| Synopsis |
House-sitting in a castle over Christmas is a dream come true for Anna and her seven-year-old son Freddie. But there’s one Christmas present Freddie wants more than anything, and it’s the one thing Anna can’t give him – his very own dad.
As Anna settles into her new surroundings and a much slower pace of life, she is soon befriended by the local villagers and the castle workforce who provide a welcome distraction. Before even a Christmas cracker is pulled, Freddie shows an eager interest in the castle workforce; green-fingered Simon, salt of the earth Luke and charming castle manager Julius. Could one of them make Freddies Christmas wish come true and repair Anna’s, broken heart?
At the most magical time of the year, everyone needs a Christmas miracle if they’re to make it to Christmas Day . . .
A comforting and emotional story that will make you hold those you love that little bit tighter this year. Perfect for the fans of Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.
|Author Guest Post |
I was fortunate enough to be bought up in a household of books and always have at least one I’m reading at a time.
Before I married I worked in the fashion department of Queen magazine and later in Jardin des Modes in Paris.
I met my (English) husband in Paris and had three children.
I started to write novels and short stories and got quite a few short stories published in magazines or read on the radio.
I joined the Romantic Novelists Association, being on the committee and running the Romantic Novel of the Year three times.
A Dad of His Own by Minna Howard
Daisy had told Anna that the main body of the castle was more lustrous, with huge, sumptuous pictures and gleaming furniture in a long gallery, with beautiful rooms leading off it, where events were held.
‘So good of you both to come, it’s quite a trek from London,’ Philly said. ‘Which part do you live in, Anna?’
‘Hammersmith, and it’s not too bad a drive,’ Anna replied. ‘But I wasn’t expecting to be actually in the castle.’
‘I hope you don’t find it too daunting. The castle is vast, as you saw when you arrived, but this flat is perfect for us and we like being part of it.’
Anna found she was starving after their long drive from London and was grateful when Philly took them into the kitchen where she’d made a delicious coq au vin followed by plum crumble made from plums from the garden.
‘We had a bumper crop this year and I bottled masses, they taste much nicer than if you freeze them,’ Philly said. ‘I’ll give you both some to take home.’
‘Thanks. Freddie, my son, loves fruit.’ Anna felt comfortable here, but then she wasn’t alone, with Daisy and her warm-hearted aunt here for company. What would it be like just her and Freddie in this vast castle in the winter darkness?
As if she’d guessed her feelings, Philly said, ‘There are lots of other people working on the estate and easily contactable by mobile, but only us actually living in the castle. We had everything all set up, this lovely couple were longing to come here for the month while we are away, then he had a dreadful accident, he’s a builder and fell off a roof and is still in hospital. And understandably his girlfriend would rather stay with him.’
‘It’s awful. Daisy told me, I do hope he gets better,’ Anna said.
‘I think it will take a long time, but we were left with this dilemma. We’d paid for the tickets and were so looking forward to going to Boston, as we haven’t seen Gerald, Sidney’s father for ages. Everyone was kind, saying they’d rally round, though no one could commit to staying here for the whole time, especially over Christmas. It’s often such a busy period for those who work here and really the only time most of them can take a break. Also it would be a muddle to keep chopping and changing house-sitters, and they have to be people we can trust.’
‘I hope you can trust me even though you don’t know me,’ Anna said.
‘You’re a friend of Daisy’s and that’s good enough for us.’ Philly smiled at her, ‘But if you and Freddie can’t stay the whole month, I can come back early,’ she said, though Anna sensed a reluctance in her voice. Philly went on, ‘There’s not much for you to do, just be here as a sort of presence. Christmas is our quietest time of the year as the castle is closed to the public – apart from the occasional wedding or use as a film set – so the staff here take the chance to go away or commit to other things. It’s all hands to the wheel come March, the month before we open everything up again.’
‘Freddie is longing to come and… it does seem a lovely place to be,’ Anna said, realising how much Philly wanted to go on their trip. ‘So when do you leave?’ Anna asked her. The rain seemed to have stopped now and, looking out, she could see a thin ray of sun catching the windows of the castle on the other side of the quadrangle. She leant back in her chair feeling warm and comfortable, the whole set-up luring her in.
‘Hopefully in two weeks, the 19th December,’ Aunt Philly answered, ‘just before the real Christmas rush and we’d be back on January 18th. Would that suit, what about your job and your little boy’s school?’
Anna considered staying the whole month. After all, Freddie would love the freedom of the country and she didn’t really have anything to go back home to. After Christmas and New Year, people hunkered down waiting for better weather. A month in the country would be a good break for them both.
‘It would be fine as long as I explained it to them and said we’d be a week or so late back,’ Anna said. Freddie was due back at school on the 10th of January, and the school where she worked, the day after, and there was a weekend in between. They could probably cope as she only worked part-time and she could easily catch up with her private coaching, though she’d better check first to be sure.
There was a ring on the bell and Philly said, ‘That will be Luke and Cathie, I asked them to call round for you to meet them so you wouldn’t… if you decide to come that is… feel you don’t know anyone.’
She went into the hall and opened the door and they could hear her greeting them. A few moments later a tall blond young man with a cheerful smile and a young woman raking her fingers through her hair, which had been scrunched under a hat, came into the kitchen in their stockinged feet.
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