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Hello to all my wonderful readers and thanks for dropping by my First Kiss Friday blog! Today I’m hosting… well… myself and Before I Found You: A de Courtenay Novella (Book Three) in our just released set Storm & Shelter: A Bluestocking Belles Collection with Friends box set. Miss Miranda de Courtenay has had quite the journey and she’s come a long way from when she was first introduced in A Kiss For Charity. I hope you enjoy this first kiss scene and don’t forget about the Belles’ contest to find the dastardly reporter who’s hanging out at The Queen’s Barque Inn at Fenwick On Sea (see more below)! Happy reading and enjoy, my lovelies!


After she had seen Grace earlier, Miranda had watched from the upper window of her bedroom overlooking the courtyard as Jasper and Nicholas left on their horses. Even remembering Jasper when he mounted that horse caused Miranda’s heart to flutter in her chest. Both men had discarded their cravats but Miranda’s gaze was focused only on one. Her eyes had wandered down to the brief glimpse of blond hair at the opening of Jasper’s shirt. Fingers tingling, she reached out to the glass pane window as though she could really feel his chest. She closed her eyes briefly as she imagined the texture of his skin. When she opened them again, their eyes met and his smile was truly wicked.

Miranda had jumped back from the window as though burned. How could Jasper be even more handsome in broad daylight than he had been in the candlelight at the ball?

Which, of course, was why she was standing here in the cold waiting for him to leave the manor. She blew air into her icy hands and was just about to give up on this idiotic notion when the door opened. Jasper began putting on his gloves and Miranda heard the distant sound of his horse being brought around from the stables.

Knowing she only had a moment to spare, she rushed from her hiding space around the corner of the house. “Jasper,” she exclaimed, loud enough to get his attention.

He looked over his shoulder and smiled before heading in her direction. Miranda drank in the sight of him. He was properly attired once more. She almost preferred seeing him at his leisure instead of the proper gentleman closing the distance between them.

“Miranda,” he said, in that unnerving French accent that caused her blood to race in her veins. He gave her a bow. “Whatever are you doing outside in the cold, ma chérie?” He took off his jacket and placed the garment around her shoulders. Such a kindness was going to be her undoing, especially when that lock of unruly hair once more fell rakishly across his brow.

The impulse was too great for her to ignore. Reaching up, she moved the hair from his forehead, and he captured her trembling fingers in his warm hands. Keeping his eyes fixated on her own, he bent forward and kissed the inside of her wrist. Dear Lord… her knees almost buckled when his lips connected with her feverish skin.


“Yes?” She continued staring up at his face as if to commit every inch to her memory so she would never forget him. From his green eyes to the dark shadow of stubble roughing his square jaw line, she couldn’t take her eyes from him. He was just as fascinating today as last evening and perhaps even more so, in a rugged kind of a way.

“Why are you outside?” he chuckled in amusement as though he had known where her thoughts had gone.

She at last remembered herself and backed up a step. He, in turn, stepped forward and continued to do so until they were out of sight of the front of the manor. It wasn’t until she felt the brick wall upon her back that she realized she had nowhere else to turn.

“I had to see you one last time,” she murmured in a breathy whisper. She leaned her head back just so she could once more stare into his eyes.

“I’m certain our paths will cross often, Miranda, at least when I’m on shore,” he said, coming so close she could feel the very heat of him radiating from his body. She almost moaned but as she placed her hands upon his muscular chest, instead a gasp escaped her. Her action was meant to halt him from coming any closer but it had the opposite effect when he pulled her into his arms.

“I don’t see how that will be possible,” she managed to say, while attempting to hold him off. Her pulse quickened and every fiber of her being craved to be held in his arms forever more. She must remember her goal, and Jasper could never fit into her plans.

“Anything is possible, Miranda. We just need to have a little patience. Time will eventually be on our side. I won’t always be at sea.” He ran a finger down her cheek, causing her to shiver in pleasure.

“It’s not about time, Jasper, because all the time in the world won’t change anything.”

He bent forward until his forehead touched her own. “I know we have only just met but, for whatever the reason, I feel drawn to you. Was I mistaken that you feel the same way?”

Her breath caught in her throat to hear his words. “No,” she said honestly. “You weren’t mistaken.”

He cupped her face so she had no choice than to give him her undivided attention. “Then, hopefully, you’ll forgive me if I do something I’ve been craving to do since last night.”

She gulped. Oh no… please don’t let him kiss me. “What’s that?” she asked instead, even though she knew what was coming.


His lips gently slid across her own as if testing to see if she would accept the gift of his kiss. She should have pulled away but how could she deny what she herself wanted just as badly? She tilted her head to give him full access to her mouth and, when his tongue slipped inside, Miranda was completely lost. Shivers of delight swept across her entire body until she found herself wrapped in Jasper’s arms. Her hands made their way up into his hair and her fingers tangled into the soft length. He deepened their kiss without any protest from Miranda until she thought her feet would never again touch the ground.

How long their mouths danced with one another, she could not say. For one brief instant, Miranda never wanted the kiss to end. She never wanted to leave Jasper’s arms or his life. But when a soft moan escaped from her lips, the reality of what this man did to her finally penetrated her numb mind. She broke off their kiss and yet their mouths lingered near as their breaths mingled together. She may want him, but he could never offer her the life of her dreams.


As told in Storm & Shelter in eight original novellas, refugees—the injured, the devious, and the lonely, lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all sheltered at the Queen’s Barque Inn. Now concern is buzzing in Fenwick on Sea and across these United Kingdoms, as scurrilous gossip about the goings on during the recent storm spread through the reports in that scandal rag, The Teatime Tattler. Who is the snoop?


Correctly identify the reporter and be entered to win a $100 gift card and other great prizes. There are details and instructions for entering here: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/storm-shelter/wanted-the-snooping-teatime-tattler-reporter/


There are clues in every story in Storm & Shelter. Find more clues by following on to each stop in our Snooping Reporter Blog Hop. You may even find a giveaway on each stop so be sure to comment. You can find the first stop again here: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/storm-shelter/wanted-the-snooping-teatime-tattler-reporter/

ABOUT THE BOOK ~ Storm & Shelter: A Bluestocking Belles Collection with Friends

When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

MY CONTRIBUTION TO THE SET: Before I Found You, A de Courtenay Novella By Sherry Ewing

Miss Miranda de Courtenay has only one goal in life: to find a rich husband who can change her status from Missto My Lady. But when a handsome stranger crosses her path at a Valentine’s Day ball, her obsession with titles dims. Might love be enough?

Captain Jasper Rousseau has no plans to become infatuated during a chance encounter at a ball. He has a new ship to run, passengers to book, and cargo to deliver. But one look into a young lady’s beautiful hazel eyes, and he becomes lost. Does love at first sight really exist?

Their paths continue to cross until they are both stranded in Fenwick on Sea. Their growing connection is hard to dismiss, despite Miranda’s childish quest for a title at all cost. But what if the cost includes love?

Today the price for the boxset is only $0.99 but it goes up to the normal price on April 20th. Grab yours at the sale price while you still can!

Buy Links for Storm & Shelter:

Amazon US |  Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Google Books | Kobo

Amazon AU |BR |CA |DE |ES |FR |IN |IT |JP |MX |NL |UK

Angus & Robertson