I hope you’ll forgive the promo post, but this could benefit all of us!
Next month sees the release of “Lisbon,” the last book in the Richard and Rose series, or, at least, the last in the current cycle. The villains are, well, you’ll have to read it for yourself.
So this month my publisher Samhain is giving away the first book in the series, “Yorkshire.” If you download that, and you like it, then you can buy the others. That’s the theory anyway, but the important thing is – free book!
“Yorkshire” started the story of Richard and Rose. While every book can be read on its own, each book in the series takes Richard and Rose further on in their adventures together.
I started the series with plans for a series of country house mysteries in an age when civilian law enforcement was in its infancy. It didn’t turn out like that. Villains appeared who targeted Richard and Rose personally, and the couple had their own problems with their families, so it turned into a saga about two people from different backgrounds making a success of their marriage and coping with adversaries that appeared to ruin their lives.
Richard and Rose suffer a coup de foudre in “Yorkshire”—love at first sight. There are arguments as to if the phenomenon is actually lust at first sight, and there’s certainly some of that, but it could be that this magical event happens. It doesn’t work out for every couple, that’s for sure, but, hey, I write romance.
Some of the series is watching Richard and Rose work together and fall deeper in love as time goes by. After their initial meeting, they have to work out a lot of problems, and learn each other.
This is the moment when it happens for them:
I heard a sound from behind me, a footstep in the yard outside, closer than the stable boy who still sang lustily in one of the horse boxes at the other end of the yard. Hastily dropping the strap, I stood, and brushed my skirts down with my hand in a nervous gesture. It must be the groom. He couldn’t find me in this situation, mustn’t guess my discovery.
Lord Strang walked into the coach house.
His held his injured arm in a sling fastened around his neck, and he was dressed simply in a country frock coat, slung around his shoulders against the cold. No makeup or expensive velvet today and a simple wig, fair hair close to what I now knew to be his natural colour, tied back. He looked comfortable, at ease, far more human than he had when he first stepped out of his coach the previous Monday and far more like his brother, but I would never have confused them.
He stopped when he saw me and slowly looked me over. I felt dowdy and provincial under his even gaze, and dropped my eyes. He came quickly towards me, and then stopped again, a few paces short of me. Regaining my courage I lifted my head and we stared at each other. “Good morning, ma’am.” He bowed.
“Good morning, my lord. Do you feel better today?”
“A good deal better, thank you. Sleep and rest seem to have restored me almost to my old self. But not quite,” he added in a quieter, more reflective tone.
I glanced at the sling, expertly tied, no doubt by his resourceful manservant. “You look much better, sir. I hope your arm does well now.”
An easy, genuine smile transformed his grave features into something else, making him look like any other man—almost. It went right through me. “I hope so too. Carier certainly seems pleased with its progress.”
I felt uncomfortable with just the two of us, and the unseen groom and I groped in my mind for something to say. “Your man is very capable with injuries.” I tried hard to keep up a normal conversation. “I didn’t think it was considered usual in a manservant. Not all military men are familiar with injuries, or how to deal with them.”
“Carier joined me on the Grand Tour, direct from the army.” He didn’t seem aware of my awkwardness. I thanked the Lord for good manners that prevented him indicating any awareness. “He served a general for several years and took an interest in helping the wounded. He dealt with much worse during his service, or so he would have me believe.”
I found it difficult to take my eyes off Lord Strang, but I knew I must do something to stop myself, or he might notice. I felt awkward and ungainly as I always did in difficult situations. My inner feelings intensified it, made it even worse. Partly to give myself an excuse to take my eyes away from him and partly on an impulse I turned away and picked up the cut strap. “Sir, I noticed the most dreadful thing, but I need someone’s opinion.”
His attention had gone to the strap in my hand, and he must have seen what I did. He took the step that brought him to my side. “Good God!” Taking the strap from me he turned it over so he could examine it from both sides.
We stood side by side and stared at the strap for a while in silence, for far too long. Then I found my voice at last; “It has been cut, hasn’t it, sir?”
I smelled him now. An unidentifiable scent of manhood mixed with citrus, too agreeable for comfort. I wanted to move away, but thought he might realise something was wrong if I did. I would be deeply mortified if that were to happen. It was bad enough to have this crazy infatuation—much worse if he knew it.
“There’s no doubt about it. Look, it’s been cut nearly through. I’m surprised the coach got as far as it did.”
He dropped the strap as though it had become suddenly hot, and went round to the other side of the coach to examine the strap on that side, but I didn’t follow him. I needed time to get my breath back. His presence so close hit me like a blow to the stomach, especially in the way he had taken me by surprise by walking in so unexpectedly. I put my head back and took some deep, clear breaths of the chilly morning air, pulled it down into my lungs in an effort to clear my head. Slowly, I regained my self control.
Lord Strang walked round the coach carefully, examining it closely at several points, then he came back to where I stood. “This is very serious indeed.”
“Shouldn’t we tell someone?”
Impulsively, I turned towards him, but he was standing too close for me to avoid the power of his presence. I drew a breath and smelled him, the perfume he used and the unfamiliar scent of masculinity. I could feel the heat of his body. Then I let my eyes meet his in a careless second. Everything rushed in on me, in his blue gaze. I was lost.
His eyes widened in disbelief and the breath caught in his throat. “You too? Oh dear God.” Without any more words, he drew me close with his good arm and kissed me.
Tiny tentative kisses at first, gentle, the kind one might give a friend at greeting, but they soon changed to passionate and demanding when, despite my good intentions, I responded and kissed him back.
This could not be happening. But I didn’t pull away. I wrapped my arms around him instead, and touched him properly for the first time. His hard body tensed under the fine linen shirt and his warmth seeped through to my very heart.
I’d never known anything remotely like this before, this aching desire that betrayed all my self-control. Living in an overcrowded manor house had taught me powers of discretion no one had been able to break through before, not even Steven, although he had tried. While every sensible bone in my body screamed for me to pull away, to get away, my treacherous arms wouldn’t push, and my legs seemed rooted to the spot. With those kisses, he unlocked something I had only been aware of dimly before.
He bent his head to kiss my neck. Now I could call out, now I could say something, but I only sighed with longing. My throat arched, his kisses burned my skin. I wanted him to continue, but he pushed me away, gasping, “No!”
My astonishment reflected in his eyes as we stared at each other. All my good resolutions had gone, dissolved in the wake of passion. Only aware of him as he looked at me, I tried to think, stay calm, in control of myself, but had to fight for it like never before.
“Someone told me you were dangerous.” My voice shook despite my best efforts to keep it steady.
“Then you have me at a disadvantage, for no one told me how dangerous you are.” I stared at him uncomprehendingly, and a heavy silence fell between us.
If you want to get Yorkshire free during May, you can get it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks, or most other outlets. Here's the Amazon link: