I’m very excited to celebrate the launch of "Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half", the second book in my Regency historical series about the bachelors of the Beau Monde. These debonair gentlemen have it all: immense wealth, influence, and ladies swooning at their feet – in and out of the ballroom.
Or so they think.
Each bachelor is missing something in his life that he never knew he needed: the love of a good lady.
Today we are joined by a few of my favorite characters from the book: Amelia, Lady Audley and her bosom friend, Lady Kennell, as well as their suitors, Jake Hillary and the Earl of Norwick. Welcome ladies and gentlemen. How kind of you to consent to an interview today.
Jake glances at Amelia. “We had a choice? But you said—”
“Shh. Ms. Grace is speaking.”
“And note how fluently she speaks—” He crosses his arms and raises one eyebrow in my direction—
“and yet I’m stumbling over my words throughout the book.”
“And your feet,” Lady Kennell pipes up and then smiles sweetly at him.
“Thank you for the reminder, Lady Kennell.”
“My pleasure, Mr. Hillary.” She drums her fingers on the armrest and studies me. “That does beg the question, Ms. Grace. Do you have something against Mr. Hillary? You have him nearly falling on top of his sister, attacked by a harpy, and caught in several embarrassing situations. I admit, he rubs me wrong on occasion, but not even I would be that cruel.”
Jake’s brows lower over his hazel green eyes. “So you’re the source of my bad luck?”
“Now, now.” Amelia pats his arm resting resting between them and shoots a warning look Lady Kennell’s direction. “I find your clumsiness to be part of your charm.”
Jake relaxes against the seat cushion with a smile and reaches for her hand, entwining their fingers.
That’s one crisis averted, but now Lord Norwick is scowling at me.
“I don’t know what you’re complaining about, Hillary. I’m the one caught adjusting my—found in a compromising position.”
Lady Kennell chuckles. “Yes, you were so amusing. I think I fell for you in that moment.”
“Indeed?” A deep flush climbs Lord Norwick’s neck and spreads to his round cheeks. He glances at me sheepishly. “My apologies, Ms. Grace. Perhaps I should thank you for dressing me in that ridiculous King Henry VIII costume instead of complaining.”
SG: Think nothing of it, my lord. Shall we proceed with the interview?
Amelia inclines her head. “Please.”
SG: There seems to be some question as to the timing of the infamous passionate kiss shared between you and Mr. Hillary. Could you please clear up any confusion for us today?
Lady Kennell sits up straighter and practically bubbles over with enthusiasm. “Yes, do tell! I can’t believe you’ve kept this a secret from me.”
“Neither can I,” Jake grumbles. “I’m surprised you weren’t hiding behind a plant or curtain panel. It seems you are always under foot.”
Lady Kennell sniffs. “I could say the same about you, sir.”
Amelia sighs. Loudly. “Please, not again.”
Both Jake and Lady Kennell clamp their mouths closed, looking properly chastised.
Amelia readjusts her position on the chair and clears her throat. “Well, as you know, I was married to Mr. Hillary’s former friend. It was a complicated affair, so I won’t go into details other than to say it was not a good match. He left after three months of marriage, and I had no word of his whereabouts for much of the time.”
Jake puts a protective arm around her shoulders. “Audley didn’t deserve her. Any man who would abandon Mia is a fool.”
The crease between her brows softens. “It was a little after our first wedding anniversary when I received word of my husband’s death. Mr. Hillary didn’t appear on my doorstep for several months.”
“Mother first asked me to deliver a basket of treats around Christmas, and I only stayed long enough to convey my sympathies and leave Mother’s offering.”
“We didn’t see each other again until close to February,” Amelia says. “I remember it was around St. Valentine’s Day and Mrs. Hillary sent over jam tartlets. Mr. Hillary came inside that day, but it wasn’t until the next week that he stayed to help me settle my account with the dress maker.”
Lady Kennell rolls her eyes. “Amelia never required assistance with her sums.”
Jake perks up. “She didn’t?”
“No, Mr. Hillary,” Lady Kennell says with a smirk. “For some reason, she actually liked you.”
He beams at Amelia. “I had wondered, but I didn’t dare hope.”
A pink flush colors her ivory complexion, and she lowers her gaze.
“For the next three weeks,” he continues, “I stayed for dinner more often than not. It was mid-March when we shared our first kiss.”
“Yes, but then he hied off to the country until well after the Season had begun. He had only returned to Town when Mr. Hillary’s sister met her future husband.”
“There was that unpleasant confrontation in the fall as well,” Lady Kennell adds. “Amelia was beside herself when Mr. Hillary took her to task.”
Jake tugs at his cravat. “I’d rather we forget about that business, if it’s all the same to you, Lady Kennell.”
“As would I,” Amelia agrees. “It was a difficult time, but I survived it thanks to the foundling house renovation project to keep me occupied.”
SG: And what a worthy endeavor you’ve taken on, my lady. The children are fortunate to have you on their side. In just a few words, what would each of you say "Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half" is about?
“Me,” Lady Kennell blurts out then laughs when Jake turns a soured look on her. “I was jesting. Don’t get high on the ropes.” She links hands with Amelia. “It’s about forever friendships.”
“For me, it’s about becoming my own man,” Lord Norwick says. “And Bianca was an important part of my transformation.”
Lady Kennell releases Amelia’s hand and swivels on the seat to face Lord Norwick. “You changed me too, Jasper.”
“I think it’s a story about second chances,” Jake says.
Amelia meets his gaze and holds it. “And the triumph of true love.”
“Yes,” he agrees softly.
Lady Kennell claps her hands, bringing everyone back to the present. “I have a splendid idea. Why don’t we take a peek at a scene from 'Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half'? Perhaps another kissing scene?”
SG: That is a splendid idea, and I have the perfect one in mind. But first, let's tell readers about today's giveaway.
To enter to win one of two copies of Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half, all you have to do is leave a comment or feel free to ask the characters a question… US and Canada only, and please leave an email address. We’ll choose the winner on Monday morning!
Jake’s thoughts fled as soon as Amelia linked her arm with his. Not that he had prepared a speech when he followed her to the veranda. He hadn’t even formed a solid plan when the sight of her in the full moonlight had stolen his breath. Inviting her to walk in the garden had been impulsive.
They meandered along the path. The whispers of a set of lovers rendezvousing in the shadowed garden carried on the breeze.
Jake glanced down at Amelia on his arm; her silky tresses glowed almost white in the moonlight. Her hair fell to the middle of her back, tempting him to test its softness with his fingers.
He led her to a bench and urged her to sit before sinking down beside her. A warm breeze brushed his cheeks and the scent of lilac and rich soil permeated the air.
She tipped her heart-shaped face toward him, her almond eyes glimmering. He had recognized her the moment he saw her in the ballroom, and would have even if he hadn’t known her costume. Jake had memorized every gorgeous feature: her pert nose turned up at the tip, eyes the color of the Mediterranean, and her luxurious pink mouth. He loved how her bottom lip was fuller and the way the top formed two perfect arches like the beginning of a heart.
“You said you wished to speak with me, Mr. Hillary?”
He snapped to attention. “May we dispense with formality, Amelia?”
Her lips puckered, and he could picture the tiny crease that formed between her brows when she was puzzled.
Opening and closing his mouth, he was unsure where to begin. Should he open with an apology or move directly to the point? The blasted trouble was he always had time to prepare prior to appearing before the court. He was meticulous in his study of the issues at hand and organized arguments thusly.
Not so in spontaneous declarations of love.
Not so in spontaneous declarations of love.
After a while, she sighed. “Is that the whole of it? You wish to dispense with formality between us?”
“Yes. No!” he blurted, causing her to jump. Damnation. He rubbed his temples. This was going poorly. What a bloody travesty that a tiny woman could reduce him to a bumbling fool.
She hugged her arms close to her chest. “No, you do not want to dispense with formality?”
Jake shook his head to free it of cobwebs. “I would like you to refer to me by my given name, but that isn’t the reason I asked to speak with you. I want…”
She looked expectantly at him.
“I want you…”
Amelia licked her lips, wrecking his entire line of thinking. The desire to taste her was highly distracting. He longed to lay her in the bed of clover behind them and taste her all over, but that would never do.
“You want me?” Her voice sounded breathless.
“Yes,” he said, enchanted with the rounding of her eyes. “I want you… t-to forgive me.” Quite right, he should start with an apology. He jumped from the bench, warming to his topic and gearing up to present his case. “Yes, that’s exactly what I am trying to articulate. I wish for your forgiveness.”
“Oh!” Amelia blinked. “Forgiveness for what, exactly? Just so we are clear.”
Did he really have to say it? He had been a deplorable cur last autumn, and practically accused her of being a trollop. Very well, part of clearing the air required one to confess to wrongdoing. He took a deep breath. It was an uncomfortable conversation, him behaving like a jealous fool that day. “I never should have stormed into your home making ridiculous accusations. I had no right to—to lend commentary on your marriage or association with Forest.”
He was fouling up his apology, hindering his chances of addressing the second half of the conversation. He did want her.
“Amelia, what I mean is—”
She leapt up from the bench, too. “Please, stop,” she hissed, her gaze shooting wildly around the garden. “I don’t want to discuss him.”
Quite right. What if someone overheard?
“I made a mistake, but you wrongly judged me.” She tried to rush past Jake and his world tipped out of control.
He grasped her arm. “Amelia, no. I didn’t mean anything I said that day. You are a wonderful lady. I never should have said… You are correct, let’s not discuss him, or that day. I want to discuss us.”
She stared at him, her lips parted. “Us?”
“I know there is no us. Look, I am sorry for barging in and accusing you of being disloyal to Audley. It was stupid and improper and uncalled for.”
She wiggled her elbow from his grasp. “I understand. You were coming to my husband’s defense.” Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears. “But, Jake, I swear I never was unfaithful to him.”
“I don’t give a damn about Audley.”
Amelia’s gaze snapped up to his, her mouth falling open in shock.
“I should have thrashed him from the start and been done with it.”
“Oh!” She did it again. Her mouth formed a perfect pink circle and his body jerked to life.
“Amelia, I behaved like a lunatic that day. The truth is I wanted you to be with me. I wanted you in my bed.”
Amelia stalked toward him, and he braced himself to receive her palm across his face. She stopped a mere inch from his chest. No blow followed. Good Lord, she had the sweetest scent, like that flower. The one that bloomed in the spring. What was it called? It came in pink or blue and resembled a spear.
“What is that flower—?”
“Be quiet and kiss me.” She threw her arms around his neck and pulled him down to meet her soft lips.
To hell with flowers.
To learn more about Samantha's bachelors, visit her at her website.
To learn more about Samantha's bachelors, visit her at her website.