Thursday, February 17, 2011

February Romance Novel Event: The Portrait by Hazel Statham Giveaway!


England 1812

Severely injured at the battle of Salamanca, Edward Thurston, the new Earl of Sinclair, returns home to his beloved Fly Hall. Determined not to present his prospective bride with the wreck he believes himself to have become, he decides to end his betrothal, unaware that Lady Jennifer, for vastly differing reasons, has reached the selfsame decision.

Throughout the campaigns, Edward was often seen relying greatly on a miniature he carried, and it is to this token he clings upon his return. Will he eventually find happiness with the girl in the portrait, or will he remain firm in his resolve not to wed? Reason dictates one course, his heart another.

Read the excerpt!

Entering the hallway at Fly, Jennifer asked her cousin Eleanor, who acted as chaperone, to await her there. Despite the impropriety, she wished for no witness to the interview with her betrothed, desiring whatever words were spoken to remain private. It took much persuading, but eventually Eleanor, much against her better judgment, succumbed to her young relative’s pleadings and allowed herself to be cozily seated by the large fireplace, glad of its welcoming warmth after the chills of the carriage.


****



Hearing the sounds of arrival, the earl rose from his chair in the morning room and prepared to meet his intended. Something in the region of his chest clenched at the thought of the impending interview, but he schooled his countenance to greet her with an equanimity he was far from feeling.



Almost immediately, the door opened and Brough announced Lady Jennifer. Full of resolve, her skirts swishing with the crispness of her step, she came quickly into the light-filled, blue and gold salon. As the door closed quietly behind her, she came to an abrupt halt.



Finding it difficult to advance further into the room, she visibly blanched at the extend of Sinclair’s injuries, her expressive eyes wide at sight of his altered appearance. Nothing could have prepared her for the emotions the mere sight of him evoked, and whatever words she would have uttered, died unsaid.



Ignoring his wildly leaping emotions at seeing her once more, Edward drank in the delicacy of her features and form and, gathering his cloak of resolve about him, quickly closed the gap between them. Taking her cold fingers in his warm clasp, he raised them dutifully to his lips, feeling them tremble in his hold. His eyes never left her face, and he realized that there was no guile about her as he watched the mix of emotions that chased across her pale countenance. In that instant, he knew that he had made the right decision to end the betrothal.



“My lord, I…..” she began, but her voice failed and he saw the tears well up into her beautiful eyes.



“Will you not be seated, Lady Jennifer?” he said, leading her to a chair by the hearth. “Brough will bring refreshments and after a cup of tea I am sure you will feel more the thing.” Releasing her hand he stood before her as she sank into the chair. He found it necessary to concentrate, to keep his voice neutral, so that she would not be aware of his inner turmoil. Grateful that he was at least allowed to retain his pride, he was relieved that he showed no signs of the physical weakness that had laid him so low.



“I realize my appearance must come as quite a shock to you,” he said with an incongruous smile.



She half rose but he held up his hand to forestall her and she once more sank back against the cushions. All former irritation forgotten, she was unable to put into words what she was feeling at that precise moment and was relieved when a light tapping on the door heralded an interruption.



Brough came into the room with a tray full of a light repast which was placed on a low table set at their side, whilst a butler brought in a tea tray and set it on a small table beside Jennifer.



Busying herself with the pouring of the tea, she set up a flow of inconsequential conversation in the hope of presenting a diversion. She never allowed her eyes to wander from her task, dreading the moment when she would be forced to acknowledge the situation. However, as she handed the cup to Sinclair, the words died on her lips as she became aware of his intense scrutiny.

Seeing her unease, Edward straightened himself in his chair, saying in a subdued tone, “Lady Jennifer, I think it only fair that I bring about a swift end to your disquiet. I see what affect my injuries have on you, and believe me when I say that I quite understand. I am not so insensitive as to not realize just how devastating it would be if you were forced to ally yourself to such an individual as I have become. I would not wish it on you.”



She would have given an answer but he slowly shook his head. “There is no need to attempt to put the matter delicately. I am quite sure you realize, as do I, that to continue with the engagement would be disastrous. Therefore, I will not prevaricate on the issue. I release you from your promise. The wedding will not take place.”



“It is not your wish that we should marry?” she asked paling still further.



“It is not. I will send a retraction to the Gazette immediately. It will be seen that I have been too long away and who should blame us if our sentiments have undergone a change during that time. Indeed, it will be seen that I am the cause of the rift, so you need not fear censure.”



“Are my feelings on the matter not to be considered then, sir?” she demanded.



“I don’t think you know what your feelings are at this precise moment,” he replied, noting the indignant tilt of her chin and the militant look in her eye. “If you would but be guided by me, I’m sure you will see the right of it, and will be relieved to be rid of me.”



“I am beginning to think that I shall,” she said, coming abruptly to her feet and nearly upsetting the tea tray in the process. “I’m excessively grateful to you for pointing it out to me. You have saved me the need to deliberate further on the matter.”



He too came to his feet and bridged the distance between them to take her hand in his.



“You may not think it now, but you will come to be grateful to me for making the decision,” he said earnestly. “Let not your sentiments at this moment in time cloud your judgment. You see me as a case for pity, and it’s not what I would wish. I will not allow you to take me when such emotions rule.”



“You are quite right, sir,” she snapped, withdrawing her hand from his warm clasp. “I would not wish that you should think I take you out of sympathy, therefore I see the sense of it.” She did not understand why his words piqued her so. Had it not been her own intent to end the betrothal?



An unfathomable look came in his eyes. “I hope we may still meet as friends?”



“As friends? I see no reason why we should not,” she replied coolly, deciding her reaction was that of resentment because it had been he who had uttered the words that ended the betrothal and not she.



Relieved, he smiled. “Then we are in agreement?”



“Most certainly. You have taken a burden from my mind. I too had wondered at the sense of continuing with the engagement and had reached the same decision as have you. Now we are both free to continue with our lives unhindered!”



“Have you felt the betrothal a hindrance?” he asked with some concern.



She colored with confusion. “Yes…no…I don’t know what I have felt. We had become as strangers and you were so far away….” Her voice faltered and she refused to meet his gaze.



“Then the decision to end it is the right one and you may recommence your life without its burden. Now that the matter is settled, we can be easy in each other’s company. Won’t you be seated and take some tea with me? Talk to me for a while. I am in dire need of civilized conversation.

****

When the time came for Jennifer to leave Fly, Edward escorted his former betrothed and her companion to their chaise. Watching from the shallow steps that led to the gravel drive, he raised his hand in farewell as the equipage disappeared down the long driveway, waiting until it disappeared from view before turning back to the hall.



Repairing immediately to his apartment, he went straight to the dresser and pulled wide the drawer. Without taking it from its resting-place, he opened up the handkerchief and looked once more at the delicate face in the portrait.



“The deed is done, my love. The deed is done,” he said quietly, and once more folding the cloth, he gently closed the drawer.


Blurb from my review: "Regency romance novels don't get any better than The Portrait by Hazel Statham."

More reviews!

"I recommend this novel with a high flying 5 star review and will definitely be checking out more of Ms. Statham's books in the near future!"

--Book Reviews by Molly

"Hazel Statham depicts a wonderful tale of friendship and love with this heartwarming tale. Edward's obsession with THE PORTRAIT really captured my interest right away and I couldn't help but wonder who the woman is and why she's so vital to him. That mystery alone was enough to keep me glued to the pages. I eagerly anticipated each scene where their younger brothers, Perry and Freddie, would find themselves involved in some sort of trouble and require their help to extract themselves. I loved how Edward and Jennifer's friendship is so obviously based on more than just simple affection and they'd both go out of their way to help each other. THE PORTRAIT is a lovely romance with unexpected occurrences and fun characters who will charm their way into your hearts. This is definitely a story I'd highly recommend reading."

--C. Dionne, Oregon


"I very highly recommend this book. It's an absolute delight! It's well written, the story line is light and fun and entertaining. It kept me turning the pages and I couldn't put it down. The characters stole my heart. It's positive, heart-warming, sweet and romantic! I would love to read more books like this one from this author!"

--Life in Review

Now that I've really made you want to own a copy of this book, here's how you can win a free copy for yourself.



1) You must be a follower of The Book Connection to win.

2) For your first entry, visit the author's website at http://www.hazel-statham.co.uk/index.htm and leave a comment here telling me which of her books you have read or would like to read. Please be sure to include a valid email address. You cannot win if I don't have your email address.

3) One additional entry if you friend me on Facebook. Leave a comment with your profile link to show you're friending me.

4) One additional entry if you follow me on Twitter. Leave a comment with your profile link to show you're now a follower.

5) One additional entry if you follow Hazel on Twitter. Leave a comment with your profile link to indicate you requested to be a follower.
6) You must be 18 or older and reside in the U.S. or Canada to be eligible to win.

Deadline for entries is 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, February 27, 2011. Winner will be selected out of all entrants who followed the rules governing this contest. Winner will have 72 hours after being contacted to email me their mailing address. If I have not heard from the winner within that time frame, I will select a new winner. The Book Connection is not responsible for lost or damaged goods.

10 comments:

apple blossom said...

I'm a follower

I've never read Hazel's books; however, His shadowed heart sounds like a good one. Actually, the all sound good. hard choice to pick one.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Morgan Mandel said...

The portrait in the story sounds like a real mystery readers can get into.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

V.R. Leavitt said...

Sounds like a good read. I haven't read a lot of Regency romance, this might be a good place to start.

PoCoKat said...

I follow on GFC

I have not read any of her books yet.

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

rubynreba said...

I have not read any of the books. I think His Shadowed Heart would be interesting.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Cozy in Texas said...

My Dearest Friend is another I'd like to read but they all look great. I'll definitely add these to my TBR list. I'll also add my name as a follower.
Thanks for the giveaway.
Ann
www.cozyintexas.blogspot.com

Meredith said...

I haven't read any of Hazel's books yet, but would love to read The Portrait or Lizzie's Rake.

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Meredith said...

FB Friend

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Meredith said...

Twitter follower @tessaa99

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Meredith said...

Twitter follower of Hazel @tessaa99

meredithfl at gmail dot com