ROYAL HOLIDAY by Jasmine Guillory

Vivian took a deep breath and walked into the kitchen.
“Good morning, I’m Vivian Forest,” she said to the young woman standing at the stove. Well, she was probably somewhere in her thirties, but Vivian would always call anyone in the vicinity of her daughter’s age young, no matter how old they both got.
“If it’s not too much trouble, can I have . . .”
Her voice trailed off as she looked around the room. It wasn’t the huge wood beam ceiling that stopped her, or the enormous bright red stove, or the dried herbs and garlic and onion braids hanging over the big wooden table. No, it was the man standing by the back door.
His hair was short, with a touch of gray at the temples. He was wearing a shirt and tie and suit pants, but with a very cozy looking cardigan on top instead of a jacket. He had a plaid scarf wrapped around his neck, and was somehow pulling it off better than any non-model she’d ever seen. His skin was a warm brown. And he was smiling at her like they’d been friends for years. She couldn’t help but to smile back just as big.
“Ms. Forest, good morning!” Vivian’s attention snapped back to the woman standing at the stove. “I just made a new pot of coffee, would you like a cup? I’m happy to make you whatever breakfast you want; we weren’t sure what you and the other Ms. Forest would like, so I have a lot of options, but I made some fresh scones this morning if that interests you?”
Vivian couldn’t decide what appealed to her more, hot coffee and fresh scones, or that man in the corner who looked like a tall mug of steaming hot chocolate.
Why choose?
“I’d love both the coffee and a scone, thank you so much.”
Would Hot Chocolate leave? Or come further into the room? Or just stay silent until she went away? Vivian tried to keep her mind on the woman pouring her coffee.
“Julia Pepper. I’m the cook here at Peony Cottage, nice to meet you.” She set the cup in a saucer and then on a tray. “I can bring the coffee and some scones into the sitting room where you ate last night, if that’s convenient for you?”
Vivian would rather stay in this toasty and comfortable kitchen and chat with Julia and Mr. Chocolate over there, but she didn’t want to disturb the running of the household.
“Oh, yes, of course, that’s—”
“Now Julia can introduce us,” Hot Chocolate said. Good lord, was that nickname an apt one; his voice was so rich and dark and liquid. He was smiling at her again, and she smiled back.
“Ms. Forest, this is Malcolm Hudson.” Julia’s voice sounded amused. “He’s Her Majesty’s Private Secretary now, but he’s always had a soft spot for my scones.” Her Majesty. As in, the Queen. This man worked directly for the Queen? What in God’s name? “Mr. Hudson, Ms. Forest.”
He stepped all the way inside the kitchen to shake her hand. His big warm hand enveloped hers and shook firmly, but not for too long. She shook his hand, and sent up a tiny thank-you that she’d put on a bra and lipstick before coming downstairs.




Instagram Photo for Royal Holiday

Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.

Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.

Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?




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