We interrupt this programme for a cuteness overdose

white-kittenI’ve sent the last story of Hand-Turned Tales off to the beta readers, and received the first feedback, which gives me sufficient confidence to finally announce a date!

My new permafree sampler book (three short stories and a novella), Hand-Turned Tales will be published as an ebook on 16 December, and as a print book with a price set for cost recovery as soon after as can be managed. Click on the link above to read about the four stories.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on another made-to-order story, written for the winner of the Cat Day giveaway. She wanted a wounded or disabled hero, a pretty heroine, and arranged marriage, and a cat named Angel. Here’s how it starts:

Magnus and the Christmas Angel

Imp was not in the house. She had not been accidentally shut in the cellars or the attic or any of the dozen unused bedrooms, frozen in a state of readiness for guests who never came.

The children of the Fenchurch Abbey estate had searched high and low, and brought a score of cats for Callie to inspect, hoping to win the reward.

None of them were Imp.

She was not in the stables, or the dairy, or any of the sheds or other outbuildings. Callie had questioned all the servants who had cottages near the main house, and none of them had somehow acquired an elegant, imperious, elderly, and very pregnant black cat.

Or not so pregnant now. Imp had gone missing four weeks ago. Somewhere, she had nested and produced her litter. Somewhere—and half an hour ago, Callie had suddenly had an idea about where. They had not lived at Blessings for more than a year, and Imp had birthed two litters since then, her latest at Fenchurch Abbey (in Magnus’s dressing room on his cravats). But perhaps she had returned to the place that had been home for most of her life?

Callie shivered, and pulled her shawl further forward over her head. She had run impetuously from the house without first checking the weather, and without telling her maid where she was going, thinking she would not be long.

The clouds had looked ominous, but her childhood home was only a brisk walk away; she could be there, find her cat, and be back well before dark. She was not a fool. She wore a rain cape, and it never snowed this far south as early as Christmas Eve. Except, it seemed, this year.

Perhaps it would remain a few stray flakes, melting before they reached the ground, but the sky was black and heavy, and she feared she would not make it back to Fenchurch Abbey before the snow began in earnest.

The servants would fret if she stayed at Blessings overnight. Magnus would neither know nor care. He had spent more time in London than at the Abbey since their wedding. Proving his identity so he could take up his title, he said. This was true, but avoiding his unwanted wife was doubtless also on his list of reasons.



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