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From the Author:
Several of my books have touched on the lives of the inhabitants of Upper Haughton. Willow and Mike Armstrong from The Runaway Bride settled here. The Hilliards from A Perfect Proposal live in the Old Rectory. Jake and Amy Hallam, from my RITA® nominated book The Bachelor's Baby still live here, too. Of course they moved out of Amy's cottage a long time ago, needing more room for their three boys. No, Amy still ...
From the Author:
Several of my books have touched on the lives of the inhabitants of Upper Haughton. Willow and Mike Armstrong from The Runaway Bride settled here. The Hilliards from A Perfect Proposal live in the Old Rectory. Jake and Amy Hallam, from my RITA® nominated book The Bachelor's Baby still live here, too. Of course they moved out of Amy's cottage a long time ago, needing more room for their three boys. No, Amy still hasn't got the daughter she longed for. You didn't really expect her to keep that abandoned baby, did you? Not when there was a desperate mother out there somewhere?
Little Polly isn't far away though. She lives in the cottage with her mother Kay Lovell, who works at the village shop, makes prize-winning marmalade and spends her spare time helping out the neighbours. And never talks about her past.
Linden Lodge, however, has been empty for six years. The garden is running wild, the blackberries are tempting - and desperately needed for the village harvest upper - and the lock on the gate is broken. But Dominic Ravenscar has at long last returned and Kay's trespass doesn't go unnoticed...
Upper Haughton is a real village, a place from my own childhood. I've only changed the name. Come and visit, check out an excerpt from A FAMILY OF HIS OWN which is published as a Tender Romance™ in March in the UK and a Harlequin Romance® in May in the US.
DOM started awake and for a moment he had no idea where he was. Only that he was cold and stiff from a night spent in an armchair. That at least was a familiar experience.
He rubbed his hands over his face, dragged his fingers through his hair, eased his limbs as he willed himself to face another day. Then, as he sat forward he saw the garden, sparkling as the sunlight caught the dew.
For a moment it looked like a magical place.
And then, as he caught a glimpse of Sara at work near the summerhouse, he knew it was. No longer feeling the ache in his limbs, or in his heart, he stood up and walked down the shallow steps into the garden, oblivious to the wet grass soaking his feet.
All that he cared about was that his beloved Sara was here, working in her garden, kneeling in front of a small shrub, gently releasing it from the stranglehold of some weed. And he was going to help her.
Engrossed in her task, taking care not to snap the slender branches of the shrub as she unravelled the bindweed, Kay had scarcely any warning that she wasn’t alone.
Only the rustle of grass that she assumed was a bird, or one of the squirrels who, having already come to give her the once over and decided she was harmless, had continued their own busy harvest of the hazel copse on the far side of the wall.
Scarcely a moment to register the presence beside her, a heartbeat for fear to seize her before he was on his knees beside her.
His voice shivered through her, held her.
The word was spoken soft and low, as if to a nervous colt that might shy away, bolt at the least excuse.
Maybe she had started because, more urgently, he said, ‘Don’t go …’
Soft, low, it was a heart-breaking appeal and she needed no introduction to know that this gaunt, hollow-eyed man was Dominic Ravenscar. Needed none of Amy’s famed insight to make the leap from his low plea, to an understanding that, with her back to the sun, her face shadowed by the broad brim of her hat, he thought she was his poor dead wife come back to him.
Needed no feminine intuition to know that whatever she did was going to be wrong. Was going to hurt him. Even as she struggled to find the words, he said,
‘I won’t leave you again. Ever.’
She remained frozen in the act of slicing through the bindweed, unable to think, unable to move.
There were no words.
While she knelt there, trying to decide what to do, he reached out and, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, began to unravel the bindweed she’d cut through. As his hand brushed against hers, a jolt, like the discharge of static electricity, shot through her and she dropped the pocket knife.
As if afraid that she would disappear, he caught her hand, held it. His fingers were long and wrapped around her hand with ease. His hand, wrist, were deeply tanned, strong, attenuated like those of a fasting Saint in some medieval painting.
He traced the scratch on the back of her hand where the bramble had caught her with his thumb.
‘You aren’t wearing gloves,’ he said. ‘How many times have I told you that you should wear gloves?’
‘No… Yes…’ She mouthed the word, but her voice, thick with the choking rush of emotional overload, didn’t make it past her throat.
Maybe he heard her anyway, or maybe he just read her lips. Maybe he thought she was making him a promise instead of desperately searching for the words to tell him, make him see that she was someone else, because he reached out with his other hand, cupping her face in his long palm. And while she remained locked between the need to run and the certainty that she must stay and convince him of the reality of the situation, he leaned forward and kissed her.
It had been a lifetime since she’d been kissed and never with this sweetness, this gentleness. As if she was something precious but fragile that might shatter to dust if he was careless.
Her body, starved of tenderness, starved of the touch of a man, responded like a primrose to the sun after a long, hard winter and over-riding her brain, she returned the kiss with every scrap of longing, all the need engendered by years of emptiness.
The kiss deepened as his confidence grew that she would not vanish at his touch.
Her hat fell to the grass as his fingers slid through her hair and he cradled her head as it fell back beneath the sweet invasion of his mouth.
The stubble on his unshaven jaw rasped against her face. His hand curved about her waist, drawing her into a closer embrace, crushing her against him as if he would make them one. In the tree above them, the blackbird pinked an urgent warning. And she felt his hot tears against her cheek. Or maybe they were her own.
The kiss had a dream-like quality, the perfection of fantasy and it seemed that a lifetime had passed before his hold on her eased and he straightened. While her breathing returned to something approaching normality.
An age while he looked down into her face, confronted reality and his expression of perfect joy turned first to confusion, then to pain as he realised his mistake.
Forever, while the light died in his eyes and they become dark, bottomless, unreadable.
Posted May 3, 2012
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