Hello! Iâ€™m excited to participate for my first time with Book Brew! First things firstâ€¦allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tricia Schneider and I write paranormal and historical romances. Before I became a published author, I worked at a Waldenbooks store as Assistant Manager and bookseller. When the store unfortunately closed in 2010, I immediately grasped the opportunity to devote my energy to writing full-time.
That same year, my first book was published by The Wild Rose Press. A good example of when one door closes, another opens!
Originally, I submitted my novella, The Witch and the Wolf, to my publisher because of a call for submission for an anthology they were putting together focused around werewolves. My story wasnâ€™t chosen for the anthology, but the senior editor in charge of submissions enjoyed reading it so much she offered me a contract for it anyway.
Right now, Iâ€™d like to share an excerpt of my historical paranormal romance, The Witch and the Wolf. Since I can already hear my 18 month-old son stirring from his nap, Iâ€™ll hop in later to share another excerpt from the sequel, The Witch and the Vampire, and to answer any comments or questions. For more information about any of my books, check out my website and blog.
The Witch and the Wolf
Lord Jeremy North’s curse is to become a werewolf during every full moon, turning into a bloodthirsty monster that kills with no remorse. When he finds a woman nearly frozen upon his doorstep, his sense of honor compels him to help her, even at the risk he might kill her himself.
Lillian Merriweather hadn’t planned to get caught in a blizzard while traveling the English countryside. Nor had she planned on finding refuge in a house full of secrets. But Lillian has secrets of her own. And what she’s running from is not far behind…
â€œI can walk,â€ Lillian protested. Her hand came into contact with the skin of the manâ€™s chest as he lifted her into his arms and carried her out of the room. She squirmed to get free but he tightened his hold.
â€œSo I can have you fall again to my feet?â€ The man asked with a grunt. â€œI think not.â€
She could not argue her weariness with him. It must be evident from the way he looked at her. She grimaced as she imagined him taking in her appearance with the dark circles under tired eyes and wet hair dripping onto his carpet. Indeed, she noted with alarm, she dripped all over him.
â€œSir, you are becoming quite sodden with snow. Please, allow me to walk so I may dampen you no further.â€
â€œIt is a bit late for that,â€ he said, a tiny smile tilting the corners of his mouth. â€œThe damage is done, Iâ€™m afraid.â€
â€œOh, dear,â€ Lillian muttered. She closed her eyes, aghast with humiliation. Not only did she faint dead away on his doorstep, but she likely ruined his sofa and the robe he now wore. She shuddered to think what further damage she would cause for him allowing her the safety of his house during the snowstorm.
â€œWe are nearly there,â€ he said, a note of worry in his voice.
She blinked her eyes open to see he watched her with concern. For the second time, her lungs seemed to fail as she found herself caught in his gaze. The first time had been when she opened her eyes to see him kneeling next to her.
Am I dreaming?
Whoever this man may be, he was certainly the most handsome Lillian had ever seen. His hair was the darkest shade she had ever known. Not dark brown, by any means, but black like the midnight sky. His eyes were green. She could not determine as of yet whether they reminded her of emeralds or moss. The shade seemed indeterminable in the light of the candles, and she looked forward to seeing their color during the light of day. She couldnâ€™t ignore the strength in the arms that wrapped around her. He was no lazy nobleman whose body had become soft from gambling and drink. Quite the opposite. Even through the layers of cloth between them, her hand on his chest confirmed what she suspected.
She blushed anew, the blood stinging her cold cheeks with warmth.
They ascended a staircase and down a long hall. He then turned into a cozy fire-lit room and set her gently on a wing chair beside the hearth. She suppressed the sudden regret she felt at the absence of his arms around her.
He took several steps away. â€œYou have need to remove those clothes,â€ he said, hesitantly.
Lillian watched him warily as he took another step toward the door. â€œIf you can manage to undress yourself, Iâ€™ll fetch you something you can wear.â€ Without another word, he disappeared.
She stared after him, wondering why he had not summoned a maid to assist her. She looked down at her hands, which remained numb of feeling. It would be impossible for her to unbutton anything with her fingers still motionless with cold.
Shivering, she knew she needed to make the attempt. If he refused to send anyone to help her, which Lillian considered rude, then she would just have to resort to helping herself. In normal circumstances, she would be quite capable. Circumstances being what they were, howeverâ€¦
She let the blanket fall from her shoulders as she fumbled with the buttons on the front of her frock. Good thing they were in the front, for if they had been in the back as some of her other dresses, it would have been an impossibility to disrobe. Though, try as she might, her fingers refused the simple commands she gave them. It seemed an inordinate amount of time before she saw a shadow fall across her lap.
Lillian looked up to see him watching her. He had changed from his robe into breeches and a hastily buttoned shirt. His feet, though, were bare.
â€œForgive my dishabille,â€ he said. â€œIt is not often we receive visitors at these hours.â€
â€œI cannot expect that you would,â€ she said, smiling regretfully. She lifted her hands to him by way of explanation. â€œI am having a bit of difficulty. I fear my hands are useless at the moment.â€
He stared at her intensely for a while, and she felt she had inconvenienced him in some manner.
â€œIf you might send a maid to assist meâ€¦â€
â€œThere is none,â€ he said.
â€œWe have no maid at the moment, miss. In fact, there is no one at present save Amery and myself.â€ He grimaced as he spoke, and she began to realize the quandary she had placed upon them.
â€œOh,â€ she muttered, truly at a loss for words of any kind. How unusual that he should be derelict of staff. She had noticed no neglect. The rooms she had occupied seemed well tended, and she could not imagine he and the man named Amery would do all the housework themselves.
He seemed to read her thoughts because he continued, â€œOnce a month I give my staff a paid holiday, and they return to their families or visit friends in the village. Amery is the only one who remains here to assist me. So you see, we are quite uncertain as to what to do with you.â€
Lillian nodded her understanding, looking again at the buttons that now appeared as steel manacles.
â€œYou cannot remain in those wet clothes,â€ he added as an unnecessary reminder.
Her breath caught in her throat as the only possibility for their situation tumbled into her head. She glanced speculatively at him to see if he had come upon the same conclusion.
â€œYou will catch your death of cold if we wait for your hands to thaw,â€ he added, as if he needed to convince himself. His face and tone became serious as he continued, â€œI offer you my assistance. I promise I am a gentleman above reproach. What occurs here will stay within this room and no further. No one ever need know of how I assisted you. Do you understand?â€