I’m thrilled to announce the release of The Beaumont Betrothal, Book 2 in the Northbridge Bride series. It has been ‘Coming Soon!’ for much longer than it should. I am in love with the cover designed by Tania Hutley and must thank Bronwen Evans for her developmental edit, which saw many changes and much improvement in the manuscript. Regency Romantica author Jen Yates‘ humor, wisdom, and hospitality also paved the way to publication, as did the inspiration, example, and encouragement of many others, particularly those in our C2C (Coast-to-Coast) chapter of Romance Writers of New Zealand.
Attending a SPA Girls self-publishing workshop was the real impetus towards self-publishing, and I sincerely thank Cheryl Phipps, Wendy Vella, Trudi Jaye, and Shar Barrett, not only for the initial learning but for their ongoing support. Many see writing as a solitary occupation but sharing the support, knowledge, and experience of other writers is enriching in so many ways. I’ve always found the writing community tremendously supportive; individually, at conferences, workshops and meetings, and also on social media which is integral to our craft in today’s cyber-centered world.
Book 3 in the Northbridge Bride series has the working title The Diplomat’s Daughter. I am determined Catherine and Benedict won’t have to wait as long for their HEA as did Sophia and Bruno from The Beaumont Betrothal. Wish me luck! I love feedback from readers, so if you enjoyed reading The Beaumont Betrothal or any of my other titles, please email me at email@example.com
“Careful. You’ll get freckles,” came a deep voice from behind her.
Startled, she spun around to see a wide-shouldered long-legged gentleman with a thick crop of peat-colored hair roughed-up by the same breeze that played with her own. His high-bridged nose bisected a pair of bold, alert eyes and she was struck by an odd sense of familiarity. At the same time, she knew she’d never met this man before. She would not have forgotten that dark, flashing glance.
A thrill flickered inside her. Despite the blustery draught, the air around her shimmered. She brought a hand to her throat and drew in a quick breath but did not look away, imbued with an unexpected recklessness.
“I rather like freckles.” She lifted her chin, aware of the wind loosening the length of colored cloth she’d tied about her head earlier in the day.
He smiled. His teeth were very white, their color echoed in the thin, gleaming scar that tracked across the lean plane of his right cheek. Perhaps it was this injury, tugging at the muscles beneath his bronzed skin that resulted in an indent near the corner of his long upper lip and softened the hard line of his mouth.
“I do too,” he said, eyeing her in a way that brought warmth to her face. His rich baritone was dangerously attractive, and his drawling enunciation told Sophia he was not a native-born Englishman.
Conversing with a gentleman when she was unchaperoned and to whom she had not been introduced breached all the rules of etiquette, but she did not care. For she held an unhappy awareness that this could be her last chance to venture beyond the bounds of behavior society, and she herself, would demand of her should she be compelled to marry Freddy.
She found herself returning his smile. “I do not know you, Sir,” she said. “And I have been cautioned throughout my life against the perils of speaking to strangers.”
His mouth quirked. “I am not particularly strange,” he said. “But that’s certainly a valid warning for a young lady. It’s one I’d issue myself.”
She dimpled, unable to resist provoking further conversation. “Then perhaps I should bid you goodbye.” But she made no move to step away, intrigued by this new turn of events and excited by the presence of a man unlike any she had encountered before.
Despite the weather, his dress was faultless; his white cravat precisely tied, his caped surtout tailored to emphasize his wide shoulders and narrow waist. Perhaps he had unbuttoned it when the rain stopped for it lay open, displaying a cream-on-cream waistcoat beneath a charcoal jacket. Tight-fitting buckskins encased long, muscled legs and his hessian boots gleamed where they were not splashed with mud. He carried himself with an easy, masculine grace and wore his garments without pretention.
Beyond him and to the right, a bay mare cropped at the grass beside the brook. Sophia was surprised her unhappy thoughts had so engrossed her that both horse and rider had been able to approach without her knowing.
After a moment or two, he angled his face and said: “What were you searching for?”
Sophia tilted her head.
“When I first saw you, you were gazing so intently into the water. I wondered what held your interest.”
Sophia caught her lower lip between her teeth. What could she say? She was watching for mating trout? She turned her face into the cooling breeze.
“Fish,” she said truthfully though with less eloquence than she would have liked.
The corner of his mouth lifted. “To… fish for… or to eat?”
She shook her head. “To watch. They are quite beautiful.” She found herself staring at his mouth, waiting for that captivating indent to appear. When it did, her heart gave a little lurch.
His eyes flashed with humor. “I don’t recall ever encountering a woman who considered fish beautiful.”
“Oh, but they are! Only last week I saw a buck directly under this bridge with the most astonishing coloring, flashes of dark red dappled with gold.” She was aware of her expression dimming. “But I should not like to catch one, for when they are out of their own environment their colors fade to dullness.” Like hers would, once she was married to Freddy, she thought unhappily.