Friday, December 14, 2012

A Drunken Escapade...with Sophie Barnes (+Giveaway)

A Drunken Escapade
on Christmas Eve with Sophie Barnes

About the Author:
Born in Denmark, Sophie has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian.
She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.
While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.
When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.

Find Sophie Online: Website | Goodreads Facebook | Twitter

A Drunken Escapade on Christmas Eve
by Sophie Barnes

Lady Amanda (daughter of the Marquess & Marchioness of Hawkwood) is celebrating Christmas with her family at their country estate. Her father’s best friend and his wife have been invited and are staying for the holidays along with their son Peter (the Earl of Charington) who is best friends with Amanda’s brother – the two have gone to Eton together and later to Oxford.

Amanda has known Peter her whole life (thus the use of first names) and is hopelessly in love with him. In attendance however, are also Amanda’s aunt and uncle who have brought Amanda’s three annoyingly beautiful cousins along. They are blonde and fair-skinned whereas Amanda has inherited her mother’s darker Italian complexion and chestnut hair. To make matters worse, the three cousins are all in love with Peter as well and have been fawning over him all evening. Jealous and insecure over his attentions toward them, Amanda finds it impossible to sleep. Desperate for something to take her mind away from Peter, she slips out of bed and heads downstairs in search of  The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edmund Gibbon – a book that Amanda has found most helpful on other sleepless nights.

The scene opens with Amanda entering the library:
Amanda set her oil lamp carefully on the side table next to the door and adjusted the flame, brightening the space with a yellow glow. With the fire reduced to embers, the room was no longer as warm as it had been earlier in the evening and Amanda found herself pulling her dressing gown tight across her chest to ward off the chill. She glanced about, her gaze settling on the boughs of evergreen that had been cut from a fir tree earlier in the day and tied with crimson ribbons as per her mother’s instructions.

Taking a deep breath, Amanda closed her eyes for a moment to enjoy the rich scent of the pine. She loved Christmas and the atmosphere that accompanied it when Rambly Hall was filled with people – she just hadn’t anticipated how difficult it would be seeing Peter again.
With a small sigh and an admonishing shake of her head, she padded across the floor to one of the bookcases, spotting the thick volume she sought almost instantly. Reaching for a stool, she pulled it toward her and stepped up onto it. It wasn’t quite enough though and she was forced to go up on tiptoes, her right arm straining to reach the book she wanted. She almost had it – she was certain of it – if she could only …

The sound of the library door opening caught her attention and she turned her head on reflex, losing her balance in the process and falling straight back until she landed on the floor with a loud thud. “Umph!”

“Good God, Amanda. Are you all right?”

Amanda squeezed her eyes shut and nodded, praying that the man of her dreams would leave it at that, walk away and forget he’d seen her in such a humiliating sprawl. Of course this was too much to hope for and before she knew it she felt Peter’s warm hands beneath her armpits as he pulled her upright. “What were you thinking?” he asked, sounding as if he had the urge to give her a good shake. “You could have been seriously injured.”

“I couldn’t sleep so I came to get a book, though I don’t believe I would have fallen if it hadn’t been for you,” she said, looking away from his familiar and much too handsome face. “You startled me.”

With a grunt of marked disapproval, he guided her over to a chair, then stepped away and went to the side table. “Would you care for a drink?” he asked, raising what looked like a bottle of sherry.

Amanda steeled herself. Enjoying the company of the one man she was trying not to think about, wasn’t exactly the best plan. A drink would indeed be welcome – especially after making such a complete cake of herself in his presence, but she wanted something stronger, and besides, she was tired of being so predictable. “Thank you, but I do believe I’d prefer a brandy instead.” Peter raised an eyebrow and his lips parted as if he meant to say something, so she hastily added, “It is Christmas, after all.”

“Very well,” he agreed, abandoning the bottle of sherry in favor of a crystal carafe. He poured two fingers of the amber liquid into a pair of tumblers and then closed the distance between them so he could give her one of them. Amanda took it without hesitation, thanking him as he took the seat across from her. He frowned and asked, “Have you tried this before?”

Amanda shook her head. No, she had not, but the thought of having him in her house while her beautiful cousins showered him with attention – attention which he had happily returned - had distraught her enough where she would try anything as long as it dulled the ache in her heart.

“It may burn a little on the way down,” he warned with a crooked smile. “I advise you to take small sips until you grow accustomed to it.” Raising his glass toward her, he then added, “To friendship.”

To friendship.

Amanda gritted her teeth as she followed his lead, allowing her glass to clink against his. She nodded in acknowledgement of his toast, fearful that if she spoke her words would lack conviction. To friendship indeed. She wanted more than that, but would likely never have it. Irritation flared inside of her and she forgot his words of warning and took a large gulp of her drink. Oh dear God! Her throat was on fire and she gasped, choked on her own breath and finally coughed until tears sprang to her eyes and she thought her lungs might burst.

“Take another sip,” Peter said. He’d risen from his chair and had proceeded to slap her back.
Where on earth was that gaping hole she hoped would appear and swallow her up? Another sip indeed. Was he mad?

“I assure you it will help,” he said, taking the glass that she’d somehow managed to place on a table at the start of her attack and holding it toward her. Tilting it slightly, she soon felt the strong drink biting at her lips and she reluctantly opened her mouth, swallowing just a little.
To her astonishment, he was right. The drink that had disagreed with her only a moment earlier, soothed her in its smaller quantity and she found herself relaxing, enjoying the heat of it as it warmed her insides. “Thank you,” she murmured, watching him carefully as he returned the glass to the table and sat back down.

He grinned. “In all the years I’ve known you, I don’t recall seeing you imbibe in alcohol even once – not even wine. That you would start now with brandy …” He moved to get up once more. “Perhaps I should fetch a glass of sherry for you after all.”

“No!” The word came out louder than she’d intended and was instantly met with a raised eyebrow. She swallowed hard to get herself under some measure of control. When she’d seen him last, it had been at her coming out ball. He had danced with her of course, but had not remained at the ball long enough to see her drink anything other than the glass of lemonade he’d offered her before making a hasty departure.

The fact that he still thought her a child, struck her with such force that she took her glass and tossed back the remainder of the brandy, wincing only slightly this time. Meeting Peter’s shocked gaze and taking a great deal of pleasure unsettling him, she smiled and said, “I do believe I’m learning to handle my liquor. Would you please be so kind as to give me a re-fill?”
Peter looked around, wary. “I don’t believe that’s a good idea, Amanda. I think you’ve had quite enough.”

“Nonsense,” she said, waving her hand to dismiss his concerns. She was starting to feel much better and idly wondered if it had anything to do with the brandy. Probably not. She’d heard of how silly people became when foxed. She didn’t feel like that in the least. Quite the opposite really – she felt confident and carefree.

Seeing that he wasn’t about to oblige her, she got up and went to the sideboard herself, pausing only once along the way when an overwhelming feeling of faintness made her worry about losing her footing - yet again. That simply wouldn’t do and she shook it away, reaching her destination without incident.

Peter watched her go, noticing the exact moment when she stopped to steady herself. What the devil had come over her? He’d known her since she was in swaddling clothes and getting foxed in the middle of the night behind closed doors and in the company of a bachelor no less, was completely out of character for her. She was demure and innocent – the kid sister of his best friend – yet here she was courting trouble. He groaned, knowing he must do something to stop her from pouring herself another glass. If her brother or, heaven forbid, her father were to happen upon them like this he’d surely find himself drawn and quartered. “Amanda, stop this at once,” he said, aiming for a note of authority.

“Or what?” she asked, her fingers already curled around the neck of the carafe.
“Or I shall have no other choice but to come over there and remove the carafe from you personally.” Was that really the best he could do? Even she looked skeptical as she offered him a sly smile and proceeded to pour. That did it – he had to put an end to this farce by acting upon his threat. He rose, and in three easy strides he was before her. “May I please have your glass?”

With a small frown she leaned sideways and looked past him. “Oh dear,” she then remarked. “It appears as though one of Mama’s decorations has unhinged itself from the ceiling.”
He automatically turned to look, not recognizing the trap she’d set for him before it was too late. When he looked back at her, he wasn’t the least bit surprised to discover that she’d already tossed back the contents of her glass. Frustrated and annoyed, yes, but not surprised. He had to hand it to her though – she did appear to have gotten quite good at handling her drink. Still, he would not stand for this insanity a moment longer. She was a genteel lady of breeding after all and this lapse in judgment on her part was really too much. “I cannot begin to imagine what might have brought this on, Amanda. You’re acting like a child and you’d do well to stop it this instant.”

Her eyebrows snapped together and he saw something then – something in her eyes that spoke of both sadness and longing. “I am not a child, Peter.” Her words surprised him in their harsh annunciation and he found himself leaning back as if she’d struck him. “I am eighteen years of age – old enough to marry and bare children if that is what I choose to do.”
It was his turn to feel affronted. He clenched and unclenched his hands, staring silently back at her before he turned away in search of his own glass. He needed that brandy. Now.

Finishing off its contents, he gave her a sideways glance. She was still looking at him as if he were the very devil incarnate, but her words … Christ. As if he hadn’t noticed that she was no longer the child he’d given piggyback rides to years ago. He’d been at her coming out ball and had danced with her because after all, that was the polite thing to do. As soon as the dance was over he’d found her a glass of lemonade and fled. He was not supposed to notice how good she felt beneath his touch as he’d guided her in a simple country dance, nor was he meant to appreciate the scent of her or to wonder … But God help him he’d wondered – repeatedly – ever since that night. Consequently he’d stayed away until now.

He expelled a heavy breath. He could never lay a hand on her unless he planned to make her his wife, but was that something that she would want? “Amanda, I …” he began, but his words faltered with the uncertainty of what he should say and instead he just stood there in the silence that followed, staring back at her.
Laying himself bare before her like this could ruin everything – his friendship with her brother as well as that between their parents. It was a tremendous risk to take when he wasn’t even certain of how she might respond, so he kept quiet instead, thinking of how to proceed when she suddenly laughed.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you speechless before,” she said, pouring more brandy into her glass and taking another sip.

Her skin had grown flushed and he could tell by the slur of her words that the alcohol was taking effect. She wasn’t herself, and rather than standing about talking, he ought to do the responsible thing and get her to bed. By herself of course, not with him – though the thought did tempt him. He pushed it aside. “You’ve never spoken to me about marriage or children before,” he said.

She chuckled. “No, I suppose not.” Heading back toward her chair, she swayed a little, regained her balance and plopped down onto the seat. She leaned back and said. “Then again, what reason would I have to discuss such matters with you? My father will eventually see to it that I marry a respectable gentleman. You needn’t concern yourself on that score.”
Was she mocking him? He wasn’t certain, though she did sound annoyed. He was getting rather annoyed himself thinking of her in the arms of some faceless man.

“Besides,” she continued. “You are busy enough right now. I wonder which of them you’ll pick.”

Her comment threw him completely. “I beg your pardon?”

“You didn’t think I’d notice your interest in my cousins?” There was no mistaking the bitterness in her tone this time, and he found himself leaning forward with interest. “They’re truly stunning with their blonde hair and alabaster skin. I cannot fault you for being fascinated.”

“The drink has loosened your tongue too much, Amanda,” he said, irritated that she would think he gave a damn about three women who were no different than all the rest. “You speak without thinking.”

“They like you too, you know,” she added, not heeding his warning in the slightest. He was about to reprimand her again and suggest she get herself upstairs to bed before she said anything more, when a sad smile claimed her lips and she whispered beneath her breath, “Though not nearly as much as I.”

Peter stood for a moment frozen and unable to move. Hell, he could barely breathe, much less focus on his thoughts. Had he heard her right? He believed so and somehow found himself moving toward her – the woman he’d come to realize he wanted by his side forever, who’d just confessed to liking him quite a lot, even though it had taken a great deal of brandy for her to pluck up the courage to say so. “Would you mind repeating that?” he asked.
Her eyes met his, focused, and she suddenly leapt out of her seat, her hand clasped across her mouth as she stepped away from him. “It was nothing,” she gasped from behind her hand, her eyes darting toward the door as if calculating her chance of escape.

She obviously hadn’t realized she’d spoken her words aloud, or perhaps she just hadn’t counted on him hearing her. Whatever the case, she wasn’t deep enough in her cups not to know that her words had changed everything between them. There was no going back now.
“It certainly wasn’t nothing,” he said, following her as she edged her way along one of the bookcases until she’d backed herself into a corner.

She shook her head. “Of course it was. I only meant that they don’t know you as well as I do. After all, I’ve known you forever and I … I …” She had nowhere to go with him now standing before her, blocking her only exit.

Reaching out, he gently brushed her cheek with his fingers. “I have no interest in your cousins, Amanda.”

“You … you don’t?” Her eyes were wide with confusion. “But I thought—”
“Yes, you did, but you were mistaken.” His fingers traced the delicate structure of her jawline, leaving a deep blush in their wake. “You see, the thing of it is, Amanda, that there is only one woman I care for, except I dared not hope that she might care for me – until now. Do you care for me, Amanda?”

He saw the longing in her eyes as realization dawned, and knew she’d respond in the affirmative before she nodded her answer. As soon as she did so however, he immediately breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank God, for I don’t believe I could have born it if you didn’t.” And then he did what he’d wanted to do for so long. He lowered his mouth over hers and kissed her, chasing away whatever doubts she might have left that he would ever want someone else.

Her lips parted and he was there, coaxing her and tasting her until she gasped for breath. “I will speak to your father tomorrow,” he promised and her face lit up with a dazzling smile.
“This is indeed the best Christmas ever,” she said, leaning back into him for yet another smoldering kiss.

“I couldn’t agree more,” he said
She suddenly frowned. “I hope I won’t have forgotten about all of this in the morning. After all, I did have my fair share of brandy.”

Peter grinned. “That you did.” He placed a gentle kiss upon her forehead. “Fear not though – I shall leave you a note to remind you of all that has transpired.”

Amanda woke the following morning, groaning in response to the pounding headache that threatened to split her skull in two. She rolled onto her side and opened her eyes to find a crisp piece of paper perched on her bedside table. Picking it up, she frowned, read it, and finally leapt from her bed in a state of total and utter bliss. She hadn’t forgotten, but his words made her heart sing with joy:

In case you fail to recall last night’s events, allow me tell you that I love you, Amanda, that I have always loved you, and that I will never cease loving you. I hope you will do me the very great honor of marrying me, though it goes without saying that a formal proposal is in order. After all, you deserve the very best.
With the deepest affection and admiration,
P.S. I have a Christmas present waiting for you downstairs.


*Don't forget to stop by Ramblings From This Chick for Anna Randol's Scene*

Available Now:

Mary Croyden lives a simple life . . . and she likes it. But when she inherits a title and a large sum of money, everything changes. Forced to navigate high society, Mary finds herself relying on the help of one man—Ryan Summersby. Determined not to lose her sense of self, she realizes that Ryan is the only person she can trust. But Mary's hobbies are not exactly proper, and Ryan is starting to discover that this simple miss is not at all what he expected . . . but just might be exactly what he needs.

Get Your Copy Today:

Sophie is giving away a copy of her book, Something About Lady Mary + 2 magnets and 2 rack cards, to one lucky commenter (Open Internationally)! Make sure to leave a meaningful comment below AND include your email!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And don't forget to enter the Grand Prize Giveaway


  1. Blurb sounds great, hope this time I can win your book :)

  2. Thank you so much for hosting me here today, Rita - it's great to be back!
    And thank you for commenting, Eli & May - I really appreciate it =)

  3. Enjoyed A Drunken Escapade on Christmas Eve, and the book sounds great.
    Fingers crossed I win!!
    Thanks for the giveaway :)

  4. What a cute short :P Awww alcohol really does loosen tongues. You should bever get drunk when you've got a major secret and are alone with a crush lol.

  5. Loved the short story! I always enjoy reading Sophie Barnes! :o)

  6. What a fun short!

    Gotta say I love the title "There's Something About Lady Mary." Every time I see it I can't help but think of the movie There's Something About Mary which I watched again recently and loved!

    Thanks so much!

  7. The short story was great, thank you. I look forward to reading There's Something About Mary, it sounds fun.

  8. Hi, Sophie! I really enjoyed your short story. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Thank you so much everyone for all the positive feedback! I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed the short. Wishing you all a splendid holiday season!!!

  10. Hi, Sophie! Your writing is just fabulous. You can make even a short story just adorable. Thanks for sharing it. I cannot WAIT to read "There's Something About Lady Mary." It sounds delightful and is at the top of my Wish List.

    Merry Christmas to you!

    Connie Fischer

    1. Thank you so much, Connie! I hope you enjoy Lady Mary and wish you a very Merry Christmas as well!

  11. Your books look wonderful :D I just read the short story you wrote for Five Golden Rings, very sweet!

  12. i love this short story and your writing style. i would be very happy to win this book so really a big thank you for having your giveaway international; i really appreciate thank you!

    happy holidays

    1. Thank you, Miki - I don't want anyone to feel left out this holiday season =)

  13. The story sounds interesting and I love that cover!
    Thanks for the giveaway.

  14. Thanks for the fun excerpt, and of course I love your hero's name, as it is my personal hero's name :) . Looking forward to reading the book.

  15. Thanks for writing romance. On many days like today when the news is so horrible, I can escape for a while into a good romance.
    castings at mindspring dot com

  16. I really liked your story. Is it part of a book? How did you choose to write in the historical genre? Historical is one of my favorite genres.

    luvfuzzzeeefaces at yahoo dot com

    1. Hi Julianne & thanks for posting! No, this is just a short stand alone story =) I've always had a thing for ballrooms and fabulously dressed women, so historical romance was a natural choice.
      Have a great weekend!

  17. Loved your stort story. Amazing what a bit of brandy can do for courage. *g*

    armiefox at yahoo dot com

  18. A Drunken Escapade on Christmas Eve love it. I cant wait to read There's something about Lady Mary...putting on my TBR list


  19. Aww the letter at the end was so sweet!

  20. I loved your short. And the book is on my TRL. Thanks for the chance.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  21. That was so romantic~! And the title of the piece is perfect to the touch. Thanks so much for sharing.


  22. It sounds and looks like a very interesting read. Thanks for the giveaway.
    olga_sergejeva (at)

  23. I like Peter's note at the end.
    bituin76 at hotmail dot com

  24. Hi Sophie!

    I loved reading A Drunken Escapade on Christmas Eve and wondered if you could get all the authors participating in the Blog Hop to get together and publish all the wonderful stories we've been reading each night into one fantastic Christmas book for next year! I want to be able to read them all again!

    I loved that Amanda went to the library to find The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the library when she couldn't sleep! I often felt like doing the very same type of thing when my husband was in the Navy during Vietnam and then every time he went on active duty when he was in the Navy Reserves!

    You always manage to have something in your books where I have that one moment when I truly identify with your characters on a personal level!

    Thanks for the wonderful Christmas story!

    1. Thank you, Jeanne, your comments are always so uplifting =) Publishing all of these stories in one anthology would be a wonderful idea! Not sure how to go about it but I'll put on my thinking cap =)
      Best wishes & merry Christmas!

    2. Hi Sophie!

      Maybe all the readers like me could start a write in campaign! In the mean time just keep writing and we'll keep reading your stories!

      Merry Christmas to you and all the authors who have brightened our world with their love for romance!

  25. Loved it Sophie.....and I have to agree with Jeanne M. All these stories would make a great Anthology, if not in one big book than in a series of books. All the stories have been wonderful short reads and would be amazing full stories.....

    P.S. dying to know what the gift was!!!!


    1. Thank you, Joy! I'll see what I can do about the anthology idea =)

  26. Hi Sophie! I'm so in awe of your linguistic skills; I only speak 1 language and that not very well either. Hope that some day you will add the place I live, Asia to the list of places you've lived in.

    1. lol...not sure that will happen, but then again, you never know. I've visited though (Singapore & Thailand) and would love to go back one day - fingers crossed for the opportunity to do so. Happy Holidays!

  27. I really enjoyed your short story. I've got to put Something About Mary on my list - I must find out what her hobbies are. Happy Holidays!

    1. forgot my email: winnie968 at yahoo dot com

    2. Thank you, Winnie. I hope you enjoy reading about Lady Mary. Happy holidays to you too!

  28. Wonderful excerpt...this sounds like a book I'd love to read! thanks for sharing and happy holidays!

  29. Great short story! I can't wait to read more stories from you. Have a happy holiday and thank you for the giveaway.
    manning_J2004 at yahoo dot com

  30. A BIG thank you to all of you for stopping by, reading my short and taking the time to comment. I wish you all a happy holiday season and the very best for 2013!

  31. Sounds great! :)

  32. I really enjoyed that great short. I like your writing style and can't wait to read more.


  33. What a delightful little story, I loved it. I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories to come.

  34. I love the blurb and title! Sounds like a fantastic book!

  35. Sounds really good!! Thanks for the story and the chance to win!

  36. Oh, as a huge fans of friends-to-lovers-theme, I really really love A Drunken Escapade on Christmas Eve! Couldn't stop smiling foolishly while reading it. Looking forward to read There's Something About Lady Mary.
    Thanks for sharing the story, and for the giveaway. And oh, for making it international. ^^

    1. Oops, sorry, I forgot to put my email:

      Thank you!

    2. Thank you, Diah and, you're very welcome - I didn't want anyone left out for the holidays =)

  37. sophie, you are such a tease. i just love a good holiday story and your excerpt is not hardly enough. i must read the whole story :)

  38. Hi Sophie! This books sounds wonderful. Thanks for the short story!
    lvsgund at gmail dot com

  39. Lovely note at the end.


  40. I loved this read here thank you.

    Sophie I love your 3 marriages, countries, dresses - one man.


  41. Thank you for the short story. I loved reading it. Hope you have a Merry Christmas!!!!

  42. Love your books so I can't wait to read this one. Will be adding it to my TBR pile which is looking massive. Thanks,

  43. A Drunken Escapade On Christmas Eve had me smiling. Can't wait to pick up your books and dive in.


  44. I liked your the best so far...look forward to THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT LADY MARY. Have a wonderful Christmas!

    1. Thank you, Joy! Wishing you a wonderful Christmas as well =)

  45. What a sweet story! Having brandy and a marriage proposal is a very excelent way to celebrate Christmas! Thanks for the giveaway!

  46. I think it's quite unusual for a female to inherit a title, isn't it? now I'm curious to find out the particulars.
    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  47. Ooooooohhhh..... we get to imagine what the Christmas present might be! Thank you for the short, and Merry Christmas!
    smoofrog @gmail dot com

  48. Hi Sophie,

    Thanks for the chance to win a signed copy of Something About Lady Mary plus the swag. I love the blurb and the cover!

    Oh, and Merry Christmas! :))


  49. Hi, Sophie!

    I am soooo wanting to read "There's Something About Lady Mary!" It sounds wonderful and just the type of plot that I love! Sigh...

    I have to tell you that I have the most adorable kitten named Sophie. She's what is called a Tortoiseshell and full of "spit and vinegar" as we say. I am so crossing my fingers here!! Love it!

    Connie Fischer

  50. Loved your little story! So sweet! Good luck with the new books & Happy New Year, Sophie!

  51. Fantastic blurb, I can't wait to read it!

    Happy New Year!




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