Fiction Fest: An excerpt from Carla Kelly’s ‘In Love and War’

In Love and War_2x3 (print)For her fourth Cedar Fort book this year, award-winning romance novelist Carla Kelly has put together a group of love stories titled, “In Love and War: A Collection of Love Stories.”

In the book, Kelly has penned stories of dashing war heroes and the sassy heroines who can’t help falling for them. From daring sea captains to genteel lords, there’s a little something for every heart’s fancy. Readers everywhere will adore these four regency romances—now available together for the first time in one must-have book!

“In Love and War” is available in bookstores and from online retailers.

EXCERPT:

The Hasty Marriage

Captain Hirum Titus, shipowner of the Hasty from Boston and a widower, has sailed into a British port with his little daughter. It’s a dangerous time, with the fledgling United States at odds with mighty England over issues of the Napoleonic War. He’s come to Glossop’s Nautical Emporium for revictualing, and hears from the owner about a visit from a spinster well-acquainted with Glossop’s wife. Hiram Titus is prepared not to be impressed.

Titus was wrong. He was so wrong that he could only stand in the warehouse doorway and gawk like the greenest, most callow young man who had ever shipped to a foreign port and ogled the local females. He resisted the urge to stuff his eyeballs back into his head.

The loveliest woman he had ever clapped eyes on sat at the clerk’s desk, dangled one shoe off a foot that possessed – even at the distance of his perusal – a completely trim ankle. She looked at him in a quizzical way, then turned back to the document in front of her. He felt his heart almost thud to a halt in his chest.

She had taken little or no time with her hair, so he assumed that Aggie Glossop had snatched her directly from the breakfast table to the warehouse like the press gangs she abhorred. The lady – she could only be a lady – had wound her hair into a funny topknot, but most of the curls had already escaped. He didn’t see many women in England with black hair, and none at home in New England, except among Indians. Her skin was radiant with health, her cheeks tinged with the delicate pink that a gentle, cool climate allowed. She frowned and pursed full lips as she stared at the paper in front of her. He wanted to act like the worst of seamen and plant a smacking great kiss on her.

He brought himself up short then, embarrassed at his untoward flight of male fancy, and reminded himself that he was forty years old, sober, and the father of sons old enough to marry and make him a grandfather. Still, just gaping at that vision of loveliness in a Portsmouth warehouse was probably going to require a cols sea bath tomorrow. It had been years since he had, well, tingled.

And here was Mrs. Glossop now, talking to him, but it might have been Swahili or Urdu, for all that he was paying attention. He forced himself to listen to her.

“…and she has consented to help me here in the warehouse.”

“What? Who?” he asked, embarrassed when his voice cracked like a fourteen-year-old’s.