You might be wondering, “Where is Rougemont #3?” Well, it’s still in the works. I am writing it, but it’s taking longer than I expected. It’s not something I can write in a hurry — it’s becoming my Sistine Chapel, but without the ceiling. I don’t want to rush it and crank out a shoddy book; it has to be my best work.
[Writing a historical romance novel should take less time than Michelangelo took to paint the Sistine ceiling]
By way of an update, last week I sent the final version of BEAUTY AND THE SPYMASTER off to the copyeditor, and I can’t wait for it to release on May 13! I’m still planning on releasing Rougemont #3 and #4 this year, along with a contemporary you might have already heard me mention, STARTER WIFE, about a UFC fighter in Las Vegas. I also have a paranormal coming out in October: MIND TAMER, a geeky superhero story. More about those later, but now you know there will be lots of books this year!
Just for fun, here are a few [unedited] excerpts from LOVE MATCH, Rougemont #3. I hope to have it finished by the end of the month. Hold me to it!
EXCERPT 1: Kate interviewing Philip for her matchmaking services
If she’d imagined a storm before in his expression, the mention of his wife brought fire. His eyes seemed to snap with it. “Olivia was everything woman should be, but she wasn’t loud about it.”
“You loved her.”
“With all my heart.” He said it calmly but with the same conviction he might have testified that the sun shone in the sky. “I would give anything to have her back.”
Ah, the perils of being a matchmaker. Most days she wouldn’t spare a thought for the near-certainty that she was destined to be a daughter, sister, and aunt, but never a wife. But seeing how years later Sir Philip still burned for his lost wife gave her a sympathetic ache in her chest. It made her wonder what it would be like to need another person in a way that transcended time and cosmos, and it made her vulnerable to wanting it — a fruitless exercise. “Deepest sympathies, Sir Philip.”
Kate gave him a moment in silence then decided to be direct. “Are you certain you can make room in your heart for another?”
She almost smiled at his martyred expression, and were he a close friend, she would’ve teased that he should relax in the absence of a firing squad. “I will only set up a love match, Sir Philip. If you’re looking for a more businesslike arrangement, you can do that all on your own, at a weekend house party.”
“Mary says you’re brilliant, and I trust her. Therefore I trust you. Find me the right woman, and I promise to marry her right away.”
“Well, thank you for the vote of confidence, but the sort of love that is genuine and long-lasting takes time to develop.”
“Not to discount your convictions about romance, but the Gladiator sets sail in one month. I need a wife, and my son needs a mother.”
Katie set down her papers and looked him squarely in the eye. “Hire a mistress and a nanny. Preferably not the same woman.” She almost added, I believe we’ve done here. Hopefully he would grasp the finality in her tone and take his leave.
And then she would have to return the three hundred pounds to Mary Cavendish… which she’d already spent paying Bindon’s account at the Halcyon Club.
“It’s not that simple. Believe it or not, I do want a love match. Otherwise, as you said, I would arrange it myself.”
Kate resisted a sigh. “You want to fall in love on schedule?”
“How difficult could it be?”
EXCERPT 2: Kate’s nemesis discovers she is a formidable foe
“I’m sick to death of squeezing every last farthing of my allowance out of you.” Bindon reached for her elbow then stunned her by squeezing hard, numbing the nerve there. “And I’m tired of being holed up in that cut-rate dower house on sodding Bywater Street.”
She yanked as hard as she could. An elbow to the ribs loosened his grip. Perhaps anger propelled her out of the seat, because she stood in half the usual time and barely felt the scream of pain flashing under her kneecap and the echoing twinge of nerves at the small of her back. “Mark my words. If you set foot inside my house again, you had better watch your back.” She kept her voice low but couldn’t help the unflattering menacing tone. “Because were you to impose your company on my household, I would have no scruples whatsoever about dropping arsenic into your tea. Or there’s always the good old-fashioned accidental push down a flight of stairs.”
Bindon’s eyes flashed with a dangerous look of rage, then he rose to stand toe-to-toe with her. “Are you threatening me, Kate?”
“I’m a novelist. Never doubt my imagination.”
Excerpt 3: Is Philip falling for the matchmaker?
Mesmerized, Philip stared at the side of Jacob’s head, wet with perspiration. A matching spot had dampened Philip’s shirt. It cooled, making him aware of being sloppily dressed in the presence of a lady; the collar gaped open, revealing half his chest, and his shirtsleeves were rolled to the elbow. As though thinking it summoned her notice, her gaze passed over him, lingering on his chest where his shirt made a vee, and a wave of heat burned that very spot. Embarrassment — couldn’t be arousal. Or simply shock that she’d proven him wrong.
Still she hummed and rocked Jacob, making the scene surreal. Philip locked his ankle joints to prevent mirroring her rocking motion. “Go to the ball, Sir Philip,” she said in a soft, almost singing voice probably meant to soothe Jacob. “Ask Mary to introduce you to Lady Elanor in my absence. I insist.” Disconcerting — she could probably deliver a death threat in that lullaby voice.
He’d be damned if he’d reply in song. But if he argued, he would wake Jacob. How could he let Lady Kate play nursemaid? The notion was too strange for words. But then, seeing the lovely, natural way she cradled the boy… perhaps not. Blaming it on being at wit’s end, he decided to let it be.
Placing a hand at the small of her back to steady her, he nudged her balance in his direction until she leaned against his side. Close enough to whisper, he said, “Is that agreeable, if I fetch your children? I hope I’m not interfering, but I thought you’d prefer having them near.” Hopefully that sounded diplomatic enough.
“Are you certain you don’t mind?”
“Of course not. It seems you’re doing me the favor, after all.”
She nodded, but the wary look didn’t fade. “They could stay upstairs. Do you have a nursery?”
The revelation that she expected him to consider her children unwelcome hit like a slap to the side of the head. “Yes, but Jack and Jill are welcome anywhere they please. However, if they wake Jacob, I lay the consequences at your feet.”
Her entire countenance warmed, and he battled the urge to press her closer. The veins in his arms itched with the impulse. She chuckled under her breath. “I’m certain I can manage your little banshee. Now go dress, Sir Philip. You look a fright.”
Now he wanted to kiss her temple; her hair already brushed his neck, and he was surprised at its softness. Giving himself a mental slap, he remembered to help Lady Kate into a seat, moving slowly as to minimalize the strain on her knee. “Very well. You drive a hard bargain, Lady Kate. I concede only because I am deathly afraid of you.” One corner of her mouth pulled in a smile, and in profile, with her looking down at Jacob, it made heat bloom under his sternum. “When I came in a moment ago, I feared you might breathe fire.”
That earned a chuckle, and when she looked up to trade glances, he wasn’t ready for the fondness in her expression. Up close her irises were faceted in pale green and gold, ringed by a darker brown. The exotic mix of colors made him recall the carved jade dragon figurine he’d bought from a Bhutanese market, which now sat atop his dressing room desk. Both discomfited and fascinated, he wanted to look closer, but doing so would make him seem like he was leaning in for a kiss.
Hopefully he hadn’t betrayed the thought on his face; she averted her eyes and blushed a bit. She was lovely.
For the longest time, he’d felt old and worn out. Already he knew once he left her presence, the energy that made his heart pump a bit faster, made him hyperaware and unaccountably sanguine, would fade until he was his usual cross self.
There. Admitting he wanted her brought some relief. But not much, since there wasn’t anything he could do about it. Even if he were to abandon his morals and take a mistress, Lady Kate was not a woman to be trifled with. Not only because she was the daughter of a duke and Mary’s friend, but because she deserved better.
And he’d been daydreaming, creating an awkward lull in the conversation. Brilliant. “Very well. I had better come. I mean go.” Oh, good grief. “I’ll return momentarily with our children.”
She cocked a brow, and not until he replayed his words did he notice his faux pas.
“Yours! Your children. Of course.”
Damn it all, the way her lips moved in a smile was addling his brain. “Thank you.” She combed down Jacob’s unruly hair then pressed a kiss to his temple. Lucky boy.
“Are you sure about this? I won’t lie, he’s only angelic when he’s sleeping.”
“I’m certain everything will go well while you are away.”
“And I’m certain you’ll be sorry.”