Hi Elisabeth and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, A Wager for the Widow!
Hi, thanks for having me.
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Eleanor Peyton was never certain what was worse: the dreams where her husband died, or the ones where he was still alive. The former were always the same: Eleanor would stand and watch as though she was carved from granite, unable to move while Sir Baldwin clawed helplessly at his throat, sliding to the floor of the feasting hall. The screams of their wedding guests would ring in Eleanor’s ears and she would wake sobbing and shaking.
Tonight’s dream was the latter type. Eleanor could almost feel Baldwin’s breath on her face as he drew her close for a kiss, his brown eyes filled with a warmth and hunger that he had never exhibited while he had lived.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- Will is left handed for no other reason that I am and there aren’t enough leftie heroes in the world.
- Eleanor’s home is based on St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, a real island that can only be reached by a causeway at low tide.
- The soundtrack to the book is Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. Look up the lyrics to see why.
- Will and Eleanor start off calling each other Lady Peyton and Master Rudhale. I hope eagle-eyed readers will spot the point their relationship changes and they each begin to use less formal forms of address.
- The idea for the plot came from an incidental piece of information about the hero in my first Harlequin Historical, Falling for her Captor.
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
In Eleanor’s case, nothing at first! They meet under awkward circumstances and she believes Will is nothing more than an arrogant rake. She knows he’s interested in her and just wants to leave her father’s house so she can forget the feelings that she can’t ignore. It’s only when she works alongside him she discovers how much of this is a front and begins to appreciate the freedom and fun that being with him gives her.
Initially Will is driven purely by physical attraction and the chance to make some easy money through the wager. He’s used to women falling into his arms and is intrigued by the challenge of breaking through the barriers Eleanor has built around herself.
Using just 5 words, how would you describe Hero and Heroine’s love affair?
Initially deceptive but ultimately redeeming.
The First Kiss…
is the basis of the wager Will undertakes so I’m not going to spoil how and where (if…) he wins it!
Without revealing too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?
It’s fairly early in the story. Will returns to the house to find Eleanor alone reading by the fire (a girl after my own heart). He’s had no luck seducing her into kissing him so decides to try a different approach. I like it for the playfulness of their conversation. They’re starting to feel at ease with each other almost without realising it. Also at this point the reader is aware of something Will doesn’t so knows how the encounter is going to end.
‘As he glanced down his eye fell on the book on Lady Peyton’s lap. Her sleeve obscured the title and he grinned, sensing an opportunity.
‘You read,’ he remarked.
Lady Peyton nodded. ‘Does that surprise you? I could hardly have understood your note if I did not.’
‘For pleasure, I mean.’ Will settled back into his chair. He stretched his legs out until they were almost touching the folds of her skirts. ‘I’ll wager I can guess what you have been reading,’ he suggested. ‘Not the title, but the subject at least.’
‘What would the stake be?’ Lady Peyton asked suspiciously. She leant back against the wall and folded her arms across her body, hugging the book to her chest. Will tried not to stare too noticeably at the soft mounds of her breasts, pushed up and just visible over the edge of the volume.
‘The same thing I asked for before.’ Will grinned. ‘A single kiss.’
Lady Peyton rolled her eyes to the ceiling and huffed. The gesture was so unexpected from a high-born lady that Will burst out laughing. She glared at him.
‘I decline your terms,’ she said. ‘Why are you so insistent?’
‘Because you are beautiful and I’d like to kiss you. Why does the thought scare you?’ Will countered.
Lady Peyton sat upright. She kept the title hidden, Will noticed with delight. ‘It doesn’t scare me,’ she said firmly.
Will leant forward. So close that he could see the flecks of green that danced in her eyes.
‘Then accept the wager,’ he breathed.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include?
Eleanor and Will have been caught in an unexpected storm and as a result stranded alone in Eleanor’s home for the night. They’re drinking together and Eleanor has admitted her disapproval to Will for his reputation towards women. Just after this scene comes a revelation that throws Will’s plans completely off track.
I’d like Chris Hemsworth or Alexander Skarsgard to audition please!
‘If I find comfort in willing arms, so what? No promises are made and no hearts broken. Least of all mine. You more than anyone should appreciate that.’
‘Me?’ Eleanor brought her head up sharply to meet his eyes.
‘He gave her a crooked smile. ‘I may guard my heart, but at least I allow myself pleasure. When I asked you to kiss me on the ferry I saw desire in your eyes, but you’re too scared to risk your heart.’
Cold sweat broke out along Eleanor’s spine. She pushed herself from her seat. ‘You’re wrong! That’s not why I wouldn’t kiss you.’ She took a long drink of brandy, hoping he did not see the way her hand trembled. ‘The request was improper. You were a complete stranger.’
William raised an eyebrow. ‘You know me now. Kiss me now.’
His eyes glinted temptingly. Images of his lips on hers, his hands on her body ran through Eleanor’s mind. Obeying him would be so easy. Stopping at a kiss almost impossible. The fear she had just denied coursed through her, hammering the temptation into submission. She stumbled to the window and stared into the blackness.
‘Your smiles and words may work on tavern girls and milkmaids, but they will not work on me. You are arrogant and rude. You are no gentleman and the way you look at me…’
She crossed her arms protectively, bowing her head. ‘You look at me as though I am no lady,’ she cried.
‘I see the woman as well as the lady,’ William answered, his voice deep and low.
A fresh surge of longing coursed through Eleanor’s body. She leaned her hands on the windowsill as a soft moan escaped her lips.
William moved to stand behind her. She could feel the heat from his body and smelled the brandy on his breath. She wondered if it would taste as sweet on his lips. He brushed the hair back behind her ear and Eleanor closed her eyes, leaning her cheek into the palm of his hand.
Will’s other hand slipped to her waist. ‘It isn’t wrong to feel,’ he whispered into her ear. ‘Listen to what your heart is telling you. Don’t you miss a man’s lips on yours, his arms around you in the night? Three years without a husband in your marriage bed must feel like eternity!’
Readers should read this book …
For a Medieval take on the enemies to friends to lovers trope. A tale of deception and redemption, second chances and having the courage to grab the opportunities life throws you.
There’s enough wintery weather to cool you down during a heatwave and enough hot tension to warm you up through an English summer!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?
I’m working on my third book for Harlequin Historical which is due in by the end of August. It’s another medieval story set on the North York Moors. The heroine is rejected by the knight she believes loves her and with her family insisting she takes a husband, unwillingly marries his illegitimate blacksmith brother.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: One signed print copy of A Wager for the Widow. Open to readers in the US and Europe.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Will stakes his savings that he can win a kiss from Eleanor. What’s the silliest or maddest bet you’ve ever made and did you win it?
Excerpt from A Wager for the Widow:
By the time he reached the island the wind was whipping around in fierce gusts. Small needles of ice stung Will’s face and the sky was black. There was no sign of Lady Peyton so he dismounted and began to lead the horse up the winding path that had to lead to the house. Thunder rolled again and the odd hailstone began to fall.
He met Lady Peyton halfway up. She was leading her mare, a bulging bag across her shoulder; head bowed against the wind and almost did not see him until he called her name. She threw her hood back furiously.
‘What are you doing here?’ she demanded.
‘I could ask you the same question, my lady,’ Will replied.
A loud drum roll of thunder made them both jump. The clouds burst and large hailstones beat down upon them thickly, bouncing from the ground and stinging flesh where they hit.
Lady Peyton looked at the black clouds. Another clap of thunder sounded and the sky lit up. She patted the mare and tugged on its bridle.
‘No time to argue now,’ she said curtly, moving past Will. ‘We have to cross back over.’
Will caught hold of her arm. ‘Not in this storm,’ he said. ‘The horses will panic. Wait until it stops.’
Lady Peyton pulled her arm free, but Will caught hold of her again. She rounded on him furiously, her hair lifting and blowing about her face. In her fury she looked as fierce and as magnificent as the storm that raged around them.
‘We are not leaving now,’ Will insisted. Ignoring her protests, he pulled her to the side of the path where scrubby bushes and rocks provided as much cover as possible. He backed her against the rock face and threw his cloak about both of them. Lady Peyton struggled in Will’s arms, her body twisting against him, brushing against parts of Will’s anatomy in a manner that did nothing for his composure.
‘Will you stop struggling?’ he commanded. For ten minutes or more they stood close, Lady Peyton rigid and silent in his arms.
When the storm had finally spent itself and the hail was reduced to occasional flurries Will released her.
‘Now we can go,’ he said. Eleanor said nothing. Her eyes were narrowed and her lips pressed together tightly. She lifted her head and marched down the path to the causeway…
Of which there was no sign.
Will stared in dismay at the place where he had crossed and swore loudly. He could just about make out the shape of the rocks as the tide surged across violently. Waves crashed and folded on to the shingle where they stood.
‘That’s why we needed to go,’ Lady Peyton said angrily. ‘We can’t cross now. We’re stranded here until morning.’
‘Did you plan this on purpose?’ Eleanor rounded on William furiously.
‘What?’ William looked at her, his eyes as grey as the waves that crashed behind him. ‘That’s a serious accusation, my lady. Do you think me capable of such duplicity?’
‘You schemed to accompany me here,’ she said. ‘Why shouldn’t I think you capable of anything?’
He looked outraged. ‘You think I might have contrived to strand us here so I could seduce you, I suppose?’ William said sardonically.
The heat drained from Eleanor’s face. That had been her suspicion exactly, but to hear William speak her thoughts so clearly made her stomach curl with embarrassment. Her heart began to pound with some other sensation she refused to acknowledge. ‘I didn’t say that!’ she answered defensively.
William closed the gap between them in a single stride. He towered above Eleanor. ‘You thought it, though. Whatever you believe, I don’t need to resort to such trickery when I want a woman’s company,’ he said contemptuously, ‘and I’m not in the habit of forcing myself on unwilling victims.’
Eleanor’s stomach did a slow flip at his words. During the storm he had held her with such ease, though she had fought against him fiercely. She had no doubt he could have taken anything he wanted from her if he had chosen to do so and she was unsure how unwilling she would have been. She glanced away quickly in case he saw where her thoughts were leading.
Will sighed and gestured around. ‘In any case, the last place I would choose to bed anyone would be a rain-drenched spit of land in winter!’
‘Why did you follow me here, then?’ Eleanor asked suspiciously.
‘Your room was empty,’ William said. His brows knotted together as he spoke, as though it was a personal slight. ‘I told you to wait until morning before coming here. Why couldn’t you obey a simple instruction? If you had done as I said, this would never have happened.’
Eleanor let out a gasp of indignation. ‘I am not yours to command!’ she said haughtily. She stomped to the water’s edge. ‘I had plenty of time to get back across safely. This would not have happened if you had not ignored me when I said we needed to cross.’ She narrowed her eyes as her earlier suspicions reared up once more. ‘What were you doing in my room?’
‘I wanted to check you were all right,’ William said. ‘I should have guessed you would have run here as soon as my back was turned, but I thought I could trust you to keep your word.’
‘I mean, what did you want?’ Eleanor asked again, ignoring the jibe.
William gave a hollow laugh. ‘I thought you might be hungry so I brought you a fish. In fact—’ He broke off, delved into his saddlebag and produced a greasy roll of crumpled parchment. He held it out to Eleanor who unwrapped it. A solitary mackerel stared back at her through one charred eye, long beyond caring what trouble it had unwittingly caused.
‘Well, at least we won’t go completely hungry tonight,’ Eleanor said with a heavy sigh.
‘We could still leave,’ William said confidently. ‘It isn’t too deep for the horses to wade across.’ He strode to the shore’s edge and peered at the submerged causeway. The dark band of stones could still be seen a foot or thereabouts below the foaming water.
‘No, we can’t,’ Eleanor insisted. ‘On a fine summer’s day at mid-tide when the sea was calm perhaps we could risk it, but not in this weather.’
William’s expression was sceptical and Eleanor’s temper flared once more. She stalked to where he stood and gestured furiously at the sea.
‘You know nothing about the sea. Men have died trying to cross at full tide,’ she raged. ‘It may not look deep yet, but by the time we reached halfway the current would have us and we’d be washed off.’ She picked up a piece of driftwood and hurled it in frustration across the water in a wide arc. As if to confirm her words, the waves drew back and then surged across the gap that separated them from the mainland, swallowing the wood.
William’s blue eyes followed it and he nodded reluctantly. ‘Well, then, so it must be,’ he said. ‘When is the tide low again?’
‘In a matter of hours, but by then it will be dark,’ Eleanor snapped. ‘There are beacons on the mainland and island for if it is absolutely necessary to cross, but with no one to light them they’re useless. It’s safer to stay until morning and cross at low tide.’
Hail began to fall again and another roll of thunder sounded. The wind blew through Eleanor’s heavy wool cloak as though it was the finest silk and she shivered violently, her teeth chattering.
‘There’s no point in standing here to catch a chill. I’m going back up to the house.’
She stamped back to where the horses stood patiently and picked up the mare’s bridle. William had not moved from his position by the shoreline where he faced the mainland.
‘As far as I care you can sleep on the shore or in the stable as it’s your fault we’re here,’ Eleanor called to him. ‘However, the laws of hospitality dictate I should offer you a place to sleep. If you want a bed for the night, you had better come with me.’ She walked up the path, without waiting to see if he would follow.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
‘I SUPPOSE A KISS OF GRATITUDE IS OUT OF THE QUESTION?’
Widowed Lady Eleanor Peyton has chosen a life of independence. Living alone on her rocky coastal outcrop, she’s cut herself off from the world of men – until William Rudhale saves her life and demands a kiss!
As steward to Lady Eleanor’s father, Will knows the desire he burns with is futile – but he’ll still wager he can claim Eleanor’s kiss by midwinter! Yet when the tide turns Will realises vulnerable Eleanor is far too precious to gamble with. Can he win his lady before it’s too late?
Meet the Author:
Elisabeth Hobbes grew up in York, UK where she spent most of her teenage years wandering around the city looking for a handsome Roman or Viking to sweep her off her feet. Sadly this never happened, however inspired by tripping over historical buildings everywhere she took a degree in History and Art History before training as a teacher.
Elisabeth began writing from a very early age, filling notebooks with stories starring her friends and family. Her official writing career began when she entered her first novel, Falling for her Captor, into Harlequin’s So You Think You can Write contest in 2013 and finished in third place. This led to her receiving a two-book contract with Harlequin Historical. She has recently accepted a second contract for two more books.
These days she holds down jobs as a part time teacher and full time mum. When she isn’t writing, she spends most of her spare time reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book.
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