Welcome to Name That Title! The game show where YOU get to take part in naming a book! Today, we are finding the perfect title for the third in the Sealed With a Kiss Series by Erin Knightley.
*pauses for applause*
First, let’s take a look at the first two in the series:
So here's your chance to be part of the fun! We are looking for a title that has a similar look and feel, that best matches Beatrice and Colin's story. Below is a description of the book:
Lady Beatrice Moore is an accomplished painter, the privileged daughter of a marquis, and a woman with a secret. As a debutant in possession of a sizable dowry, she hates fortune hunters—especially after her friend is duped by one. She’s bound and determined to teach the unsuspecting ladies of the ton how to recognize the lowlifes who look at an heiress and see only the size of her dowry—and the plan she comes up with will raise more than a few eyebrows.
Six months after his father’s death, aspiring barrister and newly titled baronet, Sir Colin Tate, arrives in town for a memorial exhibit of his father’s most celebrated paintings. But there are more pressing issues on his mind than simply making his entrance into society. With only a short window of time to find a bride before the world knows of his father’s massive business debts, Colin must become what he never imagined he’d be: a fortune hunter.
When Beatrice learns that the son of Britain’s most celebrated painter is in town, she can hardly wait to meet him. His striking looks make her long to put brush to canvas, while his sharp mind and unique, Scottish-tinged accent make him impossible to forget. Colin never expected to find a woman who would pursue him, but that seems to be exactly the case with the lovely and talented Lady Beatrice seeks him out. On the surface, they seem to be the perfect match, but if their respective secrets are discovered, not only could they destroy their perception of each other, but their future prospects as well.
Alright, so here are the titles we have come up with so far. Vote for your favorite or favorites, or add your own in the comments section below. If yours is chosen, you’ll get a shout out in the Acknowledgements of the book, as well as a personalized advance copy!
Regardless of which title is ultimately chosen, one lucky commenter will receive an advance reader copy of Book 2 – A TASTE FOR SCANDAL! A winner will be decided by the evening of Monday, Sept 24th. Good luck and THANK YOU!!
(If you are on a smart phone and can't see the poll, here are the options: A Brush with Fortune, Flirting with Fortune, To Foil a Fortune Hunter, Falling for a Fortune Hunter, In Search of Miss Fortune, Charming a Fortune Hunter, Engaging an Heiress, Portrait of a Fortune Hunter, and the Art of Fortune Hunting. Vote in the comments section or come up with one of your own!)
As a special treat, here is a sneak peek at Book #3 – coming, September 2013!
Lady Beatrice Moore was in heaven.
As she walked down Lady Churly’s portrait gallery, accompanied by nothing but the muted whisper of the distant orchestra from the ball and the slightest sense of accomplishment, Bea couldn’t help the sigh of pleasure that escaped her.
Finally, she was away from the crowd, far from the eyes of fortune hunters who watched her as a hawk eyed a field mouse, and beyond the earshot of the gossipmongers looking to snap up the latest on-dit. It was just Bea, the soft glow of the turned-back lamps lining the hall, and an entire wall full of some of the greatest masterpieces England had ever produced.
In no hurry now that she had escaped the crush, she clasped her hands behind her back and strolled across the narrow hall, her slippers silent on the herringbone-patterned wood floors. Lady Churly possessed the single largest collection of Sir Frederick Tate’s work: four spectacular portraits that were so much more than the sum of their subjects. His true genius had been in the play of light, particularly the incredibly life-like shadows that always gave his pieces such moody brilliance. Dark yet full of life, each portrait was an absolute masterpiece.
Even more so now that he was gone.
At least, as an artist, his legacy was preserved. She paused, studying a painting of a small boy. His dark hair fell across his forehead while challenging gray eyes stared directly at her. Impossibly, Beatrice felt as though she could see the life within him, almost pull the thoughts from his mind.
The tap of approaching footsteps broke through her study. Drat—had someone followed her after all? She scowled, glancing around for someplace to slip out of view—not the easiest thing to do when one was draped in yards and yards of snowy white lutestring.
Even if it wasn’t some fortune hunter trying to get her alone, or her mother come to chide her, the company was still most unwelcome. And really, she did not want to be caught snooping. Where was a decent potted palm when a person needed one, anyway? There were few places to hide, with only one viable option: behind one of the heavy gold curtains that fell in generous velvet waves from the high ceiling to the floor.
Feeling like a thief in the night, she gathered her skirts and slipped behind the nearest fabric panel, pressing her back against the freezing cold glass of the window. She gritted her teeth against the chill as she flattened herself as much as she could. She almost grinned—who would have thought she would discover a situation where her small bosom was actually a good thing?
Whoever was out there certainly wasn’t in any hurry. Beatrice willed the person to move faster as the cold seeped through her and raised gooseflesh on her arms. Still, she didn’t dare move a muscle. It was all so very undignified. She hadn’t found herself in a position like this since she was a child. She was nineteen, no longer a silly twelve-year-old listening at key holes, for heaven’s sake.
The footsteps slowed further as they drew closer and closer, and Bea held her breath when they stopped mere feet away.
And then, nothing. The person just stood there, unintentionally pinning her in place like a trapped mouse. She waited, her lungs burning more with every passing second.
Move, for heaven’s sake, move!
Just when she thought her lungs would explode, the person stepped away. As quietly as humanly possible, Beatrice released her breath and sucked in a fresh supply of air. No matter that it tasted of musty velvet and dust motes—it was the sweetest breath she had ever taken.
The intruder seemed to have stopped again, this time close to the opposite wall. Blast it all. Was it their plan to hold her hostage all night? Never mind that they had no idea she was even there—it was still annoying.
Wait a second. Had not the footsteps come from the opposite direction of the ballroom? Her eyes rounded suddenly. What if this was the mystery guest the entire ton had been atwitter about for the past week? Lady Churly had promised to reveal the special guest’s identity at midnight, which was only half an hour away.
The old, familiar itch of curiosity flared to life deep within her. She knew it well. It had gotten her into plenty of trouble with her siblings over the years. Of course, it has also resulted in her discovering all kinds of secrets—all of which she had kept to herself, of course. She had scruples.
Without even making a conscious decision to do so, she started sliding sideways a quarter inch at a time. The edge of the drape was tantalizingly close, and if she could only make it over far enough to peek out with one eye, the burning curiosity would be satiated.
She barely breathed as she moved, pacing herself to about the speed of paint drying. At this rate, it would probably strike midnight before she could catch a glimpse of the mystery person in the room with her. For the thousandth time, she wondered who Lady Churly had secured for the ball. The woman was well-respected and in all the best circles, so Beatrice knew it wouldn’t be anyone scandalous or improper, which didn’t leave much in the way of interesting people. She had pondered the topic all week—along with the rest of the ton, from what she had heard—and hadn’t been able to come up with a single plausible candidate for the surprise guest.
Which annoyed her to no end.
Now was her chance. She could be the first to know who it was, a thought so tantalizing, she moved the slightest bit faster the last two inches toward freedom—more like the speed of grass growing. The gold velvet brushed across her hair, then her temple, and finally slid past her right eye.
The flash of triumph was immediately trumped by something else altogether as she focused on a man leaning against the opposite wall, his arms folded and amusement lifting the corners of his mouth. Her stomach flopped to the floor with an almost audible thump.
He was staring directly back at her.
“So this is the lady who belongs to the scent of lilacs. How lovely of you to come out and join me.”
He was amused.
She was not.
Never mind that the almost musical lilt of his Scottish-tinged accent sent a shiver down the back of Bea’s already chilled neck. If he knew she was there, he should have had the decency to say as much. Embarrassment stiffened her spine—Lord she must look a fool. With as much dignity as one in her position could muster, she extracted herself from the heavy drapes and shook out her skirts. “Yes, well, since you wouldn’t leave like a proper gentleman, it seems as though I had little choice.”
He lifted a dark eyebrow, tilting his head just enough so that a lock of midnight black hair fell across his temple. “I do beg your pardon. I should have left the moment I realized there was a debutant-shaped lump behind the curtains.”
Well, when he said it like that. She lifted her chin regally. “Pardon granted, Mr…?”
She waited, but he didn’t take the bait. Instead, he pushed away from the wall, closing the distance between them with measured, unhurried steps. He wasn’t overly tall, but he had a certain presence about him, as if he could command an army, if so inclined. She couldn’t have taken her eyes from him if she wanted to.
With every step he took, her heart seemed to increase, until it fluttered like a caged bird beneath her breast. He wasn’t traditionally handsome, not like her brother or even her brother-in-law. His appeal was much more intense than that. His jaw looked as sharp as if it were carved from granite, and already possessed the slightest hint of dark stubble. His cheeks angled high, almost like a woman’s, but his bold, masculine brow provided exactly enough counterbalance to give his features exquisite symmetry and depth. Such unique beauty made her fingers itched to take up her brushes and commit his visage to canvas.
Her gaze was too bold by half, but he didn’t seem to mind her inspection. In fact, he watched her right back, his flint-colored eyes seeming to take in everything about her, leaving her feeling quite exposed. “Now, now, we haven’a been introduced. I wouldn’a want to break protocol at my very first ball. Unless, of course, it is your wish, Miss…?”
Beatrice almost smiled. She’d as soon walk naked through the ballroom than tell him who she was. A lady did not get caught hiding behind curtains. “Yes, well…I suppose rules are rules.”
She realized then the importance of what he had said: This was his first ball. There was no doubt in her mind that he was the mystery guest Lady Churly was so eager to present. Who was this man? Beatrice’s curiosity rebelled with an almost physical force, but she firmly tamped it down. She was dying to know who he was, this man with the lyrical voice, compelling features, and the unmistakable air of mystery, but not at the price of revealing her own identity.
“Indeed.” He paused at exactly the proper distance away and folded his arms, considering her. “Although I suspect that you doona always play by the rules.” He nodded to the curtains behind her.
This time she did smile. “My character exposed in two minutes or less. Alas, I cannot deny it. Following the rules will gain you naught but a stellar reputation and a tremendously boring life.” Her older siblings, Evie and Richard, had taught her that much.
His answering smile was nearly as delicious as his accent, his perfectly bowed upper lip curving up to reveal beautiful white teeth. Beatrice unconsciously pressed her lips together. She hated the crooked front tooth that marred her own smile.
“Then you’d think me very tedious, indeed, I’m afraid,” he said, mock regret weighting his tone. “I must admit, I am a rule follower to a fault.”
She very nearly rolled her eyes. Any man with a face like that couldn’t possibly be boring. “I don’t believe you. If you were a rule follower, you would never have waited for me to emerge. Speaking alone with a strange female in a darkened gallery is not exactly perfect protocol.”
Lifting a shoulder in a sort of half shrug, his grin widened. “Than it is a very good thing that you donna know my name. I’d hate to have it bandied about that I was anything less than a perfect gentleman upon my entrance into society.”
“And if we encounter each other by chance?”
“Than I’ll throw myself upon your mercy to protect my reputation. In fact, perhaps I should do so now. Preemptively, so as I know I’m safe.”
She crossed her arms and nodded, unable to resist playing along. There was something about the anonymity of the moment that was almost intoxicating, like a first sip of champagne. “Very well—you may commence groveling.”
He dipped his head gravely. “As you wish. Though I wonder, how should I address you?” He took in her elegant gown and the emeralds decorating her ears and neck. “A stór, I think. It suits you.”
“A story? How on earth does that suit me?”
“Not a story,” he said, pantomiming opening a book. “A stór. My treasure.”
She sucked in a surprised breath, warmth infusing her whole body before flooding her face. Her heart shuddered within her. There was something shockingly intimate about being called such a thing by a near complete stranger.
Before she could think of a response, he chuckled. “As in buried treasure. Unearthed from the depths of the curtains. I didna mean to imply anything else.”
“Of course not,” she replied, nodding as though her mind hadn’t gone directly to that ‘something else’. “You may call me whatever you wish. Now, on with the groveling, if you please—I’ll be missed if I remain much longer.” Hopefully, the soft sounds of the music from the ballroom disguised the breathlessness of her voice.
He stepped forward, bringing them closer than even the most liberal of hosts would have deemed proper. He put a hand to his heart and dipped his head to hers. Mischief lit his eyes, subtly challenging her. “I beg you, a stór, from the very depths of me—could you find it in your heart to have mercy on my depraved soul? Could you carry this encounter close to your breast, not to be revealed under threat of death, or worse—gossip?”
She discretely drew in a breath, trying to calm her rioting senses. Good heavens, he was positively mesmerizing when he put his mind to it. The soft, lilting tones of his voice washed over her like warm silk, and she only just suppressed the shiver that flitted down her spine. Doing her best to sound lightly amused, she said, “Very well, you have my mercy. It was a pleasure not to meet you, sir. I do hope you enjoy the ball.”
With a reluctance that surprised her, she started to turn.
“Perhaps,” he said, drawing her attention to him once more, “you’d save a dance for me.”
She lifted her brow. “Ah, but that would require an introduction, would it not?” Even so, the offer was absurdly tempting. The idea of being pulled into his arms was almost enough to make her forget that dancing wasn’t her forte.
“An excellent point, to which I offer this solution: If by the end of the night, you wish to take me up on my offer, then I leave it to you to seek an introduction to me. Seeing how I now have assurance of your mercy, of course.”
Beatrice drew back in surprise. “Seek an introduction to you? I do hate to disabuse you of whatever opinion you have formed of me in these past few minutes, but I am not a desperate woman. I assure you, I will be seeking an introduction to no one.”
He didn’t look the least bit disappointed, or the slightest bit offended. Instead, the corners of his eyes crinkled in an almost imperceptible smile. Dipping his head in the approximation of a bow, he said, “Your prerogative. I of course shall respect your decision.”
Was it the accent or his sentiment that muddled her brain and had her leaning the slightest bit forward? “Er, thank you.” Already she was feeling like a ninny for having reacted as she did.
“But just so you know,” he said, slipping a gloved hand beneath hers and lifting her fingers to his lips for a feather soft kiss that had her holding her breath. “I’ll be keeping the last dance free.”