With my free book promotion in full swing, I decided to have a bit of fun tonight by creating some art for the book.
Broken Shutters is a Historical Romance, but it is full of melodrama and even a bit of humor, courtesy of Melanie’s closest friend, Eleanor Covington. Whenever these two are together, you can always count on interesting chats full of sage wisdom from Eleanor.
I have to also mention that I was finally able to secure a wonderful recording artist for my audiobook.
All of the auditions were amazing, and it came down to the final audition I received. Her performance captured my emotions and imagination so much that I felt exactly as I did while I was writing the scene. Her name is Lillian Rachel. Her voice is like butter. Our schedule is set for the book to make its debut by March 1, 2023. I’m over the moon!
This artwork is a bit more subdued as Melanie realizes she is in quite a predicament. I’d say it’s self-explanatory…
Below I’ll share a scene from early on in the book.
Alexander leaned forward slightly and caught Melanie’s gaze. “You must be the Lady Ludwig,” he said. His voice was smooth and yet masculine.
“Yes, yes, this is my wife. Melanie, this is Lord Elswick,” Edward said.
“It’s an honor to meet you, Lord Elswick…finally,” Melanie said as she offered him her hand, and he kissed it lightly as Edward moved aside.
“The pleasure is all mine, my lady.” He bowed. His light blue eyes were nearly closed and then opened, meeting hers again as he straightened. “Edward, you never mentioned your wife was a descendant of Venus herself, or was it Helen of Troy?”
“Lord Elswick, you flatter me too much,” Melanie said, feeling a warmth rising in her cheeks.
“Surely you grow weary of such notice,” Alexander said with a smile as Edward moved back between them to take his seat.
Melanie looked away and lifted her goblet to her lips.
“Yes, I am a blessed man. I cannot deny it,” Edward conceded, then changed the subject. “How was your journey Elswick?”
“Quite muddy, obviously, but my horse is sure-footed in all weather, and fortunately for me, my ride is less than half a day, so I was able to wait out the storm and arrive dry.”
Their conversation continued for quite some time as Melanie could feel the two cups of wine she’d drank begin to course through her veins. The food was plenty, and the conversation void of anything relevant to her, as she tasted the venison stew and picked at her chicken pie. Wine, however, eventually replaced her inner thoughts with outward ones.
“Please excuse me, my Lord, the privy calls,” Edward said over a hearty laugh as he stumbled slightly from his chair and bowed as he went.
“Your husband is quite the character,” Alexander said.
“Indeed, he is,” Melanie answered with a demure smile.
“I hope you don’t mind me asking my lady but is that a new style of gown? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything like it.” Lord Elswick leaned forward, turning towards her. He rested his forearm on the table and pushed aside what remained of his meal. “Not that I’d have any knowledge of what’s new. I don’t often attend affairs as lavish as this and as such rarely see such loveliness and elaborate dress—in women or men both. However, I did notice you’re wearing the Elswick colors.” He stopped and took a deep breath. “I apologize,” he muttered, lowering his eyes as if embarrassed. “Obviously, I don’t speak much either.”
“Yes…yes, it is new, but the style is not. My seamstress is quite imaginative and talented. I usually sketch out an idea, and she works her magic,” Melanie said, doing her utmost not to sound in complete surprise that a man she just met would take notice of her gown. “I find how you speak refreshing. Please don’t shy away from honesty. It’s so rare in these times.”
“My own dear wife…” He paused and sighed. “She has been unwell since we moved back to my estate. It’s been a difficult adjustment for her since we came. The physicians believe the damp weather does not agree with her.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that.” Melanie’s eyes were filled with concern and sorrow. Is there nothing that can be done for her?”
“They’ve tried tonics and an array of other therapies to no avail.” He seemed sad and yet spoke more with acceptance than deep concern. Melanie couldn’t discern if he was concealing his unhappiness with the situation or had simply come to terms with it as their new reality, him working to restore Elswick to its former glory, and she abed with sickness.
“I’ll pray for her, my Lord.”
“Thank you, my lady.” He nodded.
“Melanie, please.” She swallowed hard after saying it, believing that perhaps she was behaving too familiar. Inwardly, however, being in Lord Elswick’s company was easy and felt mysteriously safe. “It seems my husband has gotten lost on his way to and from.” She craned her neck, searching the room for any sign of him as the band began to play.
“I’ve heard wonderful things about this band of yours and the singer…Bellamy, is it?”
“Yes. Bellamy is quite talented with a love song. All the young women in the castle are quite taken with him.”
“Are you?” he asked over a devilish grin.
“I beg your par…” she started to say, and then the wine flushed her cheeks as she burst into laughter. “My goodness Lord Elswick, your humor got the best of me!”
“Alexander, please,” he said, reaching over Edward’s chair and offering her his hand. Melanie stared at it as he reached farther out to her, and she slowly slid hers into it. “May I have this dance, Melanie? It’s been quite a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of dancing with such a lovely woman or, to be honest, as you requested, dancing at all.”
Melanie took another long look around the room, doing her utmost not to notice the slightly rough texture of his palm against hers as he gently squeezed it. He is definitely unafraid of hard work, she thought. Still unable to locate Edward, she took a drink from her cup and nodded. “I’d be honored.”
Alexander led her out onto the ballroom floor. He bowed, and she curtsied as they stepped in line with the other dancers. Before the dancing started, he stepped forward and whispered in her ear, “Music is my passion, as is dancing, although they come second and third to beauty…in all things.”
Melanie felt flush again as the music started and the dance began. Their eyes connected with a smile at every turn as they passed and bowed and curtsied their way through the song until she found herself in his arms for a moment and then spun away again. She was conscious of how she moved, how her gown moved, and of something else she couldn’t comprehend.
He was tall and thick and yet gentle and light on his feet. Although not Bellamy handsome or even Edward handsome, he had a pleasant countenance and an inherent gentleness beneath his masculine form. She liked how his chestnut hair shined in waves beneath the candle’s glow from the grand chandelier above. His arms were well-muscled beneath his doublet. Although not small and delicate, her hands seemed to get lost in his when they came together.
At last, the song ended as they came face to face and palm to palm for the last time. But a second felt like an eternity as the dancers began to applaud, and she finally broke their gaze and clapped as well.
“You’re quite the dancer Lord Elswick,” Melanie declared as he escorted her from the dance floor.
“Thank you, Melanie, as are you. Your band is very talented. It felt wonderful to dance again.”
“They’ve been playing together for quite some time. Years of practicing and performing has made them an accomplished ensemble.”
“There you are!” Edward exclaimed as they approached the table.
I wanted to thank those of you who have shared my promotion, reblogged my posts, or even taken advantage of the free download. My aim was to reach as many readers as possible and acquire as many reviews as possible as a result. So far, with the assistance of Book Butterfly, The Fussy Librarian, and all of you generous people, the free downloads are growing by the minute. I’m still shooting for the stars, so stay tuned! I broke the Amazon Top 100 Free Books list today so cross your fingers that Broken Shutters keeps climbing!