Shannon here: Inspirational romance author, Louise M. Gouge shares an excerpt from her latest Love Inspired Historical, A Lady of Quality. Comment on any post dated August 5 – 9 to get your name in the drawing. U. S. residents only – per author’s request. Deadline: August 17th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Louise:
Excerpt from A Lady of Quality by Louise M. Gouge:
“Ah, there you are, Winston.” Lady Blakemore accosted him near the refreshment table. “I must ask a favor of you.”
At last the Lord had heard his prayers. “Of course, my lady.” He bowed over the tall countess’s hand, eager to do her bidding. Her husband was the very diplomat with whom Winston hoped to serve in France. He would gladly dance and dine with her. “Ask what you will, and I shall do it.”
She took his arm and, rather than move toward the dance floor, drew him toward to a dark-haired young lady seated near the wall and staring down at the skirt of her light green gown. “Winston, this is Miss Hart. I promised her the young men would be lining up to dance with her, but she has not been asked to stand up for a single set. Do save me from being a liar.”
“Lady Blakemore!” Although the young lady did not look up, Winston could see that her cheeks had turned a deep pink.
Pity welled up inside him. Obviously this poor girl was the countess’s hired companion and did not have the makings of any nobleman’s wife, much less a diplomat’s. But surely one gentleman in this room could show her a little kindness and courtesy without granting her too much consequence or harming his own interests. With no one else to fill that office, he held out his hand.
“Miss Hart, may I have the honor of this dance? You see, I have lost my partner to another gentleman, and only you can rescue me from utter mortification.”
Gasping, she looked up sharply and stared at him.
For an instant, he could not breathe as a new sort of shock slammed into his chest. Never in his three and twenty years had he seen a more exquisite female face. A perfect oval, with a fetching widow’s peak, though he doubted this young lady was a widow. Sparkling dark brown eyes fringed by long black lashes. He had never before noticed any lady’s eyelashes. A faint pink blush of chagrin remained on her ivory cheeks, and her full, smooth lips invited—but he would not think such an inappropriate thought.
She placed her hand in his and slowly rose. Again shock pummeled him, for the graceful ascent of her slender form lifted the top of her thick, smooth coiffeur to perhaps three inches short of his own almost six foot height. Miss Hart was by far the most elegant, dare he say regal, lady he had ever set eyes upon. He stood staring, unable to move until she gazed up at him soulfully and smiled.
“I thank you for your gallantry, Lord Winston. Perhaps we shall rescue each other from mortification.” The music of her dulcet alto voice settled into him like the purr of his favorite cat.
LATER IN THE STORY, as Lord Winston and Miss Hart discuss Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility:
“My dear Miss Hart.” Winton set the book on an occasional table, moved to the chair beside her, took her hand and brushed his thumb across her damp face. “It was my privilege and honor to shield you.” His green eyes shone with an ardor she had never imagined she would receive even in her most sublime girlhood dreams. Then his gaze moved to her lips.
Her heart raced madly. Would he kiss her? Most irrationally, she wished he would.
The footman cleared his throat, the sound of it holding a slightly menacing hum.
Lord Winston blinked, grinned sheepishly and sat back in his chair. “There is another matter in the book that disturbed me.” He spoke lightly, as if they had not just been rescued from a terrible impropriety.
As guilty as he in the matter, Catherine inhaled deeply to recover herself. “And that is?” The words came out on a breathy sigh, and heat rushed to her cheeks.
This time, Lord Winston had the grace to ignore her discomfiture. “I cannot think well of Edward Ferrars because of his secret engagement. He was living a lie, which no gentleman should ever do if he expects to be highly regarded. I simply cannot tolerate a liar.”
As if cold water had been dashed in her face, Catherine’s mind and emotions cleared, and her giddy, girlish sensibilities yielded to good sense. “Neither can I tolerate a liar.” She stood and strode away from him by several paces, then spun back to face him. “No matter how he justifies himself, such a man deserves no sympathy or happiness.” If she sounded as strident to him as she did to herself, he would simply have to cope with it.
About Louise: Award-winning Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes inspirational historical fiction for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical imprint. The spiritual life of her characters is always an important part of their journey to a happily-ever-after romance. In addition to numerous other awards, Louise is the recipient of the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award for her 2005 novel, Hannah Rose (first place), and her 2011 Regency novella, The Gentleman Takes a Bride, (second place). With her great love of history and research, Louise has traveled to several of her locations to ensure the accuracy of her stories’ settings. When she isn’t writing, she and her husband love to visit historical sites and museums. Please visit her Web site at http://blog.Louisemgouge.com
About the book – A Lady of Quality:
Falling for the Enemy
Catherine Du Coeur is determined to uncover the truth about wealthy Lord Winston, who falsely accused her father of treason. But the closer she gets to the handsome young nobleman, the more she wonders how such a benevolent gentleman could have conspired to commit such evil. Baron Lord Winston has had little success in finding an accomplished aristocratic bride who is suited to his diplomatic aspirations. But when he meets Miss Du Coeur, a countess’s lowly companion, he finds that family connections are far less important than matters of the heart.