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I recently had the delightful experience of being invited to tea at Danby Castle with Emma, Viscountess Heathfield and Lady Isabel Lockwell, two of the heroines of our Christmas Anthology series–in Summons from Yorkshire and Summons from the Duke, respectively. Over piping hot oolong and crumpets, the two ladies divulged the details of life at the castle and their happily ever afters.

Ladies, I am so enthralled with Danby Castle. Tell me, what was the most extraordinary thing about growing up here?

Emma: There are so many things extraordinary about Danby Castle. Walking through the corridors, you can practically feel the history of the place beneath your feet. Whittons have always lived at Danby Castle, and I suspect they always will. So I would say, the sense of history and family that exudes from the walls and makes you feel as though you’re part of something bigger and older than yourself.

Isabel: (rolls her eyes) Exudes from the walls? I don’t know about that, Emma dear. Though I’ve seen water exuding from some of the walls, and really, if someone doesn’t take care of that this whole place will come crumbling down around us. But I digress…the most extraordinary thing about Danby Castle is that it’s so large, one can truly go unnoticed for days at a time. Pure bliss. *sigh*

Emma: And here I thought you’d say Grandpapa’s library collection was the
most extraordinary thing in existence!

Isabel: Yes, but books mean nothing if you have nowhere quiet to read
them.

Point well taken, Lady Isabel. Does your grandfather permit you to waltz at Danby castle? Or is it simply too shocking?

Emma: Grandpapa does
not approve of waltzing, or rather he has never approved of waltzing for us. Luckily, Mama is more forward thinking and she is the one who has attended balls with us in the past. Grandpapa thinks he knows everything, but every now and then there are some things of which he is not aware.

Isabel: Well, thank heavens for Grandpapa. Waltzing is shocking.
Mother would have had us waltzing with everyone it town if it were up to her.
Scandalous!

Speaking of family, are you close to your brothers?

Emma: I adore our brothers. Both of them. (And especially their friends, Well – really Andrew’s dear friend Lord Heathfield, but I digress.) Where was I again? Oh! Am I close to Andrew and Philip…? Yes, we are close, but they are usually so wrapped up in their own lives, they pay very little attention to whatever Izzy and I are up to. But we know quite a few things about them…

Isabel: Huh! If close means not seeing or hearing from either of them for years at a time, then yes, I suppose we are very close.

Both of you young ladies are recently wed. My best wishes to you both. Do you have any advice for young ladies who are still looking for their happily ever after?

Emma: Never give up on your dreams, no matter what they are – even if you have to concoct an outlandish plan that could go spectacularly awry. Your dreams are worth the risk, if you want them desperately enough.

Isabel: Be sensible. Don’t take up with any and every rogue who pays you a compliment. And don’t wrap all your dreams up in a man – there are wonderful things to discover in this world that have nothing to do with men.

Did you ladies get what you wanted for Christmas this year?

Emma: (grins radiantly) I not only got what I wanted this year, I got what I’ve always wanted my entire life – Lord Heathfield all to myself, from now until the end of time. *sigh*

Isabel: (sighs) Despite my best efforts not to end up
with a husband, I somehow did anyway. And though I didn’t know it until just a
few days ago, yes, it was exactly what I wanted for Christmas.

When do you think the duke will issue another summons?

Emma: Well, I know Grandpapa was annoyed that some of my cousins escaped his grasp this holiday. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he issued another summons before next Christmas. Perhaps a mandatory house party this summer?

Isabel: I don’t know, but thank heavens I won’t have to be a part of it! Never again will I have to contend with unwanted houseguests in my house!

Emma: But you must promise that you will visit me in my home, Izzy. I love Heath will all my heart, but I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m separated from you for too long.

Isabel: Oh, Emma, how could we be separated when you live permanently in my heart (they share a quick, teary hug)

(I hand both ladies freshly-laundered handkerchiefs.) What are your plans after the holiday?

Emma: Heath and I will head to his country seat in Sussex. We’ll stay there until the Season when he’ll reclaim his seat in the Lords. I am quite anxious to settle into our new lives, the running of Heath’s estate, creating menus, hosting any of my family who wants to visit.

Isabel: Hm. I have no idea, actually. Damien hasn’t said as much…though he did tell me that his father has an extensive library that no one ever uses, so I do hope we’re going there soon! Who gives a fig where you are when
you have a good book and Mr. Lockwell?

At this point, we were interrupted by Mrs. Ealey, the housekeeper, who informed both ladies that their mother was ready to look over fashion plates together. Lady Emma was delighted but had to practically drag her sister along with her.

The two other books in the Danby series are A Summons from His Grace and A Summons from the Castle. I hope you enjoyed this tete a tete as much as I did. Please leave your comment below for a chance to win in our amazing 12 Days of Christmas giveaway and have the opportunity to win a Kindle!

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