Friday 14 December 2012

Party Time by Vanessa Kelly

The Regency period was a time when folks really knew how to throw a party.  That was especially true during the Christmas Season, which ran from Christmas Eve through to Twelfth Night on January 6.  The final party on Twelfth Night was usually a real wing-ding, roughly comparable to the kind of blow-out we now celebrate on New Year’s Eve.

Much of the action in my new historical romance, His Mistletoe Bride, takes place during the holiday season.  One of my favorite scenes happens on Twelfth Night.  Lucas and Phoebe, my hero and heroine and very recently married, are throwing a huge party at their estate, Mistletoe Manor. 

Life hasn’t been easy at the manor—Lucas is dealing with a decrepit mansion and a neglected estate, smugglers who are using his lands for their smuggling route, interfering relatives, and a motley group of servants who go by the name of Christmas.  The last thing Lucas wants is a big, noisy party, and he tells his wife that in no uncertain terms. 

But Phoebe is convinced that holding a holiday celebration will put everyone in a good mood—especially Lucas—and the bigger, the better.  She’s particularly excited about the King’s Cake, the centerpiece of the celebration.  Traditionally, one bean would be baked into the cake and whoever got it would be appointed the Lord of Misrule for the evening’s festivities.

Phoebe, however, has a little surprise planned for Lucas that involves this particular tradition.

She tugged his hand and they weaved their way through the crowd, heading for the dais. It took several minutes, as villagers wished them good cheer and warm thanks for the evening’s entertainment. Phoebe was too flustered to say more than a few words, but Lucas responded with easy charm, seeming to enjoy himself. When his hand settled once more low on her back, cradling her gently as they strolled, her tension eased.

They reached the dais just as the door in the back of the hall swung open. Mr. Christmas emerged with great ceremony, two brawny footmen staggering behind him under the load of an enormous King’s Cake. The confectionary edifice was always the centerpiece of the Twelfth Night celebrations, and Mrs. Christmas claimed that Cook’s was the finest in the entire county.

The cake’s thick icing gleamed with a brilliant white in the blaze of the candles, and whimsical sugar figurines dotted the polished, two-tiered surface. The round base was elaborately trimmed with sugar flowers in a rainbow of pretty pastels, while a credible representation of the village church and a few of the local shops topped the cake off.

“Good Lord,” Lucas exclaimed. “Is that the village square on top of that monstrosity?”

“Yes,” Phoebe said proudly. “It was Cook’s idea. She did a splendid job, do you not think?”

Her husband laughed. “Actually, yes. It’s got everything but the village drunk.”

“Really, Lucas,” she responded primly. “Come along. It is time to take your seat on the Lord of Misrule’s throne.”

He frowned. “Why do you think I’m going to be Lord of Misrule? That’s a damned big cake, and there’s only one little bean baked into it. Anyone could find it and be appointed lord.”

She glanced over at Mrs. Christmas, who was cutting the first slice. “We decided to do things a bit differently this year. Given certain, ah, mishaps in the past, everyone will be handed slips of paper with their cake. He who receives the slip with the appropriate mark will be designated Lord of Misrule.”

“Hmm. I suppose someone got drunk and almost choked on the bean one year.”

She widened her eyes. “How did you know that?”

“It’s a fairly frequent occurrence. It happened to Robert once, and he wasn’t even in his cups. Almost went to his grave because of the damn thing. He’s only still with us thanks to his grandfather. The General slapped him on the back so hard he nearly knocked the poor lad into the next room.”

Phoebe had to laugh at the image. “Well, we want to avoid that sort of thing. Mrs. Christmas came up with the slips as a substitute.”

“Yes, but that still doesn’t explain why you think I’ll—”

Lucas broke off as Mrs. Christmas trundled toward them, carrying a plate. He directed a baleful look Phoebe’s way. “Tell me you are not doing this.”

She gave him a beatific smile in response.

He groaned. “On top of everything else, I must now be Lord of Misrule?”

“I am afraid so.”

Surprisingly, his mouth twitched into a smile. “Well, I suppose it does make a bizarre sort of sense, given how everything tends to go to hell in a handcart around here.”

Needless to say, things do go to hell in a handcart and right in the middle of the party, too.  But Lucas and Phoebe are rather used to that by now, so I’m sure they’ll cope!

What about you, readers?  What’s your favorite type of party during the holidays?  Do you like fun family get-togethers, rowdy New Year’s Eve celebrations, or do you prefer curling up with your honey by a cozy fire?  One person who comments will win a copy of my last book, My Favorite Countess.


When Major Lucas Stanton inherited his earldom, he never dreamed his property would include the previous earl’s granddaughter. Phoebe Linville is a sparkling American beauty, yes, but with a talent for getting into trouble. Witness the compromising position that forced them into wedlock. Whisked away to Mistletoe Manor, his country estate, it isn’t long before she is challenging his rules—and surprising him in and out of bed…

Phoebe has no intention of bowing to Lucas’s stubbornness even though he offers all that she wants. His kisses and unexpected warmth are enticing, but Phoebe is determined to show the Earl of Merritt what real love is all about. And if that takes twelve nights of delicious seduction by a roaring fire, she’s more than willing to reveal her gifts very slowly…

Vanessa Kelly was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.”  Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance.  Vanessa also writes contemporary romance with her husband under the name of V.K. Sykes.  You can find her on the web at or at


  1. Lord of Misrule? Now this sounds interesting! I'm adding this to my to-read pile for sure!! Thanks for sharing the excerpt!

    ehaney578 at aol dot com

  2. Yes, I would think it would be fun to be Lord of Misrule for one night, Elizabeth. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I have Mistletoe Bride, but would love to win My Favorite Countess. Love your writing, Vanessa! Historical Romance is by far my fave genre, tho' I will read paranormal romance and western romance as well. I'm just a romantic at heart. :-)

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Janice! And thank you for buying HMB!

  4. I'm a stay at home person. I'm usually working and haven't been to a holiday party in ages. I'd love to go back in time for a Regency ball though, especially during Christmas time!

  5. Would love to win this book!

  6. Ahhh, my favorite party is when all my siblings, our children, their children, our Dad and his wife get together!
    When this happens there is 38 of us and as the majoriaty of us have a warped sense of humor we have a grand old time! His Mistletoe Bride was a wonderful read! Happy Holiday to you and yours Vanessa!

    1. Thank you so much!! Really glad you enjoyed it!

  7. New Year's Eve should be enjoyed fairly close to home. Getting together with friends and neighbors within walking distance is the most fun. I remember years ago coming home from a party at my brother's house. We were sober but a drunk in a car was driving on the wrong side of the highway heading right for us. Managed to swerve out of the way. Cured us from going any real distance from home after that.

    I so enjoyed "His Mistletoe Bride" and am looking forward to reading "My Favorite Countess." I'm sure you will make a reader quite happy by winning a copy!

    Merry Christmas, Vanessa!

    1. Connie, what a scary story!! So glad it had a happy ending.

  8. I love going to parties. Getting dressed up and enjoying good music and food. Doesn't happen very much. I live a very down to earth part of the country.

    Merry Christmas Everyone. May your new year be filled with books

    flip at ida dot net

  9. I can't say I like one kind of party over another. Some nights all I want to do is curl up with my honey and other times it's just wind me up and let me go! There's a time and a place for all kinds of get-togethers.

    Merry Christmas to you Vanessa, and all of my other favorite authors!

  10. I host a cookie party every year with all of my friends! We all have a great time together! It's also has been known as a wine party ;) We look forward to it every year!

  11. Other than the cookie swaps, work parties, and family get togethers, we stay close to home on the "eves". It's family time all the way with hot chocolate and Christmas movies on Christmas Eve and board games and party snacks on New Year's Eve with a race to see who will stay awake to see the ball drop. Love the holidays and special family traditions.

  12. Merry Christmas....Happy Holidays.....How ever you say it, I wish everyone a safe holiday season. Spending Christmas Eve and Christmas day with family and close friends is my favorite. I love regency romance books and I would love to win this book.

  13. Wow, the day just ran away from me...but now I'm back to catch up on the days activities. It's evening here now and time to chill....sigh!!!

    We have a big Christmas dinner here on the 25th. We have between 15 and 20 people and most of those are my kids and various boy/girl friends....a few grandkids and a couple of friends. It's loads of fun, loads of work and I love it!!!

    in Germany

  14. I have a tree trimming party every year and now my oldest daughter has one too. Thanks for the chance!!

  15. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your stories with me, ladies! It's fun to hear about everyone's different ways of celebrating the holidays.

  16. We usually have family dinners, a few of them, leading up to Christmas. But my favorite is just a quiet Christmas day at home with my hubby and sons. After all the doings... baking, shopping, programs, etc. I am usually exhausted and ready for a quiet Christmas Day. Merry Christmas to you!

  17. I prefer curling up in the sofa at home, i don´t like big parties with a bunch of people i don´t know.. =)
    Happy Holidays!

  18. As much as I love the holidays, they ARE exhausting!!

  19. I love family Christmas time then friend New Year's Eve time. All our friends bring their kids to our New Year's Eve party...very low key!

  20. I like curling up at home most of the times in my PJ. :)

  21. We prefer to spend time as a family.


  22. I love having family and friends together for the holidays.
    Would love to win your book. This is one of my favorite genre. Thank you for the chance.

  23. Don't love parties, but I'd say family and friends are definitely the best.


  24. I like family get togethers. A nice family dinner & time to chit chat & catch up.

  25. I don't care for New Year's Eve parties, so we stay home. I love curling up with my honey by a cozy fire after having a nice quiet dinner. For any other holiday I like to be with family where we sit around chat, play games, & just enjoy each others company.

  26. My favorite kinds of holiday parties are a few friends and family getting together to laugh and eat :) I'm not much for huge parties or going out for wild times, but I love the chance to catch up, especially with people we don't always get to see otherwise.

    Fantastic way to celebrate the holidays, Vanessa ;)

    f dot chen at comcast dot net