My favorite romantic getaway is Prescott, Arizona. I love checking into a vintage hotel like the St. Michael’s or the Hassayampa and sipping a drink at the same saloon frequented by Wyatt Earp.
Confirmed spinster Annabelle Harris is a country heiress with a penchant for taking in orphans and helping the downtrodden. Her philanthropy hides her desperate search for her disgraced sister, the mistress to the Earl of Hackwell. When the Earl is murdered, her sister thrusts her child into Annabelle’s care and disappears. Now, with suspicion pointing at the sister, Annabelle has begun a new quest, to find the woman, and clear her name.
When their paths converge, the reluctant Earl and the independent spinster find themselves rethinking their goals, and battling the real murderer together.
She felt his eyes fixed on her. He drew her head closer and she could smell his woodsy clean scent, so intensely male. The carriage passed by a street lamp and into a dark stretch, and she could no longer discern the outline of his face.
Her heart tingled and her breath came in short little huffs of anticipated pleasure.
“Annabelle,” he whispered. “What do they call you? Anna? Belle?”
She tensed remembering her chat with Lady Rosalyn.
“It is Belle. How very appropriate.” He kissed her hand.
“Bella,” she whispered. “And not appropriate at all. How did you learn my name?”
“Bella.” He breathed her name in a brandy-laced murmur. “The maid at the Harley Street house gave me your last name. And by the way, she worships you.”
Dear Trish. Annabelle pushed at the seat and squirmed, with no success. He still held her fast.
“I’ve found that servants know everything and talk prodigiously.” He dropped a kiss on her nose.
Annabelle bit back a disagreement and stilled. In a properly run household, gossip was squashed. The poor man had never lived in a properly run household.
His lips hovered over her and she waited. He’d kissed her nose. Perhaps he’d been aiming for her mouth and missed. She wanted one more kiss. She would be safe. In a carriage on a public street, he wouldn’t attempt to take more.
***Steven held himself an inch away from her lips. Her nose had been cold, but heat radiated between them, holding them in a warm cocoon. She smelled of plain soap and faint lavender. There was nothing cloying about Miss Harris. He’d breached a line of defense with the use of the pet name. Bella. She wanted him to kiss her.
Not yet. Not yet. She was lovely, and innocent, and perfect. He was known for his quick thinking under duress, and he’d made up his mind. He would do this honorably. He was not his brother. It would not be a seduction.
“Bella, you are right that we should dispense with the dance. You are right that we should speak to the point, and so I will. I think you and I, we should wed.”
“What?” She jumped a full inch from the seat before settling back.
Alina K. Field hails from the Midwest, but now lives in sunny Southern California. She is the author of the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best novella winner Rosalyn’s Ring, and the novel-length sequel, a 2015 RONE Award finalist, Bella’s Band. Her most recent release is Liliana’s Letter, a Regency novella and 2016 National Readers’ Choice Award finalist. She loves blogging about nerdy historical research and connecting up with readers on social media.