From the Author
is a departure from the more serious tales of Jacobites in Scotland. Though still rich in historical detail, I hope you will enjoy the quirky outrageousness of a Regency comedy that takes a lighter look at matters of the heart.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Belle found herself awake for dawn's arrival but was quite unable to appreciate the glory of sunrise in the country. The gory color of dawnlight flooding her eastern window underscored the unfamiliar pain in her head, and pressed mercilessly against her inflamed eyelids. To add audible insult to the morning's ocular assault, a dozen cockerels began to crow in disharmony right outside her casement. The blessed oblivion of sleep was ended.
Belle opened her eyes and noted unhappily that the mattress beneath her was listing toward the right, suggesting that some weight greater than her own was laid down upon it.
With a growing pall of resignation, Belle turned her head to see if she truly had a companion in her bed. At the sight of Stephan Kirton's pale face on the pillow beside her, Belle's stomach rolled over and announced that it, too, was dissatisfied with the early hour and her precarious circumstances.
Though Belle would have preferred to do any retching in private, she thought it wise to immediately seek out the nearest repository for her overindulgence in case she was overcome before her will could assert mastery over her stomach.
* * *
Putting the unused basin aside, and avoiding the unforgiving image in the glass, she made an effort to smooth her badly crushed costume, and then checked once again to be certain that Stephen's presence in her bed was not simply a brandy-induced hallucination. It was not. Her careless foray into the garden of desire had netted her a snake which was curled up in her bed.
And this time her would-be-husband's eyes were slitted open. His expression was as filled with suffering and rue as she imagined her own to be. Given his complexion, she thought it merciful that he did not seem inclined to the rigors of remorseful conversation, for his grim expression said plainly that it could only be an unpleasant exchange. Belle decided that whatever witch's brew they had been drinking last night would have been more properly served in a skull than a goblet.
"Good morning." Stephen's voice was a harsh rumble.
Of, course, it was early hours yet, but Belle could not perceive a single good thing about this particular morning.