She’s seeking shelter. He’s hardened his heart. His cat just wants chin rubs.
Lucinda Thomalin fears for her life. Clueless why she’s being followed through London on this icy, storm-ravaged night, the unemployed companion barrels toward the only lit store and the safety it promises. Mistaking her for a strumpet, the shopkeeper orders her back outside—into the freezing rain.
Sleet is nothing compared to Brier Chapman’s frozen heart. When a drenched tart blasts into his closed mercantile, he just wants the stubborn chit gone—until he realizes she’s injured and this well-spoken spitfire is certainly no tart. Not to mention, his cat wants her to stay, but soon Brier’s chest is aching at the thaw…
How can lust turn to love so quickly, especially when Brier knows she’s destined to leave?
A determined woman. A dogged widower. One superior cat.
Rescued by a Christmas Kiss is a fun and flirty extended novella of 38,000 words with a guaranteed HEA perfect for readers who enjoy Historical Romance spiced with a bit of Regency slang. If you like feel-good stories full of wit and wordplay, Larissa Lyons’ heartfelt holiday Christmas Kisses are what you want in your stocking—all year long.
Give yourself a present—buy Rescued by a Christmas Kiss today!
No AI contributed to this story; 100% human effort.
Release Date: September 26, 2023 (e-book)
October 24, 2023 (print & LP)
• 9781949426991 e-book
• 9780983471189 print
• 9781949426656 large print
What a blast reading such cleverly written story!
The wit, the sensuality, the lurking danger – all exquisitely woven together in Regency English.
I appreciated the rich characters, and whether or not you are a cat-person, you’ve got to love Barnabas🧡 🐈.
5-star Amazon Review
What a delightfully different storyline this is! I adored this whole story with Brier, a very walled in hearted man meeting Luce, as she bursts through his door. The banter was so cute and Barnabus was so hysterical. I was truly caught off guard with the first page! I have to admit, I don’t read certain genres that this book alluded to and was very confused for a while, but the 2nd epilogue gave me the insight I needed and that ending was truly wonderful! Enjoyed this semi-sweet quick read immensely!
5-star Barnes & Noble review
Sweet Christmas romance. Lucinda and Brier were two lonely souls brought together by a carriage accident, a winter storm, a mysterious beast, and a helpful cat. Their Christmas romance was sprinkled with some humor and a sweet, innocently sensual undercurrent. They got to know each other and fell in love while waiting out the storm. I liked the seasonal setting and their happy ending.
5-star Bookbub review
December 23, 1812
A fast-moving blur caught his attention.
Barnabas left off his task and gazed out the window, past the frost and steam from his gentle huff. The stranger scuttled across the rain-slicked street, heading his way.
More disarrayed than most of the staid, polished females who typically sought entrance where he worked and lived—despite a cranky landlord.
Would she know just how he needed to be touched after a long, arduous day in the fields? Catching prey and earning his keep? Would she know which muscles needed attention? Where to stroke lightly, where to scratch with more pressure?
Would she serve his dinner in a timely fashion? And not make him wait—while she dithered about doing who knew what?
He stood and stretched, watching her unsteady approach as her slippered feet skated over the icy cobbles.
He’d never seen the newcomer before, but given the slush coating the road, the dark drizzle lining the outside of the windowpane and the very air beyond, she should have been “coated” herself. But nay, no cloak lined her shoulders. No bonnet her head.
No mittens her fingers, no scarf her neck.
What was this?
What manner of female would be traveling toward his begrudged lodgings in weather such as this without a shred shielding her against the fierce elements?
He gave a great yawn, his nose reaching toward the ceiling, his every limb and muscle lengthening with the move, as he circled and curled, settling back against the red velvet Mr. Chapman (his cranky landlord) had placed beneath the latest display—toppling one of the horse figurines that dared encroach on his slumber space.
“Barnabas! Have a care!” Chapman cranked from behind the counter. “Or I shall tan your furry hide.”
“No-good rotten mouser, spending your days inside instead of at the warehouse or near the storeroom where you belong.”
Tucking his tail beneath his chin, Barnabas slitted his eyes as a low rumble purred forth when the female skidded right into his front door, knocking it open and causing the noisome chime overhead to peal.
My, oh my. Eager, was she not—to feed and stroke his worthy self?
* * *
Heart pounding like a runaway team strapped to a rackety coach (which wasn’t far from the truth), Lucinda Thomalin, sliding over the slick stones, barreled her freezing carcass toward the first—and only—shop still showing signs of habitation late this wretched eve. Pray God Chapman & Sons promising Hats and Hosiery, Gloves and Goods also provided safety to scared, single travelers.
The light whispering from the lanterns along the street feeble at best, motion in the large display window, visible even through the ice-crusted panes, nevertheless let her know help resided within—if she could get the door barred behind her swift enough. Keep out the terrors that had chased her thus far.
The cold, humid air suffocated like a grim haunting her lungs. Straining breaths panted from her as she raced, fast as she dared, over the dangerous cobbles intent on snagging a numb toe.
With every other establishment dark and locked tighter than a miser’s trunk, the promised beacon of shelter on this bone-chilling, confidence-killing night drew her frozen self through the gloom. Slippers slithering over the dangerous surface, she slipped across the abandoned street with ungainly desperation as though she had wings on her back instead of the muck and mud from the last miserable hours.
Why, oh why, had she chosen to travel so close to Christmas, and in such questionable weather?
Your pockets are empty, lest you forget.
And the agency she corresponded with claimed two others had already been told of the position—and were to interview Monday the 28th. With Christmas on Friday, that gave her scant time to win her prospective employer’s attention beforehand.
Lucinda had wagered everything on the gamble that if she were the first candidate the elderly Lady Simmens interviewed, would she—Luce—not have a greater chance of being hired as companion?
Being a silent extension to another crotchety, homebound lady will have you stark raving mad, plucking your toenails off inside a sennight.
“If that—that creature doesn’t do it first,” she muttered, barely resisting the urge to glance over her shoulder to see if it chased her yet, shoving aside the internal discourse in the wake of fear. And relief.
Feet whirrying over another slippy patch, desperate arms outstretched, she grasped for the door.
Smashed into and shoved it open, slid past and splatted on the hard floor just inside, the small rug no match for her iced slippers.
* * *
One moment, Brier Chapman was kneeling behind the long counter, elbows-deep inside the delayed shipment of holiday decor; the next, the thud-crash blasting through the door—along with the chill—had him scrambling to his tired feet.
Chaos erupted into his shop on the frozen heels of the tart rubbing her bum—and showing off an unseemly amount of “lower limb” (no man worth his weight would ever so much as think leg in the presence of a lady; even if he doubted this one could claim such status).
“My gracious garters.” Shaking what he could see of her sodden, bare head as though stunned, she slowly placed her hands beneath her and pushed her torso upright. “That smarts.”
“Here now.” He rounded the corner of the long counter and rushed toward her, ready to rush her soggy, no doubt sordid, self straight back out the door and into the freezing night—despite the reluctance that weighed his shoulders at the thought. No one should be abandoned on such a dismal eve so close to Christmas. “I should have locked the door and pulled the curtains. We are no longer open. You must leave.” Now. Before my good sense goes the way of the sun and I let you stay the night.
The last time sorrow for one in a similar plight on a stormy night gained the upper hand and overrode his common sense, he’d come downstairs the next morn to find the cot not mussed by slumber. And a significant amount of carriable inventory pilfered. Gone. Goods stolen into the night along with the skinning strummer.
It had taken weeks to regain equilibrium in the account books, far longer to recover his pride.
Ever since winter had set in, with its stout chill, bobtails had been banging their way inside many an afternoon, trying to get warm before—and during—the hours they plied their dubious trade. Three-penny uprights, with their hollow gazes and nose-wrinkling stench, invading the interior of the shop his family had minded for decades.
Why, just last week he’d had to chase away a “miss” and her prig who had attempted to make merry on the rug right in front of his latest display… The one he’d set up with painstaking care, despite the help from his laze-about “assistant”, Barns.
And if it also made him lonely, seeing the two bodies intertwined in a shocking array of limbs (and yes, nearly bare legs), then what of it? At eight and thirty, Brier Chapman had known the love of a good woman for a wondrous but far too brief time, his dear Alice perishing along with their scrawny infant shortly after his birth. Though nine years had passed since Brier saw them both laid to rest and his heart had mended best it could, he couldn’t stop his body from—on occasion—yearning.
But not for a tart, he reminded himself, gaining a better look at the offal the street had coughed up: long, straggly hair strewn over dirty shoulders of a dress that had seen better years—not just days; skirts splattered and ripped, one stocking drooped clear to her ankle, the limb above besmattered with filth. And was that blood?
He hardened his heart against the tempting array of sprawled limbs and ice-crusted dress. A streetwalker should know to attire herself better. He knelt, fingering the fine fabric, weighing its texture, assessing its weave and composition as only a buyer would, despite the sludge that spoiled it now. Nothing like what he’d seen on the others. Not the most expensive fabric, by any means, but certainly something a nightbird wouldn’t bother with, not during winter. Without a cloak.
Doubts began creeping—
Nay. Thoughts of the last time he gave in to weakness and sheltered a stranger firmed his resolve—that and the chaffing he’d suffered from his brothers. He’d not be disadvantaged again. “You must go. Leave, madam.”
Quickly, please. Before I inquire as to your disheveled state and lack of overclothing.
She ignored him. Scrambling even now, reaching toward the door with a flurry of panic out of proportion to the mild ire he’d exhibited.
“Quick, douse the lights!”
What? “Come now.” He roughened his voice. “Be off with you.”
She lunged for the doorknob, fought the latch that tended to stick in wet weather. “Bolt the doors! Rapidly now.”
“Miss? You must be off.”
“N-nay!” she panted. Fear or exhaustion? “Heed me, please. Keep it out!”
“It?” Curiosity slowed his haste to send her away. That and her proper speech. Not something he’d heard from the prior birds who’d pecked their way inside.
“The monster. The beast. He’s been—”
“Stop that.” Brier strode forth, beyond irritated with himself for not latching the doors sooner, locking her out. He’d only left the door unlocked because a good customer—a marquis’ wife, in fact—had sent round a note, saying her spouse would be by to retrieve a recently arrived order after his other commitment this evening, if he could. Something must have delayed the Marquis, because Brier had seen neither hide nor hair of the reliable, if notorious, lord (whispers abounding about a house of delights Lord Blakely owned—but not something Brier had first-hand knowledge of, so ’twas easy to discount the rumors).
He reached her side, intent on shoving her outside—no room for weakness, he reminded himself, irritated all over again when he caught her scent: the soft, wholesome fragrance of rose-water she had no business wearing.
And he had no business noticing. Inhaling. Sniffing, even—by damn—trying to get impossibly closer even as he nudged her aside to wrench the door open against the blasting wind. “Out, I say.”
“Have you not ears? There is danger afoot!”
Barnabas eyed the pair curiously.
The wet woman he hoped would stay—at least long enough to fondle his furry self. The taller, broader man he’d lived with for years. The calm, sometimes cross, proprietor of this establishment—Barnabas’s place of employment—the man who rarely smiled, yet never raised his voice.
But was certainly raising it now. “Be off with you, woman! This is no place to ply your wares, and your skinny arse is dripping everywhere!”
“Quick! Bolt the door.” The female put her back to it and frantically scraped her feet for purchase, trying to shove it closed. “The key! Where is it?”
Barnabas watched with something akin to wonder as the two grappled over the door. Fighting each other every bit as much as the howling wind.
“Rrreow.” Close it, you loons. That blast of wind just gutted two candles. Granted, they’d been almost burnt to puddles, given how late the hour, but still.
“Please leave, madam. Out.”
They jostled. Frozen rain and sleet pelted inside.
“There is something fiendish out there—and it is after me!”
“You are befuddled. Have you been tippling?”
“Merrow.” She’s not befuddled. I see him.
“You think a soaker would speak so clearly? Bolt the door, you bufflehead!”
“Not”—his man grunted—“until”—fought back the female dervish—“you’re…beyond it!”
“Mew.” He’s out there, I tell you. “Merrow!”
The female whirled on Mr. Chapman, grabbed hold of his shirt between neck and shoulder and shook. “If you do not want my death on your conscience, quit being an idiot and help me.”
With an aggrieved huff, his man finally stopped battling woman and door. “There is no one out there. Much less after you.”
“Rrooeewwwl.” His eyes are glowing. Do you not see?
“There is!” She released him and shouldered the door until it thumped shut. Wilted down in a plop of wet female and fabric, seating herself against it in a shivering huddle.
Mr. Chapman grunted at her. “Woman, I—”
“Yowl!” Pay attention to me!
The glowing eyes came closer through the night causing Barnabas’s fur to stand on edge.
The cat, wearied of arguing humans disturbing his slumber, narrowed his gaze on the newest arrangement of goods: his man’s most prized delivery for the holiday season.
Barnabas promptly batted first one and then a second piece straight to the floor.
The resulting raucous far more—and far more effective—than he’d expected.