Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my Western Romance, Lily and the Gambler, for the #HappyHolidays author exchange.
Lily and the Gambler is set in the autumn in California Gold Country, specifically Grass Valley, 1868. My husband and I visited the area some years ago and I fell in love with it. Grass Valley was especially interesting to me because of the large Cornish population in the 19th century. This area had deep gold veins that couldn’t be panned. Cornish miners were encouraged to come because of their experience in the tin mines of Cornwall, which were petering out. To this day, the Cornish pasty is a local treat, and the city still celebrates a Cornish Christmas.
Lily & the Gambler
By Linda McLaughlin
Sensual Western Historical Romance
Respectability is in the eye of the beholder. Or so Lily hopes when she assumes the guise of a widow. After her lover’s death, she and travels to California where she plans to marry a respectable mine owner. Then she meets King Callaway, a professional gambler.
After meeting Lily, King knows he has found his Queen of Hearts. But can he convince her to pass up a wealthy gentleman for a foot-loose card sharp? Only Lady Luck knows for sure…
(Previously published in a shortened version by Amber Quill Press)
Available at Amazon Kindle, BN/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords.
Add to your TBR list at Goodreads.
At last he pulled the buggy off the road at a small clearing by the stream. He set the break and jumped out to help her from the conveyance. As usual, he held her a little too closely, only this time he didn’t let go when her feet touched the ground.
She stared up into his eyes. “King?”
“I can’t get over how lovely you are,” he said, his voice husky.
“You’re quite good-looking yourself.” She reached up to stroke his cheek, still smooth from his morning shave. Her heart was beating faster than usual. Would he try to kiss her?
He turned his head and pressed a kiss into her palm. He drew her closer and lowered his head. Just then she heard the noise of another horse and drew back.
“Anyone could see us. I have to be careful of my reputation.”
He cursed under his breath, grabbed the picnic basket and a blanket from the buggy and led the way through the woods to a more secluded spot by the stream. “Is this better?”
She peered back the way they had come, but couldn’t see the road. “Yes.” Though she knew it was never safe to be alone with this man, she went willingly. She must have lost her senses.
He spread the blanket on the ground and put the basket down before reaching for her. “Now where were we?”
She smiled. “I think you were about to kiss me.”
“So I was.” He pulled her to him, one arm around her waist and the other hand cupping her head. His lips were warm and searching, demanding she respond in kind. She sighed into the kiss. Goodness, she’d forgotten how blissful the act could be. She wrapped her arms around his waist and gave herself up to the kiss, delighting in the sensations coursing through her. How was she going to resist this man?
At last, he pulled his mouth away with a groan. “I want you, Lily, more than you realize.”
“I know,” she whispered, stepping away to stare at the water in the creek rippling below. “But I’m not ready for more than kisses.” She spoke the lie, knowing he needed no encouragement to take her right there. She wanted him, too, wanted to feel his skin against her own, feel his weight on her, the pleasure he could give her. But she was afraid. Afraid of losing control, of being caught in wanton behavior, of being ostracized from society. He’d made her no promises and his advances promised only ruination. “You want marriage,” he said.
She turned to look at him, not sure whether she should be angry or disappointed. “Ideally, yes. I need some assurances. What are your intentions, sir? Do you think to seduce me once and abandon me?”
He stepped nearer and ran a finger down the side of her face and neck. A shiver passed through her. “I doubt once would be enough.”
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Hope you’re having a good holiday season so far.