Anne here, starting something a little bit different. We're putting up Sunday posts containing an excerpt from our stories in the Last Chance Christmas Ball — one each Sunday in the lead-up to Christmas.
The anthology was such a fun—and sometimes tricky— thing to do. We wenches had written a Christmas anthology before with a linking theme, but for this one we decided all the stories would be linked to an event, based around an annual Christmas ball, held by Lady Holbourne known as Lady Holly to her friends.
The emails flew back and forth as we tossed around ideas, made plans and thrashed out the details of the setting. Some of us wrote interweaving stories, some of us made our stories linked, but separate, several of us had our people not actually make it to the ball. But we all had such fun doing it, we wanted to share it again.
Here's the blurb for the collection: Christmas 1815. Upstairs and downstairs, Holbourne Abbey is abuzz with preparations for a grand ball to celebrate the year’s most festive—and romantic—holiday. For at the top of each guest’s wish list is a last chance to find true love before the New Year…
My story is called Mistletoe Kisses, and it's about Allie Fenton, a young woman who, for various reasons, has never been able to attend a ball. Now orphaned and on the shelf, she's planning to become a teacher at a girl's seminary in Bath. But first there's her last Christmas at home and then, Lady Holly's famous annual Christmas ball.
Here's a short excerpt:
"You'll come to my Christmas ball, then," Lady Holly told her. "Don't bother trying to think up any excuses — you're coming and that's that. Your year of mourning will be up, and you have no reason to stay here moldering away when I've gathered an excellent range of eligible gentlemen for your perusal."
Allie laughed. "For my perusal? As if I'm going shopping?"
"That's exactly what you'll be doing."
"Don't the gentlemen have any say in it?"
The old lady sniffed. "Women have been making men believe they have a choice for generations. Now don't be frivolous, Allie — I am determined to give you one last chance to find a husband before you go off and bury yourself in this, this school of yours." She pronounced 'school' as if she really meant 'zoo.'
Allie smiled. For all her caustic tone, Lady Holly had a very kind heart. "I would love to attend your ball, Lady Holly. . . "
The old lady frowned. "I hear a 'but' coming."