Read An Excerpt

by Nicola Cornick

Genre: Regency Period, England, Historical Romance

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“I have never seen anywhere so empty,” Joanna whispered. She turned to him spontaneously. “It is very beautiful.”

Alex felt his heart leap. He looked down into her face, so vivid and excited, more animated than he had ever seen her.

“Do you truly think so?” He said.

“Oh yes…” He saw her shiver and wrap her arms about herself like a child hugging a treat to its heart. “I had no idea. I thought it would be dark and cold and miserable, or foggy and wet and miserable, or simply miserable.” She was laughing.

“It can be every one of those things,” Alex said.

“I suppose so.” The sparkle did not die from her eyes. “But on a day like this it is enchanted.”

“And yet you hate the countryside in England,” Alex said.

Joanna laughed. “So I do. I am very fickle.”

They looked at one another for a long, long moment and Alex felt something warm unfurl inside him.

“You are full of surprises, Joanna,” he said slowly. “I thought that you would hate it here.”

“I thought that I would too,” Joanna said. “I probably shall when it rains. And I detest the cold. But for now it is like paradise.” She tilted her head to look at him. “I wondered why you became an explorer.” Her voice was soft. “You said once that you felt a compulsion to travel and I did not understand it, but now…” She placed a hand on the rail and looked out across the water. “It is as though there is something out there, something hidden that calls to you and draws you on, and it gives you no rest…”

Alex felt a shiver run down his spine and the hairs rise on the back of his neck. Never in his life had anyone put in to words the passion and the elemental mystery that he felt as an adventurer in distant lands. And now this woman, who did not share his passion, whom he would have sworn had absolutely no depth to her character, had spelled out more precisely than he could have done himself exactly how he felt… He had never shared such ideas with anyone, never spoken of them to Amelia or even to Ware and the others he had travelled with. They were locked inside him, a secret, the essence of his soul.

He stared at Joanna and her eyes widened in bewilderment to see the passion in his.

“That is it precisely,” he said. He realized that his voice was a little rough. “That is exactly how I feel.”