Thursday, September 1, 2016

**SPOTLIGHT & EXCERPT** Discovery of Desire by Susanne Lord

Discovery of Desire
Series: London Explorers, #2
Author: Susanne Lord
Pubdate: September 6th 2016
ISBN: 9781492623533

The one man who’s not looking for a wife

Seth Mayhew is the ideal explorer: fearless, profitable, and unmarried. There is nothing and no one he can’t find—until his sister disappears en route to India. His search for her takes him to Bombay, where Seth meets the most unlikely of allies—a vulnerable woman who’s about to marry the wrong man.

Discovers a woman who changes his dreams forever

Teeming with the bounty of marriageable men employed by the East India Company, Bombay holds hope for security for Wilhelmina Adams. But when the man she’s traveled halfway around the world to marry doesn’t suit, Mina finds instead that she’s falling in love with a man who offers passion, adventure, intimacy—anything but security…

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“If you like your romance with the sweetness of Mary Balogh's novels or the anguish of Sherry Thomas', this is one to cherish.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review

Author’s Note: To gain information of his lost sister’s whereabouts, Seth has joined a hunting party of East India Company men. The hunt ends with a picnic with the unmarried ladies the Company men are courting—Mina Adams among them. But the afternoon has been fruitless and frustrating, as the class-conscious men have little interest in helping Seth.

“Ladies,” the stout hunter who’d addressed them earlier signaled for their attention. “Alas, the Indian snipe is devilishly hard to hit.” His eyes snagged on Seth but darted away. “So…shall we return to the picnic ground?”

The party headed back. Seth left Tom and Mina alone to their courting, and walked beside one gent after the next. But try as he might, there wasn’t a man who swapped more than three words with him now. The man in agriculture didn’t let him come within ten paces.

He shouldn’t have bothered to come. It was clear he wasn’t a Company man or a gentleman or even a soldier. The only way someone like him would get information would be to pay for it.

He prepared a plate and retreated from the party to sit alone on a hill overlooking the lake and began to eat.

“A lovely prospect, Mr. Mayhew.”

Startled, Seth looked up as Mina kneeled gracefully to balance her plate and sit beside him. He wiped his mouth with a handkerchief and swallowed, but couldn’t think of anything to say. She waved Tom and Emma over and they sat, too.

Confused, he stared at her but she pretended no notice. He looked back at his food. Mina wouldn’t let him sit alone.

Damn me. A lady from the ground up.

No. A defender. That’s what she was and what he’d seen the first time he looked at her. A lady who’d defend her friends against a mob of bachelors. And a sister from a strange, new world. And even a hulking six-foot-three explorer from a whole tribe of East India Company men.

A lady who chose a side. And she was on his. Somehow he knew that more than he knew anything else.

Wasn’t much that shut his mouth, but gratitude must be one because he ate in silence as Mina, Tom, and Emma talked.

After a time, the voices of the party changed, grew faint.

“Appears the picnic is over.” Tom rose and helped the ladies to their feet.

The carriages were being packed and the dogs shooed into their wagon. Seth stood and wiped the grass from his trousers. “I suppose we better—” He cut off at the sight of Tom whispering in Mina’s ear.

Well. They were meant to be doing that. And it was about time Tom got on with it. Maybe Tom would settle their marriage tonight.

Seth slapped his hat on his thigh, pretending to knock the dust off it. “You three go on back without me.” He started to plod down the side of the hill. “I got a ride back with a gent I spoke to after the hunt.”

“Who?” Tom asked, stalling him from his escape.

“The man’s got an interest in South America,” he said. “He offered a seat in his carriage. Wants to hear about my time in Brazil.”

Tom looked confused, but he nodded. Thankfully, he didn’t press for a name. “Good. Let’s hope he has some influence in the company. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Tom and Emma headed to the carriages with the rest of the party. But Mina paused, that worried crease on her brow was back. “I didn’t see you talk to anyone.”

He waved her off. “Go on now, Minnie.”

She started to leave, then turned back. “Will I… I will see you again, won’t I?”

Seth smiled. The little officer…still trying to keep her soldiers in rank and file. “I’d not leave Bombay without saying good-bye to you.”

Her face looked pale but maybe it was a trick of light. “Will you promise me?”

The soft words winged his heart and spun it. Just like that little snipe. “I promise,” he said quietly. “Go on now, Minnie. Tom’s waiting.”

Her hand clutched the pocket of her skirt. Seemed she did that when she wasn’t sure about things.

“I’ll see you again, I think,” she said. “There’s a zoo outing on the eleventh. Thomas has promised to come. You’ll come, won’t you?”

A tired sigh escaped him. “A zoo, is it?”

She nodded. “I’d like to see you.”

And that was a direct hit. “I’ll try, Minnie.”

With a final plea in her brown eyes, she turned to catch up with her sister and Tom.

Seth walked toward some carriages and out of her view. Then he kept walking until he was hidden from everyone and found a boulder to sit on and wait. He wouldn’t be asking anyone for a ride. There wasn’t a man here who’d welcome him in his carriage while they were courting. Besides, nine miles was an easy distance when he was used to walking more than thirty a day on expedition. And the exercise would keep his mind quiet.

He couldn’t think right now about how he didn’t fit with any of these marrying men, or the mistakes he’d somehow made today. Or how maybe the only curse there really was, was one he’d brought on himself with every stupid choice he’d made. He couldn’t think on that. Not now.

He couldn’t think how he might not be enough to save his sister.

About the author
Susanne Lord is a writer of Victorian-era romance and author of the London Explorer series published by Sourcebooks. Originally from Okinawa, off-base and on, she now makes her home in Chicago where she is an active member of Chicago North RWA. When not writing, attending theater or reading, she enjoys hiking the English countryside and visiting historic homes and gardens.

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