Hi friends, Maggi here.
Our exciting release day is almost here! I’m proud to be a part of Passionate Promises–Nine Promises to Stir your Passion, Embracing Romance anthology, which is released on Tuesday! For a mere 0.99, you can treat yourself to nine tantalizing romances by bestselling, award winning authors.
Enjoy an excerpt from my story, STIRRING PASSIONS. Kate Kilgarth is about to leave for London for her first Season, and has just come home after an awkward encounter with Jason, Lord Broughton. His distinctly unwelcoming manner, after finding her on his land, has left her smarting. Jason has returned after years abroad to reopen Broughton Hall. The majestic hall has remained in the hands of a caretaker for some years, after Jason’s brother died in a suspicious fire that destroyed a wing.
With a nod to Bricks, their footman-cum-butler who opened the door for her, Kate removed her bonnet. She walked down the passage, pulling out her hairpins, one of which stuck directly into her scalp. She gave her head a good rub as her mother called from the morning room. Walking in, Kate found her mother on the sofa with her sewing basket beside her, darning a stocking with deft stabs of her needle. Before Kate could impart her news, her mother said, “Did you know that Broughton Hall is inhabited again?”
Kate sat down beside her. She’d inherited her mother’s wavy, dark-brown hair and blue eyes. She only wished she were half as pretty.
A frown marred her pleasant face. “Kate! You’re in such a state. I wish you wouldn’t go tramping all over the countryside in the mid-day. Your poor complexion! What has happened to your hair? You do look a fright. I hope no one saw you.”
Kate nudged the berry-stained flounce out of sight with her boot and rushed on with her news. “I have news about the Hall, Mama. From Lord Broughton himself.”
“You’ve met him? I wonder if he’s like his brother, Peter?”
Kate had no idea, never having met Peter. But before she could formulate a satisfactory answer, her mother groaned. “And you, looking like that!”
Recalling her juice-stained fingers, she curled them in her lap. “He’s not very friendly.”
“He was discourteous?”
“Not exactly.” Kate suddenly felt the need to defend him. “I was on his land, after all.”
“Oh, Kate. He can’t have minded that, surely?”
Kate shrugged. She was not at all sure about his lordship. “Mama, why has Broughton Hall been empty for so long? Lord Broughton must be at least thirty. Where has he been living all this time?”
“Abroad apparently. I heard only recently that he’d been in Paris.”
“Paris!” Kate sighed. She longed to travel abroad herself.
“When he was a young man, he quarreled with his father and ran away. He had a reputation for being wild. There were rumors of trouble up at the Hall. Some said gambling debts, well, we never knew for sure. He and Peter were twins. Jason was the first-born son, but he didn’t return to claim the title after his father died. The earl tried to find him but, in the end, believing Jason dead, allowed Peter to take over the estate. You know the rest, how the whole west wing of the Hall was destroyed in a fire that claimed Peter’s life. The house has been empty ever since.”
Her mother paused to thread her darning needle with a fresh piece of yarn. “It’s still a very fine old house.” She picked up the stocking again. “I must say I’m pleased to hear his lordship has returned. I hope he means to put things in order. The park and the woods are overgrown too. Perhaps his lordship is now mature enough to face his responsibilities.”
“I wonder if he will attend the dances at the Assembly rooms.” Kate’s stomach rumbled, reminding her she’d missed luncheon. She jumped up and grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl. After polishing it on her gown, she took a large bite.
“I hope that doesn’t spoil your dinner.” Her mother made a clucking noise with her tongue. “Darling, look at your stained fingers! Oh dear. How shall I ever turn you into a lady?”
Kate chewed the piece and swallowed. “Sorry, Mama.”
“I suppose he will attend the dances. It will be expected of him,” her mother said. “Despite the rumors that still cling to him, he is an attractive proposition for the marriage market. How did you find them at Firth Manor? Did you see Laurence?”
“The family’s gone to London. Laurie’s grandmother passed away.”
“I’m sorry to hear it, darling.” She put down her sewing and gave Kate a quick hug. “Don’t be too sad, my love. She was a very old lady, was she not?”
“Does this mean Laurie will come into his inheritance?” Her brother’s voice came from the door. “Next he’ll be casting around for a wife.”
“Hush, Charles, ’tis none of your concern. Where have you been? Your father was going to take you with him to see John Polster’s new foal.”
“Charles, please! Your language.”
Charles raked his fingers through his hair, which shone red in the light. His turned-up nose lent him a mischievous appearance, which had so far been a good estimation of his character. Although two years Kate’s junior, he towered over her. He gave one of her curls a tweak. “I suppose you and Laurie shall soon be tying the knot, sis.”
“Ouch!” Kate slapped his hand away. “Well, you suppose wrong. There is no question of that. I am to go to London very soon. Have you received a reply from your letter to Aunt Abbey, Mama?”
“In today’s post. I was waiting until your father came home to tell you at dinner, but I suppose it can’t hurt to do it now.” Mama drew a letter from the pocket of her apron. “Aunt Abbey writes that she has mourned long enough for Uncle Ernest. She says it will not bring him back. He’s been gone for two years, and she is ready to take you under her wing. She expects you before Easter.”
Kate took a deep breath. “Oh, Mama, I can hardly believe it. That’s just weeks away.”
“And we shall need every day of them.” She smiled. “Just think, Kate, you shall dance at Almacks.”
Kate nodded. Dancing would be fun; she was confident she could execute even the most demanding steps now, after much practice. But London! “I’m more interested in seeing the Tower, after learning its grisly history.”
“Now, Kate, you cannot go gallivanting around on your own. London is a big, dangerous city filled with strangers. Nothing like our small village where everyone knows each other. But I daresay Aunt Abbey won’t take any nonsense.”
Kate rather liked the sound of London. Knowing everyone could be quite dull.
“We must begin to consider your wardrobe.”
“As you’re about to discuss gowns and bonnets, I’ll go and feed the chickens,” Charles said and dashed from the room.
“To catch frogs more like,” Kate said, screwing up her nose.
We’d love you to party with us at our Facebook party on Feb 19th-20th, giveaways, contests and games, oh my!