Most of us may be stuck at home right now, but Spring has still sprung, and my garden is full of early flowers. They offer so much hope that the earth will always renew itself, and better days will come.
I’m going to share a few blooms today–but look closely! You might find another surprise or two (and chances to win some fun prizes)!
In addition to tending my garden, I write lushly romantic historical tales, including the Golden Heart and Daphne winning The Devil May Care.
My series The Rites of May is set in springtime in the 19th century English countryside. The stories take place in the Yorkshire village of Birchford, where the old ways of celebrating May Day are still observed.
In the first book, Bared by the Viscount, poor, plain spinster Mary Wilkins finds herself far too attracted to the local lord, Viscount Parkhurst. They were best friends in childhood, but he’s the wealthy, powerful lord of the manor now, and everyone knows he’s bound to marry a beautiful local heiress. Then one day, they find themselves entangled in a stand of wild blackberry vines, and unexpected passions flare.
In the first book, Bared to the Viscount, poor, plain spinster Mary Wilkins finds herself far too attracted to the local lord, Viscount Parkhurst. They were best friends in childhood, but he’s the wealthy, powerful lord of the manor now, and everyone knows he’s bound to marry a beautiful local heiress. Then one day, they find themselves entangled in a stand of wild blackberry vines, and unexpected passions flare.
Afterwards, Mary is determined to shut away her feelings. But Viscount Parkhurst doesn’t make that easy for her. I’m going to share a scene from May Day morning.
Enjoy–and leave a comment afterwards . You’ll automatically be entered in a random drawing to win a copy of The Devil May Care or a $25 gift certificate from White Flower Farm, so you can enjoy something new in your own garden this spring!
The morning was balmy, and all around her leaves shone brilliant green and rustled in hushed, welcoming whispers. The fresh breeze caressed her skin, and the smell of earth rose warm and fertile—the world was full of the possibility of transformation.
Just before dawn, while her brother still slept soundly in his room, Mary had dressed herself quickly in a frock of thin green muslin, the lightest she had. The other young ladies would follow local tradition and set out with unbound hair and bare feet to gather May Day flowers, but they would stick to the relatively civilized meadows at the other end of the village, along the riverbank, where they might stay on the well-packed earthen path and not dirty their toes too much. They’d come home with tame yellow daisies and daffodils. But Mary headed deep into the woods where the loveliest wildflowers grew—the scented wood anemones and bluebells, the sweet bramble roses and jewel-toned irises that required a good deal more exertion and exposure to thorns and mud.
For just one brief hour, she wouldn’t feel like the vicar’s virtuous sister. She might imagine herself loose, unfettered, part of the sensuous world. It was a small compensation for forbidding herself to even look twice at Viscount Parkhurst yesterday, much less allow herself to think about what had happened between them last time they were alone.
Now her curls blew softly across her cheeks, and the breeze fluttered her light skirts over her legs so she felt the shape of her body beneath the linen, for once seeming not straight and scrawny, but subtly rounded, feminine. Her flower basket beat against her hip, and even that small pressure sent shocks of physical awareness through her. A strange, restless energy tinged with desire seemed to ripple through the very air as she moved. Her blood heated and sang.
After what had passed between her and the viscount, the physical world had changed for her. She felt it all differently, felt new possibilities in it—even if it was illusion, even if it would all be denied her forever after, even if she’d never know the pleasure of a man’s touch again.
She came up over a rise lined with sweet blooming hawthorn trees, agilely dodging their thorny branches, drinking in their perfumed scent, feeling more alive and vigorous than she had any right to feel.
And then she saw him.
Standing right there in the clearing she’d been heading towards.
Not more than twenty feet away.
He wasn’t dressed in his normal lordly attire. He wore no hat or jacket, and the sun made a halo of his golden hair and a bright nimbus of the loose white linen of his shirt. He did wear breeches and boots, but no waistcoat and no neckcloth, and his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows.
In nearly the same state of dishabille as she was.
His throat and a bare expanse of his chest beneath it gleamed like bronze. He was too beautiful—a young pagan god.
And he shouldn’t be there—he wouldn’t be there, like that.
She must be dreaming him up.
She stopped dead. A gentleman oughtn’t to see her with her hair loose and her feet bare. But this wasn’t real. This was a dream—a fantastical bit of magic conjured by the May Day sprites.
John’s gaze seemed to be raking over her form, clearly taking in the sight of her limned by sunlight beneath the thin linen of her dress, and his fists clenched so hard, the muscles of his forearms bunched.
And then he called out to her.
“Mary!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”
The sound of his voice was enough to break the charm that held her. She wasn’t imagining him. He was real, and flesh and blood, not a magical illusion.
And he was most certainly not supposed to be roaming the woods on May Day morning.
She snatched up her basket, holding it protectively in front of her.
“John!” she answered in a warning tone. “What are you—why are you outdoors?”
He just stared at her, giving his head a shake, his brow furrowing, as though he could not understand the language she was speaking.
Well, whatever his reason for appearing, it was very, very dangerous to be alone with him, in this strange, loosened state she was in. She might not be strong enough to resist him, and she knew she had to resist him, for his sake, if not for hers.
No, it was for her own sake as well—she had to keep her distance from him so she could keep something of her inner self alive when he married elsewhere.
“Only the ladies are supposed to be out now,” she admonished, her voice trembling slightly. “Gentlemen are supposed to stay at home in their beds. Until at least—at least nine o’clock.”
And, dash it all, he grinned at her. “I haven’t bothered with clocks since I resigned my commission. And this is entirely ridiculous, shouting at each other—”
“Stay back!” she cried, and clutched her basket tighter to her chest. “And—and go back. Home. Indoors.”
Even at this distance, she could see the line of his jaw tighten. “I can’t bear it indoors,” he shouted back. “Just now. I couldn’t sleep. I feel like a caged lion inside walls. And, anyhow, I thought you’d be over by the riverbank, where the other ladies go. Isn’t that the traditional spot?”
“No, this is the traditional spot. The riverbank is just more—”
“Modern?” he answered. And there was that grin again. “Civilized?”
A hot flush climbed up her throat. “Easier on ladies’ feet.”
“No doubt.” He took a step closer. “But you are undaunted, Mary, as always.”
He took another step. Two steps. Three. Casual and easy, as if they’d met quite properly dressed on the lane around the Green, but his eyes were locked on hers with an intensity that was anything but civilized. His stride was long, and the distance between the two of them was closing faster than her nerves were comfortable with. “Never the traditional path for you.”
While he was still a stride or two away, she took a step backward. “I beg your pardon! I’m the one following the rules this morning.”
He stopped then, his blue eyes scanning her face. “Are you? Following the rules?” A strange wistfulness came over his expression, and he cocked his head to one side, watching her thoughtfully. “Do you remember, when we were children, you told me these woods are full of faerie folk, who love nothing more than to play tricks on foolish mortals?”
“Those were children’s stories.”
“Were they? I wonder, just now. Miss Mary Wilkins, the vicar’s sister, appearing from the woods, barefoot and curls flowing, just when I happen by, on May Day morning. Perhaps you’re one of those faerie folk, come to bewitch me.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“I would normally think myself ridiculous, but at the moment…” He shrugged. “They say the faeries can spin visions out of our dreams. And just look at you.”
“What?” She looked down at her herself, her soft frock and bare feet, the wind tugging at her hem. Nothing between him and her but a basket of flowers.
Duty and reason made her wish she were wearing her heavy serge skirts and sturdy boots instead of this diaphanous green. And then again, there was a part of her that didn’t wish for anything about this moment to change.
“What dreams?” she asked.
He took another step toward her. “Why do you think I couldn’t sleep?”
Thanks so much for joining me today! Keep on hopping, and find all those eggs!!
List of Romance Author Links
Hop to Each to Find the Easter Eggs
Alanna Lucas https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlannaLucas/
Amalie Howard www.amaliehoward.com
Amanda Mariel https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmandaMarie1
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E. Elizabeth Watson https://eelizabethwatson.com/contact/
Elizabeth Langston http://www.elizabethlangston.net/holiday-hop/
Heather McCollum https://www.heathermccollum.com/
Jane Charles https://www.janecharlesauthor.com/
Jerrica Knight-Cantania http://www.jerricasplace.com/shakespeares-daughters.html
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Kathleen Bittner Rot https://www.facebook.com/Kathleen.bittnerroth.author/
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Liana De la Rosa https://www.facebook.com/LianainBloom/
Lori Ann Bailey https://loriannbailey.com/
Madeline Martin http://www.madelinemartin.com/blog/
Michelle McLean https://michellemcleanbooks.com/easter-egg-hunt/
Samantha Grace https://www.samanthagraceauthor.com/easter-egg-hunt
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