On a Cold Christmas Eve (The Seldon Park Christmas Novellas) by Bethany Sefchick
Lady Lucy Cavendish is in a bit of a quandary. Her uncle, the current Earl of Wellsford has abandoned her at a coaching inn outside of London with no money and no way to contact her contracted fiancée, Archibald St. Vincent, the younger brother of the Duke of Enwright. Except that Lucy quickly learns that not only is Archibald not coming to claim her, but that a far worse fate than abandonment awaits. She is to be sold to a house in Covent Garden to work as a prostitute rather than marry anyone. Desperate and alone, Lucy strikes out on her own, hoping to make her way to Fairhaven, the spring residence of the duke, and throw herself on his mercy. Or the mercy of his staff, at least, for as it's nearly Christmas, it's doubtful that the duke would be anywhere near a home he only uses a few weeks out of the year.
Adam St. Vincent, the Duke of Enwright, is furious. His brother has concocted yet another nefarious scheme, and this time, he doesn't think he can buy his brother's way out of trouble. Things become even more complicated when the lady in question arrives at Fairhaven where Adam is waiting for his brother. Cold and wet, it's clear the lady is ill and needs medical attention, so Adam whisks her off to his home at Overlook Hill to recuperate. He might be called the Devil Duke, but he's certainly no monster! Not to mention that it's the only proper and decent thing to do. Only things are never quite as uncomplicated as they appear and soon, it becomes clear to Adam that he must marry Lucy in order to keep her safe and out of Archibald's hands.
Can Lucy, a woman of so-called "tainted blood," due to her partially Indian heritage, ever come to love a man like the Devil Duke? And will Adam ever allow anyone in to see past his icy facade and to the warm and caring man beneath? When family members on both sides return in an attempt to ruin the fledgling romance, more than a little Christmas magic is required for Lucy and Adam's happily ever after.
This 31,300-word short novel is written in the modern, adult romance style for a slightly hotter read. It may not be appropriate for younger audiences.