October 31, 2018

Carols and Chaos Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway


 

Carols and Chaos
Author: Cindy Anstey

Genre: YA Historical Romance
Publication Date: October 9, 2018

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Description:

A lady’s maid and a valet become entangled in a yuletide counterfeiting scheme in this romantic Christmas YA adventure.

1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady’s maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He’s performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate’s holiday guests.

Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue. Full of sweetness, charm, and holiday shenanigans, Carols and Chaos is perfect for fans of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey.


Lowering his head, the bull snorted again. It was the final warning, and Kate knew it. The standoff was over. Pivoting, Kate ran. She could hear the pounding hooves advancing on her. A scream built in her throat, and she tensed, readying for the blow. Suddenly, a shriek split the air and the pounding halted abruptly.

Surprised, Kate glanced over her shoulder and blindly careened into Matt Harlow. Momentum propelled them awkwardly through the gate but Matt quickly regained his footing. They stuttered to a stop a few feet from the enclosure, still standing but with Matt’s arms wrapped around Kate. Then, seeing the bull turn his head in their direction, Matt leapt forward. He slammed the gate shut, knocking his cap to the ground in the process. Both stared across the field to the figure that was standing on the far wall, shrieking and flapping her burgundy cloak.

Kate giggled, a little longer than warranted. There was a touch of mania to the sound. “That’s Mary . . . I mean, Marie,” she said quietly, looking up at Mr. Harlow. Realizing that he was much too close for propriety, Kate shifted away and turned back to the far side of the field, lifting her arm in a large swooping wave.

“Thank you, Marie! I’m fine now,” she shouted. “All is well!” Seeing her friend jump down from the stone wall, Kate dropped her voice. “Thank you,” she said again, directing her comment this time to Mr. Matt Harlow.

“Most welcome,” he said with a broad smile. “Wouldn’t want to see you laid up this close to Christmas.”

“Or laid out.”

They stared at one another for some minutes. “That, too,” he said quietly, ignoring her teasing tone.

Kate smiled, strangely pleased by his brief frown.

Her memory had not played her wrong, not embellished the appealing aspect that was the Steeple valet. Matt Harlow was indeed the handsome young man with broad shoulders, medium brown hair, and hazel eyes that she remembered. He did dress impeccably and yet have a slightly disheveled look about his hair. More important, his impish yet charming smile had been reaffixed.

While Matt bent to retrieve his cap, Kate set about straightening her cloak as it had twisted to the side. Once completed, she tugged her mittens back into place. Then they turned in unison to greet one another properly—civil expressions on their faces as were dictated for persons of such a short acquaintance.

“Good afternoon, Miss Darby,” he said formally, nodding his head in a respectful bow.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Harlow.” Kate bobbed a curtsey.

“Fine day for a stroll,” he said with a raised brow.

“Indeed. And a drive from the coast. Did you have a pleasant journey?” Kate asked.

“Well, the trip was far less eventful than the last few minutes.”

He seemed to wait for Kate to explain . . . which she didn’t do. It was far more fun keeping him wondering. “Yes, I can imagine that’s true.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Miss Darby. Why were you shouting across the pasture? And why were you giving that poor bull a hard time? Invading his territory and all that. You could have been killed.”

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester.




 
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