Hello, gentle reader, and welcome to the second annual British Blooms and Books giveaway! This week, we’d like to celebrate the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show. After enjoying this post, please visit each of the other five authors’ blogs (links provided below) and, after reading, follow one simple instruction and then leave a comment on each blog. You’ll be entered to win a fabulous, British Blooms and Books prize. (US winners only, please, due to shipping the petit fours.) Enjoy, and thank you for stopping by!
A Tempting Gift of Roses by Julie Klassen
In The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, flowers play a small but significant role in the lives of a few different characters. In the following scene, a distant cousin who inherited Rachel Ashford’s former home–and with it her mother’s garden—visits the girls’ school where Rachel is now living, bringing a bouquet of her mother’s favorite peach-colored roses:
Nicholas Ashford was well dressed in deep blue frock coat, striped waistcoat, trousers, and a beaver hat atop his head. In one hand, he held a rustic bouquet of roses. Peach roses.
Her smile came naturally then. “Hello, Mr. Ashford.”
“Miss Ashford.” He bowed over the flowers, and she curtsied.
Around her, the schoolgirls buzzed with a rush of whispered curiosity.
Mr. Ashford cleared his throat. “I thought you might be in a drawing room or parlour. I did not realize you would be out here, with all of these . . . pupils.”
What had he meant to say—witnesses? Eavesdroppers? Either of those descriptors would have been perfectly accurate.
“Yes, supervising the girls out-of-doors is one way I can help,” Rachel explained. “Though I am afraid I am not very good at their games. I have never been athletic.”
“Well, there are more important qualities.”
His shy, admiring gaze rested on her, and she felt her face heat.
He looked down, and suddenly seemed to remember the bouquet in his hand. “I wanted to bring you these. I said I would, and I am a man of my word.”
And that was worth a great deal, as she had learned.
“I hope I chose the right ones,” he said. “I thought it would be easy—gather a bunch and off we go, but I’m afraid the arrangement leaves much to be desired.”
True, some of the roses were already bowing their heads, and the stems were uneven.
“Never mind,” she said. “It was very thoughtful of you. And no doubt the Miss Groves have a vase I can use to—”
“A vase!” With his free hand, he smacked his temple. “You don’t have one. Of course you don’t. What an idiot; I should have thought of that. I shall bring you another bouquet. A better one. In a Thornvale vase, which you must keep, and . . .”
She pressed his arm to halt his self-reproach. “Mr. Ashford. Nicholas. It is all right, I promise you.”
At her touch and the sound of his given name on her lips, he fell silent and held her gaze a bit too earnestly for comfort.
She tentatively held out her hands. “May I?”
“Oh. Of course.” He thrust the roses forward and relinquished them at last, and only then did she notice the cloth strip bandages around three fingers and thin red scratches on the backs of his hands.
“Oh, dear,” she murmured.
He looked down at them as well. “I know. I should have worn gloves. Again, I misjudged the thorny endeavor.”
She smiled at his little joke. “Does it hurt?”
He shook his head. “It was well worth it, if you are pleased….”
Rachel likes the thoughtful young man who has asked to court her. She knows marrying him would save her from a life of poor spinsterhood and allow her to move back into her former home. She wonders if she should agree to his proposal before her own bloom fades. If only her heart didn’t still miss someone else…
I hope whoever wins a copy of the novel will enjoy it, along with 5 other novels set in England:
Please sign up for my email list, and comment below to be entered to win. (If you are already on my list, simply comment below. Either way, be sure your name is included in your comment.)
One grand prize winner who comments on each of the six authors’ blogs and agrees to the one boldfaced condition posted at the end of each post by 5/27/17 will win a signed copy of each of the books plus delivery of six English hat petit fours to enjoy to enjoy while you read.
Name will be drawn via random.org.
Melanie Dickerson’s Post
Melanie Dobson’s Post
Carrie Turansky’s Post
Roseanna White’s Post
Sanda Byrd’s Post