Today on First Kiss Friday, I’d like to introduce fellow Bluestocking Belle Jude Knight and her characters from our joint box set, FOLLOW YOUR STAR HOME. We just know you’re going to love getting to know James and his wife Mahzad! Happy reading and take it away, Jude!
This excerpt is the first kiss for James and Mahzad in Paradise Regained, my contribution to the Bluestocking Belles’ 2018 holiday box set, Follow Your Star Home. My hero and heroine have been married for more than a decade, and have eight children, but they’ve been separated for months, and distant with one another for longer still.
James has arrived home to find a small army camped outside their gates demanding the heads of his in-laws, and Mahzad is horrified when a woman claiming to be his mistress turns up shortly afterwards. Their confrontation turns into something else in the following excerpt.
“What?” He ignored the provocation of her description of Cecily. She was offended that he held the meeting without her? “I thought to take a burden off you when your father was so ill. I meant no insult, Mahzad. You should know that.”
“How?” she demanded. “By mindreading? I have lost my magic abilities, oh inscrutable one. My genie is in retirement.” She turned away, her voice dropping. “I have no idea why you do the things you do, except that I know I am a burden to you. I am sorry to inconvenience you and your father by continuing to exist.”
Exasperating female. Would she stick to the point?
“What the devil do you mean now? What has my father got to do with it?”
“He wants you to come back to England,” Mahzad accused. “Your ‘oh so dear’ Cecily told me, and Peter and Yousef confirmed it.” She sniffed and tossed her head. “You will not go because I am an embarrassment to you.”
“Like hell you are,” James snapped. “Neither of them said that, and if they did, it isn’t true.”
She was avoiding his eyes, bending over her weapons, putting the arrows neatly away into the quiver and unstringing the bow. “They said you refused to go and that you told your father’s men that you would not leave your wife.” She whirled back to face him, snarling in her turn. “I say little difference if you did, since you are never here anyway and spend no time with me when you are.”
James was reeling from her dozen blows, some of which had got completely under his guard, but this last remark matched so closely to his own feelings about Mahzad that he struck back.
“You’re the one who is always busy and who never has time for me. You are too busy being katan and mother and friend to everyone in the valley. You’ve made it more than clear you don’t need me, and you don’t want me around.” He took a step closer toward her, crowding her against the table. “But this is my valley. They are my children. You are my wife. It’s about time you remembered that.”
He seized her and forced his mouth down on hers, intending a punishing kiss that overwhelmed her defenses and reminded her he was master in this area as in others, but she met his force with her own passion, softening under his invasion, molding her body to his as she clutched his head to pull him closer. His original intent forgotten, he poured all his longing into the kiss, trying to communicate his love and his frustration, losing himself in the touch and smell and sound of this one woman who was to him above all others.
Until she broke the kiss and shoved him away. “I cannot believe you blame me for all this,” she said. “Just like a man.”
And she stalked away, leaving him alone.
Jude’s novella, Paradise Regained, is set in the Kopet Dag mountains north of Iran. Silk Road routes skirted the mountains on both sides and snaked through them. The year is 1794, and though the Silk Roads had long been closed to Europe, trade and travel between the Middle East and the Far East was far from over. Jude’s hero and heroine have established a kingdom in the mountains and a business protecting caravans from bandits and marauding tribes.
Paradise Regained will be published in Follow Your Star Home [https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/follow-your-star-home/], the Bluestocking Belles’ holiday collection for 2019.
James Winderfield yearns to end a long journey in the arms of his loving family. But his father’s agents offer the exiled prodigal forgiveness and a place in Society — if he abandons his foreign-born wife and children to return to England.
With her husband away, Mahzad faces revolt, invasion and betrayal in the mountain kingdom they built together. A queen without her king, she will not allow their dream and their family to be destroyed.
But the greatest threats to their marriage and their lives together is the widening distance between them. To win Paradise, they must face the truths in their hearts.
Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.
Jude writes everything from Hallmark to Regency Noir, in different eras and diverse places, short, medium and extra long. Expect decent men with wounded hearts, women who are stronger than they think, and villains you’ll want to smack or worse.and all with a leavening of humour.