A Secret Christmas

By: Lauren Royal

A MESSAGE FROM LAUREN…




For years and years, my readers have been asking for a book about my unconventional Ashcroft parents, Chrystabel and Joseph. And finally, here it is! I’m so excited! It’s a Christmas romance and stands alone as a complete story—so it’s a perfect book of mine to start with if you enjoy holiday stories. It’s set in 1651, before all of my other Chase Family Series titles.

As for how it is that an Ashcroft story is part of my Chase Family Series…

It’s unusual for an author to center all her novels around a single family, and it wasn't something I planned to do when I started writing. And as it turned out, the Chase Family Series should more rightly be called the Chase/Ashcroft Family Series…except I fear it’s far too late for that!

The Chase family came to me all at once. I knew I wanted to set my first books in the late 17th century, and I wanted to write about people affected by their times. An English family with Royalist sympathies would have lived through a lot in those years—the English Civil War, the Protectorate, exile on the Continent, the Restoration—and those experiences would have forever shaped their personalities. So the Chases came to me: Jason, the oldest, who had responsibility thrust on him too soon by the untimely deaths of their parents; Colin, a middle child filled with resentment for his parents’ choices and what those had ultimately cost him and his siblings; Kendra, the only girl, raised by imperfect but well-meaning older brothers; and her twin Ford, the baby of the family, the happy-go-lucky one who was too young to feel the burden of their circumstances.

Ford later marries Violet Ashcroft, bringing her eccentric relations into the Chase family circle. The Chase Family Series currently includes four books featuring Ashcrofts—Violet, Lily, Rose, and this one, A Secret Christmas—with more planned for the future.

Following this series, I decided to write books set in the Regency period. By then the Chases and Ashcrofts felt as real to me as my own family, so it was natural to write about their descendants. Though over a hundred years have passed, evidence of the original families still remain, hidden in old portraits, hereditary traits, and family legend (the truth of which astute readers will know better than the Regency families do!). I had a lot of fun tying these characters together across the centuries.

My daughter and I are now writing Chase books set in the Renaissance era, so the tradition continues. Will I ever write about different families? I can’t say for sure, but I'm not ready to walk away from the Chases and Ashcrofts yet!

I love to keep in touch with my readers! Join my e-newsletter to receive free and 99¢ book suggestions each week as well as new release bulletins. And I'd be thrilled to see you in my Readers Group on Facebook, where I share sneak peeks and gather suggestions from my favorite readers!

There are so many great romance novels out there—thank you for choosing mine. I so hope you’ll enjoy Joseph and Chrystabel’s story.

Happy reading!





CHASE FAMILY TREE





To see a larger version of the Chase Family Tree, click here!





For my dear nieces

Stacy and Lindsay Gordon

Wisconsin and London are one thing,

but please don’t move to Wales.

I don’t cope well in the wilderness.





ONE




Grosmont Grange, England

December 20, 1651

LADY CHRYSTABEL Trevor adored Christmas.

Or at least she had until this year.

She frowned as her sap-sticky hands wove yet another wreath from the greenery she and her younger sister had collected. “Just five more days,” she said, thinking of all the decorating they still had to do.

Arabel meticulously measured two loops of red ribbon. “But just four days until Christmas Eve.”

“Yes, and we have to be ready by Christmas Eve.” Chrystabel sighed as she eyed the enormous pile of boughs they’d cut and trimmed. “I cannot believe how long it took to make the garlands. This isn’t easy alone.”

“You’re not alone, Chrystabel.” Arabel sounded sweetly sympathetic. “I’m still here. Matthew’s still here.”

“Martha and Cecily aren’t here.” Martha and Cecily were their older sisters. “And neither is Mother.” Not that Mother had helped her girls prepare for Christmas, anyway. She’d always been a rather uninvolved parent, leaving her children to be raised by nursemaids. But this was their first Christmas without her, and having her home and not participating had been better than not having her with them at all. “It makes me sad that we never see her.”