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It’s First Kiss Friday and that means I get to introduce you to Bluestocking Belle Caroline Warfield and her characters from her novella, An Open Heart, in the Belles’ box set, Holly and Hopeful Hearts, available for pre-order. Happy reading and enjoy this first kiss scene!

In An Open Heart, a mentor helps Adam understand true openness and sends him across three countries to lay his heart at Esther’s feet at Hollystone Hall. Remembering their argument on the day they parted, she won’t give him an chance. The large house party makes it easy for her to avoid him for a few days. She fully expects him to turn up his nose at the mascquerade. When he not only attends, but does so in a costume sure to get her attention, she finally can’t resist him—or their first kiss.


“Will you walk with me, my lady?” the man asked in a familiar voice.

Adam’s voice. He had come.

When she put her hand in his, he held it high in a courtly manner and began to promenade around the room, nodding as a gracious king might do to the curious and amused onlookers. He promenaded past the grinning Grenford brothers, Hythe in his Tudor tights, and the duchess dressed as Catherine the Great. He promenaded past the entire company and walked her out the door, down the hall, and into a small withdrawing room. Esther moved along beside him, stunned into inaction.

Before she could register that he had closed them in alone, he tore the false beard from his face—wincing a bit when the adhesive stuck to his skin—tossed it aside, and took her in his arms with a predatory gleam in his eyes. She couldn’t move while his mouth descended toward hers. She wondered distantly if she ought to refuse his kiss, but no power on earth could make her do so. The moment she had dreamed about, longed for, and denied since the moment he came to work for her father three years before had arrived.

She leaned into it, and curiosity gave way to wonder. His mouth felt warm and firm against hers. He began to move, and warmth filled her too, fire bursting forth deep inside her. Then his tongue touched her lips, and her knees gave so that he had to pull her against his body until they touched, shoulder to knees, and she thought she might melt. What could she do? She responded in kind, tongue to tongue, and gripped him in return.

They both were panting when he pulled his mouth away and cradled her head against his shoulder. “Will you listen to me now, Esther?”

About the Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

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Good Reads

About Holly and Hopeful Hearts

Release date: November 8, 2016

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever love-matches she can. Seven assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

 Holly and Hopeful Hearts is a Bluestocking Belles Christmas collection, with a novella from each Belle and a bonus novelette. For more than 684 pages of holiday reading, preorder now. The Belles support the Malala Fund, with 25% of proceeds from this publication.

A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.

 Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.

Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.

An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…

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