Who doesn’t enjoy a good scavenger hunt? And this one will be easy. Many of you may be familiar with the Regency series I’ve been writing with Kim Bowman, the Like a Lady series, featuring A Lot Like a Lady and Something Like a Lady, and coming soon Nothing Like a Lady. The upcoming holidays promise to be a busy time. Lots of you probably have plans for fun and family. But sometimes you just need to unwind. And what better way to do that than to put yourself in the company of a rogue? Well, esKape ePress has gathered no less than TEN rogues for your de-stressing pleasure, including Something Like a Lady.
Here’s my excerpt. There’s a quiz, so be watching the above link for my question for a chance to win an e-copy of your choice of one of the my Regency romances, A Lot Like a Lady, my best selling Christmas Regency, The Toymaker, or my other best selling Christmas Regency, Teach Me Under the Mistletoe, AND a complete e-copy set of Vivian Roycroft’s amazing The Scoundrel of Mayfair series.
Annabella laid her fingers against his palm, and he lightly grasped her hand. His heart leapt in his chest like a deer crashing through a bramble patch.
“Shall we go, then?” he asked, tucking her hand into the crook of his elbow.
With Annabella gliding gracefully at his side, Jon hardly felt the floor beneath his feet. Their steps matched perfectly as they descended the main staircase from the galley to the salon. Midway down, he paused, unaccountably overcome with emotion at the familiar tableau before him.
Annabella angled her head and smiled up at him. “I trust we won’t have to observe the evening’s festivities from the stairs.”
Jon pulled in a deep breath and released it slowly. By evening’s end, she might well wish they’d remained on the grand staircase. He smiled, and they continued to the bottom.
The butler appeared at Jon’s elbow.
“Good evening, Samuel,” greeted Jon with a smile. “I see her grace has not yet come down. How many for dinner this evening?”
The butler’s face took on a pinched expression. “Other than yourselves and her grace, the number is five, my lord.”
Jon nodded as a caustic sensation invaded his belly. Five…
Annabella tittered behind her fan. So she could behave like an insipid young lady after all. “To look at your face, one would think you are about to head for the gallows instead of a dinner party. Do you not like your grandmother’s guests?”
It wasn’t his like or dislike Jon was concerned over. “Annie, there’s something I should—”
“Gladys Cecily Siler Durham, the Dowager Duchess of Blackmoor,” announced Samuel from the bottom of the stairway.
Her face devoid of expression, Gran held her head with regal grace. Dressed in rich crimson velvet edged in gold, with a gossamer veil that cascaded from a jeweled head ornament and fell over her right shoulder, she looked more like a queen than a dowager duchess, and the glide in her step belied her true age. She halted at the base of the steps and waited.
Jon’s breath backed up in his lungs. She hardly seemed to have aged in the time he’d been away. Her dark hair had been shot with streaks of gray for as long as he could recall. In contrast to Annabella’s elaborate style, Gran’s tresses were pulled into a chignon at the nape of her neck from which not a single strand dared escape. Her gaze touched on him briefly before moving on to Annabella, and then to the butler, to whom she gave a barely perceptible nod.
Samuel’s voice rang across the salon. “Announcing Queen Dorothea.”
Annabella turned her head toward the doorway then looked up at Jon, confusion pinching her forehead the tiniest bit.
Resigned, he inclined his head toward his grandmother. Though the dowager made no movement, her gown fluttered near her feet. A sleek gray-and-brown striped figure emerged from behind her, nose in the air. Her slanted green eyes seemed to survey the room as she struck an aristocratic pose and remained perfectly still except for the tip of her tail, which waved back and forth like a miniature flag.
Annabella tensed and curled her fingers, digging painfully into the tender part of Jon’s inner elbow. “That’s a cat!” she accused, her whisper sounding amazingly like a hissing feline.
“Correction, Lady Seabrook.” Jon patted her hand with his until she loosened her grip. “That… is my grandmother’s favorite cat. So smile and—”
“If you finish that statement with the word ‘curtsey,’ I shall kick you,” Annabella said through gritted teeth. She lifted her lips into a stiff, forced smile and added a little too sweetly, “My lord.”
“Lord Felix and Princess Tabitha,” intoned Samuel.
Two footmen appeared at the top of the staircase. Each cradled a fat black feline against his chest. The animals seemed content to be carried down the steps.
Annabella dug her fingers into his arm once more, and Jon winced. “Those are cats,” she whispered again.
“I had no idea what an astute judge of the obvious you can be,” murmured Jon through a smile that had become excruciating to maintain. He wasn’t certain who he wanted to choke more — his verbose wife or his unconventional grandmother.
“Sir Julius and Miss Celia,” announced Samuel.
Two more footmen appeared. The marmalade tabby on the left had bright orange eyes that darted about the room, clearly marking his means of escape. Poor sot. He hadn’t a chance of leaving before the end of the evening. The cat on the right lounged uncaring as the footman trotted down the steps. Long blue-gray fur stuck out at angles, lending the illusion of a badly-combed, misplaced wig.
“I am not socializing with a pack of cats,” said Annabella quietly, her voice dripping with derision.
“Don’t fret, my darling. They don’t wish to take their meal with you, either.” Seabrook gave her hand another pat. “They have their own table.”