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.
According to recent market surveys, the "clean romance" readership has grown by 60% in the last three years. Wow. Despite that significant amount of growth in readers it can still be really difficult to find a good, clean romance to read. When you start getting picky about genre beyond that, it can be even more difficult. So I'm going to do a monthly post with a list of clean romance books listed, and with different themes. This month, I'm sharing ten historical romance novels/anthologies that I've enjoyed. I hope you find some new favorites!
Calico Ball, Timeless Western Collection
by Carla Kelly, Sarah M. Eden, and Kristin Holt
The Timeless Romance series is amazing. You can't go wrong with any of them. But this is the latest from their collection, featuring three of my favorite authors. Carla Kelly, Sarah M. Eden, and Kristin Holt. They're masters of their craft and these sweet stories are sure to leave you romantically satisfied.
The Merry Lives of Spinsters
by Rebecca Connolly
I'll pretty much pick up anything by this author. She does an excellent job of crafting fun, memorable characters and entertaining stories.
From Amazon: Georgiana Allen is a spinster and everybody knows it. She also happens to be one of the writers for the Spinster Chronicles, and everybody knows that as well. She’s accepted her lot in life, and, along with the other spinsters in her circle, takes great pride in the articles she writes and the influence she has. Then Captain Anthony Sterling infiltrates their group, and her life, and Georgie impossibly begins to hope once more.
Tony Sterling had no idea what to expect when he agreed to break up the Spinsters for his cousin, but he certainly did not expect Georgie Allen. From the very first meeting, she upends everything he thought a spinster would be, and her beauty and wit keeps him on edge in thrilling ways. The more he gets to know the Spinsters, the less he wants to break them up. And the more he wants Georgie in his life. Permanently.
Book 1 in A Hearthfire Romance Series
by Michelle Paige Holmes
This was the first book I ever read by this author, and I was immediately charmed and eagerly waited for the next, and the next. This is such a beautiful story.
From Amazon: After the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing.
As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage.
Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda.
His Bluestocking Bride
by Sally Britton
Yup. I have no problem including my books. I poured my heart and soul into this one, telling the story of a young woman who has given up hope of being loved for herself. While this is part of my series, it actually stands alone very, very well.
Summary: Overlooked by society and underappreciated in her family, Ellen Bringhurst has resigned herself to spinsterhood and a life of reading. Until her match-making friends contrive to reintroduce Ellen to the man she has secretly loved since their shared childhood.
As the younger son to an earl, Marcus Calvert must wed in order to inherit his estate. Still nursing a broken heart, he prefers a practical approach to matrimony rather than romantic love. When Ellen is presented as a possible bride, he proposes a marriage of convenience.
Ellen accepts his hand, hiding her feelings rather than risking her husband’s rejection. Marcus, though determined not to expose his heart again, finds more to admire in his childhood friend with each passing day. What began as a sensible arrangement now has the possibility to become so much more. But is Marcus willing to risk his heart a second time?
Christmas at Edgewood Park
by Shaela Kay
A Victorian Christmas novella, by a lovely author and dear friend of mine. I love this book, so much.
From Amazon: At nearly thirty years old, Eleanor Eves is a confirmed old maid - and a rather wealthy one at that. She enjoys her independence, relishes her position, and delights in serving the people of Littleton. But when the reclusive Mr. Cartwright returns to town after eight years abroad, she finds herself the unwilling delegate volunteered to welcome him into the neighborhood.
Not only is he shrouded in mystery, but Albert Cartwright is horribly disfigured, and carries a reputation for being somewhat of a brute. With Christmas on the horizon, a holiday bazaar to organize, and her aging father to care for, can Eleanor make room in her heart for Mr. Cartwright as well?
The Earl and His Lady
by Sally Britton
This is a story of love lost, second chances, and healing. I cried writing it and more than a few of my reviewers said they cried reading it.
Lady Virginia Macon, the recently widowed Baroness of Heatherton, has an impossible decision to make. Her late husband’s unscrupulous brother demands guardianship of her sons. The courts are on his side, unless she marries someone willing to stand in her late husband’s place. Locking her heart away and devoting herself to her children is the only way Virginia can countenance such a decision.
Wearied by the world, Lucas Calvert, Earl of Annesbury, is tired of being alone. His wife’s passing six years previous left his life gray and empty. His only recourse has been to make life better for those around him, using his considerable wealth and influence. When he learns of Virginia’s plight, he knows he can save her and her sons.
During one of the rainiest summers in England’s history, Virginia and her children bring light and color back into Lucas’s life. But will Virginia’s determination to protect her heart destroy their possibility of finding happiness together?
A Rouge About Town,
Book 2 in the London League Series
by Rebecca Connolly
I know. It's book two. And the first book in the series, The Lady and the Gent, is charming and fun! But I like this one even more.
From Amazon: Gabriel Statler, Lord Wharton, has a problem. His duties as an operative for the Crown are being compromised for the sake of his cover, where he is known only as the Rogue. His days are now filled with trivial investigations, and none of the problems are ones he wants to solve. Then he meets a mysterious young woman who holds more secrets than he likes, and, against his better judgment, he takes her case.
Amelia Berger needs the Rogue, and she needs everything he can offer without revealing everything she knows. Her secrets are her own, and she has far too many to risk revealing even one. But when working with Rogue turns into something entirely unexpected, she finds that the secrets she began with are not the ones she most needs to protect.
Loving an Outlaw
by Kristen Iten
I enjoyed reading this sweet Western romance very much. It was absolutely delightful - full of beautiful description, strong characters, interesting twists, and a love story that made me sigh.
From Amazon: Eighteen-year-old Abigail Dodd has always dreamed of building a life out West. Her plans to join her older brother in Texas are put in jeopardy when he suddenly stops writing. Unsure whether he’s dead or alive, Abigail leaves for the Wild West in search of the truth. Jake Morgan rides to the rescue when things go wrong on the long road to Sweet Creek, Texas. He vows to see Abigail safely to her destination before continuing his own journey to California. When it becomes clear that her life is in danger, Jake decides to stay as long as it takes to make sure she’s safe — even if it costs him his life.
When Abigail learns of a dark secret from his past, she realizes that she may have to let go of the man she has come to love in order to save his life.
by Kristen McKendry
I discovered this book and author quite by accident. This novel was an impulse buy for me at a brick-and-mortar store. Now, I almost can't stop recommending it!
From Amazon: Independent young Kate Porter envisions a future far greater than the middle-class existence she’s always lived, and her work as a governess is simply a means to an end. The glittering world of a society wife calls, and her new position as a private tutor for the children of Mr. Alonzo Colaco is a step in the right direction. She merrily imagines the grand house awaiting her—but when her new employer meets her at the train station driving a gaily painted gypsy wagon, Kate suspects her new job as a children’s tutor will not be all she dreamed. Instead of the mansion she anticipated, Kate finds herself living in the woods in a refitted train car as she teaches the charming children of Alonzo, a tinker by trade.
After trying in vain to secure another job, Kate is left with little choice. She must simply bide her time until a better position presents itself. Before long, however, she abandons her petticoats and preconceptions in favor of the joys of a simple life—and the possibility of true love. But when opportunity knocks, will Kate really be ready to walk away from all she’s come to care for to pursue her high-society dreams?
The Orient Express, Timeless Victorian Collection
by Elizabeth Johns, Annette Lyon, and Nancy Campbell Allen
Again, you cannot go wrong with the Timeless books. These three stories take place in the age of Queen Victoria, the golden years of the railway system that stretched from one side of Europe to Istanbul. In keeping with the tradition of writing about this amazing train, each of these sweet romances contains just a hint of intrigue.
Don't forget to share this list with friends!
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!
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Sally Britton's books on Goodreads
His Bluestocking Bride (Branches of Love #3)
ratings: 1062 (avg rating 4.21)
The Earl and His Lady (Branches of Love #4)
ratings: 1008 (avg rating 4.36)
The Gentleman Physician (Branches of Love #2)
ratings: 680 (avg rating 4.20)
The Social Tutor (Branches of Love #1)
ratings: 656 (avg rating 4.11)
Miss Devon's Choice (Branches of Love #5)
ratings: 517 (avg rating 4.45)