The Wrong Heiress for Christmas (EBOOK)

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Lord Frederick Bowen, Duke of Salisbury, is expecting an heiress for Christmas. The fact does not bring him pleasure. Ever since the war ended, he would rather focus on experiments for his new waterproof material.

Celia might be the daughter of an earl, but she's the illegitimate variety. She has resigned herself to life as a maid for the wicked countess and her two half-sisters.

When Celia's half-sister begs her to pretend to be her, Celia is thrust into a fairy tale. Everyone knows though that fairy tales never come true...


The Wrong Heiress for Christmas is the sixth book in the Regency historical romance series, Matchmaking for Wallflowers.


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Opening Sample




Matchmaking for Wallflowers 


The Christmas season is upon us and even the pessimistic seem prone to fanciful leaps. 

Lady Fitzroy and her daughter, Lady Theodosia, are attending an intimate house party with the Duke of Salisbury.

His Grace may be a duke, but the man lacks a ducal air. He takes more pleasure in presenting to the Royal Society of Scientists than escorting women to balls. Even footmen surpass him in aristocratic demeanor. 

Disagreeableness is no virtue, and His Grace’s ample possession of it in no manner makes up for his lack of sense. One hopes Lady Fitzroy will forsake her plans to marry her darling daughter to so despised a man. 

Lady Theodosia’s charm is renowned, and one pities Lady Theodosia for being raised by a mother devoid of basic intellect. We believe her more suited to a Frenchman such as the dashing Vicomte Espadon who has never expressed interest in the chemicals with which the Duke of Salisbury is obsessed.

Alas, one can only imagine Lady Fitzroy hiding behind curtains to thrust her daughter into the duke’s unwilling arms when not searching in the library for methods to blackmail him into a match. 

- Anonymous Contributor Bequeathed with Sageness, Sapience and Shrewdness 


“I hope you have not forgotten where my room is, Celia.” Lady Fitzroy’s strident voice soared through the corridor. 

Had Celia been disposed to to using the coarser words listed in the most comprehensive dictionaries, she may have selected one. 

She should be accustomed to Lady Fitzroy. 

She’d known the countess her entire life. 

Celia willed her heartbeat to slow. It didn’t need to be galloping in her chest. Not when there was nowhere to go. Not when there would never be anywhere to go. Maids did not stray far from the ladies whom they served. 

She brushed past the ornate ebony and coral lacquered sideboards and oversized vases, careful to avoid swishing the hem of her dress against the inconveniently sized embellishments. Polished mirrors sparkled throughout the corridor. Other houses might favor landscapes and portraits, but Lady Fitzroy insisted even Gainsborough himself could not create a painting which exceeded her face in loveliness. 

In that, Lady Fitzroy may have been correct.

Lady Fitzroy was exquisite. 

Her noteworthy lineage had not been the only reason she’d been chosen to be the late earl’s bride, and Celia’s stomach tightened in a familiar manner. 

What had mother thought? 

Celia entered the room, still holding her tray. 

Lady Fitzroy took out her quizzing glass, and the tangerine plumes on her embroidered turban flittered.

It was no use to say she’d been on her way to bring Theodosia her tea. The new Matchmaking for Wallflowers lay closed on the coffee table. Thank heavens. Once Lady Fitzroy read the unflattering article, the countess likely would not be dissuaded from her instinct toward unpleasantness.

Lady Fitzroy narrowed her perfectly plucked brows. “Your hair is appalling.” 

“Oh!” Celia lifted a hand toward her head self-consciously, and the tray wobbled. 

“Loose tendrils,” Lady Fitzroy admonished. “A servant’s hair should be combed tightly back. A servant should never take an interest in fashion. Your only interest is this household.” 

“Yes, my lady.” Celia almost marveled at the countess’s incessant ability to create novel rebukes. 

Celia had comforted many maids who’d shuddered under Lady Fitzroy’s scolding. The butler scrambled even to find footmen willing to subject themselves to Lady Fitzroy’s inevitable tirades. The most recent hire had lasted only a week. 

No one, though, received more harangues than Celia. 

It’s my destiny.

After all Celia had the same glossy dark hair that curled in exquisite tendrils, the same clear alabaster skin that shone from the portraits at Fitzroy Place, and the same peaches and cream complexion that had made past portraitures to the manor home think they’d found their Mona Lisa.

Unfortunately even if Celia’s resemblance to the Fitzroy family was undeniable, there was one problem: she was not a Fitzroy.

She was the maid.

Just as her mother had been.

The countess seemed temporarily satisfied at having criticized Celia’s coiffure. “You brought tea. Set it on the table.”

“But it’s for—”

The countess gave her an icy frown. “And you brought gingerbread biscuits.”

“Yes,” Celia confirmed. The biscuits were obvious. The scent of ginger and cinnamon wafted toward her nostrils.

Christmas was the most delightful time of the year.

“Do you want to let out all my dresses?” Lady Fitzroy asked.

Celia shook her head.

“Would you take pleasure in pawing the silks and velvets a person like you should never be allowed to touch?”

Celia stiffened. “Of course not my lady.”

“Because I assure you, I would make any unseemly pleasure you might experience at the expansion of my waistline not worthwhile.”

Celia swallowed hard.

The gingerbread biscuits were not even intended for Lady Fitzroy. They were for Lady Fitzroy’s daughter.


Given Lady Fitzroy’s negative reaction, Celia hardly desired to reveal that.

Though Lady Amaryllis sometimes seemed eager to rival her mother in admonishments, Theodosia was the person who was nicest to Celia.

Celia had no desire to direct Lady Fitzroy’s wrath on anyone else. She placed the tea on a table and left the gingerbread on the tray.

Lady Fitzroy picked up a biscuit absentmindedly and bit into it. Her lashes still moved downward, and for a second her face seemed consumed with bliss.

Celia almost smiled.

Lady Fitzroy’s face almost appeared placid, as if reflecting on the taste of cinnamon and treacle.

No one can be immune to the joys of Christmas.

“Remember to bring Theodosia’s gowns,” the countess said. “They are each more valuable than the income you’ll ever make in your life.”

“They are already packed. As are yours.”

Theodosia and Lady Fitzroy were bound for Yorkshire. Though Celia should be thankful for having fewer dresses to press, she would miss Theodosia.

“Hmph.” Lady Fitzroy bit into the gingerbread.

Celia took the countess’s silence as a sign to leave. She curtsied and hastened from the room. She hurried down the steps and made tea. 

The kitchen bustled with activity. 

“Did Lady Theodosia read the article yet?” Polly asked. 

Celia shrugged. “Lady Fitzroy called me into her room. But I don’t think she had.” 

“Good,” the Cook said. “Disgraceful pamphlet. You should never have been reading it, Polly. It doesn’t belong to you.”

“It was so tempting,” Polly said. “And one does want to know which colors are in fashion.” 

“Green and red,” Cook said sternly. “It’s Christmas.”

Celia smiled and added fresh gingerbread onto the tray for Theodosia. She wiped sweat from her brow.  

Cook assessed her. “Don’t you forget the housekeeping position. This will all be over soon.” 

Celia smiled. “A lovely thought.”

Lady Fitzroy would never agree to give her a reference, but the housekeeper would retire soon and had offered to train Celia to take on some of her duties. 

She pushed open the wooden door that led from the kitchen and hurried up the rickety stairs, expertly avoiding the loose step. Lady Fitzroy might value sumptuous surroundings, but that desire did not extend to the most meager maintenance of the servants’ divisions.

Celia ducked her head to avoid a beam and then opened the door to the main quarters. She then rushed up the stairs, hastened along the corridor and entered the room.

Theodosia reclined on a chaise lounge, clutching a fan in an elegant manner, even though the drop in the temperature scarcely demanded a need for one. Her lace gown was elegant against the tufted upholstery, and letters, likely from the vicomte, were strewn over her lap.

Theodosia had returned to England speaking of a Frenchman with such enthusiasm that her uncle apparently had been driven to depart the Cote d’Azur early.


At least Theodosia didn’t seem upset by the depiction in Matchmaking for Wallflowers.

Celia placed the tea at Theodosia’s table. “Let me change you into your traveling gown.”

“When this dress is so beautiful?” Theodosia smoothed the fabric with the self-satisfied attention of a cat preening itself.

“For safety—”

“Heavens.” Theodosia rose, still clutching her letters. “One would suppose the rest of the country were unclothed. The English ways are so tiresome. Not like the French. Besides the house party is in Yorkshire. I cannot go to Yorkshire.”

Celia smiled.  “You were just there. You raved about it.”

Theodosia winced. “I was so naïve in those days. That was before I visited France. Before I swam in the azurean sea. Before I met—Pierre.” Theodosia adopted a dreamy look, while Celia arranged Theodosia’s attire in neat stacks and closed the lid of the last trunk. 

Celia carried the trunk to the door, careful to avoid disturbing the neatly swept lines of the oriental carpet. Theodosia might amble on the carpet nonchalantly, but servants were not allotted that pleasure. Ever since one of Lady Fitzroy’s friends had mentioned George III demanded servants avoid the carpet, the countess had insisted her household do the same, no matter that she was neither a king nor mad.

Celia’s arms strained under the awkward weight of the trunk, and Theodosia assessed her with a frown.

“Perhaps we won’t have to go if we ruin the trunk,” Theodosia said. “We could submerge it in water. Perhaps throw it into the bath.”

“I suspect the servants would pull the trunk from the bathtub before they pour hot water into it. Though it is an improvement on your other suggestions since it does not involve destroying the wheel of the carriage, unhooking the horses, or pretending to be ill and bribing the doctor to comply.”

“The latter is doable,” Theodosia protested. “The poor doctor’s shoes appeared worn. He is certain to be persuadable.”

“And if he is not?”

Theodosia jerked her gaze away. “You’re correct. You always are.”

Celia’s smile faltered. When they were younger and the earl had still been alive, they’d taken classes together. Celia had excelled in every subject.

That didn’t change the fact Celia would remain a servant.

“Perhaps Pierre will rescue me,” Theodosia mused.

Ever since she’d returned from Antibes, she’d been spending much of the time speaking about a certain Frenchman.

Apparently he was dashing.

And charming.

And utterly spectacular.

Theodosia ascribed most positive adjectives to the vicomte’s qualities and relegated negative adjectives to describe the torture of their separation. 

“You might find His Grace charming,” Celia said.

“I am spoken for. Please do my hair.”

Celia picked up the comb on the vanity.

“I imagine everyone already suspects. I’ve been mentioned in Matchmaking for Wallflowers.”

“Polly told me.”

Theodosia beamed. “See. Everyone will know.”

“Poor mama will be shattered to be seen as so marriage-minded. She does value subtlety.”

“I’m so sorry,” Celia said. “If it’s any consolation, I don’t believe she’s read it yet.”

“She will,” Lady Theodosia said confidently. “She wouldn’t miss learning which flounces are most in fashion this season.”

“You are very brave,” Celia murmured. “I don’t know who could have penned such vile things. How horrid.”

“You truly do not know?”

“Naturally not.” Celia widened her eyes. “So few people know about your acquaintanceship with the vicomte.”

She paused, and dread filled her. Theodosia had confided in her. Women had a tendency to be close to their maids, but given the…circumstances, they were rather more close than normal. “You wouldn’t think I would have—”

Theodosia waved her hand impatiently. “No, no. You couldn’t do such a thing. You’re too good. Too sweet. Too well behaved.”

Celia decided to ignore that the manner in which Theodosia said those words made them almost seem like an insult.

“Besides,” Theodosia continued. “I know who did it.” Theodosia lingered on the last word, and then beamed. “Me. I placed it there myself.”


“But…why?” Celia stammered. “The article is unflattering. Most unflattering.”

Theodosia shrugged. “I am famous. I made Matchmaking for Wallflowers.”

“I suppose.” Celia combed Theodosia’s hair.

“I want mama to be uncomfortable. She didn’t listen,” Theodosia said. “As if I could marry His Grace.”

“He is a duke,” Celia reminded her. “And not the decrepit sort.”

“He is the scientific sort. Which is every bit as horrid. A true man knows the material world is of no interest. I desire a man interested in feeding one’s spirit.”

“Such as Vicomte Espadon?” Celia mused.

The Frenchman’s name had a predictable effect on Theodosia. Her eyes glazed, and she pressed a lace-gloved hand against her chest. “Indeed. Besides. I refuse to marry someone the ton refer to as the Mad Duke of Yorkshire. What would that make me? A maddess?”

“It would make you a duchess,” Celia said.

“If I’m to become a duchess,” Theodosia announced, “I should desire to marry someone either with a certain degree of attractiveness or the advanced age to ensure myself a pleasant widowhood.”

“He is not pleasing to the eye?”

Theodosia frowned, grabbed the stack of magazines and pushed them into Celia’s hands. “How can he be? He’s a scientist. Though I haven’t met him. Nor have any of my friends. But his Grace is still in his twenties. Which unfortunately puts him not even at the peak of his prime. If he cannot even show his presence in London, then I will not want to while away any time being married to him. Being doomed to a life of dullness would be the most dreadful fate possible to have.”

Drudgery was a worse fate, and she could mention even more dreadful ones, but Theodosia wouldn’t understand. When they’d been smaller, it had been hard to envision how much their lives would vary as adults. Ever since the earl had died, Lady Fitzroy had seemed to take pleasure in ordering Celia about, demanding more of her than even the other servants.

A scream pierced Celia’s contemplation.

It was Lady Fitzroy.

It had to be.

Rapid footsteps pounded down the corridor, and Celia stiffened.

Her location was unideal. Even Theodosia’s face had paled somewhat. Perhaps she was having regrets. Every mother in the ton might be of the matchmaking variety, but it was unlikely any of them desired to come across such a description in print.

Lady Fitzroy pushed the door open with such force that the crystal knob slammed into the wall, likely tarnishing the floral wallpaper.

“Theodosia,” an alto voice roared with such vigor Celia wondered whether she could have been an opera singer, had her class allowed it or had the sound of her voice been more pleasant. “I have been humiliated.”

“Embarrassed. Mortified,” Theodosia added unnecessarily.

“My poor child,” Lady Fitzroy wailed. “However can we rectify this? I will be humiliated. The duke has well-placed friends. Some of them likely frequent court. How can I converse with them? I cannot become a laughingstock! And I cannot have you start your married life with everyone thinking the duke was forced into marrying you! How could you hold up your chin during your hostess duties?”

“I might have to ban fans to avoid thinking ladies were tittering behind them,” Theodosia said.

“That is no solution, dear child.”

“Then I suppose I cannot go,” Theodosia said. “What a pity.”

Lady Fitzroy swallowed hard. “But the man is a duke.”

“He’s also mad, mother.”

Lady Fitzroy waved her hand impatiently. “Quite unimportant. With any luck you could have him committed. Imagine. That great house all to yourself. And your mother of course. I will sacrifice myself to keep you company.”

“I do believe His Grace is only a scientist. Not exactly a madman,” Celia ventured, lest they start selecting suitable sanitariums.

“But one cannot avoid the similarities,” Lady Fitzroy said. “At least a madman is unlikely to spend his time speaking about tiny particles with authority. It’s far more pleasant to speak of invisible people. They might regale one with tales of defeating Napoleon or some such thing.”

“Like our dear king?” Theodosia asked, her eyes gleaming.

Lady Fitzroy paled. “One mustn’t insult him. The man is unlikely to invite us to court if he hears of negative talk.”

“He is unlikely to invite us to court anyway,” Theodosia said.

Lady Fitzroy’s thin lips tightened. “Unless you were married to a duke.”

“Oh, well,” Theodosia said. “Perhaps I can marry that Frenchman.”

“Absolutely not,” Lady Fitzroy said. “This is your chance. He seems to be the only one unaware of the dreadful mistake we made in hiring Miss Haskett to be your governess.”

“The vicomte overlooks it.”

“The vicomte also eats frog legs and snails,” Lady Fitzroy said. “We are hardly speaking of a man of refinement.”

Theodosia frowned.

“You will go to Yorkshire and you will be pleasant to the man,” Lady Fitzroy said. “This is your chance. You won’t find another unattached duke of marriageable age.”

“I refuse to go,” Theodosia said.

Lady Fitzroy’s eyes widened, but then she smirked. “You do not have the option to refuse. You have a duty to marry well.”

In that moment Celia felt sorry for Theodosia. She knew what it was to be kept from one’s desires.

“How can I show my face at the house party?” Lady Fitzroy frowned. She paced the room rapidly. “I will not go. It will seem I do not place much importance on the house party. Your reputation would be saved!”

“So I should appear with no chaperone?” Theodosia beamed.

“Well…” Lady Fitzroy’s gaze fell on Celia. It was the greatest display of affection from Lady Fitzroy Celia had ever witnessed, but it still caused ice to make its way through her spine. “You can go with Celia. And once you arrive, the Duchess of Belmonte can act as chaperone. I know she is one of the guests. What is the point of a duchess if she cannot chaperone?” 

“But—” Celia stammered. “I’ve never left London.”

“You will this afternoon.”


Lord Frederick Bowen, Duke of Salisbury, is expecting an heiress for Christmas. The fact does not bring him pleasure. Ever since the war ended, he would rather focus on experiments for his new waterproof material.

Celia might be the daughter of an earl, but she's the illegitimate variety. She has resigned herself to life as a maid for the wicked countess and her two half-sisters.

When Celia's half-sister begs her to pretend to be her, Celia is thrust into a fairy tale. Everyone knows though that fairy tales never come true...


USA TODAY Bestselling Author Bianca Blythe has written over twenty fun and frothy Regency-set historical romances, filled with wallflowers, spinsters, dukes, and rogues. On occasion, she also writes historical mysteries under the name Camilla Blythe.

Born in Texas, Bianca earned her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and completed a graduate degree in her beloved Boston. She spent four years in England, working in a fifteenth-century castle. Sadly she never spotted dukes and earls strutting about in Hessians.

Bianca credits British weather for forcing her into a library, where she discovered her first Julia Quinn novel. She remains deeply grateful for blustery downpours. 

After meeting her husband in another library, she moved with him to sunny California. On occasion she still dreams of the English seaside, scones with clotted cream, and sheep-filled pastures. For now, she visits them in her books.