featuring Nicola's novella
The Elopement is a short story in the anthology Loves Me Loves Me Not, published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Romantic Novelists' Association. It is a Regency short story in the traditional style and it was lots of fun to write!
Amanda, Lady Marston, is the most well-bred and proper young matron imaginable so the elopement of her husband's grandmother with a younger man throws her carefully ordered world into chaos. Amanda and her husband Hugo must pursue the errant couple to Gretna Green, but in doing so will they re-discover the spark of love that is missing in their own marriage?
Amanda was still wrestling with her unfamiliar and rather disconcerting awareness of Hugo as the carriage clattered through Marston Priors and out onto the toll road and the Wiltshire downs unrolled around them. She had been in a closed carriage with Hugo many times before and had never suffered this affliction. Indeed, she realised now, she had taken him for granted. She felt ashamed.
Amanda had been brought up from an early age to see the acquisition of a husband as a most desirable sign of standing. She had gained her married status at the age of one and twenty, a little late because she was so particular about her suitors. Hugo had been easy to reel in and she had thought they were very well suited. He was handsome, titled, well connected and wealthy without being extravagantly rich. More importantly he had a very equable humour, he was generous and he did not interfere in any way in her running of the household. She had thought, until that moment in the hall ten minutes before, that he would always permit her to have her own way. As for intimate matters – here Amanda blushed inwardly but forced herself to think about it – she had always been pleased that after their honeymoon Hugo seemed not to want to trouble her with his attentions more than once or twice a month and latterly not at all. Her mama had told her that a lady must be decorous at all times, particularly in the marriage bed, and Amanda had tried to follow that advice. She had been aware that there was something disappointing about the entire experience but had put it from her mind.
Now, though, looking at her husband as he lounged with elegant grace against the cushions of the carriage, she felt a little stab of anger. It seemed quite wrong firstly that he should have thwarted her in the matter of the maid and, more importantly, that he should be sitting there so relaxed and calm when she was in a state of advanced fluster. She had not been herself since the moment she had seen him in his shirt and breeches, but that could not account for this feeling of uncomfortable awareness. After all, she had seen him in undress before – she felt strangely heated at the memory – and if it came to that she had even seen him with no clothes on at all, but of course she had looked away, as a lady should. At this point the heat and agitation made her shift on the seat and Hugo looked at her with polite concern.
"Are you quite well, my dear?"
"I feel a little strange," Amanda admitted. "I think I am anxious because we set off in such a rush."
"Of course," Hugo murmured, his bright blue gaze fixed on her in a manner that seemed to make the breath catch in her throat.
"Tell me about your sheep," Amanda said, desperately searching for a way to distract herself from the curious feelings inside her. "I remember you saying at dinner last night that you wished to buy a flock of a different breed."
End of Excerpt. Like It? Order It!
“An uplifting anthology of love stories from Britain's leading romance writers.”
— Good Housekeeping Magazine
“This stylish anthology of over 40 stories is ideal for any romance fan.”
— Female First
“A true celebration of the very best in romantic fiction.”
— Angela & Friends, Sky
“Bound to get you hot under the collar!”
— Heat Magazine