I teamed up with fabulous authors Stacy Reid, Lily Maxton, and Nicola Davidson for this wonderful Regency novella anthology centered around a Midsummer Night’s Ball.
AND THEN THE MOON by Ally Broadfield
After unexpectedly inheriting a viscountcy, Duncan Newfield must join society. He seems to be the only one not enjoying the Midsummer Night’s Ball – until he discovers Lady Madalene Parish hiding in the garden. Her father, Lord Gilmanton, has ordered her to accept a marriage proposal, any marriage proposal, by the end of the season. A bargain is struck and they enter into a fake engagement, but once they realize they might be perfect for one another, unexpected complications arise that may prevent them from having a future together.
Lady Willow Arlington, hauntingly lovely, is also blind and known by the ton as the dowry-less daughter. Alasdair Morley, the Marquess of Westcliffe, is in need of an heiress, and Lady Willow should be the last person he craves because she was persuaded to reject his offer of marriage when he was a mere third son. Passion reignites between them, and he makes an enticing offer she cannot resist, drawing them into a dance of lust and love despite the misgivings in his heart.
MIDNIGHT WISH by Lily Maxton
Heiress Jane Cartwright wants a suitor who likes her instead of her dowry. Her parents want a titled son-in-law. When a stranger falls out of a tree and lands at her feet at the Midsummer Ball, she’s intrigued with this charmingly awkward, science-minded man. She thinks her deepest wish has been answered when she finds out he’s titled. But Jane learns that wishes can be fickle, and her whirlwind romance might just be too good to be true…
ONCE UPON A PROMISE by Nicola Davidson
Long abandoned by her aristocratic soldier husband, Emma Montclair craves a formal separation. To forget the man who pulled her into his glittering, stifling world, introduced her to sizzling passion, then broke her heart.
Home at last, Major Caleb Montclair offers the wife he never stopped loving a counter-bargain: Grant him the six weeks until Midsummer Night to win her back. But even as old tenderness rekindles, lost time and shocking secrets threaten their second chance…
Enjoy an excerpt from And Then the Moon:
Biting back a grin, he said, “How is your ankle?”
“A bit tender, perhaps, but I shall persevere.”
“Nonsense.” Before he could think too much about it, he swept her up into his arms and carried her down the staircase into the gardens.
“You must put me down at once. I’m much too large to carry. You’ll injure yourself.”
“Nonsense. You are tall, but not at all heavy.” In fact, the delicate bones of her shoulder blades protruded against his arm. He carried her away from the house, searching for a place where he could check her injury without fear of being caught alone with her.
“Shouldn’t you be carrying me toward the house rather than away from it?”
“Where’s the fun in that?” He stalled, hoping to delay the inevitable moment when she demanded he return her to the ballroom, the place where neither of them seemed to want to be.
“Very well. Were you planning to introduce yourself before you kill me then?”
He tripped and nearly tossed her to the ground. “I beg your pardon.”
“Are you not taking me into the woods to kill me? It would almost be a relief.”
She was a very strange girl. He turned into the secluded alcove he had abandoned not long ago and set her gently atop a bench.
“May I?” he asked, tilting his head toward her foot.
“It’s quite inappropriate for me to allow you to see my ankle. Then again, I should never have been alone on the balcony. Or have allowed you to carry me. Go ahead.” She waved her hand in acquiescence.
She was quite correct, of course, but nevertheless, he knelt next to her and slipped off her shoe. He ran his hands over her ankle, which did not appear to be swollen or unduly tender. “What makes you think I’m going to kill you?”
“Why else would you bring me out here instead of taking me back to the ballroom?”
He slid the slipper back onto her foot, allowing his fingers to linger at her finely turned ankle. “I can think of quite a few reasons, all of them more scintillating than murdering you.” Clearly she was an innocent if her first thought wasn’t debauchery. More pity, that.
“Which are?” she asked.
“You did hint that you were hiding from someone. Or something.”
She turned away. “Yes, I suppose I did.”
There was such sadness in her voice. “There are many other possibilities.”
He removed his hand from her ankle and stood, then pulled her up against him. “Such as this.” He leaned close, testing her, assuming she would retreat, but instead, her lips parted and a soft sigh escaped. Fire sparked within him and without thinking overmuch, he pressed his lips to hers. Not wanting to frighten her, he kept the kiss chaste, with barely a sweep of his tongue across her lower lip before he pulled back.
She blinked a few times and swallowed. “Oh.”
He raised his brows and waited for her to continue.
“That’s what you meant by scintillate.”
“Exactly.” Her face was precisely the right shade of just-been-kissed that made him want to kiss her all over again. Instead, he decided on a more appropriate activity for a ball.
“If your ankle is not too tender, would you care to dance, my lady?”
“I suppose so.” She frowned.
That wasn’t quite the response he had hoped for. “I don’t wish to force you. Perhaps we should head back to the ballroom.”
“But that’s just it. I’d rather not go back to the ballroom yet.”
Now understanding the source of her reluctance, he held his hand out to her. “It’s not necessary to go back to the ballroom to dance. Shall we?”
Her nose crinkled in a most diverting manner, then she placed her hand in his. “How will we dance without music?”
“If you listen carefully, you can just hear the notes of a waltz drifting along in the breeze.” He pulled her close once again, thinking he might easily become addicted to holding her, and swung her into the dance.