Once Upon a Christmas Match (Preview)


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May 1806

Twelve-year-old Ellen moved her fingers up and down as if playing an invisible pianoforte that only she could hear. She hummed softly to herself, halted mid-arpeggio and started over until she got the correct sequence of notes. Once she was satisfied with the new melody, she nodded with satisfaction and scribbled the notes onto a sheet of music in the blank Staffs. However, soon they would be filled with a beautiful and original new piece of music to honour her mother on her upcoming birthday.

She was oblivious to the world around her, despite the warm golden sunshine and chirping birds as she sat in the midst of her father’s garden. Indeed, she could have spent every waking hour in the garden composing new melodies or practising for hours upon hours behind the pianoforte. If her mother would have allowed it, that is. However, as of late, her life seemed to be taken up more and more with preparations for her coming out, even though it was still several years away.

Ellen halted for a moment, biting her lower lip. Growing up was such a distasteful business. Her mother reminded her at least twenty times a day that she was no longer a child but a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. She could not start her preparation for entering that strange world of adults a minute too soon.

Sighing heavily, she turned her attention back to her music sheet. Her brow knit into a frown, another infraction for which her mother would have scolded her. “You will make wrinkles, Ellen,” her mother would have chided her if she could have seen her face.

Ellen shook her head, trying to focus on the task at hand. She brushed her long, blonde curls over her shoulder, peering at the music sheet. However, she had not been able to write two notes into their place when a loud whizzing swept past her, and a gale-force wind blew her hair into her eyes. She gasped, holding her music sheets down so they, too, would not be swept away. She looked up only to see Lord Simon riding past her at break-neck speed on his new steed. She rolled her eyes, turned away from him slightly, and did her best to ignore him.

Lord Simon Grant, the heir to the Earldom of Danbridge, had been a thorn in her side for as long as she could remember. At two years her junior, he was the bane of her existence, always hanging about playing tricks on her or being a general nuisance. She glanced up, and saw his blonde hair bouncing as he rode away. He turned his horse to face her, and she caught a glimpse of his chubby, freckle-covered face. She rolled her eyes and looked away.

Simon sat atop the gelding proudly, patting its neck and smiling an impish grin. She quickly turned around when she saw that he was looking in her direction. “Best not to encourage him,” she mumbled. She uttered a growl of frustration and began humming the tune again, plotting out the notes in her mind before she jotted them onto the paper.

Ellen heard the thunder of hooves once more but was determined to ignore the ten-year-old nuisance. He was just like her younger sisters, always buzzing around, asking questions and driving her mad. She frowned, trying to concentrate. The hoofbeats grew louder, and her heart began to race. Surely he did not mean to run her down, did he?

Ellen turned just as the horse reared a few feet away from her. Mud sprayed up as the horse abruptly stopped, waving its front hooves dangerously over her head. Ellen screamed and tried to back away.

A few seconds later, Simon loosened his hold on the reins, and the horse went back down on all fours. His laughter filled the air, echoing around her–mocking her.

Her face grew flush with anger, and she gasped as she looked down at the little marble bench she had been occupying. An ugly black ink splotch was quickly spreading over her music sheets, erasing her newly penned melody in its wake.

Ellen stood up, furious. “Simon Grant, now look at what you’ve done!” she yelled. She snatched the inkwell up, the black ink staining her hands. Her mother would be incensed when she saw the state she was in.

She looked down at her once-pristine white dress. “Oh, I do not know why we women put up with you boys at all!” n she muttered as she began gathering her music.

Snickering sounded behind her, and she swung around. Simon covered his mouth with a fist, trying to hold back his laughter. He dismounted with one fluid movement and came to her side, allowing his horse to feed nearby. “I am ever so sorry, Ellen. I had no idea Prince would rear up like that.”

Ellen shot him a suspicious scowl. “I know how well you ride, Simon, and that was no accident. You made him spray mud all over me on purpose. And now look what your trick has cost me! A whole afternoon’s work–gone,” she said in dismay. All three music sheets she had penned for her mother’s birthday song were marred by ink stains. She would have to start all over now.

“It is not my fault you knocked over the inkwell. You really should have seen your face–” Simon began, but something within Ellen snapped before he had a chance to finish. He had bent over to help her retrieve some of the pages that had drifted to the grass after his little prank, and she snatched them away from his hands.

“I would not have spilled the ink if you would not have frightened me!” She walked around the bench and started toward the house. “You are the most wicked boy I have ever met. I hate you, Simon Grant! I never want to see you again!”

She stalked toward the patio, hurrying as fast as possible to escape him. This was more than she could bear. For years, she had been forced to put up with his tricks and pranks, but no more. She would go to her mother and tell her what had happened, and with any luck, she would not force her to be in the same room, let alone the same house, with Simon. His immaturity was a blight on his father’s name to be sure.

When she came to the patio steps, she turned momentarily to see what Simon was doing. All she could see was his hunched back as he retreated to his family’s estate just a few miles away. A pinprick of guilt assailed her heart. Her parents repeatedly tried to explain that he was young and would someday grow out of this phase. All boys went through it, and Simon was no different than all the other “red-blooded” young men. He would learn to control himself in time.

Ellen turned her nose up and swung around on her heels. She did not want to wait until he learned some self-control.

When she entered the parlour, her mother’s mouth dropped open, and she stood, her embroidery forgotten as it slid to the floor. “Ellen! What on earth has happened?”

“Simon Grant. That is what happened,” she said. She deposited her mass of ruined papers on one of the side tables, and a maid appeared immediately to clean it up so that the ink would not drip onto the expensive oriental rugs. “I really do think he was trying to kill me this time, Mama,” Ellen complained.

Her mother took her by the elbow and led her out of the room. “Oh, you are always so dramatic about these things, dearest,” she replied. She led her out into the foyer and up the grand staircase, helping her to her room.

“I am not being dramatic, Mama. I tell you Simon has crossed the line one too many times. I do not want to see him ever again,” she whined.

“Well, that will not be easily attained, Ellen. You know that your father and Lord Grant wish you two to wed someday,” her mother argued. Ellen rolled her eyes.

“I would rather be run down by runaway horses.”

“Watch your tongue, young lady,” her mother chided. She opened the door to Ellen’s room and called the maid to go and fetch a basin and towels. “Simon will grow out of his tricks, Ellen. I assure you, all boys are like this at his age.”

“I do not want to hear it, Mama. Simon is the worst boy I have ever met. He is rude and wild and disrespectful.”

Her mother sighed and helped her climb out of her ruined white dress. “Well, perhaps school will help mellow him. His father has told us that he will be off to boarding school in a few weeks.”

Ellen breathed a sigh of relief. “Well, that is welcome news. At least we shall not see so much of him, except on holidays.” She turned and went to the vanity. Her maid had returned with fresh water and clean towels by this time. She dipped the corner of one towel in the water and began washing the mud off her face.

Her mother shook her head. “Someday, you will appreciate these times, Ellen. Perhaps Simon only treats you this way because he is trying to get your attention.”

“I do not care why he does it. I only want him to desist. It seems his father has solved my problem for me,” Ellen said, turning her attention back to her reflection. “With any luck, Simon will go away to school and forget all about me. Maybe then I shall finally get some peace.”

Chapter One

July, 1816

Simon Grant lifted the glass of Scotch to his lips and took a small sip. Looking about the room, he studied the young people, all having a marvellous time. All except him, it would seem.

“Why the long face, Simon?” His friend, Lord Everett Carlisle, called as he approached from the other side of the room. Simon pasted a smile on his face and greeted him. Behind his friend appeared his younger cousin, Lady Genevieve Gladstone.

“I did not know you would be here this evening,” he said with a genuine smile this time. “I thought I would have to suffer in this corner all alone.”

“And why should you suffer?” Everett asked, turning to Lady Genevieve. “My cousin practically begged me to bring her to this party, so you had better make it worth my while,” he teased.

“You know that we always have fun together, we three,” Simon said. He turned to Lady Genevieve and bowed. She curtsied, wearing a mischievous grin on her bright ruby lips. “I am indebted to you, Lady Genevieve for dragging your cousin here, as he suggests you did.”

Lady Genevieve took his offered arm. “My cousin may be a twenty-year-old college graduate, but sometimes I wonder if a grumpy old man is trapped inside his body. He never seems to have time for fun since he graduated from law school.”

Simon laughed. “It is quite the feat considering he is only twenty.”

Everett flashed an annoyed glance at both of them. “You know that I am right here, do you not?”

Simon let go of Genevieve’s arm and walked over to his friend, clapping him on the back good-naturedly. “We are not making fun, Everett, old chap. We are proud of you, that is all. Are we not, Lady Genevieve?” he asked, turning to her.

“Vastly proud,” she agreed. “Now, where is the champagne? This is a celebration, is it not?”

Everett shook his head. “No champagne. You are not old enough, yet,” he admonished.

“I am nineteen. I do not see the problem,” Lady Genevieve turned to Simon for help, but he was not about to get mixed up in the family quarrels.

“We had better celebrate while we can,” Simon said, changing the subject. “I have just received a letter from home.”

Everett and Lady Genevieve stilled, their faces drawn. “What news from home?” Everett asked. Simon gave a sad smile, for Everett had travelled home to Montclair Castle nearly every holiday since they were twelve–ever since Everett’s father had passed away, leaving him an orphan. As they grew older, they had spent their summers in London with Lady Genevieve and her parents. It was strange to think that this was his last summer spent in the company of his two closest friends.

“News I am afraid has been coming for a long while. My father has ordered me to return home immediately,” Simon sighed. He paused for a moment before telling them the news. “I am going to be married.”

Everett’s face blossomed into a smile while Genevieve’s face blanched. He tried to laugh it off but was sure that she might faint by the way she swayed. He offered her his arm again and started toward the refreshment table. “Perhaps some punch will revive you, m’lady,” with a mockingly serious demeanour. She rested her free hand on his arm to steady herself.

“Married?” she asked. Her dark brown eyes flashed with alarm.

“Yes, I am afraid so. Father has asked me to come home straight away, but I am in no hurry to go home and tie the noose.”

“Do you not mean, knot?” Everett asked with a laugh.

“No, noose,” Simon shot back in a teasing tone. However, he was much more nervous than he let on. His father had arranged for him to marry Lady Ellen Semple. He had had feelings for her since they were small children, but she had never seemed to notice him unless he played a trick on her or annoyed her in some way. What would she think of him now that they were ten years older–he a man? He had not seen her since he left for boarding school and later enrolled in Eton. They had always seemed to miss seeing each other. Or had it been by design that she had avoided him all these years?

Simon gulped and stopped before the refreshment table, handing a glass of punch to Lady Genevieve. Her hand shook slightly, but she took a sip. “Do not fret for me, Lady Genevieve. We shall have one last gold summer together.”

She nodded, hanging her head. “I know you have spoken of her a few times, but what is Lady Ellen like?”

Simon shrugged. “What I remember of her when we were children is that she was stuck up and serious. Never wanted to have any fun, you know. She was always reading or scribbling away in her journal.” He sighed, and they walked away from the refreshment table to take up their lonely corner. The musicians had filed into the ballroom and were tuning their instruments. Soon, the middle of the large room would be cleared for dancing.

“It is unfair of your father to demand such a thing from you. Why ever would you consider going through with it, especially if you do not love her?” she asked.

Simon glanced at Everett. The truth was, he still was in love with Lady Ellen. He had never told a soul except for him. However, he was also anxious about his feelings. Were they not puppy love from a tie gone by? Or had his love only grown over the years? He could not be sure, but he wanted to find out. And who better to marry than the daughter of his father’s closest friend? Their families had spent time together for years, even if he had not seen Ellen since starting boarding school. It would be mutually advantageous for all of them.

Simon laughed. “Do not look so dreary. It will be alright in the end, I am sure. I must marry eventually, and I know my father is eager for me to settle down and take over responsibility for the estate. His health is not what it was, and the worry over the future of the Danbridge succession has weighed him down as of late.”

“Surely there is time for you to find a wife? Is it not foolish to rush into an agreement?” Lady Genevieve asked. Her barrage of questions gave him pause, and he exchanged a confused glance with Everett.

“Surely it does not matter to you who I marry,” he replied.

She pasted a smile on her face, waving off the suggestion. “Never mind. You are right. You should enjoy every last ounce of freedom that is afforded to you.” She let go of his arm and turned around to face him. “The first order of business should be a dance, I think?” she offered.

Simon relaxed. “Excellent idea. Come on Everett. Find yourself a pretty girl and let us all dance!”

Simon captured Lady Genevieve’s hand, and they hurried out to the middle of the dancefloor, where several other couples lined up in preparation for the first country dance. Perhaps Lady Ellen has mellowed since I last saw her, he tried to comfort himself. Regardless, he would soon find out come summer’s end.

Chapter Two

October 1816

Ellen stared into her vanity mirror, feeling despondent and utterly without hope. She touched the looking glass lightly and traced her fingers down her face’s reflection.

“My life is over,” she whispered.

As orchestrated by her father, Lord Simon and his parents would be there any minute. A small dinner party had been arranged with a few friends to welcome Simon back from university. Just the thought of seeing him again made her nauseous. Why should she be the one to marry him? Unfortunately, her elder sister, Golda, was already married, and her two sisters were much too young. She leaned back from the mirror and sat against the chair with a huff, reclining in a most undignified manner.

A knock sounded at the door, and a moment later, her mother’s face appeared around the door. Instantly, her eyes darkened, and her brow furrowed. “What on earth do you think you are doing, Ellen? Sit up straight. I did not raise you to be a savage.”

Ellen sat up with a sigh. “It does not matter what I do anymore, does it, Mama? You and Papa have sold me to that wretched boy as a wife. I no longer have to keep up appearances.”

“Nonsense. You are to act like a lady at all times, even after marriage. Or do you plan to make your husband miserable?”

“He made my life miserable enough when we were children. What about the time he put that awful toad in my bedroom’s water pitcher. Or the time he dipped my braids in ink when I fell asleep at the pianoforte while I was composing?”

Her mother’s lips turned upright into a slight smile. Ellen knew she was trying to hold back her laughter, but it was not a happy memory. Ellen turned away as her mother was unable to hold back her laugh. “It was not at all amusing, Mama. My governess had to cut six inches off my hair that summer.”

“Holding grudges does not become you, my dear,” her mother said. She placed her hands on her shoulders and leaned down to kiss her cheek. “Lord Simon is not a little boy anymore, but a man. And a handsome one, by his mother’s accounts.”

Ellen rolled her eyes. “All mother’s think their sons handsome, Mama. That does not mean anything.”

Her mother threw up her hands in frustration, pacing away from the vanity. “Why are you so apt to think the worst of people, Ellen?”

“I am not apt to think the worst of people. Only Lord Simon,” she said. She turned around in the vanity seat, gripping the back of it. “Mama, please do not make me go through with this marriage. I know that Papa and Lord Grant have been plotting this since we were children, but it is not–”

“No, Ellen. You cannot go back on your word now. Your father has made all the arrangements. Do you want to cause a rift between our families? We have always been on good terms with the Grants.” Her mother came around and knelt before her chair. Ellen turned toward her, her heart feeling as if it might break into a million pieces.

Her mother touched her cheek, giving her an encouraging yet sad smile. “I know it is frightening to be on the cusp of your wedding, Ellen, not knowing what to expect. However, you would be doing yourself and Simon a disservice if you were not to give him a chance. Ten years is a lot of time, and perhaps you will find that he is much changed in his manners and behaviour. You may even grow to love him, in time.”

Ellen snorted. “I do not think that will ever be possible, Mama.” She turned away, her heart again weighed down by doubts. “What of my music? I shall have to give everything up. And I do not want to!” she lamented. Tears sprang to her eyes.

“Oh, dearest. Why would he make you give up playing the piano? In my experience, most gentlemen are keen to have a wife who can play an instrument. And to have a musician as accomplished as yourself–”

“I am not speaking of merely playing, Mama, but of composing. When shall I have time to spend on my music when I have a house to run and children–” she halted, cringing at the thought of having children with Simon. “Never mind.”

Her mother stood up, straightening her skirts. “You are overcomplicating the situation, Ellen. Let us simply get through this dinner party, and then you will have a clearer understanding of the man who is about to be your husband. What gain is there in worrying?”

Ellen watched her mother head to the door. Before she went out into the hall, she turned and nodded. “Chin up, my dear. The only thing left to do is make the best of this.”

Her mother went out, closing the door softly behind her. Ellen gazed at her reflection once more. Simon may have changed much in the last ten years, but she doubted he had outgrown his tricks. It was all so unfair what her parents were forcing her to do. But at twenty-two years old, she was fast approaching spinsterhood, and even with her independent nature, she knew she did not want the label. She stood up and went to the full-length mirror, turning this way and that. The fabric of her silvery blue gown sparkled in the candlelight. She knew she looked her best and was sure to draw attention from every gentleman in attendance that evening.

However, it was not what she wanted. Indeed, who in their right mind would look forward to a lifeless and loveless marriage? Uttering a sigh of frustration, she smoothed down her skirts as if to take her anger out on the gown.

“Is something wrong, my lady?”

Ellen swung around, frightened by the intrusion. She placed a hand over her heart as her maid stepped out of the doorway that joined her room to that of the tiny maid’s quarters. She pinned her with a severe stare. “Ambers. How often have I told you not to sneak up on me?”

“Forgive me, my lady. I came up to lay out your nightdress for later.”

Ellen nodded. “I apologise.” She motioned for her maid to come in, and she did so, spreading the linen nightgown over the side of the bed. “I should not have been so harsh with you. It is just that I am a little nervous about this evening.”

“You have nothing to worry about, my lady. You look beautiful,” Ambers said. She beamed at her in pride.

“With much thanks to you.”

Ambers laughed. “You would look beautiful in a gunny sack, my lady.”

Ellen joined in with her laughter. “I am not so sure about that. My mother’s nerves would not recover for an entire week.” When they quieted, Ellen again turned pensive. “I shall be sorry to leave this house, Ambers. You have served me well over the years.”

Ambers’ face fell. “Surely I will be going with you when you are married, my lady?”

Ellen shrugged. “I do not know what will happen. If you are willing, I will speak to my father and Lord Grant about making the necessary arrangements for you to come along with me.”

“I would like that very much,” Ambers replied. “I would hate to leave you, my lady.”

Ellen warmed to the older woman. Indeed, she would have been sad to part ways with her as well. She had always listened and been attentive and kind to her, even though she was also from the noble class. Her family had landed on hard times, and she had been forced to take a lady’s maid position. However, Ellen had never heard her complain one time.

“You have been so good to me, Ambers. I thank you,” she said, walking over to the woman. Ambers curtsied. Ellen took a deep breath a sighed. “Well, I suppose I should head downstairs. It is too bad I cannot hide up here all night.”

“It would be a pity for you to hide in a gown such as that, my lady.” Ambers smiled and walked around her to ensure everything was in order. “You are a vision. Now, I shall leave you, if there is nothing else?”

“Of course. No, there is nothing else. Good night, Ambers.”

Her maid opened her bedroom door for her, and she walked out into the hall. Already she could hear voices filtering up to her from the foyer, just down the hall and down the grand staircase. She took a steadying breath and made her way toward it, feeling that she was heading toward her doom.

Chapter Three

“Come along, my boy. Do not look so worried.” Simon’s father clapped him on the shoulder as they walked up to the front of the Semple mansion. He nodded, trying to look more confident than he felt. That night he would see Ellen for the first time in ten years. Questions assailed him and had been ever since his father announced this dinner would take place. What did Ellen look like now? She had always been a comely girl, but her beauty would hardly matter if she was still cold and stuck up.

He gulped as they walked up the steps to the front door. The last time he had seen her, she had yelled at him that she hated him–that she never wanted to see him again. He had never had the chance to tell her that he had liked her and had acted out in front of her to get her attention. He knew now that he had gone too far with his trick on the horse, but there was no taking it back now. He could only hope that her memory was not as keen as his own. He remembered every detail of that day, feeling the guilt of it washing over him every time it crept into his mind. And it had been an ever-present thought over the last few months.

Simon had long since left his boyish infatuation over Ellen in the dust a long time ago. However, it would be nice if he and his future wife could be on good terms and even learn to love each other as time passed.

“Are you even listening to me, Simon?” His father touched his arm, looking a little worried.

Simon raised his brows in question. “Forgive me, Father, I did not hear you.”

His father exchanged a glance with his mother and motioned that she should go inside. He opened the door for her and pulled Simon to the side.

“What is it, Father?’ Simon asked, watching as his mother went inside alone.

His father sighed. “I know that you have reservations about this whole arrangement, but you are doing the right thing.” His father had to stop, for a wracking cough assailed him. Simon waited, placing a hand on his father’s shoulder.

“Are you well, Father? Perhaps it is not good for you to be out in this chill.”

“I am well,” he said after a moment. He took a deep breath as the coughing spell passed. “I want to see you settled with a good wife, Simon. The security of the estate depends on you marrying and producing an heir. I would like to live long enough to see my grandchildren born, but none of us are given the certainty of tomorrow. And with my health–” he shook his head, his eyes filling with tears. “I have not said this often enough, but I am proud of the man you have become, my son.”

Simon nodded, knowing that this was the closest his father would get to saying, ‘I love you.’

“Thank you, Father. The estate is my concern now. You need not lose another night of sleep over its welfare.” Simon gently nudged his father in the direction of the door. “Now, enough business. We have a party to attend.”

His father gave a throaty laugh, and they walked inside together. His mother had waited in the foyer, and they quickly took off their hats and coats. His father held his arm to his mother, and they headed into the drawing room where several other guests had already gathered.

Lady Semple spotted them soon after and approached with a broad smile. “Ahh, Lord and Lady Grant. Lord Simon, we are so glad that you are here. Perhaps there is a matter you can clear up for us, Lord Simon.”

“Oh? Has an argument already arisen?”

“We have just been speaking about the sculptures your grandfather commissioned for the gardens in the 1750s. It was Jacques Lebeaule who was the artist, was he not? Lord Semple swears it was Frederique’ Dulac.”

Simon and his parents walked over to join a small group of guests, and he was pleased to see Everett among them. “It was Lebeaule, my lady. Dulac was commissioned by Lord Danby for the sculptures at his London house.”

Lord Semple snapped his finger above his head. “Ahh! You were right, my dear.”

“As always,” Lady Semple said with a mischievous smile.

The group shared a laugh, and Simon gave a cursory look around the room. Lady Semple seemed to guess at his thoughts.

“Ellen has not come down yet, but I assure you she will be soon. She was just finishing her preparations when I left her a few minutes ago.” Lady Semple linked her arm through his, and he was happy to oblige her. “She wanted to look her best for you,” she whispered.

Simon’s heart skipped a beat. “Ahh, well, from what I remember she always looked her best.”

Lady Semple smiled at this and let go of his arm. “Oh, there is Lord and Lady Greenwald. I should go over and welcome them. Please enjoy yourself,” she said and walked away toward the door. Simon nodded and caught Everett’s eye from across the room. He walked over to him and shook his hand.

“I am glad to see a friendly face. Thank you for coming,” he said.

“I would not miss this for anything. I have heard so much about Lady Ellen, I feel I already know her,” he replied, looking about the room. “There are so many handsome women here. Perhaps I will follow your example and find a wife as well.”

“Lady Ellen has two younger sisters, but I am not sure if they are out yet.”

“Well, no matter. I am not in as great a hurry as you are.” Everett winked. Simon looked about the room, trying to keep up his jovial appearance despite his worry. He could confide in his friend later, but for now, he would keep his father’s health issues to himself.

“Yes, well, we shall see if my bride-to-be is as keen to go through with this as our fathers.”

“She would be mad if she was not–” Everett began to say. However, Simon held up a hand as he overheard a woman’s voice saying his name.

“Simon was the most immature boy I have ever met, I cannot assume that he has changed very much in the last few years…”

Simon turned slightly and saw two young women standing a few paces away. He turned around again, leaning to the side to hear what she was saying better.

“You cannot know that. He was only ten-years-old when you last saw him. You are not being fair, Ellen.”

Simon raised a brow, exchanging a glance with Everett. His friend leaned closer and whispered to him. “Perhaps you should make yourself known.”

He shook his head. “I want to hear what she has to say,” he whispered back.

“I cannot see why. He terrorised me for as long as I could remember. What if we cannot get along?”

The woman beside her paused for a moment. “I am sure you will find a way. Simon is not a boy anymore.“ the other woman said. Simon turned again, and this time he recognised the woman with Lady Ellen. Her older sister, Golda, had always been kind to him, almost like a sister. She was several years older than himself and was on the cusp of coming out when he left for university. He thought he had heard from his mother that she had married a few years back. She seemed much more gracious than her little sister.

“Perhaps, not,” Ellen said, sounding unsure. “Regardless, it is not fair for Papa to force me into this marriage, especially when we have not seen each other these ten years.”

“Papa knows what is best for you,” Golda said. Simon had heard enough and motioned for Everett to follow him to the hearth. When they were a safe distance away, Everett spoke up.

“I am sorry you had to hear that, old chap,” Everett said, looking uncomfortable. “It looks like you have some convincing to do.”

“There is no need for you to apologise. I wanted to know what she really thought of me, and now I know,” Simon said, feeling a little discouraged. He had come to this dinner determined to make a go of his relationship with Ellen, and she seemed bent on being miserable no matter what he tried to do–without even considering that he might have changed over the years.

“Once Upon a Christmas Match” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Ellen Semple is a beautiful and high spirited lady, who loves composing music more than anything. When her father expects her to marry Lord Simon Grant, a man who tormented her when they were children, Ellen feels trapped in the most melancholic Christmas of her life. Will she ever be able to find happiness tied to a man she despises?

An unwanted marriage that could soften Ellen’s heart, or irreversibly break it…

After ten years of being away, Simon Grant, Earl of Danbridge, returns home to find that he is betrothed to Ellen. While Ellen despairs at the idea of a lifetime with him, Simon has harboured secret feelings for her since their childhood. Will a chance at a loving marriage be on the cards for him, or is it doomed before it even starts?

A misunderstood nobleman who will need more than the magic of Christmas to win his wife’s distant heart…

With Christmas drawing near, a spark of romance kindles between Ellen and Simon. Little did they know that a force from the past is determined to tear them apart, and it is up to them to prove if love can conquer any obstacle. Will Ellen and Simon find the courage to leave their prejudice and jealousy behind and celebrate their first Christmas as husband and wife, or will this Christmas together also be their last?

“Once Upon a Christmas Match” is a historical romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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3 thoughts on “Once Upon a Christmas Match (Preview)”

  1. I liked this book (but it wasn’t my favourite book).
    I have not read the extended epilogue because -as always with your books- I get an error message. I will try – as always- the next days again to read it but dont’t keep my hopes up…

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