Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my Regency romance, Lady Elinor’s Escape, and a Summer Romantic Idea.
“A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou” – The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
I love that quote, and it makes me think of romantic summer picnics—at the beach, by a lake, in the mountains or a park—whatever location works best where you live or vacation. But what to pack? Wine, bread, meat and cheese are a given, but don’t forget the summer fruit—ripe red strawberries, lush juicy peaches or crisp apples. There’s nothing like a taste of fruit to sweeten a kiss.
Elinor looked around her. “Where shall we have our picnic?”
“I have a particular place in mind.”
A few minutes later, he reined in the horses near a small pond with a few ducks paddling on the surface. He put his hands on her waist and swung her down from the curricle. His hands lingered for a moment longer than necessary as he stared into her eyes. His were a dark liquid amber, like honey, and the warmth in his expression set her heart to racing.
Alarmed by her reaction, she stepped away from him. Oh my, this very private picnic might not have been a wise idea at all.
After tethering the horses, he spread a blanket under a nearby oak, and then produced a picnic basket. While Elinor lowered herself onto the blanket, removed her gloves and bonnet, he dug into the basket. The picnic turned out to be a hearty repast of cold chicken, cheese, bread and butter, cider and sweet, fresh strawberries.
Elinor did not realize how hungry she was until she took the first bite of chicken. Before she knew it, she had devoured a bit of everything, aware of Stephen watching her the entire time.
“I did not mean to eat so much,” she said, feeling a bit embarrassed.
“As you are so slender, I had not expected you to have such a hearty appetite,” he remarked with a smile. “I approve.”
“Everything was delicious.”
“I’ll pass your compliments on to Mother’s cook. She kindly provided the food.”
“You mean you cajoled her into it,” Elinor teased him.
He flashed her a boyish grin. “Cook always did have a soft spot in her heart for a hungry boy.”
“You must have had a wonderful childhood.”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Fairly typical, I should imagine, except for my habit of bringing home stray and injured animals. I was the despair of my mother.”
Elinor laughed softly. “Then you have not changed much, only now you collect stray females. What does your mother think of that?”
Again he shrugged. “If only I were to marry one of them, she would not object at all, or so she says.”
“I see.” So he was under familial pressure to marry. But he could hardly consider a liaison with a seamstress. Was he pursuing her as one last fling before getting married?
“There is one strawberry left.” He held it out to her.
She leaned toward him and bit into the sweet pulp. A trickle of juice ran down her chin. With one finger, he captured the moisture, and then licked it off, all the while holding her gaze. Her eyes widened at the intimacy of the gesture as heat rose to her cheeks. She was in over her head here.
A mysterious lady. An inquisitive gentleman. And a secret that could tear them apart.
Lady Elinor should be in London enjoying the season, not fearful and trapped in a country cottage with an unbalanced relative. When her aunt becomes violent, she flees straight into the path of a compassionate barrister. Desperate, she accepts his help, but will she be able to hide the truth from this inquisitive, intelligent man?
There are too many women in barrister Stephen Chaplin’s life, but he has never been able to turn his back on a woman in need. The reticent seamstress resists his every attempt to draw her out and remains a mystery he cannot solve.
Then a Bow Street Runner hired by her aunt comes asking questions. Elinor again turns to Stephen for help. But when circumstances reveal the truth about her background, will Stephen and Elinor lose their chance at happiness?
Lady Elinor’s Escape is a Cinderella-inspired traditional Regency romance. If you like noble gentlemen, independent ladies and sweet romance, this book is for you! Read now for free with Kindle Unlimited or grab a copy for 99 cents during the Kindle Countdown Deal, US and UK only.