Category Archives: A Wager for the Widow

Dance the night away.

>An older post updated to include the scene from Redeeming the Rogue Knight.<

It’s party season and I’m looking forward to getting out on Friday night for a dance with my colleagues so I thought I’d share some of the scenes from my books involving dancing. I love dancing and don’t get to do it often enough so I make sure my couples get the chance.  Learning how to dance properly is on my to-do list when I eventually have the time (and a willing partner).

First from Falling for Her Captor

Falling for Her Captor

Stephen slammed his goblet onto the table. ‘We should dance!’ he shouted, and applause filled the room.

He reached out his hand to Aline, his jaw set and his eyes narrowed. Reluctantly she took his hand and walked to the centre of the room, her eyes cast down. A hush descended over the hall.

‘A quadrille for Lady Aline,’ Stephen announced.

The musicians took up their instruments once more and began to play a simple melody. Stephen took Aline’s hands and together they began to circle the room, the familiar steps of the dance coming back to her as they moved together. She caught a glimpse of Hugh again, deep in conversation with a young woman dressed in scarlet. The woman put her hand to his arm and dipped her head coyly. Hugh smiled. Aline frowned, then caught herself in the act. What was it to her who he talked to?

Hugh gave no indication of noticing her, though she thought she saw him glance in her direction as Stephen lifted and spun her. Stephen didn’t look away from her face, however, and she dared not stare too obviously.

The musicians increased their tempo and other couples joined Aline and Stephen on the floor. The dance became more intricate now: the pairs were weaving between each other, now in one circle, now in two, now in lines, the men lifting the women in sweeping arcs before moving speedily on to a new partner. After her long confinement Aline leapt high and swung wildly, laughing and lost in the dance—until she looked into the face of her newest partner.

A half-smile played upon Hugh’s lips as he bowed to her. His blue eyes met her own. Familiar arms encircled her waist and lifted her off her feet, spun her. They passed shoulder to shoulder, their hands brushing fleetingly as they circled round, their eyes never breaking away.

Then he was gone.

 

Next one from the midwinter feast which Will has staked his savings on in A Wager for the Widow (the dress in the excerpt is the one Eleanor wears on the cover).

piccie

Eleanor walked through the doorway and Will forgot everything.

She wore green. Pale silk under a mantle of heavy, emerald velvet laced with gold braid from beneath her high breasts to her slender waist. Her hair had been twisted atop her head and encased in a net of gold so that her braids flamed between the metal. The gown left her shoulders bare and the elegant expanse of creamy flesh sent Will’s heart thudding into his stomach.

Half-a-dozen men leapt to their feet as they saw Eleanor, but Will was quicker. He tore his gaze from the curve of her throat and collarbone and strode to her. He bowed before her, then lifted his head. His eyes travelled slowly up her body until he met her gaze, determined to leave her in no doubt of the effect she was having upon him. She looked uncertain until Will gave her a discreet wink. She smiled back and the world brightened, as though a hundred more candles had begun to burn.

‘Let me escort you to your seat, Lady Peyton,’ Will said formally. As she took his outstretched arm he whispered in an undertone, ‘You’re the most beautiful woman in the room. It was worth the hailstorm to see you in that dress.’

Eleanor said nothing, but a blush crept across her cheeks and her fingers tightened on his arm. Will led her to her seat, reluctantly relinquishing her to the company of the Sheriff of Tawstott. He could barely keep his eyes from her for the rest of the feast.

When the final dishes had been removed the tables were cleared for the dancing to begin. The musicians tuned their instruments and an expectant hush fell over the hall.

Allencote began to thread his way through the crowd towards her and Will crossed the room to her side. The two men reached her at the same time. Eleanor looked from one to the other apprehensively.

‘Will you dance the first measure with me, Lady Peyton?’ Allencote asked, a shade before Will could ask the same question.

Eleanor’s eyes flickered briefly to Will’s. He held her gaze boldly though his stomach curled with anxiety. It was out of his hands now. If she chose Allencote, he had lost everything.

 

Hal and Joanna’s first dance is at their wedding reception in The Blacksmith’s Wife

Blacksmith's wife cover

‘We should dance,’ Hal said, pushing his chair back and helping Joanna to her feet. He was quick on his feet and graceful. Under any other circumstance dancing with him would have been a delight, but as he led her through the steps Joanna’s thoughts were on his last words. When the day ended they would return to Hal’s lodgings with all that must happen between a husband and wife. The thought made her feel nauseous and she stumbled her footing through the next steps of the reel. Hal’s arm came about her waist, leading her back into the rhythm.

‘Are you ill?’ he asked, concern clear in his voice.

‘Just a little tired,’ Joanna answered.

As she passed down the line one of Simon’s associates overheard her words. He grasped her round the waist and lifted her high. ‘The bride wishes to sleep,’ he cried. ‘We shall have the bedding ere long!’

Joanna’s blood froze in her veins. That part of the wedding night had kept her awake night after night. She had steeled herself to bear whatever her husband bade her do, but to be disrobed in front of the guests would be unendurable. Cheers soared around the room, echoing his words. Joanna felt herself passed from guest to guest through the steps of the dance. Her protestations were ignored as hands gripped her skirts, pulling at the cloth as if they would begin undressing her right there. Laughing faces leered at her as for one terrible moment she became the centre of a circle of dancers before a pair of strong arms gripped her and she was clasped against someone’s chest. She tried to pull free but a soothing voice hushed her, brushing her hair from her face.

‘I’m sorry to disappoint you, gentlemen and ladies, but there will be no bedding,’ Hal said.

Joanna gave a gasp of relief. He smiled down at her with eyes full of intent that caused a shiver to race along her spine.

‘My wife is my own tonight,’ he said quiet enough for only her to hear.

 

Next, the book where no one dances, but which contains a dance scene nevertheless, The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge

SOR front

The second time they met it had been spring, not many weeks later than it was today. A time after they had settled in Hamestan, but before the thegns rose against her people. A market day filled with rare laughter and music where Constance had believed they were becoming accepted, that they could live in peace alongside each other.

There had been dancing and she’d watched enviously as the girls spun about the circle with their skirts flying, trying to ignore the stares and whispers.

Aelric had been at the centre of the knot, a set of pipes to his lips and his red-blond hair falling into his eyes. He had paused his tune as he spotted her watching and threaded his way through the circle towards her and held out his hand. When she indicated the stick she leaned on his expression hadn’t been one of pity or ridicule like she was used to, but regret. Instead of turning immediately back to the dance he’d taken her hand and bowed, then walked with her through the marketplace, leaving his friends behind.

She’d fallen a little bit in love with him at that moment.

 

Since I originally wrote this post I’ve published Redeeming the Rogue Knight

Featured Image -- 2066

Even though he’s injured, Roger Danby can’t resist the chance to try get Lucy into his arms for a spin.

He took a brief moment of respite, enjoying the view of Lucy’s legs as she twisted her feet to grind the rushes firmly into place. In the time it had taken him to finish his task she had completed half of hers. She looked as though she was working her way through the measure of a dance.

Roger began to whistle the tune to a French jig that sprung to his mind. Lucy stopped mid-step, one leg bent with heel raised in a pose that twisted her hip to the side and caused the curves of her waist and breasts to command Roger’s attention. The effect was only spoiled by the manner in which she glared at him suspiciously. He explained what he was doing and she rolled her eyes as if it confirmed her opinion of him as a wastrel, lowering her leg and smoothing her dress down.

‘We could dance together and finish in half the time,’ Roger suggested with a bold grin. Despite the soreness of his wound he suddenly found himself yearning for further movement. The idea of taking Lucy in his arms and pulling her close as they worked through the steps made his spirits lift. Some dances involved more than hand holding and polite bowing. She did not refuse immediately and looked almost as if she was considering his suggestion seriously, but then shook her head.

‘It’s been too long since I danced. I fear I’d make a poor partner for a man used to fine company.’

He’d expected refusal, but not this excuse. Denial that she had time to spare for such diversions, possibly. Suspicion that it was a ploy of some sort, almost certainly. A criticism of her own abilities, not at all.

‘I don’t think you would,’ Roger said.

He walked to stand opposite her, adding a slight swagger to his walk. He took his time as if he was taking his place in the middle of a dance floor in front of assembled nobles, enjoying Lucy’s eyes on him. Lucy shifted her stance, straightening her back and letting her hands drop to rest at her sides, watching as he crossed to her. As much as she might deny it, Roger recognised she was readying herself to dance.

His pulse began a low drumbeat in his ears.

The skin at the creamy hollow of Lucy’s throat flickered as she lifted her head to meet his eyes, gazing intently at him through pale lashes, before glancing away in a show of modesty that made his blood begin to race all the more for doubting it was real. The room grew hotter, smaller, enfolding them both in a moment that had sprung from nowhere. Roger swallowed, acutely aware of how much he wanted the woman standing before him.

To find out what happens next in any story click on the names of the book to get hold of a copy.

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Only a Winter’s Tale?

I think A Wager for the Widow was released at the wrong time of year because I’m definitely getting a more wintery feel to the evenings now and can all too clearly imagine Eleanor and Will shivering out in the gardens and cuddling up for warmth in this scene.

Why not get hold of a copy, light the fire, pour a glass of your favourite winter drink and lose yourself on the Cornish Coast?

Buy your copy here
Buy your copy here

“The sun, which had barely broken through the heavy clouds all day, had nearly disappeared below the archway, turning the buildings grey. Eleanor shivered as the icy wind hit her. She almost went back for her cloak, but the sound of voices and laughter drifted to her from the Outer Hall. She shook her head and made her way round the side of the house to the walled garden where she hoped to find some protection from the weather, and threw herself on to a stone bench.
Eleanor pulled a sprig of rosemary and fitfully ripped the leaves off one by one, letting them drop on to the ground with a trembling hand.  She drew her knees up to her chest and hugged herself tightly to ward off the cold. She stared into the shadows and her stomach twisted again as she thought of the argument with her mother. Her eyes swam with tears that were hot in the biting wind. How long would it be before she was missed and summoned back to the house? She drew deep breaths, fighting the urge to run to her chamber, pack her belongings and return home.
‘Lady Peyton?’
The voice was low and unexpected. Eleanor gave a start. She spun round to find William Rudhale standing by the far end of the bench, a large bundle under one arm. Eleanor bowed her head quickly, unwilling for him to see the evidence of her tears, and wiped them away with the back of her hand.
‘Why are you here?’ Eleanor asked suspiciously. ‘Did my mother send you to find me?’
‘Nobody sent me,’ he answered softly. ‘You looked distressed so I decided to follow you.’
He gestured to the bench and raised an eyebrow. After a moment’s hesitation Eleanor nodded and the steward sat down beside her.
He unfurled the bundle that he carried and Eleanor recognised his voluminous red cloak.
‘I thought you might need some shelter from the wind. It is no weather to be out in without something to keep you warm.’
Eleanor’s lip trembled and she bit down on it. ‘Thank you,’ she whispered, her voice catching in her throat.
Rudhale leaned across and gently wrapped the cloak around Eleanor’s shoulders. Their eyes met and he gave a slight smile, as though being caught in the act of a kindness embarrassed him. He brushed a stray lock of hair from her cheek with fingers that left a trail of heat across her skin.
At this gesture of kindness, Eleanor’s emotions finally overwhelmed her. She put her head in her hands and burst into sobs, not caring that the steward saw or what he might think. Her frame shook with each fresh rush of tears. She was dimly aware of Rudhale’s arm slipping around her shoulders as he drew her head down on to his chest.
Eleanor stiffened momentarily as the unfamiliar closeness provoked feelings that were much more alarming than her grief. Rudhale’s hand found a home in the small of her back and she melted willingly against him. She could not say for how long she cried, conscious only of warmth, of Rudhale’s soothing wordless murmurs as she let her sadness flood out, and of the comfort of his strong arms around her body.”

Excerpt From: Elisabeth Hobbes. “A Wager for the Widow.” iBooks.

Buy A Wager for the Widow here

A month down the line

A Wager for the Widow has been out for a month.  Yesterday I had a wonderful review on Cataromance which described the book as ‘a fantastic historical romance that sweeps readers back to the past and enchants them with its intoxicating blend of intrigue, adventure, passion and pathos.’

I’ve had an amazing response for the book and I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and review or share news about the book or comment on my Facebook page or Twitter feed.  If you haven’t already, come over and say hello. As always its talking to readers and finding out what you think about my writing that keeps me going.  Every comment means a lot to me.

I know there have been issues with availability in America thanks to Amazon gremlins but these are sorted now so if you haven’t been able to get hold of your copy now you can Buy it here on Amazon.com

I’m going to be taking a break from the internet as I’m embarking on a road trip around France and Spain, taking in the Picos de Europa which I’ve always wanted to visit.  I’ll still be hard at work editing my work in progress and starting to plan my fourth book.  Maybe I’ll even find a handsome Spaniard to inspire me!

Cover Comparison

Falling for Her CaptorA Wager for the Widow

I’ve got two covers now and I don’t know whether or not it was intentional on the part of the art department but they’re very similar.  Both feature lovely heroines in green with moody skies in the background.  As much as I would have loved to see who they chose to play the heroes (one dark, one blonde – who would you choose?) I really like my ladies.

Which cover do you prefer?  Do you go for the covers with couples or heroes rather than heroines?  Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter @elisabethhobbes or Facebook ElisabethHobbesAuthor

I’ve used one of the American Harlequin branded ones and a UK Mills & Boon as the logos are different but both books are available on Amazon.com and co.uk and other online sites. Clicking on the cover pictures should take you right there if the cover has whetted your appetite.

Blog features roundup

I’ve been visiting various blogs to talk about A Wager for the Widow (and other things).

Here are a couple of the interviews I’ve done.

The Pink Heart Society Writer’s Workspace feature

Harlequin Junkie Author Spotlight (with some exclusive extracts)

An interview with Ms Moem, created of bespoke poems

There will be more to come over the next week or so.

A Wager for the Widow first two chapters for free!

Release date for A Wager for the Widow is getting closer and closer so I’m sharing the first two chapters here.

https://www.overdrive.com/media/2100047/a-wager-for-the-widow

It can be preordered here

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wager-Widow-Mills-Boon-Historical-ebook/dp/B00VS0FV5U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434188057&sr=8-1&keywords=a+wager+for+the+widow

or at all other online retailers.

I’m going to be visiting other blogs closer to release date and will post links here.  I’m also going to be interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester on 22nd June so if you’re in the area have a listen to Becky Want’s show around 2.15.

A Wager for the Widow cover reveal and excerpt

I’m excited to reveal the cover for my July release, A Wager for the Widow.  Although I’d been not-too-secretly hoping for my gorgeous hero Will (looking like a cross between Alexander Skasgard and Chris Hemsworth) I’m really pleased with the result.

The model’s shade of hair is exactly right for my feisty widow Eleanor.  It’s a little redder on the UK cover so that’s the one I’m sharing here.  She also gives the impression she isn’t going to be easily tricked into giving the hero what he’s after.

The Mills & Boon UK cover.
The Mills & Boon UK cover.

Along with the cover I thought I’d share an excerpt from an early chapter.  Will has accepted his wager and is trying to find ways to win a kiss from Eleanor.

‘As Will glanced down his eye fell on the book on Lady Peyton’s lap. Her sleeve obscured the title and he grinned, sensing an opportunity.

‘You read,’ he remarked.

Lady Peyton nodded. ‘Does that surprise you? I could hardly have understood your note if I did not.’

‘For pleasure, I mean.’ Will settled back into his chair. He stretched his legs out until they were almost touching the folds of her skirts. ‘I’ll wager I can guess what you have been reading,’ he suggested. ‘Not the title, but the subject at least.’

‘What would the stake be?’ Lady Peyton asked suspiciously. She leant back against the wall and folded her arms across her body, hugging the book to her chest. Will tried not to stare too noticeably at the soft mounds of her breasts, pushed up and just visible over the edge of the volume.

‘The same thing I asked for before.’ Will grinned. ‘A single kiss.’

Lady Peyton rolled her eyes to the ceiling and huffed. The gesture was so unexpected from a high-born lady that Will burst out laughing. She glared at him.

‘I decline your terms,’ she said. ‘Why are you so insistent?’

‘Because you are beautiful and I’d like to kiss you. Why does the thought scare you?’ Will countered.

Lady Peyton sat upright. She kept the title hidden, Will noticed with delight. ‘It doesn’t scare me,’ she said firmly.

Will leant forward. So close that he could see the flecks of green that danced in her eyes.

‘Then accept the wager,’ he breathed.

He lifted his cup, holding her gaze, and took a deep draught of wine. He waited, letting silence sit between them. Lady Peyton frowned and bit her bottom lip. Will pictured himself slowly tasting it and his heart quickened.

‘Not for that prize. Name another, Master Rudhale,’ Lady Peyton insisted.

‘I see you no longer have your crutch so I judge your ankle must be healing. For a dance then,’ Will said. ‘If I win, you promise the first dance at the midwinter feast will be with me. And call me by my name,’ he added on impulse.

‘Very well. And if I win, you will not ask me again to kiss you,’ Lady Peyton replied.

A ripple of triumph stirred in Will’s belly. A dance invariably led to so much more. He nodded and raised his cup in salute to her. She did the same and they both drank, eyes meeting over the top of their cups.

‘You were reading poetry,’ he announced. ‘Some tale of love and trials of knighthood. Of advances spurned and hearts broken. All women love poetry and I have yet to meet one who can resist the prospect of love triumphant.’

Lady Peyton’s face froze. ‘All the women you have known?’ she asked icily.

‘Very few,’ Will assured her hastily. And fewer still who mattered. The thought took him by surprise. He held his hand out. ‘The book, if you please.’

Without speaking, Lady Peyton held the book towards him obediently. He opened the hidebound volume and read the title aloud.

‘Geoffrey of Monmouth. Historia Regum Britanniae.’

‘Not all women have time for foolish love stories, Master Rudhale,’ Lady Peyton said softly.

Will laughed gently through his disappointment. ‘I shall leave you to your kings, my lady,’ he said, handing the book back. He bowed, picked up his bag and left the hall. Lady Peyton had appeared pleased to see him and his spirits were high even though he had lost the wager.

Will knew nothing of Sir Baldwin, but the man must have been a very paragon of manhood for his widow to be grieving so deeply still, but surely by now she must be craving another man’s touch. He had promised not to ask her for a kiss, but what did that matter? There were so many ways of asking that did not require words after all.’

If that has whetted your appetite, A Wager for the Widow is available for pre-order in ebook and paperback and will be released on July 1st

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wager-Widow-Mills-Boon-Historical-ebook/dp/B00VS0FV5U/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-2&qid=1429724692

Title reveal!

Yesterday I was gloomy owing to my day job. Today I’m not so I want to share the title for my next book.

It’s the story of Eleanor and Will and is called A Wager for the Widow which I think has a great alliterative ring to it. It comes out in July (just in time for my 40th birthday so that should take the sting out a bit) and it’s being released electronically and mass market paperback in North America and the UK and as a paperback duo in Australia.

Here’s the blurb:

“I suppose a kiss of gratitude is out of the question?”

Widowed Lady Eleanor Peyton has chosen a life of independence. Living alone on her rocky coastal outcrop, she’s cut herself off from the world of men — until William Rudhale saves her life and demands a kiss!

As steward to Lady Eleanor’s father, Will knows the desire he burns with is futile — but he’ll still wager he can claim Eleanor’s kiss by midwinter. Yet when the tide turns Will realizes vulnerable Eleanor is far too precious to gamble with. Can he win his lady before it’s too late?

I don’t have a cover yet as I’ve got all the fun of describing characters and settings still to come, but I’ll be sharing that as soon as I do. In the meantime, if anyone wants to be super organised and order it the link is here.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wager-Widow-Mills-Boon-Historical/dp/0263247937/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422877956&sr=8-1&keywords=a+wager+for+the+widow