Cinderella and the Myshka
The Characters of If I Had You
By Heather Hiestand
“It’s closing in on midnight. Don’t you want to be Cinderella?” he asked, straightening his cap.
“Why would you ask me such a thing?” She’d lost all hope of belligerence now. Her voice had gone soft, betraying her.
“For all that I’m proud to be British now, we Russians have a passionate nature. We don’t always think before we act.”
Before she could say another word, he stepped so close to her that she could smell the cucumber on his breath. One hand went around the nape of her neck, just below her carefully coiled bun. She tilted her chin, her eyes closing instinctively. His thumb rubbed across her lip.
“Wind-chapped, myshka,” he chided. “You must take better care of yourself.”
Her eyes opened just as his lips touched hers. Electricity sizzled. She shuddered, pressing against him as the shock went through her body, feeling the heat of his mouth. His lips parted slightly and he stole her breath, inhaling her, as she thought, Yes, mine.
Alecia Loudon, heroine of If I Had You, is a wallflower. She is young woman who has never been kissed, who hides her beauty away under baggy, homemade clothing and doesn’t even own a lipstick. Her parents died when she was fourteen, and she was sent to live with her stodgy vicar grandfather in a village a couple of hours away from her former home in London. She’s a lover of hot jazz and dreams of being a flapper, dancing the night away in some swank nightclub with a handsome man.
Her return-to-London dreams come true in 1924 when she receives a job offer. She’ll be a live-in secretary for a prestigious theatrical couple in residence at the famously decadent Grand Russe Hotel. But once she’s there, her life is little more than cinders. She’s on duty seven days a week. Her only break is attending church services. As an invisible staff member, she prowls the crazy beautiful and luxurious corridors of the hotel. Late at night, while her employers have drinks party and enjoy affairs, she escapes to listen to music through the hotel nightclub’s back door. Her gaze follows the movements of a handsome night watchman as he does his midnight rounds, a tall, broad-shouldered Russian immigrant named Ivan Saltykov.
Ivan sees the badly dressed twenty-two-year-old, so obsessed with music that she ignores everything around her, and calls her a myshka—a mouse. But soon, he recognizes her longing, as well as her beauty. To him, she becomes Cinderella, that put-upon girl of fairytale, the mistreated orphan who needs a little help to transform into a beauty with a future.
She has brains and a good heart and Ivan’s cynicism soon turns to respect and affection. But he’s no prince, just another upper class Russian refugee lucky to have a roof over his head. Their dreams are incompatible, and all they have is stolen nights at the Grand Russe Hotel, jazz inflaming their senses while they share kisses.
Inside the glittering walls of a famous hotel, an ingénue experiences first passion . . .
As she stands before the gilded doors of The Grand Russe Hotel, Alecia Loudon is poised on the threshold of a profound awakening. It is the Roaring Twenties, and London is buzzing with opportunities for adventure . . . and indiscretion. The young personal secretary knows nothing of the ways of men, but a chance meeting with the hotel’s handsome night watchman sets her imagination afire.
Ivan Salter has noticed the quiet Englishwoman and wonders what delicate beauty might be lurking behind Alecia’s plain clothes. As the handsome Russian draws Alecia further into the hotel’s luxurious world, he introduces her to fine food, cool jazz, and forbidden assignations. Their dalliance is tested, however, by a surprising link between Ivan’s family history and Alecia’s bosses. Tangled up in international intrigue, the lovers must decide if their sparkling new romance is worth the cost . . .
Praise for Heather Hiestand’s novels
“One Taste of Scandal is a delicious, multi-layered Victorian treat." —Gina Robinson, author of The Last Honest Seamstress and the Agent Ex series
“A fast read with a different view point than many novels in the genre.” —Library Journal on His Wicked Smile
“This is definitely one for the keeper shelf.” —Historical Romance Lover on His Wicked Smile
“A delightful, sexy glimpse into Victorian life and loving with two wonderfully non traditional lovers.”—Jessa Slade, author of Dark Prince's Desire, on His Wicked Smile