A Valentine’s Day Recipe…
Green Grape Delight
- 1.5 pounds of green grapes, washed, sliced
- 6 TBS honey
- 3 TBS cognac
- 1.5 Tsp lemon juice
- 1 cup sour cream
- Mix the honey, lemon juice and cognac together, pour over the sliced grapes and stir gently.
- Chill at least five hours, stirring occasionally.
- Serve with garnish of sour cream. Serves six to eight.
*Proportions of honey and cognac can be fine tuned to taste. Can also be made a day ahead.
And here’s an excerpt, to give you a taste of how these characters get along:
From Lady Eve’s Indiscretion…
By the time the music came to a close and Eve’s partner had led her off the dance floor, she was regretting the impulse that made her pluck the man from the jaws of Lady Staines’s ambitions. He was a former cavalry officer, titled, and blessedly good looking. Surely the prospect of a few tittering ninnies wasn’t putting that haunted look in his sky-blue eyes?
“Shall I fix you a plate, my lady?”
He was smiling down at her, his expression genial.
She’d forgotten this about him—he was a gentleman. A significant contretemps involving Maggie’s past had been resolved directly before her marriage, but only with Deene’s willing, adroit, and very discreet assistance. A damsel in distress, or a damsel in need of sustenance, would both loom as an inescapable duty to him.
“Please, but avoid the aged cheeses and anything bearing a resemblance to red wine.” She moved along the buffet line with him while he piled a single plate high with various delicacies.
“Let’s find a quiet corner, shall we?” Her escort leaned down to nearly whisper in her ear. “The less conspicuous I am, the less I’m likely to attract a wife.”
She did not snort, but the man could hardly help but attract notice. Were she anything less than the daughter of a duke—the theoretically daughter of a duke—he would be swarmed even in the buffet line.
“Perhaps in the gallery?” Eve suggested. She led him across the hall to the long, high-ceilinged space that opened onto the terraces. A few of the doors were propped open, making the place both quieter and cooler.
“Down there.” Deene gestured with the hand holding the plate. His other arm had been offered to Eve for escort, as if by her very presence, she could ward off encroaching mamas.
Which, if it came to that, she could.
They found a small table beneath an arch, a blessed oasis of privacy in an otherwise dauntingly public evening.
“I believe I owe you an apology,” Eve said when they were seated.
He lounged back in his chair, a delicate little wrought iron piece that barely looked capable of holding his weight. “For?”
“Perhaps not an apology.” Eve picked up a forced strawberry and considered it. “I love strawberries, but I have this notion they taste better when they’re allowed to develop according to their own natures.” She popped it in her mouth and watched while Deene did likewise with a smaller berry.
He had a lovely mouth. She hadn’t forgotten that for a moment, blast the man.
“What would you be apologizing for?” He picked up another strawberry, drawing Eve’s attention to his hands. Without his gloves, their strength was obvious. Those hands had been on her person, they’d offered her relief from misery, and at Christmas…
She frowned at a section of orange. “You haven’t tattled, so to speak. You have my thanks for that.”
“Tattled.” He sat forward, a predator catching a scent. The strawberry had disappeared, Eve knew not where. “Tattled, regarding your headache? What kind of gentleman would I be if I bruited a lady’s distress all around the clubs? How would that—?”
Eve shook her head. Men were obtuse. Her brothers claimed that women were too indirect and subtle, but it was a bona fide fact men were thickheaded about certain important matters.
“At Christmas,” she said very quietly. The walls had ears, after all. “You didn’t”—she stared at another section of orange—“kiss and tell. I appreciate that.”
She felt compelled to state her thanks for his discretion. The words put something right between them that Eve had been allowing to drift in the wrong direction. The spatting and skirmishing was all well and good, but this needed to be said too.
“Now this is interesting.” He addressed a luscious strawberry, red-ripe all over, the exact shape and size a strawberry ought to be, but when had his chair shifted so close? “I am trying to do the pretty without being caught in parson’s mousetrap, I suffer a small lapse of propriety while under the influence with a lady whom all esteem, and you think it’s name I’m protecting?”
He popped the strawberry into his mouth and considered her in a lazy-lidded way that had Eve’s insides pitching in odd directions.
“Why are you bristling, Deene? I’m offering my thanks.”
He finished chewing the strawberry, though his blue eyes had bored into hers as he’d consumed it. “Did you enjoy our kiss, Evie?”
Evie. Only her family called her that—and him. He said it with a particular intimate inflection her family never used though.
She sat up very straight. “Your question has no proper answer. If I say no, then I am dishonest—I flew at you, after all, and you had to peel me off of you—and if I say yes, then I am wicked.”
“Because if you enjoy that kiss,” he went on as if she hadn’t spoken, “for I certainly enjoyed it, then perhaps you might be thanking me for the kiss and not for keeping the silence any man with sense or manners would have kept.”
With him staring at her like that, it was hard to grasp the sense of his words, but Eve made the effort.
He was offended that she’d thanked him.
Any man admitted under her parents’ roof would have been discreet about such a moment.
He leaned forward, so close Eve could catch the scent of his lavender-and-cedar soap, so close she could…
Feel his lips, soft and knowing, against her cheek. Oh, she should turn away. There was no convenient tankard of spiked punch to blame, no holiday cheer, no reckless sense of yet another sibling slipping away into marriage.
His hand came up to cradle her jaw, then to shift her head slightly so she faced him. Those soft, knowing lips teased their way to her mouth, gently, inexorably. He did not use force or even anything approximating force. He her into the kiss.
That other kiss had been different. They’d started off observing a silly holiday tradition and ended up breathless and—she hoped—mutually surprised.
This kiss was—God help her, it was , deliberate, as delicious as the strawberries she could taste when Deene’s tongue seamed her lips. Her hand cradled his jaw, too, not to keep him close but to complement the sensation of his tongue easing into her mouth.
“Deene, I don’t know what to do.”
He said nothing, just covered her mouth with his again, openmouthed, and then his tongue came calling, teasing her to taste him in return. When she did, she felt a shudder go through him, felt him hitch closer physically, and felt her own sense of balance desert her.
Now she kept her hand on him as a point of reference, a way to keep the concepts of up, down, north, and south—his body and hers—all in an understandable relationship. He’d shaven recently, and—
He took her lower lip between his teeth and didn’t exactly bite, but closed his teeth over her flesh. The sensation was not of being trapped but of being held. Eve felt his other hand, large and warm, settle on her neck. The contact was lovely, comforting, intimate, and reassuring, while the kiss was anything but.
Maybe he sensed she was reaching her limit, because he took his mouth away and rested his forehead against hers instead. “Tell me you enjoyed that, Evie. One kiss doesn’t have to mean anything. It isn’t a great scandal. It’s just a small pleasure between two people who likely have little enough pleasure to call their own.”
His hand moved around to cover her nape, as if to encourage her to remain in this forehead-kiss until he’d had her answer, while she wanted to hide her face against his shoulder. “I enjoyed it. I should not have, but I did. The other, too. At Christmas. I enjoyed that.”
Such an admission was stupid, but in the privacy of their odd embrace—her other hand had come up to grasp his lapel—honesty felt safe. Honesty with him.
He eased away but kept his one hand on her jaw for a last, fleeting caress. The loss of him left Eve chilled and bewildered. What had she just permitted?
What had she just admitted?
“Have the last strawberry.” He pushed the plate closer to her, his expression inscrutable. He’d tasted like strawberries.
“Perhaps a bit of ham and melon,” she said, helping herself. Was this how sophisticated people conducted their kisses? Between bites of fruit while half the beau monde chattered itself insensate a few rooms away?
She was saved from having to scrounge up some credible inanity to serve as conversation by the approach of Jenny and Louisa. Her sisters should have been a welcome sight, a source of relief.
Amid all the other emotions rioting through her, Eve could not identify either relief or welcome.
© Grace Burrowes, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2013
Lady Eve's Got The Perfect Plan…
Pretty, petite Evie Windham has been more indiscreet than her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Moreland, suspect. Fearing that a wedding night would reveal her past, she's running out of excuses to dodge adoring swains. Lucas Denning, the newly titled Marquis of Deene, has reason of his own for avoiding marriage. So Evie and Deene strike a deal, each agreeing to be the other's decoy. At this rate, matrimony could be avoided indefinitely...until the two are caught in a steamy kiss that no one was supposed to see.
Praise for Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal:
"Burrowes delivers red-hot chemistry with a masterful mix of playfulness and sensuality."—Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"A tantalizing, delectably sexy story that is one of the best yet from an author on the way to the top."—Library Journal Starred Review
"A delight...strikingly unique characters with realistic emotions and exciting antics."—RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
"Captivating...historical romance at its finest and rife with mystery and intrigue."—Romance Fiction on Suite 101
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace Burrowes is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical romances. Her debut, The Heir, was selected as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for 2010 in the romance category, and Lady Louisa’s Christmas Wish won RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Romance of 2011 and was also nominated for the prestigious RWA RITA© award. The author of the bestsellers The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, and Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish, Grace is a practicing attorney and lives in rural Maryland. She’ll conclude to the Windham Family Series with Lady Jenny’s story in October 2013, and will begin a new regency series with Darius in April 2013. She also has a Scottish Victorian series as well, beginning with The Bridegroom Wore Plaid. Please visit http://www.graceburrowes.com/ or follow her on Twitter: @GraceBurrowes for more information.
To Purchase Lady Eve’s Indiscretion:Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Indigo/Chapters | Sourcebooks | Discover a New Love
GIVEAWAYThanks to Sourcebook I have a prize pack to giveaway. The books included are: Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal & Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight. To enter leave a comment along with your email address. Open to U.S. & Canada. The winner will be announced on February 12th. Good Luck!