Welcome! This week I am excited to introduce a new story, totally different from anything I've ever written. Last spring, Astraea Press put out a call for Christmas Regency romances, and I decided to try it out. After a lot of research and frustration, I finally came up with a basic story line, and thanks to my wonderful critique partner, managed to finish and submit it before the deadline. The Partridge and the Peartree will be released on November 2, so I'm busy refining it. But here's a sample so you can meet my distinguished hero:
Phillip Peartree, Tenth Duke of Bartlett, squinted as he scanned the titles on the dusty shelves of his favorite bookstore. He needed something new to read, something to help him relax and forget the depression weighing him down ever since he’d inherited his burdensome title. Phillip had been aware of his father’s extravagant tastes, but he'd had no idea about the extent of debt they'd caused. Debt that had become his worry and responsibility. In the two years since his father’s passing, the young duke had managed to satisfy most of his creditors by selling off part of his estate and working hard to improve what was left. Needing a respite, he'd decided to spend the holiday season in London, near his sister and nieces.
London offered plenty of activities for an eligible bachelor, but the social whirlwind was something Phillip preferred to avoid. Not that he wanted to be alone. He'd always dreamed of having a contented, if not happy, life with a suitable mate. Ideally, someone with charm, looks, and intelligence. His hand went to his face, tracing the scars left from the hunting accident that had changed his life several years before. He sighed. How could he hope to win the hand of such a woman once she compared him to the good-looking members of the ton? There was no shortage of handsome single men who knew exactly how to converse with a woman, how to charm them, and woo them.
So he lived vicariously through the characters in his books. They were his friends. Although he’d already read nearly every title on the shelves, he'd come to this quiet little shop, on the edge of town, hoping find something new. There had to be something...
The missile hitting his abdomen doubled him over, knocking the breath from his lungs. When he'd recovered enough to straighten, his vision beheld the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Had the punch to his stomach addled his brain, or did a halo surround this woman's face? The lively young thing waved her arms as she talked, and judging from the way her mouth moved, she spoke as quickly as she moved. Shiny golden curls tumbled from her bonnet, and her deep brown eyes radiated with intelligence and purpose. Fascinated by the way her luscious lips formed her words, he forgot to pay attention to what she was saying.
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