Spirited, stubborn, and entirely irresistible…
She is difficult, demanding, and at times, quite fierce. And Dr. John Blackmore can’t take his eyes off her. The Countess of Randolph is the most striking woman he has ever seen…and the most infuriating patient he has ever tended.
Mired in responsibility, Bathsheba doesn’t have time to convalesce in the country. She should be in London, hunting for a wealthy new lover to pay off her late husband’s vast debts, not dallying with a devastatingly handsome doctor.
But it is only a matter of time until the good doctor and the obstinate countess will have to contend with the sparks that fly between them. Once their bodies surrender, their hearts may follow…
Stay tuned for a sneak peek into My Favorite Countess! We go now to the Caribbean where our Cozy correspondent, Tink, is with Vanessa onboard the Black Pearl. Take it away, Tink….
*sailors singing “A Pirate’s Life for Me”*
Tink: If you were a mixed drink what would you be and why?
Vanessa: Oh, God. I’m the worst person to answer this question since I don’t do mixed drinks. In my family, it was always wine or scotch. In fact, my dad used to refer to mixed drinks as “garbage drinks”! But I did go through a phase in college when I was quite fond of a good tequila sunrise, so I think I would have to go with that. There’s something very exotic about it and, man, does it pack a punch!
Tink: If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring only one of each of the following…what would they be? Person? Song? Book?
Tink: What would be the name of your pet gourd?
Tink: What are the first words your hero speaks to your heroine (or vice versa)?
Tink: Would you define your hero as an alpha or a beta? Why?
Tink: Does your hero prefer to wear boxers, briefs, a kilt? Or commando? ;)
Vanessa: Being a physician, John would wear boxers – practical and healthier for his man parts!
Tink: *grin* What is your heroine’s idea of the perfect date?
Tink: What is your favorite thing about each character?
Vanessa: Bathsheba is so sharp and funny, and she’s very aware of her own faults. I like that she doesn’t sugarcoat life. In John’s case, it’s his enormous capacity for compassion and forgiveness. His big heart eventually allows Bathsheba to forgive herself for the mistakes she’s made in the past.
Tink: More seriously, what was your biggest challenge crafting this story or these characters?
Vanessa: My heroine, Bathsheba, is actually the villainess of my second book, Sex And The Single Earl. She did some very nasty things in that book, and I had to come up with rock-solid motivations as to why she could act so badly and yet still deserve redemption. I enjoyed writing her very much, but it was sometimes a challenge. Bad boys are frequently reformed in books. Bad girls, less often.
Tink: Now for a more in-depth look at the author… I will now ask you a round of nosy and nonsensical questions developed by Bernard Peevo and used by James Lipton on Inside the Actor’s Studio…. Brace yourself J What’s your favorite word? Least favorite?
Tink: What sound or noise do you love? Hate?
Vanessa: I love the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves of trees. Hate the sound of a TV turned up too loud.
Tink: What’s your favorite curse word?
Vanessa: Given your ratings restriction, I can’t tell you!
Tink: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Tink: What profession would you not like to participate in?
Vanessa: A mortician.
Bathsheba swallowed an unladylike snort. Obviously the good doctor knew exactly how to behave in polite company, and wrap said company—especially the female variety—around his little finger. She suspected that ten thousand apologies on her part wouldn’t make a whit of difference to Lady Dellworthy, or any other woman in the room, for that matter. But they all appeared to have quickly forgiven him, since they were now hanging on his every word with breathless anticipation.
She took a gulp of tea and burned her tongue. Cursing silently, she banged her cup and saucer onto the tea table, attracting both Blackmore’s and Lady Dellworthy’s attention.
“Is everything well, Lady Randolph?” the doctor enquired in a mild voice.
“Yes, thank you. Please continue with your conversation.”
Her hostess began to flutter nervously. Again. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll just go see if Lord Randolph wants another piece of plum cake.” As Lady Dellworthy scuttled away, Blackmore switched his unnerving quicksilver gaze back to Bathsheba.
“Lord Randolph says you rarely visit Ripon, preferring to live in the city. Why is that?” he asked.
Blast the man. Why wouldn’t he leave her alone?
“I should think the answer is obvious,” she replied in a nasty voice. “Because I hate the country.” Perhaps if she were rude, he would go away.
No such luck. Instead, he began to query her about friends, seeking to discover if they had any mutual acquaintances. He settled into his chair, long limbs relaxed, his manner casual, but she wasn’t fooled. She saw the sharp gleam in his eyes and the hungry way he studied her mouth. Perspiration dampened the inside of her thighs and the back of her knees, and she had to call on all her discipline not to squirm in her seat.
After several minutes of conversation—stilted on her part, completely at ease on his—Bathsheba saw Miss Elliott make her determined way toward them. No doubt she thought to save the doctor from her infamous coils. Unfortunate the pursed-lip spinster didn’t realize she was the one who needed rescuing.
Miss Elliott planted herself in Lady Dellworthy’s vacant chair, looking down her thin noise at them from her self-righteous heights. “Sir, Dr. Littleton tells me that you originally hail from the country. The Lake District, I believe?”
“That is true, Miss Elliott. I was born and raised in a village near Keswick.”
She bestowed a beneficent smile upon him while doing a fine job of ignoring Bathsheba. “So lovely, the Lake District. You must miss it. And you must be glad to escape the grime and heat of London in the summer to enjoy the quiet beauties of Ripon and the glories of the surrounding dales.”
Perhaps her headache was to blame, but Bathsheba could no longer tolerate more social inanities—or being treated like a pariah. “Good God, Miss Elliott. What are you talking about? The only thing worse than Yorkshire in the summer is Yorkshire in the winter. No person of intellect would want to spend any amount of time here. It’s the most boring place on earth.”
Too late, she remembered the spinster considered herself a person of intellect. She sighed, inwardly correcting herself. The only thing more boring than Yorkshire in the summer was a bluestocking in a fit of pique.
Miss Elliott’s firm mouth thinned into an outraged line. If the woman had a pistol, there was little doubt she would aim the damn thing at Bathsheba’s head and pull the trigger.
At least that would get rid of this headache.
She choked back a laugh as the spinster excused herself and stalked across the room to join Matthew.
“Why do you do that?” Blackmore asked, looking irritated.
“I don’t know,” she mumbled, suddenly tired of fighting. “Perhaps it’s my headache. I believe someone is firing cannons inside my skull.”
He reached out a big hand and took her wrist in a light but firm grasp. She tried to jerk it away.
“What are you doing?” she spluttered.
“Feeling your pulse. Sit still,” he ordered.
She tugged, but his grip was unbreakable. Hard, warm fingers on the fragile skin of her wrist sent a shuddering wave of excitement through her veins all the way to her heart.
“Tumultuous,” he pronounced. “I’ll send over a powder tonight and stop by Compton Manor tomorrow.”
“Don’t bother,” she said, finally able to snatch her hand back. Clearly, he had let her do so. “I’m returning to London tomorrow. I’ll be fine once I’m away from the quiet beauties of Ripon,” she finished sarcastically.
He regarded her with a cool arrogance. “I wouldn’t advise that, Lady Randolph. You need rest, not travel.”
“Thank you for your advice, Doctor. Shall I pay you now, or will you send me a bill for your services?”
As he studied her, the flinty look in his eyes gradually softened. “It’s obvious something troubles you, my lady. Tell me what it is. Perhaps I can help.”
She gasped, and he unleashed an engaging grin. Her heart fluttered madly in her chest.
“Doctors are all professional busybodies, Lady Randolph. We’re trained to notice small things—signs of trouble. Your nails, for instance. You bite them, don’t you?”
Her throat closed around the pain that lodged there. She couldn’t move or speak. But she must. She must get away. Blackmore was the most dangerous man she had ever met.
He gazed down into her face, waiting confidently for her to break. She dredged up every ounce of willpower, calling on years of discipline, hard-fought and won in the face of her husband’s tormenting ways.
Forcing herself to rise gracefully from her chair, she signaled with a nod to Matthew that she wished to go home. She turned and glanced down at the doctor. He looked anything but pleased.
“You flatter yourself, Doctor,” she said coldly. “I have no troubles. And if I did, you would be the last man on earth I would go to for help.”
Tink: And the final questions Jack and the boys have been waiting all day to ask…. If you could choose anyone (real or fictional) to be the captain of your, er, ship…who would it be?
Vanessa: Captain Blood, aka Errol Flynn.
Vanessa: Blackbeard. Easier to kill.
Tink: And most importantly – Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, or Commodore Norrington?
Vanessa: Is this even a fair question?! Captain Jack, of course!
Tink: Thank you, Vanessa! You have been a lovely interviewee! And Jack tells me that you are invited to stay aboard the Black Pearl whenever she is in port…in his quarters, of course J
Vanessa has kindly offered a giveaway for today’s Cozy Guest Friday. By commenting to today’s post between now and midnight EST tomorrow, you will be entered to win My Favorite Countess in either digital or print (no international restrictions)! The winner will be chosen by the True Random Generator at Random.org and announced Sunday morning so be sure to check back to see if you have won. Good luck! (Chances of winning depend on the number of entries; you must be 18 years or older to enter.)