I wrote these letters featuring Alex and Louisa of The Earl’s Holiday Wager (originally titled Season for Surrender) as part of a Valentine’s Day blog event. The novel is set during a scandalous holiday house party, during which bookish Louisa discovers her adventurous side and roguish Alex learns how to be a better man. Together, they also solve a code and unravel a few family puzzles. And whenever they find themselves alone in the library? Steaminess ahoy.
Valentine’s Day falls about five weeks after the events of the story, and shortly after Louisa and Alex’s marriage. In these love letters, you’ll see references to story events–and, of course, a few little codes. Enjoy!
Letter from Alexander, Lord Xavier, to Louisa, Lady Xavier
Left next to the countess’s pillow in the morning
February 14, 1819
At last, my dear 13 21 6 6 9 14, the calendar gives me an excuse to wax romantic. Ordinarily, of course, I am mindful of reputation and must take care not to appear too besotted with you. I rarely hold your hand for more than three hours at a stretch, and I stand up to kiss you hardly more than once per course at dinner. And when we are in the library together, I am generally able to go at least five minutes without dragging you over to the chaise longue for—what did you call it? Anatomical instruction?
Be that as it may, 13 21 6 6 9 14 (I know you will solve this cipher in an instant), you may expect no such restraint from me today. You shall be kissed as though the whole house was festooned with mistletoe.
Do you remember how I bribed you to attend my house party by offering you a look at the library? Of course you remember; you have an eminently organized mind. How thankful I am that you can be enticed by books.
How thankful I am, my darling wife, for you.
You have undone my world, and together we have refashioned it in a much improved form. From the depths of my heart—which for so long, I never understood—I adore you.
I am reluctant to wake you this morning; you look so beautiful in sleep. But as you are even more beautiful when you are awake, and as I have received a shipment of books from London about which you knew nothing (yes! I believe I’ll at last successfully surprise you!), I await you impatiently in the library.
Yes, I am once again trying to entice you with books. But as an additional enticement, might I mention that I am having a very large fire built up to warm the room? You need not concern yourself with dressing warmly. Or at all, if that is your preference. I shall not protest.
9 12 15 22 5 25 15 21
Letter from Louisa, Lady Xavier, to Alexander, Lord Xavier
Left next to the earl’s pillow that night
February 14, 1819
My dear Alex,
You once called me a brilliant young lady. I am inclined to agree with you, since I showed the great good judgment to marry a man who:
1) Holds my hand, even before the servants, though he tries to look very stern as he does so.
2) Lets me sleep in of a morning, especially after keeping me awake half the night.
3) Surprises me with a collection of new books—yes, my dear, I was surprised, and still more so that you said I might shelve them how I pleased. Huzzah!
4) Maintains a collection of scandalous books beneath the library window seat (perhaps you thought I did not know of those—but where else would I have learned the particular activity, of which you were so fond, which I demonstrated on the chaise longue this afternoon?).
For these reasons, our first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife has been an occasion I shall truly treasure. But there are reasons yet more important:
5) This husband loves me just as I am, for all my quirks and faults and odd bits. And
6) I love him, absolutely and wholeheartedly, for the same.
Valentine’s Day is but one date out of 365. I vow to trust you and love you equally on all the others.
And yes, I know exactly what you meant by 13 21 6 6 9 14. You are quite ridiculous, my dear—but then, so am I.