Published by New Independence Books on April 24th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
When old flames don’t die, sparks will fly.
Mr. Jasper Winslow, the once meek and mild second son of a viscount, is a chocolatier who specializes in fine French chocolates, which helped him put the pain of his lost love behind him. He’d made peace with his life… until a chance meeting with the woman he would have wed reminds him that his heart hasn’t forgotten.
Strong-willed and independent, Miss Evangeline Bradenwilde wants to be seen in Victorian-era ton society as more than the connections she can make through marriage. Though the trade she works selling underpinnings isn’t exactly the pinnacle of success she’d wished, she still has dreams… until those are shattered when she unexpectedly encounters the man she ran from on the eve of her engagement.
Thrown together by a fierce rainstorm, Jasper and Evangeline are forced to confront their past and mend a broken relationship if they want to move forward. Exploring the people they’ve become is key, understanding hidden desires is paramount… and a little hanky panky involving chocolate and corsets won’t hurt either.
Perhaps he would offer to share his carriage, at least let her find shelter from the weather but that was all. As a nod to the two years they’d shared in the past.
With trepidation dogging his steps, Jasper slowly traversed the platform. Soon it would empty of passengers and porters. Already the anemic crowds were thinning, hastened due to the weather and the late hour. Not once did she turn to see who approached. The closer he drew to her location, the more his stomach muscles tightened. Then he stood at her shoulder, waiting, hoping she would acknowledge his presence so he wouldn’t have to introduce conversation.
She continued to ignore him.
Finally, he cleared his throat. “Horrible weather we’re having. Quite the detriment to enjoying oneself.” Could he appear any more of a rube than he did now? Who the deuce talked about the weather while one was experiencing it?
The woman still didn’t acknowledge him. However, she did reply. “Life cannot always be beer and skittles every moment.” Her tone was clipped and the chill in it could turn the rain to snow if she continued speaking.
Jasper’s jaw dropped. Of course life wasn’t a perpetual good time, but it went better for a person when they were looking on the bright side. Had she really just used slang? Despite their history, intrigue pushed through his reserves. “Miss Bradenwilde, perhaps you could enlighten me.” Her slight gasp rang over the sound of the rain. “Why do you persist in sitting in the dark and the rain?” Would his use of her name finally bring her around?
She tilted her umbrella and glanced over her shoulder. When she lifted her chin and swept her gaze over his person to alight on his face, her remarkable blue-green eyes widened. Her full lips slightly parted as surprise lined her round face. “Go toast your blooming eyebrows, Mr. Winslow. I have nothing to say to you.”
If he was shocked at her first response, her second left him gawking at her like a boy at his first circus. She’d basically told him off in gutter speech he had no idea she’d known. Where the hell had she learned such vulgarity, and why did his pulse kick up in along with his curiosity?
Then righteous indignation kicked in. His chest tightened with annoyance. Who was she to send him away when he was the injured party in their tiff? In a fit of pique, he tipped his umbrella so that any accumulated water dumped upon her, which dripped onto her shoulder. And he didn’t apologize. “You have nothing to say to me?” The incredulity in his tone rose above the drumming rain on the umbrellas. “In the event that you’ve suddenly forgotten what transpired five years ago, you ran out on me. You embarrassed me in front of my whole family.” His breath produced white puffs into the chilly air. “From my estimation, you do not have the luxury of ordering me anywhere.”
“You would bring that up at a time like this.” Evangeline stood. She leaned slightly down, grabbed the handle of her carpet bag and then deposited it atop the trunk.
“I would, especially since I wasn’t given a choice.”
“It is not up for debate.” She glared and her eyes spit annoyance tinged with despair. “What I am doing here is none of your business.” The woman made a great show of glancing about the now-deserted platform—deserted except for one sleek black carriage that drew to a halt nearby. “I assume that’s your vehicle.” She gestured with her chin.
“Yes.” Why did her assumption make him want to defend himself? It wasn’t his fault he’d had the foresight to telephone his shop assistant once he’d reached English soil and instructed him to send a carriage along with his train arrival time. “I’m anxious to return home.” Being in France for the past two weeks had been inspiring, but there was no place like jolly old England.
“By all means, do not let me keep you.” She stood back and snapped her wet skirting away from him, as if he might brush by her as he passed. “No doubt you have important work to resume or people high on the instep to meet.”
An eyebrow soared upward while he flicked his gaze quickly over her person. Heat stabbed through him. She’d always possessed a voluptuous figure. Now, with five years of experience, that figure had only been enhanced, featuring curves in all the right places. Curves that would drive a man insane for a peek at bosom or hip. The tight confines of the green velvet displayed her charms to full advantage, the frothy lace at her throat only drew his attention there. He sent his gaze over her left shoulder. “I do, but that is not the point.” Jasper cleared his throat. “Do you, ah, have appropriate travel arrangements?”
“Perhaps.” She looked away, the brim of her hat hiding her face.
Walk away, Jasper. Leave her haughty arse on the platform and make certain she remains in your past.
The problem with having a conscience is that it was nearly impossible to ignore it, because if one tried, the blasted thing would keep on talking until one’s head was full of suggestions and advice—and ill-advised hope. He sighed. “If it wouldn’t trouble you too much, perhaps you should share my carriage. I shall be happy to take you anywhere in London you need to go.”