When ambitious solicitor Norman Wynford-Scott is ousted from his legal studies due to a holiday revel spun out of control, he adapts a new plan of running for the Parliament seat of a local village. Only trouble is, the same irresistible woman who ruined his good name is thwarting his campaign at every turn.
Widowed and drink-addicted, Lady Elsa Fay has retreated to the family village of Fleck to regain her sobriety. She’s distracting herself from her troubles—and her memories of the one passionate night she shared with Norman—by organizing the Parliament campaign of her husband’s cousin. Until Norman arrives intent on winning the seat for himself.
Shamed and determined, Elsa will do all she can to send her former friend and now adversary packing—even if it means breaking her own heart in the process.
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Elizabeth Boyce had a lifelong dream: to be an astronaut. She has recently made peace with the fact that this dream is unlikely to come to fruition. Good thing, then, she had another dream: to be an author. This dream comes true every single day, and she couldn’t be more grateful. Ms. Boyce lives in South Carolina with her husband, children, and her personal assistant/cat.
An excerpt from Valor Under Siege:
December 1817, London
In every crisis, there is a moment when catastrophe can be averted, a moment when it cannot be, and an indiscernible filament separating the two. The Honorable Mr. Norman Wynford-Scott, of Gray’s Inn, feared the Christmas revels had tripped beyond that ineffable point of no return when he observed that the punch was on fire. This development was brought to his attention by the cries of fright issuing from the throat of a first-term Fellow, whose festive medieval costume of hose, doublet, et cetera, was somewhat spoiled by the flames crackling merrily in the plumes of his velvet hat.
Whether the conflagration began in the punch or on the young man’s head, Norman could never say with certainty, for at the moment when spark met alcohol (or ostrich feather), he’d been occupied elsewhere in the hall, coaxing a stupendously inebriated Lady Fay down from where she danced atop one of the bench tables gifted to the Venerable Society of Gray’s Inn by Queen Elizabeth.
“Elsa,” he hissed as she shimmied her shoulders and hips in time to the musicians bleating a merry, seasonal tune, “come down from there at once!” He made a grab for her hand, but jerked back when she spun and kicked up her heel, flashing the flounce of a black petticoat beneath her rose-red satin gown as she nearly sheared the nose from his face.
She might be forgiven for not hearing him, as the normally staid hall was this evening bursting with the sounds of feasting and music and laughter, but her beguiling indigo eyes cut to his, communicating defiance—and something dark—in the instant before she spun away. From the neighboring table came the sonorous drone of Mr. Yelverton, the aged Serjeant-at-law who, for the last several decades, could be found in his customary seat pontificating upon various points of legality to his nightly bottle of port and whichever wide-eyed first-termers happened to be caught within earshot. Obviously, he was not about to be put off his routine by anything as trifling as Christmas revels.
“Consult the Book!” Yelverton declared now, jabbing a gnarled finger against the table. “We abandoned these absurd revels nigh on a century ago, and for good reason. This buffoonery diminishes the dignity of this institution. You’ll not find the Fellows of Lincoln’s countenancing a strumpet like that in their midst.” Even as his condemning words were hurled in Elsa’s direction, his gaze tracked her sinuous motions, like a snake entranced by its charmer.
The venerable elder was not the only gentleman who had noticed Elsa’s display. Two barristers and a former Solicitor General gathered around, eagerly watching as the raven-haired beauty in red tossed back her head and slowly lifted her skirts.
“Elsa, stop this,” Norman demanded as her ankles appeared.
“I say, isn’t that our hostess?” asked one of the men who had joined the burgeoning throng.
“Yes, that’s Lady Fay. Used to be quite the political hostess for her late husband. No wonder her invitations were coveted.” Someone landed a friendly jab in Norman’s ribs. “Good show, sir. The old man knew what he was about, naming you master of revels.”
More than having been named magister jocorum, revellorum, et mascarum, resurrecting the Christmas revels had been Norman’s bloody stupid idea to begin with. Somehow he’d gotten it into his head he could leave his mark on this grand and ancient school of law not just by excelling in his studies, but by livening the place up a bit with a call to bring back some of the old traditions. He was responsible for it all, for the invitations issued to every member of the Inn and distinguished guests. For the decorations and music and food. For choosing the lady who served as hostess.
Like a curtain rising on a bawdy spectacle, red satin and black muslin inched past that same hostess’s shapely calves encased in sheer silk and revealed two pretty, dimpled knees. Appreciative whistles and hoots of encouragement accompanied every inch of progress, while appalled ladies formed a tight knot across the room, silk fans kicking up a wind of umbrage. Elsa tipped back her raven-haired head and laughed, sinful and loud.
This was hell. Like the men around him, Norman couldn’t help but respond to the slow uncovering of the luscious woman on the table. But even as his heart pumped desire-thickened blood through his body, his mind went cold with panic. Not only was this a scandal for all of Gray’s Inn, Elsa was not in her right mind, drunk beyond sensibility. She was his responsibility; he had to get her out of there.