Shannon here: Sandra Ardoin shares a romantic excerpt from her latest Historical Romance Novella, A Love Most Worthy. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for an e-book copy. Deadline: Feb 16th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Sandra:
Intro to excerpt: Rance Preston and Hallie Russell Preston experience a mail-order marriage of convenience. Then, after Hallie tells Rance the story of life with her late father, the state of their marriage suddenly becomes inconvenient.
Excerpt from A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin:
“I had no money and nothing to guide me but years of stories. I thought I could honor his memory by doing something he never expected from me.”
“Then I came along with my offer of marriage—a man living in a gold rush district.” That normally strong chin dipped, evidence he’d guessed right. The bread sat like a lump of raw dough on his stomach.
“I don’t apologize for accepting your offer any more than you would apologize for making it.”
She was right. They had needed one another. They still did.
Rance gripped her hand. “A man who wants something as badly as your father claimed doesn’t make excuses for not having it, Hallie. He goes after it, just as you did. Have you ever asked yourself why he chose to end his life rather than leave Seattle once you were grown?”
She released a soft snort. “How could he? He wasn’t a young man anymore, and no one was beating down my door asking for my hand in marriage. He felt a responsibility to me.”
He paused only a moment to consider the wisdom of speaking his mind. “Maybe raising you cost your father nothing he didn’t willingly give up. From the way you’ve described him, it’s possible he preferred to lay a heap of guilt on his loving daughter rather than admit he’d lost the nerve to live the life he claimed to want.”
She sucked in a sharp breath, and he let her think about it. Finally, she said, “I suppose it’s possible.”
It had taken courage to reveal her past to him. The question now was whether he could reciprocate and tell her another truth she deserved to know—the truth about himself.
When she started to put the food in the basket, he stretched out on the quilt. He might tell her of his past another day, after he pondered how to approach it.
Lying on his back, his eyes drifted shut. The bird calls and breeze rustling the grass around him lulled him into a relaxed state. He sensed her lean over him to take his plate. Her lilac scent reminded him of the feel of her skin when he’d touched her arm the day she visited the Zellers—soft and tempting. The memory crept into the thick haze of lethargy.
Hallie whispered something in Rance’s ear, but he couldn’t comprehend the words. He turned his head to ask her to repeat it and was met by a gentle smile, a face mottled with freckles, and red hair tied back with a scarlet ribbon. The vision beckoned him to reach up and cup his hand around the back of her neck. He pulled her head down…closer…closer, until her lips met his. At first resistant, then supple and yielding, deeper and sweeter—
His eyes popped open, and he blinked to clear his vision.
Hallie knelt at his side. Her lips, a hand’s breadth from his, trembled. Why was she so close?
She jerked back, scrambled to her feet, and turned partially away from him. With her hand pressed against her forehead, she mumbled, “W-what did you do?”
What had he done? As Rance sifted through his memory and struggled to understand her dismay, disjointed images of a dream danced in his mind.
He hid his guilt behind his hand as if he could hide slumber’s fantasies. That kiss could never…would never happen in real life, and people didn’t act out dreams.
“I only wanted to wake you, but…but…” Hallie whispered as if they were in the midst of a curious crowd rather than alone on the tundra.
If the tingle on his lips corresponded to the visions in his head, he’d made a horrible mistake. He jumped to his feet. “I’m sorry. I assure you…”
She grabbed a corner of the quilt and threatened to yank it out from under him. He hopped backward and grabbed his side of the colorful spread. Careful to keep a proper distance, he stretched his arm out and handed the quilt to her. She folded it, added it to the basket, and slumped away like a wounded rabbit.
He snatched the Winchester from the ground. At least he hadn’t broken his promise to Robbie. His kiss might have shocked and upset her, but it hadn’t made her cry.
Of course, there was always tomorrow.
About Sandra: As an author of heartwarming and award-winning historical romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she’s also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out. All her books can be found on Amazon, including her latest novella A Love Most Worthy. Learn more and connect:
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About the novella – A Love Most Worthy:
She didn’t know which was colder,
an Arctic winter or her new husband’s heart.
Hallie Russell believes life should be lived to the fullest. For that reason, she sails to the gold rush town of Nome, Alaska to take her cousin’s place as the mail-order bride of a respected shopkeeper. But when her aloof husband’s wedding-night announcement rocks her plans for their marriage, Hallie sees her desire for a family to call her own vanish as quickly as the dreams of hopeful miners.
Tragedy led Rance Preston to repent of his rowdy ways and open a general store for the miners in Nome. He’s content in his bachelorhood, but his two orphaned nephews deserve a proper and serious-minded mother. Duped once by a vivacious female, he’s determined to never again let his heart overrule his head…until the high spirits of his new bride threaten his resolve.
When a misunderstanding comes to light, will they allow the gale force winds of insecurity to destroy what they each need most?
Question for Readers: If you were to dream of your first kiss, what would be the location and circumstances? On a moonlit garden stroll during a society ball? On the run from unknown villains? It’s your dream. Go for it.
Come back Feb 12th for Pat Nichols!