Silver Bells - a romantic
Sensual Romance - Historical Western and
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Connected by several generations of family
tradition, a gift originally given back in 1878 finds its way into the hands and
heart of the newest addition to the Hamilton family. The silver bell earrings
are an heirloom blessed by love, and once again the magic of the holiday
combines with the magic of the heart to unite lovers touched by
A Second Chance by Denysé
(Historical Western romance)
Enroute back to his home in
Montana, Joshua Hamilton is bushwhacked and left for dead. As stubborn as he is
strong, Josh makes his way to the nearest homestead, and meets Sara Grant. Left
alone after travelling to reside with her brother and his wife only to lose them
to illness, Sara nurses Joshua back to health, all the while trying to deny the
tender awakening of love. As the holiday approaches, danger arrives to threaten
the future they haven't even begun to share.
A Christmas for Beginnings by Brigit
Stephanie is worried that
starting over, by moving to Wyoming to work for a guy she's never even talked
to, might be a bit extreme. Cole doesn't know what to expect from his new cook,
but he hopes to take some of the work load off his mom. Together, they learn
that fate is at work, and with a little Christmas Magick, all will be
An excerpt from A SECOND CHANCE:
Joshua feigned slumber as he watched her
move around the quiet cabin. She kept the small place immaculate, and he sensed
a peace in the atmosphere that he’d rarely encountered in his life. Only once
had he felt this safe in a home, and that was a time he preferred not to look
“Are you hungry this morning, Mr. Hamilton?”
He smiled at her words, then opened his
“How’d you know I was awake?”
She returned the smile and came to stand
next to the bed.
“You’ve been here for most of a week now,”
she explained, lifting the blankets to look at the bandaging that was wrapped
around his waist, the bulkiest section against the right side of his back. “I
can hear the changes in your breathing. I know when your dreams are terrorizing
you, and when they’re not.”
He didn’t look terribly pleased with the
“You haven’t answered my question, Mr.
Hamilton,” she pointed out when she’d tidied the bedding and was standing
“Joshua,” he requested. “Call me Joshua.”
He shifted in the bed, tossed aside the sheet and blanket, then gave her an icy
look. “I assume you’ve still got my clothes, madam?”
“It’s Sara,” she said firmly. “Your clothes
are just fine, Joshua. And, your gun is right there,” she pointed, and he
glanced at the shell belt and the holstered weapon where they hung from one of
the posts of the brass-trimmed headboard. She pulled a curtain and gave him
privacy that was more courtesy than necessity.
She kept her ears attuned to the sounds of
his movement, and forced herself not to run when she heard him stumble, then
sit heavily on the bed. His breathing worried her.
“Are you all right, Mr...? Joshua,” she
There was no answer. She listened, heard
him stand, then he fell. She ran to the other side of the room, flung aside the
curtain, and sighed in dismay. Half-naked and glistening with sweat from his
exertions; Joshua’s strength had deserted him halfway into the process of
She coaxed him back onto the bed with
physical effort and gentle words, fully cognizant of his virtual lack of understanding.
He passed out as soon as he was flat on the mattress again.
Sara’s frown deepened without her knowing
it as she left the barn and walked slowly back to her cabin. She’d tended his
horse as carefully as she had the man himself, and was beginning to worry about
the continued bouts of fever and sickness that were showing no signs of
diminishing. She’d suggested riding to the nearby town of Silver Creek for a doctor, but he’d been so
adamant with his refusal, she’d relented against her better judgement.
She opened the door to the cabin and went
inside. When her eyes adjusted to the shadows, she spotted him sitting up in
the bed, gazing out the window. His head turned the moment she came fully in
and he was watching her in thoughtful silence.
“How long have I been here?”
It was a question he asked each time he
regained consciousness and was without the maddened fever.
“Six days,” she replied quietly.
His look moved back to the window, and the
distant range of mountains.
“Thank you, Sara,” he said after a nod and
a lengthy pause. He felt her next to him and shifted his gaze from the window
to her again. She was a pretty woman, he noted, really seeing her for the first
time. Sara was like him in colour, fair-haired without being blonde, eyes not
quite hazel, but blue-green in shade, and she was willowy slender; deceptive in
her appearance of being fragile, he knew. In her quiet, watchful eyes he felt
compassion and caring.
“Is there anyone I should be notifying
about your presence here?” she asked cautiously.
He almost smiled, then shook his head.
“Someone somewhere must love you, Joshua
Hamilton,” she spoke the words before she could think not to, and his hazel
eyes sharpened with a flash of anger.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized quickly. “Your
life is not my business.”
When she would have walked away, Joshua
grabbed her hand and made her look at him again.
“I owe you my life,” he said with a small
smile, irony in his steady tone.
“I don’t think so. You’re as stubborn a man
as any I’ve ever met. I think you’re just not ready to die, so nothing’s going
to change your mind.” For the first time, Joshua really smiled and she was
struck again by his attractiveness. “You still can’t get up, however,” she
admonished firmly. “Not for a few days, at least.”
“I can make it to the table, Sara,” he
Their eyes clashed as they stared at each
other, but Joshua won that battle of wills. She nodded, reluctantly, and
offered wordless support once he’d pulled on his pants and had his shirt over
his shoulders. He was gasping for breath when he crossed the room and collapsed
on a chair at the table.
Sara pretended not to notice.
“Do you think you can eat now?”
He looked for something other than enquiry
in that question, but there was nothing in her eyes that revealed the sarcasm
he instinctively felt was behind the words.
“Have you got any whiskey?”
“No,” she smiled and made no effort at all
to hide the faint derision his request incited. “I used the last of it on your
back. Probably the best use it’s ever had.”
“Coffee?” he revised, grin now solidly in
“Coffee I can supply,” she assured amiably
and went to get the pot from the top of the stove.
The fever had returned shortly after
sunset, and Sara was watching from her makeshift bed a few feet from the
tossing, restless man tangled in the sheets. He’d sapped his strength
throughout the day, obstinately refusing to go back to bed. The chills had
started after supper, then the fever came back with a vengeance. He was
suffering the demons that haunted his dreams, too, she noted with uneasy fear.
He talked a lot when he was delirious with fever. Most of what he talked about
Sara had moved from the cabin’s single
bedroom the first night he’d spent in her home. She’d been afraid to leave him,
fearing he’d die throughout that long night. Joshua had been put in the bed
that was curtained off on the opposite side of the cabin; the makeshift bedroom
that had been hers when Jim and Eve were alive and in the only bedroom. She
mentally veered away from those reminiscences and concentrated on the man in
the bed. She felt the subtle change before she saw the evidence her eyes needed
to be certain.
Sara rose instantly, then ran to sit on the
edge of the mattress. She ran a caressing stroke across his forehead and
whispered his name. His skin was hot, the fever scorching it’s way insidiously
into his brain, creating demons and terrors that she didn’t want to think
about. Anything that could scare a man like Joshua Hamilton wasn’t something
she much cared to contemplate.
“Joshua,” she whispered, catching his hand
when it flailed wildly in an attempt to push away whatever was chasing him
inside his mind. She turned aside, sank her hands into the chilled water in the
bowl that still stood on the small table. As she began to wring the water from
the compress she felt his hands encircle her waist and pull her downward. The
cold rag hit the floor with a wet plop and she was suddenly wrestling with the
He twisted, pinned her under him and her
heart felt like it wanted to spring from her chest when she saw the inferno
that lit his light hazel eyes. The brightness of fever was there, but beyond it
was something equally potent.
“Stop this,” she reasserted.
Joshua ignored her and her breath deserted
her when his head descended and his mouth covered hers in a kiss that made her
entire body quiver with fright.
“Mr. Hamilton, don’t,” she pleaded long
moments later. He was gentle now, his hands exploring as he murmured
endearments and soft, pleasant sounds–all things meant for another woman. The
woman he talked about so often in his delirium.
“I’m not your Sarah, Joshua,” she said
quietly, forcing her voice to a steadiness that was sheer effort of will. “Look
at me,” she demanded softly. “I’m Sara Grant, not Sarah Hamilton.”
For an impossible moment she thought he hadn’t
heard her, then his head rose from her neck and he stared down at her. The
raw torture she glimpsed made her regret
her own defense for a few timeless seconds. He was a strong, driven man; the
internal blaze was extinguished, his eyes shuttered and guarded as sanity
returned with painful clarity.
“I’m sorry, Sara,” he whispered, moving off
her with a slow, heavy sigh. “I’m sorry...” He covered his eyes with his hands
and tried to steady his strained gasps for air.
Sara forcibly resisted the desire to pull
him close again and offer whatever comfort she could give to his scarred and
bleeding soul. She knew he’d reject anything other than quiet dismissal of what
had just happened.
“Try to sleep,” she murmured gently, and
slid from the bed as unobtrusively as she could manage. She bent to retrieve
the compress, dropped it back into the water and went to her blankets. As she
walked, she pretended her knees weren’t shaking, and her heartbeat roaring so
loudly within her that he could probably hear it from the other side of the
room. He was still now, unnaturally so; she suspected he spent a great deal of
time that way. He was too good at not moving.
“Would you like to talk about it?” she
asked into the darkness.
There was enough finality in the single
syllable to effectively end any further attempts at conversation for the night.
~ ~ ~
Ten days before Christmas, I will be choosing a random winner to send these lovely handmade earrings to. (The contest is open internationally.) All you have to do is leave a comment and tell us about your favourite holiday story or tradition. I hope you enjoy meeting the Hamilton family, and perhaps enjoying this Duet that ties the past to the present via a special gift given in love...the stuff of all great family traditions/heirlooms, of course!
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