Shannon here: Mary Ellis shares a romantic excerpt from her latest historical romance, The Last Heiress. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for a copy. US and Canada only. Deadline: Feb 28th, 11:59 am central time. Here’s Mary:
Excerpt from The Last Heiress of heroine/hero meeting by Mary Ellis:
Spying a sign for Cooper’s Greengrocery, Amanda marched down Water Street and entered the store with a spring in her step.
“Hullo, Mr. Cooper?” She sang out a greeting when she found the shop empty.
“Hold your horses. There’s only one of me.” A deep voice echoed from the back room. When the man appeared, he remained hidden behind the stack of crates he was carrying.
“Excuse me for shouting. I didn’t know if someone was here or not.”
The shopkeeper placed his crates near the door and turned, his jaw dropping open. “Excuse me, madam. I thought you were one of my regular customers playing sport with me with a phony accent.” Mr. Cooper mimicked a British inflection on his last six words. He pulled off his cap, revealing a head of thick, sandy-brown hair.
Amanda took no offence at his pluck, perhaps because the man was rather handsome in a rugged sort of way. “I’m not a regular customer—at least not yet—but I assure you my accent is quite real. Amanda Dunn, sir, new to your fair city from Lancashire, England.”
“I humbly beg your pardon, Mrs. Dunn. Now you’ll believe the rumors true that all Americans are hopeless boors.” He bowed, with less polish than Jackson but with more sincerity.
“I shall reserve my opinion in that regard, and it’s Miss Dunn. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” With the spunk her father insisted she possessed, Amanda extended her hand.
Mr. Cooper shook as though her fingers might crumble into dozens of pieces. “Nathaniel Cooper, but my friends call me Nate.” He immediately flushed to a bright shade of scarlet.
Amanda smiled. “I will remember that in case we become friends someday.”
Nate couldn’t control the dull words issuing from his mouth or his schoolboy blush. “Of course, Miss Dunn. How can I be of service today?” He wiped suddenly damp palms down his apron.
“I’m visiting America for the first time. Today I’m finding my way around town.” She tugged on the hem of her odd jacket, the likes of which he’d never seen before. Yet despite the fact she was attired in somber gray from neck to ankle, the woman was breathtakingly, heartbreakingly beautiful.
The longer Nate stared, the larger the boulder in his throat grew. “Do you find our country alien to your tastes?” he asked.
“As I only arrived yesterday, it’s too soon to tell. I wouldn’t use the term ‘alien’ but instead merely ‘different.’” She smiled as she withdrew a small purse from inside her valise.
“How so?” Nate asked, wiping down his spotlessly clean counter with a rag.
“Everything is newer and grander, at least in my sister’s neighborhood. You serve a delicious cup of tea here, but most take it without cream. And your names for things—one would think we spoke two different languages: taxes instead of duties, pickles instead of gherkins, cookies instead of biscuits, privy or water closet instead of loo.” Miss Dunn’s gloved hand flew to her mouth. “Forgive me. That was indiscreet. I don’t know why I’m babbling so much.”
“This lovely spring day has set both our tongues free.” Nate grinned at her embarrassment. “Think no more about it.”
She stepped back to peruse the contents of several shelves. “You display a fine selection of goods, sir. I will remember your shop for future necessities. Do you work here for your father?” Her warm brown eyes sought his.
“No. My father has passed on.”
“For your mother, then?” She pursed her rosy lips.
“My mother is at rest, awaiting the Second Coming as well.” Nate draped the rag over his shoulder.
“Forgive my impertinence, Mr. Cooper, but you appear too young to own a market by yourself.”
“I was twenty-five on my last birthday, in robust health and usually sound of mind. Don’t forget this is America—the land of opportunity for those with ambition. Even a nobody from the Blue Ridge Mountains can move to the seaboard for a fresh start if they’re willing to work long hours. I have few requirements other than keeping my customers happy.”
Miss Dunn stared at the floor. “Now I’m the one being boorish. I hope you won’t judge all English people by my rudeness.”
“I haven’t met many Brits. Your countrymen usually send their servants to town to shop. And I don’t find your curiosity inappropriate. If we don’t ask questions, how can we learn? Now let me ask you one. What brought you into my store today? A bolt of fabric, a bottle of tonic, perhaps candy for your sweet tooth?”
For several moments she appeared perplexed. Then her lips pulled into a smile. “I almost forgot why I’m here. I have been walking all morning and I’m famished. Could I purchase a tin of soup or a potted pie for lunch? Chicken, beef, mutton—the type doesn’t matter—but I don’t wish to return to my sister’s until I finish exploring. Who knows when I’ll have another opportunity to escape?”
About Mary: Mary Ellis has written twelve bestselling novels set in the Amish community, along with two romantic suspense set in Louisiana. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught middle school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. She has enjoyed a lifelong passion for American history and is an active member of the local historical society. She has recently finished several romances set during the Civil War and is currently working on a series of mysteries, Secrets of the South. The Last Heiress is her latest release. Learn more and connect: http://www.maryellis.net/
About the book – The Last Heiress: She crossed the sea to save a legacy…finding love wasn’t part of her plan. Amanda Dunn set sail from England for Wilmington, North Carolina, hoping to restore shipments of cotton for her family’s textile mills, which have been disrupted by the American Civil War.
But when she meets Nathaniel Cooper, her desire to conduct business and return to England changes. Amanda’s family deems the hardworking merchant unsuitable for the accomplished heiress. And when Nate himself begins to draw away, Amanda has her own battle on her hands.
As the Union navy tightens its noose around Southern ports, Nate’s long lost brother, a Confederate officer, arrives in Wilmington with his regiment. Nate contemplates joining the Glorious Cause—not in support of slavery but to watch his brother’s back. Yet will his dangerous decision put his future with Amanda in jeopardy?
Question: If you could live any time in history, when would you choose?
Come back Feb 23rd for Eileen Rife!