Title: By Winter’s Light by Stephanie Laurens
A Cynster Novel
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 352 pages
#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens returns to romantic Scotland to usher in a new generation of Cynsters in an enchanting tale of mistletoe, magic, and love.
It’s December 1837, and the young adults of the Cynster clan have succeeded in having the family Christmas celebration held at snow-bound Casphairn Manor, Richard and Catriona Cynster’s home. Led by Sebastian, Marquess of Earith, and by Lucilla, future Lady of the Vale, and her twin brother, Marcus, the upcoming generation has their own plans for the holiday season.
Yet where Cynsters gather, love is never far behind—the festive occasion brings together Daniel Crosbie, tutor to Lucifer Cynster’s sons, and Claire Meadows, widow and governess to Gabriel Cynster’s daughter. Daniel and Claire have met before and the embers of an unexpected passion smolder between them, but once bitten, twice shy, Claire believes a second marriage is not in her stars. Daniel, however, is determined to press his suit. He’s seen the love the Cynsters share, and Claire is the lady with whom he dreams of sharing his life. Assisted by a bevy of Cynsters—innate matchmakers every one—Daniel strives to persuade Claire that trusting him with her hand and her heart is her right path to happiness.
Meanwhile, out riding on Christmas Eve, the young adults of the Cynster clan respond to a plea for help. Summoned to a humble dwelling in ruggedly forested mountains, Lucilla is called on to help with the difficult birth of a child, while the others rise to the challenge of helping her. With a violent storm closing in and severely limited options, the next generation of Cynsters face their first collective test—can they save this mother and child? And themselves, too?
Back at the manor, Claire is increasingly drawn to Daniel and despite her misgivings, against the backdrop of the ongoing festivities their relationship deepens. Yet she remains torn—until catastrophe strikes, and by winter’s light, she learns that love—true love—is worth any risk, any price.
A tale brimming with all the magical delights of a Scottish festive season.
Claire was very—not to say excruciatingly—aware of Daniel Crosbie’s gaze. Of his regard. Of the steady, focused way in which he looked at her.
She wished he wouldn’t—or, at least, her mind told her that was what she should wish. Her emotions—stupid giddy things—were more inclined to be flattered and interested…as she’d said, stupid and giddy. And reckless, too.
Yes, Daniel was a handsome, personable, honest, and honorable man; she wasn’t silly enough to imagine she was in any danger of receiving any indecent or illicit proposal from him.
Which was the point. With his dark brown hair, thick and straight, his lean face that so fitted his long, lean, athlete’s body, and his gentle, intelligent, brownish-hazel eyes, he was too nice, too gentlemanly, too kind—she didn’t want to hurt him by peremptorily depressing any pretensions he might harbor. That she greatly feared he was, indeed, intending to voice.
She liked him and valued the quiet friendship that had sprung up between them too much to want to see it damaged, as it would be, quite definitely, if she was forced to say him nay. If she was forced to dismiss the offer she had a dreadful premonition he was intending to make.
There was no future for her with him—or, more accurately, for him with her. For either of them together. But convincing a gentleman like him of that…
Just the thought made her head and chest hurt.
Q&A with Stephanie Laurens
You state that BY WINTER’S LIGHT is an essential volume for the Cynster novels going forward. Why is that?
One of the critical features of a long-running series is readers’ feelings of returning to places and people they know – of seeing heros and heroines they have come to know as individuals go through the challenge of finding love and marrying the right man or woman for them. Knowing at least one of these characters beforehand – understanding what has made them as they are, what their strengths are, and even more importantly what weaknesses they hide – allows greater interest, empathy, and absorption for the reader.
In the case of the Cynster Next Generation, the children of the Bar Cynster couples, readers know who they are, but have seen very little of them. And as we all know, actions speak much louder than words about the caliber of people, of who they really are beneath the outer glamor. In BY WINTER’S LIGHT, readers see Lucilla, Marcus, Sebastian, Michael, Prudence, and Christopher in action, responding to external pressures and threats, and also to each other, and separately readers also learn more about Louisa and her emerging character.
Readers have more recently seen Lucilla and Marcus act in VISCOUNT BRECKENRIDGE TO THE RESCUE, but now they are a decade older, and we – both the readers and me as author – need to see more of the adults they are shaping up to be, which are insights BY WINTER’S LIGHT affords us. Unsurprisingly, the first pair of Cynster Next Generation romances are those of Lucilla and Marcus, and as they are twins, the stories are tightly linked.
Subsequently, working off the base of their characters revealed in this book, we’ll follow Sebastian, Michael, and Louisa through their romances, and later learn about Prudence and Christopher’s romances, too.
So there’s lots more Cynster novels in the pipeline?
Indeed! Lucilla’s book, THE TEMPTING OF THOMAS CARRICK, is already written, and will be released at the end of February, 2015. It will be followed by Marcus’s story, A MATCH FOR MARCUS CYNSTER, in late May, 2015. Further Cynster novels are scheduled for release in 2017.
There’s an obvious tradition that isn’t included – that of a Christmas tree. Why is that missing?
Christmas trees – the erecting and decorating of them – while echoing the decorating of a house with fir and holly, was a German custom. In the early 1800s, the only major house in England that sported a Christmas Tree was the Duchess of Rutland’s household at Belvoir Castle, because the Duchess was German. Only much later, after the marriage of Victoria to Albert, who introduced the custom of Christmas trees to the royal household, did the custom of Christmas trees become more widely adopted in England.
Victoria married Albert in 1840, so in 1837 in Scotland, the custom of a Christmas had not yet arrived.
If there was one thing you could say to readers when they pick up BY WINTER’S LIGHT, what would it be?
Put your feet up, kick back and relax, and enjoy the holidays Cynsters-style!
#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing romances as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career when her first novel was accepted for publication, and with entirely becoming alacrity, she gave up writing about facts in favor of writing fiction.
Laurens’s novels are set in the time period of the British Regency, and her settings range from Scotland to India. Laurens has published fifty works of historical romance, including 29 New York Times bestsellers. All her works are continuously available in print and digital formats in English worldwide, and have been translated into many other languages. An international bestseller, among other Stephanie’s email contactsaccolades Laurens has received the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA Award for Best Romance Novella 2008, for The Fall of Rogue Gerrard.
Her continuing novels featuring the Cynster family are widely regarded as classics of the genre. Other series include the Bastion Club Novels and the Black Cobra Quartet. For information on upcoming releases and updates on novels yet to come, visit Stephanie’s website.