‘Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight’ by Grace Burrowes

BOOK BLURB: ‘Tis the Season for Scandal…

Years ago Lady Louisa Windham acted rashly on a dare from her brother, and that indiscretion is about to come to light. She knows her reputation will never survive exposure. Just as she’s nearly overwhelmed by her dilemma, Sir Joseph Carrington offers himself to her as a solution…

But Sir Joseph has secrets as well, and as he and Louisa become entangled with each other, their deceptions begin to close in on them both…

EXCERPT:

Lady Louisa Windham has come upon a neighbor from Kent, Sir Joseph Carrington, while out for a morning ride in Hyde Park. Sir Joseph is taciturn, honest, and much better company than the bachelors panting to get their hands on her marriage settlements…

###

“Louisa and Joseph reached the point on the bridle path where His Grace had separated from his daughters, and there was no sign of the duke. “Papa has gone off somewhere. If we can’t find him, I’ll simply make my own way home.”

“Not without an escort, Louisa Windham.”

Now Joseph used her given name, now when his tone was as stern and uncompromising as the duke’s when discussing the Regent’s financial excesses. “I did not mean to imply I’d go anywhere in Town without a proper escort. What do you know of Lord Lionel Honiton?”

She lobbed the question at him in retaliation for his peremptory tone, also because he’d give her an honest answer.

“I know he’s vain as a peacock, but other than that, probably no more given to vice than most of his confreres.” This was said with such studied detachment, Louisa’s curiosity was piqued.

“Many young men are vain. Lionel is an attractive man.”

“Perhaps, but you are equally attractive, Louisa Windham, more attractive because you neither drape yourself in jewels nor flaunt your attributes with cosmetics, and I don’t see you lording it over the ladies less endowed than you are.”

He was presuming to scold her, and yet Louisa couldn’t help feeling a backhanded sort of pleasure at the implied compliment. “Beauty fades,” Louisa said. “All beauty. If Lord Lionel is vain, time will see him disabused of his beauty soon enough.” Unbidden, the memory of Sir Joseph reciting Shakespeare came to Louisa’s mind: “That time of year thou mayst in me behold, when yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang on boughs which shake against the cold…”

“So it will.” Sir Joseph held back a branch for Louisa to pass. “While yours will never desert you.”

“Are you attempting flattery before breakfast, Sir Joseph?”

His lips quirked up at her question, a fleeting, blink-and-she’d-miss-it suggestion of humor. “I am constitutionally incapable of flattery. You are honest, Louisa Windham, loyal to your family, and possessed of sufficient courage to endure many more social Seasons than I’ve weathered. To a man who understands what matters most, those attributes grow not less attractive over time, but more. Will I see you out riding again some morning?”

Now he was changing the subject, after calling her brave, loyal, and honest. He’d told the truth, as well—he had no talent for flattery. None whatsoever.

“I take it you prefer to ride early in the day?”

“Of course. The fashionable hour provides no real opportunity for exercise, and the Sunday church parade is even worse. Then too, there’s something to be said for showing old Londontowne at her best, for seeing it when ‘all that mighty heart is lying still.’”

She cocked her head. “Is that Coleridge?”

“Wordsworth. ‘Composed on Westminster Bridge.’ It makes a pastoral study of even a dank and teeming metropolis, so great is the poet’s ability in that regard.”

A line of poetry for Louisa was like a shiny lure to a raven, even a line casually tossed off by Sir Joseph Carrington. Maybe especially a line from him. “I don’t think I know this poem, and I’m more than passingly familiar with Wordsworth.”

While Sir Joseph sat on his black horse, the leaves shifting quietly against the frozen earth, and sunlight glittering on the Serpentine, he recited for Louisa a sonnet. The poem he gave her described a fresh, sparkling morning in London as something beautiful and precious, even to a man in love with nature and the unspoiled countryside.

When Sir Joseph fell silent, Louisa felt as if the hush of a great city at dawn enveloped them, and in the ensuing beats of quiet, she realized three things.

First, Joseph Carrington’s voice was made for poetry. Like a violoncello switching from lowly scales and droning exercises to solo repertoire, when he put his voice to poetry, Sir Joseph spoke lyrically, even beautifully.

The second thing she noticed was an inconvenient and utterly stupid urge to cry. Not because the beauty of the spoken word moved her to tears—though occasionally it could—and not because the poem itself was so very lovely. It was a short, pretty sonnet about a single impression of the city gained on a clear autumn morning.

Louisa’s ill-timed lachrymose impulse was the result of the third realization: no man had ever recited an entire sonnet to her before, and likely no man ever would again.”

###

Throughout this book, Ms. Burrowes had some of her characters at one point or another quote poetry that would enhance the particular scene and here’s just one example of it.

At the end of the novel, in her Author’s Notes, Ms. Burrowes writes:

“Joseph recites the following poem by William Wordsworth to Louisa while they’re riding by the Serpentine in Hyde Park early one winter morning:

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 3, 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty:

This City now doth like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep in his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill: Ne’er saw I, never felt, such a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will: Dear God! The very houses seem asleep; And all that mighty heart is lying still!”

WOW! After you read the book, you’ll come upon that scene and you’ll see how appropriate this poem was for that moment.

How do you feel about poetry in your romance novels, and poetry in general? Have some for us? Please feel free to share!

FEATURED AUTHOR: Grace Burrowes

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39 thoughts on “‘Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight’ by Grace Burrowes

    • Like, me too! EVERY ONE OF THEM!! And for the longest time I heard about THE HAIR and purposely didn’t want to pick it up!I was, like, really?! Everyone was talking about it, and I didn’t really believe them! What a fool I was! Now I can’t stop talking about them!

  1. Hi Grace,

    I don’t have a great talent in Poetry but I always wonder how great people can creat a beautiful Poetry and enjoy it :)

    I would like to push Grace’s book because i enjoy reading her book :)

    • Eli, I’ve never written poetry, except for haikus to qualify for Joanna Bourne’s Booty Tuesday book giveaways. Maybe if I felt I had some poetic talent I would not be as awed by the poetry I love. Or maybe I’d love it more?

    • OMG! I am so bad when it comes to poetry…I can only quote this piece in German ;D I still remember the little guy that wrote it in my Diary long time ago when we lived in Vienna…

      Rosen sind rot, Veilchen sind blau, Zucker ist süß und so bist du!

      My pronunciation was something to behold!!!

    • Maryhay, pacing is such an important aspect of creating a good book, so I mostly tucked the poetry in an Appendix. We get a few lines in the text, enough to support the direction of the conversation, but not the entire sonnet. And yet, I didn’t want to presume everybody knew the poems. Glad my editor let me tuck them in the back.

  2. It is a tossup between Lady Sophie and Lady Louisa’s stories. I believe I have to go with Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight as Louisa’s education trumps Sophie’s philanthropy. The reason for that is highly educated and appreciated for such was a rarity in Regency England. With his love of poetry, Joseph was perfect for Louisa!

    • Martha, I think the real issue is does a man who reads Shakespeare to his pet pig trump a guy who will deal with a Dirty Nappy??? I’m pretty sure Vim has a lot of devoted fans. Joseph appeals to me, though, in part because he’s based on the Biblical St. Joseph, a guy we never hear much about, but who coped with a LOT of curve balls.

    • I was thinking about it and …I don’t really want to chose…I loved both equally. They were so …so…sweet, and tender and yet they both were ringing true…both are very emotional reads!

  3. Hi Melanie and Grace!
    Who doesn’t love reading a story by Grace? The best thing is she writes series which I love!

    I was so excited when The Christams Knight was released in October and it wasn’t until after that I realized I had missed getting Lady Sophie’s Christmas list last year!

    Melanie -
    Did you kow that next year she has a new series coming out called The Lonely Lords series? You’ll have to be sure to invite her back – better yet – get her scheduled now!
    She also has another book in The McGregor series coming out next year and anothr in 2014!

    Grace -

    My only problem is that whenever I read one book in one of your series I want to not only read them all but each time a new one is released go back and re-read the other previous books in the series! You now have your own “personel” shelf in my book case and I’m hoping to finish filling it!

    Merry Christmas (and a Happy Thanksgiving) to all!

  4. I just love a book with secrets!

    This is one of my favorites….

    THE GOOD-MORROW.
    By John Donne

    I WONDER by my torth, what thou and I
    Did, till we lov’d? Were we not wean’d till then,
    But suck’d on country pleasures, childishly?
    Or snorted we in the seven sleeper’s den?
    ‘Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
    If ever any beauty I did see,
    Which I desir’d, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

    And now good morrow to our waking souls,
    Which watch not one another out of fear;
    For love, all love of other sights controls,
    And makes one little room, an everywhere.
    Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
    Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
    Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

    My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
    And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
    Where can we find two better hemispheres,
    Without sharp north, without declining west?
    Whatever dies, was not mix’d equally;
    If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
    Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

    Just simply beautiful. :)

    • Scrumptious, and much cheerier than that old, “When yellow leaves, or few, or none do hang, on boughs that shake against the cold…”

      Thanks. If I ever have a chance to so some second epilogues, this is exactly the kind of poem Joseph and Louisa would be reading to each other.

    • Well, that’s better than my…Roses are red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is Sweet and so are You! [slinking off to Google some Poetry]

  5. Just reread this in ebook format. Perfect way to spend a bout of insomnia. Plus one of the things I adore about historical romances is the new things they lead me to: historical knowledge, a fresh perspective on a piece of poetry, or the urge to bake a dish the characters enjoy (the other way to pass a bout of insomnia – baking)
    In general romance novels lead me to poetry, starting with Shakespeare’s sonnets, onto ‘Sonnets of the Portuguese’, back to the scorching ‘Song of Solomon’ severely edited in my children’s bible, and on through the romantics into Native American poetry by Luci Tapahonso ‘Blue Horses Rush In.’ Still love the poetry CD from the 80s tv show ‘Beauty & the Beast’ Ron Perlman’s voice is made for reading poetry.

    One piece that has spoke to me often the past couple years is ‘Stop All the Clocks’ by WH Auden.
    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
    My working week and my Sunday rest,
    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
    I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
    For nothing now can ever come to any good.

  6. THAT is sad, and yet it has a lot of energy, too, a sense of passionate sorrow, not just sadness. I can assure you, though, Joseph would NOT read this to his lady love, though perhaps to one of his daughters if her pony died? (Making allowances for airplanes, etc.)

  7. I love to read a Regency with a Christmas theme – I’ll be looking for Christmas stories to start reading right after Thanksgiving. I’ll take the other commentators advice on Grace’s other books too – they’ve put me in the mood for some poetry.

    • Diane, if you have a NOOK, Lady Sophi’es Christmas Wish will be the Find of the Day on Black Friday, which means a 99 cent download. Sourcebooks will also put her on 99 cent download on their Discover a New Love site, and the major e-tailer often follow suit when the publisher offers a discount like that. .

  8. Sir Joseph is my fave hero so far, though there’s a guy in the Scottish Victorian line up I’m also very fond of. If you’re looking for other Christmas reads, Victoria Alexander, Theresa Romain, and Vanessa Kelly all have historical Christmas tales out this year, as does Mary Balogh. Then too, the Word Wenches put out an anthology of Christmas stories that are the perfect length for a bedtime read. Such abundance!

  9. I love Grace Burrowes’ books! I buy them as soon as I see them available online; this is the only I don’t have yet. I cried reading The Soldier & at that moment I become a diehard Grace fan!

  10. Hey Grace!
    As always it’s a treat to have you over. I actually love reading poems, and some I even understand [lol]. In my youth I even wrote a few and for the past hr I’ve looked for that little booklet EVERYWHERE so I would show it to you, but as usual, when I look for something, it’s no where to be found…If I ever do find it, I’m gonna come back here and post it ;D

    Thanks for always writing stories that touch my heart.

    Mel

  11. I love Grace’s books and recommend The Virtuoso. It’s has fun, suspense and romance, a great combination. And, of course, it’s Val’s story.

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