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Welcome to another First Kiss Friday on my blog! Today’s guest is my dear friend,Jude Knight who has an excerpt from Zara’s Locket, which is a novella in Belles & Beaux. The novella is associated with Jude’s series The Return of the Mountain King, but stands alone. We hope you enjoy this excerpt. Happy reading, my lovelies!


Upstairs was under the eaves, with the box room and two little bed chambers. Zahrah paused with her hand on her door handle, reluctant to see the evening end.

Simon was looking up. She followed his gaze with her eyes. A bunch of mistletoe hung from the ceiling. That wasn’t there earlier today. Was it?
Simon looked a question at her. With the sense that she was about to take a leap into the dark, Zahrah stepped up to him and looped her arms around his neck. Now what? She had experience of men attempting to steal a kiss, but none of freely giving and receiving one.

Simon bent his head, going slowly, and softly laid his lips upon hers. She felt the tingle run through her body. She pressed closer, and he deepened the kiss, covering her lips with his own, one hand firmly on her back.

Zahrah’s thoughts scattered. She lost track of her surroundings and everything else except the sensation of Simon’s lips, his tongue sliding across hers, his firm hand anchoring her to his body, his other hand gently caressing one breast.

When he broke the kiss, she stared at him, dazed. He looked no less befuddled.
She leaned towards him again and he pressed a light kiss to the corner of her mouth. “I hope this means you are open to my courtship,” he murmured. “Or do I need to apologize?”

“Don’t you dare apologize,” she scolded. She was recovering a few of her wits. “Courtship, Simon?”

Anxiety flickered in his eyes. “If I do not presume. If you could imagine marrying a tradesman of little fortune and murky birth.”
“Very easily.” If the tradesman in question was Simon. “Yes.”

His anxiety melted into the beginnings of a smile. “You can imagine?”

“Yes, you may court me. But first, kiss me again.”

Zara’s Locket

A run-in with the adult son of the household leads to dismissal for governess Zahrah ibnit Yousef, or Zara MacLaren as the household knows her. Turned out on a Christmas Eve, her circumstances go from bad to worse when she is robbed and then arrested.

Goldsmith and jeweler Simon Marshall recognizes the locket a young aristocrat tries to sell, and it leads him on a hunt for Zara, the friend of his childhood. He finds her. He finds trouble, too, and joins her in her incarceration.

They need a Christmas miracle. It will take a pair of charitable gaolers, a little Christmas cheer, and the timely intervention of family to bring this story to a happy ending.

Belles & Beaux

Just in time for Christmas 2022 comes this boxed set of eight charming stories of love, family, and miracles. Each Belle has contributed a tale set in the festive season—one just long enough to fit in between tasks at this busy time of the year. The tales are unrelated, except by the festive season.

Some have been written for this collection, some are made-to-order stories never before published, some have been used as fan giveaways. All are delightful. So, pour the drink of your choice, find a favorite chair, and step into one of our worlds.

Buy link

Read more and find buy links at https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/belles-beaux/

Meet Jude
Jude always wanted to be a novelist. She started in her teens, but life kept getting in the way. Years passed, and with them dozens of unfinished manuscripts. The fear grew. What if she tried, failed, and lost the dream forever? The years since 2014 have brought 11 novels, 13 novella, 4 volumes of short stories, 3 awards, and hundreds of positive reviews. The dream is alive.

Website and blog: http://judeknightauthor.com/
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