Desert Isle Keeper
The First Snow of Winter
The First Snow of Winter is a prequel to the other novellas in the Winterbourne series.
After five years on the Continent, Captain Samuel Alderton returns to Alderton Hall a changed man. Weary from fighting, struggling with the loss of his left arm in Toulouse, and a bit depressed and uncertain about his future, the last thing Sam wants to do is pretend nothing has changed and help his mother entertain the Huxley family for the Christmas holiday. Although their families were always close, Sam is also anxious to avoid Jasper Huxley, who he almost kissed five years before.
As a boy Jasper Huxley loved to draw, but since his father didn’t approve of him being an artist
he pushed Jasper into every manly pursuit he could think of in some vain attempt to turn into the sort of man he thought he should be.
Jasper spent childhood visits to Alderton Hall hero-worshiping Sam, and just when it seemed his interest might be returned, Sam left to join his cavalry regiment in Spain. Jasper was inconsolable. He’s excited to see Sam again, and frustrated with the slow pace of his companions; he travels ahead to arrive at the Hall several hours before the rest of his party and carriages.
Since the almost kiss, Sam has spent countless hours revisiting the moments just before he ran away. When he returns to the Hall after a long walk in the country, the butler informs him that Jasper has already arrived and, determined to apologize for running away five years ago, he offers to bring up a change of clothes to his visitor. The meeting – and conversation – don’t go as planned (much to our delight reader!). But Jasper is as lovely and handsome as he remembers, and Sam finds himself again consumed with thoughts of ‘what if?’
The pair find themselves snowed in and alone – Sam’s parents are caught out while delivering Christmas baskets to tenant farms; Jasper’s family can’t traverse the snowy roads – and they spend a companionable evening catching up on the years apart. The tension and attraction between them grow as the evening progresses, and when Jasper ends up sprawled over Sam after a playful snowball fight, Sam stops wondering what it would be like to kiss Jasper and does it.
Friends, THIS is how you write a romantic novella. The author deftly establishes the history between her principal pair, and then immediately sets them in each other’s path once again. Secondary characters are dispatched, and the spotlight narrowly focuses on the intense connection between Sam and Jasper. It’s romantic and swoony and simply lovely, and this reader never, ever wanted the story to end.
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