Historical Romance Valentine’s Day Blog Hop!
The winner of the draw is Traci Bell! Congratulations Traci!
The winner of A Promise of Scandal is Cindy and Carole Durant! Congratulations! I will be in touch!
Hello and welcome to our Valentine’s Day Blog Hop. I’m so happy that you decided to hop along! Thank you, Celeste Barclay, for sharing your book, A Beauty at the Highland Court, and for offering a giveaway.
For my flash fiction surprise, I’m sharing the first scene of my upcoming book Almost A Scoundrel. Be sure to read to the end to find out what my giveaway is and don’t forget to comment here on my blog to go into the drawing for the Grand Prize gift card of $75.
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Lady Phaedra Sharp had never thought a kiss could rob her of her breath. She hadn’t thought about kisses at all until Marcus Lawson, Earl of Deerhurst, and her neighbor, planted his lips firmly on hers.
At first, she thought her imagination had run wild again. It seemed like the only explanation for the situation at hand. However, there were certain parts of the event that were too vivid for even the most robust of imaginations.
For one, his scent. The woody flavor of tobacco clung to his lips . . . Dear Lord, there was no denying the velvet stroke of his tongue as he smoothly glided it over her bottom lip.
Secondly, his touch. So sensual, it caused Phaedra to gasp, and she caught a hint of licorice on his breath alongside the woody sample. Heady. Intoxicating. These were the words she’d use to describe Deerhurst in this exact moment. And certainly, there was no denying the feverish heat that rushed to her belly when he deepened their kiss.
His tongue swept into her mouth, claiming entrance.
A thousand butterflies flitted down her spine. Tension heightened the air. But not the kind one could cut with a knife. But rather the kind that one never wanted to step away from. It sizzled. It danced from one nerve ending to the other. It absconded with all of her senses.
He tasted like sin. Utter corruption.
The world faded into the distance until there was nothing but the beat of two hearts locked in a fevered pace.
Until this moment, Phaedra had always thought a kiss to be just a kiss. The smack of two lips together.
How wrong she had been!
There was power in a kiss.
Phaedra was lost in the overwhelming sense of Deerhurst’s masculinity. His arm curled around her waist and pulled her closer to him. No thought of refusal entered her mind. No thought that this kiss might be a trap to snare her dowry. She shoved her fingers through his hair.
The sound that rose from the back of his throat startled her.
No. Not his throat. Her throat.
A sound she did not recognize as her own.
In response, he groaned, demanding not only full entrance to her mouth but every single beat of her heart. Her very soul.
He kissed her like a man that couldn’t get enough, and Phaedra responded by tasting him fully, the dart of her tongue pushing past the edges of his mouth.
Phaedra was jolted back to the present by distant laughter, a sobering reminder of her whereabouts. She was alone with a veritable stranger in his garden!
What on earth was she doing?
Sanity injected itself into her consciousness, and Phaedra’s mind, which had conveniently blocked out reality, swung open the gates once more.
Phaedra wrenched away from Deerhurst.
She held up an arm to keep some distance between them when he would have reached for her again. Her knees wobbled, and had she been able to move, she’d have dashed off into the night.
“You kissed me,” she breathed, her tone accusatory.
“I did,” Deerhurst drawled with half a scowl, as though he, too, couldn’t quite believe it. “You kissed me back.”
“I was caught off guard.”
“So was I.”
“How were you caught off guard?”
He shrugged, folding his arms behind his back. A smooth mask fell over his face. “It’s not every day I stumble across a beautiful woman in my garden.”
“I told you, I am searching for Puck.”
“Ah yes, the elusive cat that wandered onto my property.”
Did he not believe her?
Phaedra narrowed her eyes, then blinked. She hadn’t really paid attention to him before, too distracted with her search, but she took notice now.
He wore a suit of evening clothes, as one would expect from a man about town, except he had stripped down to a white linen shirt, and his cravat had been disregarded as well. He seemed wild, untamed, and yet he stood like a man accustomed to power.
Phaedra let out a slow breath.
He was tall, his shoulders broad, and the opening of his shirt provided a glimpse of a chiseled chest. His hair was cut to the latest fashion, but tussled, as though a woman had just shoved her hands wantonly through . . .
Phaedra’s face flamed.
She had done that.
Dear Lord, her heart still pounded from the kiss. How was that possible? She hardly knew the man, even though they’ve been neighbors for some years now. They have never been formally introduced.
The gossip mill had labeled the earl as a tightly contained man. Phaedra was not so sure about that. He seemed rather impassioned.
“Puck is here somewhere,” Phaedra muttered, flustered by her woolgathering. Where was that cat when she needed him?
Phaedra wanted to box the earl’s ears. Did the man have to sound as if he merely indulged a rambling woman? They had just shared a kiss, for heaven’s sake.
“What other reason could I possibly have?” she demanded. “I saw Puck leap into your garden and came to retrieve him.”
“Animals wander. Ladies should not.”
“Puck is an Angora, he is not supposed to wander. Neither does he care for strangers.” Phaedra thought his lips might have quirked up at the corners. Was he laughing at her? She narrowed her gaze on him. “You did not have to kiss me.”
“Oh? And what do you imagine men do upon finding a woman on their property in a state of déshabillé?”
“I . . . that is . . .” Phaedra crossed her arms over her breasts. She’d quite forgotten she’d been about to turn in for the night.
Heat infused her cheeks, soon followed by alarm as she realized Deerhurst had everything he needed to force her into marriage. Every instinct told her to run, and Phaedra was not about to ignore it.
“Well then,” she said, retreating a step. “I shall take my leave, my lord. If Puck does cross your path and sharpens his nails on your flesh, you deserve every bit of discomfort.”
Phaedra shot him a final Look before she swiveled and marched to the side gate she’d entered. The masculine chuckle that followed her both incensed and inflamed her.
Drat the man for being right. She should never have ventured onto his property. Not at night. And to think, for years, she’d avoided the traps set by fortune-hunters to snare her, only to be foiled by her own foolishness.
Phaedra had always thought of Deerhurst as nothing but a neighbor, unseen and unnoticed, nothing but there. It seemed she would have to reassess her opinion of him.
Yes. That seemed to describe the man of tonight perfectly. It also seemed like one of those traits that could lean either way.
Good or bad.
Gentleman or scoundrel.
Phaedra hoped for the former because, whether she acknowledged the fact or not, Deerhurst had pulled the fabric of her world inside out with that kiss. That would not, however, stop her from fighting tooth and nail should he prove to be the latter.
And just where the farthing was that traitorous cat?
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I hope you enjoyed my little story. Please comment below for a chance to win the gift card! UPDATE: Please hop ahead to Jude’s page if you’re having trouble commenting here!
Go in the draw to win a gift card
The contest is open for Valentine’s day—from sunrise on 14th February in New Zealand (noon on February 13 U.S. EST) until midnight on 14th February in Hawaii (or 5 AM February 15 U.S. EST). When the contest ends, we’ll collect all comments on all 15 blogs in the hop. We’ll draw one at random, and then announce the winner on our blogs and contact him or her with a gift card to the value of US$75. Good luck!
My Giveaway for our Valentine’s Day Hop!
I’ll be giving away an ebook of A Promise of Scandal. I’ll randomly choose a winner from all the comments!
Next up, Jude Knight