Please welcome bestselling author Kay Springsteen, a good friend of mine who’s here to talk about her new Regency Christmas romance, Teach Me Under the Mistletoe. Take it away, Kay!
Christmas during the Regency period in England was not the celebration it has been since the later Victorian period. Christmas trees were not unheard of but they were very rare. What was popular, however, was the “kissing bough” (also referred to as Christmas bough or mistletoe bough). This was made with a sizeable tree branch that the household decorated with evergreen boughs, apples, nuts, candy, dried flowers or sometimes lace or paper flowers, and dolls to represent the holy family, as well as streamers of ribbon. When it first came about, it was customary for guests to embrace the host and hostess beneath the kissing bough to show they brought affection and good will to the household. Later, it became a place for guests to steal quick kisses.
While mistletoe would have been used where it was available (mostly in the south and southwestern part of the country), other greens were used to decorate homes for the holidays as well. Laurel, evergreen boughs, holly, ivy, hawthorn, rosemary, and hellebore (also known as the Christmas Rose) were often arranged together into garlands or sprigs. Greens were not typically hung until Christmas Eve, and they were taken down and burned on Epiphany, also known as Old Christmas Day, January 6.
My own favorite Christmas traditions come from my mother, who came to America just after WWII. While most Americans serve turkey and all the trimmings, my mom served roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. The tempting aroma of roasting meat would fill the house while we opened our gifts, but dinner was hours away so we had to suffer the smells of cooking food for HOURS before we got to sit down. I don’t come from a large family – just me and my older brother and our parents and Dad’s mum (also from England). But we did Christmas dinner up right. And as my brother and I added to the family, the table had to be made bigger and bigger. I love Christmas, but I sure do wish the Spirit of the Season could live in everyone all year long!
More About Teach Me Under the Mistletoe
He was only supposed to teach her how to kiss.
According to Caroline “Kitty” Tyndall’s friends, a young lady who’s gone two seasons in London with nary a nibble from a prospective suitor is well on the way to spinsterhood. But what’s a girl to do when she’s never been kissed, and the worldly man she wants regards her as a child?
Hugh McCollum spends his days as a stable hand staying out of trouble and saving for his planned emigration to America. When Lady Caroline asks him to teach her how to kiss so the man she’s set her cap for will find her more sophisticated, he knows he should run in the other direction. But when a pretty young woman falls into his arms and begs for his help, what’s a red-blooded man to do but oblige?
If learning to kiss leads Kitty to love, will the man of her dreams be the man of her heart?
Lady Caroline didn’t seem inclined to speak, nor to exit the carriage, so Hugh waited. Some small animal rustled in the brush at the edge of the track, and Alexander stomped his foot. The late autumn sun beat down upon them, but any warming benefits were lost to sporadic stiff breezes.
In a blur of motion and a whisper of fabric, Lady Caroline twisted in her seat and faced him straight on, holding his gaze with her intense stare. “Have you ever kissed a woman?”
The reins slipped from Hugh’s boneless fingers. He returned her stare, all rational thought having somehow vacated his mind. “I-I beg yer pardon?” he managed to sputter.
Deep crimson rose from beneath her collar until it engulfed her face as she regarded him through feverishly glazed eyes. “I… that is… of course you’ve kissed a woman — several of them, I imagine. Unless you don’t like them, I suppose.” A sudden frown creased her fair brow, and she leaned toward him. “You do like women, don’t you?”
“What?” Hugh blinked at the crazed lady before him, trying to figure out what she was asking.
He wouldn’t have thought it possible for the red that had spread over her face to darken, but it did. Her frown deepened, and she seemed to struggle for words. “You’re not… er… you like women, not…”
The meaning behind her question struck him like a blacksmith’s hammer and heat swamped his entire body. “Aye,” he mumbled, bending and retrieving the reins. Unable to meet her excited gaze, he looked out over the reflecting pool instead. After a moment, he recovered enough to look at her again. “Yes… I like women.”
Heaving a loud sigh, she sagged, a wide smile curving her lips. “Good. Perfect.” The redness ebbed from her face, leaving just a trace of pink in her cheeks. “I need you to teach me how to kiss the way a man truly likes it.”
The reins slipped from his slackened fingers again.
Teach Me Under the Mistletoe is on sale for .99!
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