Welcome, dearest readers, to my First Kiss Friday blog. Today’s guest is my dear friend Jude Knight who will be sharing an excerpt from Melting Matilda. In this excerpt, the kiss is the first one in this book. They had another kiss a year before, and it haunts them. You’ll have to read the book to find out more.
He had dressed with enormous care, driving his valet demented by changing his mind three times about his waistcoat, rejecting six cravats before settling on the seventh, and hesitating for twenty minutes on his choice of fobs. The valet would probably slit his wrists in despair if he could see how Charles had set his hair in disarray by running his fingers through it, and ruined the hard-won perfection of the cravat by tugging it further open because he felt it choking him.
Then the door opened. Matilda entered the room and he lost his breath again. She was magnificent in a violet gown that hugged her curves before sweeping out into a deceptively simple skirt that avoided fashionable ruffles in favor of more subtle stitching that added detail without fuss. The neckline was low enough to rivet his attention while still high enough to be demure by the current standards. She wore pearls at her neck, her wrists, dangling from her ears and glowing in her dark hair, and the blue eyes he met when he wrenched his attention from the snowy skin displayed by her décolletage had taken on a violet cast from the gown.
He gazed, losing track of time and space, until she said his name. “Charles?”
“I had a speech.” His voice croaked, and he swallowed. “I do not remember a word.”
With one hand, index finger outstretched, he traced an inch or so away from her face. “Why did I try so hard to resist you, you beautiful woman?”
It was the wrong thing to say. Her nostrils flared. “Because I am the base-born daughter of a harlot.”
“I cannot remember why I thought that important,” he confessed. “You are the beloved sister of the next Duke of Haverford, the ward of the current duchess, and a lady of impeccable education, training and manners. That is not why I love you, though.”
Her eyes softened. “You love me?”
“That was part of the speech. It is the only bit I remember. I look into your eyes, and I forget my own name.”
“Why?” Matilda asked.
“Why do I forget? No? Why now?” She colored, and he realized what she was asking. “Why do I love you? How can I explain something that has grown in my heart without my knowledge, even against my will?” He took both of her hands, and suddenly the words began to flow.
“I have been attracted to you since the first time we danced, but that is desire, and desire is a part of love but not the whole. I do desire you, my love, more and more each day, but I also admire you, I like being with you, I enjoy talking to you, I respect you. I want to see you every morning when I wake, to spend my days with you, to have the right to dance the first waltz with you at every ball, and to go home with you every night. I want to see your belly rounded with our child, and watch you as you gently teach them the way I’ve seen you teach your little sister. I want you and only you as my countess and the mother of my children. I want to grow old with you, Matilda Grenford.”
He dropped to one knee. “Miss Grenford, I esteem you with all my heart. Will you do me the very great honor of becoming my wife?”
He waited, his anxiety rising as she said nothing, despair taking over as tears rose and began to leak from her pansy eyes. Then she began to nod as she slipped to her own knees and reached out for him. “Yes. Oh, yes. Charles, I love you, too.”
For more than a year, Charles had kept to himself the fact that the Haverford Ice Princess kissed like a flame. As he abandoned his own granite facade for once and for all, he rejoiced in her heat. This time was even better than the last, and the best was yet to come. Though perhaps not here in a family parlor where her brother or sisters could walk in at any time.
“I hope you do not want a long betrothal,” he whispered, between kisses.
She broke off her attempt to completely unravel his cravat. “Not long,” she agreed.
Her fervent answer demanded that he kiss her again, losing himself so deep he didn’t know they were no longer alone until a voice behind him said, “I trust you are betrothed to my sister, Hamner, for it would be most inconvenient to start the evening’s celebrations by killing you.”
By Jude Knight
Release Date: March 23rd
Can the Ice Maiden soften the Granite Earl?
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.
Can the Granite Earl melt the Ice Maiden?
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.
Melting Matilda is a novella in the series The Return of the Mountain King. Chronologically and by publication order, it comes after To Mend the Broken-Hearted, published in March, and before To Claim the Long-Lost Lover, available in July.
To preorder Melting Matilda before the publication date, 23rd March, go to https://books2read.com/MeltingMatilda
Note. Melting Matilda was first published in Fire & Frost, a Bluestocking Belles collection.
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.