Shannon here: Historical romance author, Mary Ellis shares a romantic excerpt from her latest release, The Quaker and the Rebel. Comment on any post dated Jan 17 – 20 to enter the drawing (U.S. and Canada only). Deadline: Feb 1st, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Mary:
Excerpt from: The Quaker and the Rebel (the scene in which they meet)
“Good afternoon, Miss. You look like you’re running from the scene of a crime.” A tall man appeared out of nowhere, directly in her path.
Emily gazed into pewter gray eyes set in an angular face. He had the longest hair she’d ever seen on a man. Due to his hair length, she scanned the person from head to toe. Definitely male. He wore tall boots, tight breeches and nothing else. His tautly-muscled chest was bare—no shirt, no jacket. She gasped at his near nakedness, yet couldn’t seem to avert her eyes.
“Excuse my appearance. I’m on my way back from bathing in the river. I do enjoy it on a hot afternoon, don’t you?” As though that explained his effrontery, he continued. “What happened? Did I overhear correctly that you tried to burn down Matilde’s kitchen? I’ve never seen her so vexed.” His smile etched deep wrinkles around his eyes as though he was enjoying this.
“Not at all, sir. It was only a misunderstanding.” Emily’s focus flitted between his face and the pectoral muscles of his chest. “If thou would be so kind as to cover thyself, I would be grateful.” She motioned to the lump of clothes tucked beneath his arm. “I am a betrothed woman. It’s highly improper for me to see thee in such state of undress,” she stated primly, allowing her gaze to wander again.
He was taller and thinner than her fiancé, but his sinewy limbs made him appear strong and powerful. Emily felt a pang of shame for having compared him to Matthew and finding Matthew even slightly lacking.
“Great Scot. Do you mean I’m too late? We have only met, but you’re already betrothed to another? I’m having the worst string of luck. What kind of misunderstanding with Matilde?” He obliged by putting on his frock coat, but neglected to button it. Tiny drops of water clung to his chest and sparkled in the reflected light.
Speechless from his sarcasm, Emily soon recovered. “I was preparing myself something to eat for supper.”
“Are you saying Matilde refused to cook for you? What could you have done to offend her this quickly?” His tone sounded aghast, but his gray eyes twinkled with amusement as though enjoying her discomfort.
“No, sir, I will cook for myself and not partake of food prepared by slave labor. I am a Quaker.” Her statement resonated with pride and dignity. “We abhor the practice of keeping our fellow man in bondage.” Emily lifted her chin.
“I assumed you were Quaker from your thee’s and thy’s, but Matilde is not a slave. Where did you get that idea? I’m certain she set you straight on that fact.” He crossed his muscular arms over his chest as Emily watched.
“Yes, Mrs. Amite corrected my incorrect assumption. I’m pledged to speak like the Benningtons, but occasionally I lapse whenever nervous.” She flushed, uncertain where to cast her gaze.
“I apologize for making you nervous. I had mistaken you for the governess my aunt hired to tame my two wild cousins.” He slicked a hand through his damp hair. “You must be a newly hired cook. Perhaps trained in Paris? I’m sure the Benningtons look forward to your cuisine.” He ran his eyes over her from head to toe. “Judging by your initial performance and thin frame, they should have no fear about growing plump in middle age.”
It took Emily a moment to recognize his ridicule. But when she did, she responded with her usual poise. With flaming cheeks she clenched her fists and spoke through gritted teeth. “My culinary abilities are none of thy concern. I assure thee. Good day!” Picking up her skirt, she flounced past him…or at least so she tried. Precisely at the same moment, he stepped into her path. She bumped soundly into his bare chest. Emily hissed like a feral cat and maneuvered to the left.
But the horrid man moved in her way again. “I do beg your pardon, Miss Harrison.”
When she lifted her gaze, they were mere inches apart. Her skirt blew against the leg of his trousers. She staggered and lost her balance on the flagstones.
He reached out to steady her, his fingers spanning her waist. With an exaggerated inhalation, he breathed in her soap’s lingering scent. “My, you do smell good. Not like any cook we’ve ever had. They always stink like onions and garlic.” He sniffed her hair in a noisy fashion. “You smell like honey and lemon balm,” he declared with obvious satisfaction.
About Mary: Mary Ellis has written ten bestselling novels set in the Amish community. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Living in Harmony, book one of her last series won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction. Love Comes to Paradise won the 2013 Lime Award. An Amish Miracle, a collection of novellas, released in December from Harper Collins. She is currently working on a three-book series of historical romances set during the Civil War. The Quaker and the Rebel released January 1st. Book two, The Lady and the Officer will release this summer, both from Harvest House. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net, http://www.maryeellis.wordpress.com/, https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236
About the book – The Quaker and the Rebel:
What Happens When an Underground Railroad Conductor Falls in Love with a Man Loyal to the Confederacy?
Emily Harrison’s life has turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempts to continue her parents’ work in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm is sold in foreclosure. Now alone and without a home, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor’s family in slave-holding Virginia. Though it’s dangerous, she decides to continue her rescue efforts from there.
Alexander Hunt, the doctor’s handsome nephew, does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle’s newest employee. But he cannot take time to pursue Emily, for Alexander isn’t what he seems—rich, spoiled, and indolent. He has a secret identity. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a fearless man who fights the war from the shadows, stealing Union supplies and diverting them to the Southern cause.
The path before Alexander and Emily is complicated. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger. Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they trust God with the challenges they face to provide them with a bright future?
Come back Jan 22nd for Stephen & Janet Bly!