While I’m sure it’s far from the truth, something in me just assumes that everyone has fond memories of their childhood library. All I need do is close my eyes and think of my hometown’s one room library and memories start to swim in my mind. The smell of dust and well-worn books fills my nostrils. My palms tingle in response to the soft texture of the braided rug where I sat on the floor in the children’s section, one hand flattened against it, while the other held an open book. The quiet yet quit serious librarian’s shushes that punctuated the silence every now and again tickling my ears.
To a child, it was a magical place. And honestly, to this adult, it still is. Maybe that’s why I’ve made the love of books and libraries so integral to my newest novel, The Saint Who Stole My Heart. Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, is a man in possession of a vast and widely envied collection of rare books. Miss Elena Barnes would like very much to relieve the charming lord of his library, return to her Dorset home, and never be heard from again.
High jinx ensue, naturally, and Dash and Elena find themselves with much more on their minds than books. But lest we forget, it is the love of a library that brings the two together—and, I can assure you without spoiling the story, that love is not forgotten even after the last page is turned.
And now, for your reading pleasure, here is an exclusive excerpt from The Saint Who Stole My Heart. It is in fact the very first time that Elena claps eyes on Dash’s collection. As for Dash? It is of the upmost importance that he convinces the woman he is nothing more than an annoying dimwit so that she might leave as soon as possible. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to focus on anything more than the woman herself. Enjoy!
~~~~~~~~~~ * ~~~~~~~~~~
She rushed toward the end of the aisle, skidding to a halt in front of a glass case situated against the wall.
Dash couldn’t help himself. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and he followed.
‘Giacomo Paolini’s Abecedary,’ Miss Barnes whispered, as though speaking a sacred prayer within the walls of a grand cathedral.
Dash moved closer to the case, studying the book. Its presence was wholly surprising. His father must have acquired the volume shortly before his death.
‘Have you read it, Miss Barnes?’ he asked, breathing in her delicate floral scent as he did so. He couldn’t readily identify the flower.
‘Hardly,’ she replied, leaning closer to the case, her brow nearly skimming the glass. ‘This volume— the only one still in existence, mind you— was lost for years.
Your father was incredibly fortunate to find it, my lord.’
‘Mmh,’ he replied, distracted. Rose? No, the scent was more complex than that. Lavender? He discreetly breathed deeper, dragging in more of her elusive scent, suddenly desperate to know.
‘Ha,’ he declared.
Miss Barnes jumped. ‘I beg your pardon, my lord?’ she asked, looking at him as though he were mad.
Really. I’m not the one gushing over an old book.
Dash fought the urge to say the sentence out loud and instead, straightened his crisp cravat. ‘Funny that, wouldn’t you agree? My father found a book that so many could not,’ he replied, looking at the volume with what he hoped was childlike glee. ‘Were there many people looking for it?’
‘Oh, yes,’ her voice brimmed with enthusiasm. ‘The late Lord Carrington was not the man who actually found the volume, of course. But we can all be thankful he had the foresight to provide such an admirable and efficient home for it. Look here,’ she gestured at the case. ‘See how it is perfectly situated away from the sunlight . . .’
Dash hardly heard a word she said. He couldn’t pull his gaze away from the fascinating quality of her skin and the flush of color from her cheeks, down the curve of her throat, to the neckline of her dress.
‘And the case? Why isn’t it stacked with the rest of the books?’ he wondered aloud.
He knew exactly why, of course. Direct sunlight would compromise the already fragile pages. But he wanted to watch her hands as she talked, gesturing and pointing this way and that, as expressive as the excited cadence of her speech and tone.
Dash wondered why he was noticing her hands. They were, after all, only hands. She possessed a pair just as nearly every other human being on the planet did.
What was he doing? He wasn’t supposed to be interested in Miss Barnes. He just needed her to pack up the books and go back to Dorset, as soon as possible.
‘Fascinating stuff,’ he interrupted her careful explanation, needing to be anywhere but next to Miss Barnes. ‘But I’m afraid I must be off. I’ll leave you to your books.’
She smiled at him shyly. ‘Of course, my lord. This must all be terribly boring to you,’ she replied, curtsying.
Dash bowed and turned to go.
‘Thank you, my lord,’ she added. ‘You’ve no idea what these books mean to me— and my father, of course.’
Dash paused, but did not turn around, fearful that she’d draw him back. ‘Oh, don’t thank me, Miss Barnes. It’s all my father’s doing.’
It was the truth, after all. Though Dash was having a hard time being thankful to his father for anything at the moment.
‘I look forward to seeing you at dinner, my lord.’
The woman could not bear to relinquish the last word.’Yes, Miss,’ he replied.
~~~~~~~~~~ * ~~~~~~~~~~
Melanie here! And now for the giveaway! You ready?! Ms. Stefanie Sloane will be giving away all four of the Regency Rogues books to one winner! How cool is that?! All you need to do is tell us about ANY library that left a lasting impression on you, and if there are any pics of them, feel free to include the link so we all can enjoy it.