Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Courting the Countess
Richard approached Lady Elizabeth. Though the settee had room for two, Richard went down on his knees in front of her and placed a hand on either side of her legs, leaning on the edge of the cushion. She tensed.
Lady Elizabeth’s thick hair had been pulled back into a loose knot at the crown of her head, with a few wayward tendrils escaping to frame her face. Her lowered eyes were thickly lashed, fringed by a pair of high, arched brows. Her fair, unblemished skin bore no hint of a freckle. Her lips, though thinner than he would have liked, still had a pleasing shape. Her slightly pointed chin exactly like her father’s led the eye down to a slender, graceful neck.
Perhaps he’d been so focused on Leticia that he’d simply not taken the time to really look at Lady Elizabeth. Furthermore, her younger sister, Lady Joanna, a beauty of stunning proportions, outshone everyone within miles. But now that he gave Lady Elizabeth his full attention, he discovered her own quiet beauty.
At his silence, she glanced at him before her eyes darted away. Then, perhaps because she’d seen something reassuring, or unexpected, she met his gaze. Her clear, gray-green eyes danced back and forth between his as if to divine his thoughts.
The seductress of last night had vanished, and in her place sat a young, innocent, vulnerable girl. His future wife. He’d best begin things well.
“Lady Elizabeth,” he said. “I know the circumstances of our betrothal are somewhat unique, but I feel it necessary to ask you; do you agree to marry me?”
Her eyes opened wide and her mouth parted. He realized she’d been pressing her lips together in a tight line. Now that they had relaxed, they were much more shapely. Lovely. Kissable. No wonder Tristan had been tempted. Any man would.
She seemed to take a thorough measure of him, her eyes continuing to dart between his. He waited for her reply. Her vulnerability evoked a protective instinct inside Richard. Her fragrance, a blend of roses and violets and some other fragrance he could not identify curled around his senses in an intoxicating blend of innocence and sensuality.
The thought took him aback. He shouldn’t be looking at another woman thusly, even a woman he must marry. Surely his heart could not be so inconstant as to forget Leticia so soon.
She moistened her lips, making them even more tempting, and shot a glance at the duke and duchess. “Yes, my lord. I agree to marry you.” The soft tones were flat, unemotional.
“Willingly?” he pressed.
She blinked and appeared to choose her words with care. In that moment, his estimation of her rose. Perhaps she would not always be rash. Faint hope glimmered that she’d prove faithful.
She lowered her eyes. “I will not have Martindale’s blood on my hands. Or Tristan’s. I must marry you.”
Stung, he drew back. “Of course.”
He didn’t know what he’d hoped she would say. If she’d gushed about all his fine qualities, he might have suspected her of spinning a tale. But hearing her blatant declaration that she’d only marry him to prevent bloodshed smote his pride.
So be it. Neither of them wanted this marriage, but he would do anything to protect his brother and his family honor. He and his father had worked too hard to repair the scandal to the Barrett name and the Averston title caused by his disloyal mother.
A few questions for our authoress:
Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
Be humble and teachable. Too many new authors have kind of a chip on their shoulder and are totally closed to constructive criticism. If someone tells you there is an aspect of your story that needs more work, take them at face value; they are almost always right. If they tell you what you should do to fix it, take that with a grain of salt because they are often wrong.
If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?
That’s easy. I’d want to go to Regency England to do my research first hand.
What color would you wear if you had only one choice?
Blue. Every color of blue is beautiful and there are so many shades that I’d never get bored.
I'm going to pick up this book as soon as I am able at any of these places. I hope you will too: