Snowflakes and Wallflowers
Becoming the Earl of Castleton wasn’t something Arthur Brynnwood was expecting. Yes, his great-uncle was old, but Arthur had always imagined him living forever. But after he learned of his great-uncle’s passing he went from being just another gentleman to one of the highly sought-after prizes by matchmaking mamas of the ton. Suddenly the responsibility of running such a vast estate was thrust on Arthur’s shoulders. The estate accounts were a mess and it was clear his uncle’s steward had been embezzling from his uncle for years. When he arrives at the castle and sees the gross mismanagement of the properties he loses his temper and orders the new steward to let people know their rent was rising–either pay or move.
To his surprise a lovely young woman named Matilda comes to him the next day, pleading prettily for leniency for herself and her ailing aunt who had been living in a cottage free for years. Too used to the wiles of women, Arthur remains unmoved by her words and tells her coldly there will be no reconsideration of his orders. He is the new Earl of Castleton and he will be obeyed. The next thing he knows, he’s choking on a snowball thrown at his face and Matilda is marching away, back straight and head held proudly high. Once again, his temper explodes. He grabs her and wrestles the shrieking, kicking woman to a bedchamber and locks her in until he decides what to do with her.
He finds himself intrigued and reluctantly impressed by her show of spirit. She’s not the usual, simpering, coy type of woman who all but worships at his feet in London. And her beauty . . . he feels an unexpected lust when he imagines her long, russet hair and eyes the color of good whiskey. Deciding it’s been too long since he’s had a mistress, he knows exactly how to solve the problem of Matilda: he’ll allow her free use of the cottage she lives in for the rest of her life in exchange for being his mistress this Christmas season…