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Mistletoe for Felicity

Mistletoe for Felicity

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A Yuletide romance where fate, duty, and the magic of Christmas intertwine.

Lady Felicity Winters, having lost the last of her family, is alone in the world. Theodore "Tad" Harcourt, a merchant's son is thrust into navigating the complexities of high society. The two are bound in an arranged marriage—both a boon and a challenge.

As winter's chill gives way to holiday warmth, Felicity and Tad tentatively explore their new life together. From snowball fights with village children to the sparkle of a grand Christmas ball, their journey turns into a heartwarming adventure filled with newfound trust and festive cheer.

Yet questions remain—does Felicity see beyond her role as a dutiful wife, and can Tad truly find his place in her world? This tender, closed-door Regency romance unfurls beneath mistletoe and candlelight, where love dispels all doubts, and Christmas joy resides in the most unexpected corners. Open this cozy tale and let it melt your heart this holiday season.

Main Tropes

  • Marriage of Convenience
  • Christmas Romance
  • Magical Realism

Synopsis

Will two lonely hearts find unexpected love amidst an arranged marriage? Perhaps, with a little Christmas magic, anything is possible…

Felicity Winters, a woman without family, is bound by societal expectations and a lonely past. Theodore “Tad” Harcourt, the son of a successful merchant, is an outsider to the world of nobility. Their arranged marriage, a means to secure Felicity’s future and Tad’s ascension in Society, begins as a duty but quickly becomes something more.

As December unfolds, Tad and Felicity explore the boundaries of their relationship, moving from uncertainty to trust. From building snowmen with village children to hosting a Christmas ball. They journey together through the joys and complexities of newlyweds, discovering the magic of Christmas.

But can two such different people come to truly care for one another? Felicity’s strength, grace, and heartfelt laughter captivate Tad, while his kindness, determination, and love for the simple things enchant Felicity. Yet, doubts linger. Does she love him, or is she merely playing the role of a dutiful wife? Can he truly belong to the world she was born into?

A gentle Christmas romance brings their story to a beautiful conclusion, where love triumphs over doubt, and joy is found in the most unexpected places. Unwrap this sweet, closed-door Regency romance and discover a cozy Christmas tale that will warm your heart.

Intro to Chapter One

CHAPTER 1

December 1st, 1816

The quaint London church was silent except for the vicar’s voice, which echoed through the hallowed space. Felicity stood beside her soon-to-be husband, the weight of her decision heavy in her heart as she listened, with only half her awareness, to the words being recited.

Her gaze flitted over the limited gathering—her late-grandmother’s friends, most likely attending out of a sense of duty to her memory as none of them had connection to Felicity beyond that. Her grandmother’s solicitor stood a little apart from the others, a neutral observer of the proceedings. It was he who had brought the proposal to her, acting on behalf of the merchants, Mr. Samuel Harcourt and Son

Today, she married the son. Whose name was Theodore.

The offer of marriage had been a shock, a rescue line thrown to her when she’d believed herself destined to face the world without a protector. Though her father had been an earl, his heir was a complete stranger to her. A distant cousin, who had suffered her grandmother and Felicity to live in a dower house on his estate. But ten months ago, Grandmother also passed away, and the earl had told Felicity he wanted her to move on as soon as possible. And while her modest inheritance made taking rooms somewhere far from London a possibility, the funds didn’t offer her what a woman needed most in the world of men: protection.

She risked a glance at her groom and clutched her bouquet tighter, the small white blooms a stark contrast against the dark fabric of her dress. 

Am I doing the right thing? she wondered, her heart fluttering in her chest. Grandmother’s solicitor had assured her he’d found nothing in her groom’s background or associations to cause alarm.

The way he had greeted her that morning, with a respectful nod and a faint smile, had reassured her. Until the moment their shoulders had brushed during the morning sermon. He’d stiffened and moved slightly away from her, creating several inches of space between them. 

Perhaps he was only nervous.

His chiseled jaw, strong profile, and the dark locks that brushed his forehead marked him as undeniably handsome. His stance, though rigid, did not radiate coldness. Had she seen kindness in his eyes? Or merely politeness? His composed demeanor and the gentle way he had offered her his arm to escort her to the front of the church hinted at a man capable of respect, making her hope fervently that her instincts were right.

Her dreams for their future were simple yet profound: kindness, comfort, warmth, laughter, and understanding. She envisioned cozy evenings by the fire, shared books, whispered conversations, and perhaps even the soft patter of little feet on wooden floors. The thought of children made her heart ache sweetly.

She realized they had come to that very part in the ceremony, and she struggled to listen intently. 

“  . . . reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained. First, it was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy name.”

As an only child, her solitary games often made her yearn for companionship that only siblings could provide. The hope that she might one day be surrounded by the lively chatter and innocent mirth of children was a deeply cherished one.

The vicar’s words took up her entire attention at last, as he asked his final question of her almost-husband. “Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?”

Mr. Theodore Harcourt answered without hesitation, with a firmness that made her heart stutter. “I will.”

Then it was her turn.

“Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honor, and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?” The vicar looked at Felicity with a probing gaze, prompting her for the final affirmation. 

“I will.” Felicity’s voice, when it emerged, was clear and steady, filled with hope for all the tomorrows that lay ahead.

#

Tad felt an uncharacteristic knot of anxiety in his stomach. Standing there at the front of the intimate gathering, on his wedding day, his eyes kept drifting back to the woman beside him. She was undeniably beautiful, with an air of grace and a spark of determination in her eyes that he had immediately noticed when they met briefly the day before.

How did Father manage this? he thought, not for the first time. A woman like Felicity, both willing and unattached, seemed almost too good to be true. Their union had been arranged with a swiftness that made Tad’s head spin, and while he felt a twinge of gratitude to his father for organizing the match, he was also deeply uneasy.

His life, until this point, had been consumed with the intricate dealings of the family business. The smell of ink and the heft of ledgers were as familiar to him as his own heartbeat. He feared the void that would emerge with the absence of daily business interactions. Questions of his new lot in life yet gnawed at him, casting a deeper shadow on his unease. 

Was he ready to become a gentleman? Could he find purpose in a role that was so entirely unfamiliar to him? The term ‘gentleman’ was now his new reality, yet its true meaning felt distant and obscure, wrapped in vague notions of leisure and privilege. Would he find satisfaction in a life so removed from the hands-on toil and labor that had once defined him? 

The mere thought of living such a life unraveled a tapestry that had once been so familiar, leaving threads of his past disconnected from the fabric of his future, and it filled him with a lingering sense of discomfort.

Tad’s gaze slid to Felicity once more. Would she find him interesting enough? The fear of being perceived as dull and unadventurous plagued him. After all, he was a man used to routine, to facts and figures. Didn’t women wish for someone who could make their heart race? Someone capable of romantic musings and a commanding presence?

A memory rose unbidden, of his father’s stern voice echoing through the wood-paneled study of their townhouse. “Duty to the family, Theodore, that comes first. Always.” 

The weight of expectation bore down on him. He didn’t want to let his family down, and the added responsibility of caring for a wife amplified his worries.

The vicar’s voice became clear again, breaking Tad’s trail of thoughts. It was time for his vows. He gave them with all the sincerity he could muster, hoping against hope that this unfamiliar path would lead to happiness for both him and the lady beside him.

Tad slid a thin gold band around her delicate finger, swallowing at how small her hand was, how pale, compared to his own square palm and sun-darkened skin. Perhaps he’d spent too much time on the docks.

“Forasmuch as Theodore and Felicity have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a ring, and by joining of hands; I pronounce that they be man and wife together, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

At last, the formalities of joining two people came to an end.

Outside the church, the early winter air was brisk, carrying with it the scent of impending snow. Tad’s mother, with a grace that had always reminded him of a delicate bird, gently took Felicity’s hand in hers. 

“I’m so pleased to finally have a daughter-in-law,” she said, her voice warm, her eyes even warmer. “We will be sure to visit once you two are settled, perhaps on Christmas Day.”

Tad saw Felicity’s grateful nod and the light blush that stained her cheeks. She drifted a few steps away from him to greet an elderly woman. Very few people had attended the service, and fewer still had remained to wish the two of them a happy journey. Had his bride avoided telling her friends of their union? He’d seen no ladies near her age in attendance.

His father’s firm hand on his shoulder pulled him from his observations. Meeting the older man’s gaze, Tad saw a flicker of approval in Harcourt Senior’s dark eyes. 

“This is a new start for all of us, Tad,” his father murmured. “And a new world for you.” The few words were laden with unsaid emotions, and Tad merely nodded, the weight of his responsibilities and the magnitude of the day pressing heavily on him.

As Tad approached his bride to escort her to the waiting carriage, a gentleman dressed in fine clothing and wearing a smug smile bowed over her hand. “May your days be brighter than those in the past,” the man said, voice pitched so low that Tad barely heard him as he stopped at his wife’s side.

“Thank you, Lord William,” she said in return, curtseying. “It was kind of you to come.” Then she looked up at Tad. Her cheeks turned a slight shade of pink.

“I must be on my way,” the lord said, then tipped his hat to Tad before striding in the opposite direction from the newlyweds. Avoiding an introduction, perhaps. 

It wasn’t the first time Tad had experienced prejudice from nobility. He ignored the slight and extended his arm to his wife. “It is time to leave.”

“Already?” Her lips tilted upward, the sight somewhat encouraging. 

Helping Felicity into the carriage, Tad’s hands fumbled slightly, a contrast to his usually deft movements. She had to pause, one foot on the step, until he steadied himself. Inside, the plush surroundings should’ve offered comfort, but instead, Tad felt the space closing in on him. He cleared his throat, sensing the need to fill the silence, yet unsure of where to start.

“I’ve . . . um, spent some time preparing the house for our arrival,” he began hesitantly, the words not flowing as smoothly as he’d hoped. “It’s a two-hour ride from here. I trust you’re warm enough?” His eyes darted to the fur draped across her lap, a brief distraction from the storm of thoughts in his mind.

Felicity smiled gently, her voice soft and sweet when it came. “I am, thank you. And I’m eager to see our new home.”

Home. Such a simple word carried so much weight. Tad nodded, stealing a glance out of the window, his own reflection staring back at him, showing the uncertainty he felt. The carriage’s sharp movements underscored the rhythm of his racing heart.

Trying to find a subject that might ease the tension he felt, Tad ventured, “The estate I’ve purchased has a unique name. Its previous owners called it Winterway House.” He hesitated, wondering how she’d react. “We can always rename it if you prefer something different.”

Felicity looked thoughtful for a moment, a smile playing on her lips. “Winterway House,” she repeated, savoring the words. “It’s quite enchanting, actually. And it’s a curious coincidence—it’s reminiscent of my maiden name, Winters. Keeping the name would feel like a way to maintain a connection to my family. A bridge between my past and our future.”

Tad folded his arms, tucking himself into the corner of the carriage. “I hadn’t thought about the similarity. It’s a happy coincidence, isn’t it?”

She nodded. “It is. Perhaps it’s a sign that all of this was meant to be, in its own strange way.”

Her optimism shone brightly in her hazel eyes, and Tad found himself warming to it, albeit cautiously. It seemed that every word from her was a balm to his anxieties, even if just for a fleeting moment.

Felicity fidgeted with her gloves for a moment before hesitatingly offering, “Since we have a bit of a journey ahead, perhaps . . . we could use this time to become better acquainted?”

Tad swallowed. Though precisely what he wanted, the thought still made him want to squirm. He hadn’t spoken to many women of things other than surface-level topics, such as the weather and the health of their families. “Of course. That would be quite practical.”

Encouraged, Felicity ventured her first question, “Do you have a favorite season?”

He pondered it a bit longer than necessary, suddenly conscious of how such simple questions could reveal so much. “Autumn, I suppose,” he finally responded, “when the harvest comes in and the world is draped in shades of gold and red. It’s a busy time for the family business, but also rewarding.”

She gave him an encouraging smile. “That sounds lovely. And, if you don’t mind my asking, do you have a favorite way to pass the time? What do you enjoy doing during your leisure hours?”

Caught slightly off guard, Tad cleared his throat. “Well, I’ve taken an interest in reading. I’ve also been partial to history and geography. And . . . occasionally playing chess.” He quickly added, realizing how mundane he must have sounded. His eyes darted to her fine gloves and the delicate way she held herself, every inch the lady. A pang of doubt gnawed at him. “But there hasn’t been much leisure time. Not really. Business is always . . . busy.” 

He winced at the inanity of his answer, acutely aware of the gap in their stations and their upbringings, and terrified that he might already have given offense. “I hope that I can find more refined pursuits befitting our new situation,” he added, stumbling over the words, his face flushed.

She seemed to consider his words, her expression thoughtful. “I admire your dedication to your work. I hope you’ll enjoy that you have more time now. Chess is such a complex game of strategy. I’ve always wanted to learn. Perhaps you could teach me?”

Tad’s mouth fell open in surprise. “Yes. Of course. If you wish.” Had he sounded too eager? He remembered he should reciprocate the questions she asked of him. “And you, Lady Felicity? Do you have a preferred season or pastime?”

Her eyes sparkled. “Winter, strangely enough, given our conversation about Winterway House. I love the crispness in the air, the sense of stillness. As for leisure pursuits, I enjoy painting and music. I’ve also been known to lose myself in novels, much to my grandmother’s chagrin.”

The carriage jolted over a rough patch in the road, momentarily interrupting their conversation. Felicity gasped and grabbed her bonnet, while Tad clasped the bench seat in both hands. They met each other’s startled, wide eyes. Then she laughed, breaking the momentary tension. 

Tad found himself smiling, but a knot of uncertainty lingered in his stomach. Her laughter was musical, her presence a comfort, but the difference in their stations loomed before him like an ocean to be crossed. 

Would he ever truly manage such a crossing, when the differences between them had been shaped by years of disparate upbringing and expectation? He hoped so, but as the carriage rolled on, he could not shake the nagging doubt that his ignorance of his new station might somehow fail her.

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