Notorious rake Henry Stuart, Earl of Redbridge, is certain he’ll win his Christmas bet—until he learns he’ll be stealing Lady Elizabeth Wilding’s kisses. A woman who refuses to be charmed!
Once jilted, Lizzie must guard her heart, because the ton is unaware of her scandalous secret—her son! Despite their increasing attraction, she can’t risk the persistent Hal bringing down her defenses. But when her former fiancé returns, Lizzie realizes that perhaps Hal’s the one man she can trust—with her heart and her son…
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: His Mistletoe Wager
Henry “Hal” Stuart, Earl of Redbridge, is growing tired of his rakish lifestyle. All of the gambling, unsuitable women, and scandals were mostly to annoy his now deceased, cruel father. Still, he can’t resist a wager with his brother-in-law, Aaron. Hal has a sprig of mistletoe with five berries, and Aaron bets that Hal won’t be able to obtain a kiss for each of those berries from the woman Aaron selects. Hal is very confident of his charms, and accepts the bet, sure that he’ll easily win. Then Aaron states that the woman Hal must kiss is Lady Elizabeth Wilding.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Wilding’s life changed drastically five years ago. She was in love with, and engaged to be married to Charles, Marquess Rainham. Her despicable fiancé literally left her at the altar and ran off with a duke’s daughter who had a larger dowry. Lizzie’s family made it appear that Lizzie was the one who did the jilting, but there was no easy solution when it was discovered she was pregnant. Still, they managed to hide Lizzie’s condition from society, and when her son, Georgie, was born, they kept him hidden from visitors. Now Georgie is approaching five years old, and it’s getting harder to keep him hidden. Lizzie has purchased a small cottage in the country, where she plans to take Georgie, and live as a widow under an assumed name. She just has to break the news to her father, who will be devastated to be separated from the grandson he loves.
Because of her circumstances, Lizzie has treated any men who approach her with frostiness and rudeness. Though her father still attempts to find her a husband, she has no intention to ever marry. When Hal approaches her in the wallflower section, she quickly and brusquely brushes him off. It seems that the gentleman with the rakish reputation can’t take a hint, as he continues to linger and tries to engage her in conversation. Though his first attempt at gaining her favor mostly flopped, Hal doesn’t give up, and continues to seek her out at every function they both attend. Soon Lizzie unbends enough to allow a mild friendship, and she even begins to like Hal. It’s not long before Lizzie shows flashes of the girl she was before her disastrous jilting, and Hal finds himself being charmed. He manages to steal a kiss here and there, plucking a mistletoe berry for each one, and tossing them to a disgruntled Aaron.
Lizzie realizes that she’s beginning to be very fond of Hal, and she knows there’s no future for them, as she is determined to keep her son with her. When Hal eventually learns Lizzie’s secret, I was thrilled with how he reacted. Instead of condemning her, he sympathizes with her and places the blame on Charles, a fortune hunter taking advantage of a very young girl. Once Hal decides he wants to marry Lizzie, there’s no stopping him. He puts on his superman cape (regency version) and begins to battle her villains, while coming up with a genius plan that would allow them, along with Georgie to be accepted in society.
There is so much I love about HIS MISTLETOE WAGER. Though he has a colorful past, Hal is not shallow – he’s kind, determined, very clever, charming, and wonderful with children. While Lizzie puts up an icy front to society, it’s obvious what a lovely and caring woman she truly is. She and Hal have a fun, loving, and passionate relationship, I particularly love how author Virginia Heath handled two things – first, she didn’t let the original wager turn into a stumbling block or a big misunderstanding. Then she wrote a wonderful scene that put Georgie smack in society’s face, and laid the groundwork for them to be together as a family and accepted. Well done! I thoroughly enjoyed this warm, clever, engaging story, and highly recommend adding it to your holiday reading.