It’s always a pleasure when I can welcome back Jude Knight to my First Kiss Friday blog. Today, she’ll be sharing an excerpt from her novella in the Bluestocking Belles’ boxset, Fire & Ice. It’s currently available for pre-order. Release date is February 4th. Happy reading, my lovelies!
In this excerpt from Melting Matilda, a novella in the Bluestocking Belles’ box set Fire and Frost, Matilda is remembering their first kiss. For the scene with the actual kiss, you’ll have to wait until next year. Jude has rewritten the story of the house party from the novella The Bluestocking and the Barbarian into the novel To Wed a Proper Lady. Matilda and Charles are two of the secondary characters, and it will be out sometime early in 2020.
Matilda stared in shock at the elegant figure before her. If the Granite Earl was imposing in his daytime wear, he was enthralling when dressed for the evening, all in black but for his white cravat and gloves, and his embroidered silver waistcoat.
“Miss Grenford?” He was too polite ever to sound impatient, but his imperious hand hinted that he expected an answer, and assumed it would be affirmative.
Jessica gave her a nudge. If Matilda did not accept Lord Hamner’s invitation to dance, she would be unable to accept any others this evening, and then Aunt Eleanor would wish to know why. She managed to smile and curtsey.
“Thank you, my lord.” She placed her hand in his, and even though they were both gloved, his touch set her quaking. Heaven’s mercy! It was a waltz: an entire set dancing with him alone, holding his hand, his arm around her, staring into his eyes. Why had he asked her to dance?
No one she had danced with since she came out—whether bored, charming, slyly lecherous, condescending, pompous, or openly eager to court the favor of Her Grace or Aldridge through her—no one affected her like Lord Hamner.
She had felt it the first time they danced, a week or so into her first Season, nearly two years ago. A tingle when they touched. An awareness of his physical presence even when they were separated by the patterns of the dance. An aching response in her own body, as if she were suddenly hollowed out and yearning for something unknown.
He did not ask her again that Season, though they frequently attended the same events.
The next time was at the Masquerade Ball held at the duchess’s Christmas house party at Christmas that same year. When she accepted his invitation, she hoped that her previous response reflected her inexperience. But all the dances in between, all the partners in between, made no difference. If anything, the sensations were worse.
He felt something, too, she was sure, because he became stiffer than ever, and would barely look at her. When the music ended, he held his arm away from his body and escorted her to the nearest side of the floor. Noticing how flushed she was, he suggested some fresh air, but as soon as they were alone, the proper distance between them vanished. He kissed her. She kissed him back, her heart singing, only to drop through her dancing slippers when he walked away. She repulsed him with her wanton response: she just knew it.
He left the party the next day, but that was nothing to do with Matilda. Lady Felicity, but her friends called her Fliss, told those closest to her that he had proposed—and Fliss had refused him–the very next morning after that magic kiss, the rat.
Her scandalous birth prevents Matilda Grenford from being fully acceptable to Society, even though she has been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford since she was a few weeks old. Matilda does not expect to be wooed by a worthy gentleman. The only man who has ever interested her gave her an outrageous kiss a year ago and has avoided her ever since.
Charles, the Earl of Hamner is honour bound to ignore his attraction to Matilda Grenford. She is an innocent and a lady, and in every way worthy of his respect—but she is base-born. His ancestors would rise screaming from their graves if he made her his countess. But he cannot forget the kiss they once shared.
For more about Fire & Frost, including preorder links, see: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/fire-frost/
About Jude Knight
Have you ever wanted something so much you were afraid to even try? That was Jude ten years ago.
For as long as she can remember, she’s wanted to be a novelist. She even started dozens of stories, over the years.
But life kept getting in the way. A seriously ill child who required years of therapy; a rising mortgage that led to a full-time job; six children, her own chronic illness… the writing took a back seat.
As the years passed, the fear grew. If she didn’t put her stories out there in the market, she wouldn’t risk making a fool of herself. She could keep the dream alive if she never put it to the test.
Then her mother died. That great lady had waited her whole life to read a novel of Jude’s, and now it would never happen.
So Jude faced her fear and changed it–told everyone she knew she was writing a novel. Now she’d make a fool of herself for certain if she didn’t finish.
Her first book came out to excellent reviews in December 2014, and the rest is history. Many books, lots of positive reviews, and a few awards later, she plans to keep publishing until she runs out of years.