The Christmas Heirloom
In Kristi Ann Hunter's "Legacy of Love," Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman's grandson, a man far above her station.
In Karen Witemeyer's "Gift of the Heart," widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.
In Sarah Loudin Thomas's "A Shot at Love," Fleeta Brady's rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family's brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.
In Becky Wade's "Because of You," Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?
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From a purely rational standpoint, Sarah Gooding should have been ecstatic with her present position. She was wearing a silk gown and playing piano in a grand aristocratic home while more that a dozen people of good family sat within hearing distance. She was more at home behind the keys of a pianoforte than anywhere else and had dreamed of having a prestigious chance to exhibit her talent.
This was nothing like she'd dreamed.
The roughened texture of well-used ivory-covered keys was as familiar as the overwhelming feeling of not quite belonging. Actually, she felt rather unwanted.
That could have something to do with the fact that the enormous vertical cabinet piano designed to crawl grandly up the wall of elegant homes had been turned to create a divide between the player and everyone else. It was difficult to misinterpret such an arrangement.
At least no one could see her yawn as she plunked out the notes to the incredibly simple score of the Italian songbook that had been laid out for her.
Lady Densbury, the current Countess of Densbury, didn't care for ostentatious or distracting music during an intimate gathering such as a family dinner.
Sarah didn't particularly care for Lady Densbury.
As her fingers drifted through a series of plodding arpeggios, Sarah leaned to her left. If she angled her head perfectly, she could see around the tall side of the ornate giraffe piano. Since the top of the piano cabinet stretched at least four feet above her head on the left side there was no way she'd be able to see over it. And while the green brocade panels that decorated the tall cabinet were gorgeous to look at, they wouldn't let her know if the cake had been brought to the table yet.
Since Sarah's employer, the Dowager Countess of Densbury, insisted that Sarah's job as her companion included attending excruciating weekly family dinners, Sarah always focused on the cake. It was the only thing that made the ordeal bearable.
Well, the cake and the hope that Mr. Randall Everard might be home for a visit.