Long and Short Reviews welcomes Susanne Lord whose newest release Discovery of Desire was released this week. She’s sharing an exclusive excerpt with our readers today, so enjoy!
The one man who’s not looking for a wife
Seth Mayhew is the ideal explorer: fearless, profitable, and unmarried. There is nothing and no one he can’t find—until his sister disappears en route to India. His search for her takes him to Bombay, where Seth meets the most unlikely of allies—a vulnerable woman who’s about to marry the wrong man.
Discovers a woman who changes his dreams forever
Teeming with the bounty of marriageable men employed by the East India Company, Bombay holds hope for security for Wilhelmina Adams. But when the man she’s traveled halfway around the world to marry doesn’t suit, Mina finds instead that she’s falling in love with a man who offers passion, adventure, intimacy—anything but security…
Enjoy an exclusive excerpt:
Author’s Note: Mina has just learned Seth Mayhew was born and raised in a village very near hers.
Mina stared at him, her pretty mouth dropped open with what looked like surprise. A very pretty mouth. And the most kissable—
“You’re from Matlock? I’m from Chesterfield,” Mina said.
“You’re not! My mates live there—the Douglas boys. And me and Freddy Kent went to the public school together.”
“Fred’s sister was my friend.” She shook her head, her eyes widening. “I thought there was something familiar—it wasn’t your voice; it was your speech at times. East Midlands.”
Seth winced a little. “I med a right codge of it then, m’lover, if’n you know’d ow I spake.”
She giggled and clapped her hand over her mouth. “Oh, enough, Mr. Mayhew. You mustn’t give us away.”
He smiled because he’d finally made the little officer laugh, but she didn’t know how hard it had been to correct the way he talked. One schoolmaster had corrected it with a switch of rowan tree, when he bothered trying to teach him at all.
His father’s speech was worse—pure Black Country. As a boy, Seth hadn’t understood him. And the man hadn’t stayed long enough for him to learn.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Mayhew,” she said, still smiling. “It’s actually rather wonderful to hear again.”
He’d never known brown eyes could shine with all that gold in them. They might have been reflecting the glow of a fire. “Is that so?” he murmured.
And though he’d not told anyone, he wanted to tell her. Wasn’t anyone to tell, really—no one that wouldn’t laugh at him.
He dipped his head closer to speak just for her hearing, and her eyes were still glowing. “I, uh…I bought myself a bit of land just west of there. That orchid I found, that Wilhelmina orchid, sold for a good amount, and I bought as much land as I could. Near a thousand acres. Not all of it worth farming—some oats maybe, but I’m thinking sheep, an orchard, a kitchen garden, too.”
“You have land in Derbyshire?”
Her eyes grew huge and he felt damn near ten feet tall. So he wouldn’t tell her the bit about how Old Man Hartwig had said the hedgerows were dead and the cottage roof would fall in so it was good Seth had a head like a rock. But Hartwig was just a cranky, old pinch-fart.
And he wouldn’t tell her the rest of it. How even though he’d sold the prize orchid for all that acreage, he couldn’t afford to make the repairs to all the buildings that stood on that land.
But Seth wouldn’t call that a curse. Because if he did, that meant he was doomed to fail in this expedition, too.
And that meant he wouldn’t find Georgie alive.
He shook his mind free of that hellish thought. “And it’s, uh…it’s got a handsome stone cottage, too. It needs mending, though, and a hedgerow that’s not been trimmed since the Romans, but I’ll be fixing it up. Eventually—soon. Real soon.”
She nodded quickly. “A home needs all sorts of maintenance. I tended my family’s garden. I would so enjoy that employment again.”
He grinned and waited for her to continue. But she wasn’t saying anything. He shifted his weight. And shifted back. And her smile was…encouraging?
Did she want him to talk more?
He cleared his throat. “I’ve a plan on that cottage, of course. My Wilhelmina orchid was described and sold, straightaway, but I found lots more prizes than that. Had them in seed, though. Some of the prettiest flowers you’ll ever see, and lots of practical plants, too. My best mates have those in England; they’re looking after them for me. They’re plantsmen, cultivators.
“I had over a dozen orchids that I shipped, too, but I’m not sure if they’re new discoveries. But if they are, and they sell for a good amount, I’ll have the money to fix up all my outbuildings, the stable and washhouse and granary.”
He paused, checking her eyes for glazing or puzzlement. He grinned when he saw neither. “And if those seeds are viable, I’ll be able to marry, too. And keep a family.”
“That sounds really perfect, Mr. Mayhew.”
And the way she said it, he believed she meant it. Would Mina have herself a little garden here? “It does, doesn’t it?” he murmured.
“And your land? What is it like?”
He smiled, seeing that landscape in his head. “There’s a stream that flows right through this flat valley and into a grove of birch that might be out of a painting. And the grass all around it—green and soft and cool, like it was begging you to take off your boots and sit down for a picnic.”
“Is there a footbridge? My favorite walk was across the Hipper River and there was a bridge of stepping stones across the water.”
“Stepping stones, eh?” For the first time in his knowing her, Mina’s face went all soft and wistful and he wasn’t about to disappoint her. “I’ll build one just because you said it.”
She blushed deep. Maybe Miss Mina liked his compliments, after all.
And didn’t he like looking at that face? Maybe because she seemed to like what she was seeing, too. Even if he wasn’t a gentleman. He could almost pretend there was something there that wouldn’t mind kissing him.
“Why is it we never rubbed shoulders till we found ourselves here?” he said.
“Fate, I suppose,” she said softly.
Fate. He never had any use for it.
About the Author:Susanne Lord is a writer of Victorian-era romance and author of the London Explorer series published by Sourcebooks. Originally from Okinawa, off-base and on, she now makes her home in Chicago where she is an active member of Chicago North RWA. When not writing, attending theater or reading, she enjoys hiking the English countryside and visiting historic homes and gardens.