His for Christmas


By Jennifer Haymore

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Sweet, shy Lady Esme has a little-known pastime-penning scandalous stories! But society must never find out or she’ll be ruined! Fortunately, her dear friend, USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Haymore, is happy to share Esme’s sensual tale of lost love and second chances . . .


Lady Amelia Witherspoon simply must get home to her beloved family on Christmas Eve. So when a terrible storm threatens to leave her snowbound, she refuses to admit defeat-even if that means sharing a carriage with Evan Cameron, the last man she ever hoped to see . . .

Evan can’t fathom why his oldest friend is as icy to him as the winter wind. All he does know is that Amelia is still the loveliest, most tempting woman he’s ever laid eyes on. Their only option is to take refuge together at a nearby inn, sharing the one remaining room. Evan promises to be a gentleman . . . but it’s a promise neither of them wants him to keep.

“Sweep-you-off-your-feet historical romance! Jennifer Haymore sparkles!”-New York Times bestselling author Liz Carlyle


A Letter from Jennifer Haymore

Dear Reader,

When Lady Esme Hawkins walked into my office several months ago I was shocked. I had no idea why a lady of her rank—a duke's sister!—would come to see me. Not to mention the fact that I've written about her—she is a major character in all three of my House of Trent series novels.

After I got over my starstruck surprise at having one of my own characters in my cluttered little office, Lady Esme explained the situation to me. It turns out that she is a lady novelist. She carries a notebook with her at all times, and inside it, she writes intense, erotic, and romantic novellas.

And she needed my help.

You see, the lady can't share her stories openly with the world. They're far, far too scandalous. Lady Esme's brother, the Duke of Trent, is a paragon of morality who is very sensitive to tarnishes on his family's reputation. The duke's family lives in the highest echelons of a society that would be utterly appalled if they discovered one of their ranks was penning erotic tales of love.

That's where I came in. Through me, and under my name, Lady Esme can at last share her stories with all of you.

This is the second of Lady Esme's stand-alone stories: His for Christmas. It's a tale of onetime friends-turned-strangers who are reunited in a terrible storm just before Christmas. This is definitely one to heat up a cold winter's night!

So, dear reader, I present to you Lady Esme's sexy and romantic His for Christmas, the second of the Lady Esme novellas.



Jennifer Haymore

Chapter One

Oh no."

Lady Amelia Witherspoon looked in horror from the carriage's broken axle to her coachman. Snow fell in a thick curtain of white between them, dulling him around the edges, and she wrapped her arms around herself to ward off the bite of cold air. "What are we going to do, John?"

John shrugged, his expression helpless. "There's naught that can be done, milady. This carriage is going nowhere."

Amelia gazed down the road in both directions, toward London and the way they'd come, then back up toward Wheatley. They'd been traveling at a snail's pace due to the weather and were just a bit over halfway home though it was already past noon. The storm had grown worse by the minute, the temperature dropping rapidly and the wind whistling through the stark, bare branches of the nearby trees. Not to mention that it was late December, and it would be dark before long.

Though despair nudged at her, Amelia flicked it off as she might a bit of dust. She had no intention of freezing to death today. She straightened her shoulders. "Very well," she told John. "We shall take the horses and walk."

John's eyes rounded into brown pools. "To Cheltham House?"

"Oh, dear—I hope not! There are villages between here and Cheltham House, aren't there? We shall walk to the closest one and find shelter there until the storm passes."

John stared at her for a moment, then his chest rose and fell with a deep, deep breath. "Very well, my lady. The closest village, though…" He shook his head.

She steeled her voice, refusing to allow any hint of trepidation to enter into it. "How far is it?"

"Six or eight miles, I believe."

She forced herself to wrap a sense of calm around her like a cloak. It wouldn't do either of them any good if she panicked.

It would be well past dark before they arrived at the village, but this was a well-traveled road and surely another vehicle would come along soon. They would be offered a ride. No one with any sort of conscience would leave them out in this storm, especially not two days before Christmas.

"We'd best hurry, then."

John unhitched the two horses. Amelia helped him strap his bag on one of the horses' backs and her valise onto the other. Then she pulled her fur-lined woolen cap low over her forehead, and she and John began to walk.

Her half boots sank up to her ankles in snow with every step, but she could still see the edges of the road, so it wasn't that deep. Not yet. After they'd gone a few yards, she glanced back at her carriage, a white, lumpy shadow, already melting into the storm.

John kept pace beside her, one gloved hand tucked into the depths of his pocket and the other gripping the horses' leads.

"I'm so sorry about this, John," she murmured after they'd walked several minutes in silence. She'd been busy with her charity work and hadn't been able to finish distributing the gifts to the orphans at St. John's Orphanage until yesterday. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve, and she'd wanted desperately to get home in time to enjoy Christmas with her family. John had warned her that snow might be coming, but spending Christmas away from her mother and father and younger sisters was too lonely to contemplate.

John's family was also in the area, and she knew he'd want to be with them for Christmas, so he hadn't been too difficult to convince. Still, she should have planned this better, given them a greater window of time to travel the fifty miles between London and home. Everyone knew how unpredictable the weather could be this time of year.

John pulled his hand out of his pocket to pat her shoulder. "Don't worry yourself over it. I know how much you wanted to be home for Christmas."

"I did. And you did, too," she said glumly.

"Ah, well, chin up, milady. You can't blame yourself for the weather. We still might make it home, and if we don't—well, there'll be other Christmases." With each word he said, a puff of fog wisped out from his mouth. "Now what's most important is that we survive this one."

"Yes, I suppose you're right."

Amelia thought of her mother and father, and her younger sisters, Emmaline and Veronica. They knew she'd planned to come today, and when she didn't arrive this evening, they'd worry. Or maybe they'd just think she had decided not to come because of the weather. She hoped so. The idea of them spending Christmas worrying over her made her stomach twist.

Pressing her lips together, Amelia picked up her pace, bent forward at the waist, and forged onward through the wind and swirling snow.

*  *  *

The weather had definitely taken a turn for the worse. Evan Cameron flicked the curtain over the carriage window and leaned back against the leather cushion. It would be well past dark before they arrived home. Poor Joseph—his driver—would be frozen stiff by then.

Not for the first time, Evan considered calling a halt to this ridiculousness. Traveling in bad—and worsening—weather was never wise, and he hated putting Joseph through such misery.

The village of Postcombe was less than five miles away. They could be there within the hour. He and Joseph could stop there for the night…

But Evan had promised his aunt and his mother that he'd be home today, and he wasn't a man who liked to break his promises.

The carriage began to slow, and Evan frowned. As they drew to a stop, Evan drew the curtain back again and looked outside with a furrowed brow. Two figures trudged along the side of the road, their shoulders bent against the wind, their coats heavily dusted with snow, the taller figure holding the leads of the two horses that trailed behind them. Their faces were angled toward Joseph. Evan didn't know the man. Something about the woman looked familiar, but he couldn't get a good view of her from this perspective.

He opened the door and stepped out of the carriage. Both people turned in his direction.

The woman's neutral expression transformed to a frown, her eyes narrowing to angry slits and her lips growing thin.

"You," she whispered.

If he wasn't mistaken, her tone was laced with horror.

Who was she? She was beautiful, with generous curves her coat couldn't conceal, a pretty round face, blond hair peeking out from her woolen cap, and sparkling blue eyes.

Those eyes…awareness slammed into him, and he took a step backward, his arse banging against the edge of the carriage door. "Pudge?" he breathed.

The lovely blue eyes narrowed further, and the man beside her stepped forward. "This is Lady Amelia Witherspoon," he said gruffly. "I was driving my lady to Cheltham House when our carriage's axle broke. And you are…?"

Amelia took hold of her coachman's arm. "It is our neighbor, Mr. Evan Cameron. It appears he has returned from the Continent."

Evan raised a brow, an automatic response to her frosty tone. "I have."

Witherspoon. It was her married name. He remembered his mother writing to him about Lady Amelia's marriage. She had been married in the autumn of 1807. Over four years ago now.

He recalled the feeling the news of her nuptials had given him. It hadn't been a pleasant sensation. After all, he'd once hoped she would be his someday, and even though he'd given up on that dream, he hated the thought of her in another man's arms.

He'd written back to his mother asking her not to speak to him of Lady Amelia again. She hadn't asked questions and had abided his wishes. He'd told her once as a lad what he thought of Lady Amelia. She was a wise enough woman not to press him.

And now, that lady stood before him in the flesh, covered with snow, more beautiful than ever, married…and furious, it seemed.

He finally found his tongue, and his manners. "Please, come inside my carriage and out of the weather, my lady. I will ensure you arrive home safely tonight."

Amelia studied him, and for a mad moment he actually believed she might refuse his offer. And then…she did!

"No," she said primly. "I'd rather walk."

Lifting her nose into the air, she turned away from him.

Her coachman's eyes went wide. He coughed, then lurched after her. The horses trailed behind him. "Milady!"

She glanced up at him but continued walking, her strides long and determined. "John, I don't think…" Evan didn't hear the rest, for she was walking so quickly away from him, the words faded with every step she took.

Evan stalked after her. When he reached her, he grabbed her arm with a firm grip, halted her midstep, and turned her to face him.

She looked down at her arm, then into his face, furious. "Unhand me this instant!"

Holy hell. What was this about? He kept a firm grip on her arm. "You will come into my carriage, my lady. I'll not have you walking to your death in this weather."

They were still a good fifteen miles away from Cheltham House and five miles from Postcombe. The snow was falling more thickly by the second.

"As I said, I'd rather walk than take your charity," she said stiffly, trying to wriggle out of his grip.

He was completely flummoxed by this behavior. Amelia had always been a girl with a sweet and selfless disposition, always kind, always caring more about others than herself. Had marriage turned her into some kind of virago?

He didn't let her go. He met her eyes evenly, lowering his chin. "I insist."

His tone was dark and brooked no argument, because no way in hell was he allowing her to walk another step out here.

She stilled, her sky-blue eyes looking straight into his for a long moment. Falling snow whispered around them. Finally, she blinked, looked up at the sky, and back down to him, snowflakes melting on her pinkened cheeks.

"Very well, then." Her voice was tight and lacking in emotion. This time, when she tried to shake free of his grip, Evan let her go.

He breathed out a sigh of relief and glanced at her coachman, who also appeared relieved.

He helped secure the horses to the back of his carriage, then John sat up on the driver's seat with Joseph while Evan helped Amelia into the carriage. His gaze raked over her softly rounded backside as she climbed in.

Amelia had always been a pretty girl, but pretty was not an adequate description for the woman she had become. Curvaceously lovely or voluptuously delicious would perhaps be better.

He sat beside her, forcibly pushing back the erotic image of him running his hands over all those lush curves. For God's sake. She was a married woman, and it was a personal rule of his to never dally with other men's wives.

Still, married or not, she was the loveliest thing he'd ever laid eyes on.

After being outside for so long, she was shivering, so he removed her sodden coat and cap then tucked all his heavy blankets around her. She accepted them without comment, her body stiff.

The carriage rumbled forward at a slow pace, and they sat in silence for a few minutes while Evan observed her. She sat ramrod straight, facing forward, her face set in hard lines, her gloved hands clasped tightly in her lap over the blankets.

And he realized how much he'd missed her. It had been years—how many? seven? eight?—since he'd seen her last. It was before he'd gone to university and stopped visiting home as often. On the few occasions he'd returned home, he'd looked for her, but the timing had never been quite right. She'd been in London with her family or visiting relatives or at school.

But he'd always imagined her there, a fixture at Cheltham House, lovely and sweet-natured, reading a book in the outdoor pavilion, sitting on one of the benches with her legs tucked up under her. He always imagined himself watching her—as he had many times, because she looked so peaceful sitting there engrossed in her stories—and then her finally noticing his presence—as she had many times—giving him that slow, shy smile he loved to see.

Even after he heard she'd married, he found it difficult to picture her any other way.

This stern-faced but beautiful woman sitting beside him…well, it was hard to reconcile her with the girl of his memories. Maybe if he could get her to smile, he'd see a hint of that girl he'd…liked.

The extended silence began to make him fidget, and he cleared his throat. "I heard you married. Mr. Witherspoon of London? Congratulations, Pud…er, my lady."

Slowly, she turned to him, but her eyelashes fluttered in surprise. "That was four years ago," she said dryly. "Your congratulations are quite tardy."

He flinched, and she continued. "Especially considering the fact that Edmund died two and a half years ago."

It was his turn to blink in surprise. His mouth fell open. "Oh. God. I didn't know…didn't hear."

"Clearly," she said in an acerbic tone.

"I'm so very sorry," he muttered, feeling like an ass.

She tilted her head at him. "Thank you. But I have been a widow for quite a long time now, and I have grown accustomed to it."

Suddenly, Evan wished he hadn't told his mother to stop writing about Lady Amelia. He wanted to know everything about her, about how she'd spent the last several years.

"Do you have children?" he asked.


Her hands were gripped so tightly in her lap her knuckles had whitened. Obviously, this was not the correct line of conversation to take if he wanted any chance of glimpsing his old friend somewhere behind this woman's cold façade.

He changed tack quickly. "How are your sisters? All grown up, I imagine."

Amelia's sisters were much younger than she. Her parents had had a difficult time conceiving after she was born, but then they'd had a surprise baby when Amelia was eight and another when she was ten. She'd always doted on her sisters.

She thawed a little at his question. "Emmaline is fifteen now, and Veronica is thirteen. They like to believe they're all grown up, but I would beg to differ."

"I imagine you would," he murmured. "And the earl and Lady Cheltham? How are they?"

"My parents are very well. My sisters keep them young."

He chuckled.

They lapsed into yet another silence, but then she took a deep breath and asked politely, "And your mother? How is she?"

"Very well, as far as I know. I haven't seen her in a few years, but her letters are as longwinded as ever."

"I suppose I've seen her more recently than you, then. I saw her…" She paused, considering. "A year and a half ago, I believe, at our annual garden party. I am happy to report that she did indeed look quite well."

"I'm glad to hear it."

"And your aunt was with her. I'm glad to hear your mother's not all alone in that big house. After your father died, I was terribly worried about her."

He nodded. That statement reminded him of the girl he used to know.

He let his gaze roam over her again. God, but she was beautiful. Her eyes sparkled in the dim light, and her hair shone gold. His body tightened all over again, but this time he didn't beat his desire back. It might be inappropriate for him to be feeling this way about Amelia after all these years, but…well, hell. He couldn't help it.

They drove on for another few minutes, talking about Cheltham House and Wheatley, the nearby village, their families and mutual acquaintances. She was still quite stiff, but the topics they discussed seemed to be encouraging the good-natured part of her to reemerge. She was so pretty sitting there, bundled up in a blanket, her lips pink, her eyes that stunning color of blue. Evan couldn't help it—his attraction to her grew with every mile they drove until it seemed to crackle around them like a living thing.

And then the carriage stopped again.

Evan frowned and looked out the window. He'd been so engrossed in Amelia he'd lost track of time.

Through the thick curtain of snow, he saw a row of thatched buildings. "Looks like we're in Postcombe."

"But why have we stopped?" she asked.

"I have no idea." He opened the door and stepped out. Wind whipped his hair against his cheeks and sent snow swirling around his legs.

Joseph climbed down from the driver's seat. "Sir," he said, approaching Evan, "the weather's worse. The wind's picked up and the snowdrifts are growing quite deep. I wouldn't want us to get stuck in a drift in the middle of nowhere. John here and I have agreed that it would be too dangerous to forge ahead. I suggest we spend the night at the inn and continue on in the morning."

For the first time in a long while, Evan took in his surroundings. Joseph was right. The snow was gathering in deep drifts in the street, and his boots were buried shin-deep.

"Damn it," he muttered. He'd wanted to safely deliver Amelia to her family tonight. But Joseph was right. It wouldn't be wise to risk it. There wasn't any lodging that would be appropriate for a lady of Amelia's stature between here and Cheltham House.

She had slipped out behind him, her brow furrowed. "What's wrong?" Clearly, she'd been paying as little attention to the weather as he had.

He turned to her, feeling the frown deepen between his brows. "I'm sorry," he told her. "We're going to have to spend the night here."



    "4.5 stars, HOT! Readers have been eagerly awaiting this sequel to Confessions of an Improper Bride, in order to finally uncover the truth about Meg Donovan's "death." Haymore creates a highly satisfying answer, drawing the reader in with wonderfully realistic characters, adventure, passion and unexpected plot twists while crafting another delightful entry in the Donovan series."—RT Book Reviews on Pleasures of a Tempted Lady
  • "With beautifully rendered characters, lush sensuality, and a riveting story line, this well-told tale puts a refreshing spin on both the hidden identity and classic reunion plots and gets Haymore's new series off to a delightful start."—Library Journal on Confessions of an Improper Bride
  • "Jennifer Haymore strikes a good balance of strength, sensuality, drama and intrigue in her characters...With enduring characters that exhibit strong chemistry, I very much enjoyed Ms. Haymore's unique, engaging style and look forward to reading the other books that are a part of this series."—www.fictionvixen.com on A Season of Seduction
  • "Each time Ms. Haymore writes a book in this series I think there is no way to top the one I just finished. I started this latest one and realize she has done just that and has proven to me how fresh this series can remain. The characters of Becky and Jack are so full of life and longing just trying to make the right connection between family, relationship and future happiness while figuring out who to trust with all their secrets. This is a wonderful story and while I recommend reading the 1st two it is not imperative as Jennifer Haymore is a magician at connecting the plot from one book to the next-- but trust me you will have to buy the first two, they are that good."—The Reading Reviewer (www.marygramlich.com) on A Season of Seduction
  • "Sweep-you-off-your-feet historical romance! Jennifer Haymore sparkles!"—New York Times bestselling author Liz Carlyle
  • "Jennifer Haymore's books are sophisticated, deeply sensual, and emotionally complex."—New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt
  • " For jaded romance readers, Jennifer Haymore is an author to watch!"—New York Times bestselling author Nicole Jordan

On Sale
Oct 1, 2013
Page Count
120 pages
Forever Yours

Jennifer Haymore

About the Author

As a child, Jennifer Haymore traveled the South Pacific with her family on their homebuilt sailboat. The months spent on the sometimes quiet, sometimes raging seas sparked her love of adventure and grand romance. Since then, she’s earned degrees in computer science and education and held various jobs ranging from bookselling to teaching inner-city children to acting, but she’s never stopped writing.

You can find Jennifer in Southern California trying to talk her husband into yet another trip to England, helping her three children with homework while brainstorming a new five-minute dinner menu, or crouched in a corner of the local bookstore writing her next novel.

You can learn more at:
Twitter @JenniferHaymore

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