As we move into November I thought it might be nice to start with a short excerpt from my Regency novella, Dancing Through the Snow, which is part of the box set with the Regency Romantics. Since it’s a box set, there’s no opportunity for me to have an excerpt on Amazon, so I’d like to share the beginning with you to give you a flavor of my latest story. I’m really excited about this new novella especially since I’m in such good company with a group of established and talented Regency authors.
Candlelight Courtships is a Collection of 6 Regency Romances a number of bestselling authors. A number will be familiar to you since they also write Jane Austen variations.
- One Night at the Abbey – Amanda Grange
When Miss Hilary Wentworth takes up an appointment at Carisbrooke Abbey, she finds it embroils her in a winter of mystery and romance. What secret haunts Lord Carisbrooke? And when Hilary uncovers it, can they find the love and happiness they deserve?
- A Most Unexpected Christmas – Fenella Miller
Lydia Halstead has no desire to remarry or to attend social gatherings. However, she is persuaded to accompany her brother and his family to Fakenham Manor.
Lord Theodore Fakenham is not pleased to discover his mama has arranged a Christmas house party without his permission. This is not an auspicious start to the festive period.
An infestation of mice in the nursery, a riotous snowball fight and an accident in the study make for a very unexpected Christmas.
- Dancing Through the Snow – Monica Fairview
Amelia Neville is convinced she has found the perfect husband, but unfortunate circumstances throw her into the company of the distrustful Duke of Sutcliff. Forced to attend the Duke’s Christmas house party by her matchmaking Mama, Amelia knows she’s going to hate every minute. But romance is in the air in the snowy landscape…. A traditional Regency romance with a touch of laughter.
- Christmas at Castleray – Wendy Soliman
When Alisa Langdon and Chase Beaumont are invited to Castleray for Christmas, they expect a peaceful holiday. But instead, they are attacked on the road and then Alisa’s servants are ostracized in the local village. Can Chase and Alisa discover who attacked them? And can Chase ignore his growing attraction to Alisa, who appears intent upon honoring her father’s dying wish by marrying her indolent stepbrother…
- A Winter’s Madcap Escapade – Elizabeth Bailey
A stranger hiding in Lord Dymond’s coach pitchforks him into a chaotic enterprise to protect young Apple from her own folly – much to her indignation!
- The Duke’s Christmas Bride – Melinda Hammond
Waldo, the fifth Duke of Charingden, shows no inclination to marry. In desperation his family invite a string of eligible beauties to the Christmas Ball at Birklands for him to choose from, but the only young lady to interest the duke is little Clara Tillotson, who is herself desperate to avoid being forced into marriage….. A sparkling Regency romance with just a touch of snow!
When Amelia Neville, only daughter of George Neville, Baron Henshall, left the noisy ballroom to follow Lord Rusbridge, she was more than glad to escape the stuffy ballroom. It was a perfect night for her purpose. A half-moon hung over the garden, making it possible to move without tripping, but providing enough shadows so she could slink about without being seen. She moved silently, having discovered that walking on the grass was quieter than walking on gravel, even if the grass had crystals of frost on it and the cold was seeping through her kid slippers into her toes.
The garden was unfamiliar to her, but London gardens were nothing like the great parks of the country estates. They didn’t have many hiding places. At the bottom, there was a shoulder-high iron gate, leading, she supposed, to a more secluded area. He must be waiting for her there. Eagerly, she crossed the lawn and slid through the open gate into a small rose garden with a marble statue of a woman in the center.
A cluster of clouds crossed the moon, plunging the garden into shadows. Lord Rusbridge wasn’t here. She searched in the shadows by the wall, but there was no sign of him. Then she heard a sound and a small grunt followed by a crunch of footsteps from the main part of the garden. That must be him, she thought, fondly. He wasn’t very good at intrigue. It was one of the things she liked about him.
She retraced her steps, but there was still no sign of Lord Rusbridge, or of anyone else, for that matter. By now, she was beginning to feel the cold. She’d come out without a shawl, not expecting to stay long. It was the beginning of December, the Eve of St. Nicholas, and in her thin ball gown, her short sleeves, and the low cut of the bodice, she might as well have been walking outside in her shift.
“Russ?” she said, softly, in case he was concealed somewhere. “Are you there? I’m going to go back inside.” Nothing moved in the garden. Very likely, Lord Rusbridge had grown tired of waiting for her and returned to the ballroom before she’d managed to extricate herself from her mother’s watchful presence. It had taken her a while. She couldn’t help feeling just a bit piqued that he hadn’t waited longer. After all, he was wearing a shirt and a coat, so he couldn’t have been too cold, and surely she was worth waiting for?
Be it as it may, there was no point in her staying in the garden and risking having some half-drunken gentleman coming across her. She’d just have to find another opportunity to talk to Russ. With the moonlight still blocked by the clouds, she made her way half-blindly towards the warm glow of candlelight framed by the windows. Right now, the heat of the crowded ballroom seemed a great lot more appealing than the cold, dark garden. She hurried towards the house, rubbing her arms against the sharp sting of the cold.
She held back a yelp when her big toe struck something soft and unyielding. She stumbled, almost falling across a large object strewn across the lawn. The object groaned. She’d tripped over a gentleman – a closer look revealed it wasn’t Lord Rusbridge, which was a relief – lying flat on the ground. Inebriated, no doubt, she thought with distaste, as she prepared to give him a wide berth.
Then the moon reappeared and she realized there was a dark smudge on his brow and the black glimmer of liquid on the grass around him, dark enough that it could well be blood. There was no glass or bottle on the grass beside him, which could have explained the stain. Hesitantly, she crouched down and put out a gloved finger to touch the spot where his hair looked matted and wet. Bringing it to her nose, she sniffed it, hoping it was nothing more ominous than port or red wine, but the rusty tang of blood invaded her nostrils.
A sense of dread filled her. The man was completely still now, though he’d groaned when she’d tripped over him. Suppose she’d injured him further? Suppose she’d accidentally killed him? Panicking now, she was on the ground in an instant, by his side, trying to pull off her right glove and popping buttons impatiently when it wouldn’t come off. She felt for a pulse. To her relief, she could feel a faint fluttering under her fingers. Good. He was alive.
As if to prove it, he groaned again and turned his head so she could see it under the pale half-moon. She could distinguish his features now. It was Lord Percy Emery, brother to the Duke of Sutcliff. She’d danced a set with Lord Percy Emery just two weeks ago. She’d been introduced to his brother that same evening, but the duke’s cold gray eyes had swept over her and past her as if she was no more than an insect on the wall.
That was neither here nor there, she reminded herself, her teeth clattering both from the cold and from shock. The man on the ground was bleeding heavily and, if she didn’t do something quickly, he’d soon be dead. Coming to her feet, she considered screaming to bring everyone running, but she was in a garden alone with a gentleman, even if he was hardly in a condition to ravish her. The scandal would completely ruin her. Much as he needed a doctor, screaming bloody murder was not an option. She had to handle this discreetly.
Leaving him to fetch someone was the best option, but what was it they said about head wounds? Try to keep the person awake and keep talking to them. She’d heard someone say something like that once. Oh, if only she knew what to do! Her hands trembling, and feeling quite out of her depth, she tried to revive him by patting his cheek several times, gingerly at first, then harder when he didn’t react. He gave a small moan but didn’t open his eyes.
“Wake up, Lord Percy!” She repeated it a couple of times, as loudly as she dared.
When he didn’t answer, she stood up and looked towards the house. Lord Percy Emery’s brother was at the ball. She knew because the Duke of Sutcliff had caused a stir when he’d entered, with all the matchmaking mamas fanning themselves frantically as he passed them by. Amelia didn’t care for the duke at all, nor for his disdainful dark eyes that had made her shiver as they passed over her. She didn’t relish the idea of encountering him again, but she really had no choice.
I’ll be giving away a Kindle copy of this Regency Romantics box set to one lucky winner. Please leave a comment if you’d like to enter the draw, telling me what you think Amelia should do next.
Winner to be announced November 18th