New release: NIGHT GARDEN a Victorian/paranormal romance PG13 Excerpt
- A very new release: Night Garden, a Victorian with paranormal elements from: http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/maggiandersenbooks.htmLaura Palmer marries the mysterious baron, Lord Nathaniel Lanyon, and goes to live in his ancient home in Cornwall. A dark cloud hovers over Wolfram. The death of Nathaniel's first wife has never been solved, and some of the villagers believe him responsible. Struggling to understand the distant man she married, Laura tries to uncover the truth. With each stone unturned, she comes closer to danger.PG13 Excerpt
Laura came down the stairs as Barker opened the front door to a late guest. A broad-shouldered man well over six feet tall entered the hall. His black hair curled over his collar, reminding Laura of Heathcliff from one of her favorite books. She halted on the bottom step, one hand on the banister. He studied her as he divested himself of gloves, coat, top hat, white silk scarf and cane, into the waiting arms of the butler.
"I'm Lord Lanyon." He came forward and offered her his hand. "I apologize for staring."
Laura stepped down onto the marble floor and gave him her gloved hand. She craned her neck and looked up at him. It was not something she was used to, being quite tall herself. "Laura Palmer."
"So, you are the young lady of the house." His full-lipped mouth lifted in a smile.
His powerful build and impressive height intimidated her. Grey eyes studied her approvingly.
Laura gave a polite smile. She smoothed her yellow crepe gown, regretting she hadn't worn the pink. "Father's party is in the drawing room. I believe the guests have finished dining."
"Yes. I am disgracefully late."
"It wasn't meant to be a criticism." Laura motioned down the corridor and they followed the butler as he led the way.
Lord Lanyon smiled down at her. "I take my medicine quite happily when it's delivered in such a fine package."
Laura's eyebrows rose at his self-assured tone. "I dislike flattery on such short acquaintance, sir."
A drone of conversation came within the drawing room. The butler threw open the doors, and Lord Lanyon turned to her, a gleam warming the grey depths of his eyes. "Then I shall store my compliments until next we meet."
Curious as to what her father might want with him, she said, "You plan to call on us again, my lord?"
"You shall see more of me, Laura. May call you by your given name?"
"You already have." The sound of her first name on his lips unsettled her strangely. She crossed the large expanse of thick carpet through the milling guests. He had said her name quite deliberately, of that she was sure. He toyed with her, and she had reacted. What would a man such as he make of her parent's home? She looked around her. Everything was so new. Mother had ruthlessly decorated the reception rooms in coffee and cream. A pair of chiffoniers displayed an abundance of porcelain and coloured glass. Framed prints covered the wall-papered walls. At the windows, white muslin curtains stirred below their scalloped velvet valances, and a gentle breeze wafted around the smoke from the gentleman's pipes and cigars in the smoking room. Ladies in their organdie, taffeta and silk gowns, their hats trimmed with plumes, ribbon and flowers, chatted on the cream serpentine-backed upholstered sofas, flanking the fireplace. Others perched on uncomfortable antique chairs. The rest stood about in groups, through which wandered the waiters, refilling glasses.
Laura found her father holding court among the ferns and orchids in the conservatory where the smokers had been exiled, and left Lord Lanyon with him. Walking back through the room, she greeted guests as her mind stubbornly refused to remove him from her thoughts. Finally, her gaze was drawn back to him. She met his eyes from across the room and turned away hurriedly.
"Mrs Courtney-Smith, how nice to see you." Laura distracted herself with the wife of a politician dressed in a plum silk gown, her pigeon breast adorned with several rows of Venetian glass beads. After learning a potted history of that lady's week, Laura went on to greet another. She had known most of the guests all her life, but there were two or three here today she'd never met before. Strangers often appeared at her father's parties; he gathered their acquaintance and filed them away for possible future use. As Foreign Minister, his plans for his country were admirable, but his fierce ambition was to become Prime Minister. She loved her father dearly and hoped he would achieve it.
When her mother was angry, she accused Laura of being her father's daughter. Laura felt at least one aspect of that was true, she would fight for whatever it was she set her heart on.
"Miss Palmer?" She turned to find Lord Lanyon with two glasses of Champagne. He held one towards her.
"Thank you." She took the glass from him, glancing past him at the quill of feathers from her mother's straw turban bobbing above the crowd. Laura raised the glass to her lips. "Mother won't approve of this." She took a long sip. The bubbles tickled her nose and the alcohol threaded its way through her body, warming as it went.
"Moët. One cannot refuse nectar from the gods."
Aware that her mother was a member of the Temperance Association, Laura sent him a challenging look, "You would encourage me to disobey my parent?"
His eyes were so unlike Howard's. Laura could read little in their grey depths, beyond faint amusement. She felt out of her depth with him. It disconcerted her, and yet, she wanted more of it.
"Surely your mother wouldn't deny you one glass? Champagne and life are meant to be enjoyed, to the last drop," he said.
Laura took another swallow and a frisson of excitement travelled up her spine that she doubted was from the wine. Over the rim of her glass, she watched her mother approach. The guests parted and allowed her to pass through like Moses in the Red Sea.
"Laura, I thought I told you . Oh, Lord Lanyon, I didn't see you there."
Laura nearly choked. One would have to be partially blind to miss him, and her mother had eyes like an eagle.
"I do hope you're enjoying our little soirée, such a pity it couldn't be held in the garden. The flowers are wonderful this year."
"Indeed I am, Lady Palmer. Thank you for inviting me."
Lady Palmer gave Laura's half-empty glass a glance.
ady Palmer gave Laura's half-empty glass a glance.
Laura waited for a thinly veiled censure, but her mother merely gazed around the room. "There's someone standing all by themselves. I'd best rescue them." With a nod to Lord Lanyon, she sailed off again.
"It was my mother who invited you?" Laura asked curiously.
He nodded. "We met at a dinner party. She wished me to meet her charming daughter."
Laura's anger at her mother's meddling fizzed through her like sherbet. Her face flamed as only a redhead's could. "I ask your forgiveness for my mother's action, Lord Lanyon." She felt ready to sink and searched the crowd for someone to rescue her.
"You've no need to apologize. I've enjoyed our meeting. And hope for more."
His boldness made the hairs on her nape stand on end. "I'm sorry. I just saw someone I should speak to."
He tilted his head. "You've apologized to me twice. Why?"
Laura bit her lip. "Did I? I'm sorry."
They both laughed.
Laura couldn't tell him about the battle waging between her and her mother, without sounding disloyal and childish.
There was a pause while Lord Lanyon's eyes roamed over her face. Laura wanted to fill the silence but found nothing to say.
"You have inherited your beauty from your mother," he said thoughtfully. "She is still an attractive woman."
Laura smiled. "She is, and thank you."
"I'm glad she invited me to meet her headstrong daughter."
Laura raised her brows. "Headstrong?"
His mouth quirked in a smile. "I believe that was her exact word."
Laura's jaw tensed. "Mother and I don't necessarily agree on everything, Lord Lanyon."
"I can see that. It piqued my interest, nevertheless, and here I am."
"And now I must do my duty, excuse me." Laura placed her empty glass on a passing waiter's tray.
His low, deep voice pulled her back. "May I see you again?"
Her mother had picked him as a possible husband and that was reason enough for her to spurn him. She glanced up into his ruggedly handsome face, and found him intriguing.
He waited politely, raising a strong black eyebrow.
"Saturday evening? I have tickets for a concert at the Royal Opera House in Covet Garden."
"That would be delightful." She smiled and moved away.
What had she done? Her mother would never give up now until she married the man.