I've been trying to find the perfect Valentine’s Day present for my husband, and he’s tiptoeing around as if he’s trying to do the same for me. As we've discussed here, here, here, and here, Valentine’s Day was very popular in the early nineteenth century, both in England and America. And as a writer of romance novels, it ranks pretty high as a holiday for me as well. But I have another reason to celebrate this Valentine’s Day. This week saw the publication of a very special anthology, with one of my stories included.
Premiere is the first anthology from Romance Writers of America to showcase the diversity of the romance genre. My story, set at Christmas in Regency England, represents inspirational romances. Stories by Sabrina Jeffries and Courtney Milan are also set in nineteenth century England and represent historical romance. Additional stories cover contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal, erotica, and LGBT, among other subgenres.
The stories are all built around the theme of “wrong number.” My story, “A Light in the Darkness,” is based on that horror for Regency hostesses, wrong number at table. It was considered the very worse faux pas to have an uneven number of ladies and gentlemen at a dinner party. That mistake ends up reuniting two lost lovers. Can the light of Christmas guide them back to each other?
Here’s an excerpt:
With Harriet safely caught up in conversation, Ellie could focus on Percy. How easily time slipped backward. From the day they’d met, there was nothing they could not share, except the love for war. They both preferred their books to be rousing romantic adventures, their politics verging toward Whig, and their faith in the Lord to lead them. Now they shared as easily, their lives since they had parted, the activities of old friends, the loss of loved ones, his mother and her father.
Conversing with Percy was unlike talking with anyone else. He gave her his full attention, leaning toward her, smile playing about his lips, gaze intend on hers. He was quick to laugh at her jests, could be counted on to nod approval to her heartfelt choices. He was always ready to ride to the rescue should she need him but equally willing to let her solve the matter to her own satisfaction. Just sitting beside him made breath and thought come easier.
Yet when he shared his stories about life with Wellington, she heard something behind the words, saw it in the shadow that crossed his face. There was tension in him, like a spring never released. She could only wonder at its source.
Somewhere in the world beyond the glow of Percy’s smile came the tolling of church bells. Percy rose and drew back the drapes as his sister and the others gathered around. Through the wreath that hung against the glass, starlight brightened the countryside. In the distance, squares of colored light showed where the village church was preparing to celebrate services.
“It’s midnight,” Amelia said with the delicious shiver of a child anticipating sweets. She stood on tiptoe and pecked her husband on the cheek. “Happy Christmas, my love.”
He wrapped an arm about her waist. “Happy Christmas, dear.”
Even Harriet and Edmund reached for each other’s hand and stood a moment gazing out at the night, where a single star shown brighter than any other.
Warmer was the way Percy gazed at Ellie.
Premiere is currently available in e-book, print, and audio versions. Learn more on the Romance Writers of America website.
It just might be the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for romance lovers. Hm, maybe I should tell my husband.