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Welcome to my First Kiss Friday blog. Today I have another fabulous Dragonblade Publishing author as my guest. Please welcome Hope Caroll who is also offering a giveaway of her book The Veil Between Worlds. Be sure to read all the way to the end to see how to enter. We hope you enjoy this first kiss scene, my lovelies! Take it away, Hope.

Author’s Note: At this point in the book, our heroine, Ellie Hartford, has been sent back in time by her ex-boyfriend, John Stafford. They have arrived at Windsor Castle, where Edward III is holding a tournament for knights to compete in order to find new knights for his chivalric order.  Ellie is desperate to get back to her two small daughters in the modern world, and Harry, who also got sent back in time with Ellie, has been helping to keep her safe. After an arduous journey to Windsor, Ellie is profoundly happy to find a luxurious bath waiting for her.


A length of linen laid across the foot of the bath, and because the room was chilly, I draped it further across the length of the bath to keep the heat in, so that just my head poked out, and my legs dangled over the end.

“Lady Hartford, may I come in?” It was Harry, coming from the adjoining door.

Before I had a chance to say much more than “Harry, wait!” he walked through.

“Wow,” he said, taking me as much as he could in all my silhouetted nakedness. “I guess I should have waited longer for an answer, but I can’t say I’m sorry.”

“Uh, Harry, a little privacy here, please?” I slid deeper under the water, trying to tweak the linen over me with one hand.

He didn’t turn around to leave.

“Please,” he protested, “don’t make me go. You’re covered up there, and we need to talk. Where’s Mary?”

“She’s just gone to fetch me some wine. She thinks I’m too pale.” I didn’t feel pale any longer. My cheeks flushed red with the way Harry was looking at me. Was this linen see-through, or was he just using his imagination? “Mary might catch you in the room when I’m in the bath,” I whispered.

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take,” he said. He briefly took his eyes off me, and found a stool to sit on, right at the end of my tub where my legs were. He confidently took one of my feet between his hands, and started giving me a foot massage.

I could not help groaning with pleasure. Harry’s warm hands felt so good on my skin. He used his thumbs to run up the length of my sole, and back down to my heel. Each toe got individual attention as well.

My eyes closed. “You really know how to treat a woman’s feet,” I said.

“Some say I know what to do with the other parts of a woman as well,” he murmured. I half opened one eye to acknowledge the tease, but before I could toss out a comment, he continued, “Oh dear, are these blisters?”

“Um hm. The stirrups must have rubbed my feet the wrong way. But we have no bandaids, or plasters as you call them.”

“I know what bandaids are, you don’t have to translate it into English for me. I may not be a PhD, but I do have some knowledge of America.” Harry continued to point out various injuries, like, “Oh no, not this little fellow too!” as he continued to do wonders to revive my toes that sent shivers of delight down my spine. 

 “Is this something you learned in the army? An alternative to using torture to get your way?”

“Maybe.” A boyish grin swept over his face, revealing those slightly crooked teeth. Imperfection equals adorable.

I prodded some more, “And what is it that you’re trying to get out of me? What did you need to talk to me about?”

 “A kiss,” he said, meeting my eyes. 

My heart quickened. I hadn’t dared to hope that he was interested in me, until this very second.

He continued, “I’ve been wanting to kiss you from the first time I held your hand going up the stairs at John’s.”

 “You saw me and John kiss the other night — I could tell you didn’t like it.”

“I wouldn’t want to get in the middle of anything going on between you two so if there was something going on there—?” He paused.

I didn’t say anything because I didn’t know how to sum up what I felt about John.

“Oh,” he said, half getting up. “You see, I had a feeling you didn’t really like him that way anymore. I saw you two talking at the dinner last night at camp, and there seemed to be no love lost. But I must be wrong. I apologize,” and he went to leave.

“No, stop!” I sat up, clutching the linen to my chest. “Don’t go. You are right – there is no love lost. It was lost a long time ago. I don’t want you to leave. And I do want to hear more about why you want to kiss me.” I started to feel a blush forming over my cheeks that wasn’t caused by the heat of the bath. “Because, well, I do have a bit of a crush on you, Harry,” I said, reaching out to touch his fingers draped over the side of the bath. My fingers were slippery with the oils Mary had put in the bath, and I swirled a little bead of water on the back of his hand. “You’ve been very sweet and thoughtful to me this whole…trip. And I find you very attractive.”

I looked at Harry, waiting for him to say something. “And John?” he finally asked.

“John loves this world more here,” I said, pointing out the timbered ceiling, the fire, the bed, “more than he ever did me. And seeing that releases me from whatever attachment I used to have for him.”

He sat back on the stool again and pulled my foot back into his palm. “Ellie.” Harry cleared his throat, hesitating. “I think you’re incredible, and I don’t know if this is a crush or something more. I know I was a sad sack out there on the ride here, but you’ve injected a brightness into my life I haven’t felt in a long time. You in that blue dress. The way you saved that girl. The way you made me laugh on the road when you slapped yourself! I’ve tried really hard not to fall for you, because of John, because of you being an American, but…”

I was reaching out for his chin to pull him to me, “Wait, what?” I asked, stopping.

“No, it’s not because I don’t like Americans or anything, but you live so far away, and if I fell for you, hard, then it would make life complicated.”

I laughed, and gestured to the room around us. “You think that’s complicated? How about being stuck in the wrong fucking century?”

Harry joined me, and we couldn’t stop laughing. Then he put his fingers to his lips, got up and came over closer to me, “I can’t kiss you if you’re laughing.”

He could see me naked through the sheet.

“Are you cold, how is the temperature of the water in this drafty castle?” he asked, and then dipped his hand into the water next to my thighs. “Hmm, getting chilly. Have you had enough of bath time? Do you want me to help you get out?”

The water was getting cold. His eyes locked into mine.

 “I have a strange feeling you want to see me naked,” I teased, testing the situation.

“What kind of a man would I be if I didn’t?” he asked rhetorically, and raised one eyebrow in a dare.

I could have sent him out of the room with a slap on his wrist for being saucy.  I could have asked for a towel. His look burned pure heat into me.

I stood up, water dripping off my naked body.

“Is this what you wanted?” I asked.

He came over to me so fast my head spun like I was falling through time again. But this time his strong arms kept me steady, and I felt his lips on mine.

“I’m getting you wet,” I said, through urgent, pent-up kisses as he wrapped his arms and hands around every part of me.

“Doesn’t matter,” he whispered into my ear, as he scooped me out of the bathtub, and sat me on his lap in front of the fire. He grabbed the linen sheet that had been over the tub and dried me off, wiping off my back, my arms, then running it down my legs, and then slowly over my breasts. “You are so beautiful,” he said, in that deep voice that made every part of me light on fire. I kissed him hard, my body alive with being surrounded by this powerfully-made man whose arms and hands and lips were consuming my body. The feel of his lips on mine made me hungry for more.

But time was not on our side.

There was a knock on the door. “My lady, may I come in?”

A time-travel adventure she never wanted… with the man who broke her heart.

When Ellie Hartford, a divorced mother of two and professor of Middle English, goes on vacation with her two little girls to England, she thinks it’ll be a relaxing time to catch up with her friend Jane. They’ll go on long walks in the beautiful English countryside, eat delicious food, see a few sights, and catch up with her best friend, who—bonus—lives in a partially renovated castle. They are stunned when John, an ex-boyfriend of Ellie, shows up drunk, hand-cuffed in ancient manacles late one night. Handsome and kind neighbor Harry helps get John uncuffed, but the mystery remains—what happened to John? A medieval treasure trove is revealed, that has a direct connection to the haunted labyrinth in Jane’s back garden. When the force of broken hearts wields more influence than Ellie could have foretold, she is pulled back to the year 1344, to the reign of Edward III, and the founding of the Order of the Garter.

Ellie will do whatever it takes to get back to her children. With her knowledge of the medieval language and culture, she must navigate the intricate world of feudal England, with its tournaments, knights, chivalry, dancing, and feasts.

Not to mention the distraction of two men eager to tear down the walls she’s built around her heart.

The Ladies of the Labyrinth
Book 1 – The Veil Between Worlds
Book 2 – The Veil of Time
Book 3 – The Season of the Veil

Buy Links:


About the Author

Hope Carolle is a professional book editor by day, and a historical romance/time travel writer late by night. She was inspired to write the series based on her own experiences getting a Masters in Middle English Literature before 1525 at King’s College London as an American studying abroad. Now living in Charlotte, North Carolina, she is a proud mother of two young women, a giant rescue dog named Charlie, and looks forward to living abroad and walking more labyrinths soon.

Learn more about Hope at these social media links:

@hopecarolleauthor Instagram

@hopecarolleauthor Facebook

Giveaway Opportunity! Hope is offering a paperback copy of her book, The Veil Between Worlds to one lucky reader who comments below. Say hello and tell us your favorite place to read to be in the running. Hope will choose a winner this Monday. Good luck!