Upon Your Return – Excerpts
Today, Marie is sharing two excerpts from Upon Your Return, her historical romance set in 1860s France. Enjoy! Remember to enter Marie’s giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of Upon Your Return. Just click the link below.
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April 12, 1863
“Oh, dear, did you see the Follets the other day? I’m surprised they have the nerve to show their faces.”
Fara Bellamont nodded to Juliet Masson and attempted a smile. The chandelier lighting cast a harsh light over the dinner party this evening. The tapestry panels about the room depicted a floral motif; huge bouquets of flowers against a crimson and ivory background. There were twelve people at the dining table, mostly comprised of her uncle’s business partners and their wives and daughters. There were also a few available gentlemen whom her uncle occasionally consorted with.
She then heard an unforgivable giggle from her female companion. Focusing her attention on her plate of chicken almondine and roasted potatoes, she tried to ignore the ruckus the lady to her left caused. Juliet must have had too much wine; most young women her age refused to gossip at dinner parties, especially if men were present. Usually that kind of talk was reserved for the parlor or at tea.
The woman began to laugh uncontrollably. “Oh, Monsieur! You are too much!”
Good Lord. What is she about? Fara hadn’t heard either a flattering or humorous comment all evening. Most of the talk had been about the political uncertainty, it being a time of war. The gentlemen were concerned about invasion. Surprise attacks were known to happen, especially if the emperor’s ambitions were getting out of hand.
The gentleman to her right brushed against the sleeve of her dress. She saw his apologetic gaze as she jerked away. When his eyes did not leave hers, an uneasy feeling began in her stomach. She was not used to men looking at her. It had only been a year since her season celebration and though she had danced with many men that night, none had approached her uncle with an offer. She had almost forgotten that look until now.
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The evening of the ball, she stood in front of the mirror as she prepared to leave. She wore an emerald gown with a matching glittery, feathered mask, which covered part of her eyes and nose. Her flame-colored locks were piled atop her head in a coronet with the other half falling like a cascade down her back. She wore emerald slippers and toted a like-colored bag. Donning a black shawl against the cool of night, she went to join Rosalie and Helene downstairs.
Rosalie would be acting as their chaperone tonight. She was dressed more conservatively than the girls, wearing a simple gown of blue. Helene had chosen a pink gown and matching mask for a striking contrast against her incredibly dark hair. Fara and Helene giggled with excitement as they left the house and ascended into the carriage directed by Pierre. She and her friend chatted in near whispers on the way to the ball like cohorts plotting a crime.
When they arrived at the mansion, they went inside and were welcomed by the Barrets, the governor and his wife. An aide announced her name to them. Fara smiled as the governor kissed both of her cheeks. “It is a pleasure to meet you too, Gouverneur Barret.”
“The pleasure is mine, Mademoiselle.” He then turned to greet Helene.
Once the formalities were over, the ladies descended down a wide staircase into the ballroom where couples were dancing. Around the edges of the room were chairs, where people could rest. Some ate at small plates from the tidbits of food on trays which were passed on by servants around the room. It really was elaborately planned. Fara did not miss the decorations or the Turkish rugs, the velvet curtains, which covered hidden alcoves where couples could escape from the crowd.
Her stomach tightened in anticipation. She wondered if she would run into Grant and if he would recognize her at the same time she realized it was him. That was the thing about masques. It was so easy to be mysterious, incognito. Despite the fact that the guests were disguised, she hoped she’d still be able to spot him. She shook her preoccupation away and joined her companions to partake in the meal. They made themselves comfortable in a group of chairs placed along the left side of the ballroom.
When they were done with their repast, Fara and Helene gossiped about the identities of the guests. It was an honor to receive an invitation, especially from the governor. But, no one had been left out.
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I want to thank Marie for being my guest author at Seasons of Love.
Tomorrow, I’ll be announcing the winner of her giveaway, plus sharing links on where to buy Your Upon Return and how to contact Marie.
I’ve already added Upon Your Return to my “TBR” list. Nothing in romance reading satisfies me like a good historical, and Marie’s story of love in days gone by promises to be one I’ll long remember.
Thank you, again, Marie Lavender, for being my guest here.