My Latest Book, From Wallflower to Countess, is out now!

UK cover From Wallflower to CountessMy second Regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon, From Wallflower to Countess, is out now as both a paperback and an ebook.

I first met the hero, Richard, the Earl of Stanton, many years ago when he was a drop dead gorgeous secondary character in my first ever attempt at writing a Regency romance. That attempt has not yet seen the light of day, but I always knew Richard would have his own story one day. I had no idea which lucky lady would share his journey until, one day, he ran up the stairs in his shirtsleeves and came face-to-face with an unprepossessing but sparky spinster who had absolutely no intention of ever getting married.

One year on from that meeting, Lady Felicity Weston’s fear of unrequited love is as strong as ever, but her circumstances have changed. She begs her mother to find her a quiet, unremarkable gentleman with whom she might be content, little realising she will end up with Society’s most eligible bachelor.

Here is an excerpt:

‘This is ridiculous. You are right. If we are to wed, we need to understand one another. And, I admit I have doubts. Not about you. Well, that is…’ She paused, her brows drawn together in a frown. ‘No, that is untrue. It is about you, but it is about me, also. You and me. Together. You see, I hadn’t thought…I never presumed to be presented with such a…such a…catch, if you do not object to my calling you that?’

Richard bit back a smile. He had been called a catch many times, he was aware, but never to his face before. And never by an earnest-faced female who appeared to believe herself unworthy of a ‘catch’ such as he.

‘You may call me what you will,’ he said, ‘as long as you promise not to use such insultingly offensive terms that I shall be forced to take umbrage.’

She laughed, revealing a glimpse of white teeth. ‘Umbrage? I always thought that to be a state applied to elderly dowagers. Do you sporting gentlemen consider it a fittingly masculine trait, my lord?’

This was better. The spirited girl he remembered from last year had surfaced, her face alive with laughter, her eyes bright.

‘Perhaps umbrage does not quite convey the precise meaning I hoped to convey,’ he conceded. ‘Which word, in your opinion, should I have used, if I am to portray a suitably manly image to my future wife?’

Disquiet skimmed her expression, then vanished. Had he imagined it? Was it the bald reminder that she would be his wife that had disturbed her? Her countenance was now neutral, but her eyes remained watchful and she made no attempt to answer him.

‘Would you have preferred me to use “offence” perhaps, or “exception”?’ He leaned closer to her, and said, ‘I do not, you notice, suggest “outrage” for that, I fear, would not meet with your approval any more than “umbrage”. It is too synonymous with spinsters, would you not—?’

Felicity stiffened. ‘Do not make fun of me, sir. I may be a spinster and, therefore, in your eyes, a poor, undesired thing, but I have feelings and I have pride.’

‘Felicity, I promise I intended no slight. The thought never crossed my mind that you might think I was making fun of you. I was…I was… Oh, confound it! Come here.’

He had run out of words. He clasped her shoulders and drew her close. A finger beneath her chin tilted her face to his. He searched her eyes. They were shuttered. She was rigid in his arms. Was she scared? Had she never known a man’s kiss? The thought, strangely, pleased him: knowing his wife had never experienced another man’s touch. But he must take care not to frighten her. He lowered his head, slowly, and put his lips to hers.

He almost recoiled in shock. He had expected ice. What he felt was fire.

The Prologue and Chapter 1 can be read by clicking on My Books/ From Wallflower to Countess /Prologue and Chapter 1 from the menu at the top of the page.

First kiss – excerpt from Mary and the Marquis

If you like Regency romance, or just romance in general, here is a passage from Mary and the Marquis in the hope of whetting your appetite. Chapter 1 can be read by following My Books/Mary and the Marquis/Chapter 1 from the menu above.

 

One dark brow lifted. He’s testing me, she realised, a slow blush heating her skin, unable – or unwilling? her inner voice teased – to tear her eyes from his. As she froze, his gaze focussed and intensified. His eyes gleamed and his sensuous lips curved as Mary, still bent over him, remained transfixed, her pulse racing as his masculine scent assailed her senses and pervaded her very being. She felt as she imagined a mouse must when confronted by a crouching cat, fearful of twitching the tiniest muscle lest it prove the wrong move: the move that would trigger the pounce. Every nerve of her being quivered, every sense was on heightened alert. The stillness of the house weighed heavily, the only sounds the soft crackle of the fire and the ticking of the clock.

The slow movement of his hand broke the enchantment for a brief moment, before he enmeshed her further in his spell.His finger touchedlightly at her temple, traileda path down the side of her face and followed the line of her jaw to her chin. It then lifted to caress her mouth, tracing the width of her trembling lower lip. Mary’s lids fluttered closed as his hand cupped her chin and urged her closer, ever closer. His breath whispered across her sensitised lips as he feathered a kiss across her mouth. Desire snaked through her as his hand slid round to cradle her head. The moist heat of his lips as they moved against hers was an impossible temptation. Without volition, Mary’s hand lifted to his cheek and she leaned into the kiss, lost in the moment, her whole body awakening and responding, every nerve tingling, anticipation flowing from a tiny pinpoint deep inside until it flooded every vein in her body. She trembled, the craving for more near overwhelming her, until the distant sound of a door banging roused her from her trance and, with a gasp of horror, she wrenched her lips from his. She scrambled away, her face a-flame, her hands flying to her cheeks in a vain attempt to cover her shame.

‘My lord…’ she gasped.

The heat in those ebony eyes was undeniable. He smiled at her: a slow, seductive smile that set her quivering with desire. Her heart was pounding and she could feel the pulse jump in her neck. How had he captivated her so very quickly? How had one kiss resurrectedthose feelings she had thought dead and buried long since?

She stiffened, angry and ashamed that she had become so mesmerised by the touch of this stranger’s lips that she had responded in a way no decent woman should. And she was furious she was now unable to conceal her embarrassment. Why should she make such a fuss over a stolen kiss that was no doubt a mere passing fancy to a rake such as he? She dragged in a deep breath to steady her nerves. It would test her ingenuity to its limit, but she must disabuse him of any notion she might be available for any sort of dalliance. Taking a moment, she smoothed her hands down her skirts. She then looked him in the eye, raising her brows in a way she hoped would make her appear unconcerned.

‘Well,’ she said, willing her voice to remain light and unconcerned, ‘I cannot pretend you did not catch me off guard, or I would not have allowed that to happen. However, although your kiss was pleasant enough, my lord, I shall be obliged if you will restrain your…  more basic urges in the future. I have no wish to be constantly on my guard if I am to assist in nursing you over the next week or so. As a gentleman, I am sure you will accede to my wishes.’

‘Ah… but can you be certain I am a gentleman?’

Mary raised her chin. ‘I make no doubt you were raised as such,’ she said, ‘and, no matter what direction your life has taken since then, I would urge you to remember that. I am here to nurse you, Lord Rothley, and that is all.’

If you’d like to find out more about Mary and Lucas, there is a link to Amazon on My Books/Mary and the Marquis above.