasions over the years, Daniel had assisted Alasdair with his interests in ancient and antique jewelry, with documenting finds and establishing provenances, and also with cataloguing and adding to the collection of rare books Alasdair had inherited from the previous owner of the manor. Alasdair, supported by Phyllida, had suggested that, once Jason had departed with his brothers for Eton, if Daniel was happy to remain in Colyton as a member of their household, they would be delighted to engage him as Alasdair's personal secretary, an amanuensis to assist with Alasdair's ever-expanding interests.

The suggested stipend was generous, the conditions all Daniel could have hoped for. Not only would the new position suit him, it would solve all his difficulties.

Most importantly, it cleared the way for him to offer for Claire Meadows's hand.

He glanced along the board to his right. Clad in a soft woolen gown in a muted shade of blue, Claire—Mrs. Meadows—was sitting on the opposite side of the table, two places down. She was the governess in Rupert Cynster's household; as Rupert and Alasdair were brothers, Claire and Daniel were often thrown together when the families gathered. It was customary in such circumstances that the attending tutors and governesses banded together, sharing responsibilities and each other's company, as they were at present. The manor's governess, Miss Melinda Spotswood, a comfortable matronly sort with a backbone of forged iron, was chatting to Claire. On Melinda's other side, opposite Daniel, sat Oswald Raven, tutor at the manor; a few years older than Daniel, Raven projected a debonair façade, but he was hardworking and devoted to his charges. Raven was chatting to Mr. Samuel Morris, who was seated alongside Daniel and hailed from Vane Cynster's household in Kent; the oldest of the group, Morris was slightly rotund and had an unfailingly genial air, yet he was a sound scholar and very capable of exerting a firm hand on his charges' reins.

All five had met and shared duties on several occasions before; the rapport between them was comfortable and relaxed. Over the coming days, they would, between them, keep an eye on the combined flock of Cynster children—the younger ones, at least. The oldest group, the seventeen-year-olds led by eighteen-year-old Sebastian Cynster, Marquess of Earith and future head of the house, could be relied on to take care of themselves, along with the large group of sixteen- and fifteen-year-old males. But there were six boys thirteen years and under, and seven girls ranging from eight to fourteen years old, and over them the tutors and governesses would need to exert control sufficient to ensure they remained suitably occupied.

There was no telling what the engaging devils would get up to if left unsupervised.

Being governess or tutor to Cynster children was never dull or boring.

Daniel had managed to keep his gaze from Claire for all of ten minutes. Despite the color and vibrancy, the noise and distraction—despite the many handsome and outright stunningly beautiful faces around about—hers was the shining star in his firmament; regardless of where they were, regardless of competing sights and sounds, she effortlessly drew his gaze and transfixed his attention.

She'd done so from the moment he'd first seen her at one of the family's Summer Celebrations in Cambridgeshire several years ago. They'd subsequently met on and off at various family functions, at weddings in London, at major family birthdays, and at seasonal celebrations like the current one.

With each exposure, his attraction to Claire, his focus on her, had only grown more definite, more acute, until the obvious conclusion had stared him in the face, impossible to resist, much less deny.

Utterly impossible to ignore.

"If the weather holds," Raven said, commanding Daniel's attention with his gaze, "and the older crew go riding as they're planning, then we'll need to invent some suitable pastimes to keep our charges amused."

Seated with his back to the table at which the Cynster children were gathered, Raven had turned and asked what the animated talk had been about. Riding out to assess the position and state of the deer herds had been the answer.

Daniel nodded. "If at all possible, let's get those left to our care out of doors."

"Indeed," Melinda said, turning from Claire to join the conversation. "We need to take advantage of any clear days. If it is fine enough tomorrow, I was saying to Claire that the fourteen-year-olds—the girls—might like to gather greenery to decorate the hall." Melinda gestured to the stone walls hosting various fireplaces and archways, all presently devoid of any seasonal touches.

"It's customary to decorate them on the twenty-fourth, which is tomorrow."

"I'd heard," Morris said, "that there's some tradition about the Yule log that's followed hereabouts." He looked to Raven for confirmation.

Raven, his hair as dark as his name would suggest, nodded. "Yes, that's an inspired idea. Not only is it necessary to collect the right-sized logs, but the logs have to be carved. That should keep the boys amused for hours. I'll speak to the staff about organizing whatever's needed."

Daniel nodded again, and his gaze drifted once more to Claire; she'd been following the conversation, her calm expression indicating her agreement with the suggestions. With her glossy mid-brown hair burnished by the candlelight, with her delicate features and milky-white skin, her lips of pale rose, lush and full, and her large hazel eyes set under finely arched brown brows, she was, to his eyes, the epitome of womanhood.

That she was a widow—had been widowed at a young age—was neither here nor there, yet the experience had, it seemed, imbued her with a certain gravitas, leaving her more reserved, more cautious, and with a more sober and serious demeanor than might be expected of a well-bred lady of twenty-seven summers.

Her station—gentry-born but fallen on hard times—was similar to, or perhaps a touch higher than, Daniel's; he didn't really know. Nor did he truly care. They were both as they were here and now, and what happened next…that was up to them.

He'd come to Scotland, to the Vale, determined to put his luck to the test—to seize the opportunity to speak with Claire and plead his case, to learn if she shared his hopes and if she could come to share his dreams.

A gust of laughter and conversation drew his gaze to the high table.

The six Cynster couples were seated about the table on the raised dais along one side of the room, a traditional positioning most likely dating from medieval times. In addition to those twelve—middle-aged, perhaps, yet still vibrantly handsome, articulate, active, and engaged—there were three of the older generation at one end of the board. Helena, Dowager Duchess of St. Ives, mother of Devil and Richard and elder matriarch of the clan, was seated at the end of the table closest to the hearth, and had chosen to summon Algaria, Catriona's aging mentor, and McArdle, the ancient butler of the manor, now retired, to join her there. The three were much of an age and, judging by their glances and gestures, were busy sharing pithy observations on all others in the hall. Having met the dowager and been the object of her scrutiny on several occasions, Daniel didn't like to think of how much she, let alone black-eyed Algaria, was seeing.

A comment in a deep voice, followed by laughter, drew Daniel's gaze back to the twelve Cynsters of the generation that currently ruled. Their children might have been growing apace, might already have been showing signs of the forceful, powerful individuals they had the potential to become, yet the twelve seated about the high table still dominated their world.

Daniel had observed them—those six couples in particular—for the past ten years. All the males had been born to wealth, but what they'd made of it—the lives each had successfully wrought—hadn't been based solely on inherited advantage. Each of the six possessed a certain strength—a nuanced blend of power, ability, and insight—that Daniel appreciated, admired, and aspired to. It had taken him some time to realize from where that particular strength derived—namely, from the ladies. From their marriages. From the connection—the link that was so deep, so strong, so anchoring—that each of the six males shared with his wife.

Once he'd seen and understood, Daniel had wanted the same for himself.

His gaze shifted again to Claire. Once he'd met her, he'd known whom he wanted to share just such a link with.

Now he stood on the cusp of reaching for it—of chancing his hand and hoping he could persuade her to form such a connection with him.

Whatever gaining her assent required, he would do.

Now Fate in the form of Alasdair Cynster had cleared his path, it was time to screw his courage to the sticking point and act.

Hope, anticipation, and trepidation churned in his gut.

But he was there and so was she, and he was determined to move forward. He knew how he felt about her, and he thought she felt similarly toward him. His first step, plainly, was to determine whether he was correct in believing that—and whether with encouragement, "like" could grow into something more.

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By Winter's Light 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
csingh More than 1 year ago
It's been so long since my last Cynster novel, I'd almost forgotten how good they are. By Winter's Light was the perfect way to re-enter the Cynster world and not be lost, especially since I've missed a good ten or so books and sort of get caught up with what's going on and what's coming next. I absolutely loved seeing characters I met when they were falling in love.  It's wonderful to see them as parents and future Cynster heroes and heroines.  I absolutely loved that they all gathered as a family to celebrate.  There were so many little Cynsters, a great way to attest to the love their parents have for each other.  I was a little saddened to see Helena, the Dowager Duchess, so old and frail, especially since I still have the memory of when the first met her husband still in my mind.  However, I'm glad to see she's still sharp as a tack and her antics haven't abated. The story really focused on three things: Daniel Crosbie's wooing of the reluctant Claire Meadows, the family gathering together for all of the holiday traditions, and I feel, setting up the scene for the next Cynster's novel.  I absolutely loved all the celebrations described in the book.  I also love knowing the next generation will soon be falling in love and that my journey with the Cynsters won't be ending any time soon! By Winter's Light has once again re-started my love affair with this amazing bunch and I will be sure to be all caught up with the family by the next book's release.
Megan_BedroomBookworms More than 1 year ago
By Winter’s Light is a historical romance, which I’ll admit isn’t something I read a lot of. Okay, I pretty much never read historical stuff. This book is also the 21st book in this series and there was quite a large glossary of people at the beginning of the book. At first I was concerned that I would not be able to follow along, but thankfully that was not an issue. I didn’t even read the glossary, I just skimmed over it, but I never felt too out of the loop at any time while reading. Because this is a historical fiction the writing is a little old school. That as well as the courting phases between couples is one of the main reasons I don’t read historical stuff. I’m one of those readers that needs a good alpha. I want to read the dirty talk, I need to see the woo. How can a guy win me over if I don’t get to see his woo? Sadly, this book falls into this area, because it’s historical the relationship between them is very formal. By the end when our main characters, Daniel and Claire are saying they love each other I just couldn’t figure it out. You both admit you’ve had interactions in the past but not a ton how in the heck do you know you love one another??? I just don’t get that part of historical stuff so it makes it harder for me to fall in love with the hero or heroine. And this happened in By Winter’s Light. Daniel and Claire were okay main characters, but I felt they weren’t overly fleshed out. I didn’t get a good feel for either of them, maybe this happens in earlier books and if I had read the beginning of the series I would have liked them more. They were nice people, I just didn’t feel that connection I want while reading. In fact I really liked two of our secondary characters much more. The next story in the series will deal with Lucilla and Thomas (Carrick) and I have to say, those two interested me. It feels like there will be a good story there. I felt the spark between them already and the fact that they both knew it was coming (just not yet) was exciting. I felt like at times this was more Lucilla and Thomas’ story rather than Daniel and Claire. I did enjoy By Winter’s Light even though it isn’t my typical read and I’m rather interested in the next story in the series. While I don’t think I’d read the entire series from start, I am highly considering picking up book #22 to read more on Lucilla and Thomas. By Winter’s Light from Stephanie Laurens is another arc book I received in October.
skelley55 More than 1 year ago
I love the Cynster Family, from the first time I read Devil's Bride.  This story is okay, I am not that keen on stories about  others when the book is titled  Cynster Series.  However, it is a credible prelude to Lucilla & Thomas's story.  So, any book by Stephanie Laurens is a good read.  But she really pulls the stops out for the Cynster family.
julieford More than 1 year ago
By Winter's Light is the beginning of the next generation in the Cynster series. This is the story of Daniel, a tutor to Lucifer's sons and Claire, a governess to Gabriel's daughters. A budding romance has Daniel trying to propose to Claire but she is resisting because she is a widow and doesn't want to enter marriage again. Claire does have feelings for Daniel but her fear is in the way. The magic of Christmas and Casphairn manor assist along with some matchmakers in getting these two together. This story also introduces the second generation children that will have stories of their own.
DawnKL More than 1 year ago
A great lead-in to the younger Cynster generation.
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"Hey. So what's going on?" She stops knowing she's about to ask a dangerous question. "What's going on with you? You know in your life? You keep dying. Do you even want to you know... live?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She flops in her bean bag chair. She listens to 'All Of Me' and sings along.