by Anna Campbell
I'm really excited that THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF REGENCY ROMANCE is out (in the U.K. 24th June and in the U.S. 27th July). You can order it now from the Book Depository and have it sent post free anywhere in the world: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9781849010153/The-Mammoth-Book-of-Regency-Romance?b=-3&t=-26#Bibliographicdata-26
Some really big names in historical romance have contributed to the anthology. Lorraine Heath. Loretta Chase. Eloisa James. Mary Balogh.
I had a great time writing my story for the collection. It's called Upon a Midnight Clear and it's my first reunion story. Alicia married Sebastian, Earl of Kinvarra, at the behest of her family but fell immediately and passionately in love with her husband. But they were both too young to find happiness and separated. For the last ten years, Alicia has lived a chaste half-life in London. Finally, she's decided to take a lover, if only to prove her independence from her husband.
On the journey to her prospective lover's hunting lodge, her carriage crashes on the snowy Yorkshire moors. To her mortification, the only person who can help her is her estranged husband.
Here's an excerpt:
Alicia Sinclair, Countess of Kinvarra, was bruised and angry and uncomfortable and horribly embarrassed. And not long past the fear her choking terror when the carriage toppled.
Even so, her heart launched into the wayward dance it always performed at the merest sight of Sebastian.
She’d been married for eleven long years. She disliked her husband more than any other man in the world. But nothing prevented her gaze from clinging helplessly to every line of that narrow, intense face with its high cheekbones, long, arrogant nose and sharply angled jaw.
Curse him to Hades, he was still the most magnificent creature she’d ever beheld.
Such a pity his soul was as black as his glittering eyes.
“After all this time, I’m flattered you still recognize me, my lord,” she said silkily.
“Lord Kinvarra, this is a surprise,” Harold stammered. “You must wonder what I’m doing here with the lady…”
Oh, Harold, act the man, even if the hero is beyond your reach. Kinvarra doesn’t care enough about me to kill you, however threatening he seems now.
Although even the most indifferent husband took it ill when his wife chose a lover. Kinvarra wouldn’t mistake what Alicia was doing out here. She stifled a rogue pang of guilt. Curse Kinvarra, she had absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.
“I’ve recalled your existence every quarter these past ten years, my love,” her husband said equally smoothly, ignoring Harold’s appalled interjection. The faint trace of Scottish brogue in his deep voice indicated his temper. His breath formed white clouds on the frigid air. “I’m perforce reminded when I pay your allowance, only to receive sinfully little return.”
“That warms the cockles of my heart,” she sniped, not backing down.
She refused to cower like a wet hen before his banked anger. He sounded reasonable, calm, controlled, but she had no trouble reading fury in the tension across his broad shoulders or in the way his powerful hands opened and closed at his sides.
“Creatures of ice have no use for a heart. Does this paltry fellow know he risks frostbite in your company?”
She steeled herself against the taunting remark. Kinvarra couldn’t hurt her now. He hadn’t been able to hurt her since she’d left him. Any twinge she experienced was just because she was vulnerable after the accident. That was all. It wasn’t because this man could still needle her emotions.
“My lord, I protest,” Harold said, shocked, and fortunately sounding less like a frightened sheep. “The lady is your wife. Surely she merits your chivalry.”
Harold had never seen her with her husband, and some reluctant and completely misplaced loyalty to Kinvarra meant she’d never explained why she and the earl lived apart. The fiction was that the earl and his countess were polite strangers who by design rarely met.
Poor Harold, he was about to discover the truth was that the earl and his countess loathed each other.
“Like hell she does,” Kinvarra muttered, casting her an incendiary glance from under long dark eyelashes.
Alicia was human enough to wish the bright moonlight didn’t reveal quite so much of her husband’s seething rage. But the fate that proved cruel enough to fling them together tonight of all nights wasn’t likely to heed her pleas.
“Do you intend to introduce me to your cicisbeo?” Kinvarra’s voice remained quiet. She’d learned that was when he was at his most dangerous.
Short stories are a recent interest of mine but I've come to really enjoy writing them. I've got three up on my website as free reading. The first is Lady Sarah and the Guardian. The second is The Return. The third is Lady Kate's Scoundrel. Check them out!
So do you like short stories and novellas? What was the last good one you read? By the way, I'm traveling today so I'm not sure how much I'll be around but I'll do my best to get back and answer comments.