A Regency Christmas Carol - The Earl's Nightingale
by Edith Layton
ISBN 0451193873 Signet

Ring in a joyous holiday season as five of romance's most beloved Regency authors bring you this special melodious collection! Mary Balogh, Anne Barbour, Elisabeth Fairchild, Carla Kelly, and Edith Layton weave these spectacular song-inspired tales, capturing the true spirit of the holidays: the giving and receiving of the gift of love!

The Earl's Nightingale
She entered the shop quietly, as evening was falling. The proprietor didn't bother to look up immediately. This sort of customer could wait.

Anyone wanting to buy would come to his shop in broad daylight. Those who wished to sell came late, and quietly. A customer with money in pocket came stepping smartly, often laughing and always accompanied, especially if female. He'd barely heard a footstep, which meant slippers, not boots. A soft perfume wafted in as the door swung shut. A woman then. Alone, with something to sell, and likely a sad story to go with it.

The proprietor sighed, put down his pen, and prepared to deal with her.

Business was business. If a man had no stomach for it, he might as well be a farmer - and not owner of a fine jewelry shop in the heart of London town, catering to the nobs, and priced to make sure of it.

He tugged down his waistcoat, rubbed his hands together, stepped forward and looked at his customer. And was instantly sorry for it. She was lovely.

Young, with a petal smooth complexion, fine features and a plump shapely mouth that trembled and turned down at the corners, as though she was trying not to cry. That wasn't a good thing to look at if a man wished to keep his head, and a businessman had to forget he had a heart.

******* ******
But it's easy for even a flint hearted businessman to forget his head when he sees what golden-eyed Eliza Dumont has brought to his shop. A day later, the rakish Frauncis, Earl of Elliot, has something to buy. But it's not the Jeweler's to sell, because the object the earl wants was only pawned. Still, sell it he does. Which sets a chain of surprising events in motion. The object in question has something to say in the matter too - although by all rules of Nature, it shouldn't. But it's Christmas time, and this is a love story, so rules of Nature are quite naturally, suspended...

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