Yes, I know I have been terribly amiss at blogging, but I have a good reason: I'm almost done with my next novella!! So today, I am doing a cover reveal as well as an exclusive excerpt.
Before we get to that, I want to share my exciting news: I'm now an award-winning author! A Taste for Scandal won best historical/regency romance in the Book Buyers Best 2013 contest. A big thank you to the judges and the Orange County Romance Writers of America!
Now, without further ado, I give you...
The following is an unedited excerpt. I hope you enjoy this, the first sneak peek!
For a man with a pistol pointed at his chest, the trespasser seemed rather disconcertingly unconcerned.
Amelia Watson adjusted her grip on her weapon and repeated her question. “What business have you on my father’s lands, sir?” She didn’t waver at all, instead holding steady and true on her target. Her exceptionally broad target. The man’s chest was nearly as wide as his patronizing smile.
“If these lands are your father’s, then clearly I have taken a wrong turn.” He tilted his head, his dark gaze raking over her from the lacy bottom of her dainty pink morning gown to the top of her beribboned straw bonnet before landing again on her outstretched pistol. “I must say, you make for a very unique welcoming committee for poor, lost souls who have unwittingly wandered across property lines.”
What kind of accent was that, anyway? Yes, he spoke the King’s English, but there was a flavor to it that she didn’t quite recognize. Not Scottish or Irish, but definitely something. His looks gave no hint to what it may be. His eyes were nearly the same color as his hair, both dark and shining in the morning sun. Based on his tanned skin, she’d wager he spent quite a bit of time in the elements.
His rough wool jacket fit well enough, but certainly wasn’t of the best quality. Nor were his well-worn boots, which were liberally scuffed and mud-stained, despite the dry ground. Stubble shadowed his cheeks, as though he’d gone a day or two without the benefit of a razor. Even so, his eyes seemed intelligent, his posture proud. He didn’t look like a man who was looking for trouble, but she couldn’t be sure.
And really, what did a villain look like? According to Papa, half the members of parliament were criminals.
Grateful for the solid weight of the pistol’s brass grip, she lifted her chin. “There are poor, lost souls, and there are those up to no good. Speak now as to your purpose here, before I make up my own mind and act accordingly.”
She was careful to control her breathing, not giving away the fact that her heart was pounding like a runaway horse. It had been since the moment he appeared from the copse of trees lining her favorite path. Perhaps she should have listened to Papa’s warning to her not to go walking unaccompanied. Although, to be fair, he had issued the same warning every time she stepped foot outside the house for as long as she could remember.
The man lifted an eyebrow, everything about him showing a complete lack of worry regarding her and her flintlock. “You are aware that there is a wedding this week on your neighbor’s estate?”
Heat that had nothing to do with the late summer sun stole up her cheeks. Of course—the wedding. Eleanor had invited her weeks ago, but Amelia hadn’t even thought about the fact that guests were sure to be arriving early.
Although . . . she narrowed her eyes speculatively at the handsome intruder. Most everyone in the area knew about the coming nuptials, so it was possible he was merely using the event as an excuse. “I am indeed aware—as is nearly everyone else in a twenty-five mile radius. Do you have some sort of proof that you are a guest?”
The corner of his lip quirked up. “Of course. Here, let me just fish my engraved invitation from my coat pocket, where I keep it for just such an occasion as this.” He made no move toward his jacket, not that she expected him to. Clearly he was mocking her.
She glared at him, unamused. “Fine, then be off with you. Do not return, sir, or you will find me somewhat less hospitable.”
His brows lifted halfway up his forehead. “Less hospitable? Shall I be drawn and quartered then?”
The gun was beginning to weigh heavy in her hand, but she refused to back down. She didn’t know this man from Adam, and his flippant attitude put her on edge. “If you’re lucky.”
He chuckled softly and tipped his hat. “Very well. I can take a hint. Good day, Miss Watson.”
Her eyes widened at the mention of her name. “Wait,” she exclaimed, stopping him mid-turn. Dropping the gun to her side, she peered at him with renewed interest. “How did you know my name?”
One single brow lifted as he tilted his head. “I don’t imagine there are many pistol-wielding, beautiful young women in these parts.” He tapped his forehead. “Deductive reasoning.”
With that, he turned and walked away, leaving her hot-cheeked and stunned. A moment later, a slow, reluctant smile came to her lips. Apparently her reputation preceded her. She stuffed the pistol back into the deep pocket at her hip where she always carried it, and set off for the house.
It would seem a visit to her neighbor’s estate had just been added to her agenda.