Friday, December 13, 2013

Frolic and Play: Twelve Days of Seduction by Maire Claremont + Giveaway!

Today author Maire Claremont brings us a merry excerpt from her novella, Twelve Days of Seduction which appears in the Christmas anthology, All I want for Christmas Is a Duke. If you haven't yet had a chance to read Ms. Claremont's story, you're missing out. Rumor has it from the big man at the North Pole, it is the hottest stocking stuffer this year! (Plus there is a chance to win a copy at the end of this post)! 
Now, sit back, and enjoy the snow.

The next days of the Twelfth Night season passed in a dream and before Alexander knew it they’d reached the end of the twelve days he’d been given to seduce her. Oh, they’d made love every day. Often all through the night, but the actual act wasn’t the height of seduction.
            He knew that. The seduction he now led was one of keeping her here with him. Gaining her trust though she’d clearly trusted no one or had reason to in her life. How far he’d traveled in twelve days. Twelve glorious days in which he’d found that the true Adriana Flint was a woman who deserved admiration and praise.
            It chilled him to his core to think of the ills that might have befallen her. Instead, those ills had led her to him. Thank god.
            Alexander narrowed his eyes against the bright sun bouncing off the snow and could barely countenance the peace he felt or the joy. In his entire life, he’d never given himself so freely to a woman. But in Adriana’s arms, he’d surrendered.
            And he continued surrendering at every opportunity. Any moment that he could, he had spirited her away into shadowy corners, hallways, and snowy groves, to fill her with him. To mark her so she would think of no one but himself.
            Christ, he burned with the need to claim her again and again.
            Their bargain had turned into something far different than he’d ever thought. The woman he’d long watched had become his lover in every sense of the word, and it was almost unbearable to have to tend his guests as they went ice skating, sleigh riding, or singing through the icy trees over the twelve days of Christmas.
            The only thing that gave him relief was that as Queen of Christmas, she was there through it all. He could watch her from the corner of his eye playing with Georgiana.
            The other guests had warmed to Georgiana as well. In the past, they had stayed away from her, their eyes downcast lest they focus on her limp and give offense to him.
            Now, caught up in Georgiana and Adriana’s laughter as they tossed snowballs at one another, the other lords and ladies took sides and threw their snowy offerings to the sounds of shrieks of glee.
            The last snowball flew, and Georgiana collapsed to the ground, giggling. Adriana, her blonde hair trimmed with snow, tumbled to the ground beside her little charge and began making a snow angel.
            The other exhausted guests began the trudge back to the house for tea, and he studied them as they went. Only Lady Jane lingered, and she threw a knowing stare first his way then towards Adriana. There was no judgment in the young woman’s eyes. Rather happiness. She gave a quick bow, then turned, her emerald green cloak racing after the others returning to Highburn.
            As his two women nestled in the snow, flapping their arms up and down, making their angels, his chest swelled with unchecked happiness.
            Once, he thought he’d almost known happiness with Georgiana’s mother. But this was so different. Lissette had been so young, so playful, so caught up in baubles and dresses and chatter.
            Nothing like Adriana who seemed to see straight through him to his very depths. He walked slowly toward them.
            That story. He’d been unable to shake it from his thoughts for long. It was a story of foolish hopes. How had Adriana seen through the facade he had built long ago to protect Georgiana from the harsh cruelty of others. But she’d seen it. There in the story, he’d been the father of the little girl whose heart had been sad and broken until her governess had come.
            And that part was very true. It had been the first thing he had noticed about Adriana. Of course, he’d seen her beauty, but it was the way she had wound her way into his daughter’s affections that had garnered his true interest. And her love for Georgiana had been unmistakable.
            He might have hated her for threatening their world with the secrets of her past. But how could he? To hate that part of her would be to hate the woman, and he didn’t hate Adriana... He... No, he couldn’t allow himself to think like that.
            “Your Grace,” Georgiana called. “Come make an angel.”
            Alexander crouched down in the snow, took his daughter in his arms and whirled her around until her lips were parted with laughter. “I cannot little one. I must go back to the house, and it is time you had chocolate and biscuits, don’t you think?”
            Her cheeks rosy, Georgiana nodded. “But what about Miss Grey?”
            What, indeed?
            “Oh, I shall go with you of course and have tea with your dolls.”
            Georgiana’s eyes shone in anticipation of sweets. “And you, Your Grace?”
            His daughter addressed him with such solemnity it nearly broke his heart. Would she never call him papa? In Adriana’s story she had. Adriana’s version of events held so much love. Love between all three of them.
            He caught a glimpse of Adriana’s hopeful face. He’d not seen so much hope in years, and his heart squeezed tight in his chest. What had he ever done to deserve such a look?
            They didn’t matter now, the lies she had told him, because he understood why she had told them. And he admired her. Any other woman would be lying under some St. Giles gin sot waiting for her coppers. Adriana had found a respectable position and fulfilled it beyond any measure.
            He raised a brow and considered Adriana’s story. There was a part of it he very much wished to re-enact. “I should attend my guests.”
            His daughter’s smile dimmed. “You must be a good host.”
            He bounced her in his arms and locked gazes with Adriana. “But I have been a good enough host. I think I shall take tea with Miss Grey and your dolls.”
            “What about me?” his daughter protested.
            “Oh, what would tea be without you? Someone must pour out,” he intoned most seriously.
            Adriana didn’t smile.
            That surprised him. He’d thought his offer would give her pleasure. Instead she studied him rather like the rabbit that spots the hawk in the air. He shifted on his feet. “Have I made a mistake?”
            She pressed her lips together as tears shimmered suddenly in her eyes. “Not at all.”

            And the look she gave him nearly seared him to the bone. In that instant, he was lost and he didn’t give a bloody damn.

Maire Claremont is kindly giving away ONE (1) ebook copy of All I Want for Christmas Is A Duke AND ONE (1) ebook copy of Lady in Red. 
To enter, simply comment on this blog post. You MUST make sure to leave your email address or Twitter handle, so I know how to contact the winner.
Giveaway ends December 19th!
Open internationally!
Best of Luck! 

Connect with Maire Claremont
Read It Now!
Kindle | Nook


  1. Now THAT's how I'd like to celebrate my 12 Days of Christmas! hehe

    I read this novella back in May (when else does one read a Christmas book?) and loved it. Since I already have it (and Lady in Red, which was also fabulous), I'm not entering the giveaway; just wanted to say hi. *waves* Read Máire's books, everybody!

    1. Me too, Monica! Me too. Better talk to DH about this. ;) One really must find other times to read Christmas novels. There are so many good ones and not enough Christmas time.
      Thanks for stopping by Monica! :)

  2. Haven't come across either of those books before! Thanks for pointing them out to me!
    The excerpt was so intriguing, I'd love to read the whole story.