Two novels in my Midnight Meetings series are launching in these final months of 2017: The Lord Meets His Lady (book 3) and Meet a Rogue at Midnight (book 4, a novella). Part of the fun has been comparing hallmark scenes in romance and seeing which book fared better.
I'm continuing "Battle of the Books"* with "The Heroine's First 'He's hot!'" moment...which is extra fun when read in Georgian times.
But how have the books fared in this contest? Take a look at how readers voted:
1. First Kiss
Meet a Rogue at Midnight: 10
The Lord Meets His Lady: 11
The verdict? The Lord Meets His Lady wins by a nose. Most of you loved how Lord Marcus let Genevieve take control of the kiss. The most recurring comment in favor of Jonas in Meet a Rogue at Midnight? That he put his hands in her hair for their lip lock.
2. First Meet
Meet a Rogue at Midnight: 8
The Lord Meets His Lady: 2
The verdict? Meet a Rogue at Midnight's Jonas tackles a housebreaker in his bed chamber only to discover he's nose deep in a pair of breasts. The Lord Meets His Lady's first meet was a tamer broken down coach scene with a few dry quips.
3. First Funny Moment
Meet a Rogue at Midnight: 1
The Lord Meets His Lady: 10
The verdict? The Lord Meets His Lady won this handily. You all loved the saucy housekeeper putting a lord in his place over Meet a Rogue at Midnight's subtle, teasing humor between long time friends.
So, without further ado, here's the Heroine's First "He's hot!" moment in both book. Be sure and let me know who won in the comments below.
A. The Lord Meets His Lady The Scene Set-up: Lord Marcus has taken into his care a modest herd of horses in need of TLC (all with various ailments). Genevieve volunteered to help and begins to see Lord Marcus in a new light.
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Genevieve plunked the water bucket inside the stall. “Hot, salted water as you requested.”
Lord Bowles crouched to pour the salt water into a shallow, wooden box. His muscled thighs moved with grace in wool breeches above well-worn hip boots on long legs. Forearms flexing, he tipped the bucket, flashing the black horse tattoo. He’d long ago removed his coat and rolled up his sleeves.
Heat singed her cheeks when she stared long at the leather folds ending inches above his knees. She’d ridden those leather folds and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again. Sex was on her mind, but not his lordship’s. The master of Pallinsburn traded quips with her, but he spent his day courting four-legged creatures with tender care.
“You won’t haul anything upstairs for me,” he teased, setting aside the bucket. “But you’ll haul water through a mud-drenched yard for a horse.”
She removed her cloak and hooked it on the beam. “If you’re injured, milord, I promise to haul buckets of water wherever you want.”
His hands fascinated her, attractive and long fingered. What would happen if he touched her bare skin? At the moment, he mashed a fresh poultice with a mortar and pestle, working a potion same as the old apothecary she’d frequent off Lombard Street.
Stone clinked against stone. “Is that it? A man has to be injured to win your attention.”
“If you’re laid up in bed, I’ll see to your needs.”
“Don’t tempt me.” He grinned, grinding the pestle’s round head against the bowl.
In and out. Small, careful strokes, he rolled his tool inside the mortar with precision. He was a man who had a care with menial tasks. The hour was late, yet his smile was a broad slash of white in a dirt streaked face. Queue in disarray, his shirt open at the neck, Lord Bowles mixed his concoction, a man born to heal horses.
She leaned against the stall’s post. “I’d say you’re in your element.”
The mashing paused. “Don’t let on with Samuel. I want him miserable for at least another day.” He set down the bowl and dipped a hand inside.
“Is this about the gambling?”
His thumb rubbed circles over four finger tips, testing the remedy. “You heard that.”
“When I brought the linen strips earlier. I couldn’t help it.”
“We were—” Lord Bowles paused, searching the air. “—discussing the merits of my gambling.”
“More like the merits of you not gambling, if I heard you right.”
“Exactly. With cards my talent is passable at best.”
“But, it’s not the gaming, is it?”
He smelled the poultice on his fingers. “I need to stay above reproach…not even a whiff of scandal. The name Lord Marcus Bowles and gambling in the same sentence won’t sound good.”
“Because of your brother looking for a bride.” She cast a side long glance at the new row of horses. “Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to make a go of it one more time? To save these horses? We’re far away from London, milord.”
He wiped his hands with linen and tossed it into an overflowing bucket of rags. “While Samuel’s assured of the outcome, I am not.” Lines etched the sides of his mouth. “It will be me sitting at the table after all.”
“A gambler who’s lost his edge.” She toyed with the laces on her gown. “Could be a simple matter of sharpening your skills.”
Lord Bowles stilled, his satyr’s smile gleaming from the shadows. “As in find the right whetstone?” His raspy chuckle was sensual. “Miss Turner you are a surprise.”
Her skin tingled, more alive for the aromas of leather and hay and being near him. Little things snared her attention. His cambric shirt opened at the neck, the white edges grazing his skin. The plain grey waistcoat he wore enfolding a lean waist. His chest she already knew was nicely muscled and covered with a dusting of hair. Despite her general ease with men, she stood in an unknown place. This was his world, and she was in it. The stamped earth should be level underfoot, but she couldn’t shake the sense of having stepped on uncertain ground.
B. Meet a Rogue at Midnight The Scene Set-up: Jonas just freed a housebreaker (in his bed chamber) because he was shocked to discover he'd tackled a woman. Now, he's about to get another surprise.
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Sin-black hair with angelic blue eyes shouldn’t be an earthly possibility, yet Jonas wore the combination as though his appeal didn’t matter. Plumtree’s rebel son was never one to charm the ladies; his brother Jacob owned that talent. In his youth, Jonas had muddled through conversation when the fair sex flirted with him. From farmer’s daughters to highborn ladies, women were drawn to the quiet lad like flies to honey, but this man with a gold piece twinkling from his ear dripped with confidence.
Livvy sat bolt upright. “What’s this?” She tapped the gold hoop. “Were you a gentleman of fortune? Possibly a pirate?”
His head jerked back at her familiar touch.
She smiled and braced a hand on his bed. “You don’t remember me, do you?”
The notion pricked her pride. Her chin tipped higher and she waited. She’d been a girlish fourteen when Jonas last saw her, and he a strapping young man of twenty.
Eyes scrunching, he searched her face and form, a warm tingle following wherever his gaze touched.
“Livvy? Livvy Halsey?”
“In the flesh.” She nodded at his well-formed chest. “And you might want to cover some of yours.”
Massive arms crossed his chest, the muscled hills and trenches of those limbs earned from years of sea going adventures if the tales she’d heard were true.
“You’ve seen my chest before.”
Oh, but not this fascinating version of Jonas. The flesh she’d seen had been when village lads held a wrestling match in her family’s meadow. Battling barefoot in shirtsleeves and breeches, Jonas took all comers. Two of them attacked him at once. A boy grabbed his shirt and the fabric ripped in two.
“Explain yourself,” he said. “What are you doing in my bedchamber at midnight?”
Skin on her neck flushed, the heat dancing feather-soft to her cheeks. She wasn’t a child to be reprimanded. Or was it Jonas in a state of dishabille? His placket was half-fastened, and the fire’s dim light touched shoulders wider and stronger than she remembered. Black curls framed brown male nipples, the discs as intriguing as the coarse black hair encircling them. Her body wanted to stay put, but her brain cried for distance.
“I, I came to get something.” She slid off the mattress, her bottom brushing his bed sheets, the intimate sound seductive. The Jonas of her childhood was the heart of mild infatuation, but this man made her body sluggish and her pulse heavy. She gripped the ends of her coat, needing something to hold. Their tumble warmed her to the core, so did the view of him bathing.
She’d not timed this well at all.
“Don’t play coy,” he said. “Last I saw you, your braids were flying as you galloped away.”
“And last I saw you, your lips were stuck to my sister.”
Chuckling, he leaned back on the bed post. “How is Elspeth?”
Her fingernails dug into her coat. “She’s well. Married and widowed since you’ve been gone.”
Black brows knit together as Jonas absorbed the news. Head shaking, his blue gaze pinned her. “Sorry to hear about her loss, but you need to explain yourself.”
“I think not. Years ago, I might’ve done your bidding like a tame puppy, but I’m not a child anymore.”
His smile pinched. “I noticed.”
Barks of laughter rang through the house. The Yuletide song was done, the cue for her to leave. She smiled gamely, taking a cautious side-step toward the wheel lock. Jonas must’ve read her intent because he was off the bed nimble as a cat, standing between her and the gun.
“Don’t be stubborn, Liv. What about your mother and father? They must be worried.” A subtle frown clouding his face, he focused on his half-fastened placket. “This goes beyond the pale…even for you.”
Spine straight, she owned her choices. There’d been many painful ones of late. The timing aside, she didn’t regret her theft. But, stealing from a dear, childhood friend—even a long absent one—wasn’t easy.
Not when his gentle baritone chided her.
“You’re not answering me.” Jonas slipped a brass button into its red velvet hole.
Such large hands. Mouth slack, a shiver skimmed her body. Facing him, she couldn’t make her tongue work. A muscle bulged in the valley between his thumb and forefinger. Long fingers skimmed his placket with a deft touch, the veins and sinew twisting under his skin. Was he as careful when touching a woman? She swallowed peculiar thickness in her throat. Jonas required answers. It’d be nice to tell him who carried the burdens at home now, but to what end? Childhood was gone, taking some of her openness with it. Jonas wasn’t long for Plumtree. Better to give blithe evasions, same as she did with everyone else this year.
“My mother and father are safely abed,” she said. “Where I need to be, if you’d be so kind as to forget about my being here.”
Ruby red velvet hugged brawny thighs. Jonas glowed with good health, his flesh brown as a roasted coffee bean. Above his placket, stomach muscles flexed with grooves and hollows. He’d seen the world and by the looks of all his gloriously sun-kissed skin, the world had seen Jonas.
Now it's your turn. Tell me which "First "He's hot!" moment resonated with you and why. The more emotional Lord Marcus & Genevieve scene? Or the more blatant Jonas in a state of dishabille with Livvy scene?
Thanks for stopping by~ Gina
Gina Conkle writes lush Viking romance and sensual Georgian romance. Her books always offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.
*If you didn't catch these scenes, you can read and compare them on my blog: