I don’t know about you, but I love a bit of historical fiction around Christmas. I blame Charles Dickens, personally – in fact, for years I used to re-read his Christmas Books around this time of year, and I often get the urge to dip into some classic Sherlock Holmes over the holidays. So today’s snippet is taken from my historical novella Poacher’s Fall, which is set at Christmas time in 1922:
Here, our young hero Danny is attempting to cut some mistletoe to cheer up his widowed mam:
Taking his knife from his boot and shoving it between his teeth for ease of access, Danny began to climb. It took him a couple of goes before he grasped the lowest branch, but once he’d done that, he was able to swing himself up onto it. Blinking snowflakes out of his eyes, Danny reached for the next branch, and the one after that, and soon he was level with the clump of mistletoe he was after. It looked a sight farther along the branch from here than it had from down below. Wishing he had some gloves, Danny started to inch along toward it.
Suddenly his foot slipped.
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One snowy night just before Christmas, 1922, poacher Danny Costessey rounds off a night trapping rabbits by climbing a tree to fetch some mistletoe for his mother—only to fall and break his leg. Taken to the manor house to recover from his injuries, Danny meets the reclusive owner, Philip Luccombe. Village gossip has it Luccombe went mad during the war, but Danny soon realizes he’s simply still mourning his late lover. As friendship grows between them, Danny starts to fall for handsome, shy Philip.
Danny’s lively nature, roguish good looks, and ready laughter enchant Philip, and he finds himself being drawn out of his shell whether he will it or not. But when Danny tries to move beyond friendship, Philip panics—and his rejection threatens not only their happiness, but Danny’s health.