HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Today it’s all about Rebellious Bride…
I’ve done many book signings over the years but one particular book signing I did for Rebellious Bride has stuck long in my memory. I was doing the signing with two other romance authors in a bookstore in a mall. We were at a table near the entrance where people passing could see us. It was a good book signing, quite a few people stopped to talk with us and buy our books. We rarely got men coming to the table so when one approached and asked which one of us was Donna Fletcher I was a bit taken back but I acknowledged it was me.
I was shocked and a bit skeptical when he told me that he really enjoyed my books and that he read them on the bus on his way to work. I thought he was teasing me but when he went on to tell me about my other books and what he liked about them I was stunned. He actually was a fan.
We had a nice talk and he bought my book and made my day. While I always felt the old adage never judge a book by its cover was true that man made me realize it more than ever that day.
Lil learns that lesson in Rebellious Bride when she immediately upon meeting Lord Sherborn takes him for a dandy. She has no tolerance for him and besides she’s much too busy learning about medicine to care about an English lord who knows nothing about the West.
Here’s an excerpt. This is when Lil first meets Lord Sherborn.
Several wagons packed to the brim had already rolled past the bank where Henry Smith stood waiting for Lord Sherborn to arrive. Sam and Lil joined him, and his weak smile appeared to strengthen some.
Two more wagons followed, and behind them—to the loud gasps of astonishment from the crowd—appeared a grandiose coach. It was shiny black trimmed in silver, with two oil lamps attached on either side of the front, and it was pulled by four well-groomed and magnificent horses.
Its appearance brought a few words to Lil’s mind: inappropriate, useless, senseless. She wondered how he had gotten it this far and kept it so clean, plus keeping it in one piece. She also had no doubt that the occupant somehow bore a striking resemblance to the ostentatious coach.
When it pulled to a stop in front of the bank, the crowd hovered close, attempting to get a better look. The driver, obviously a hired cowhand, climbed down from the cushioned seat with a smile. He removed his hat and brushed at the dust on his clothes, and when he thought himself presentable, he opened the carriage door.
A hush descended over the crowd, and breathing suspended. A black boot appeared, as shiny as Lil had expected it to be, and was followed by black and gray striped trousers, a black brocade vest, a black coat, a white silk shirt, and a black cravat.
“What no walking stick?” Lil mumbled.
“Shhh,” her father reprimanded, though neither could conceal a smile when the silver tip of a black walking stick touched the ground.
Lil shook her head as her eyes traveled up the length of him. His form appeared in good shape, judging from the precise fit of his clothes, though he was most certainly out of place here in the West dressed like that, and—
Her thoughts skidded to an abrupt halt when her eyes reached his face. “Handsome” was not a strong enough word to describe his features. His eyes were a rare haunting blue, a color one could not easily forget. Lil felt certain of that when she heard many a woman around her gasp at the sight of him. His nose was slim and well-shaped—perfect, actually. His cheeks and jaw were chiseled flawlessly, his lips were sleek and smooth, and his dark hair was tied back at the nape of his neck and looked to be, when loose, shoulder length. He held his head erect and his shoulders back; his brow appeared slightly lifted as though he peered down at everyone. He possessed an air of aristocratic arrogance, and Lil was completely put off by his obvious snobbery.
“Lor-Lord Sherborn.” Henry Smith stumbled over his greeting nervously as he approached the coach.
Lord Sherborn gave an almost undetectable nod as though granting Henry permission to continue.
Lil raised one brow slightly, an indication to those who were familiar with her manner that she was annoyed.
Henry continued with a bit more control, though his voice trembled and halted occasionally. “Lord Sherborn, as a representative of the town of Little, I wish to welcome you most warmly to your new home. We”—Henry extended his hand out over the crowd to demonstrate he spoke for the whole town—”are at your disposal and hope to help make your transition to this new land a pleasant one. Please don’t hesitate to seek our counsel day or night.”
Lil watched as Lord Sherborn took a deep breath, expanding his chest slightly and causing Lil to realize he was larger than she had first thought. She continued to watch him critically as he scanned the sea of eager faces. He didn’t return their smiles. He calculatedly studied all of them as though sizing them up for future reference. At that instant Lil decided her dislike for Lord Sherborn. He was, as she suspected, a fancy-pant who cared for nothing more than himself and his title.
She was ready to take her leave when he spoke. The full richness of his voice caught her by surprise.
“Your greeting is sincerely appreciated and though this land is new to me, I don’t think anyone’s counsel will be necessary. The journey was long and tedious, and I wish to retire to my estate to rest. We can speak further tomorrow at one, Mr. Smith.”
Lil was furious that Henry raised no protest. He smiled and nodded in agreement, not at all perturbed by the man’s imperious remarks. She was determined to relieve herself of the lord’s obnoxious presence when Henry spoke up.
“Lord Sherborn, before you go, I would like to introduce you to Little’s esteemed sheriff Sam Prescott and his lovely daughter—Lil.”
“Glad to meet you, Lord Sherborn,” Sam said and extended his hand.
Lil was surprised by the pleasant smile Sherborn offered her father and the firm handshake. “I’m pleased to meet you, Sheriff. I’ve heard many good things about you. There are some matters I would like to discuss with you. Say, tomorrow at two.”
“Sounds fine with me,” Sam agreed.
Lord Sherborn then turned to Lil and looked down at her, though not in a superior manner. It was just that he was well over six feet tall while she was only five feet four. Still, his haunting eyes assessed her so thoroughly that for the first time in her life she felt short.
“My daughter, Lil.” Sam repeated the introduction in case the lord had forgotten Lil’s name.
“A strange name,” Lord Sherborn commented without taking his eyes from hers.
Naturally Lil, not being one to back down, refused to cast her eyes away as a polite lady should.
“It’s Lillian, actually,” Sam explained in an attempt to ease the obvious tension between the pair.
“Yes. Lillian. That name I am familiar with,” Lord Sherborn said, sounding as if the matter was inconsequential. “It is nice to meet you, Lillian.”
Lil gave him the kind of smile that always made her father cringe, since it was usually followed by an inappropriate remark. “It is nice to meet you . . . ” She paused a moment for effect, then continued, “I don’t think I caught your name.”
Lord Sherborn raised his brow considerably. “Sherborn.”
Lil shook her head and spoke in the tone of a teacher directing a simple-minded child. “No, that name I heard. I mean your given name. Mine is Lil, and yours is . . .”
Henry Smith gasped quite loudly, and her father moaned softly.
Lord Sherborn glared at her.
“You do have a first name? The English do that sort of thing, don’t they? I mean, it isn’t just a barbaric custom that we Americans alone follow, is it?”
“Your thirty minutes are up, Lil,” Sam said, moving closer to his daughter’s side. “You’re free to leave now.”
Lil was persistent. “But he hasn’t told me his name yet, Father.”
She was definitely riled. She had called him Father.
“My name is Rudolph, but my friends call me Rolfe. You, Lillian, may call me Lord Sherborn.” His tone was once again dictatorial.
Lillian smiled that defiant little smile of hers. “It will be a pleasure. It was nice meeting you. Good day, Rolfe.”
Henry gasped again, and her father moaned somewhat louder this time.
As she wove her way through the crowd, Lord Sherborn watched her self-assured walk and mumbled his favorite expression when vexed. “Bloody hell.”