ELEANOR FITZHERBERT’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
Regency Novella – Dangerous Lords Book 5.
It’s Book Five in the Dangerous Lords series with this fabulous holiday novella!
Childless widow Eleanor Fitzherbert has resigned herself to a life alone because most unmarried gentlemen wish for an heir. But after a young sweep gets stuck in the Duke of Broadstairs’ chimney, and a handsome viscount comes to his rescue, surprising things begin to happen.
It is never too late to fall in love!
Ms Andersen, best selling novelist’s Eleanor Fitzherbert’s Christmas Miracle is a delightful Regency romance novella.
Eleanor, a childless widow, is content living with her brother-in-law and sister, the Duke and Duchess of Broadstairs.
Nash, a young chimney sweep climbs up the flu and loses his way. Viscount Hayworth, a widower, who is visiting the duke, helps Eleanor rescue the child.
I recommend this charming tale of a heroine reluctant to re-marry an ideal hero and an irresistible child who deserve a happy ever after ending.
Very sweet story just long enough for a short read. Enjoyed the characters and the writing. Happily ever after for all.
Broadstairs Court, London
Eleanor Fitzherbert’s young sister Georgina, the Duchess of Broadstairs, entered the small salon where Eleanor was sitting working on a poem.
“Why are you in here, dearest?” Georgina asked. “The chimney is blocked. We have called for a sweep.”
A sheet had been spread over the rug in front of the fireplace. Eleanor looked around the room she had adopted for her personal use since she’d come from Devon to live with her sister and the duke. The walls were painted her favorite duck-egg blue, the furniture less formal than the other reception rooms, with a comfortable blossom-pink sofa, a card table, and a piano and music stand where an occasional musical evening was held. But what Eleanor liked most was that in this huge mansion, the salon was of a modest size, and felt more intimate and homelier.
She wrote her poetry here and received friends. She and Hetty, Lady Fortescue, had worked on a poem together at the table while drinking copious cups of tea. She played chess with her brother John’s wife, Sibella who beat her far too often. This room served to help her forget that she had once had a home of her own when her husband Gordon was alive. And even though he had been ill for most of his life, they’d been content together, but for the sad fact that they’d not been blessed with children.
Now she was alone, and her life was a series of balls and routs and card parties, where Georgina hoped to find her a husband. Several years past thirty, and childless after a long marriage, a husband seemed unlikely. The men who danced with her, even flirted with her, had an eye to young women who would give them an heir. Even the widowers with children, seemed to want more sons.
“We have a ball to attend this evening,” Georgina said, tidying her dark brown hair before the gilt-framed mirror hanging above the Adams fireplace mantel.
Eleanor buried a sigh. “Yes, I haven’t forgotten. I expect Lord Beacham to be there.”
Georgina turned to gaze at her, her dark eyes concerned. “You didn’t warm to Lord Beacham?”
“I don’t think Lord Beacham warmed to me.”
A crease appeared between Georgina’s brows. “I’m sure I don’t know why. You are clever, charming, and beautiful.”
Eleanor laughed. “Thank you, dearest. If I am all that, I should have the ton at my feet.”
“You would have in your first season, had you not married that same year.”
“Now how would you know that, goose? You were barely out of nappies. You chattered all through our wedding ceremony as I remember. Nanny had to take you out of the church.” She rubbed her fingers. She had finally removed her wedding ring with an effort to get on with her life. “I don’t regret a moment of the years Gordon and I were together.”
Georgina hurried over to sit beside her on the sofa. “Of course you don’t. We all loved Gordon, and we miss him.”
What Georgina wouldn’t say, was that Eleanor might now have a child. Eleanor squeezed her sister’s hand. “I know you do. I’ve cast off my widow’s weeds. I’m extremely grateful to you and Hugh for all you’ve done. While I’m not resisting the idea of another man in my life, I do try to keep my feet on the ground, Georgie. To find a kindred spirit seems unlikely at my age.”
Georgina looked doubtful, but she rallied. “You will, I’m sure of it. Perhaps tonight, someone will capture your heart at first glance!”
Eleanor grinned. “Perhaps.”
Georgina rose. “I must go and see what’s holding up that sweep, so we can have a fire lit in here.”
Eleanor sighed, pulled off her house slippers, and tucked her feet beneath her gray poplin morning gown. She took up her pencil, turned to a page of her journal, and soon became lost in improving a line of iambic pentameter, which could be difficult but so satisfying when one got it right.
A knock came at the door.
Eleanor raised her head in frustration as the perfect line threatened to escape her mind. “Come in.”
The butler opened the door. “Lady Eleanor, the sweep and his master are here to clear the chimney.”
“Oh yes,” Eleanor hurriedly donned her shoes. “Have them come in, Loveday.”
A beefy, shabbily dressed fellow entered with a small boy. He nodded at Eleanor as she gathered up her things. “Grimsby, milady. We’ll get this ’ere chimney workin’ quicker than a startled fox.”
Eleanor stared at the boy. He could be no older than seven at the most, with an angelic face which might admittedly prove misleading. Young boys were more often devilish if Georgina and Hugh’s boisterous young fellow was anything to go by.
“He’s so young,” she said drawing closer to the lad. Longish dirty blond hair hung lankly from beneath the sweep’s cap.
An unpleasant odor emanated from the man who had adopted a wary expression. “The smaller the better they be. ’E’ll be up and down in a trice.”
“What is your name?” she asked the boy.
“Nash, milady.” Nash had the bluest eyes. His skin was so grimy, it had taken on a grayish sheen.
“Be very careful, Nash,” she said, her heart breaking for him. She wanted to whisk him away from this mean-looking man.
“’E’s a good one, yer ladyship. No need to worry.”
Nash was gazing at the piano. “Up you go, boy. Yer not ’ere for tea,” Grimsby said poking the boy with his long brush.
Nash entered the white marble fireplace and climbed nimbly up into the chimney. For a moment, his thin legs dangled and then he was gone.
Eleanor left the room and was making her way to the staircase when her brother-in-law appeared. She smiled at Hugh, His Grace of Broadstairs, of whom she was most fond. Accompanying him was a tall, dark-haired man. “Eleanor, allow me to present a friend of mine, Viscount Hayworth.” He turned to his friend. “Mark, my sister-in-law, Lady Eleanor Fitzherbert.”
She curtsied. “How do you do, Lord Hayworth.”
“Lady Eleanor.” Hayworth bowed. There were gray streaks at his temples, but he would be no more than forty if that.
“We see little of Mark since he took a government post in Paris,” Hugh said.
“Paris. How fortunate, my lord,” Eleanor said. “A magical city filled with art and poetry.”
“And so much more,” Hayworth said. “You’ve not been to Paris?”
“No, unfortunately, I have not.” After the war, Gordon had never been well enough to travel abroad.
“Then I hope the opportunity arises.”
The men bowed and moved on. Eleanor glanced after him as Hugh drew him into his study. She suspected Hayworth’s polite green gaze took in rather a lot. He had a good face, with a straight nose, strong chin, and a generous mouth. She wondered if he was married as she put a foot on the staircase to return to her bedchamber. Then she paused, realizing she’d left her journal in the salon and retraced her steps.
A footman stood at the door of the salon. Inside, Grimsby was poking at the chimney with a broom.
A cloud of coal dust burst forth. “Help…”
Eleanor, shocked by the child’s reedy voice floating down, stepped smartly over to the fireplace. “What has happened? Where is the little sweep?”
“Daft lad has got ’imself lost.” Grimsby sounded more annoyed than worried.
She put her hands on her hips and glared at him. “Well, get him out!”
Grimsby shuffled his feet. “’As to get ’imself out, milady. “Or ‘e’ll be up there ’til kingdom come.”
Eleanor wasn’t about to let that happen. She left the room and ran down the corridor to knock on Hugh’s study door.
She threw open the door. “Hugh, the sweep’s stuck in the chimney. His master is totally useless,” she blurted.
Both men came to their feet.
“Poor lad.” Hayworth strode to the door. “May I assist, Duke?”
“Please do,” Hugh said. “We’ll have to get him out somehow. And quickly. I’ve heard too many sad tales.”
“The boy is little more than a baby,” Eleanor murmured as she attempted to keep up with the men’s long gait.
A footman admitted them into the salon where Grimsby was yelling curses up the chimney.
“No need for that,” Hugh said, glaring.
Grimsby smiled, showing blackened and missing teeth. “Sorry, yer Grace. The silly lad ’as lost ’is way. ’E’s new to a job of this size, yer Grace. Won’t ’appen again, yer Grace.”
“Perhaps we could reach him from the room above?” Hayworth suggested.
Hugh nodded. “That’s your bedchamber, Eleanor. Show Mark where it is.”
She and Hayworth ran up the stairs and into her luxurious bedchamber furnished in peach satin and cream. The fireplace was in alignment with the one downstairs and would connect with the same shaft.
Eleanor quickly placed a towel over the tiles on the hearth, and Hayworth knelt upon it. He called up into the dark space. A young voice answered, louder this time.
Her hands gripped tight, she watched as Hayworth coaxed the boy down. Moments later, a foot appeared, then the other. The viscount took hold of them and gently pulled until the boy stood trembling before them. He was black with soot from head to foot.
“I got meself lost,” he explained, his eyes huge in his dirty face.
“Indeed you did,” Eleanor said. “You shall require a bath.”
Nash gasped. “Never say so. Me master will be wantin’ me.”
“He can wait,” she said, ringing for the footman.
Nash made a dash for the door.
Hayworth caught him easily. “You are soiling the carpet,” he said as the boy swung from his arm. “Now is that a polite way to treat your rescuer?”
Nash looked doubtful, but he shook his head.
“You will enjoy a bath, Nash. The water will be lovely and warm. And afterward, I shall have a meal sent up for you.”
Nash blinked. “Will there be pie?”
“Yes, if you wish. And chocolate pudding with custard.” She hoped Cook had made some, but as it was Hugh’s favorite dessert she was fairly confident.
Nash opened his mouth, but no sound came out.
Lord Hayworth chuckled. “I shall leave you to it, Lady Eleanor. I think you’ve convinced him. Although I suspect you might end up as wet as Nash.”
“Thank you for your assistance, my lord,” she said, easing back a wisp of hair with her forearm. “Shall we see you again soon?”
“No. Unfortunately, I return to France on the evening tide.”
“Then I wish you a safe journey.”
“Thank you.” Hayworth nodded. “Be good for the lovely lady, Nash.”
The door closed behind him.
For a moment, Eleanor stared after him. Then she turned briskly to Nash. “Now then… I believe we might be able to find some suitable clothes for you.”
Nash looked shocked. “I’m wearing clothes.”
“Not those,” she said firmly. “You can hardly sit at the table and eat a meal in such filthy rags, now can you?”
Nash shrugged. “I could. But not if your ladyship don’t like it.”
A smile tugged at Eleanor’s mouth. “You are most obliging Nash.”
Mark descended the stairs to Broadstair’s study. So engrossed was she in the child, Lady Eleanor seemed completely unfazed by the fact that she’d entertained a gentleman alone in her bedchamber. He could not say the same for himself. He’d breathed in the flowery perfume scenting the air as he cast an eye over the bed covered in a luscious satin quilt, the carpet the color of thick cream dense beneath his feet. The lady’s pretty patterned silk robe lay over a gilt-legged chair, and for a brief moment, he allowed his mind to dwell on the possibilities. Lady Eleanor was tall and curvaceous, her beautiful face only improved by the faint lines the years had written upon it, and the wisdom and compassion which imbued her fine gray-blue eyes.
He knew her to be a widow. She’d been almost unaware of him, rolling her sleeves up over her slender arms, her focus solely on the boy. He’d been instantly drawn to her and wouldn’t mind a little of that unwavering attention centered on him. But there was no point in perusing a relationship. He was needed in Paris and had no idea when he would return to London. But the regret lingered as he said his goodbyes to Broadstairs and climbed into his carriage.