Fiction Fest: Another free serving of Paula Kremser’s ‘Sophia’

Sophia 2x3 WEBPaula Kremser’s “Sophia” dropped earlier this week, but we get the feeling you’re not convinced to buy it yet. This is the reason we created Fiction Fest in the first place! We’re so confident that you’ll love what you read here that we’ve hired new staff to help fill your orders.

Not really. But we will hire new staff if we need to.

About the book: 

Small-town Sophia Spencer can’t believe her luck when an unexpected inheritance allows her to experience London’s social scene. But her happiness disappears when she is caught napping in a grumpy gentleman’s room—and forced into an engagement to protect her reputation! Personalities collide and love blooms in this stunning debut novel.

Get your copy today in bookstores or from online retailers.

EXCERPT:

From the author: This excerpt is the first time Alex and Sophia meet after their first disastrous meeting that doomed them to marriage. Both are suspicious of the other at this point.

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“Sophia was distraught that she missed you yesterday, weren’t you, Sophia?” Aunt Nora said, making another effort at conversation. Before she could confirm or deny being distraught yesterday—which she had been, but not for the reason Aunt Nora’s tone implied—her aunt kept speaking. “I’ve invited several close friends to attend the wedding ceremony tomorrow, and they all sent back replies saying they wouldn’t miss it. I hope there weren’t any delays on your part, Mr. Huntley, in obtaining the license?” This time her aunt did pause for a reply.

“No delays at all, Lady Bloomfield,” was Mr. Huntley’s civil response.

“And did you arrange everything with the vicar at St. Luke’s?” she asked.

“Yes, Lady Bloomfield. All is set for tomorrow’s ceremony at ten in the morning,” he replied evenly.

Sophia’s eyes widened and her anxiety grew as her aunt asked several more detailed questions about tomorrow’s event while Mr. Huntley politely replied. Everything was planned and ready. It felt as if there were too many wheels in motion. There was no way she could stop this! Taking a deep breath, she tried to calm down. She might not persuade Mr. Huntley and her aunt out of this predicament, but she was at least going to try.

“Mr. Huntley,” she began at the first pause from her aunt, “do you not feel that this is all a bit sudden?” She saw his eyebrows go up in surprise but hurried on before she lost her nerve. “We don’t know each other at all. Perhaps we could put the wedding off for a few weeks. We could…” Sophia hesitated as she tried to phrase her thoughts carefully into words. “…learn more about each other.” This wasn’t Sophia’s plan at all— she had no desire to learn more about Mr. Huntley. The only plans she had come up with so far were very far-fetched schemes. But surely with more time, something would come to her.

Mr. Huntley didn’t answer right away. Instead he scrutinized her for a few moments and Sophia felt herself grow self-conscious and blush, but she didn’t look away. This was too important. He was looking at her so intently as if trying to peer into her soul.

His delay in answering Sophia’s request gave her aunt the opportunity to jump in. “Sophia, of all the things to ask! The wedding cannot be delayed. Why, the only reason it is so soon is for your benefit. Surely you realize that this is all to save your reputation.”

Mr. Huntley watched the interaction closely, looking back and forth between the two of them as her aunt spoke. His eyes narrowed slightly in what looked like suspicion. “Miss Spencer, I think Lady Bloomfield is right. The wedding must take place, no matter what. Whether it is tomorrow or in a month’s time is of no significance to me.”

Sophia wondered if this were true. If Mr. Huntley wanted her inheritance so badly, surely he would want to marry her quickly to secure it. The thought hardly occurred to her before he continued, “However, in order to do as little damage to your reputation as possible, the sooner we marry the better.” Mr. Huntley’s voice had a ring of finality that caused a flutter of anxiety to run through Sophia. But she wasn’t ready to give up.

“Mr. Huntley, I would really feel so much better if my father could attend the ceremony.” Her voice wasn’t completely steady; this reason for a delay was entirely true. “Surely he needs to be there to give his permission, at the least.”

Again her aunt answered before Mr. Huntley could. “Sophia, you have been under my care while you’ve been in London, and I, of course, sanction the wedding. Besides you are old enough to marry without consent; there is no reason to wait for your father.”

Mr. Huntley nodded his agreement as he stood to take his leave. Sophia and her aunt stood too. It was wholly out of instinct that Sophia grabbed Mr. Huntley’s arm. She wanted to stop him from leaving until she could convince him to stop the wedding, but whatever she was about to say flew out of her mind as soon as she touched him. She wasn’t really touching him, though—just his arm encased in his coat. He felt so strong and solid. That strength felt so real, and Sophia was sure that if she could get him on her side, they could accomplish anything. Even stop this ridiculous wedding. She gazed into his icy-blue eyes to implore him one more time. Sophia grew embarrassed as he looked rather pointedly at her, then to her hand on his arm, and back at her again. She snatched her hand away and shook it a little as though his gaze had caused it pain. Feeling completely awkward, she clasped her hands behind her back, gave a slight curtsy, and mumbled, “Good day to you, Mr. Huntley.”