With the first day of fall zipping up fast–it’ll be Monday!!–I’m participating, along with other romance authors, in a blog hop to celebrate love and fall. I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card, but there’s also a $75 Amazon gift Card up for grabs, so stay with me until the end for details.
And since I have a new release out, I thought I’d share a scene when the heroine first meets the hero, since that first meet is when you get that first inkling the character is going to fall in love. But first, a little background. This is a time travel romance, title Must Love Breeches, and the heroine is at a reenactment ball and doesn’t realize she’s been zapped back to 1834–she thinks everyone’s just really good at the whole reenacting bit. She’s just met Ada Byron (the future Ada Lovelace), when she’s interrupted:
Before Ada could reply, a frisson of awareness streaked down Isabelle’s spine. A dark shape filled her vision. Sandalwood and a hint of something else, something elemental, wafted over her. Isabelle gazed up. And up. And—Holy Pete. She clenched her teeth to hold her chin in place.
My God, what gorgeous hair! Long, black, and wavy, it caressed the guy’s shirt collar, making her want to plunge her fingers through it. Frolic in it. Twine her fingers around and sniff it.
He’d grown sideburns for the event, and his prominent chin had that sexy little indentation. Could she nibble on it? The high cheekbones and hooded eyes made her insides all squirmy. Gorgeous men always made her uncomfortable, and this one was one notch shy of being too, too perfect. Which left her trying to remember where she was, and why.
Oh, yes. Ball. At a ball in London.
A reenactment of a ball held in 1834, London, England.
Would this man look equally exquisite on the streets in blue jeans and T-shirt, or were his kind of looks enhanced by the period clothing? She’d seen that phenomenon before: someone who looked absolutely yummy in a historical flick and, when wearing modern clothes, appeared positively humdrum.
But never mind that. Right smack in front of her stood a man at noble ease in form-fitting pantaloons and coattails. The black coat molded to his frame, and the starched white collar poked just high enough to accentuate his jaw. With a hand-tied cravat to boot. Hoo! Which brought her to his deliciously sculpted lips, one side cocked up a smidge.
Above those lips and proud nose, his eyes stared right at her. Oh, oops. A fuzzy warmth spread across her chest. This was awkward. His gaze shifted to Ada. Isabelle tried not to look like, well, like a cartoon character knocked on the head, with big X’s for eyes.
“Miss Byron. Always a pleasure.” He gave a perfect bow, not at all cheesy, as though he practiced bowing. Definitely not his first reenactment ball. “May I have the honor of an introduction?” He raised a brow at Ada.
May I have the honor? Really? She was starting to enjoy the whole reenactment thing, but this was a tad over the top. So, he was handsome. Well, okay, drool-worthy. Maybe she would cut him some slack on the over-acting bit.
“Miss Isabelle Rochon, may I present Lord Montagu,” Ada went right with the flow. “Cousin, Miss Rochon.”
Isabelle stuck her hand out to shake his. Lord? Okay, cool. Lord Drool-Worthy’s penetrating eyes held hers. He lightly grasped her hand, the warmth permeating her glove. Without losing eye contact, he slowly raised it to his lips and feathered a kiss across her knuckles.
Electricity spiked up her arm, stealing her breath. Her knees telegraphed: Yep, can’t handle this, checking out now.
Isabelle managed to turn the knee-buckle into an awkward curtsy, but who cared since this was all pretend, right? Must have worked, because His Hunkiness smiled, the corner of his mouth quirking, as if he sensed her distress.
And that mouth had been moving only a moment ago. Damn, he’d been talking this whole time? Something about dancing?
“D-dance?” Her stomach back flipped. Other couples headed for the center, and the quartet, back from their break, took up their instruments.
He held out his hand, open, waiting.
Oh, God. Her palms were sweating. Was that why ladies wore gloves?
She placed her hand in his, and he led her onto the dance floor. If she could focus. Tune out her surroundings. Detach. Not grab the moment too hard, or she’d get so nervous, so flustered, she’d be a pile of goo. A slippery hazard on the marble floor.
The first notes from the musicians floated through the air. A waltz.
Lord Montagu bowed.
Isabelle curtseyed and stifled a giggle. Oooh, boy, she could get used to this treatment.
He swept her into a dizzying swirl of sound and color. His confident fingers on the small of her back shot warmth up her spine. Subtle pressures guided her through the music and crowd in a way she’d never experienced, so very aware of his body, of him. She’d thought the waltz quaint, but she was stunned.
Well, not stunned, but… aroused. Who knew this dance could be sexy?
This––her heart pounded, pounded, pounded––this was what she’d pictured. All the preparation, the diligent work on the dress and hair and shoes, had led to this moment. Because, yep, as usual, she’d built an expectation for this ball.
Until this moment, she’d wanted to curse her imagination. It was wonderful to finally have an experience at an event match up.
She let the moment etch into her memory, a rare, sparkling gift to savor. The soft, mellow glow of nearby candles, the glint of jewels, the murmuring voices—the occasional titter of laughter—her partner’s intoxicating scent, and the notes from the violins intertwining through all, through them, while they rode its rhythm. She grinned like an idiot but didn’t care.
He wasn’t much for small talk. Amazing, and a smidge intimidating. He stared at her while he whirled her around the floor, mesmerizing her with those eyes. They strayed from hers to linger on her neck and slowly travel to her chest and waist.
Each area of her body tingled as if he’d touched her, and her heart thumped against her chest as if seeking his notice too. Damn heart. Something was different about his eyes, and she couldn’t figure out what it was in the dim lighting. Someone must have finally doused the electric bulbs.
She couldn’t look away. Weird. Her stomach did another flippin’ flip. Not for the first time, she wondered where her confidence traipsed off to around attractive men.
The last guy who’d hit all her lust buttons had derailed her life back in the States. She’d never let that happen again. So, she fought against the too-strong-to-be-safe attraction by doing what she sensed would most likely break the spell, and perhaps turn Lord Laconic from her: talking. Anything to deflect, protect.
“So, is this your first time at one of these shindigs?” She hoped her voice didn’t sound quite so shaky to his ears.
She tore her gaze from his to see if she could spot Andrew. Or Jocelyn, to give her the lookee-what-I-have-here face. Or her boss. She must stay focused on her goal. A flash of bright red hair in the corner. Jocelyn? But the next turn whipped the red hair from view.
“Shindigs?” He pronounced it carefully, drawing her attention back to him. His eyebrows swooped closer together, the inside edges slanting up.
Okay, that was adorable, dammit. “Yeah, you know, these reenactments? You seem quite a natural.” The words sucked up what air was left in her lungs. She concentrated on breathing through her nose. Stay calm.
And––he was still staring at her.
Oh great, did she have something in her teeth? Did she have stinky breath? Did he think she was some uncouth American and regret asking her to dance? She ducked her head and checked her teeth with her tongue and nearly stumbled. She swung her gaze back to his face to regain her rhythm.
He cocked his head to the side. “I am not at all sure what you believe we are reenacting, but unfortunately, I find I am expected to be at these balls with an appalling regularity.”
He had the period syntax and cadence down pat. “Wow, you’re quite good at this. Don’t worry, I’ll try to play along.”
Her partner did the eyebrow-slanting-up-in-the-middle thing and looked away. She could have sworn he muttered ‘Colonials’ under his breath.
Huh? Wait, he was referring to her. “Hey, no need to be rude, and I’m not a Colonial. We soundly beat your hides and settled that score, like, two hundred years ago.” She gave him a playful swat on his shoulder. “Man, you British can sure hold a grudge.”
His head whipped back, and he gawked at her. “Two hundred years ago? Are you daft, woman?”
Surely, she looked like a candidate for the poster child of dumbfoundedness: mouth agape, brow creased. Oh. She chuckled. “I get it. Man, you are good. You don’t break character, do you?”
He continued to stare at her as if she were the one who was nuts. Her smile slipped. She looked away and muttered, “Reenactors.”
Available at the following e-retailers:
$5 Amazon Gift Card
I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card to commenters who tell me what time period they’d like to go back to and why.
$75 Grand prize Giveaway
To enter the Grand Prize Giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter box and press enter! (One entry per person!) You do not get extra entries for visiting more blogs. Every blog has their own giveaway, however, so be sure to visit the hop link for a list of participating authors! The Grand Prize winner will be chosen by the hop coordinator on Tuesday, September 23 using Random.org and the winner emailed.
GRAND PRIZE: 1 $75 Amazon Gift Card – to enter, visit: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/3ad276f818/
Blog Hop participants
To visit the other participating authors and win more prizes, go to: www.hopswithheart.blogspot.com