Authors and readers…
be watching for new features coming soon to
Seasons of Love.
I’m delighted today to share an excerpt from Linda Rae Sande’s story, Tuesday Nights, from the “Sons of the Aristocracy” series.
Michael Cunningham, the second son of a viscount, was minding his own business as he strode toward the Ship. He intended to take a room at Shipley’s only inn, the establishment promising a clean room and hot meals for the few days he would be in the Horsham District of Sussex. Although his family’s small estate, Cunningham Park, was just south of Horsham, he thought the daily trip to Shipley would take too much time away from his opportunity to meet with Harold Waterford. Sir Richard Waggoner had taken a risk in arranging for him to meet with the business man, and Michael didn’t want to disappoint either of the gentlemen by not being available on an hour’s notice.
So it was a surprise and a bit of an annoyance when his attention was suddenly diverted. A young lady’s scream, followed by a drawn out cry of “No!” had him stopped in his tracks. Michael glanced around, realizing almost at once that the sound had come from behind the inn. Hurrying around the whitewashed stucco building, he spied the source of the scream. A young woman, her back pressed against the inn’s carriage house, was pinned in place by a taller young man, his bent arm across her throat. Dressed in trousers and a wool shirt, he looked like he belonged at the edge of the flock of sheep that were grazing just east of town. But this wolf had his lamb at a distinct disadvantage, and Michael was quick to act on the lamb’s behalf.
“Now, see here,” he shouted, reaching out to grab the attacker’s shoulder. He instead ended up with a handful of shirt, lifting it so the man was suddenly off his feet and turned facing him.
Before the predator had completely turned to see who it was that had him pulled away from his prey, Michael’s skills as a pugilist took over. His right fist struck the man’s jaw, and then Michael let go of the shirt. Dazed from the blow, the young man stumbled backwards and landed on his bum, his nose dripping blood while one hand reached up to his cheek.
“The young lady said, ‘no’!” Michael yelled, uncurling his fist and stretching his fingers to determine that, thank the gods, none were broken. He needed that hand to take notes whilst in his meetings these next few days. “You go near her again, and I’ll see to it every bone in your body is broken,” he vowed.
His eyes wide as saucers, the young man nodded. “Yes sir,” he mumbled, his hand still rubbing his cheek.
Michael’s attention turned to the young lady whose back was still against the wall, her arms straight while her palms were pressed against the stucco. Although her bodice was a bit askew, and her face had a look of astonishment, she seemed in one piece.
At least she hadn’t had a fit of the vapours and fainted on him.
“Are you … hurt?” he asked, careful to keep the tone of his voice as neutral as possible. He didn’t want the girl as frightened of him as she was of the man who was scampering backwards like a crab toward his escape.
For the first time in several seconds, Olivia Waterford let out the breath she’d been holding. She was sure Eli Blaylock was about to kiss her. Perhaps about to have his way with her, although she still wasn’t quite sure what that would have entailed. Ruination, certainly!
“May I offer you a ride, Miss Olivia? I believe our destination is the same,” Michael said lightly as he held out a hand for her. She’s even prettier than the last time I saw her!
Olivia colored up a bit, surprised by the sudden appearance of the very man she’d been thinking of, as if her memories had somehow conjured him into existence. “I suppose it would be acceptable,” she agreed as a footman set down the steps. There should really be a chaperone, she thought, but she’d known Mr. Cunningham for a long time. He was a friend of the family. Certainly there would be no harm in riding in his coach the rest of the way to the house.
“You have quite a burden there, Miss Olivia. Allow me,” Michael offered as he took the bundle of letters from her grasp, leaving her to manage a small parcel under her other arm.
“Thank you, Mr. Cunningham. You are too kind,” Olivia replied with a grin. She stepped up into the coach, a frisson passing through her as Michael grasped her gloved hand and helped her up the steep step.
Before he followed her into the coach, Michael’s eye was drawn to the top letter on the stack he had taken from her. The crest of the Duke of Somerset was quite evident in the dark red wax seal, and he surreptitiously turned over the letter as he climbed up into the coach. He noted the addressee was not Harold Waterford but Olivia. And the beautiful handwriting was familiar to him. Michael’s brows furrowed.
Elizabeth Cunningham, he realized immediately. Michael’s younger sister and the only daughter of Viscount Cunningham understood why Michael did not wish to marry right away, but she also knew of his immediate need to do so. And she was grateful enough for Michael’s introduction to the man who had become her husband, Jeremy Edward Statton, to bend to his wishes when the need arose. Like now, he thought to himself, hoping the letter was to tell Olivia the offer to hire her as governess had been rescinded. “You have quite a lot of letters here,” Michael commented as he took a seat across from her and settled back into the leather squabs.
“Indeed. The mail coach arrived from London just as I was about to leave Shipley,” Olivia replied happily. “I am merely saving the driver from making the extra trip down our lane.”
Michael pretended to notice the top letter for the first time. “And it seems you are the recipient of a rather pretty missive right here,” he countered as he lifted the envelope from the pile and handed it to her. Depending on when it was sent, he was certain he knew its contents.
Olivia reached for the letter and bit her lip as she considered whether or not to open it. “Yes, and I have been most anxious to learn its message,” she said with a sigh. “But we’ll be to the house shortly. I can wait until then.”
“Open it,” Michael insisted. “Please. I will not see it as an offense if you open it and read it this very moment.” He didn’t want to admit that he was as anxious to learn its contents as she was. Perhaps, if it were the news he was expecting it to be, he would ask for her hand right then. Although he didn’t know if a marriage proposal would be welcome upon her reading she was no longer in contention for the position.
* * * *
Olivia inhaled sharply, her gaze directed down onto a huge room full of people who suddenly seemed to turn in unison and look directly at her. She was slightly aware of a collective gasp and glanced over at a still grinning Michael. His gaze was on her, but he nodded his head and indicated they needed to descend the steps leading to the ballroom floor. Returning his nod and a self-conscious grin, Olivia allowed him to lead her down the stairs, one quivering hand firmly tucked in the crook of his elbow while her other held her skirts. When they reached the bottom, Olivia took a deep breath of relief. Within seconds, several people were surrounding them, at once eyeing her as they congratulated Michael on his having married.
“You dog, you,” a rather tall, older gentleman was saying as he elbowed Michael. Olivia was glad to be on his bruised side, thinking the man would have caused her husband a great deal of pain if he made contact against one of his ribs.
And then she recognized the man.
“Ah, Grandby, so good to see you!” Michael said as he slugged the man on the shoulder. “Olivia, this is Milton Grandby, one of my sparring partners,” Michael said in introduction.
Olivia curtsied as she gave the man a smile and then leaned in to kiss him on the cheek. “It’s an honor to see you again, my lord,” she said, a bit surprised that her husband would introduce the Earl of Torrington so casually, even if the man was her godfather.
The earl’s face seemed to redden a bit after Olivia’s kiss, but no more so than Michael’s. Grandby reached out and captured Olivia’s gloved hand and kissed the back of it, his eyebrow rising as he took in the sight of the sapphire ring. “You may call me Grandby, m’lady,” he said in a rich baritone, “But if you were not married, I would simply request that you call on me.”
Stunned by the overt suggestion, Olivia suppressed the urge to gasp and look horrified. “As one of your many goddaughters, I expect I shall do so as a courtesy,” she countered lightly.
Visit tomorrow for more information about Linda and Tuesday Nights.
A Difficult Man
by Linda Rae Sande
In TUESDAY NIGHTS, Michael Cunningham, the second son of Viscount Cunningham of Horsham, Sussex, England, is rather adept at business and making money. His association with Harold Waterford on a variety of business deals, including smelting and coal gas, will mean the Cunningham viscountcy will survive despite his brother’s tendency to gamble beyond his means. But a man’s ability at business dealings doesn’t mean he’s adept at everything else in life.
In fact, Michael lacks the ability to communicate with the woman he has decided will be his wife once he’s reached the age of twenty-eight. He’s made arrangements with his business associate – Olivia Waterford’s father – to marry Olivia. However, as is the case with many men who are successful in business, he lacks the skills necessary to communicate with those who mean the most to him, including Olivia, as well as the ability to keep track of time. So he’s rather surprised when his sister informs him his twenty-eighty birthday is only three weeks away – and he hasn’t yet proposed to Olivia!
A Regency hero needs to be a likable protagonist, but making Michael Cunningham a sympathetic character was a tough job. One could only hope the reader was familiar with a man of his traits, perhaps because their father or husband or significant other suffers from the same character flaws. Otherwise, they would be of the opinion, as one of the book’s reviewers is, that Michael Cunningham is a ‘stinker’ and not worthy of Olivia’s affection.
Women can be rather tolerant of a man’s shortcomings, however, and it’s this understanding that saves Michael from himself in TUESDAY NIGHTS.
Linda will return tomorrow to share excerpts from “Tuesday Nights”.
Until then, here’s another little snippet to enjoy.
Don’t faint, whatever you do, don’t faint.
From Christina: Today, Linda shares more about “Tuesday Nights”, one of the stories in her Sons of the Aristocracy series.
A viscount’s son and a bare-knuckle boxer, Michael Cunningham is more interested in building his fortune than spending time at the Marriage Mart. But long ago he promised his mother he would get married “if not before, then on the eve of my twenty-eighth birthday”.
Reminded of the impending date by his sister, a duchess Michael realizes he has much to do in the three weeks he has to keep his promise – not the least of which is to secure the only woman he has ever considered for a wife – the younger daughter of his business partner and the very woman his sister has just hired to be a governess! There’s no time for courtship, no time for banns to be read, and certainly no time to wait for a wedding to be planned.
His sister has the perfect plan. In order to meet his mother’s deadline and ensure a quick marriage, she insists Michael must ruin Olivia!
Olivia has felt affection for her father’s business partner since the day he rescued her from a rake. But since the gentleman never showed a romantic interest in her during his frequent visits to her family’s home in Shipley, imagine her shock when he climbs into her bed and is discovered by her father! Ruined, indeed!
Now married and living in London, Michael is sure Olivia despises him for what happened, while Olivia is quite sure her husband has feelings for her sister and simply wandered into the wrong bedchamber that fateful Tuesday night.
Will a week be enough time for Michael to court his new wife and convince her of his affections? Or will he regret his last-minute efforts? Only time will tell in “Tuesday Nights”.
Check out Linda’s feature post tomorrow.
Now, for another little snippet!
There really should be a chaperone.
Did you guess correctly? Our guest author this week is Linda Rae Sande.
She’s here to share one of her Regencies:
Linda Rae Sande
The first book in “The Sons of the Aristocracy”, TUESDAY NIGHTS is a sensual tale of birthdays, destiny and the love found in daydeams.
Although most of the story is set in London and in the Horsham District of West Sussex in 1814, it begins several years before, when Michael first meets the woman he will eventually marry. Each chapter features a day of the week, with the first half of the book covering the years leading up to the fateful day when Michael must “ruin” Olivia in order to marry her. The last half is told on a day-to-day basis as the two deal with their sudden marriage. Michael figures he must court his bride, not realizing she has had feelings for him since the fateful day they met. Can Olivia overlook the character flaws that led to a marriage to meet an almost-forgotten deadline? A marriage that seems more a marriage of convenience than a love match? Or will their true feelings for one another prevail?
As with all of my romances, there is a second couple featured in TUESDAY NIGHTS. Michael’s best friend, Edward, the second son of an earl, has always loved Anna, a woman of low birth. He’ll either risk being cut off by his father should be marry Anna, or he’ll have to be very patient waiting for the day when his older brother will marry and produce an heir. Like Olivia, Anna will be the one who determines her lover’s fate.
* * * *
Tomorrow Linda will be back to tell us more about Tuesday Nights.
* * * *
Until tomorrow, here’s a fun little snippet!
” I so love it when you’re naughty.”
This week’s guest author has visited before… so I won’t give too many hints. She’s developed an appreciation for pretty papers and spends time using them in her scrapbooks. She can frequently be found at the local cinema enjoying the latest action-adventure-romance movie. During the winter, she hosts three junior hockey players who play for the Yellowstone Quake and follows the San Jose Sharks.
Check back tomorrow to find out the identity of this week’s guest author.
Here’s a quick look at what will be happening throughout the week:
- Wednesday: Our guest author’s identity will be revealed along with the cover art for the book she’ll be sharing. You’ll also be able to read “the story behind the story” — the author’s personal thoughts about writing the book.
- Thursday: Find out more! Our guest author will be sharing the book blurb with you…and not just in 25 words or less! You can read the blurb and find out what this story is all about.
- Friday: Our guest author takes center stage today. You won’t want to miss her feature post.
- Saturday: Come back today for excerpts from this week’s book.
- Sunday: Our guest author will be wrapping up the week’s visit with links you can use to keep in touch.
And now…let me leave you with this little snippet from the book our guest author will be sharing:
“You go near her again,
and I’ll see to it every bone in your body is broken.”
Such a sweet little girl!
Our guest author is the girl on the left.
Any idea who she is?
Be watching for a hint tomorrow.
I’m delighted today to share an excerpt from Cindy Christiansen’s “Merchant Street Mystery” story, Fortune for Fools.
Fortune for Fools
Zeke Abberley stared at the damaged 1859 painting with a scowl on his face. Why me? He had bid on the Illinois estate sale as a whole specifically because of this piece and now it had arrived damaged, with a crunched frame and punctured canvas. He had been assured the painting was in perfect condition. He bit his lip, continuing to stare at the entrancing image of the unrecognizable couple from the Middle Ages embraced in a kiss with shadowy forms lurking in the background. Although one of Francesco Hayez’s best known works, this was not the most famous rendition of the pose or lighting—but still the mastery of Hayez. From Zeke’s research, it seemed this particular rendition had never been seen on the market.
That is, if it is an original Hayez. Zeke tapped his index finger on his lips. It still needed to be authenticated by an expert. The family selling the contents of their attic had no desire or time to search for appraisals and had posted the estate sale as a whole. Imagine finding a Hayez.
Although it appeared there were other prized antiques in the collection, Zeke hadn’t understood why he had wanted to purchase an out-of-state collection, especially with their antique shop overflowing as it is and sales down due to the economy. Something had possessed him, though, and this painting had something to do with it.
Aunt Adele walked into the room and set a box of pastries on the conference room table. “You’re looking down in the mouth. What’s happened?”
“Can you believe it? Can you just believe it?” he said, shaking his fist at the painting.
Life was definitely not going smoothly for Zeke. He and his younger brother, Zach, had that confrontation with Pop which had ended up with Pop walking out on them and the business. Then Zach and Holly had married and left on a very long honeymoon. And he couldn’t forget Aunt Adele suddenly marrying Kipp Waterbury at their annual street BearBQ where they barbequed a bear. Aunt Adele hadn’t been around to help with the business, either. His disastrous relationship with Lavinia Vega, the break-ins on the street, and now the damaged painting did not bode well for Zeke either. He sighed. Yeah, most of them were happy events for those involved, but he had taken the blunt of everyone’s absence and had been working double duty for weeks on end. Sure everyone was back and the long winter blues were over, but all the lovebirds kept wandering off.
Trying to manage Abberley Antiques, Zach’s thrift shop, and Kipp’s clock shop had run him ragged. No wonder he was a basket case and his and Lavinia’s relationship had ended. It would have never worked out anyway, not with the way her father felt about his family and not with how reclusive Lavinia kept herself. After all their secret dates, she still hadn’t opened up to him. She was a closed book, albeit a beautiful, gorgeous closed book.
The memory of her attractive, vanilla blonde bob, soft, full lips, delicate curves, and hint of lilac perfume sent his senses tottering and his libido hopping. However, no one, and he meant no one, would ever penetrate that armored fortress guarding her frozen heart. Futile. Utterly futile.
“Did you hear me?” Aunt Adele asked.
“Oh, sorry. What did you say?” He laid the painting down on the table and pinched his chin.
“Do you think the shipping company damaged it?”
“Most likely. I viewed the painting on Skype and didn’t see the damage. Of course, it could have been masked. Just my luck.”
“It’s The Kiss by Francesco Hayez, isn’t it?” Aunt Adele said, moving to the small fridge for a quart of milk to go with the pastries.
“Yes, well, no. This is one of the five renditions Hayez did with different lighting, but not the most known. I don’t think this one has surfaced before. That is, if it really is a Hayez.”
“So I guess you know what you have to do.”
“What’s that?” He wrapped the painting back in brown paper and bubble wrap.
“Take it to Lavinia.”
He fumbled the painting as he tried to slide it into the box. It landed on the floor, and he accidentally kicked the painting across the carpet as he reached to pick it up. “Are you joking?”
“I can’t even mention her name without you turning into a spaz.” She smiled and shook her head. “Holly’s right. You have that—what did she call it?—pistanthrophobia.”