Once upon a time seven historical romance authors created a fairy tale inspired Regency world…

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Stolen by My Knave by Dawn Brower
Enticed by Lady Eliana by Amanda Mariel
The Ugly Duckling Debutante by Meara Platt
A Diamond for a Duke by Collette Cameron
His Elusive Nightingale by Ari Thatcher
The Fairy Palace by Sue London
Hunting for A Lady’s Heart by Tammy Andresen

 

 

Join us on a Regency adventure of love and romance in this limited edition box set

Regency Ever After: Timeless Tales and Fables 2

 

Flourish

Excerpt

“Would you like to dance?”

His soft request halted her mid-step, and jaw slack, she flung an are-you-serious-or-mocking-me-glance over her shoulder.

He extended his hand, the movement pulling his black tailcoat taut over enticingly broad shoulders and a rounded bicep. The gold signet ring upon his little finger gleamed as did the jeweled lion’s head cuff link at his wrist.

His unbearably tender smile caused Jemmah’s blood to sidle through her veins rather like honey-sweetened tea—rich and warm and strong—even as another sensation embedded behind her ribs, slowly burrowing its way deeper—and dangerously deeper, yet.

Dandridge was dangerous for her peace of mind.

Dangerous for the life she’d resigned herself to.

Staring hard into his eyes’ unfathomable depths, Jemmah tried to gauge his sincerity and motives.

“One dance, Miss Jemmah. I’ve never had the honor of partnering you.”

More pity directed her way, or a genuinely kind, if somewhat irregular gift?

She might be able to manage an English country dance with reasonable finesse, but a cotillion or quadrille?

Utterly impossible.

“Your Grace, I told you, I don’t know how.”

More shame scorched her cheeks—probably red as crushed cherries—but she wouldn’t break eye contact.

There hadn’t been funds for both her and Adelinda to learn. Though Jemmah had begged to be permitted to watch her sister’s instruction, Mama refused her even that. She’ taken to peeking through the drawing room window until her mother caught her one day.

Ever after, Jemmah had been confined to her room during dance lessons, rather like in the tale of Cendrillon, except in her situation, there was no evil stepmother.

No fairy godmother to rescue her or a prince to sweep her away, either.

Merely, Jemmah’s own haughty and proud mother, who hadn’t a qualm about voicing her partiality for Adelinda. And why shouldn’t she prefer the daughter who was practically a mirror image of herself rather than the offspring resembling her detested, unfaithful spouse?

“I’ll teach you.” Dandridge stepped forward and lightly grasped her hand.

She’d forgotten to don her gloves, but he didn’t appear to notice her work-worn fingers, and Jemmah refused to be self-conscious by them. Not now anyway. Later she might examine the dry, reddened skin, the roughened cuticles, the overly short nails, and her face would flame with renewed chagrin.

“I really shouldn’t. I’ll tromp your toes.”

But she would dance, for being in Jules’s arms, even for a few stolen minutes was worth Mama’s assured disapproval and Adelinda’s certain jealousy as well as the resulting unpleasantness should they find out. The experience, committed to memory was even worth the risk of scandal.

Never mind all that.

Jemmah melted into his embrace and placed her hand upon his firm shoulder, the muscles rippling beneath her fingertips.

His smile, broad and delighted, exposed straight, white teeth and ignited every plane of his rugged face with joy. Rarely had she seen him smile from sincere happiness, and the transformation in his visage, temporarily robbed Jemmah of her breath.

She managed to restart her lungs and ask, “What will we dance to?”

“Listen.” Jules tilted his tawny head, his hair the color of ripe wheat at sunset.

Lilting strains from the string quartet floated from the ballroom. The glorious music, enchanting and irresistible, almost fairy-tale like, nudged her few remaining, crumbling barriers aside.

“It’s a waltz.” Jules planted a broad palm on her spine—Oh, crumb cakes, what utter deliciousness—and cupped her hand in his other.
Flourish

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