Sunday Snippet: Lyon’s Gate by Catherine Coulter

Today’s snippet is from one of my favorite historical books Lyon’s Gate by Catherine Coulter. I’ve read this book I don’t know how many times and each time I do laugh at the antics of Hallie and Jason. This is one of my favorite scenes from the book.

An hour later, nearly high noon, Hallie dressed in one of her split skirts, grinned down at her reflection in her shinny boots, and took herself to the stables. There was always so much to be done.

There were only two mares in the paddocks, both asleep where they stood, their tails flicking gently. It was later than she’d thought. All the lads were out exercising the horses. She walked around the corner of the stable and stopped dead in her tracks. Jason was forking hay into the back of an open wagon, his movement rhythmic and graceful.

He wasn’t wearing his shirt. In point of fact he was naked from the top of his head all the way to his waist, well, perhaps even a bit lower than that. There was a line of hair that trailed beneath the waist of his trousers. She saw a faint line of sweat. He paused a moment, and stretched.

She nearly expired on the spot.

Jason walked back into the stable. She walked quickly after him, not even realizing that her feet were moving. She came to a stop in the open doorway, heard the mares whinny, watched him stroke each nose as he gave each mare a sugar cube.

When he wiped his palms on his breeches, he turned, whistling, and froze. He hadn’t heard her, hadn’t known she was anywhere near. She was standing not six feet from him, her hands at her her sides, staring at him like a halfwit. “How is your head?”

“My head? Oh, fine.” She gulped, trying to bring her eyes to his face, which was always a treat, but unable to this time. “Just fine. Lorry said you had left in the gig.”

“I had to deliver two saddles to the blacksmith in Hawley.”

“That’s nice. The gooseberry jam Cook made you for breakfast was wonderful.”

“Well, yes it was. Hallie-” He scratched his chest-his bare chest. He hadn’t realized he’d taken his shirt off. Bright sunlight shone through the open stable doors, and he saw it on the tree stump twenty feet away. He looked toward the shirt, back at her face. “Hallie,” he said again. “My shirt – let me fetch it.”

“You don’t need to do that. I’ve seen men without their shirts before.”

“Why don’t you go back to the house? Or I can go back to the house and pick up my shirt on the way.”

“Actually, the only man I saw without his shirt on was my father. He grabbed the shirt really fast so I didn’t see all that much, which is a pity since he is so beautiful and girl needs to know what’s what. I have younger brothers-I bathed them, went swimming with them-but no to be honest here, that’s not really the same thing.”

“No, it’s not.. It would be best if you turned around now.”

“That isn’t necessary, Jason. You are very lovely to look at.”

“Do you think you could look me in the face when you say that?”

She began walking toward him. The mares whinned. Jason stood nailed to the spot. When she was no more than three feet from him, she hurled herself at him, threw her arms around his neck, and pressed close.

She nearly knocked him over backward. He grabbed her arms, tried to peel her off him, but it was no good, she was strong and determined. He couldn’t believe he was panting, but he was. “Hallie, for God’s sake, you’ve got to get hold of yourself – ” He felt the length of her hand against him. “No,” he said into her mouth. Oh God, her mouth was so very soft and her breath tasted sweet. It was the hardest thing he’d ever done in his life, but Jason kept his arms stiff against his sides. One of her hands stroked down his chest. His breath whooshed out when her finger slipped beneath the waist of his trousers. She didn’t know what she was doing, she couldn’t know. No, he wouldn’t seduce her, no, it wasn’t going to happen, he refused –

“What the hell is going on here?”

A man’s voice, sharp, appalled, a voice vaguely familiar, a voice he’d heard before, but not here, not in England. Oh God, that voice was from Baltimore. That was a father’s voice, a voice ripe for murder.

Hallie’s father’s voice. Baron Sherard. Bloody hell and back.

“Hallie, step back from the man.”

She turned to Lot’s wife. her breathing was hard and fast, but she didn’t move, if anything she pressed closer, warm, soft, all of her pressed so close, too closer, and her father was spitting distance away, “Er, Father?” She sounded out of breath, like she was walking on a tightrope and was going to fall at any moment, like she wanted to fall, and-

“Yes, Hallie. I’m your father, and I’m here, not more than eight feet behind you. I want you to listen to me now. Take your arms from around Jason’s neck. Do it now. Step back.”

“It’s hard, ” she whispered, breathing in the scent of his flesh. “Very hard, Papa. He doesn’t have a shirt on.”

“I can see that. Step back Hallie. You can do it, I know you can.”

She felt her father’s hand on her arm, tugging her, but still it was so difficult. Slowly, she managed to put an inch between herself and Jason, then two. She wanted to weep at the distance.

lyon's gateDear Reader:

Five years after Jason Sherbrooke leaves England for Baltimore and the Wyndhams (The Valentine Legacy), one of the premiere racing families in the area, he wakes up early one morning with Horace’s ugly pug face staring him down, and knows it’s time for him to go home.

Jason wants to breed and race horses, primarily his own Thoroughbred, Dodger, who’s faster than a Baltimore pickpocket. When his twin, James, takes him to Lyon’s Gate, a once-renowned racing stud farm near his family’s home, Jason knows to his soul that this property is what he wants more than anything.

Unfortunately, Hallie Carrick (Night Storm) wants Lyon’s Gate just as badly as Jason, and she’s fully prepared to fight him down and dirty to get it.

Now life and fate take a hand, and the two of them end up with something neither expected.

Come to Lyon’s Gate in 1835 England, visit with the Sherbrookes, and see Jason come back to the fullness and joy of life.

Prepare to laugh yourself silly.

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