‘Tis the season for Christmas Romances, and we have another #NewRelease today, an historical romance from my author friend Kara O’Neal. This is a wonderful addition to her Pike’s Run series!
The Christmas Bride
Truly Cunningham flees after her fiancé jilts her for her sister. With nowhere to go, she ends up in Pike’s Run, Texas, hiding in the town’s opulent Royal Hotel. As she nurses her pain, finding no comfort in the Christmas season, she is slowly running out of funds. She must find a way to support herself or return to Dallas where her sister is the wife Truly had planned to be.
Alfred Taylor, manager of the Royal Hotel, hates Christmas. The decorations. The celebrations. The presents. All of it. And he must help the Ladies’ Auxiliary put on the Christmas Eve social. The only bright spot is the presence of a new guest, Truly Cunningham. She is beautiful, mysterious, and warming parts of his heart he thought dead.
When Truly asks for a position in his hotel as hostess of the establishment, Alfred immediately hires her. Which becomes dangerous. He can’t stay away from her, and even worse, wants to spill his secrets. Will he lose his one chance at happiness, or will Christmas finally give him the hope it promises?
She swiveled to the entrance and found Mr. Taylor with a concerned expression.
“You’re shivering,” he said.
She flushed, but before she could open her mouth to give some explanation, he darted out of sight. Well…how odd.
But, while she liked looking at him, she was glad he was gone. His presence was too much, and how in the world could she tell him she’d sold her coat? Most assuredly that would reveal she had money troubles and might prompt more questions.
Humiliation gripped her, and she closed her eyes against the pain.
“Here,” a male voice called.
She looked up to see Mr. Taylor coming toward her with a coat and three quilts. “Oh, you didn’t have to—”
He put the coat around her shoulders. “It was left behind yesterday.” With a determined jaw, he knelt in front of her, then started unfolding the blankets and tucking them around her.
So struck was she with his care, she couldn’t speak and allowed him to minister to her. His act of kindness made her heart squeeze with longing. She gritted her teeth to keep tears from forming.
“There,” he said, rising. “Is that better?”
She paused before answering, detecting fear shining behind the concern in his gaze. He was afraid? Why? But she very well couldn’t ask. She opened her mouth, needing to reply, and managed to squeak out, “Yes, thank you. It’s perfect.”
He nodded once, watching her with that same expression. Except for the popping of the fire, silence fell around them. She wished he would sit down next to her. She would so like to know him.
But what would it matter? She had no trust in her decisions, had no strength to love again. Not that she would fall for Mr. Taylor, but…
Oh, what was the use? She lowered her gaze to her lap.
He cleared his throat. “Good. As long as you’re comfortable.” He cleared his throat again. “I’ll let you enjoy the quiet.”
When he was gone, she let out a slow, aching breath. Her time at the church had given her peace, but no insight. If she couldn’t go home, then she had to find a job. The trouble was, she had no idea who would hire her. She had no skills.
She could play the piano. She could order an efficient tea cart. She could dress for every occasion and play the proper and gracious hostess.
Her entire life she’d prepared herself to be a wife of a businessman. And when the time had come, her well-laid plans had crashed around her.
Now she had no safe place. No prospects. No ability to care for herself.
She’d never washed a dish. Never polished a lick of silver. Never gardened. She’d had servants all of her growing years. Tutors. Painting lessons. She could speak French, Spanish and Italian.
What could that do for her?
Perhaps, along with the rest of her inadequacies, she didn’t know enough of the world to actually make this decision. Maybe she ought to seek someone’s guidance.
An image of the handsome hotel owner flashed before her eyes, but she cringed inside, not wanting him to know her shame. Well, she would search out someone. If she didn’t, come Christmas Day she’d be out in the cold.
About Kara O’Neal:
Born and raised in Texas, the state had to be the setting for my first series. From the food to the fun, like floating the rivers, it is the fire in my blood that inspires me. My family and friends take center stage in my books. My sisters and best friends are my heroines, and my husband created my favorite hero. Love and family are the point of my stories, and I seek to entertain, relieve stress, and inspire people. Books can take one on a journey that one can relive over and over. I am extremely grateful to those authors who did that very thing for me. I learned and I fell in love with their words and characters. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Find Kara at:
Website – www.karaoneal.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/KaraONealAuthor
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/KaraONeal84/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/karaoneal7/
Newsletter – http://www.karaoneal.com/newsletter.html
I can’t wait to read this story!
As this posts, there are two more days until the U.S. Thanksgiving Day. Our dinner will be small scale–I’m not even making a turkey–but we’ll be with our kids and their kids.
As this crazy year grinds to a close, I’m sending gratitude and good wishes to all of my readers. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. If you’re celebrating the holiday, here’s wishing you all the best!