– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Duke’s Runaway Bride’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Jenni Fletcher was born in Scotland and now lives in Yorkshire where she writes historical romance novels ranging from the Roman to late Victorian eras. She studied English at Cambridge and Hull and has been nominated for 4 RoNA awards, winning for Short Romantic Fiction in 2020. She teaches Creative Writing at a university in the north of England and her favourite hobbies are baking and, of course, reading.
Social Media Links:
To Duke’s wife
When Beatrix, Duchess of Howden, writes to her estranged husband offering a divorce, she’s stunned when he arrives on her doorstep with a different proposition: a six-week marriage trial! Quinton Roxbury seems cold and inscrutable, but Beatrix gradually realises his rough exterior hides a heavy burden. As their connection deepens, dare she trust him with her own scandalous past and risk the marriage she never knew she wanted?
In this extract, the newly reunited Beatrix and Quin have just returned to his ducal home, Howden Hall, where his little sister Helen has a habit of hiding under tables…
‘Good morning,’ Quinton announced to the empty-looking breakfast room, making his way to the sideboard and preparing two plates of scrambled egg, mushroom, sausages and bacon and then carrying them both back to the table. ‘It looks like it’s going to be a pleasant day.’
‘I’d rather hoped you’d be outside with the others yesterday.’ He slid one of the plates under the tablecloth, waiting until it was plucked from his fingers before continuing. ‘I know you’re shy around new people, but there’s no need to worry about meeting Beatrix. She’s very nice, trust me.’ He almost smiled at the words. They were true. She was very nice, if a little unconventional for a duchess. ‘In any case, I’d be grateful if you could make an appearance at luncheon. You don’t have to eat with us, just show your face. Will that be all right?’
A small bump on the table answered in the affirmative.
‘Good. Now, do you want toast?’
‘Butter and marmalade?’
‘Just butter, then?’
He lifted his head at the sound of his wife’s voice. She was standing just inside the doorway, regarding him with an expression of perplexity mixed with alarm as he pushed a piece of bread under the table.
‘Beatrix?’ Fortunately, the toast was pulled from his fingers at that moment, allowing him to stand up and make a small bow. ‘You’re awake early.’
‘I got used to early hours at Belles.’ She seemed somewhat reluctant to come any closer, looking from him to the table and back again. ‘Who were you talking to? Is there a dog under there?’
‘No-o, no dog.’ He gave a small cough. ‘Can I fetch you anything?’
‘Um…no, thank you. I can manage.’ She regarded him suspiciously for another moment before reaching for a plate, appetite obviously outweighing caution. ‘Don’t let your own breakfast get cold.’
‘You slept well, I trust?’ He sat down again, wondering how to explain.
‘Very well, thank you. And you?’
‘Not bad,’ he lied. Truthfully, he’d had a wretched night, kept awake by a combination of anger at his intractable, ill-mannered family and a sleep-thwarting awareness of her on the other side of the wall. If she was on the other side of the wall, that was. He still hadn’t asked Mrs Hastings. For all he knew, he’d been lusting after a completely empty bedchamber…
‘Can I pour you some coffee?’
‘Please.’ She took a seat beside him. ‘So…why were you just talking to the table?’
‘Ah. Well, about that… I wasn’t talking to the table exactly.’ He passed her a small silver milk jug. ‘Beatrix, meet my youngest sister, Helen.’
‘Your sister?’ Her eyes widened, flashing with something like panic.
‘Again, not the table. The little girl sitting under it. She’s a little reserved.’
‘Oh…’ Beatrix lifted a hand and pointed a finger downwards. ‘So I shouldn’t…?’
‘It’s usually best to wait until she comes out. I’m afraid it might take a few days before she actually says anything.’
‘I see. Well, then, it’s very nice to meet you, Helen. I’m Beatrix.’
There was a momentary pause, followed by a faint bump.
‘I hope that we’re going to be friends.’ She leaned towards Quinton, lowering her voice slightly. ‘How old is she?’
Ten bumps, one after the other, answered for him.
‘Thank you.’ She laughed delightedly, her face lighting up in a way that was completely different to all the tight, forced smiles she’d given him so far. She looked transformed. Radiant. Captivating. Beautiful. Enough to make him forget all about the piece of bacon he’d been about to pop into his mouth. People rarely smiled like that at Howden. Or anywhere, come to think of it. The sight seemed to warm his insides. And as for her laugh…
‘What’s the matter?’ To his dismay, the smile faded as her eyebrows lifted instead.
‘Nothing.’ He gave his head a small shake, returning his attention to the bacon. ‘It just occurred to me that I’ve never heard you laugh before.’
‘I’ve never heard you laugh either, but then I suppose we haven’t had a great deal to laugh about together so far, have we?’
‘True. Although to be honest, I don’t remember the last time I laughed at all.’
‘Hmm.’ She looked thoughtful rather than shocked by the observation. ‘I suppose I never used to laugh much either. There was a time, when I lived with my uncle and aunt, when I wasn’t even sure that I could. Of course, that was before I met Nancy.’
‘Very, although not always intentionally. She has the worst temper and biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.’ She chuckled quietly to herself before bending down to speak under the table. ‘Would you like anything else, Helen?’
‘That means no,’ Quinton interpreted. ‘I gave her a full plate earlier.’
‘Ah. What a kind brother you have.’
A single thud, louder this time.
‘So…’ He gave a small cough of embarrassment. ‘I was hoping to show you the park this morning, but I’m afraid there’s a problem with the roof that requires my attention. Perhaps we might take a ride after luncheon instead?’
The Magic of Wor(l)ds