Two “First Meets” in Romance – A Battle of the Books
The “Meet Cute” ranks up there in romance with “First Kiss” and the “Big Ending.” We like them quirky, funny, poignant, or hair-on-fire-mad (like an enemies to lovers first meet). We like them in contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and most definitely in historical romance.
With my Georgian series, Midnight Meetings, I noticed something about the “First Meet” in both upcoming books: the hero and heroine in both books already knew each other. It’s not a true “Meet Cute” …more like a “Re-Meet Cute.”
In The Lord Meets His Lady, two years have passed since the hero and heroine last spoke. Lord Marcus was more a passing acquaintance to Genevieve. He hardly gave her the time of day two years before the story starts.
In Meet a Rogue at Midnight (a novella), the hero and heroine are childhood friends, but ten years having gone by since Jonas last saw Livvy (Olivia). She was one of the best parts of his childhood, but –surprise!– she’s not a girl anymore.
Rather than me talk about these “Re-Meets,” how about I share them with you? Then you can be the judge of which one grabbed you. Once you read them, let me know which one you liked best and why, then you’ll be in the drawing for a $5 Amazon egift card. (details below)
THE LORD MEETS HIS LADY
The Set-Up: It’s midnight on an old highway in Northumberland. Lord Marcus is traveling north on horseback when he spied a broken down coach on the road. He’s just fixed a brace with Miss Genevieve Turner, a woman who recognizes him. His recall of her is sketchy until this happens…
The coachman hooked his lantern on the front panel, the light catching Miss Turner’s gold tresses flying free. Marcus pushed off the ground about to offer his hand, but she scrambled to her feet and grabbed the blunderbuss before he could help her. He wiped road dust from his hands, following her under the brim of his hat. This accidental interlude was coming to a close. Less than an hour ago, he didn’t want to stop. Now, he didn’t want this stop to end.
“You’ll want this.” Miss Turner handed over the pistol to the driver.
The coachman set it on his footboard. “If ye’d be so kind, milord, to see Miss Abbott finds her seat, we can be on our way.”
His swiping hands stilled. Miss Abbott?
Miss Turner spun around and set one finger to her lips, her eyes saucer big.
“Of course,” he called back. “I’d be happy to help Miss Abbott.”
The driver hoisted himself up to his seat. Miss Turner darted for the coach door, but Marcus took quick steps backward, his hand covering the latch. He had no hold on her. Why the deception?
“Miss Abbott is it?” he asked his voice barely above a whisper.
“For now.” She averted her eyes. “I wanted to explain, but I wasn’t sure if…if…”
“If you could trust me.”
Her solemn stare pinned him. “Yes.”
Fresh gusts brushed the bottom of his redingote against her. Miss Turner’s mouth flattened, and a need surged, the want to soften those lips with smiles and laughter.
Giving a light flourish, he laid his hand over his heart. “You wound me. Honor is my middle name.”
“Honor?” Doubt threaded her quiet voice.
“Lord Marcus Honor Bowles. Trustworthy as a vicar.”
A single feminine brow rose. “A vicar?”
He chuckled, the sound a dry rasp. “Vicar’s a bit of a stretch for me. Would you accept choir boy? I was one for a short time until I got the boot.”
A tiny spark lit her eyes. “I shall remember that if I need a song or comfort and wisdom, milord.”
Resting a shoulder against the coach, he grimaced good-naturedly. “I’m short on song and wisdom these days.”
“But you excel at giving comfort.” Her lips twitched. “Especially to women.”
The small victory warmed him. He’d won a partial smile, but the glimmer quickly faded.
“Before I left London, friends mentioned your upset at The Cocoa Tree…that you were coming north for the winter to spare your family any more scandal.” Her shoulders slumped. “When I saw you come riding, I feared you’d recognize me. You’re the only person in Cornhill who could connect me to The Golden Goose.”
He stiffened at the mention of The Cocoa Tree. The broadsheets had trumpeted news of his debacle at the gambling establishment. He’d lost badly at a game of cards, upending the table after too much to drink. Most of London knew about his embarrassing exit from The Cocoa Tree. Few knew the family turmoil that followed. He’d return to London in due time, but he didn’t want trouble camping at Samuel’s door.
“How did you get your housekeeper’s position?”
“The Sauveterre sisters helped me.” Miss Turner paused, giving him a pointed look. “I believe you are acquainted with them.”
He ignored her arch tone, another concern coming to light. Miss Turner had sought the Birchin Lane mantua makers known for helping women in need.
“Then we have mutual friends in the Sauveterres.” He leaned close. “Are you in some kind of trouble?”
MEET A ROGUE AT MIDNIGHT
The Set-Up: Jonas has traveled the world and served as man of business to the Earl of Greenwich (in Meet the Earl at Midnight). He left his grandfather’s house ten years past, but the black sheep has come home on Christmas Eve. He plans to settle accounts with the Captain (his grandfather) and leave for good after Twelfth Night.
But, his first night home, someone is hiding in his bed chamber…
“I know you’re hiding behind the curtains. Show yourself.”
The boots didn’t move. Howls of laughter drifted up from downstairs. Christmas Eve celebrations must be going well in the parlor. The house burst with fresh pine boughs and spiked cider, the green and spicy scents floating everywhere.
“Come now,” Jonas said, buttoning his placket with the pistol in hand. “This is not a night for ill will.”
Housebreaking was a serious crime with grisly consequences. He’d give the lad an earful while sneaking him out by the scruff. But, it’d have to be quick. The Captain was expecting him…all the better to convince Jonas to stay for good. Raucous guffaws exploded through the floorboards. Mr. Goodspeak, fine soul that he was, brayed the loudest. Fiddle music played a Yuletide carol in double time while salty, old sailors stomped a bad rhythm. The Captain must’ve shared his best whiskey, the kind that warmed a man as good as a woman.
Weary from a hard day’s ride, Jonas could use a dram. And a woman.
“I’ll count to three.” He padded barefoot across the room, holding the dragoon against his thigh. “One…two…”
The drape bulged with the business end of a pistol. Jonas froze. This changed the complexion of things. Eyes narrowing, his finger curled over the trigger.
“…thr—” Jonas dropped low and rammed his shoulder into the housebreaker’s midsection.
“Umph!” A shiny piece clattered to the floor. A fine Spanish wheel lock.
Jonas kicked the weapon backward. Fists pummeled his back as white hot pain shot up from his toes. He looked down at a black boot mashing his foot.
“Enough,” he growled, hoisting the lad over his shoulder.
Foot throbbing, Jonas spun away from the window. Cloth ripped overhead. The drapes and rod crashed down on their heads. Whoops and hollers rang through the house. The Captain and his cronies had to be deep in their cups not to hear this scuffle. Jonas knocked the wool off his face as the housebreaker kicked and…squealed.
Squealed? He squinted at the bottom wiggling against his cheek, and the split second cost him. A knee jabbed his ribs.
“Oomph!” His gun slipped, and the brass buttcap hammered his already aching toes. Air hissing through clenched teeth, Jonas hop-stepped to the bed. “Stop!” he bellowed and landed all his weight on the lad.
The bed rattled from the assault. The housebreaker sunk into the down mattress, fighting hard. Blue drapes sheathed the fool from head to toe. Jonas drove his head into the criminal’s chest and two mounds pressed his face. Soft, round, and jiggling.
He blinked, a slow smile forming. He was nose deep between sizeable breasts—an excellent pair as breasts go swathed in old drapes.
“Well, bugger me.”
The housebreaker wheezed. “I’d…rather…you get off me!”
Jonas rolled sideways and clamped his thigh across her thrashing legs. The woman’s mouth gaped behind wool like a caught fish. She flopped like one, too. A feminine hip squirmed at the juncture of his thighs. Fingers clawed the curtain. His midnight visitor tussled fiercely with the drape, the bed ropes creaking madly beneath her.
“Shhh. Let me uncover you,” he said, staying her busy hands.
“So you can shoot me?”
“No. So you can breathe easy.” His grip on her wrists was full of authority. “We can stay like this all night, or you can trust me. It’s your choice.”
Yellow firelight danced on waves of mussed bed sheets. Land-locked sailors sang off-key below stairs. Music pitched fast and high from the parlor, but the storm on his mattress calmed. Tautness in the wrists he held eased a fraction. The housebreaker lay stiffly against him, smelling oddly of…vinegar.
She panted against the drape. “You call those choices?”
“Best I can do for a woman who pointed a pistol at me.”
Grumbling came from the drape. Jonas’s blood pumped with satisfaction. His lush, midnight visitor was at his mercy. This homecoming wasn’t so bad, not when the housebreaker’s hip brushed his ballocks. He grinned, liking her pliant against him. The skirmish was over.
“Well?” she said, her body lax. “Are you going to get this off me?”
Copper-hued hair shined through a tear in the cloth. The woman in his bed was a gift trussed in blue wool, excitement in his otherwise dull Christmas Eve. It was time he unwrapped his present. He stuck a finger in the hole and yanked. Threads snapped, showing bold brown eyes staring at him through tangled hair. Ready to see the rest of her, he ripped thick cloth with both hands down to the soles of her scrubby boots.
A lovely mouth opened wide and sucked fresh air. “Thank you.”
His comely housebreaker lay dressed in homespun breeches and a plain shirt open at the neck. A gentleman’s faded bottle green coat flopped wide as she brushed hair off her face. Exquisite breasts free of a corset, shift, and waistcoat ruined the mannish disguise. Cambric stretched across dainty nipples at the center of curves flattened as nature would have it when a woman was on her back. The siren’s chest rose and fell with alluring rhythm, the sight striking him speechless.
“Did you get your fill?” She snapped her coat shut and laughed. “Welcome home, Jonas Bacon Braithwaite.”
Tell me which book you think won. Share your answer (and why) in the comments below and you’re in a drawing for a $5 Amazon egift card. (Random drawing set for noon ET Sept. 29, 2017)