This week at Mother/Gamer/Writer we’re celebrating the new sweet & scandalous holiday titles from our friends at Forever/Forever Yours ! Each day we will highlight an author and their novel with interviews, fun facts, excerpts and an EPIC GIVEAWAY on December 20 where you can win 1 of 3 Book Bundles! Be sure to follow along so you can meet these fabulous ladies and win a copy of their novels!
1. The idea for a “Victorian road trip” in TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE MISCHIEF came from one of my favorite movies of all time, THE SURE THING, which sparked my lifelong love for both “opposites attract” themes, as well as all things John Cusack.
2. Darius’s love of dictionaries is a new element of his character – during my research, I found a 1855 scientific dictionary online and thought that the study of definitions was a perfect fit for his character.
3. Before starting this book, I hadn’t known that Queen Victoria popularized the Christmas tree! When a drawing of the royal family around a Christmas tree appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1848, people throughout England began to bring trees into their houses and decorate them to celebrate the season.
“You’re standing beneath the mistletoe,” he said. Again, the remark simply emerged without prior formation. He was beginning to feel unbalanced by the strange effect this woman had on him.
“I beg your pardon?”
Darius pointed upward to where a sprig of ribbon-wrapped mistletoe dangled from the doorway just above Penelope’s head. She followed his line of sight, two spots of color appearing on her cheeks as her lips parted. He half expected her to step away from him, but instead—unless he was imagining it—she seemed to shift an infinitesimal degree closer. Warmth unfurled in his blood.
“One who stands beneath the mistletoe requires a kiss,” he continued, unable to follow the direction of his thoughts, which no longer seemed to be his own.
Neither did his body, which had surrendered to the wild beating of his heart and an odd shortness of breath. He wanted to unfasten his cravat and feel cool air against his skin because this proximity to Penelope was making him hot from the inside out, and nothing he told himself would quell the sensation.
He could not stop staring at her lips. They were pink and plump, with an indentation in the top lip. If he were to place his finger there, it would fit perfectly within that little notch. So too would the tip of his tongue.
Columna. Colures. Comata.
An inflammation of light and heat. He felt the explosion in his chest at the thought of settling his mouth against Penelope Darlington’s perfect lips, feeling her body pressed to his, sliding one hand to the back of her neck so he could angle her head and deepen the intensity of the kiss…
“I don’t believe in such fables, Mr. Hall.” Her clear voice sliced through his imaginings.
Darius didn’t have imaginings. At least, he hadn’t before now. Certainly not ones about kissing Penelope Darlington, her hands clutching his shoulders and her hips arching into his…
Darius drew in a hard breath and attempted to regain control of his unruly thoughts and even more uncontrollable body.
“You’d take the chance, then?” he asked.
“What chance?” she asked, resting one slender hand against the doorjamb as if for support. She still hadn’t moved away from him. Her cheeks were still flushed pink, and her scent filled his head.
“If a woman is denied a kiss while standing beneath the mistletoe, it is foretold that she will not marry the following year,” Darius said.
“Is that so?”
Penelope laughed that bell-laugh again, and for an instant Darius thought she had read his desires.
“Oh, Mr. Hall, I assure you,” she said, and then she took a step away from him. A cool breeze swept into the empty space where she had just been standing.
“I shall marry,” Penelope said. “Most certainly, I shall. And I need not even wait until next year.”
Darius frowned. His analytical brain fit the pieces of that puzzle together with ease. And he did not like the result one bit.
“I didn’t know you were planning a wedding, Miss Darlington.”
“You don’t know much about me at all, Mr. Hall.”
“I know you’ll not find any exhilaration with Simon Wilkie.”
Her eyes widened, and she took a startled step back. “W-what?”
“If that is what you still seek, he is not the one who will provide it.”
“What do you know of such things?” Penelope asked, her voice tightening. “In all those years you visited my father’s shop, I’d never known a more serious, practical person. Far more interested in gears, levers, and the workings of machines rather than…than…”
“Exhilaration?” Darius supplied.
The color darkened on her cheeks. “Rather than life, Mr. Hall.”
He stared at her. The obedient, dutiful Penelope Darlington was telling him he didn’t know how to properly live?
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” he said.
“Of course you don’t because you’ve never felt it.” She extended a forefinger and poked him in the chest. “When I tried to explain it to you, you looked at me as if I’d gone mad. People like you know nothing about intangibles, all those things someone can feel inside and not have any idea what to do with. Things that have nothing to do with duty and practicality and everything to do with wanting to feel.”
“I know how to feel, Miss Darlington.” He moved closer to her, lowering his voice a notch. “I assure you.”
“You do not.” She lifted her chin, though a visible tremor went through her. “That day when I tried to tell you about being daring and bold, feeling joy and, yes, exhilaration, you started talking about the components of the atmosphere. I mean, really, of all the ridiculous things one could say to a girl who simply wanted a—”
All thought fled from Darius’s brain. He grasped the back of Penelope’s neck and lowered his head. Combustion.