Message From The Author

Author's Message

How THE PROMISE IN A KISS came to be It was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Especially not with two cats casting beady eyes into every corner.

Then the phone rangimagine the sound of panicked cat claws on a hardwood floor. It was my publisher wanting a story for a gift book for Christmas 2001

What to dowhat to write? A Cynster book, yes, but not one of the couples already scheduled for the continuing series, so who? The answer lay in the many e-mails Ive received since the first Cynster book hit the shelves.

When I started the Bar Cynster series, even though it was rapidly apparent that Chillingworth, the twins, and others would demand their own stories, I never envisioned stepping back in time and writing about the romances of the previous generation. But the choice for the Christmas book was never in doubtby then, Id been deluged with requests for the story of Helena and Sebastian, fifth Duke of St. Ives.

That meant stepping back to 1783, into the Georgian era, one different from the Regency I generally favor. Most crucial to me was the tone, one more hard-edged, more starkly glittery, definitely more dangerous, more given to high drama, swashbuckling adventure, and of course, they had swords! Luckily, among my collection of British romances are quite a few Georgian tales, as well as Georgette Heyers These Old Shades and Devils Cub, all excellent for that essential tone.

With the background in place, it was then a matter of letting Helena tell her story, watching Sebastian take on shape and substance through her eyes

And thats how THE PROMISE IN A KISS came to be.

So while youve recently learned about Chillingworths fate (All About Passion) and will soon have the twins stories coming your way (April 02 and later 02), heres a Christmas tale to tide you overthe story of Helena and Sebastian, and THE PROMISE IN A KISS. Happy Christmas!

For more information on the latest in the Cynster series, visit www.stephanielaurens.com.

Excerpt from THE PROMISE IN A KISS

What manner of man are you, then?

His lips, long, thin, fascinatingly mobile, quirked as he halted before her. An Englishman.

The revelation explained much. Shed heard that the English were often large, and quite mad, wild beyond even Parisians lax standards.

Shed never met one before.

The fact was written in her expression, in those hauntingly lovely pale eyes. In the silvery light, Sebastian couldnt tell if they were blue, grey or green. And regretted that he couldnt dally to find out. With the back of one finger he traced the upward line of her cheek. Again, mademoiselle, my thanks.

He tensed to step away, told himself he should. Yet still he hesitated.

Something shimmered in the gloomhe glanced up. Just behind her, a clump of mistletoe hung from one of the lindens branches.

It was almost Christmas.

She looked up, following his gaze. Considered the trailing mistletoe. Her gaze slowly lowered, to his eyes, to his lips.

Her face was that of a French madonnanot Parisian but more dramatic, more vital. Sebastian felt a tug more primal than any hed felt before. He lowered his head.

Slowly. He gave her plenty of time to step back if she would.

She didnt. She tipped up her face.

His lips touched hers in the most chaste kiss of his life. He felt her lips quiver under his, sensed her innocence

Thank you. That was all the kiss said, all he allowed it to say.

He lifted his head, yet still didnt draw back. Couldnt bring himself to do it. Their gazes met, their breaths mingled

He bent his head again.

Her lips met his this time, soft, generous, hesitant. The urge to devour was strong but he reined it in, took only what she innocently offered, and returned no more than that. An exchangea promiseeven though he recognized the impossibility, and was sure she did, too.

Ending the kiss took effort, and left him slightly dazed.

He took another step back before letting his gaze meet hers. He inclined his head. Bon Noel.


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