READ AN EXCERPT
READ AN EXCERPT
The New Countess, by Josi S. Kilpack
Diane lifted her face toward the summer sun, closed her eyes, and breathed in the warm, salty air of the ocean breeze. She held her breath while listening to the orchestra of sea birds, crashing waves, and laughing children.
This was what had carried her through the uncomfortable fall, the cold winter, and busy spring of her new life as the Countess of Avery. This was the payoff of managing new households, attending every party on the earl’s arm, and sitting across from the man who was still little more than a stranger to her.
The sea. Open country. Freedom!
She pushed her bonnet from her head, letting it hang down her back. Now that London Society was not watching how she would perform her role as countess, it did not matter that her fair cheeks had become a bit browner or her brown hair had become a bit fairer. Three weeks in the country and she felt like Diane again.
Diane blinked her eyes open, remembering in an instant that she was watching the children. She turned her head quickly to count wind-blown heads—one, two, three—and exhaled the panic that came so easily to a mother. She put her hand on her rounded belly and fixed her eyes on Benjamin—the child who had called to her—and hurried in his direction while confirming that Alston and Tabby were a safe distance from the water. Some days they played in the surf or swam in a cove some distance farther down the beach—today they were simply exploring.
There were few things that did not excite nine-year-old Benjamin, and upon reaching him, she gathered her skirts up to her knees so that they would not drag in the sand and crouched beside the tide pool, oohing and aahing over the tiny crab he had found.
“It is trapped,” he said, holding a stick but not poking at his discovery, though she was certain he was tempted. “Should I put it back in the sea?”
“No, it is safest right here until the tide comes in.”
“Can I take it home?”
“No, my darling. It would not be happy in a people-house.”
He frowned, puckering his eyebrows as he looked back at the crab he could not keep.
“Shall we show the others?” she asked, hoping that the thrill of sharing his discovery would overshadow his disappointment.
When Alston and Tabby joined them, Tabby stretched her arms toward Diane, who lifted the child onto her knee and held her around the waist while pointing to the crab. The little girl shrieked, part fear and part delight, as she pressed into Diane’s shoulder.
Tabby’s mother—the former Countess of Avery—had died when Tabby was born. Trying to make up for the little girl’s loss had been the easiest part of the marriage for Diane. Tabby had proved as eager to be loved as Diane had been to love her. The boys had been excited to have a new sister, and Tabby had quickly fallen into place with them too.
Diane brushed Tabby’s wild curls behind the girl’s ear and thought of Tabby’s father—Michael Richard Sterling, the Earl of Avery; Diane’s husband.
She repeated the word in her mind: husband. Hus-band. Hub-sand.
Ten months had past and it was not any easier to say it in her mind than it was for the boys to say Tabby’s full name—Tabitha.
The boys began to argue over the stick Benjamin had put down, and Diane determined it was time to return to the holiday cottage they would call home for another six blessed weeks. She rose to her feet with Tabby still in her arms, tottering a moment as she shifted Tabby to one hip.
“Are you all right, Mama?” Benjamin asked as he took hold of her arm and looked up at her with his father’s soft brown eyes. Jacob, her first husband, had been gone nearly three years now—he and the former countess had died within months of one another. Back then Diane had only known the Earl of Avery from a distance—they had never been introduced. Diane had met Margaret, the former Countess of Avery, a few times before she had married the earl. Margaret had been young, smart, and had a lovely laugh that made everyone smile.
Now Diane was married to Margaret’s husband and raising Margaret’s daughter.
(Chapter One, pages 1-5)
ABOUT THE SERIES
Since 2015, Mirror Press has been presenting the Timeless Regency Romance Collection, a curated anthology of novellas and short stories set in early 19th century England. Featuring bestselling authors from the historical romance genre, the series has hit the USA TODAY bestselling list and charted at #1 at Amazon.com. In October the Timeless Regency Romance Collection will present its 18th anthology, The Inns of Devonshire, including stories by Sally Britton, Annette Lyon, and Deborah M. Hathaway. Learn more about the series and other anthologies published by Mirror Press at their website.
Josi S. Kilpack is the bestselling author of several Proper Romance, Timeless Romance series, and a Cozy Culinary Mystery series. Her books, A Heart Revealed and Lord Fenton's Folly; were Publishers Weekly Best Romance Books of the Year. She and her husband, Lee, are the parents of four children
Martha Keyes is a Whitney Award winning author born, raised, and educated in Utah—a home she loves dearly but also dearly loves to escape whenever she can by traveling the world. She received a BA in French Studies and a Master of Public Health, both from Brigham Young University.
Word crafting has always fascinated her, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that she considered writing her own stories. When she isn’t writing, she is honing her photography skills, looking for travel deals, and spending time with her family. She lives with her husband and twin boys in Vineyard, Utah.
Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than seventy publications. She's lived on both the east and west coasts of the United States, including Hawaii, and attended school abroad including the Cairo American College in Egypt, and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about anything in history and, as an author, is passionate about historical research.
Mirror Press is pleased to offer one digital copy of any of the 16 previous books in the Timeless Regency Romance Collection to one unique winner at each stop on the tour.
This contest is open internationally. The winner will be drawn randomly from the comments and announced on each blog on September 27, 2021. The winner must claim their prize before October 04, 2021. Good luck to all!