Lucy Gordon

A Mistletoe Proposal

The first book in the Diamonds Are Forever series, 2010

Dear Reader,

I must admit to getting a wistful satisfaction from writing about a heroine whose beauty and allure knock men sideways. No hopeless sighing for her. One quirk of her gorgeous mouth, a look from her sultry eyes, and they fall at her feet, begging for her attention. I guess we’ve all indulged that fantasy at some time.

But the underlying truth is never so simple, as I learned from Pippa, heroine of A Mistletoe Proposal. Beneath the surface of the sultry siren is a woman who has been hurt almost beyond bearing, and who has sheltered behind her desirability and her reputation as a good-time girl, determined not to let the world discover her fears.

Those fears include Christmas and mistletoe-both of which bring back suffering she can’t bear to recall.

But then she meets Roscoe, a man as damaged as she is, and as skilled at hiding it. Each sees through the other’s defenses to the loving heart beneath. Harsh and forbidding on the surface, Roscoe discovers depths of tenderness within himself, and uses them to rescue Pippa. Through him she finds that Christmas can once more be a time of joy.

But they are not alone in their struggle. Pippa’s beloved grandmother Dee has always been a loving presence, offering advice and standing as a symbol of love’s triumph to inspire her to her own happy ending.

Warmest wishes

Lucy Gordon


AFTER five years the gravestone was still as clean and well-tended as on the first day, a tribute to somebody’s loving care. At the top it read:


9th April 1915-7th October 2003

A much loved husband and father

A space had been left below, filled three weeks later by the words:


18th February 1921-28th October 2003

Beloved wife of the above

Together always

‘I remember how you insisted on leaving that space,’ Pippa murmured as she tidied away a few weeds. ‘Even then you were planning for the day you’d lie beside him. And the pictures too. You had them all ready for your own time.’

A family friend had returned from a trip to Italy and mentioned how Italian gravestones usually contained a picture of the deceased. ‘It really makes a difference to know what people looked like,’ she’d enthused. ‘I’m going to select my picture now.’

‘So am I,’ Dee had said instantly.

And she had, one for herself and one for her husband, taken when they were still in robust middle age. There, framed by the stone, was Dee, cheerful and ready to cope with anything life threw at her, and there was Mark, still bearing traces of the stunning good looks of his youth, when he’d been a daredevil pilot in the war.

Below them was a third photograph, taken at their sixtieth wedding anniversary party. It showed them standing close together, arms entwined, heads slightly leaning against each other, the very picture of two people who were one at heart.

Less than two months later, he had died. Dee had cherished the photograph, and when, three weeks after that, she had been laid beside him Pippa had insisted on adding it to the headstone.

Finishing with the weeds, she took out the flowers she’d brought with her and laid them carefully at the foot of the stone, murmuring, ‘There, just how you like them.’

She rose and moved back, checking that everything looked right, and stood for a moment in the rich glow of the setting sun. A passer-by, happening to glance at her, would have stopped and gazed in wonder.

She was petite, with a slender, elegant figure and an air of confidence that depended on more than mere looks. Nature had given her beauty but also another quality, less easy to define. Her mother called her a saucy little so- and-so. Her father said, ‘Watch it, lass. It’s dangerous to drive fellers too far.’

Men were divided in expressing their opinion. The more refined simply sighed. The less refined murmured, ‘Wow!’ The completely unrefined wavered between, ‘Get a load of that!’ and ‘Phwoar!’ Pippa shrugged, smiled and went on her way, happy with any of them.

Superficially, her attractions were easy to explain. The perfect face and body, the curled, honey-coloured hair, clearly luscious and extravagant, even now while it was pinned back in an unconvincing attempt at severity. But there was something else which no one had ever managed to describe: a knowing, amused look in her eyes; not exactly come-hither, but the teasing hint that come-hither might be lurking around the corner. Something.

A wooden seat had been placed conveniently nearby and Pippa settled onto it with the air of having come to stay.

‘What a day I’ve had!’ she sighed. ‘Clients talking their heads off, paperwork up to here.’ She indicated the top of her head.

‘I blame you,’ she told her grandmother, addressing the photograph. ‘But for you, I’d never have become a lawyer. But you had to go and leave me that legacy on condition that I trained for a profession.’

‘No training, no cash,’ Lilian, Pippa’s mother had pointed out. ‘And she’s named me your trustee to make sure you obey orders. I can almost hear her saying, “So get out of that, my girl.”’

‘That sounds like her,’ Pippa had said wryly. ‘Mum, what am I going to do?’

‘You’re going to do what your Gran says because, mark this, wherever she is, she’ll be watching.’

‘And you were,’ Pippa observed now. ‘You’ve always been there, just out of sight, over my shoulder, letting me know what you thought. Perhaps that was his influence.’

From her bag she produced a small toy bear, much of its fur worn away over time. Long ago he’d been won at a fair by Flight Lieutenant Mark Sellon, who’d solemnly presented him to Deirdre Parsons, the girl who later became his bride and lived with him for sixty years. To the last moment she’d treasured her ‘Mad Bruin’ as she called him.

‘Why mad?’ Pippa had asked her once.

‘After your grandfather.’

‘Was he mad?’

‘Delightfully mad. Wonderfully, gloriously mad. That’s why he was so successful as a fighter pilot. According to other airmen that I spoke to, he just went for everything, hell for leather.’

To the last moment, each had feared to lose the other. In the end Mark had died first, and after that, Dee had treasured the little bear more than ever, finally dying with him pressed against her face, and bequeathing him to Pippa, along with the money.

‘I brought him along,’ Pippa said, holding Bruin up as though Dee could see him. ‘I’m taking good care of him.

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