Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ROMANCING LADY CECILY: An Exclusive Excerpt

Yesterday I provided an exclusive excerpt to ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. In the spirit of teasing you with more excerpts, I’ve decided to provide below an exclusive excerpt of ROMANCING LADY CECILY, a 15,000-word e-short which is related to ROMANCING THE COUNTESS and includes its own hero, heroine, and HEA. In ROMANCING LADY CECILY, we see the love story of Lady Cecily Bishop, the best friend of Angela (the hero’s deceased wife in RtC). I hope you enjoy this exclusive glimpse. =)

The official blurb:

Follow acclaimed author Ashley March, praised by Booklist for her “elegant writing [and] sizzling sexual chemistry,” into the world of Victorian romance, where Lady Cecily Bishop—promised by her parents to a stranger—must fend off the seductive games and heady caresses of Baron Sedgwick….a task that becomes more difficult with each soul-searing kiss…

Exclusive Excerpt:

“Cecily.” She shivered when he spoke her name, the heated stroke of his breath against her throat stirring lust and want and every unspeakable sensation she’d prefer to ignore. How many times had she told herself she would no longer be moved by him—by his voice, his gaze, his touch . . . his kiss? He had no right to intimacy with her. And she had no right to give it to him.

When she tried to turn her head away again, his hand left her breast and touched gently at her chin, drawing her gaze back toward his. “Why are you crying, kitten?”

She closed her eyes. At the moment she wasn’t strong enough to resist the entrancing pull of his gaze, those black eyes which could insinuate with one glance every dark and terribly delicious thing they could do together.

“Shall I force you to tell me, then?” he asked, the words murmured low, rough like velvet, causing a flush to rise to her skin.

“No. You shouldn’t have asked me to come. It was a mistake to follow you.”

“Perhaps. But it’s always a mistake to follow me, isn’t it? What would your betrothed think, I wonder? Surely you haven’t mentioned in your letters how you allowed me to lie you down in the grass and raise your skirts to your thighs, or how you begged me to kiss your—”

She covered his mouth with her hand, ignoring the way her fingers trembled against his lips. “I am well aware of my faults, my lord. I would ask you to release me now. Let me leave.”

His mouth moved beneath her palm, forming the shape of a kiss against her flesh. Cecily’s pulse leapt as she remembered the last time she’d tried to keep him from speaking, from employing his voice and words to seduce her. She hadn’t succeeded very well then, either.

But this time he lowered his arms to his sides and leaned away, against the soft-as-butter leather squabs at his back. It had been more than a month ago, and yet still she couldn’t forget the supple caress of the seat against her bare skin in contrast to the rough abrasion of his jaw along her inner thigh. “You may leave,” he said, gesturing grandly toward the carriage door. “Hurry now, before your servant returns home and your family begins to question your whereabouts.”

Cecily narrowed her eyes at the obvious taunt. They both knew the footman had turned in the opposite direction of her house when he’d left her with the baron.

Still, grateful for the reprieve, she lifted herself from his lap and reached for the handle. It twisted easily beneath her hand and she pushed, the door giving way until a spatter of raindrops fell in the space between.
He said nothing, but she could feel his stare. Watching her, waiting as he always did. As if hoping that one day she might do something to surprise him. And oh, how she longed to surprise him, if only to comfort herself with the knowledge that he didn’t know her as well as he assumed he did.

He expected her to run away, but she wouldn’t. Not today, at least. Cecily held herself still as she crouched beneath the carriage ceiling, gripping the handle, her head and face sluiced by the rain. She counted for ten seconds. Long, interminable seconds, an eternity’s passage of time. Anticipating an unknown answer, hoping he might give in first and demonstrate a similar weakness for her.

At twenty seconds, she wished him to hell.

When she reached thirty-seven seconds his hands gripped her waist. She heard him give a low curse, and then he was pulling her back, reaching around her to shut the door. He sat down and pulled her onto his lap again, then lifted his fist to knock against the roof and signal the driver.

The carriage began to move. Cecily’s eyes were swollen, her nose likely red and her cheeks pale from the cold. But for the first time since she’d heard the news of Angela’s death, she smiled when his eyes met hers.
“You think you’ve won, don’t you?” he asked, his gaze trailing down to her lips, then lower still to where her bodice lay plastered against her breasts. “I wish you could see yourself. Your cheeks flushed with triumph, your eyes shining in victory. But what you don’t realize, my dear, is that I was prepared to let you walk away. I would have let you go. I wouldn’t have followed you, and I wouldn’t have called you back. Do you know why, Cecily?”

She forced her lips to remain curved. “Why?” she asked, whispering lest he hear the truth she denied to both of them.

“Because you always return to me.” He tilted his head, his lashes lowering to where his fingers played with hers, his large, black-gloved hand appearing even more wicked and erotic against the backdrop of her delicate white one. “Even now you did not wish to leave, rather waited for me to insist that you stay. It appears, my darling, that despite all of your words to the contrary, you have actually begun to develop a tendre for me.” His lashes lifted, his onyx eyes stifling the breath in her throat.

Cecily swallowed and shook her head. A stream of water trickled from her temple down her cheek. “No.”
“No? Then perhaps it is something different, something entirely separate from mere romantic sentiments. Perhaps it is this.” He disentangled his hand from hers and followed the path of water with his finger, caressing her jaw before slipping below to her throat, down the slope of her chest and halting at the line of her bodice. He teased her, the pressure of his touch feather-light as he stroked back and forth across the swell of her breasts. She closed her eyes and arched against him.

She heard the swift intake of his breath, the satisfied sigh which followed. “Ah, Cecily,” he murmured low in her ear, his voice filled with dark amusement. No doubt he smiled as well, pleased to make such a fanfare of her weakness. The cool slide of leather moved upward, pausing over the frantic thrum of her heart. “Is it me for whom your heart quickens?”

His other hand reached below, to the sodden hem of her dress. Cecily moaned, then bit her lip, her legs quivering as she imagined the next path his fingers would take. “Is this why you stayed? Is this why you continue returning to me?” One damp stocking rolled to her ankle.

She couldn’t speak. She could hardly breathe, convinced that the barest touch from him now would send her flying apart, helpless in his arms.

“Answer me, Cecily. Is this what you wanted?”

She waited, a wordless plea that he would continue without her response. The rain pattered ceaselessly against the roof, the slosh of the wheels and stomp of the horses’ hooves louder for the silence within the carriage. She sensed his stare on her, a presence which evoked the same impulse to surrender as the sensual drag of his lips across her skin. Her memories were slaves to him, tormenting her with the knowledge of the pleasure he could give her if only she answered as he wished.

Minutes passed. A quiet expectation weighted the air between them, the substance of her desire a tangible, relentless compulsion, more inevitable even than the draw of oxygen into her lungs. It was cruel of him to force her to say the words, when he knew that someday she must deny him and instead turn to another.

Still, when his hands fell away and he began to withdraw she panicked. She caught his arm, pressed his palm over her heart once again. “Yes,” she whispered, meeting his black gaze, blushing at the dark promises within. “This is why I stayed.”

And God help her, because when the day of her wedding finally came, she didn’t know if she would be able to find the strength to leave.


Whew! *fans self* I just read this excerpt for myself and I must admit, it’s a bit spicier than I usually write. Which might explain why I enjoyed writing ROMANCING LADY CECILY so much. =) Some people say that the heat level in romances seems to be increasing across the board, no matter what sub-genre. Some readers rejoice in this, while others complain. What type of heat level do you prefer, dear reader?


One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS (open internationally)! Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com!



31 comments:

Beebs said...

Hi Ashley

WOW! What a teaser! HAWT!

To me the heat level isn't important. If a book is well written and the sensual scenes are true to the characters, it's all good for me.

Please don't enter me for the comp.

Sullivan McPig said...

Thanks for the great teaser.

I myself don't mind what the heat level is as long as it's well written en the romance/attraction feels believable.

Karen H in NC said...

I have a copy of RLC and loved it. I like a really hot and spicy book and I enjoy a sweet and mild book too. That said, as long as the story can stand up to the heat, then I'm fine with it. What I'm looking for is more well-written story with some hot stuff thrown in at the right spot. But, if it doesn't add anything to the book, then no...don't bother.

Ashley March said...

Hi Beebs! =D Glad you enjoyed the teaser! Good to know that the heat level isn't the most important thing in the story. Thanks for your feedback!

Ashley March said...

Thanks, Sullivan McPig! I recently read a romance where the author kept "telling" me over and over again how attracted the characters were to each other and how hot the sex was and...it didn't do it for me. I have to believe in the characters; I want to be SHOWN that they're attracted to each other. I know exactly what you mean. =)

Ashley March said...

Great answer, Karen. (And I'm so glad you enjoyed RLC!) I feel the exact same way. Sex scenes can add to the story, but if the foundation of the relationship isn't there, the greatest of sex scenes isn't going to make me like the story any better.

growlycub said...

I prefer hot, if it fits the story.

I've also enjoyed some historicals that have pushed the envelope a bit (BDSM) and am looking for more in that vein. :)

yvette klepinger said...

Generally the hotter the better, but, all levels of heat are welcome when it suits the story,It also depends on what is "really " hot to the individual, inuendo can be just as hot as blatantly stating the obvious.

May said...

Hi, Ashley...

Amazing teaser. :) To me, the hotness doesn't matter as much as the storyline and the characters. If I love the characters, it's nice to have a happily ever after and all the details... but I don't need hot, hot scenes..

Ashley March said...

Hi growlycub! Interesting comment about BDSM in historicals. I haven't read any so far, which makes me wonder--are these being published as regular historical romances, or are they touted as erotic romance? I have heard erotic romance readers complain that they wish there were more historical erotic romances.

Ashley March said...

Hi Yvette! Great point about innuendo. I know to me as a reader, the sexual tension and then the emotional connection during the sex scenes can be hotter than the explicit words of a sex scene. I guess I need to find out next what readers think is "hot". =)

Ashley March said...

Glad you enjoyed it, May! =) I agree with you. The only thing that kind of ticks me off when there aren't hot sex scenes is when the author keeps having the characters say over and over again how hot the sex is. This pulls me out of the story if I'm not seeing this actually happen and the sex is just summarized. Can you tell that this happened to me recently? =)

Ora said...

I love hot and steaming as long as there is a good plot to go with it. I loved Romancing Lady Cecily. Can't wait for you next book.

Di said...

Good thing it's a cooler day today - that was a bit steamy!

LSUReader said...

Great teaser, Ashley.

For me, its almost always about the charactrs. So, I agree with Beebs. As long as the actions are true to our characters, I'm happy.

growlycub said...

Ashley,

Liz Carlyle did a bit of an exploration in Tempted All Night which I really took note of because that was a NY mainstream hist rom rather than an ero rom.

One I liked, although it wasn't perfect (seemed to chicken out a bit) was Jess Michaels' Nothing Denied. I really hate to recommend her though, because she didn't exactly shine in her interactions with me (also it's a trade size so it costs a chunk of change). She pissed me off so badly I don't think I'll ever buy another book of hers, for what it's worth (extra annoying as authors who write interesting-to-me stories don't exactly grow on trees).

Maggie Robinson has a title (Tempting Eden) that explored BDSM, but I had pretty serious issues with the second half (that's by her ero rom persona Margaret Rowe). It's also in trade (I just hate that format, hate it, expensive, heavy, floppy, hard to read).

So, in conclusion there are a few interesting (NY pubbed) historicals out there that explore the kinkier side of things, but I'm still looking for something that hits the right spot. :)

buddyt said...

Sometimes a book that is too hot suffers from the story dragging while all manner of erotica are discussed so I prefer to be given just an outline and to fill in the details for myself. Come on dreaming is for all of us !

Thanks for the giveaway.

Carol T

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

Ashley March said...

Thanks, Ora! From what i understand, the book is okay to have sex, but it should be about a lot more than just sex. =) I agree.

Ashley March said...

Lol, Di. Always happy to help keep the energy bills down. ;)

Ashley March said...

Thanks for your input, LSUReader! Does this mean that in general you'd rather not have sex scenes toward the beginning of a book, because you'd like to see more of their personalities and motivations?

Ashley March said...

Hi growlycub: This is very interesting--I had no idea about Liz Carlyle and will definitely have to check that book out. It's kind of funny, but the person I've heard readers refer to as writing really "hot" is Lisa Kleypas. And although I ADORE her and think her books are sexy, I don't think they go anywhere near erotic. I have heard of both Jess Michaels and Margaret Rowe, and I think they're labeled more as ero rom than historical (but interesting that they both write under historical pseudonyms, too). Thanks for the Liz Carlyle rec. =)

Ashley March said...

Hi Carol! I have heard recently of reader complaints regarding a mainstream historical author whose books are like this, and I can definitely understand their feelings. Makes me wonder if there's a generally accepted boundary for mainstream romance, and if so, what it is.

JenM said...

Years ago, I read lots of romance, and in general, the bedroom door tended to be pretty closed unless it was a bodice ripper, and even then, the sex scenes weren't that explicit.

I stopped reading romance for years and when I came back to it, I was rather shocked at how explicit even the mainstream romances (including the Regencies) had gotten. Personally, I don't care either way, but I do sometimes resent that so many pages are being devoted to sex, and it takes away from plot and character development. There's got to be a balance. I tend to get impatient with what I call "gratuitous" sex scenes (unless I'm reading something that's explicitly labeled as erotic romance LOL).

Johanna R Jochum said...

Like many are saying the heat level is not important if it is a well written story. I do like my books spicer though



Please don't enter me

Ashley March said...

Hi JenM: I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Like you, I don't mind the heat level, but I hate it when it seems that sex scenes are inserted just for the sake of sex scenes and it doesn't really add anything else to the story.

Ashley March said...

Thanks for your comment, Johanna! I have to add that I'm a sucker for sexual tension. That's what usually draws me in and what makes the sex scenes explosive. =)

Kaetrin said...

I have this on my reader waiting for me.

I like the hotness, but where the love scene move the plot forward rather than for the sake of having a sex scene in there. I'm not a huge fan of "closed door" love scenes but then again, I do have a few favourites which are more "sweet" than sexy, so I guess it all depends. :)

hankts AT internode DOT on DOT net

Lexi said...

A great excerpt, loved it. Just enough heat ; )
I enjoy a variety of heat levels, from sweet chaste kisses to a 4 alarm fire (though not very often), usually somewhere inbetween. As long as the characters are well written and pull me into their world it doesn't much matter.

Lexi said...

Yup had to read it again, still loved it!

Tracy said...

Sorry for the delay...

The winner is:

growlycub


Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Woohoo! Cool! What do I need to do? Send contact info to DIK or Ashley?

Keep getting a open Id error, so had to post as anonymous.

GrowlyCub

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