Keep Calm and Read This! ~The Matchmaking Game by Donna Hatch~

Keep Calm and Read This! ~The Matchmaking Game by Donna Hatch~

I’m honored to have best-selling author Donna Hatch visit today. She has a new novella debuting April 18th, but we get a sneak peek here … and it’s available for preorder!


Title: The Matchmaking Game
Heat level: Sweet (clean)
Genre: Regency Romance
Length: Novella ~ 126 pages

 
 
Rowena’s childhood friend, Evan, has returned home from war a handsome, but mysterious stranger. In an effort to bring happiness to her father, not to mention uncover the Evan she remembers from their youth, Rowena seeks to unite their parents. Who better to match a lonely widow and widower together than their adoring children? Her matchmaking game could help their parents find happiness and draw out her childhood friend buried beneath Evan’s new reserve … or it could break more than one heart.

With a gesture at a basket tied to the saddle, she said, “I had Cook pack plenty of those seedcakes Nurse Murray likes so well, as well as lemon tarts for you.” She made a face. “I’ll be sure to grab one before you devour them all and leave me with nothing but crumbs.”

He laughed softly. “Would I do that?”

Her impish grin filled him with sunshine. “It was your habit.”

With a flippant shrug, he teased, “It was for your own good. I didn’t want you to get too fat.”

She made a gesture to her waistline. “Do I look like I need someone to monitor my eating habits?”

He made a perusal of her, letting his gaze travel from her face downward, slowly, but forgot he was supposed to be teasing her. Instead, he took a really good look. Fourteen-year-old Rowena had been as curvy as a blade of grass. Twenty-three-year old Rowena, with her figure accentuated by her fitted riding habit—so much more flattering than the normal, high-waisted gowns of the day’s fashions—had the graceful, generous curves of a Greek statue of Aphrodite. A new tightness formed inside his chest.

Rowena looked at him as if she’d never seen him before. Surprise, and something almost smug, deepened the gray of her eyes. She put a hand on a hip. “Like what you see, Captain?”

He tugged at a suddenly strangling cravat and cleared his throat. “Forgive me. You’ve changed.”

“How kind of you to notice,” she said dryly. “Give your major a leg up?”

With a smile at her reference to the honorary rank he’d given her, Evan dismounted. He laced his fingers together so she could mount her horse. A pert smile came his way before she placed her left foot in his cupped hands. She put one hand on his shoulder to steady herself as he boosted her up. Her soft body brushed his arm and chest. Her scent, something soft and feminine he could not name, tingled his senses. Mere inches away, her smooth cheek and moist lips taunted him. His chest squeezed, and his knees wobbled. Awareness of her, of the desirable woman she had become, rendered him immobile. She glanced at him, one brow raised, and a half smile curving those luscious lips. A burning energy formed in the middle of his stomach and shot outward like sunbursts.

She parted those lips and spoke. “Am I too heavy for a big, strong man like you?”

“Er, no. Of course not.” He cleared his throat again and boosted her up with a bit too much force.

Despite his aggressive boost, she placed her right leg over the leg rest of the sidesaddle and found her balance. She settled the long, heavy skirts of her riding habit around her, while he helped position her left foot in the stirrup.

With the reins in one hand and her riding crop in the other, she eyed him with an expectant lift to her brows. “Shall we?”

He shook his head, stopped staring, and mounted Otoño. It must be all Winnie’s talk about courting Rowena that had him so rattled. He couldn’t entertain such an idea. He’d made a vow to Joseph and all but promised himself to Cynthia. Besides, as an additional benefit, Cynthia’s dowry could restore the family fortune without having to sell off some of its most precious assets and break up generations of holdings. His path was already paved. Honor and duty dictated his next move.

Click Here to Pre-order on Amazon today!

Donna Hatch, author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, the force that drove her to write and publish seventeen historical romance titles, to date. She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six children. Also a music lover, she sings and plays the harp, and she loves to ballroom dance. Donna and her family recently transplanted from her native Arizona to the Pacific Northwest where she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Click HERE to receive the first novel in her Rogue Hearts series for free.

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And don’t forget to always #ReadARegency!

Keep Calm and Read This! E. Ayers ~ A Rancher’s Dream

Keep Calm and Read This! E. Ayers ~ A Rancher’s Dream

E. Ayers has a new novel in her Creed’s Crossing Historical series, A Rancher’s Dream, coming out on June 16 – but she wants to give a free copy  away to her fans!  So what do you need to do?

Just tell me in the comment section below that you want a copy.

Seriously. That’s it.

I’ll randomly draw a winner on Wednesday, June 10.

But let’s find out more about A Rancher’s Dream.

 

Widowed and raising a young daughter by himself,
Tiago has only one goal – to work a ranch of his own and build a
future for his small family. When fate deposits a young woman in
his path, he believes he has found the help he needs to care for his child
as they journey to their new home in Creed’s Crossing.

On the run for her life, Ingrid needs to get as far
away from Texas as she can. Her brother and father have
been murdered, and those responsible would see her dead, too.
Desperate, she accepts an offer to help Tiago with his daughter,
but Ingrid’s past can destroy everything Tiago is working for.
Worse – her very presence places him and his daughter in peril.

Amid secrets and danger, a single father
and an orphaned woman on the run must fight all odds to fulfill A Rancher’s Dream.

 

A Rancher’s Dream is a Victorian Western set in 1898, and it’s clean enough for you to read with your kiddo looking over your shoulder (and why exactly do kids do that, by the way?!).

promo1

 

Now, if you don’t win a free copy – don’t fret! A Rancher’s Dream is available for pre-order right now at:

Amazon

Authl.it

 

 

But don’t forget the  GIVEAWAY!   One free ARC (Advance Reading Copy) in PDF, Mobi, or ePub format, will be awarded to one randomly-drawn winner who comments below.  Just tell me you want a copy.  You can even be so bold as to tell me what format you prefer.  Include your email so I can share the good news with your inbox next Wednesday!

Keep Calm and Read This! Lynne Barron ~ Unravelling the Earl

Lynne Baron - Unraveling the Earl Book Tour

Welcome to Sensuous Promo’s UNRAVELLING THE EARL Book Tour.

Watch for the Giveaway below!

 

Unravelling the Earl ~ Book 3 in the Idyllwild series

Unraveling the Earl Book Cover

The Earl of Hastings’s reputation as London’s greatest gift to the ladies has taken on a life of its own, one he is only too happy to live up to in one Mayfair bedchamber after another. Until he encounters a lady more interested in poking around his country estate than sampling his lauded charms.

Georgiana Buchanan is possessed of murky morals, skewed notions of right and wrong, a talent for dancing around the truth, and a penchant for crashing weddings, funerals and charity balls.

When Georgie catches Henry’s roving eye, she turns the tables on the arrogant scoundrel, introducing him to a world of sensual delights and unraveling his vaunted control before fleeing into the night.

Henry is determined to make the elusive Georgiana his mistress while the lady wants only to use his desire to further her own schemes. When they find themselves marooned at Idyllwild during a summer storm, they will both discover they’ve gotten more than they bargained for.

Let’s take a peek inside:

Georgie drew in a ragged breath and lifted her head from his shoulder, peeking up at him from beneath her lashes, her feather waving in the air.

Henry angled his head to look into her face, expecting to find trembling lips, blotchy skin and eyes swollen nearly shut.

Georgie’s skin was a touch pink on the crests of her sharp cheekbones but her eyes were bright and quite large. Her lips trembled for a moment before lifting in a smile that began at one corner and slowly worked its way to the other.

“Gracious me, but your uncle is a fearsome man,” she said, her voice laced with laughter as she smacked him lightly on the shoulder. “But I could have handled him. There was no need for you to play the gallant and whisk me up in your arms.”

“You were crying.” Except her eyes were bright and clear. And dry.

“I thought to faint but I never did master the art of the elegant swoon.”

Henry only stared at her, certain he must have misunderstood her words and the smile that had reached her eyes, setting them to twinkling.

“With my luck, no one would have caught me,” she continued, scrambling from his lap and plopping down on the seat across from him. “To be sure, I’d have gone tumbling to the marble floor, likely cracking my chin and biting clear through my tongue.”

“You were faking,” he accused.

“Were you fooled?”

“Damn it, Georgie.”

“Huh, I thought for certain you knew what I was about when you caught me up in your arms, all bellowing, masculine temper.” She reached up and pulled the feather from her hair, tossing it to the seat beside her. “You ought to have carried me back to the parlor so everyone could fuss over me while Lord Somerton stewed in his guilt.”

“It was all part of a strategy?” Henry asked, trying to keep up with her agile, and alarmingly cunning, mind.

“Somerton would have been begging my pardon within three minutes, and offering up all of his considerable resources to find the elusive Connie.”

“You lied to my family.”

“Faking a crying fit is lying?”

“They must think I’ve lost my mind,” Henry muttered, an image of the stares from the dining room and Olivia’s fluttering hands filling his mind.

“They’ll still love you,” she replied cheerfully.

“Of course they will but that is not the point.”

“Will they seek guardianship over your estate?” she asked, kicking off her slippers and wiggling her toes. “Marry you off to some bossy miss in hopes she might control your erratic behavior? Lop off your bollocks to prevent you from breeding, thereby putting an end to the madness that courses through your blood?”

“Madness does not course through my blood.”

“Then what has caused your sudden madness?”

“You have caused my sudden madness,” he answered, unable to hold back a smile as he watched her tug at the buttons of one lace glove.

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Keep Calm and Read This! Mageela Troche ~ Claiming the Highlander

I want to warmly welcome author Mageela Troche to the blog today.  She graciously agreed to stop by and reveal the inspiration for her latest novel, Claiming the Highlander.

As a romance author, I am asked many questions. One that I often get is “where do you get your inspiration from?” For my latest novel, Claiming the Highlander, I can say it all started with a football game. I was watching the Green Bay Packers play. I couldn’t help but watch number 52, Linebacker Clay Matthews. His long blond hair flapped out from the bottom of his helmet as he tackled his opponents. One thought popped in my head: Viking.

clay matthews #52

Of course, my books are full of medieval highlanders, but Scotland and Norse have an intertwined history. Thus my hero, Caelen MacKenzie, was born. But who would be the woman that captured his heart? That I didn’t know. I had the opening scene: two children wed for political reasons. I knew one thing – a woman makes her man.

kemp muhl lady brenna

Then my heroine came to me—Brenna Grant. She would be opposite of Caelen. Brunette and brown-eyed . . . but there was more. Marriage at this time was about political power, building connections and strengthening family ties. Brenna would be trained for the life she would live once joined to her husband, but this marriage had to help her clan as well. Now she was torn between the life she was raised to live and the one she was leaving behind. She risked the loss of the one truth in her life – her marriage to Caelen – because of men’s machinations.

Claiming the Highlander, the latest novel from author Mageela Troche

Caelen MacKenzie married heiress Lady Brenna Grant in his youth for a large parcel of land and an earldom.  Years later, Scotland trembles from the tables of the Viking Highlander, yet Caelen must face his most challenging battle – returning home to the past he ran from.

Lady Brenna loves her husband.  As her loyalties are tested, the life she was reared to live is in jeopardy.  She knows no other life apart from Countess and wife to Caelen.  Snagged in the power plays of men, she will do anything to save that life, and the man she loves.

From the rugged western highlands to the glittering Scottish court, they must battle the machinations of powerful men scheming against them.

Grab your copy of Claiming the Highlander at:

Amazon

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Secret Cravings Publishing

Smashwords

Author Mageela Troche

Author Mageela Troche writes in the cramped corner of her Big Apple apartment.  She is currently working on her fourth novel.  When she’s not writing, she has her nose in books while her lovebird flies about, making a great deal of noise.  But her bird is sooo cute.

Catch up with Mageela on:

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Meet My Character

My Facebook friend, fellow author, and like-minded history enthusiast Francine Howarth (do you get the idea that I like this lady a bit?) invited me to join the blog-hop Meet My Character.  Francine is not only a former mainstream-published author and former publisher, she’s now the self-published author of 17th century swashbuckling romances, lavish Georgian novellas, and romantic Regency murder mysteries.

I know.  She’s that awesome.

Find out more for yourself by visiting Francine at her website, where you can also find links to points of sale for all her novels.  You can even read sample chapters, view images of places featured within her novels, and discover links to more places of interest to historical novelists (like me!).

For this blog-hop, I’m to profile a main character from a current work in progress (WIP).  I classify my third novel, Earl Crazy, as a WIP, as I am currently putting the final touches on it before shipping it off to my editor.  When it returns with bleeding red wounds, I will definitely progress to working on it some more.  For now, let’s get to know my beleaguered, crazy Earl.

What is the name of your character? Is he fictional or historical?

Tobias Kitteridge, the Earl of Aylesford, is a most fictional character, although I picture him quite alive and well in my mind.  For each character in my book, I pick real titles, estates, and events, but I mix them up to fit my completely fictional story.  My Earl of Aylesford hails from Warwickshire rather than Kent.  He inherits his title after his father refuses to be the heir, forcing Aylesford’s grandfather to seek to have the Letters Patent for the earldom amended (which is very fictional, by the way; it could happen, and did in the 20th century, but not during the Regency). As for what Aylesford looks like, I picked a public figure that fit my idea of his characteristics.  On my Pinterest page, Novel Inspiration, I have tacked up pictures of close representations of my fictional characters.  Aylesford happens to look very similar to Tom Cullen, the dashing Lord Gillingham on Downton Abbey.

tom-cullen-actor

You can see why it’s quite easy for me to blur the line between figment and fiction, yes?

When and where is the story set?

Earl Crazy is set in the autumn months of 1814.  All the action takes place in London.  1814 was an unusual year in history in general, and London in particular.  February brought a Frost Fair to the Thames for four days as the river was frozen solid.  Napoleon was deposed, abdicated his crown, and set sail for Elba in April.  Louis XVIII decided it was safe to leave London, and departed with dreams of a triumphal return to Paris.  Universal peace was declared in May, and dignitaries from various countries began to find their way to the English capital now that the war had ended.  Wellington was made a duke, fêted formally in polite homes, and extremely informally at a masque held by The Dandy Club of Byron, Devonshire, Leinster, et. al.  The Glorious Peace was celebrated in multiple parks and ballrooms in August.  So unlike most years, the aristocracy stayed in Town throughout the summer.  It would not do to miss a thing this the happenings in London, despite the heat and unfortunate stench.

london 1814 closeup

What should we know about your character?

Tobias Kitteridge is a man who grew up without a childhood, inherited an earldom that should never have been his, and shouldered the responsibilities of an entire family.  His grandfather, having lost two sons to accident and war, and the third and youngest to a world-wide treasure hunt, pulled young Tobias from university to bring him home for study.  He petitioned Parliament to let the earldom bypass his living son – Tobias’s father – so that grandson Tobias could inherit.  His petition was granted, thus ending Tobias’s youth of school, friends, and frivolity.  Life soon became endless lessons on land management, book balancing, and sober living.  At the death of his grandfather, Tobias became Aylesford, and inherited the care of his grandmother and aunt in addition to his wealth, lands, and tenants.  When we meet Aylesford, he is desperately trying to balance the demands of the earldom and supervision of his relations with the understandable desire to pursue his own interests for a change.  Just when things seem to be working out, two of his closest friends marry; now even the landscape of his friendships is changing and adulthood is leaving him behind.  A drunken suggestion is made that the answer to Aylesford’s problems can be found in a wife: one who will manage his family and his household, and allow him some much-desired free time.  This leads to a drunken advertisement for a wife (another bit of real history coming to life in my fiction).  Mix in two scheming countesses, one daffy aunt, liberal drops of the machinations of well-meaning friends, and you have the picture of life for Aylesford in Earl Crazy.  Sounds like he only wants for the perfect – for him – woman.

ArmsOf3rdEarlOfAylesford

What is the main conflict?  What messes up his life?

I touched on this a little bit above.  Aylesford had to grow up too soon, and missed out on many of the classic youthful male pursuits of drinking, wenching, and gambling.  His main conflict comes in trying to find a balance between his responsibilities and needing a much-deserved break from those responsibilities.  He thinks he’s figured out a solution with the helpful prodding of his friends and family: a wife will take over the household concerns while his secretary and stewards will help with the earldom.  In reality, a wife complicates his life . . . but in a surprisingly satisfactory way.  He congratulates himself on finding a lady who needs help as much as he, thinking they can both do each other a fine turn.  Instead, he finds that he likes her, wants to spend time with her, and relishes taking on the burden of ridding them all of her horrid brother.  It ends up further “messing” up his life, eroding what little order he had managed to scrape together, but in exchange he finds much more than he ever thought he needed.

life messy love messier

What is the personal goal of your character?

This is a bit of a difficult question.  At the beginning of the story, I think Aylesford’s goal is simply to survive.  He wishes his life were simpler, and wishes his responsibilities were lighter, but he doesn’t necessarily want them to go away.  He wishes his problems were more self-solving and involved him less.  After he marries, thinking he has achieved his goal of simplicity, we see him start to look at his life from the outside in, taking stock of the things that are important and those that are secondary concerns.  Pretty soon, his goals becomes to nurture and protect.  First he wants to help his wife, to give her the things she has missed most her life.  Next he wants to protect her from her threatening, grasping brother, and the subsequent worries he causes.  This softening of Aylesford’s perspective leads him to trouble himself personally for people rather than just attempt to manage them – he begins to care for his wife, react tenderly to his aunt and grandmother, and cherish his friends.  Responsibilities become privileges.

love story

Is there a working title for this novel? Can we read more about it?

There is a working permanent title for Book Three in The Lords of Oxford series – Earl Crazy.  It will be published later this year.  Soon I’ll have the cover to reveal, chapters to share, and general newsy bits to discuss.  I do have an excerpt that well describes the heroine’s perception of Aylesford, and gives a bit of insight into how others see him.  Lady Margaret and her benefactor, the Countess of Ashford, with whom she is staying as her brother is threatening her safety, are on their way to Aylesford’s house.  The Countess has just read of the Earl’s need for a wife, and she thinks Margaret is the perfect candidate.

The Earl of Aylesford.

Margaret bit her lower lip in concentrated thought.  That man unsettled her, for some nameless reason.  The gentlemen of her immediate circle were affable and courteous, as was Lord Aylesford, but that gentleman also made her feel . . . something indefinable.

She usually avoided men as a general rue.  They were unpredictable, brash, hot-headed, and downright mean.  The men of her family had taught her early that their sex was selfish and impatient, and brooked no intelligence or impudence from their women.  So she became a great studier of persons – their character, actions, and expressions – and tried to blend in as much as was possible.  But the Earl of Aylesford was a mystery, other than seeming to be perennially frustrated or harried.

And those black, fathomless eyes.

“You are thinking of his lordship, yes?  Worrying and wondering what possible reason we have to visit him.”

Lady Ashford’s words scattered Margaret’s musings to the wind.  “I thought we visited his relations, his aunt and grandmother.”

The Countess’ knowing smirk faded to a look of chagrin.  “Yes, that’s what I meant.  I merely misspoke.”

“You never misspeak.”

The Countess now flushed.  “True.  You misunderstood, then.”

It was Margaret’s turn to color, but she paled instead, casting a quick eye down at her beautiful borrowed morning dress.  She raised a hand to her elegant up-do, brushing her fingers as well against the delicate gold earbobs the Countess insisted she borrow.  “Please, Lady Ashford, I beg you not include me in any scheme–“

“Scheme?  I also never scheme.  I plan, and would even admit to the occasional plot, but never would I be so vulgar as to scheme.”

Margaret leaned across the carriage to take her mentor’s hands.  “Then I do beseech you leave me out of any ideas that should arise from this morning call.  There is nothing I lack that Lord Ayesford, or his family, should be sought to provide.”

“So you want nothing to do with anything planned at Kitteridge House?” Lady Ashford queried, enunciating the last three words carefully.  Her eye narrowed under beetled brows as she waited for an answer.

“Yes–” Margaret began.

“Ha-ha!” the Countess interrupted in victory.  “All was conceived at my own dining table.  My plan is well in hand, and now allowed by your own concession.”  She squeezed Margaret’s hands in reassurance.  “Trust me, darling girl.  I have your best interests at heart.  Or if it makes you feel more at ease, this meeting is as much about what you can provide this family as they, you.”

Margaret swallowed painfully, and loudly.  “I am well and truly sunk.”

Lady Ashford smiled with tenderness and affection at the timid lady now slumped back in the squabs opposite her.  “No, my dearest.  You are saved.”

So there you have it.  I’m hard at work in the writing cave, creating like mad for release later this year.  If you’d like to stay in the know, do the clicky thingy on the follow buttons of your choice up there on the right side of this page.

But this tour isn’t over yet.

jane austen good company

There are two other lovely ladies participating today, and they would adore it if you’d stop by, browse a bit, and say “hi.”

sasha

Please visit Sasha Cottman to read about her upcoming new release.

She also has a giveaway going on here.

madame gilflurt

Finally, hop on over to meet Catherine Curzon, AKA Madame Gilflurt, of Covent Garden fame.

 

Keep Calm and Read! Stacy Reid ~ The Irresistible Miss Peppiwell

For your reading pleasure this weekend – the latest release from author Stacy Reid – a steal at 99¢ through Monday, August 18.  It’s on my kindle.  Go grab a copy for your e-reader, too! ~RR

The Irresistible Miss Peppiwell

A Scandalous House of Calydon novel by Stacy Reid

With a longing for adventure, the last thing Phillipa Peppiwell wants is to marry. After a painful betrayal by a man she trusted, she is wary when she unwittingly catches the attention of roguishly handsome – and sinfully tempting – Lord Anthony Thornton. Forbidden desires she secretly yearns for threaten to crumble her icy facade and reveal a past scandal best kept buried.

Dissatisfied with his empty life, Lord Anthony seeks a deep and lasting connection… and finds himself intrigued by the Ice Maiden of the haute monde. Undaunted by Phillipa’s aloof nature and her distaste for the idea of matrimony, he sets out to thaw the bewitching beauty by enticing her with adventures of the most sensual type. But he, too, hides a scandalous secret… and if it’s discovered it could rip them apart.

The Irresistible Miss Peppiwell
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About The Author

Stacy is an avid reader of novels with a deep passion for writing. She especially loves romance and adores writing about people falling in love. Stacy lives a lot in the worlds she creates and actively speaks to her characters (out loud). She has a warrior way, never give up on her dreams. When Stacy is not writing, she spends a copious amount of time drooling over Rick Grimes from Walking Dead, watching Japanese anime and playing video games with her love, Dusean Nelson.

Find her here:

@st_reid | Facebook | Website | Good Reads

Sign up for her Newsletter to be among the first to hear about her new releases, and read excerpts you wont find anywhere else. She also does giveaways for subscribers, a winner is chosen every month!

My Sexy Saturday

Every Saturday, a group of romance authors share sexy snippets from their published works or works-in-progress.  We share seven paragraphs, seven sentences, or seven words.  To read some selections from other authors, click here.

 My snippet comes from the second book in The Lords of Oxford Series.  I’m going to share seven paragraphs of a weak-in-the-knees moment from A Marquis For All Seasons.

 

A Marquis For All Seasons

“Close your eyes,” he commanded, chuckling slightly as she quirked her brows, both of course, without acquiescing. “Please.” He chuckled again as she harrumphed then closed her eyes. Stafford stepped closer until they were nearly touching from head to foot. He drew a finger up to stroke the outline of her countenance. “Your face is the shape of a heart, your jaw stubborn and proud, and the strength of your character and determination can be easily seen,” he began, “but it’s also soft as the finest silk, tempting a man to feel if it is as smooth as it seems.” He traced the line of her jaw, from ear to chin and back. She trembled slightly. He smiled. He moved his finger to her cheek.

“Your skin here is so fine, the color of the most delectable cream, and flushes a pretty pink with your every emotion.” At his words she pinkened but did not retreat from his touch.

“Your nose is neither aristocratically long nor snubbishly pert. I love the way it wrinkles when you have a problem to solve or find fault with something.” He drew his finger down the bridge, tapping her nose lightly on the end. He paused in his inventory, smiling to himself as she unconsciously scrunched her nose. He moved his exploration to her eyelid, tracing first one, then the other.

“These protective folds cover a most intriguing pair of eyes – blue as the most precious sapphire of India, yet bluer than the sky on the clearest summer day. They are as mesmerizing and captivating as water of the Channel you so love near your summer home.” A sigh escaped her and he moved to her brow.

“These specimens are most provocative; perfectly proportioned, slightly darker than your honey-colored hair, and so expressive.” He drew a light finger over each one, marveling at the tiny shiver it elicited from her. “I find it fascinating how they raise in simultaneous salute when you mock me, or think you return my quizzical stare.” She gasped and tried to open her eyes but he rested both forefingers against her lids. “You do, raising both brows rather than one, and it is most endearing. I hope that never changes,” he confided almost absentmindedly, distracted by his next object.

“Lastly, your lips . . .” he began softly, tracing first the top, then the bottom, slowly, deliberately, focusing intently on the path of his fingers. Her lips parted slightly under his touch, her tongue darting out to moisten them. Stafford’s gut clenched, and he leaned in to whisper, so closely his lips might have brushed hers with certain syllables, but he could not be sure. He was falling under his own spell, and could not find cause to care one whit. “These are most enticing to a man, like the petals of a bud that has yet to bloom, its promise of secrets hidden within more intoxicating than the strongest of spirits.” He brushed his lips across hers. Miranda gasped and grabbed his arms for support. Her eyes popped open to stare deeply into his. Stafford felt as if all the air fled from the room, his gut clenching awkwardly again.

“You are not merely pretty, Lady Miranda, nor beautiful. You are enchanting.” She stared deeply into his eyes, possibly his very soul, before dropping her gaze to his lips. He swallowed convulsively at the sight before kissing her lightly again. Where these words and feelings were coming from he knew not, but the compulsion to speak them, then drown in another of her kisses, was irresistible.

So, what do you think?  Sexy?  Smoldering?  Yes, please?