Excerpt from YULETIDE LIES

She wasn't quite sure exactly what she had pictured, but it was not this. To hear Mrs. Garver speak of
her master, Cassandra had fabricated a vision of someone much older, much larger, and not nearly so...
beautiful. Indeed, this Lord Braden was almost too beautiful.

His features were perfect, unblemished as the carved marble sculpture of a god. He was not overly
large, yet his presence filled the room completely the moment he entered. His wild hair was jet black, as
were his eyes. They captivated her. It was not just the pure attraction of those huge, dark-fringed eyes
glaring at her, searching her, but it was the expression in them. Sadness, concern. Concern for her?
She could not help but hope it was so.

So intent was her hoping that she actually jumped when the man spoke.

"I'm glad to see you recovering, Miss Horne."

Drat, but she'd forgotten they still believed that was her name.

"Mrs. Garver and everyone has been very kind to me, sir," she said, struggling to break free from those
eyes. "Thank you for finding me."

"It was Brutus, in fact."

"Brutus?"

"My hound. He heard the cries of your horse, is my guess, and knew something was amiss in the hills. I
followed and he led me to you."

"Then I hope I will have opportunity to thank him, as well."

This seemed to thoroughly surprise the man. "You wish to see Brutus?"

"If he is not allowed indoors I suppose I can wait until I am better, of course."

"No, he is allowed, but I thought... that is..."

"Yes?"

"In your letters you said that you... well, I had the impression you do not much care for dogs, Miss Horne."

"Oh. Well, that was before I was rescued by one."

"I see. Then I will be most happy to arrange a meeting between you. I think Brutus would be very relieved
to see you so well."

"I will look forward to it," she said. "I owe my life to both of you."

He refused to accept her gratitude, shaking his head instead. "I only wish I had been successful in my
attempt to save your poor father. Please, Miss Horne, accept my deepest sympathy for your sad loss."

"Thank you. It's hard to believe that he's gone."

She worried that her grief was not enough evident. Wouldn't a truly bereaved young woman be making a
much greater show of her sorrow? She simply could not drum up the false emotion. Now of course the
keen-eyed Lord Braden would know something was not right.

"I believe I understand," he said and she tried not to cringe noticeably. "This has all been very difficult
for you. You are changing your mind, aren't you?"

"Er, what do you mean?"

"Poor Miss Horne. I can see the truth in your eyes."

"You can?" Drat. It was just as she feared. He detected her lies.

"Yes. I knew from your correspondence that you were not fond of the idea of traveling to such a remote
place as this, especially not with winter coming on and Christmas just a few days away, yet I fear I was
rather insistent."

"You were?"

He dropped into the chair beside her bed and let out a long, pained breath. The poor man's expression
went even sadder than before and when he turned those huge, dark eyes on her again it quite nearly
broke her heart.

"I had hoped your visit to my home would affect you in a positive way, would put your mind in a more
favorable bent. I am heartily sorry now that I insisted. Clearly you came simply out of a sense of
obligation with no intent to stay, and now here you are, stranded and grieving for your father. Truly, you
cannot know the depth of my sorrow at the pain this must be causing you."

"But you've been nothing but kindness, and your staff has made me so comfortable! Please, sir, you
mustn't feel I hold you in any way responsible for what has happened to me."

"You are too generous, Miss Horne. I hope you... that is, surely it is unfair for me to bring up the subject
now, but... I pray this has not turned you against the gracious acceptance you have already given me.
Please know that my sentiments have not changed. I still fully intend to make you my wife."
The Midlands, England, 1814
Amidst mistletoe, mystery, and a motley menagerie, the greatest
gift this Christmas might turn out to be Love...

Victim of a horrible scheme gone wrong, Miss Cassandra Loring
expected to wake up dead. Instead, she has found herself in a
castle somewhere in the remote English countryside. Her
rescuer, it turns out, is the irresistible Lord Braden who, oddly
enough, is under the mistaken belief her name is Miss Horne.
And that they are engaged to be married!

With danger nipping close at her heels and a kidnapper still on
the loose, it simply makes sense not to correct him. There are
plenty worse things than to have a kind--yet mysterious--earl
doting on her. She's almost positive he isn't the villain behind
her abduction. Besides, she'll be gone long before their
scheduled Christmas Day wedding... no matter how much she
might wish to stay.
Yuletide Lies
A Regency Christmas Novel