For months Jenn has been teasing everyone on social media with one liners from a book she called Twitchy. This week she release the book and she’s out down herself. So I’m super excited to share a snippet from the book formerly known as Twitchy. Did I mention there are pictures in her books? Yep you read that right, she puts illustrated pictures in her books.
It always started with a twitch, because that meant her mind was racing, like a child caught in a flood, swirling, hands flung out to catch anything solid with which to stop the rush.
What followed was a darkness that closed in from the edges until she was blind and in a panic. He’d seen her rage in fear during that closing in. It terrified her and, truth be told, him as well.
If the edges descended, it was too late—she was lost. So he always attempted to bring her back from that edge before she fell…for he was always afraid that the next time would be the last time, the one from which she never returned.
Amelia stood. It was the simplest explanation, really. She did nothing else. Her back straight, her hands held gently—not too tight—just below her waist. Her reticule dangled from one wrist, resting just behind her hands. Her skirt did not sway—as she did not twitch.
The room was full.
Nobody looked her way.
She corrected the angle of her chin because it had been too severe. She lowered her chin slightly and tilted her head gently to the left to balance the flowers in her hair because her girl had angled them to the right.
She smiled gently—there’s that word again—and shook her head. Gently, she thought. Gentlygentlygently. Amelia’s shoulders drooped at the thought, so she lifted and rolled them back gently—no, unnoticeably. Yes, I rolled them unnoticeably, not gently. Well…gently as well, but more unnoticeably than gently. Or perhaps so gently as to be unnoticed? Perhaps that’s it.
Amelia wished she knew what was wrong with her. If she could give a name to this malady, perhaps it would lose its power over her.
That’s a ridiculous thought. The fact was, to give it a name would be to give it more power—to the people who would diagnose her, to those who would judge her, to the doctors, physicians and others who would determine she was unhealthy, unworthy…unwell. Power to those who would then control her future, and that of her entire family with her. Giving a name to her illness was an impossibility. She had to remain hidden.
“Amelia.” Her name rolled across her senses like a heavy fog. He should not be using my common name. I am not common. He is not common. It is not done. What if…what if someone hears?
“You,” she whispered, and Amelia’s eyes darted to and fro to ensure their conversation was private as he reached for her hand. “Endsleigh,” she said just a bit louder to deflect any complaints that she’d not responded to his greeting. That would be improper, unheard of. A terrible cut.
Amelia looked down. Hugh had her hand, and her heart skipped a beat as her breath increased as if to make up for it. It was her right hand that he held, as is proper, and her reticule hung straight down. It did not catch on her gloved hand or her gown. She’d chosen this particular reticule because once she’d chosen one with cute little baubles and shiny beads and the beads and baubles had snagged her gown and—
“Might I have the honor of this dance, my lady?” Hugh interrupted the train wreck of her thoughts.
Amelia’s eyes widened as she shook her head quickly to bring herself back to the ballroom, to the man, to the hand on her hand—certainly for an inappropriate amount of time by now. But his hand was warm and as he tightened his grip…she could breathe.
Hugh waited more patiently than he ought. He was regal in his black and white, his broad shoulders enhanced by the stark lines. Amelia took another breath. It was a concerted effort until—cinnamon and rich cigar, perhaps a hint of brandy—the knot in her belly loosened just a touch. She looked up to the all-too-familiar whiskey-colored eyes and forced a smile. “Yes, my lord, yes. The honor.”
Amelia’s hand slipped from his, and her breath caught. Her eyes drifted as she checked the ballroom to see who was watching, but the answer was more simple than “who.” The answer was everyone, and she knew it before she looked, as well as she knew the chill on her skin was caused by the trickle of sweat rolling slowly down her spine, pausing every so often like a tease as the bead of sweat rounded a small bone then continued on its merry way.
She looked past him to see that the eyes of the ton were on her, but were not yet narrowed.
Hugh took her hand, this time her left, which was good, because her left hand was rather cold and the other was a bit warm now. The warmth of his hand on her hand—or rather my hand in his warm hand—called her back to the ballroom.
“Bollocks.” Amelia’s eyes went wide as she heard the word come from her mouth so softly she could only hope it made it just as far as her own ears. But when she heard Hugh clear his throat—more loudly than was seemly—she knew that was not to be.
He smiled at her gently—yes, gently, it had to be gently—as he turned her and rested his hand, his other hand—that first warm hand—on her back. Very low on her back. The heat sank through the layers of her gown and stays and underthings and straight through her skin to her soul.
As much as her pulse raced, her body softened, sinking into the safety of his embrace. Warmth. Security. It rankled at times that her body calmed to him even when her mind wished to revolt. If she could have been constrained beyond the boundaries of her corset, she might have been okay—but that was not within the realm of possibility here in this room.
Amelia shivered. Logically, she knew she wasn’t cold, because the room was brimming with bodies. Bodies with eyes and opinions and all of them on me. Breathe. Damn you, she thought, then twitched and sent the thought from her head. She glanced up from below her eyelashes to see if he’d noticed, and he had—of course he had. How could he not, after all? His hands are on me—they are ON me. Breathe. Damn me!
She twitched again and his fingers tensed as his hands relaxed. Odd that—that his hand could attempt to let go as his fingers tensed to…to what? She knew she shouldn’t be seen dancing with him. Not tonight, of all nights, because Charles was here. Somewhere.
She needed to get away, before Charles saw her dancing with Hugh. She looked up again, and her eyes went wide as they caught Hugh’s. Then his eyes narrowed. Oh…oh no.
Hugh knew without doubt she was preparing to bolt like a spring lamb—awkwardly and without proper balance—and yet he was not prepared to let her get out of this as easily as with an inopportune and well-placed twitch. She was not going to run from the room. For one, he was bigger than she.
Hugh relaxed incrementally, lulling her, letting her believe he was unaware of her intention.
Damn me. His grip tightened, and he pulled her toward him through the corner—a warning of sorts.
“Amelia…” he managed through a clenched jaw. What he wished to say was, Do not make me regret this. But that would have been too harsh, too much for her delicate state to handle at the moment.
They sailed down the far side of the ballroom, his arms so tense he knew they would cramp that night. Hugh worked toward relaxing his features—at the very least. Because were this to be effective, he had to appear happy to be pulling her through the turns. Hugh had to give her the restraint she required, without providing a show for the ton gossips to flourish on.
Damn me twice. Why? Hugh watched the emotions fade and pulse across her features like so many birds flocking from a predator.
Damn me twofold.
God in heaven.
The song ended.
Hugh tightened his hand on hers—we are not yet finished here—then turned them toward the balcony bordering the ballroom over the gardens. Hugh shook his head to stay her and moved her hand to his elbow but did not release his grip.
“You’ve no idea the effect you have, do you?” Amelia said nearly sotto voce, her smile solidly in place. “You’ve no idea the power you wield so easily.”
Hugh grunted, then checked to make sure the sound was not so loud as to draw more attention, and politely raised his hand to clear his throat. Again. Certainly tomorrow he would receive all manner of gifts and cards to usher a speedy recovery from whatever malady they believed him to have—if they only knew.
In fact, he was aware of his “power,” as she chose to call it. But his heart rent to see her in these situations, where she could so easily be ruined for all the world. It was a very precarious position. In the wrong hands, she could easily end up in Bedlam, never to return to the world. Her mother didn’t understand, and her father…well. He believed the duke was either entirely too ill to notice much beyond himself, or much too calculating to care what would happen to his daughter, who was currently charged with securing her own future and that of her mother. Hugh thought it terribly cruel, but it was the way of the world. There was nothing to be done about it. Her illness was not compatible with the pressure of the ton.
If only to satisfy her, he kicked up a smile on one side and knew the minute she saw it—because she twitched.
Happiness was always too much for Lady Amelia to hope for.
Now all she expects is to secure her future and marry Charles, Duke of Castleberry, as arranged. But Amelia has a dangerous secret that could not only destroy her in Charles’s eyes and the eyes of society, but could also very well condemn her to Bedlam.
Baron Endsleigh, Amelia’s oldest friend, has other ideas. Ender has loved Amelia all his life. He knows her secrets, and they don’t frighten him. He plans to come between Amelia and Charles in any way he can to prevent the marriage and finally claim Amelia for his own. Though her father forbade the match years ago, Ender is determined to have her as his wife and nothing can stop him. Not even a duke as powerful as Castleberry.
That duke has hated Baron Endsleigh and wanted Amelia for, what seems to him, forever. Charles will stop at nothing to make her his, and his alone, even if that means destroying the one thing he knows she loves most in this world—Endsleigh.
Will Amelia be able to choose when one man speaks to her head and the other her heart?
None of them will find happiness until they all three learn to embrace absolute surrender.
Colorado. Canon. Curls. CJs. Chuck Norris.
Born and raised in this beautiful state —very nearly with a camera in hand— I never left. I started my own family, got used to the curls, went to college, built a CJ, started a business, and totally beat the daylights out of Chuck Norris, all with a camera in hand.
Spending my days in parenting chat rooms I got highly adept with one-handed typing and I can still type just about as fast with one hand as I can with two. It’s a great talent to have when engrossed in a scene and in need of a hit of caffeine. Once I finished my first novel I quickly realized: I was born a photographer.
From the realization that someone ELSE would be shooting the cover of MY book my control-freak took over. What started as an easy cover shoot ballooned into this completely new kind of media, designed specifically for digital book readers. The Illustrated Romance.
I live and thrive off chaos and the constant flow of the creative process. I wears shorts and flip-flops year-round —much to the chagrin of my friends and family.
The images from my book started a ruckus, and from there, #StudioSmexy was born, I’ve since shot over 300 romance novel covers, and currently shoot custom images for very special clients.
My first novel THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE: REDUX is doing its own Chuck Norris impersonation with the time travel charts on Amazon, where it took up residence for over a year. You can find me chatting on Twitter and Facebook or sharing eye candy (NSFW) on Tumblr and Instagram (and being a total rock star.)
Author Site: http://jennleblanc.com
Illustrated Romance: http://StudioSmexy.com/