First Kiss Friday with Jude Knight

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January has come and gone but we still have one last First Kiss Friday for the month. Please welcome my friend Jude Knight to my blog. I just love everything about this cover, don’t you? Happy reading and enjoy, my lovelies. Take it away, Jude!

This excerpt is from Lady Beast’s Bridegroom. My hero and heroine have made an arranged marriage at very short notice. To stop Arial’s cousin from claiming that their marriage is just a sham, they must consummate immediately. Arial is shy, but willing. Peter finds he is perhaps a little too willing!

Excerpt:

He bent his head and his lips touched hers.  

She smelt of cloves and something floral. Not roses or lavender—jasmine. That was it. Her lips were as plump and soft to the touch as they had looked. He had time for that assessment before she began to return the kiss, then his every thought fractured, and it took all his determination not to fall on her like a ravening beast.

His cheek kept bumping the edge of the mask, impeding his movements and reminding him he needed to go slowly. Not that Arial was objecting to his hand on her breast while the other anchored her against him. Far from it. She pressed into his hand, and lower, too, tipping to grind her groin against him, her body understanding what her innocent mind had not yet grasped.

He broke away for long enough to ask, “Am I going too fast?” He was gratified at her dazed expression and slow response.

She shook her head. “I like it.” And she tilted up her face, her mouth reaching for his kiss.

As he lowered his lips to hers, he suggested, “This time, will you open your mouth?”

Which she did, probably to ask another question, but before she could, his lips touched hers, his tongue already reaching to trace them. It was a long kiss, and even more fevered than the first. He explored her lips, her tongue and her mouth. When she tentatively followed the retreat of his tongue with her own, he allowed her to explore in her turn, trembling with the effort it took not to take the kiss back over.

It did not help to give his mind another direction when he swapped hands, for her other breast responded as sweetly as the first, the nipple tightening and hardening under his ministrations. When she began to touch him in her turn, sliding her hands under his robe to explore his chest, he almost lost his control again.

He was desperate for more. He began to back her towards the bed without breaking the kiss until they reached that destination, and she turned her head as he began to lift her.

The single candle had performed the office she desired. As she lay back against the sheets, the stark white mask hid the worst damage on her face, and the dim light disguised the rest, so the visible part of her face appeared unblemished. Beautiful, too: her eye heavy lidded with desire, her lips swollen with his kisses.


Lady Beast’s Bridegroom

Welcome to book 1 in a new series by bestselling author Jude Knight. Follow along in this exciting new twist on traditional fairy tales— https://www.amazon.com/Lady-Beasts-Bridegroom-Twist-Regency-ebook/dp/B0BPN37T99the roles are reversed.

Lady Ariel lives retired in the country after being badly scarred by a fire. She hides her burns from others by donning a mask, only enticing more gossip by Society who has dubbed her “Lady Beast”. Now, her second cousin, who inherited her father’s title but not his private wealth, wants to have her committed so he can manage—and steal—her fortune. Only finding a husband will prevent the cousin from having his way.

Peter, Lord Ransome, a man so handsome Society has dubbed him “Beau”, inherits not only his father’s debts but also his burdens. He must manage and care for a stepmother who loathes him, her daughters, and his own two half-sisters, who spend more money than the estate can provide.

His only recourse is to find a wealthy bride to save his estate and his family. For him, that means marrying “Lady Beast”. It’s merely a business transaction, after all. But then Beau learns that true beauty lies in the heart.

When Society tries to turn them away, is the union and love of Beauty and the Beast strong enough to overcome prejudice and rejection?

A Twist Upon a Regency Tale
Lady Beast’s Bridegroom
One Perfect Dance
Snowy and the Seven Doves
Perchance to Dream

Buy link

https://www.amazon.com/Lady-Beasts-Bridegroom-Twist-Regency-ebook/dp/B0BPN37T99

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 17 novels, 16 novella, 6 volumes of short stories, a number of awards, and hundreds of positive reviews. The dream is alive.

Website and bloghttp://judeknightauthor.com/

Subscribe to newsletterhttp://judeknightauthor.com/newsletter/

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First Kiss Friday with Alina K. Field

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Welcome to my First Kiss Friday blog. 

Today let’s welcome Alina K. Field, who’s sharing an excerpt from her novella, The Nabob’s Designing Daughter, Book 4 in the Upstart Christmas Brides series.  Enjoy! 

The hero, Errol Robillard, is in the garden, waiting to talk to his friend, the son of his late benefactor.  

The weather the next morning had been as weepy as the mourners inside the respectable townhouse that was the home of the late Horace Beecham. 

The funeral reception had ended; friends and business associates had left the widow and her large brood to their private grief. They’d all departed, except for himself, Errol Robillard, but then he was more than a friend or business associate. At Beecham’s behest and expense, Errol had attended a day school with the man’s two eldest boys, William and Peter, and, when not studying or laboring at his father’s inn, he’d worked hard at Beecham’s textile warehouse. 

William Beecham was his best friend. Whether he was a good enough friend to continue paying Errol’s schooling was a question he hadn’t yet raised, and his university fees were due.

He needed to speak to William, later, when Mrs. Beecham and the rest of the family had retired. But first, a breath of air, damp though it might be, was in order, before he made his vulgar but necessary inquiry. 

In the garden, the herb-scented air filled his lungs but didn’t clear his head or comfort his heart. Beecham’s death followed too closely on his own father’s passing two years earlier. In fact, he still grieved his mother’s passing several years before that. 

A rain-slicked flagstone path snaked through well-tended beds of herbs, vegetables, and flowers to the shed at the back, partially concealed by an overgrown elm tree. He moved toward a sheltered bench on the small patch of grass, passing the raised beds filled with vegetables and the medicinal plants the Beechams’ eccentric cousin, Ann Strachney, raised for her concoctions of tisanes and teas. 

A plop of water landed upon his nose, and the heavens suddenly reopened with gusto. Before he could retreat inside a sudden cry from the vicinity of a tall elm had him rushing there.

A ladder teetered, a half-booted foot searching for purchase under a black skirt. 

“Stay still.” He reached, but the ladder teetered again, and an armful of skirts plopped onto him, knocking him flat on his back, almost knocking the wind from him. 

A grubby hand pushed back a wet tangle of light brown hair. Ann Strachney’s eyes widened, her already pink cheeks darkened, and her lips—just as pink, surprisingly lush—formed a perfect O. 

Gad, she was lovely. An oval face, porcelain skin, and eyes the color of a stormy sea. How had he not noticed? Another lock of hair fell, she wriggled, and his male parts stirred. He clamped a hand on her to get her to stop. 

“Oh,” she said, getting the word out. “I’m so sorry. I was…” She waved a hand. “The tree branch. The green house…”

He lifted his head and stopped her chatter, his lips soft against her own.

The wind gusted and glass exploded. He yanked her head down and cradled it in his hand and inhaled the scents of flowers and springtime, honey and bees. The hot breaths on his neck, the press of her breasts against his chest roused him more. 

She mumbled, tickling him. 

“What did you say?” he asked. “Are you alright?” 

***

A battle raged within Ann Strachney, or a strange, unfamiliar mêlée of nerves and blood, tingles and shivers, and a hot pooling of… what was this? She was stretched atop a muscled chest, her nose buried against hot flesh that smelled of starch and shaving soap, and a large weight pressed against her back. A tree branch or… oh. It was a hand and it had started to move, and she didn’t want it to stop. Steam ought to be rising from her wet hair and gown. She ought to be melting. 

Errol was holding her. Errol Robillard, the handsome, teasing boy who’d grown into a braw charming man. He was stroking her back. And a minute before he’d looked into her eyes and… what she saw there she didn’t recognize. 

But she liked how it felt. She didn’t want it to stop.

“Are you injured?” he asked, sounding more himself. 

Was she? How could she possibly tell when she was lying atop a gentleman…

“No,” she said, pushing herself up on her forearms. Errol grinned up at her, eyelids drooping wolfishly over eyes that had gone impossibly black. He’d lost his hat, and his tawny curls stuck out like the start of a lion’s mane. 

Heat flooded her cheeks yet again. He was, as usual, impossibly handsome, but this was something more.


About The Nabob’s Designing Daughter

A wealthy nabob’s daughter has designs on a handsome young doctor, but not the romantic sort, despite the one kiss he stole from her ages ago. The poor crofters she’s been tending behind her father’s back need more than a rich miss’s potions, they need a real doctor. And fortunately, she has the leverage to provide one. 

Ripped from his prestigious London practice to deliver a Highland duke’s heir, a young doctor finds there are more snares awaiting than a risky birth, including a surprise—and worthless—bequest. There’s also his best friend’s cousin, who’s blossomed from mousey to heart-stirringly beautiful, with enough wiles to convince an ambitious man that his heart belongs in the Highlands.

Where to find it

Amazon   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BPMXYLFJ

Kobo  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-nabob-s-designing-daughter

Barnes & Noble    https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-nabobs-designing-daughter-alina-k-field/1142820461?ean=2940185741528

Apple Books  https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-nabobs-designing-daughter/id6445051918?ls=1

Googleplay Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Alina_K_Field_The_Nabob_s_Designing_Daughter?id=nQmhEAAAQBAJ

Universal Link https://books2read.com/u/3yVl6J

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature but prefers the happier world of romance fiction. Her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., but after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California where she shares a midcentury home with a gold-eyed terrier and only occasionally misses snow. 

Website: https://alinakfield.com/

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Alina-K.-Field/e/B00DZHWOKY

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alinakfield

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlinaKField

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First Kiss Friday with Rue Allyn

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Happy New Year, my lovely readers, and welcome to the first First Kiss Friday blog post of the year! Today’s guest is my friend and fellow Bluestocking Belle Rue Allyn who has an excerpt from her new release, The Pirate Duchess. Happy reading and enjoy!

Excerpt:  This scene occurs in the nave of an ancient church that the two main characters have decided to visit in order to learn more about the building and, unintentionally, each other.

Another backward step would place her against the wall with no room for escape. She didn’t know what he was after, but she stood her ground. “That is unlikely to happen.”

He put his hat atop the open register and took her hand. “Possibly.” His thumb stroked across her gloved fingers. “However, you have secrets that you are paying to keep private. If you told me what your purpose is with Danville and Cosistas, I might be persuaded to maintain my silence as to those secrets. Were you to assist me with thwarting whatever criminal enterprise those two are embarked upon, I would speak on your behalf, should you be arrested for piracy.”

Anger rose at his words, but was undermined by the warmth traveling the length of her arm and farther. She snatched one hand from his grip and glared into his deep-blue gaze.

She could not read his thoughts.

“You think to blackmail me into dishonorable actions, sir. Even among thieves there is honor. I may have been a privateer in the past, but you cannot prove piracy. Nor can you prove that I am still such.”

“Privateer, pirate. ’Tis a legal quibble for which you have never shown documents in support of your privateer claim. You have been an enemy of the British government in the past, and, with Napoleon gathering troops for war, there is no telling what nefarious purpose has brought you here.”

“My presence in this village has nothing to do with Napoleon or the British government.”

“So, you say.” He continued to hold her gaze and her hand. “I am simply offering you the opportunity to mitigate the punishment you are destined to receive for your crimes.”

She almost laughed in his face. She would be gone long before he could arrange for her arrest. “Any argument is pointless. However, you are most definitely wrong. Now, if you will excuse me, I would like to continue perusing the register.”

He didn’t move.

“In private.” She attempted to skirt around him to the front of the lectern.

His hand on her arm halted her. “Wait. Please.”

“Why?” Their gazes locked once more. This time she saw an unnamable emotion of such heat that it could have frightened her. He’d always been cold with her before; perhaps she should be frightened.

“I… I’m not….

A racket interrupted nearby, but she could not look away from him. Then a storm of shouting, barking activity surrounded them. She was pushed in Gilroy’s direction.

“Ooof!”

His arms closed about her.

Eyes wide, she tilted her head and stared past his shoulder. Hector, the dog from the inn, raced out of the open church door with a stream of boys trailing after him. She straightened and found herself smiling into Gilroy’s face. He smiled back.

She could not have said how the kiss happened, or who broke away first. She found herself standing in his embrace, fingers to her mouth and astonished to wish the kiss had continued.

Gilroy seemed equally surprised. He released her, did an about-face, snatched his hat from where it had fallen to the floor, and fled, moving as if Napoleon’s entire army were on his heels.

What in the world? Her lips still tingled, and confusion swirled below her stomach. In front of her, the register stood forgotten. She’d never experienced anything like that. She’d kissed men before, but never wished the activity had gone on for hours.

“Are you well, Miss Fynlock?”

She blinked and finally noticed the vicar standing a few feet beyond where Brandon had been before.


About The Pirate Duchess: They met during a brawl!

Esmeralda Crobbin first encounters Brandon Gilroy during a brawl. Once their opponents are vanquished, she admires the man’s skill with his fists, his intelligence, and a number of other attributes until she learns that he is a British Naval Officer. He would be eager to see her hang, if he knew she was the American privateer, Irish Red.

Can sworn enemies become lovers? Find out. Get your copy of The Pirate Duchess today.

EBook UBL:  https://books2read.com/u/3RLvQn

EBook Amazon Buy Link:  https://www.amazon.com/Pirate-Duchess-Regency-Historical-Enemies-ebook/dp/B09W8LJ2Y1/

Paperback Buy Link:  https://www.amazon.com/Pirate-Duchess-Regency-Historical-Enemies/dp/B0B91ZLB4G/(Amazon only)

About Rue Allyn:

Hi, I’m author Rue Allyn. I learned story telling at my grandfather’s knee. (Well, it was really more like on his knee—I was two.) I’ve been weaving my own tales ever since. I have worked as an instructor, mother, sailor, clerk, sales associate, and painter, along with a variety of other types of employment. I’ve lived and traveled in places all over the globe from Keflavik Iceland (I did not care much for the long nights of winter.) and Fairbanks Alaska to Panama City and the streets of London England to a large number of places in between. Now that our two sons have left the nest, I and my husband of more than four decades (Try living with the same person for more than forty years—that’s a true adventure.) have retired and moved south. When not writing, enjoying the nearby beach, or working jigsaw puzzles, I travel the world and surf the internet in search of background material and inspiration for my next heart melting romance. I love to hear from readers, and you may contact me at Rue@RueAllyn.com. I can’t wait to hear from you.

Find Rue Allyn Online

Website~~https://RueAllyn.com

Facebook~~ https://www.facebook.com/groups/RueAllynCrew

Amazon~~https://www.amazon.com/Rue-Allyn/e/B00AUBF3NI/

Goodreads~~https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5031290.Rue_Allyn

BookBub~~https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rue-allyn

First Kiss Friday with Caroline Warfield

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It’s my last First Kiss Friday post for the year and I’m always thrilled to welcome back my dear friend Caroline Warfield. Caroline currently has a new release in the box set A Duke in Winter. Here’s an excerpt from The Sixth Henry. Happy New Year, my lovelies, and thanks for all your support throughout the year! Take it away, Caroline.

The Sixth Henry, a nod to Shakespeare’s Henry VI cycle, is my contribution to A Duke in Winter. It includes two feuding families in fierce competition over roses. When the daughter of the other house comes to pay her respects to the new Duke of Roseleigh, his aunt and sister are positive she has come to snoop and steal their secrets. Both are horrified that he would take her on a tour of Roseleigh’s spectacular conservatory. Of course, he might not show her what is behind the closed doors to the rose room.

Excerpt:

Margaret couldn’t reply. She stared up at the gracefully arching glass ceiling and the bountiful trees. “Miraculous,” she murmured.

As she circled the conservatory, she could feel his eyes following her. He stood patiently by the door to the west wing, arms folded. When she approached, he held out his hand, and she gave him hers. He searched her face with tender concentration. He had promised warmth, and Margaret felt the heat of his eyes and hand.

“You’re flushed,” he said without breaking eye contact. “You must be too warm.”

She took back her hand and unwrapped her scarf. Her fingers went up to unbutton her cloak, but he got there first, removing it and folding it over his arm. “There is a coal fired steam heater at the far east end. You’ll have noticed the iron grill work along the floor. It isn’t there for decoration.”

She hadn’t. She studied it now peering the length of the west wing. The grill work ran the entire way down the center. It circled the central conservatory. She leaned over and gasped when she felt the warmth rising from it. “A modern marvel,” she said.

“It is that. Grandpapa was always fascinated by progress. And, of course, updates came to the glasshouse first before the manor.” He shrugged ruefully and held out his hand again. “Shall we look at pineapples?”

She glanced back toward the east wing. The door, she noted was shut, she was certain it housed rose cultivation. She nodded and let him lead her in the other direction. A gardening assistant watering an herb bed bowed to them. Beds of fresh vegetables pleased eye and soul. “No wonder meals at Roseleigh are so wonderful.”

“A brilliant cook doesn’t hurt,” he replied. “Kitchen staff work out here as well.”

The pineapples smelled wonderful and their appearance amazed her. “We haven’t tried to grow them,” she murmured.

Henry turned to the worker. “Edward, see that there is pineapple at dinner tonight.”

“Yes, Your Grace,” the boy said.

“Now you have to stay,” Henry said turning to Margaret.

“You’re very sure of yourself.”

“I am. I’m a duke. It is part of the job.” He ran a hand across the back of his neck. “How I wish that was true. I had only the vaguest idea how much Grandpapa carried on his shoulders. Now it all falls on mine.”

“I know. Family pressure and feuds don’t help. I should leave,” she said.

“Please don’t. Our walks are the most relaxing times I’ve had since they called me home six weeks ago. You’re the only person who doesn’t want something from me,” he said grasping her hand more tightly.

Do I want something from him? Surely not, or at least what his aunt fears. She found she very much wanted the feel of his hand holding hers. She wanted his kiss. “I’ve enjoyed them too, Your Grace, but I can’t stay forever. I should go.”

His free hand cupped her cheek. “Are you sure, Margaret?” he whispered.

No good can come of this. “Maybe one night. I’ll leave in the morning.”

He glanced sideways at the gardener studiously concentrating on the planting beds, before dropping a kiss as tender as it was brief.

About the Book: A Duke in Winter

“It was a dark and snowy night…”

Winter has come and the holiday seasons have arrived. ‘Tis the season to be jolly for most, but beneath the joyous celebrations lurks moody, dark, and seductive dukes that make England’s most famous bard’s brooding lords look like charm boys. But this isn’t a tortured Danish prince or a tormented king with three conniving daughters. This is…

A Duke in Winter

Ten of your favorite historical romance authors have come together for this wintery collection to set your pulse racing. Melt the snow a little with this collection of sexy tales of moody dukes and the women hot enough to warm them.

Indulge in the most unexpected of winter romantic tales!

https:www.amazon.com/Duke-Winter-Historical-Romance-Collection-ebook/dp/B09X8JFNBS

About the Author 

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nunShe reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart, because love is worth the risk.

For more about all of Caroline’s books, look here: https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

First Kiss Friday with Jude Knight

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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!

Excerpt:

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/
Subscribe to newsletter: http://judeknightauthor.com/newsletter/
Jude’s bookstore: https://judeknight.selz.com/
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First Kiss Friday with Sherry Ewing

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Welcome, my lovelies, to my First Kiss Friday blog. Today I’m hosting and giving you a glimpse from my Christmas novelette, A Mistletoe Kiss found in the Bluestocking Belles’ boxset Belles & Beaux that releases December 15th. Grab your copy now at the special preorder price of only $0.99!

I have to admit when I was asked to write such a short story, it pretty much freaked me out. How was I supposed to manage something under 10k words? I’m pretty windy when it comes to my stories but I somehow managed a lovely story featuring Miss Sophie Templeton who first appeared in her sister’s story, Under the Mistletoe. Although this excerpt isn’t a first kiss scene because I don’t want to spoil the ending, I hope you enjoy this scene. Happy reading and happy holidays!

Excerpt:

She began playing again. One tune after another until she grew bored with the keyboard. What difference did it make how well she played if Spencer wasn’t in the room to hear her? As if she conjured the man up with her thoughts, the men returned to the parlor causing Sophie to lose her breath when Spencer came to stand by her chair.

“I am sorry to cut our evening short, but I must return home. In my eagerness to visit with your family, I completely forgot that I had agreed to dinner with my parents,” Spencer stated looking a bit embarrassed. “I’ll have some explaining to do.”

“Let me get your coat and hat. I’ll inform a lad to bring your horses out to the front.”

She left the room, delivered her message to one of the staff, and then went to a closet to retrieve Spencer, and Lord Charville’s things. Taking hold of Spencer’s jacket, she held the fabric up to her nose and inhaled while the heavenly smell of spice filled her senses. She heard footsteps coming closer to the foyer and didn’t want to be found out, so she quickly retrieved the other coat and their hats.

Spencer came into view, took Evan’s things and handed them to the man who returned to the parlor to say his farewells.

His hand brushed hers when he reached for his coat. “Will you walk me out, Sophie?”

Her heart would never be able to stand being this close to him, but she would take the chance she might survive their brief moment of privacy. She took her own redingote from the closet but before she could slip her hands in the sleeves, Spencer took the garment from her.

“Allow me…”

He went behind her to assist her with putting on the garment, his hands briefly resting on her shoulders caused her to tremble. He then went to open the door giving her the opportunity to bow out if she felt so inclined. Nothing could be farther from her thoughts.

The night was cold, and Sophie could see her breath in the air as she exhaled. The clip clop of horses was getting closer causing her to realize that he would be leaving her soon. Plus, Lord Charville would be exiting the house at any moment. She didn’t have much time!

“Spencer… I—”

He took her hand this time bringing it to his lips. “Ah… there it is…”

“What?” she asked in confusion.

“The sound of my given name passing your lips as though you are happy to be alone with me,” he answered tucking her hand in the crook of his elbow. He began walking toward the road. “I have waited years to hear such a sound, if I am being perfectly honest.”

“You have?” she gasped out.

“Yes, I have. It’s been torture waiting for you to grow up,” he said caressing her hand.

She halted their progress to the road not believing he was speaking the truth. “You’ve been waiting for me?”

“Yes.” A simple answer with so many possibilities.

“Why me?” Her eyes widened when she realized she had spoken the words aloud.

He took his hands to caress her cheeks. Leaning down, he stared into her eyes. “Because you were worth waiting for, my dear.”

She closed her eyes hoping for her first kiss. But she was to be disappointed when the front door opened, and they broke apart.


Belles’ & Beaus:
A Bluestocking Belles Collection

Release Date: December 15th
Preorder for only $0.99

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.

  • A Mistletoe Kiss: Sherry Ewing
    As Christmas approaches, Sophie Templeton’s one wish is a kiss beneath the mistletoe from the man who holds her heart. Spencer, Earl of Wilmott has been quietly waiting for Sophie to grow up. Has he left it too late to make his offer?
  • The Magic Christmas Stew: Susana Ellis
    The life of an idle spare was no life at all for retired Captain, Daniel Winthrop. He was capable of doing many things, but they all required a wealthy bride. Governess Emily Bainbridge feared being pursued for her fortune, so she kept hers a secret. Will this pair find the courage to conquer their pride and risk all for love?
  • Flowers for His Lady: Alina K Field
    After her fall from grace years ago, Eleanor Gurnwood has made a family of the villagers in her vicar-brother’s parish. His rising career means she must choose between continuing as his minion or staying with the village. Then her past rides in on a white horse in the form of Major Sir Bramwell Huxley.
  • An Angel’s Promise: Rue Allyn
    Artis MacKai might be only a little girl, but she is not going to let a blizzard, wolves, or a deadly enemy stop her from rescuing the stolen mare and foal who are the hope of her family. It will take the spirits of her parents, a determined boy, and her desperate brother to save her.
  • Room at the Inn: Caroline Warfield
    A fatherless child requires a village with room in their hearts. A hardhearted baroness makes it impossible. The Honorable Declan Alworth steps up to make room in his heart and his home for the little treasure. How can the vicar’s niece, Maera Willis, resist either one of them?
  • Zara’s Locket: Jude Knight
    After Zara MacLaren is dismissed from her post on Christmas Eve, things go from bad to worse. When a goldsmith recognises the locket he once made in the hands of a would-be seller, he sets out to find her. What seems bad fortune might just turn into a Christmas miracle.
  • Three Ships: Elizabeth Ellen Carter
    Laura Winter lives on a tidal island that is home to a lighthouse. On a late November day a violent storm brings not only the handsome Lieutenant Michael Renten but also a clutch of pirates bent on wreaking mischief.
  • The Beau of Christmas Past: Cerise DeLand
    Years ago, Alyssa and Declan were caught enjoying a Christmas kiss, which broke Alyssa’s betrothal to another man, and caused the pair to be exiled, far from their families and one another. Home for Christmas, will they find the past something to be overcome? Or fulfilled?

So order your copy now for the opportunity to pour the drink of your choice, find a favourite chair, and step into one of our worlds: https://books2read.com/BellesBeaux

First Kiss Friday with Mary Morgan

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Welcome to my First Kiss Friday Blog! Today’s guest is my dear friend Mary Morgan who will be ringing us into the upcoming holiday season. Mary has an excerpt from Wishes Under a Highland Star. Isn’t the cover just beautiful? We hope you enjoy this peek into her world. Take it away, Mary!

Hello, Sherry! I’m delighted to be on your lovely blog today! I’m sharing the “first kiss” from my upcoming Scottish medieval romance, Wishes Under a Highland Star. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Excerpt:

Alex grumbled a curse and walked away. Striding with intent, he gave a curt nod in passing when Aine stepped from her safe haven.

She hurried after him. “Ye are bleeding.”

“Aye,” he returned, making long strides through the bailey and ignoring her concern.

“The cut requires tending to. Glenna is a healer. I can take ye there,” she suggested, doing her best to keep up with him.

“Nae need.”

“What do ye mean?” she pressed.

Alex clenched his jaw. Rory’s talk about marriage settled like a nettle’s sting. Without a clear path in front of him, he had no intention of luring any woman into his life with false hope. Especially the one who smelled like wildflowers on a spring day with enchanting eyes that beguiled him.

“The wound will heal in time,” he gritted out, sweeping past a yew tree and heading toward the sounds of a nearby stream.

Aine grasped his arm with a force that surprised him. “Can ye stop for a moment!”

Halting his stride, he glared down at her. The look he gave her would singe the hair from any warrior or animal. “Do ye have more to say?”

“Why do ye refuse aid?” she demanded, fisting her hands on her round hips.

Her stubborn refusal to leave intrigued Alex. Would she flee if he challenged her? He lowered his head near hers. “Why do ye care?”

Her eyes widened, and her luscious lips parted. “Because I do,” she whispered.

Alex’s breathing became shallow and the air around them thick. Her pink lips begged to be kissed. Would they be as sweet as berries? Or as heady as the wine he drank last evening? An ache to take her in his arms filled him.

He wrestled with the conflict—duty, honor, possession. She was pure as new-fallen snow on a crisp morn, and he no better than a rutting stag. Though his hands shook to hold her in his arms, Alex steeled his emotions and moved away from her.

Ye deserve a better man, Aine. Ye are a beauty, and I am but a beast.

Aine’s smile came slowly as she took a step toward him and did the unthinkable. Standing on her tiptoes, she brushed a kiss along his bearded cheek. “Is it wrong to care for ye?”

Indecision plagued him as he regarded her—disbelieving, curious as to what his real fear might be. Shoving aside the conflict within, Alex grasped her around the waist. He nuzzled the spot below her ear. “Ye tempt your fate with a kiss, Aine? With a man ye do not ken?”

She lifted her gaze to his—her cheeks flushed with a rosy hue. “Did I tempt ye?”

And there Alex witnessed the invitation in the smoldering depths of her lavender eyes. By the hounds! What was the lass doing? She had transformed to a siren, tempting him beyond reason, luring him with her heady scent and enticing song.

With his restraint failing, Alex deemed a lesson proved in order—one that would hopefully frighten her away from him. His eyes raked boldly over her lush curves. Crushing Aine to his chest, he devoured what she had to offer. The kiss became demanding, urgent, forcing her to open fully to the seduction and pleasure. His tongue quested with a burning need to conquer—slipping inside her sweetness. He drew forth her moan and answered with one of his own, kissing her more deeply. Gripping her waist firmly, Alex slowly walked her backward until her back hit the rough bark of a tree.

The kiss sang through his veins, igniting a hunger beyond anything he had known. Alex angled his head to take more of her sweet lips and hungrily feasted on something he dared not take.


WISHES UNDER A HIGHLAND STAR
(A Tale from the Order of the Dragon Knights)
By Mary Morgan
Release date: December 5, 2022


As chieftain for his clan, Alex MacFhearguis struggles with the burden of an unwanted responsibility. With the midwinter feast approaching, he flees his castle to find comfort and solitude within the forest. Yet on his quest, Alex stumbles into a world filled with magic, mysteries, and a woman with beguiling eyes who could capture his heart.

When half-Fae Aine Fraser makes a powerful wish, her simple request unlocks the magic she possesses and brings forth a Highlander into her world. Though the man has lost all his memories, she finds her attraction growing for this brooding warrior with each passing day. Unable to deny her feelings, Aine risks everything when she confesses her greatest secret.

Can a beauty who wished for a champion tame the beast of Leòmhann Castle?

Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/31DeYa

About the Author:

Multi award-winning paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic and Norse mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of fantasy, then travel back in time within the pages of her books.

Connect with Mary here ~
Website/Blog: https://www.marymorganauthor.com/
Amazon Author: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Morgan/e/B00KPE3NWI/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryMorganAuthor/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/m_morganauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8271002.Mary_Morgan
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marymorgan50/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marymorgan2/
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-morgan
Audible: https://www.audible.com/author/Mary-Morgan/B00KPE3NWI
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-morgan-2634a77a/

First Kiss Friday with Caroline Warfield

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Welcome to my blog and another First Kiss Friday. Today’s guest is my dear friend Caroline Warfield who has an excerpt from her book Wounded Hearts. Take it away, Caroline!

There are three stories in Wounded Hearts, and three first kisses. The very first one in the book is this one. Doug Marsh may have come home from the Napoleonic wars with a permanent limp that forces him to rely on a cane, but that doesn’t stop him from protecting the woman he loves when her vile supervisor attempts to take advantage. This scene takes place in a back room during a ball at the Bath Assembly Rooms.

***

“You’ll pay for this, you whore!” Fowler roared. “You owe me more than a cuddle and a kiss for that one.” He lunged at Esther, only to be brought up short by a heavy wooden cane shoved crosswise into his middle like a battle staff.

“I believe it is you who owes the lady,” Doug spat through gritted teeth, pushing the little man unrelentingly back to the wall. If Fowler thought Doug’s limp meant he was weak, he knew better now. Doug’s grip on his throat proved it; seventeen years of war had taught him innumerable efficient ways to kill a man. “Start with an apology.”

“Doug, no! Don’t kill him.” Esther’s voice cut through Doug’s savage instincts. He slammed Fowler’s head against the wall and stepped back. Into Esther’s arms.

“Don’t,” she sobbed into his shoulder. “Don’t get into trouble for me.”

“You best listen to her, Marsh. You’ll get no further contract from me. I can ruin you.” Fowler rose unsteadily to his feet, “And that whore and the earl’s by-blow can starve in the street.”

Doug’s fist snapped Fowler’s head back before he could blink. “That is for the lady,” he said. He followed it with a swift cut to the man’s midsection that doubled him over. “And that is for the earl, as honorable a gentleman as you could hope to meet.”

Fowler clutched his midsection and glared. He opened his mouth to speak, and Doug’s entire body stiffened. He felt Esther’s hand, gentle on his arm. “Easy, Doug. Mr. Fowler is going to leave now, and we will never speak of this. He will tell no one what happened here.” Fowler managed a sneer, and Esther poked her index finger into his chest. “He will never speak of this because, if he does, the Earl of Chadbourn will have words for the Master of Ceremonies and the Assembly Room committee about the slur to his good name.” Fowler’s eyes widened.

Doug stood rigid at her side, hands fisted, eyes fixed on Fowler, wanting to pound the miscreant to the floor but helpless in the face of this courageous woman’s stand.

Her next words improved his disposition. “Besides, if he were to try to touch me again, he will face the wrath of Sergeant Douglas Marsh and come away a battered man—if he comes away at all,” she said with bloodthirsty glee.

“He will face it if he so much as opens his pathetic mouth to defame the lady’s name,” Doug ground out, his eyes never leaving Fowler, who could do no more than fire hateful looks in their direction as he waddled toward the door.

“Smile, Mr. Fowler. You don’t want to alarm the guests,” Esther called after him.

She clasped a hand over her mouth to stifle a laugh; the hand shook violently.

She turned to Doug with wide eyes, her hand fluttering down to her side. He reached out and cupped her cheek to sooth her. “He’s gone,” he whispered.

She nodded, a swift bob of her head, and he worried for a moment she might fall to pieces.

He kissed her brow and the spot next to her eye, murmuring reassuring nothings. Her hands slipped up to his shoulders, and she clutched him as if she feared he would go away.

Never, he thought. Never.

***

Esther snuggled into Doug’s shoulder, unable to get close enough, wishing she could crawl inside him. One arm came around her waist to hold her in place; he moved the hand that held her cheek to the back of her head, his thumb caressing her neck. He paused for a moment as if asking for the permission he must surely know he had, lowered his mouth to hers, and covered her lips with his. He moaned when she opened for him with no encouragement and deepened their kiss, pulling her with him to lean against the wall for support. All thought of what had happened fled, and she kissed him in earnest, intoxicated with his scent and the feel of his hands.

About the Book:  Wounded Hearts

Wounded bodies mend; wounded hearts take longer.
Three warriors return from the Napoleonic wars with damaged bodies, ugly memories, and regrets to futures they are ill prepared to face. But love can heal the most damaged heart bringing with it hope for better days

Candles in the Dark—Douglas Marsh came home to an unexpected inheritance, a factory he has no idea how to run. With many dependent on him, he does his best in spite of pain from his battered legs. He has no time for self-pity especially after he meets a woman on the streets with far bigger problems.

Lord Ethan’s Courage—Lord Ethan Alcott left his right hand and his soul in Spain. He lives on the streets during the worst winter in decades, wishing for death, ashamed to go home. But a stubborn lady and her equally determined brother won’t give up on him.

The Tender Flood—Zach Newell manages well enough with a prosthetic leg. He even drives a carriage for his uncle, but he’s desperately lonely, missing the comradery of the army. In the midst of the storm of the century he meets the woman who makes his heart sing, one too far above his touch. If he won’t approach, she will have to.

Wounded Hearts launches November 8. It will be available for sale or on Kindle Unlimited after that. The sale price will remain 99 cents through November in honor of Veteran’s Day and veterans everywhere.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BBSGBL4R/

About the Author:

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award-winning and Amazon best-selling author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all, she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, writing family-centered historical romance set mainly in the Regency and Victorian eras.

Caroline believes firmly that love is worth the risk; she sits in an office surrounded by windows and nudges readers to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

In addition to her weekly blog, But First Coffee, she hosts guests on her Highlighting Historical Romance series, and contributes to the SMPAuthors Blog, and (on a lighter note) The Teatime Tattler, a blog in the shape of a fictional nineteenth-century gossip rag.

For more about all of Caroline’s books, look here: https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

And the winner is…

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Thanks to everyone who participated in my Rafflecopter giveaway when I came back from the Historical Romance Retreat with extra books and swag!

Congratulations goes out to Nancy K who’s name was randomly generated as the winner. I’ve emailed Nancy to get her address so I can send her a goodie box! Thanks again to everyone for their continued support and congrats, Nancy!

#HRR22 Recap and a Giveaway!

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It’s been a week since I’ve been home now from the Historical Romance Retreat and I must admit I’m having major withdrawals. After having to wait for the last two years for a reunion, it was wonderful to finally get back together, dress up in lovely gowns, and just spend time with some incredible authors and readers.

My daughter has been planning better than I ever did and added to her collection of historical clothing. Honestly, I didn’t think the packages would ever stop arriving! She really brought her A-game to #HRR22!

From the first night get together:

To a Regency Fair workshop I was asked to help out with… I had a game called Down the. Clown or as I would like to say Down the Regency Rake:

To afternoon tea that is always a lovely affair:

Thursday evening’s event was Revolutionary and my daughter won one of the raffle baskets! I even had to pay a tax to take a picture of the king and queen. lol

Friday began with Tiara Friday, a pool party and on to a Scottish Ceilidh.

And finally on Saturday was the Book Fair and the final Ball:

A special word of thanks and lots of love to VJ and Rosa with Period Finery. The gowns I rented were spectacular. I may have to deplete my savings account to buy a few more. Honestly… you two were a wonder!

And after multiple wardrobe changes and a farewell breakfast, we were on our way home. Somewhere in all this luggage and boxes I was sitting here in the backseat. We made a stop in Solvang which is a cute little Danish town. I even got to feed an ostrich… the greedy fellows. I know my daughter and her boyfriend were certainly glad they didn’t have to load and unload the car anymore with each trip to a new hotel

Which more or less brings me to the end of my recap of the fabulous retreat. If you’ve never been, you don’t want to miss out on HRR23 that will bring up back to the Westgate Hotel in San Diego!

Giveaway Opportunity!

I’ve come back from #HRR22 with a few extra books so I’m running a Rafflecopter giveaway through October 23rd. For a chance to win, here’s the link and good luck! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bdaa8f0812/?

Until the next time, I’m certain I’ll see you on our mutual social media links!

Always a fun time with my daughter and the shenanigans we get into!