A Princess By Christmas
A Secret. A Lie. A Revolution.
Hollis Honeycutt has written her London gazette since the death of her husband – featuring fashion plates, marriage advice, and the latest gossip in and around Mayfair. But now she feels her gazette should have more meaning, cover topics of more consequence than the latest curl cream.
The opportunity presents itself when Hollis overhears rumours of a potential coup in the Kingdom of Wesloria, a coup linked to the highest level of government in London. During her investigation Hollis spies a man with no business lurking around peace talks, and determines to expose him for the traitor he most certainly must be.
When Weslorian Marek Brendan was fifteen he was shocked to discover his heritage was not what he believed – he was whisked away from the Weslorian palace when he was born because there was fear that corrupt forces would try and kidnap him. Now he is determined to stop these corrupt forces staging a coup in his home country. Except for the beautiful woman whose questions are putting his own investigation at risk. Yet soon Marek realises that pretty Hollis can help him. But when he confides his suspicions, Hollis’s loyalties are tested and she must choose between her loyalties to her family, or her heart…
The widowed Hollis Honeysett runs a gazette that covers all the London gossip and includes charming and practical advice for the ladies! When she almost literally bumps into Marek Brendan at reception thrown by Queen Victoria, she is intrigued by this quiet man who seems so out of place at the Palace.
Readers are in for a treat as Hollis begins to uncover who Marek really is and follows her suspicions about a coup in the Kingdom of Wesloria.
Although I haven’t read the two earlier books in this series, it was hard not to fall in love with all the characters. Hollis was especially endearing – a brave woman who doesn’t really fit into the Victorian mold and with a large heart, yet very vulnerable. She’s trying her best to keep things as they are, including her husband’s work and memories, but life is moving on and she finds herself all at sea. Her loyalty and willingness to go beyond for those she loves, makes her a true heroine. Marek too is a wonderful character with his loyalty and the choices he makes.
While the book has loads of humour, especially in the Gazette, the characters and the story with its mystery and sweet romance make it a lovely read.
Buy A Princess By Christmas
Meet The Author
Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of more than two dozen romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular historical romance series, the Cabot Sisters, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch, and The Perfect Homecoming.
Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction.
Chapter 1 Extract of A Princess By Christmas
The widow Hollis Honeycutt was in a prickly mood as she waited admittance at the gates of St. James Palace. For one thing, she was standing in the middle of a throng of gentlemen, all of them chatting quite loudly in various languages, without any regard for other conversations occurring nearby. A warm-blooded woman of a certain age missing her late husband could have been intoxicated by the scents of citrus and tobacco that seemed to follow so many men about, but Hollis didn’t care for all that privileged masculinity pressing up against all her femininity. It was as if they didn’t sense how their bodies fit into crowded spaces—they kept bumping into her, tossing their casual pardons at her.
She was vexed that she had to wait in this line or anywhere else to take tea with her very own sister. It wasn’t her fault that Eliza Tricklebank, formerly of the modest Bedford Square in London, was now the Duchess of Tannymeade and queen-in-waiting of Alucia, and the guest of Queen Victoria. She was still Hollis’s sister, and being made to wait like a pauper at the gates of the palace to see her wasn’t fair.
And Hollis was still vexed by an encounter earlier today with the odious, condescending Mr. Shoreham, who’d dismissed her out of hand. And not for the first time—she’d endured a weeks-long philosophical dispute with the gentleman from the London Library.
Donovan, her manservant, stood beside her in the queue, his hooded gaze following the movements of gentlemen as the group slowly advanced toward the guardhouse. He was the one man in her life who didn’t care how long she nattered on…well, besides her father, of course. And Lord Beckett Hawke, her friend. Beck didn’t care, but he didn’t listen, either. Donovan always listened very patiently and then offered a fair opinion if asked. Sometimes, he offered one if not asked. Which he did at present. He said, “One of the problems here, if you don’t mind me saying, is that you’re quite stubborn. We’ve noted the inclination in you before, have we not?”
She clucked her tongue at him. “I grant you that at times I may suffer from pigheadedness, but in this, I am right.”
Donovan laughed. The queue moved; he put his hand on her back and nudged her forward into the crush.
Hollis couldn’t see over the heads of those before them, so she glanced around. Her gaze happened to land on a gentleman standing off to one side by himself. He was tall, and beneath the brim of his hat, she could see that his dark hair was longer than was fashionable. He wore a great coat that made his shoulders look impossibly broad, and she idly wondered if they were truly that broad beneath it. His head was cocked at an odd angle and he looked a bit confused, as if he’d found himself wandering a strange land. Little wonder—the line to enter the palace for the royal tea was ridiculously long and the guards didn’t seem to know what they were doing. Why were so many people invited to tea? The purpose, as Hollis understood it, was to set a conciliatory tone for the peace negotiations between Alucia and Wesloria that would begin on Monday. Representatives of the two kingdoms had been invited to this make-nice tea, but were there really so many who needed the tone set for them?
The confused man moved behind some other gentlemen, and Hollis lost sight of him.
She turned back to Donovan and her vexation. “You ought to have seen how smug Mr. Shoreham was. Entirely too confident in his place in this world and in what he clearly believes are his superior thinking skills because he is a man. I tell you, he is one of the most supercilious and ridiculous men in all of London.”
“Well, that’s quite something, isn’t it?” Donovan said. “There are an awful lot of men in London. A right proper feather in his cap.” Hestepped up to the guardhouse and handed Hollis’s invitation to one of the guards. The guard disappeared inside with it. “What was it you called him, again?” Donovan asked, but before Hollis could answer, he leaned forward and said to the guard, “It won’t do to keep Mrs. Honeycutt waiting, lad. She’s the sister of the Duchess of Tannymeade.”
“Hold your horses,” the guard said gruffly.
Donovan looked at Hollis. “Ah, I remember. A bag of wind, wasn’t it?”
Hollis felt only a twinge of remorse about that. “Well, I didn’t shout it. I merely stated the obvious.”
A group of three men jostled them as they pushed through the gate; Donovan pulled her to the side.
“Well,” Hollis said, righting her bonnet. “Do you think they fear the tea will go cold?”
“Or that the queen will not have made enough cakes? Stay here. I’ll see what keeps the guard.”
He moved back toward the guardhouse, but another group of gentlemen who had just been given permission to enter very eagerly and loudly crowded through the gate. Hollis stepped back to avoid being trampled, but missed the curb and stumbled. She collided with what she might have thought was a wall had two hands not caught her by her elbows and effortlessly righted her. “Oh!” Hollis exclaimed, and turned to see who had saved her from taking a tumble.
It was the confused man. Except that he didn’t look confused now—he looked slightly concerned. His gaze swept over her, as if checking to see if there was any injury to her person. Hollis noticed a thick tress of dark chestnut hair had escaped his hat and hung over his brow. His complexion was from a region of the world where skin tones were darker than the pale skin of the British. He had vivid golden-brown eyes, and Hollis was so startled that he was the one who had prevented her from falling that she couldn’t speak. He clearly didn’t need her to speak—he gave her a polite nod, stepped around her, and walked up to the guardhouse. She watched him hand his invitation to the guard, and when the guard handed it back, the man looked around, as if uncertain if he should actually enter the gates. Apparently, he thought not—he stuffed the invitation into his pocket, then walked in the opposite direction of the entrance, as if he’d meant to enter another palace and had just noticed he was at the wrong one.
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Thank you to Mills And Boon for inviting me onto the blog tour and for a gifted copy via Netgalley.