Friday, March 28, 2014

Waltz in Time by Eugenia Riley Excerpt

Waltz in Time by Eugenia Riley

From #1 Kindle Bestselling Time Travel Romance author Eugenia Riley, a HOLT Medallion Winning Book!

She waltzes across time as a matchmaker, only to fall in love with the groom . . .

Stephanie Sergeant has returned to Natchez to live with her sister Sam in the splendid antebellum mansion both inherited from Great-aunt Magnolia. But there is no peace at Harmony House. The grand estate is haunted not only by an ever-fretful Magnolia, but also by a gaggle of ghosts from the late-nineteenth century, including the spirits of a lovelorn former governess and her five rambunctious charges.

Stephanie learns that the governess, “Miss Ebbie,” died of a broken heart after falling for the children’s widowed father. Determined to save Ebbie’s life and restore peace in the household, Stephanie soon embarks on an amazing waltz across time, straight into the arms of a dashing Southern rogue!

Stephanie is astounded to find herself transported to the year 1878, where she meets Ebbie and the children. But she is even more flabbergasted to find herself the instant romantic quarry of her devastating host, Andre Goddard. Stephanie knows she’s been sent across time on a mission, to save Ebbie’s life by matching her up with Andre. Can she transform the shy spinster into a bold and alluring creature who can capture Andre’s eye, while keeping him at bay in the meantime?

But Stephanie finds that the more she tries to pair up Ebbie with Andre, the more the sexy scamp and his five adorable children gravitate toward her. In the battle to save Ebbie’s life, will Stephanie lose her own heart instead?

Waltz in Time is an enchanting full-length time travel romance of approximately 112,000 words. Author Eugenia Riley is the acclaimed, bestselling author of numerous historical, contemporary and time travel romances, including A Tryst in Time and Bushwhacked Bride. She has written for publishers including Avon, Bantam, Warner, Harlequin and Dorchester.

An Excerpt from Waltz in Time by Eugenia Riley

Lost in time in the romantic Old South!

Andre was standing in the shadows of the veranda, sipping brandy, when he heard the clamor in Stephanie’s room. Seconds later, one of her French doors banged open, and he observed Stephanie doing a silly little dance with a fireplace broom before bursting outside. In amazement, he watched her wriggle her way down the veranda, all the while bent over thrashing with her ridiculous little broom, her derriere bobbing becomingly.
He watched her turn at the sound of his laughter, regarding him in shock, wisps of hair trailing enticingly about her face. "Are you practicing some quaint new housekeeping technique, Madame Sergeant?" he called.
Stephanie was taken aback by the sight of him in the moonlight, his shirt partially unbuttoned, a snifter of brandy in his hand, and merriment glinting in his eyes. Embarrassed, she stammered, "I—I didn’t see you standing there."
"Obviously not," he drawled, "or you doubtless would have swept me out of your way, too."
Stephanie had to laugh.
Andre drew several steps closer, eyeing her in mingled amusement and perplexity. "Madame, you are forever delighting me with new aspects of your character." He nodded toward the broom she held. "Tell me, are you so obsessed with cleanliness that you would resort to such absurd measures? I’m sure we’ve a full-size broom somewhere down in the butler’s pantry."
Stephanie chortled. "I guess I must have looked pretty silly."
He eyed her intently. "Silly is not the word I would have chosen, but you definitely intrigued me."
"You don’t understand. I was sweeping a mouse out of my room."
"Ah," he murmured. "Heaven help the poor rodent that crosses the path of the formidable Madame Sergeant."
She cast him a scolding look.
He offered her his snifter. "Here, have a drink to calm yourself."
Propping her broom against the house, she waved him off. "I assure you, I’m no swooning woman with a bad case of nerves."
"On the contrary, you appeared on the verge of apoplexy just now, so I insist." He pressed the snifter into her hands. "Besides, this is quite an excellent French brandy."
After slanting him another chiding glance, Stephanie lifted the snifter and took a slow sip, feeling a decadent thrill to be sharing the same glass with him. "You’re right—it’s wonderful." She handed the snifter back, feeling a new twinge of excitement as their fingers brushed. "Now if you’ll excuse me . . ."
"But I don’t excuse you," he replied.
Stephanie felt her hackles rising. "Look, if you’re planning to lecture me again regarding Henry Robillard, you can just forget it."
Andre whistled. "Why would you assume I was going to lecture you again?"
"Because you’re always trying to interfere in matters that are none your concern."
Andre shook his head. "Those who live under my roof are none of my concern? Whence do you hail, Madame, that you’ve acquired such peculiar notions?"
Stephanie fought a grudging smile; she supposed that, from the perspective of the typical nineteenth century male, he had a point. "I guess in some ways, I must seem odd to you."
He offered her a conciliatory smile. "Why don’t we just try to call a truce for now?"
"A truce?" She flashed him a superior look. "If you’re so anxious to establish peace, is that why you left the tin of bonbons in my room?"
He chuckled. "You seem to be suffering from the delusion that some mysterious person keeps visiting your room."
"I know you have."
He regarded her sheepishly. "Madame, as I’ve stated previously, I do regret our little disagreements. I’d like you to realize I’m really not so terrible a fellow."
"Yes, you’ve convinced me you’re a saint," she quipped back. "But now I must go in."
He touched her arm. "No, please stay for a while."
"Why?" she asked, intrigued and disarmed.
He shook his head wonderingly. "You really don’t know, do you?"
"No, but I could guess."
"If you guessed, you’d be wrong," he stated.
"Would I?" Stephanie crossed her arms over her bosom. "You know, I’d love to be wrong about you for a change. So tell me why I should stay."
Turning toward the railing, he made a sweeping gesture. "Because it’s a sin to turn one’s back on so beautiful a night."
Caught off-guard by his words, Stephanie stared out at the picturesque moonlit grounds. She watched the foliage stir in the breeze. The light was exquisite, and the scent of the air was intoxicating. The night was incredible, she had to admit it. And he was right—she hadn’t even noticed.
Andre moved closer to her. "Look, Madame. See how beautiful the moon is, and watch the light dance on the Spanish moss. Hear the whistle of the wind and the sawing of the crickets, smell the jasmine, the roses."
Stephanie felt her senses stirring at his words, along with an unexpected tenderness, and twinges of regret. How long had it been since she’d taken the time to gaze out at a beautiful night? But could she afford to do so with him so temptingly close? Remembering how they’d both almost lost control in his office earlier that day, she didn’t think so.
"Yes, the night is lovely," she acknowledged, her voice quivering slightly. "But I mustn’t linger."
"Why? Does a night like this bring memories of your departed husband? Does it make you sad?"
Amazed by his insight, and feeling a rush of bittersweet emotion, Stephanie nonetheless shook her head. "My husband would never have wanted me to look at a beautiful night and feel sad."
Andre nodded. "Then he was quite a noble fellow."
"Yes, he was."
He edged closer still, regarding her wistfully. "The night can bring out secret yearnings, you know."
His words, while tantalizing, put Stephanie in a half panic. "Look, I really can’t be having this conversation with you."
He touched her shoulder. "Wait. You have no real idea what I’m talking about, do you?"
Bewildered, she could only stare at him.
Once again, he gestured out at the grounds. "When I was young, my family lived in a big house south of town. In the evenings, all of us used to gather on the front gallery, and Mama would read to us children."
"How charming," she murmured.
"She’d also tell stories of our family history, of her and Papa’s travels. On spring or summer nights, we children used to play on the front lawn. We’d lie in the grass on our backs, smell the magnolia blossoms and look up at the stars, even dream of how we might visit the heavens."
Stephanie found her gaze drawn up to the sky. The images he spun were entrancing.
"I hear you read to my children now," he went on. "Did anyone read to you when you were young?"
"Of course," she replied tightly. "My parents did."
Gently, he teased, "And what was the stern Madame Sergeant reared on? Perhaps lectures on household efficiency, or mastering one’s schedule?"
She rolled her eyes at him. "Certainly not. My parents read me Perrault and Hans Christian Anderson, the Arabian nights."
"Ah, fairy tales. Then we shared some of the same stories."
"I suppose we did."
"And there was also a time when Madame was more fanciful, no? That is, before you became preoccupied with agendas and rules, and silly little brooms."
Stephanie couldn’t answer him. She was fighting an unexpected lump in her throat.
Andre looked toward the sky. "As a boy, I used to gaze up at those heavens and imagine myself gathering stars in a big basket."
"What a beautiful image."
"And you? Did you have such yearnings?"
Stephanie hesitated, realizing this conversation could stray easily into dangerous territory. She looked up at the sky, and felt poignant memories welling up. "I’ve never gotten to travel much. Sometimes when I was young, I used to stare up at the night sky and wonder what it would be like to see the moon and those stars from another perspective—like standing in the Piazza San Marco in Venice, or on the Left Bank in Paris, or in the Strand in London."
He reached out to touch her cheek. "I’ve been to all those places, Stephanie. I could take you there."
She shut her eyes. She dared not answer him.
"Stephanie, look at me."
She opened her eyes to see him gazing at her soulfully. The night swirled about them, like a sensual blanket enfolding them, pulling them closer.
"What do you yearn for now?" he whispered.
Oh, he could be devastating! Even as her heart thrummed out a passionate response, she knew she dared not answer honestly.
"I—I think it’s time for us to call it a night."
Surprising her, he only smiled and sipped his brandy. "Pleasant dreams, Stephanie."
Unsteadily, she turned and reentered her bedroom. Already she very much feared her dreams would be of him . . .

Copyright © 1997 by Eugenia Riley Essenmacher

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