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Tomorrow's Destiny: A Victorian Christmas Novella

Tomorrow's Destiny: A Victorian Christmas Novella

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Tomorrow's Destiny: A Victorian Christmas Novella

ratings:
4/5 (8 ratings)
Length:
98 pages
1 hour
Released:
Dec 12, 2019
ISBN:
9781094400396
Format:
Book

Description

Approaching her thirtieth birthday on Christmas Day, 1890, bookshop proprietress Fiona MacPherson is in danger of becoming a Scrooge on par with Mr. Dickens’ curmudgeon. With her beloved Da dead, she’s set to lose her beloved bookshop to a mysterious antiquities collector. Fortunately for Fiona, her guardian angel-in-training, Fern, is determined to set her stubborn charge’s life, and future, back on track. Masquerading as the Angel of Christmas Future, Fern has until the final stroke of midnight on Christmas to persuade Fiona to embrace her destiny, and her one true love.

Antiquarian Tobias Templeton has been cursed from birth with an unknown form of albinism, a condition that renders him unable to endure sunlight and overly sensitive to touch. For five years he’s been obsessed with an ancient Aristotelian text on alchemy; Tobias is convinced the book holds the key to his cure. Unfortunately, it was snatched away at auction by MacPherson, a Scottish bookseller and rival collector. Five years later, success is in sight! Tobias has the deed to MacPherson & Daughter Booksellers in his pocket.

When Tobias shows up on Fiona's doorstep on Christmas Eve to claim his property, will her scheme to save her shop, and his certainty that his condition makes him unlovable, keep them apart? Or will they embrace the magic of the holiday season and accept the destiny that eluded them five years ago?

Released:
Dec 12, 2019
ISBN:
9781094400396
Format:
Book

About the author

Hope Tarr is the award-winning author of twenty-five historical and contemporary romances including OPERATION CINDERELLA, optioned by Fox. Hope is also a founder and curator of Lady Jane's Salon®, NYC's only monthly romance reading series. She holds a Master's Degree in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Education, both from The Catholic University of America. Find Hope online at www.HopeTarr.com and Twitter @hopetarr

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Tomorrow's Destiny - Hope Tarr

Prologue

MacPherson and Daughter Booksellers,

Covent Garden, London

4:00 PM, December 23, 1890

You will be haunted, resumed the Ghost, by Three Spirits.

Bookshop proprietress Fiona MacPherson intoned her favorite Dickens quote a final time, savoring the delicious, shivery feel of saying the words aloud. She closed A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas and set the slender volume upon the tea table. She, Lady Adelaide Kendall, and Miss Claire Halliday had been gathering about that very table to discuss their beloved books for two years. What had begun as a pleasant pastime between bookseller and book buyers had solidified into firm friendships.

Their monthly book club was the mainstay of Fiona’s social life. It was her social life. Though their spheres rarely intersected in the larger world of London, snuggled within her bookshop’s four walls the trio had forged a bond that sustained each woman in the wake of life’s tragedies and trials.

First there was Claire’s fiancé, Steven’s, untimely death – at Christmastime, no less. Four years later, his family, the Mayhews, was still smothering poor Claire if not to death then straight to spinsterhood.

And there was Addie’s ennui, which Fiona privately considered had to do with a certain dashing young man, her sister Grace’s beau. Sebastian Hartley, Viscount Channing entered her conversation with astonishing frequency for all that she professed him to be only a friend. Fiona would wager her final farthing the viscount had a great deal to do with Addie’s sudden decision to study art in Paris for the next several months. Once she went, Fiona feared their little literati set would disband altogether. It was a bleak thought.

Last but not least was Fiona’s accident five years before. A foolish fall on an icy patch of train platform had left her with a limp and a fear of crowds, both of which had ended her dancing days. Still, she’d had her dear Da, her cat, and her book club friends as recompense. Her Da’s dying the month before, though not unexpected, was a buffeting blow all the same. And now the very future of her beloved bookshop stood in peril. The latter she kept to herself for fear of spoiling her friends’ holiday.

Beyond frustrated, she blurted out, I far fancy Mr. Scrooge before his reformation.

Her friends turned to her with predictably appalled faces. Fiona, truly, how can you say such a thing, Adelaide—Addie—protested, nearly choking on her morsel of lemon poppy seed cake. He was such a miserable, mean-spirited old miser.

Fi, dearest, Claire suggested more gently, setting her teacup upon its saucer. We know Christmas is especially sad for you this year, but do you not think you go too far in your humbugging? It pains me to see you stand so resolute, so … Scrooge-like against a season devoted to peace on earth, goodwill, and above all, love.

Fiona felt her gaze falter and a lump lodge in her throat. Looking down to her lap, she smoothed a hand over her black bombazine skirts, the sole acceptable fabric for full mourning. Underlying her gloom was yet another thing she’d kept carefully concealed from her two friends. Christmas Day, December twenty-fifth, was her birthday. Not just any birthday but her thirtieth. By the time the clock tolled midnight, she would be well and truly on the shelf. On a chirpier chime, at least it would be a bookshelf—but only if she found a way to hold onto her shop.

Composing herself, she looked up. No, I do not believe I do. Reluctant though she was to send her friends off to celebrate the season on a sour note, still she prided herself on her honesty even if, admittedly, that honesty frequently ran to a fault. "Certainly Scrooge was overly harsh with all his blathering of workhouses and treadmills and decreasing the surplus population, but at least he was no hypocrite. Why should we feign a gaiety we cannot begin to feel simply because the calendar decrees it to be Christmas? It’s all so horribly false, and I for one want no part of it. Impatient, she swept back a copper-colored curl from where it had fallen over her blue eye. What reasons have any of us for making merry at Christmastime or any other?" she demanded, capturing their gazes in turn.

The two thought a moment. We have our health, Claire offered.

Addie swallowed deeply, her golden-brown eyes dimming. And surely we … or certainly you two have some … romantic prospects. Color swept into her cheeks and she looked quickly away.

Regal in her simply styled navy woolen skirt and jacket, Claire shook her head. Addie, for all you know you may meet your One True Love while sketching in a park in Paris. She looked to Fiona. And you, Fi, may well meet yours as you met Addie and me – in this very shop.

Holding back tears, Fiona divided her gaze between them. Little did they know it but the shop, books, and indeed the very table at which they’d passed so many pleasant hours might at any moment be snatched away.

For their sakes, she summoned a smile and reached for the teapot to refill their cups. Whatever this holiday season and New Year may bring, with wonderful friends such as you, what do I need with a man?

What, indeed! Grimacing, Fern, Fiona’s guardian angel-in-training, turned to her fellows, Periwinkle and Rose, floating above the bookcases beside her. Poor Fiona hasn’t only given up on Christmas. She’s given up on True Love, too—and ‘tis all my fault! She punctuated the pronouncement with a sob, sending turquoise sparkles joining the dust motes milling about in the still air.

She still hadn’t forgiven herself for the accident five years ago. Fiona had been set to accompany her father to an estate auction in Hungerford near Oxford, a lord’s library of rare and collectible books where she was to have met her One True Love. Only at the train station where Fiona and her father waited to board, Fern had fallen down on her guardianship duties. Distracted by another passenger’s pretty shawl, turquoise, of course, she’d turned her attention away from Fiona for a blink of time—a blink of time but it was enough. Caught up in the crowd, Fiona had slipped upon a patch of ice and fallen. The resulting broken ankle had forced her to stay behind—and made her miss meeting her One True Love, the single soul who could be counted upon to make her truly, blissfully happy. The accident also left her with a very slight limp and a very great fear of crowds, both which she’d turned into reasons for putting herself on the shelf well before her time.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, said Rose, Adelaide’s guardian angel, patting Fern on the shoulder with her plump hand and sending pinkish-red sparkles scattering.

We all make mistakes, added Claire’s angel, Periwinkle. Waiving her hand, she added her violet sparkles to the mix.

Brushing off the flecks, Fern shook her head. "Easy for you two to say. Rose, admittedly you’ve missed some opportunities

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