The Smooch Grand Prize winning first-kiss excerpt is available to read at Yosemite Romance Writers. Below is how it begins. CLICK HERE to see the entire winning excerpt.
The Unseducible Earl by Sheri Humphreys
Setting: Hampshire, England in 1856.
Victoria, a nurse and a lady, is a guest of the betrothed Earl of Havenwood. She takes time from caring for the earl’s brother to attend a patient in town. Her departure is delayed when she agrees to help a woman no lady should acknowledge.
Daniel had the horses just outside, and the relief that swept his face at her appearance sent guilt rocking through her. “Let’s hurry,” she said, knowing getting on the road would do the most to ease the groom’s anxiety. He boosted her into the saddle.
“We might not beat the rain, Miss Thorne. It’s looking like a storm. Perhaps we should wait until it passes.” He frowned and held on to Bella’s rein, clearly undecided.
“It’s definitely going to rain, but we’re not fortune tellers. I’m willing to bet we can make it home before the rain starts.”
Daniel’s brow smoothed. His easy capitulation was testament to how badly he wanted to get her back to the manor. Bella, already restive, needed little encouragement to make for home at a gallop. The exhilaration the mare’s pace created helped Victoria ignore the bite of the wind. She lifted her face and drank in the earthy perfume that foretold the coming rain.
They were almost to Cheriton Court when the deluge hit. The roar of it thundered out all other sound. Unable to hear hoof beats, she took a quick look and found Daniel close behind her. The rain obliterated his expression, but she didn’t see any point in seeking the inadequate shelter of the trees now. She couldn’t get any wetter than she already was. She wrapped her fingers in her mount’s mane and gave the mare her head. Bella’s ears lay flat, but her powerful stride remained sure.
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