Title: Twelve Days to Love
Author: Christine Young
Genre: Historical Romance
Book Heat Level: 3
Buy at: Amazon
Archer Steele shows up at Calanthe Durand’s failing plantation with an alligator over his shoulder, intent on doing everything and anything to convince the beautiful Miss Durand he is worthy of her love.
BLURB: Twelve Days to Love
When Archer Steele shows up at Calanthe Durand’s failing plantation with an alligator over his shoulder, Cali thinks she’s never seen a more handsome man. During the war she had to defend herself and her servants from both union and confederate soldiers. Independent and self-sufficient, she vows to never marry.
But Archer Steele has different ideas. The first time Archer sees Cali in town, he feels an instant attraction. He decides he will do everything and anything to convince the beautiful Miss Durand he is worthy of her love. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, he gives her twelve gifts in hopes she will fall in love with him. Yet they are faced with challenges they must overcome before Cali can commit to a marriage.
EXCERPT: Twelve Days to Love
“When that window shattered, I thought the world was comin’ to an end. The glass was everywhere, rain pelting into the room. I was terrified, and he was there, helping, knowing just what to do.”
“He took charge. Just like he probably commanded his men during the war.” Cali understood that truth. She’d seen her share of troops stay at her home and listened to the officers giving orders. Some had been upstanding gentleman while others were ruthless, taking what they wanted and leaving nothing behind.
“Well, without him, Miss Cali, we would have lost furniture, paintings...”
A vase that had been given to her mother and father as a wedding gift crashed to the floor, but she’d been able to save other objects when Archer raced outside to board up the windows for a second time. Sam had followed, and together they finished the job.
“More tea?” Daisy rose from the table to retrieve the teapot.
“Yes, that would be nice. We should get started on that fabric we bought in the French Quarter before the storm. Sam needs shirts, and we both need a couple new serviceable day dresses.” To Cali, sewing was cathartic. She could sew all day if she had enough fabric. Alas, she could only afford material for everyday needs.
“I’ll get right to it. Do you have any fashion plates you want to look at, or do you just want to use old ones?”
“Old ones will do. Don’t have the time or the desire to sort through the latest fashions from Paris.” Cali hadn’t looked at fashion plates since before the war when a dressmaker had created all her clothes. That was such a long time ago. She knew Daisy would be laughing inside. Daisy asked the same question every time they made dresses, and her answer never varied. They didn’t have any updated fashion plates to look through.
“Let’s finish this cup of tea then get started. I’ll clean up the kitchen, and you can sort through the material.”
“I’ll meet you in the sewing room.” Cali added a lump of sugar to her tea and a bit of milk before sipping thoughtfully.
Daisy was silent, but Cali watched her deep brown and intelligent eyes as they peered over the teacup. What matchmaking scheme was Daisy conspiring now? Or was she paranoid? Fancying things she shouldn’t be imagining.
“Penny for your thoughts? Daisy asked.
“I was thinking the same, wondering what you were dreaming up. I don’t want you scheming a way to get Mr. Archer here. If he comes of his own accord, then fine. I’ll figure things out, but don’t entice him here. And I’m not going to seek him out.”
“Fine.” Cali sipped the last bit of tea and grabbing another biscuit, she started for the sewing room.
Cali knew Daisy would mull that over in her mind, and she also knew she was still trying to figure a way for Archer to come to her. Ignoring the disarray in the sewing room, she rummaged through the bolts of fabric, accepting the fact most of what they bought was appropriate for Sam’s work clothes and not dresses.
“My goodness this place is a mess.” One of the windows that shattered during the storm was located in this room. Under normal circumstances this place was bright, sunshine filtering inside. Today it was dark and so dreary it sent a shiver down her spine. She rubbed her arms, warding off the chill then spun on a heel, leaving the room.
A few minutes later she was back, putting mosquito netting over the now open window. A cool breeze flowed through the opening.
“Why, Miss Cali, that was brilliant.” Daisy stood in the doorway seeming to admire Cali’s handiwork.
“Thank you.” Cali set about straightening the room and cleaning up debris from the tempest. A few branches had found their way inside as well as leaves and mud.
“Good thing the new bolts of fabric were put in a safe place before the hurricane hit.” Daisy removed the netting and tossed a branch and some leaves out the window.
“Doubt if we’re going to get much sewing done today. This place is a jumble. I’ll go downstairs and bring up a couple of mops and a pail of soapy water.”
In the kitchen, Cali put a few pots and pans on the stove to heat the water to room temperature before locating two buckets, and other paraphernalia needed to clean the sewing room. It had been a couple of weeks since the hurricane, and they’d had so many chores around the house, this was the first time she’d thought of this particular area of the house. Of course, when you need to sew new clothes, that’s when you remember how the storm tore that chamber apart.
“Miss Cali...” Sam stood in the doorway.
“Oh my! Her hand flew to her chest. You scared me. Guess I was lost in thought.”
“Sorry, but there is someone here to see you.” Sam cleared his throat, stepping aside.
“Mr. Steele? Whatever...? I didn’t expect you.” Her hand on her throat, she tried to swallow while she was thinking he was even more handsome today than he’d been the last time she saw him. His dress was casual. He wore buckskins for pants, along with a white shirt and a leather jacket with a small amount of fringe. He’d pulled his dark hair back and tied it with a leather strap.
Historical, Romance, Regency, England