Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 95 pages
Heat Level: 1
eBook Price: $.99
Print Book: $5.99
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 95 pages
Heat Level: 1
eBook Price: $.99
Print Book: $5.99
Izzy Hodgkin just wants her vacation to London, England, to be an adventure. Who knew that involved being locked in a closet only to find it’s 1812 when the door is opened by a handsome duke?
Thrust into a life she didn’t ask for, Izzy struggles to come to terms with the fact she might be stuck in another century. There doesn’t seem to be an instructional manual for the rules of time travel. Everything is foreign. Clothes, accents, customs. For a girl from modern America, being told that women aren’t equal to men is hard to take. Although it does help that the duke, Charles, is the most gorgeous creature Izzy has ever seen.
Will Izzy stick with her plan to attempt to return to present day America to achieve her goal of financial independence? Or will she and Charles find happiness in 1812?
Present day, London England
“Will someone let me out? Please?” Izzy took deep breaths, grasping her fingers together until they tingled and threatened to go numb. Her legs and lips would be next. She hated the out-of-control feelings panic attacks gave her. Visiting the old estate had turned out to be a bad idea. Why had she followed the sound of a cat meowing into a dark room? Yes, she loved cats and had thought the poor thing might have been in distress, but look where it had gotten her.
With little light in the room, she’d sucked in a gulp of stale air when the door clicked shut behind her. She’d tried to open it only to find it locked. The room had turned out to be a closet. A small one. Not the best place for a claustrophobic.
Izzy slumped to the floor and tried to calm her rapid heartbeat. Maybe visiting England had been a mistake, even though she’d dreamed of it for years and had used up a lot of her savings to pay for it. All she’d wanted was to have an adventure and learn something new. And somewhere in the back of her mind, she’d secretly hoped for a little no-strings-attached romance. But the way her trip had gone so far, none of that was happening.
Now she was locked in a blasted closet. She tasted salt from her upper lip and knew she’d started to perspire. Hot sweat collided with frigid chills, as her body couldn’t decide which way to turn. At times, her panic attacks left her wringing wet. Would this one be the same? Breathe, Izzy.
Clutching her tan chinos with numbing fingers, she grasped at anything she could find in the dark. Her short fingernails snagged on a hole in the knee of her slacks. Had it happened when she fell to the floor? Somehow, holding onto something gave her a tiny sense of control, even if what she held on to was herself. Stagnant, dusty air coated her throat, and her eyes watered. The air smelled… old, like her grandmother’s trunk in the attic when Izzy visited as a little girl. Had the peculiar odor come from the huge fireplace? She’d been admiring how the stones fit together right before the sound of the cat’s mewing had lured her away.
But the smell didn’t make any sense. The house had been around for a century, but surely the people who ran the tours kept the building clean. She hadn’t noticed it during her sightseeing or even when she was first trapped in the closet. Only now. Was she losing her mind? How long would it take for someone to find her and let her out?
A scratching sound low on the other side of the door caused her to look that direction, even though there was barely enough light from the tiny crack by the floor to see much. It made her think of animals clawing, trying to get through the door to attack her. She gasped. Was it the cat she’d heard before?
Her breathing hitched as finding air seemed harder to do. Wheezes and coughs were her companions now. Would she suffocate in there? What would happen to her if she died and they found her body? The only family she had left was her father, and he wouldn’t bother to find out what happened to her. As her vision swam and whirled, a vague background noise hummed around her. Voices. Male voices. Who was that?
Charles glanced at his cat. The animal seemed agitated, swishing her tail as she sniffed every inch of the crack below the closet door. What had gotten into her?
“Nephew! Are you paying attention? Why are you staring at the cat?”
Charles leaned against the stones of the hearth and sighed as he swung his gaze back to Uncle Sebastian. He’d listened to his uncle drone on and on. Prattle and nonsense. Could the man never be quiet? Nearly every day for the last two months, he’d had to hear about the necessity of attending Lord and Lady Kringle’s Christmas Eve Ball at Holly Hall.
He had no desire to attend. Every ball and party was the same, which was why he usually avoided them. Loud, overbearing mothers who wanted a duke in the family flung their daughters at him. If he’d not met someone who took his interest by now, would he ever?
The boredom threatening to overtake him at such functions was nearly unbearable. He would stand on the sidelines, watching men fall over each other for a turn around the room with whoever the current beauty of the season happened to be. Attempting to hide his sigh with a pleasant expression when he would rather be anywhere else wasn’t easy. Why did his uncle feel the need to keep pestering him about going?
Something scratched near him. What was that noise? He frowned, trying to concentrate on Sebastian’s words. Charles knew every person in their tight-knit community, and there was no woman of appropriate age and standing who could make him happy. The women discussed the same subjects over and over while they simpered and giggled, waving their fans in front of their faces as if they had the vapors. Thoughts of spending time with any of them set his stomach to roil. Was there not a woman out there with a mind of her own with whom he could hold an intelligent conversation? Yes, of course, he could always marry someone for whom he had no feelings, which was the fate of many of his friends, but that wasn’t what he wanted.
Charles drew his brows together when he heard a raking sound against the wood on the door. Pivoting away from his uncle and the boring conversation, he took a step toward the closet. “Kitty, stop it.”
Sebastian cleared his throat, snapping Charles’ mind and attention back to the conversation. “Charles, are you even listening? You need to choose a bride. Soon.” The older man tugged his coat down over his bulging belly. Gold buttons would surely shoot across the room any moment. Maybe Charles should take cover.
Charles sighed. “Uncle, I haven’t met anyone who interests me.”
“What has that got to do with anything?”
He glanced toward the floor. Knowing what his uncle thought of his ideas and wishes, he didn’t want to meet his gaze. “I feel there must be someone out there. Someone meant for me.”
His uncle snorted. “I don’t know where you get your ideas, nephew. Maybe from all those books you read.” He tilted his head and rubbed his chin. “What was that old, dusty one I saw you with last night? ‘Gilbert’s Adventure’?”
Charles watched his uncle through slanted eyes. “‘Gulliver’s Travels.’”
Sebastian flicked his hand through the air. “Yes, yes. That’s the one. Nonsense. A waste of your time.”
Charles didn’t want to be disrespectful to his elder but wished at times his uncle would at least not ridicule his interest in reading about people and worlds unlike their own. Had the man no imagination? Or had he not ever longed to see something other than this drafty old house?
Sebastian waddled across the floor to the sideboard where the wine was kept. A crystal decanter reflected sun from the window across the room. “I wasn’t in love with your aunt when we courted, and she wasn’t in love with me, but we were married for thirty years before she died. You’re getting older. And need to choose a bride. The Christmas Eve Ball is the perfect opportunity.” After the older man drank down the wine in a single slurp, he set his goblet on the sideboard with a thunk.
Charles opened his mouth to protest but closed it. His uncle was already halfway out of the room. For a large man, he scuttled quickly. No use anyway, as his uncle was set in his ways and mind. There was no changing him.
More noise came from his left. Charles glanced down and frowned. The cat was furiously pawing the closet door. What’s she doing? He walked toward the closet and tried to pick the feline up. But the cat was having none of it. Twisting and kicking, she pulled loose from Charles’ grasp, sliding down his trouser leg to resume her activity.
Charles narrowed his eyes. “What’s so interesting in there, Kitty? Moths?” Kitty’s nose stayed buried in the tiny opening between the door and the frame, her paws swiping faster and faster until Charles feared the animal would expire from the effort. Charles knelt on the floorboards and leaned closer to the wooden door. Was that a whimper? He widened his eyes. Surely there wasn’t a creature trapped in his closet. Was that why Kitty was so frantic?Charles stood and nudged the feline toward the doorway with the toe of his boot and then herded the animal into the other room. He retraced his steps and grasped the closet handle. Edging the door open with a creak, he peered into the darkness.
Ruth J. Hartman spends her days herding cats and her nights spinning sweet romantic tales that make you smile, giggle, or laugh out loud. She, her husband, and their three cats love to spend time curled up in their recliners watching old Cary Grant movies. Well, the cats, Maxwell, Roxy, and Remmie, sit in the people's recliners. Not that the cats couldn't get their own furniture. They just choose to shed on someone else's. You know how selfish those little furry creatures can be.
Ruth, a left-handed, cat-herding, Jeep driving, farmhouse-dwelling romance writer uses her goofy sense of humor as she writes tales of lovable, klutzy women and the men who adore them. Ruth's husband and best friend, Garry, reads her manuscripts, rolls his eyes at her weird story ideas, and loves her in spite of her penchant for insisting all of her books have at least one cat in them. Or twelve. But hey, who's counting?