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  • Shereen Vedam

The River Thames has frozen over! 

Hurry up and put on your skates!

Back then, normal courting rituals involved little contact between men and women except for the occasional hand holding during a short portion of a dance set. Skating, therefore, offered a rare opportunity for more thrilling, perhaps even full body physical contact. After all, one might need a gentleman’s assistance while crossing that slippery ice. And if a lady needed steadying by a strong pair of arms, a bit of cuddling even, to keep her safe and upright on the ice, what chaperone would deny such necessary assistance?

And where people went, so did commerce. Vendors set up stalls and street booths to sell brandy, tobacco, meat pastries, gin-beer and fruit, as well as mouth-watering sweets like brandy balls and gingerbread.

In the countryside, especially in England’s fens area, local squires sometimes held races over frozen ponds to allow workers to compete to win loaves of fresh baked bread. This sport gave a man a chance to show off his prowess to a special woman among the spectators. Since most farmhands could not afford metal skates, they oft times strapped on animal bones to their boots in place of skates.(2)

In A Season for Giving, a Regency novella set in 1812, in the anthology, One Winter’s Night, Honoria, an artist in hiding, paints a skating scene similar to the one in the one here. The painting enchants Christopher de Winter so much that he is determined to procure it, signed by the reclusive artist. Both these characters both have dangerous secrets, but can their mutual attraction overcome their fear of exposure?

In celebration of all things winter and Christmas, One Winter’s Night: A Regency Yuletide (regularly priced at $2.99 on Amazon) is on a $0.99 US sale for a limited time.

References: (1) Frost Fairs (2) Skating in the Fens

EXCERPT – The First Kiss:

A Season for Giving by Shereen Vedam,

Taken from the Christmas Regency Anthology, One Winter’s Night

Her pulse settled into a steady thumping as fear receded and logic returned. She loosened her white-knuckled grip on his strong shoulders. Though his hold was firm, it did not punish. In fact, it was almost as if his fingers caressed her. And they were so close, she could practically taste him. What would it be like to be held against him instead of the wall? To feel his lips on hers? And then she remembered the mistletoe.

Dare I? The mistletoe gave her courage. What were the chances that, of all the places he could have held her, it would be below a kissing bough? If that was not a Christmas miracle, she did not know what was. Anticipation overrode her qualms and she leaned forward and boldly kissed his firm lips.

He responded instantly, consuming her in a delicious dance of desire. Her blood soared, flowing faster than when he had first taken hold of her. In fact, she was no longer held against the wall, but pulled tight against him and slowly, exquisitely, lowered, inch by tormenting inch. Every part of her that brushed a part of him relished that moment of intense, intimate, togetherness. If this is what a Christmas mistletoe kiss is like, I want more.

This blog post first appeared in Long and Short Reviews in Dec 2015.

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