From Chapter Six: The Brook, The Log, The Consequences
Spoiler Alert! This excerpt is from Chapter Six of Rescuing Lord Inglewood.
The Meet Cute
If you prefer to stay away from spoilers, don't read this post. :-) It's the Meet-Cute from Harry's story, which will be available at the end of this month!
NOTE: This is the scene as it appears now, before edits. A few small things could change.
The future hung before him like a question mark at the end of a page. He needed to move forward with his life, but how did one do that when one couldn’t decide in which direction to go?
“Stop right there, you horrid beast!”
Harry scuffled to a stop and lifted his head, looking around in shock. Had someone been addressing him?
“You know you’re too old and fat to climb any higher, and I am too old and refined to come climbing up after you,” the voice continued, feminine frustration coloring every word. “Come down this instant.”
The voice came from the other side of a hedge, where a birch grew with branches stretching over the bushes to reach toward the trees lining the road. He went that direction, without much thought, and to a narrow break between two leafy shrubs to peer through.
At the base of the tree, half out of sight, he saw a woman in a blue-gray gown. Her head was tilted as she stared up into the tree, and her hands were on her waist.
“I mean it, Jezebel. You come down this instant, or I will leave and you will absolutely starve.”
Glancing up, Harry saw a fat feline perched on a thin branch, perhaps fifteen feet above the ground. The cat was staring balefully down at the woman, tale twitching, as though calling the woman’s bluff.
The woman circled around the tree, out of sight, muttering to herself. He could barely make out the words. “Feline…stubborn…useless….”
The cat remained unimpressed.
The woman came back into view, her back to Harry, her bonnet now dangling down her back from ribbons. He could make out a head full of golden braids and twisting curls escaping above her ears and at the nape of her neck.
Appreciating her lovely hair and shapely figure from behind a bush wasn’t the act of a gentleman, however, especially when the woman he ogled obviously needed assistance. Harry stepped forward, pushing through the bush. The rustling sound brought the woman’s attention to his presence and she whirled around as he approached.
Her blue eyes were wide in surprise, and lovely, too. As was her finely sculpted face. With round cheeks and a narrower chin, her features were almost elfin. Her eyes swept over him as he struggled to emerge from the clinging branches of the hedge.
“Good afternoon, miss,” he said, giving one last lunge in order to stumble out of the bushes. “I couldn’t help but overhear—are you in need of any help?” He looked up into the trees where the fat feline still sat, its attention fixed on him. The furry beast licked its lips and narrowed its eyes.
The woman sighed, a touch dramatically. “Perhaps. But you’ve already fetched this wretched creature down from the trees for me once. It doesn’t seem fair to ask such a thing of you again.” Her eyes sparkled playfully, and then she smiled.
The whole world lit up with that smile. Harry’s heart sped up and warmth crept up the back of his neck.
“I have?” he asked, not daring to look away from her. His mind had turned into a sluggish machine, trying and failing to catch up with his need to understand what the woman meant.
Surely, he’d remember meeting her, let alone rescuing her cat. Where had he seen her before? Studying her more carefully, noting the impish upturn at the end of her nose as well as the blonde lashes framing her lovely eyes, his memory finally heeded his desperate need to know her identity.
“An Ames daughter,” he said at last, rocking back slightly on his heels as he continued to stare at her. The vicar’s children, as young girls, hadn’t exactly been in the same social circles as he, even when he came home on holiday.
Her smile widened. “But which one? My father has three, you must remember.” She turned her eyes up to the cat, finally breaking the spell he’d fallen under the moment their gazes connected. He released a breath, his lungs protesting that he’d held onto it for too long.
“The eldest is in India,” Harry said, thinking aloud. Christine had written him about that exciting happening. “She married a missionary.”
“Mm-hm,” the young woman agreed, stepping away from him to get another view of the cat.
His mind immediately protested the distance between them and he followed her, taking in the speculative tilt to her head and her lowered brows.
“Is now Mrs. Robin.”
He blinked. Was he addressing a married woman, then? If she was married that made him a cad, admiring another man’s wife in such a manner. Harry quickly looked down. Seeing the state of his coat, covered in leaves and twigs. He started brushing off his sleeves to avoid looking like a walking shrubbery.
The young woman glanced sideways at him, narrowing her eyes. “She married a naval captain, actually.”
“She did?” Harry asked, jerking his head up hopefully. “And you are not married to a naval captain?”
“I am not married to anyone,” she stated, appearing unbothered by that fact. “I am too busy taking care of that fat beast in the tree to entertain suitors.” She pointed upward, and when he looked he saw the cat had decided to move up the branch to an even more precarious seat.
“Fat and unintelligent,” she muttered to herself. “Not at all the sweet kitten she was last time you rescued her.”
“Kitten?” Harry said, and then the memory came back to him. Years ago, he could not even remember how far back in the past, he’d come upon Miss Gabriella and the younger sister. What was her name? The vicar’s younger daughters had been beside themselves, as they tried to convince their tiny new kitten to come down from a tree very similar to this one.
What had they called the youngest?
As if she knew his thoughts, the woman took pity on him at last. “I am Miss Augusta Ames.”
A Christmas Collection of Sweet Regency Romances
I have been waiting for this day for quite a while. I am honored, privileged, and excited to share the work of this very talented author with you. Heidi Kimball is a talented author, with incredible attention to detail and a gift for making the big picture a masterpiece.
I love Heidi’s work, and I love Heidi. She’s one of my critique partners, which means I owe some of the loveliest scenes in my stories to her suggestions.
We’re going to be asking Heidi about her newest release, Second Chance Christmas, is a novella in the holiday collection A Christmas Courting.
Heidi, your stories are always lovely. What can you tell us about this one?
I love this story, much more than I expected to. When my publisher reached out and asked me to write it, it was early February and my story was due in April. The thought of writing a Christmas regency story at that time of year was a little strange. Not only that, but at the time I was in the throes of terrible morning sickness and spending most of my time in bed. Happily, Francie and Gerard’s story served as a lovely escape. It’s the friends to lovers trope, and I loved how they had a history together, it made their relationship so much fun to write. But poor Gerard - he goes through quite the ride before he gets his happy ending.
Your heroine, Francie, is sweet and fun. Do you see any of yourself in her?
I just loved Francie from the very opening scene. She has just a bit of a passionate personality, has very strong emotions, and a strong competitive streak. It’s hard to say exactly how simliar we are, but I can confirm that I am a VERY competitive person. When my husband and I play games together . . . watch out! :)
What about Gerard? What inspired his character?
Gerard is handsome and sweet and hardly realizes how wonderful he is. One thing I really see in him that makes him so lovable is his loyalty. Once he falls in love with Francie, there was never anyone else for him. I think that’s what inspired his character - Francie really needed someone who would love her no matter what, who wouldn’t give up hope.
I really love a good Christmas story. During the Regency, Christmas celebrations were a little different from today. What can you tell us about Regency era holidays?
Regency era holidays are quite toned down from what we have today. Everything was on a much smaller scale. In my story I showcase two of them - one is the gathering of greenery to put around the house on Christmas Eve. This was usually a tradition that the entire household took part in. The other is the lighting of the yule log. My family celebrates with its more modern counterpart - making and eating chocolate roll. Yum!
This is your second published title. Your first, An Unlikely Courtship, was an independently published novella. It’s also set in the Regency. What draws you to that time period?
Oh my goodness, there is so much to love in the regency era! I love the strict parameters of society, because it makes for such an interesting story. Every little thing between the love interests has to mean so much. There’s something fun about telling a story under such stringent rules, yet still making readers feel the depth of the emotions as the characters fall in love.
What are your future plans? Do you have anything in the works?
My first full-length novel, A Guarded Heart, will be released on March 1st, 2019. And right now I am currently just a few thousand words away from finishing my second full-length book, I, Juliet. Of course there will be a whole lot of editing and a round of beta readers, but it’s an exciting feeling to finish a book! I’m hoping if I can get things rolling with my publisher, that it will be released Fall 2019.
We both know writing can be as difficult as it is exhilarating. What inspired you to take the step to publish your work?
You are right about that! For me, it was a bucket list item. I am an AVID reader and always have been. I love losing myself in a wonderful story and just forgetting everything going on around me. Publishing my books is my way of trying to provide that little escape for someone else <3
What would you like your readers to know about you?
I’m just a normal person. I’ve got a pile of laundry the size of Mount Everest, I eat my brownies straight from the pan, and there are trails of goldfish crackers all over my house. As a mom of four, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you, Sally! It is seriously my pleasure to work with you. I may be your critique partner, but I consider myself one of your biggest fans! And watch out everyone, because we’re attending a writer’s retreat together the first weekend in November, so there will be lots of regency nerdiness taking place . . . and there may be photo evidence. :)
Absolutely my pleasure. And I really, really can't wait for our retreat!
Heidi's Social Media Links
Miss Devon's Choice, by Sally Britton
Gorgeous, isn't it? Many thanks to Shaela Kay for the brilliant design. I really, really want this dress. Let me tell you a little about this beautiful book.
This is the fifth book in my series, Branches of Love, and it's about the youngest of the Devon sisters. That's right, Rebecca Devon is finally getting her love story - but it's not going the way she planned. Rebecca is the reader in the family, always found with a book in her hand or hidden beneath the cushion on which she sits. She's a dreamer, she's read enough novels that she knows what a happy ending should look like, but then- Rebecca's father, the cold, manipulative man -arranges her marriage to a complete stranger.
With only weeks until she speaks her vows, Rebecca's choices are all made for her, except one. It is up to her to decide whether or not to love the man her father has chosen for her.
I have had such a lovely time writing this story and I'm thrilled to finally be sharing it with everyone.
You can hope on over to Amazon to pre-order the title, or keep an eye out. I'm hoping to release it in late September.
I write clean and sweet Historical Romance Novels, I live in the desert, I'm a mom of four, madly in love with my husband, and I love to read!