As a kick start to the imminent release of my upcoming novel, I am offering a peek at the first few pages (Pardon any formatting errors that occurred in the process of transferring this sample from the PDF):
As she pressed her lithe body against the rotting surface of the jagged wooden fence behind her,
Ariel Genevieve Garrison curled one finger around a strand of her thick raven hair and focused her
idle gaze on the murky afternoon sky. Privacy, as far back as she could remember, was something no
one had ever allowed her. A few minutes of being alone came as such a welcome change. Far above,
the wispy tufts of clouds that cluttered the heavens raced swiftly across the sky. They all but
melted into the horizon. Around her, the breeze danced in the trees, playfully whistling through
the crisp emerald leaves.
Close by, a male chuckle crackled through the frilled greenery. Startled by the sound, the
rapturous seventeen year old sprang forward, her fingers falling from the old fence as she jolted.
Ariel spared her atmosphere a passing glance, casually amused by her slight lack of stability.
Disappointed by the loss of her repose, she paused to consider the fact. The notion was easy enough
to dis- miss. With the breezy poise of an experienced lady, she began to saunter across the crisp
field dotted with foxglove and prim- rose, as well as many other wild flowers. Behind her, an old
cha- pel faded into the distance. Along with the aged brick structure, the vision of a stranger
swindled away, his body slanted against a time-mottled oak, rooted near the old church’s back. No
doubt, this dangerous prince charming was the same man whose laugh- ter had quivered through the
night, a disruption to the peace af- forded her. Not far into her walk, Ariel drew up short,
captivated by the cocky applause, slowly rising up through the air behind her. “Much as I hate to
put an end to this attractive display,” the
stranger stated, “I feel somewhat obligated to offer you a ride.”
“I don’t see why you’d bother. If that expression you’re wear- ing is anything to judge by, the
idea alone perturbs you.” More offended than impressed by his flippant proposal, Ariel entirely
overlooked his dashing appearance. His tousled tawny-black hair and cocoa eyes cast with green were
as appealing as the rest of his rugged features. His well angled form towered above her, remind- ing her of a dark knight.
Nonetheless, she brushed all this aside, preferring to instead focus on the gentleman’s brash
mannerisms. She scoffed and rolled her eyes. He was not the type she would ever wish to marry; the
thought alone held unusual aversion. Ariel frowned and tightened her fist, troubled by the novelty
of the idea. Judging by the relationships she’d witnessed as a child, marriage was only a reason
for trouble. No man had changed that opinion, and this one wasn’t going to be any different.
His voice cut straight through her awkward reflections. “Have
you made a decision then beautiful?”
“I’m pretty sure I can use the exercise, thank you.” Her raven hair flailed about her as she jerked
around on one heel, quickly resuming her stroll. This time as she moved through the pastures,
persistence layered her gait. The historic manor where she’d lived with her father and sister for
as long as she could recall grew in- creasingly closer. Even now as the tiny wisps of grass brushed
at her ankles, her mind urged her to hurry. Her heart murmured for her to be slow. Once again, she
had taken far longer than original- ly intended. The walk however had relaxed her, even if she were
to consider the irksome noble who she had chanced upon. Whatever the case, her father was going to
be furious. He never tolerated her decision to remain out past eight. The hour now well surpassed
ten. Ariel frowned at her lack of awareness, shocked at how much time had wasted away.
“Ariel! Ariel!” The harsh male voice rang across the meadow, growing more enraged the closer she
At last able to discern the stocky outline of her father’s mature form, Ariel slackened her pace.
For the first time since the night’s start, she found herself truly fearful of what awaited her.
“Ariel, damn it where have you gone?” Once more Ethan Garrison yelled for his daughter, cold
resentment evident in the small phrase. Lord Garrison had raised his children since the death of
their mother when Ariel, his younger child, was no more than three. Over the course of that time,
he had done little to mask the bitterness and annoyance that boiled deep within him.
Those emotions, so blatant, drove Ariel away from her home, even if it did mean her actions would
result in retribution from her sire. Expectant of nothing less, she approached the doorstep with
great care, halting when she saw him. Her stance, that of a trained soldier, contrasted to a horrid
degree with her expected position, that of a proper English lady.
“Well?” His shoulders tight with anger and his lip curled with distaste, Lord Garrison stared down
at his daughter. His rigid posture, in itself, was enough to demand an explanation from her. “I
only wanted to walk, to be allowed a small amount of time to
myself. I don’t expect you to understand.”
“Do not defy my wishes.” Ethan’s tone deepened to a near growl, and he raised his arm as if to
strike. Instead, he froze in mid-motion and executed a half turn. The hand that seconds before had
been poised to hit his child, lashed out for the foyer door. To Ariel he snapped, “We are set to
leave for London to- morrow evening. As you already know, we are going to visit my sister and her
husband. I count on you to be ready. No doubt your sister will be. If you are not, you will not
enjoy what awaits you. Understood?”
“Of course, father.” Her head tipped towards the ground. Ariel barely saw her father as he jerked
on the doorknob.
“Be aware,” Lord Garrison warned over one shoulder, “I have a late visitor to attend to. I do not
expect you to be present but at the very least be on your best behavior. I do not wish to be embar-
rassed.” His pace more irritated than ever, Lord Garrison stormed into the house, slamming the door
behind him. Allowed no time to respond, Ariel halted in apprehension at the edge of the dated stone
step. With little choice afforded her, she grasped at the door, and on a swift prayer trailed behind her sire.