This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.View all copies of this ISBN edition:
A Bride By Christmas by Heather Graham\Jo Beverley\Candace Camp released on Sep 23, 2008 is available now for purchase.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She's a winner of the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers' Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, check out her websites: TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com, eHeatherGraham.com, and HeatherGraham.tv. You can also find Heather on Facebook.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The snow had finished falling, but the house sat like an ice palace, like something out of a fairy tale. Rain had glazed over the white, newly fallen snow, and when the sun came out, the house and grounds seemed dazzling, as if they were covered with a hundred-thousand diamond chips. The landscape seemed barren, a painting from a children's book. It was a place where the winter queen should live, perhaps—it certainly seemed to have no bearing on real life.
But real life was why they had come. Since the first shots had been fired at Fort Sumter, everyone had known that northern Virginia was going to be a hotbed—and that certain areas were going to have to be held by the Yanks if Washington, D.C., was to be protected.
Now, with the war raging onward, it was becoming more and more important to solidify the Union presence in Virginia. The Hinton house was just one of the places that had to be taken over. The little township was already filling with his men, and from studying his maps looking for strategic locations, Travis had known that the Hinton house would be the best place for his headquarters. His occupancy would keep the Rebs away, while he would still have easy access to the town nearby if it became necessary to pull back. In addition, he would be in a good position to join up with the main army should he be called.
The day seemed very cold and still. Travis could hear only the jangle of harness and the snorts of the horses as his small company of twenty approached the house. The breath of men mingled with the breath of the horses as they plowed through the snow, creating bursts of mist upon the air. He reined in suddenly, not knowing why, just staring at the house.
It was such an elegant structure, like a grand lady in the crystallized snow. Great Grecian columns rose high upon the broad porch, tall and imposing. The house was white, and the white, diamondlike snowflakes caught on the roof and the windows. Even the outbuildings were covered in crystal. Through one window he could see a flicker of red and gold, and he realized that a fire was burning, warm and comforting against the snow and cold.
"Captain? It's mighty cold out here," Sergeant Will Sikes reminded him.
"Yeah. Yeah, it's mighty cold," he said. He nudged Judgment, his big black thoroughbred, forward. His men, cold and quiet, survivors of Sharpsburg and more that year, followed in silence. Everyone had thought the war would be over by May. A few weeks. The Yanks had expected an easy victory, while the Rebs had thought they could beat the pants off the Yanks— which they had done upon occasion, Travis had to admit—but they hadn't counted on the tenacity of Mr. Lincoln. The president had no intention of letting the nation fall apart. He was going to fight this war no matter what. So the North had learned there was to be no easy victory, and the South had learned that the war could go on forever, and here it was, just a few days before Christmas, and they were all preparing to bed down in Virginia instead of returning home to their loved ones.
Of course, for some, Christmas was destined to be even gloomier. For some, the war had already taken its toll. Fathers, lovers, husbands and sons, many had returned home already, returned in packages of pine, wrapped in their shrouds, and for Christmas they would lie in their familial graveyards, home for the holiday.
He was becoming morose, he reminded himself, something he couldn't allow. He was in charge of this group of twenty young men and the hundred he had left behind in the town. He had no intention of letting morale fall by the wayside, nor was he of a mind to shoot any of his men for desertion.
"Seems a fair enough place, eh?" he called out, lifting himself out of his saddle to turn and view the troops. He was met with several nods, several half smiles, and he turned once again to face the house.
That was when he saw her.
She had come out to stand on the porch. She had probably heard the jingle of the horses' trappings, and she had known that men were coming. She must have hoped it was a Confederate company, yet it seemed she had suspected Yanks, for she had come out with a shotgun, and Travis was certain it was loaded.
For the life of him, at that moment, he couldn't care.
She was clad in blue velvet, a rich, sumptuous gown with puff sleeves and a daring bodice that left her shoulders bare and gave a provocative hint of the ivory breasts that surged against the fabric. She wore no coat or cloak against the cold, but stood upon the top step of the porch, that heavy gun swept up and aimed hard at him even as a delicate tumble of sun-gold curls fell in a rich swirl against the sights. She tossed her hair back, and he knew that she was young, and though he couldn't see the color of her eyes, he knew they would be fascinating. He knew that he had never seen a more beautiful woman, more striking, more delicate and fine. For several seconds he lost sight of duty and honor, even of the fact that he was fighting a war.
"She looks like she intends to use that thing," Will muttered, casting Travis a quick glance. "What do you think, Captain?"
Travis shrugged, grinning. She couldn't be about to shoot them. One lone woman against a party of twenty men. He lifted a hand and twisted in the saddle to speak. "Hold up, men. I'll do the talking and see if we can't keep this polite."
He urged his mount forward, leaving the others by the snow-misted paddocks and gate. She aimed the shotgun straight at him, and he pulled up his horse, lifting a hand to her in a civil gesture.
"Stop right where you are, Yank!" she commanded. The voice matched the woman. It was velvet and silk. It was strong, but with shimmery undertones that made her all the more feminine.
"Miss Hinton, I'm Captain Travis Aylwin of the—"
"You're a Yank, and I want you off my property."
He dismounted and headed for the steps that led to the porch. His heavy wool cape flapped behind him, caught by the breeze. He tugged his plumed hat over his forehead in acknowledgement that he had come upon a lady, but before he could take the first step he discovered himself spinning in astonishment. She had fired the rifle and just skimmed the feather on his hat.
"Son of a bitch!" he roared.
Behind him, twenty rifles were cocked.
"Hold it! Hold it!" he shouted to his men. He jerked off his singed hat and sent it flying down on a snowdrift, then glared at this Southern angel, his dark eyes flashing with fury. "What the hell is the matter with you? If you had hit me—"
"If I had intended to hit you, Captain, you'd be dead," she promised softly, solemnly. "Now, get your men and move off my property."
He threw back his cape, set a booted foot on the first step, placed his hands on his hips and clenched his teeth. There was no easy way to take over a person's property, but this was war.
"So you didn't intend to hit me, huh?" he demanded.
"Don't you believe me, Captain?" An exquisite brow rose with the inquiry.
"Oh, yes, ma'am, I believe you. If I didn't, you'd be tied up and on the backside of a horse right now."
He watched her eyes narrow and a slow crimson flush rise to her cheeks. She started to aim the rifle again, and though he wanted to believe that she wasn't stupid or vicious enough to shoot a man—even a Yank—he didn't want to take any chances. He leaped up the remaining steps, sweeping an arm around her waist to wrest the rifle from her grip. A soft gasp escaped her, but her grip was strong, and his efforts to dislodge the weapon sent them both reeling off balance. Suddenly they were tumbling down the steps and careening into a snowdrift. Travis instinctively attempted to keep his body lodged beneath hers. He didn't know why—she wanted to shoothim. Maybe he just couldn't bear the idea of such a beautiful creature being hurt in any way.
When they landed, she was still seething and fighting. He wrenched her beneath him, securing her wrists, and spat out an oath. There was no nice way to do this, no nice way at all.
"Lady, in the name of the United States government—"
"The U.S. government be damned! This is the Confederacy! Don't threaten me with the U.S. government!"
"Lady," he said wearily, "this is war—"
"Get off my property!"
"In the name—"
"Get off me! I will not listen to a government that—"
He jerked her hands hard, dragging them high above her head, and leaned very close to her. "Don't listen to the government, then, listen to me. Listen to me because I'm twice your size, ten times your strength— and because I have twenty armed men behind me. Is that logical enough for you? Listen, now, and listen good. I'm taking this house. It's called confiscation, and it is something that happens during times of war. I'm sorry that your property happens to be so close to the border, but that's the way it is."
She blinked, and he noticed snowflakes clinging tightly to her eyelashes and dusting her cheeks. She was very white, and she was shivering beneath him. He didn't know whether it was the cold that made her shiver, or if she was trembling with rage. She moistened her lips to speak, and he found himself staring in fascination at her mouth, her pink tongue as it moved over her lips. They were wonderful lips, well defined, full, sensual, beautiful. He wanted to touch them. He wanted to feel the sizzling warmth he knew he would find within the recesses of her mouth.
He blinked, straightening against the cold of the day.
She spoke then, the breath rushing from her in a gust. "You're not going to burn the house?"
He almost smiled. She might hate having a pack of Yankees on her property, but she did want her property to survive.
He shook his head. "I'm taking the house for my headquarters. These fellows will bunk here—I have another hundred men in town. We'll do our best to compensate you for what we use."
She was still staring at him, unblinking now. Her velvet gown was wet with snow, her golden hair lying like curious rays of golden sun against it, and her gray-green eyes were startlingly bright and deep against the pallor of he...
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Harlequin Books, 2008. Mass-market paperback. Condition: New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 377 p. Audience: General/trade. Seller Inventory # Alibris_0023556
Book Description Harlequin Books, 2008. Mass-market paperback. Condition: New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 377 p. Audience: General/trade. Seller Inventory # Alibris_0009285
Book Description HQN Books, 2008. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Seller Inventory # DADAX0373773439
Book Description HQN, 2008. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0373773439
Book Description HQN Books, 2008. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0373773439n