It’s always a pleasure when I can have Caroline Warfield on my First Kiss Friday blog. Today she has an excerpt from The Unexpected Wife. Take it away, Caroline!
The Unexpected Wife made it to the final list for the RONE award! In May I gave you their first kiss, and impulsive reaction to his return from a dangerous secret mission inside the forbidden city of Canton. This excerpt is the scene before he left. As to the kiss—it lurks in here.
A rustle of cloth alerted her to Charles, who watched the conversation from the foot of the stairs. He dressed entirely in black, and he carried a Chinese robe in a green so dark it almost looked black thrown over his shoulder. He wore a bowl-shaped hat.
“He’s right, you know,” he said.
“About being above the law?” she demanded.
“About ruining your chances for a good marriage.”
She rolled her eyes. “You know how little I care about that.”
“I didn’t say dynastic marriage—I said good. You have seen what Temperance and Aaron have—or my uncle and aunt.” He wandered closer and leaned one elbow on the wall next to her. “Don’t you wish for it? You ought to, Zambak.”
The warmth in his eyes pulled her in, driving the breath from her body. Charles wants what they have for himself. This gentle man, locked in union to the hellish Julia, wants domestic peace above all else. For the space of a heartbeat, she longed for it as well, but knew it for the impossible desire it was. “I, Charles? I want to own my life, to not be a pawn in some political chess game. In the unlikely event a choice like the one you describe arises then, yes. I might take it. I have little hope that it will.”
His eyes lit with a fire that burned into her. “Sometimes life surprises us with unexpected gifts,” he said, studying her. His intensity burned deep into her heart and radiated through her. When he leaned closer, she realized he meant to kiss her. His desire didn’t frighten her; it filled her with wonder. Her own yearning to accept him, however, shot terror straight to her core.
Good God, Zambak. You’re lusting after a married man! She pulled away.
Stricken, his face flushed red, and he stood straighter. “Zambak, I—”
“What have you done to your face?” she asked. She didn’t know if he meant to apologize or express disappointment. She couldn’t bear either of them and was grateful when he let her turn the subject.
She felt her lips twitch into a smile. He always finds a way to amuse me. She loved that about him.
If their dilemma troubles you, it did their author as well. Charles is a good and honorable man, and his wife is, well, not. Given the chance, he will resolve his problems honorably.
About the Book: The Unexpected Wife
Children of Empire Book 3
Crushed with grief after the death of his son, Charles Wheatly, Duke of Murnane, throws himself into the new Queen’s service in 1838. When the government sends him on an unofficial fact finding mission to the East India Company’s enclave in Canton, China, he anticipates intrigue, international tensions, and an outlet for his frustration. He isn’t entirely surprised when he also encounters a pair of troublesome young people that need his help. However, the appearance of his estranged wife throws the entire enterprise into conflict. He didn’t expect to face his troubled marriage in such an exotic locale, much less to encounter profound love at last in the person of a determined young woman. Tensions boil over, and his wife’s scheming—and the beginnings of the First Opium War—force him to act to rescue the one he loves and perhaps save himself in the process.
Zambak Hayden seethes with frustration. A woman her age has occupied the throne for over a year, yet the Duke of Sudbury’s line of succession still passes over her—his eldest—to land on a son with neither spine nor character. She follows her brother, the East India Company’s newest and least competent clerk, to protect him and to safeguard the family honor. If she also escapes the gossip and intrigues of London and the marriage mart, so much the better. She has no intention of being forced into some sort of dynastic marriage. She may just refuse to marry at all. When an old family friend arrives she assumes her father sent him. She isn’t about to bend to his dictates nor give up her quest. Her traitorous heart, however, can’t stop yearning for a man she can’t have.
Neither expects the epic historical drama that unfolds around them.
Here’s a short video about it:
It is ***FREE*** with Kindle Unlimited or you can buy a copy at:
About the Author
Traveler, would-be adventurer, former tech writer and library technology professional, Caroline Warfield has now retired to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, and divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandbuddy. In Children of Empire series three cousins torn apart by lies each find their way home from the far corners of the British Empire, finding love along the way.
She has works published by Soul Mate Publishing and also independently published works. In addition she has participated in six group anthologies.
For more about the series and all of Caroline’s books, look here: