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.
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!
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 nun. She 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/