in
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Playing Matchmaker...with Theresa Romain and Giveaway


Theresa Romain is the bestselling author of historical romances, including the Matchmaker trilogy, the Holiday Pleasures series, the Royal Reward series, and the Romance of the Turf trilogy. Praised as “one of the rising stars of Regency historical romance” (Booklist), her highly acclaimed novels have been chosen for the Smart Bitches Trashy Books Sizzling Book Club, featured in the DABWAHA tournament, and deemed “Desert Isle Keepers” by All About Romance. A member of Romance Writers of America and its Regency specialty chapter The Beau Monde, Theresa is hard at work on her next novel from her home in the Midwest.

Site | Blog | Facebook | Twitter |

Playing Matchmaker on Christmas Eve with Theresa Romain

This is a scene from my holiday historical romance, SEASON FOR DESIRE. Estella, Lady Irving, is a widowed countess of middle age who has long been a matchmaker for the young women in her family. Her first marriage was unhappy, and she never expected to find love herself. But Richard Rutherford, an American widower in England on a hunt for encoded messages and long-hidden jewels, has matchmaking plans of his own. He doesn’t see Estella as she sees herself, and this Christmas Eve, as they’re snowbound in a Yorkshire inn, the matchmaker finally gets a taste of her own medicine.

* * *

“Christmas Eve,” said Estella, Lady Irving, “should be spent sitting before a fire large enough to melt one’s eyebrows, drinking brandied chocolate strong enough to melt everything else.” She extended her hands to the fire in the private parlor.

“What is the present state of your eyebrows?” Richard poured out a cup of something hot from a service the inn’s maid had just brought in. Estella did not see a flask anywhere; this was unlikely to be spirituous. Damn.

“Unmelted. Sadly.” She drew her chair closer to the fire; any more and she would be sitting on the coals. Midday light filtered gray-blue through the pebbled-ice surface over the window. They seemed glassed away from the world, and in a prison of glass there was no warmth. No escape. “Aren’t you anxious at being trapped in this inn?”

“Should I be? Will that help melt the snow so we can set out sooner?”

She glared at him. He smiled. “Thinking on it won’t make a difference, Estella. You said you knew how we should go on once weather permitted. We shall put the code into the hands of your clever niece Louisa. Until then, let us try to enjoy ourselves.” He handed her a teacup full of something suspiciously brown and syrupy-looking.

“What is this?”

“Coffee.” Hitching his trouser legs up at the knee, he seated himself across from her. “I made it very sweet for you.”

“Because I’m so bitter?”

He took a sip from his own cup. “No. Because that’s how I like it best, and you told me you didn’t care how you took your coffee.”

“When?”

“A few days ago, at Castle Parr. When that footman, Jory, brought us refreshments while we were wreathing all those statue heads.”

“Oh.” The cup warmed her fingers. “I didn’t realize you’d remembered that.” One tentative sip won her over. The smell was almost acrid, but the taste of it was liquid heat, liquid sugar. “That’s not half-bad.”

“High praise.” He reached up to set his cup on the mantel, then settled back into the chair with drowsy eyes. Such calm and peace; he made the simple wooden chair look like the softest-cushioned fauteuil.

How dare he be so calm when she was worried? How could he feel so peaceful, so unaffected by her, when her fingers tingled every time she caught sight of him?

She ran her fingers over the paste gems on the front of her aquamarine turban. Brightness. She must remember that. “So. When you get to London, you think you’ll find some jewels and set up a shop of your own.”

“Half-right. I have no idea where, or whether, I will find my late wife’s jewels. But I will set up a shop of my own. I’ve already found the perfect spot in Ludgate Hill, not far from Rundell and Bridge.”

Was it the American accent that made him sound so certain? Where the London accent tripped and twirled, his speech rolled over consonants like a gentle boulder. As though to speak something was to make it happen.

Oh, it wasn’t just the sight of him that drew her. It was the sound of him, too.

But her contrary habits had been formed long ago. “London society is devoted to Rundell and Bridge—not just for jewelry, but for silver and gold plate. An American competitor is sure to fail.”

He opened his eyes: deep blue about a ring of brown. “But that is not what I am at all. I’ve no thought of competing with them on their terms.”

Estella snorted. “That can hardly be called business. All right, what sort of gewgaws will the fashionable young ladies of London be wearing next season?”

“Oh, you probably have a better idea of that than I do. More influence, certainly.”

“Where is your pride? You’ll never take the ton by storm unless you are far haughtier.”

He chuckled, eyes crinkling at the corners. “Haughtiness works for some, but I don’t think I could manage it. I’ll do business in my own way. A different way.”

“And what way is that?”

Rubbing a hand along his angular jaw, he considered. “If I love a piece, it will show. And that enthusiasm will make it sell.”

“All right.” She took a sip of her bittersweet coffee. “Sell something to me so I can see whether you’ve the skill to back up your claim. Try to sell me . . . oh, how about my turban?”

His dark brows knit. After a pause, he said, “If you’ll forgive me, I do not love your turban. I don’t think I could sell it.”

She flailed for a place to smash down her coffee cup. With no table at hand, she had to settle for draining the cup and slamming it back into its saucer.

Cursed man. He looked not the slightest bit abashed. “Why do you wear such—things?” Left out was the adjective dreadful, but Estella heard the space of it, unuttered but unmistakably there.

“Because I can. I can do and be and wear whatever is offensive, and people have to accept it because of my rank and age and fortune.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“I have horrified you.” Disappointment mingled with bitter triumph; she had known he would falter eventually.

“No, not in the slightest.” He folded one leg up, resting the foot on the opposite thigh. “But it sounds as though you don’t like the things you do. Or be or wear, if that’s the way you put it. And that’s what I’m sorry to hear.”

Estella occupied the next moments with the careful drawing of breath. Air seemed thick, too thick to enter her lungs without great ragged pulls.

“Where it peeks from the edge of your turban, your hair is quite a pretty color,” added Richard, calm as ever. “A true auburn. My late wife called hers auburn, but it was red like Giles’s.”

He spoke this as he would any fond memory, with a light matter-of-fact smile teasing his lips. When he mentioned his wife, his grief seemed neatly folded away like a favorite old silk.

Estella had never grieved for her husband. No, after her marriage, she had grieved only for herself. The late earl had made her wealthy, but he had been careless and lecherous, his young wife a pretty toy with which he played whenever, however he wished. There had been no purpose to seeking harmony with him; no reason to strive to better herself. A hard shell grew over her heart, so quickly that it was brittle.

She like the idea of a softer strength, like Richard’s folded-away memory.

“Did you not like your wife’s hair?” She shaped the words carefully. Naked feeling was far more unseemly than a naked body.

“Of course I liked it. It was part of her.” His surprise was no more than a ruffle on the surface of an untroubled pond. “But maybe she didn’t, since she called it by another color. Do you not like your hair? Is that why you cover it with turbans all the time?”

“No, I wear turbans because I’m too vain to wear a lace cap. You call my hair auburn, but it’s mostly gray. I’m old, Richard.”

“Do you feel old?”

“I am old.” She was a great-aunt. Her sixtieth birthday loomed less than two years away. Fifty-eight; it seemed impossible that she should be fifty-eight and trundling about northern England. Fifty-eight and sitting beside a handsome man, wondering why he asked her so many questions. Not liking the questions, exactly, but not wanting them to stop.

“But how do you feel?” Richard was looking at her, really looking, as no one had for decades. That warm brown ring about his pupils pulled at Estella; though she had drunk all her coffee, her throat had gone dry.

“I feel . . . different.”

He smiled, all warm eyes. “I like different.”

She smiled back. It was an uncertain expression that had to crack its way through the shell about her. When it reached her lips, it wobbled—but it was there.

Unfolding his legs, he slapped his hands onto the flat of his thighs. “As long as we are at our leisure, how about a game of cards or chess? You may name the stakes.”

Her heart beat a little more quickly. At some point, she had stopped feeling cold. “Cards, then.”

“Cards you shall have. Wait here, please; I’ll go find a deck.”

As soon as the parlor door closed behind him, she removed her aquamarine turban. Scrubbing her fingers through her short-cropped hair, she woke and eased her tense scalp, then replaced the turban.

After all, she liked it. And Richard liked her. Or he liked her being different, or feeling different, or—well, maybe it came to the same thing.

The turban was not heavy to wear, no more than a few ounces of cloth and paste jewels. But she felt as though a much greater weight had been lifted.



PROPERLY WICKED

Like her four sisters, Lady Audrina Bradleigh is expected to marry a duke, lead fashion, and behave with propriety. Consequently, Audrina pursues mischief with gusto, attending scandalous parties and indulging in illicit affairs. But when an erstwhile lover threatens to ruin her reputation, Audrina has no choice but to find a respectable husband at once.

Who would guess that her search would lead her to Giles Rutherford, a blunt-spoken American on a treasure hunt of his own? When a Christmas snowstorm strands the pair at a country inn, more secrets are traded than gifts—along with kisses that require no mistletoe—and Audrina discovers even proper gentlemen have their wicked side…

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | iTunes | Kobo |

  

 Check out what's up for grabs.

Up For Grabs:
  • 1 Print copy of Season for Desire

To Enter: 
  • Please fill out the Rafflecopter for entry.

**Don't forget to enter the grand prize giveaway!


Good Luck! 

Special thanks to Theresa Romain for sponsoring this giveaway.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

57 comments :

  1. What a fun excerpt!! Now I want to read the whole story :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kirsten! Hope you get the chance to. :)

      Delete
  2. I look forward to reading this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy, 'tis the season. This book takes place almost entirely during the Christmas season.

      Delete
  3. I am definitely going to read! Thank you for this giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love the idea of finding love in the second season of one's life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dee, Lady Irving appeared in several of my other romances, and I wanted to give her an HEA of her own.

      Delete
  5. Cute story but what happens????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An HEA, of course! By the end of Season for Desire, it's all good.

      Delete
  6. oooh.. I like reading about "older" heroes and heroines! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This book sounds like one I would really enjoy reading. I love that cover.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Anita! I agree, the cover art is really beautiful. My publisher did a gorgeous job.

      Delete
  8. Thank you for this chance I love the snippet and cover Happy holidays

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dani, thanks for hosting today, and for the chance to be part of this event!

    ReplyDelete
  10. love your books and your covers... I stalk you everywhere... lol....Happy Holidays!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Nice to see you here and there and everywhere online, Diana. :)

      Delete
  11. Replies
    1. Rita, I hope you enjoy it if you get the chance to read the whole book!

      Delete
  12. What is your favorite thing about Christmas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can I only pick one, Molly? I guess I'd say it's getting to see my sister and brother and their families. We live far away from each other, but this Christmas we'll all get to be together.

      Delete
  13. Thank you for writing such wonderful stories so that us readers can enjoy them all year long. Have a beautiful Christmas and a blessed New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra, that's so kind of you. Merry Christmas!

      Delete
  14. I have always enjoyed reading your books and look forward to this one. Thank you for giving us such rich characters and stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Catherine--I'm so glad you've enjoyed my books. This one's already out, so if it strikes your fancy, you can grab it anytime!

      Delete
  15. Thank you for the chance to win the book :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Replies
    1. Thanks, catslady! I'm so glad you've enjoyed it.

      Delete
  17. You always have the most amazing covers too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Mary! My publishers have given me beautiful cover art.

      Delete
  18. Sounds like another wonderful "seasonal" read Theresa :) I look forward to reading the rest of it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love older couples in romances and they are so hard to find. Even though it isn't the main romance, I'd love to read the book and find out what happens to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jen, I'd gotten very fond of Lady Irving over the course of several books, and I wanted to give her an HEA. She and Richard made a good pair, I think.

      Delete
  20. Oh, must move this up the to-get list :) Sounds fabulous!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Replies
    1. Richard is a pretty likable guy. Nothing fazes him!

      Delete
  22. I loved the excerpt. Have to read it. Thanks for the giveaway. Great cover.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carol. I hope you enjoy reading Season for Desire!

      Delete
  23. You are one of my favorite authors. I will look for A SEASON FOR DESIRE!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for the excerpt. Funny how one can build a wall around oneself and sometimes forget why it is there. It becomes harder to come out from behind it and risk your feelings.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Loved the excerpt and I'm looking forward to reading Season for Desire.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Theresa always has the prettiest covers. I am adding Season for Desire to by TBR list. Thanks for the giveaway!!!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I just love stories with more mature couples :) Thank you and Happy Holidays

    ReplyDelete
  28. Love the sound of this entire series and I can't understand why it's not already on my books-to-buy list! Anyway, it is now. Thanks for the giveaway too. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Love the excerpt, sounds like a great book.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thank you for this opportunity! I appreciate the giveaway opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks for the fun excerpt and giveaway. Happy holidays.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Love Theresa's books!! Thanks for the chance to win! Merry Christmas!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Love reading about matchmakers...and always enjoy reading books by Theresa!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have two of your books but not this one.

    ReplyDelete