As most of you know, recently His Jilted Bride was included in a boxed set titled From the Ballroom and Beyond. But all good things must come to an end, right? And tonight at midnight while that set goes off sale, another titled Romancing the Rogue, which includes His Yankee Bride, will hit the virtual shelves!
To help celebrate, we, the authors in this set, are doing a scavenger hunt with awesome prizes. To see all giveaways and instructions, visit:
Here’s my excerpt, be watching the above link for my question for a chance to win an autographed copy of His Yankee Bride (US only) or the eBook version:
John Banks shut his Bible and heaved a heavy sigh. It was days like today when being the youngest son of a baron was not nearly as appealing as being the oldest.
But that was John’s lot in life. He wasn’t the oldest; therefore, he had only three options: he could become a barrister, which he detested the thought of; an officer in the military, which made him shudder to think of; or a vicar. Even common born men had more options than he did. He nearly snorted. Even some criminals had more options than John did. At least they could be transported far away, then… Well, that’s the end of their advantage over John. Truly, once they arrived at wherever they were transported, it could not be a good experience.
“Is something the matter, John?” Edward, Lord Watson, and John’s eldest brother asked, coming into the room where John spent no less than eight hours a day reading his Bible in solitude; Edward’s wife, Regina, and their three-year-old son, Alex, coming in right behind him.
“No. I’m just memorizing Psalms 119.”
Regina’s brown eyebrows furrowed. “Didn’t you say that was the longest chapter in the Bible?”
Edward lifted Alex onto his shoulders and walked to the bookshelves, telling him to pick any book he’d like. While Alex studied the red, green, blue and black spines with gold lettering, Edward said, “Well, I wish you the best of luck with that.”
Regina cleared her throat. Then, lacking the desired result, she cleared it again.
Edward sighed. “All right, Alex, it appears your mama will be the one reading to you. We’d better go look at the storybooks so she doesn’t fall asleep reading you one of these vastly interesting science tomes you love so much.”
Regina smiled and shook her head. She was a good sort; quiet, amiable, humorous at times, and always understanding. She’d make an excellent wife for a vicar. How unfortunate Edward married her first. Not that there was really anything unfortunate about it. Their marriage was arranged, and John was only fourteen at the time of the wedding, far too young to know to be jealous. But ever since he’d gotten to know her, he knew he desired his wife to have the same temperament.
Alex closed his fingers around the spine of the book he wanted and gave it a hearty jerk, leading it to fall from the shelf and smack his father right in the nose. John grinned. The times had been countless when John had wished he could have gotten away with hitting his brother that way.
As if he’d read his mind, Edward shot him a pointed glance.
John threw his hands into the air. “Don’t look at me. I didn’t tell him to drop the book on your face.”
“No, but I’m sure you’ll reward him with a biscuit for his excellent aim later.”
“Can’t blame an uncle for spoiling his favorite nephew, can you?” John asked.
Edward shook his head and lowered Alex to the ground before picking up the fallen book. Regina took it from him and John looked away. Those two had been married almost five years and still looked at each other as if they’d married only a week ago. That was another thing he admired about Regina: she confined her affections for her husband to the bedroom. Not that other ladies didn’t, but that was because most ladies he knew didn’t actually love their husbands. And the few who did had a hard time keeping their hands—and lips—to themselves. He shuddered at the memory of Lord and Lady Craven, who were rumored to have a love match, sharing a close embrace when they thought nobody else was around.
But John had been around, and he’d forever be plagued with the memories of the couple engaging in intimacies better suited for the bedchamber.
“Come along, Alex,” Regina called to her son, holding her hand out for him to hold.
“Is something troubling you, Trouble?” Edward asked, falling into the chair opposite him. “Are you struggling with what to preach about after dinner tonight?”
“No, Edward,” he said with a sigh and a slight smile at his brother’s nickname for him based on all the “trouble” he’d been accused of causing when he was younger. “With all your deplorable habits, I doubt I’ll ever run out of things to preach about.”
“Good. I should hate for it to be said that I’m the kind of older brother who neglects the needs of his younger brother—even his need to practice putting everyone to sleep with his preaching each night.”
John smiled weakly at his jest. Truly, that’s all it was. Edward didn’t say it to be cruel or because he was annoyed with him and his past behavior. But, it didn’t make it any less true. In the time since he’d concluded his studies at Eton—and for as much of his life as he could remember before then, if the truth had to be exposed—he’d been memorizing Bible passages, giving Biblically based advice, and delivering impromptu sermons as part of his ministry training. And why shouldn’t he? Edward always knew he’d grow up to one day be a baron and spent his life looking after others and learning the skills he’d need to be a baron. So why shouldn’t John have spent his life preparing for his future? Because it was maddening; that’s why!
Not to imply that the Lord’s work was maddening, mind you. But the always being honest, always thinking before acting, and the overwhelming pressure that every word you say or action you take could one day be used against you and ruin your entire future was more than any gentleman at the ripe young age of nineteen should be concerned about. But John was, and the pressure was threatening to surround him until the last atom of oxygen in his lungs was squeezed out.
“John, have you considered that a life in the ministry isn’t for you?” Edward’s softly spoken words startled him straight from his woolgathering.
“There isn’t another option.” He glanced out the window. “At least not one I care to pursue.”
Edward nodded. “I can accept that. An officer’s life isn’t for everyone.”
“And neither is a barrister’s,” John added.
“No, it’s not.” Edward ran his hand through his hair. “Have you considered going on a Grand Tour?”
“No. It’s too late for that now anyway. The archbishop said he’d have placement for me in June. That’s not enough time.”
Edward waved him off. “Then go on Tour and have the archbishop assign you to another mentor when you return. There will always be lost souls in need of saving, John. The profession is not on the verge of extinction. It won’t hurt you to delay your life’s work by a few months or even a year.”
John exhaled. Edward didn’t understand.
“I understand more than you might think,” Edward said softly. He grinned. “I seem to remember a conversation we had a few years ago when I reminded you that I, too, was once fourteen. Fortunately, the circumstances of this conversation are vastly different; but I can also tell you that I, too, was once nineteen and felt the weight of the rest of my life and the future of all of you boys pressing down on me. Father had just died, and I didn’t have a choice but to step up and fulfill my role as baron. I’m not saying that your role in life is any less important, but your need to begin is not immediate. Go and have a bit of fun now while you still can.”
John sat motionless as his brother left the room. Then, he picked up his Bible and flipped it open, resigning himself to the fact that living in a metaphorical glass box where he could be observed and made an example of for the rest of his life was what his life was to be. The words blurred in front of him. This couldn’t be it. He was only nineteen! Far too young to live out the rest of his days in a small country village, precisely what would happen as soon as the archbishop found placement for him. He shut his Bible again and set it down on the table in front of him. Perhaps Edward understood better than John thought he did. What would it hurt to spend a little time seeing the world? Then, when he was done, he could return and settle in to a calm serene life as a country vicar and find a meek and mild lady to be his wife.