Happy Friday, everyone! Today I have a special guest: the marvelous Vanessa Kelly, and her equally marvelous upcoming romance, HIS MISTLETOE BRIDE. It’s an absolutely lovely holiday-set Regency historical romance, full of Vanessa’s trademark awesomeness: a smart heroine, a delicious hero who desperately wants to do the right thing, and a cast of characters that shine with wit.
Today Vanessa’s sharing a new excerpt from HIS MISTLETOE BRIDE, which doesn’t come out until this October. But guess what? This month, you can click over to the Contest page and enter to win a signed advance copy. The winner will have the chance to read HIS MISTLETOE BRIDE more than a month before everyone else.
Ready for that excerpt? Me too. Here we go…
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Phoebe, recently come from America to London to meet her British relatives, is attending her first ball. Unfortunately, things are not going well. Earlier in the evening she quarreled with Lucas, and now she finds herself on the receiving end of some very unpleasant attentions from Lord Castle, a terrible rake. She manages to hold him at bay until Lucas arrives on the scene. But when Lucas announces to the room at large that Phoebe is his fiancé and demands that Castle apologize to her, Phoebe is caught completely off guard.
Phoebe stared at Lucas as the floor seemed to tilt under her feet. The heat of the room stifled her, but the dazed wooliness in her head resulted from the stunning announcement Lucas had just calmly delivered.
Lord Castle gaped at Lucas. “Miss Linville is your fiancée?”
His disbelief certainly echoed hers. She wondered if Lucas was drunk. There seemed no other explanation for his astonishing behavior, especially after the scene in the library. Flushed, she raised a hand to her perspiring forehead, feeling dizzy.
Her movement brought Lucas’ head around and their eyes met. He frowned, his worried gaze sweeping over her, searching for the cause of her distress. His eyes were clear, and he appeared as sombre and sober as a magistrate. With another stab of shock, she realized he was serious. About everything.
He gave her a fleeting smile of reassurance, then directed another challenging stare at the viscount. That stare was so cold and so eerily calm that a whisper of premonition shivered down her spine. Phoebe had never witnessed a man in a killing mood, but she imagined he would look much as Lucas did right now.
Lord Castle broke the suffocating tension by jerking his attention to Phoebe and letting out a sardonic laugh. “Well, this is wonderful, to be sure.” He bowed to her, clearly intending mockery rather than respect. “My dear Miss Linville, allow me to offer you my congratulations. Your engagement will surely be the talk of the town, and I mean that in the best possible way.”
Lucas narrowed his eyes to frozen gray slits, while Phoebe almost groaned. Shaking off her paralysis, she grabbed his sleeve. “We must go. We are attracting attention.”
A quick glance around her confirmed it. Several men and women had paused to watch, evidently anticipating an amusing scene, or even a brawl.
Lucas gently removed her hand. “I’m still waiting for Lord Castle to apologize to you.”
Phoebe wanted to shake him. “I do not need an apology. The wrong Lord Castle has committed is against himself.”
Lucas glanced down at her. As he studied her face, his eyes flared with an admiring heat that made her heart thump and the blood rush to her cheeks. His mouth kicked up in a different sort of smile, one that seemed to curl around her with a lick of fire.
Lord, her wits had gone begging if he could affect her so greatly in such embarrassing circumstances.
“You may not need an apology, love,” he said, “but I do on your behalf. And we’re not leaving until I get it.”
Perhaps she was losing not just her mind, but also her hearing. Lucas could not be making a declaration in the middle of a ballroom filled with strangers. It was simply too outrageous a notion to contemplate.
Lord Castle barked out an ugly laugh. “Really, Merritt, you and your fiancé are more amusing than the acrobats at Astley’s. Perhaps you should consider joining the circus.”
Something snapped in Phoebe’s head. She stepped in front of Lucas and glared up at the viscount. “You, sir, are a poltroon, a braggart, and a…a loose fish,” she stormed.
Lucas, Lord Castle, and Mr. Dash froze in unison. Uncle Arthur often used those same words to great effect, and Phoebe had every intention of adding them to her vocabulary from now on. “You have bothered us long enough, Lord Castle. I insist you take yourself off before I really have something to say about it.”
She seized Lucas again, trying to drag him away, but he refused to budge.
“Phoebe,” he said, the warning clear.
Her frustration spiralled, exploding through her body. Some great force outside her control took hold, and she jabbed Lucas in the arm as hard as she could.
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Vanessa, thanks so much for sharing your excerpt! Friends, aren’t Phoebe and Lucas a great pair? I enjoyed this book so much, and I’m so glad one of you will get to read it early. For ultimate handiness, here’s that link one more time: you can enter to win an advance copy of HIS MISTLETOE BRIDE on the Contest page. And here on the blog, do tell: what’s your favorite thing about a party? Or about the holiday season? (If we talk about winter, maybe it’ll seem less hot outside. Maybe?)
But wait, there’s more!
Since Vanessa and I both have books out on the same date (October 2), we thought it would be fun to visit each other on the same day. So today on Vanessa’s blog, I’ve shared an all-new excerpt from SEASON FOR SURRENDER. There’s a giveaway over there, too, for a signed advance copy of SFS. Please join us!
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Vanessa Kelly writes Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra. Her latest book, My Favorite Countess, was nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, and she was named by Booklist as one of the “new stars of historical romance.” When not penning stories about aristocratic rakes and feisty misses, she’s writing contemporary romances with her husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes. You can find her on the web at www.vanessakellyauthor.com or at www.vksykes.com.