Sebastian leaned another inch closer to Miss Danforth. “No more talk of dying and grieving, no more tears and suffering. I cannot bear it. Do you hear me?”Though when a grieving woman could not cry, she was a much more worrisome creature.
He kissed her, perhaps because he hadn’t cried since his mother’s funeral, but more likely because the unreadable depths of Miss Danforth’s chocolate-brown eyes shifted and became, if not warm, then at least curious.
For a kiss that bore more than a little anger on Sebastian’s part, the touch of Miss Danforth’s lips on his was sunlight-soft. She scooted nearer, one of her hands wrapping around the back of his head, the other cradling his cheek.
She tasted of the wine, of sweetness, and a little of grief. He kissed the grief then nudged it aside by stroking his fingers over her cheek, her throat, her temple. Though she was a redhead, her hair was silky soft, and her skin…
No human female ought to have skin like that, warm and smooth, and a sheer pleasure for a man to drag his fingertips over. He wanted to taste her everywhere, and that he’d never have the chance was the only thing that made him ease out of the kiss.
“You are alive,” he growled. “Be grateful for that. Don’t tempt fate by questioning your good fortune, because one day it will be you who lies in some churchyard.”
The first kiss is a scene that helps define a tale as a romance, a sign post standing between the meet, and the mid-point of the book, when the hero and heroine realize there’s no turning back, even though the stakes for sticking with the relationship will only get scarier.
But that first kiss…That’s when the author walks up behind two perfectly content (if lonely) characters, taps them on the shoulders and points to the end of the book: “True love, that direction, 300 pages. What will you two do about it?”
So the first kiss is mighty, mighty important. A reader once remarked that my first kisses are always about comfort, never about heat, and she was mostly right. My first kisses are only in a minor degree about sexual attraction. Sebastian kisses Milly because she’s letting grief steal from her the simple joy of pretty spring day.
He kisses her to get her attention, to distract her from her sorrow, to say, “LOOK AT ME, not at your past, not at what you’ve lost, but at the endless possibilities still left to you simply because you’re alive.”
Sebastian, has endured years of war and has a price on his head. He’s also kissing Milly a little bit in defiance of his fate, a little bit in sorrow for the years that will be denied him because of decisions he had no control over.
And Milly is grappling with the terror of life on her own, no aunties to protect and guide her, no wealth to smooth her way, no friends to cushion her from life’s buffeting. She’s surprised and pleased to learn that despite her unassuming circumstances and appearances, a gentleman of consequence can be inspired to a small lapse of propriety with her.
The kiss is a signal that He and She have noticed each other, and gives them permission to next grapple with the troublesome realization that they’re attracted to each other. For me, it’s not romance if desire isn’t preceded by a specific appreciation of the person desired, and that, I hope, is what Sebastian and Milly’s first kiss accomplishes.
Title: The Traitor
Author: Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance
As a young boy, British-born Sebastian St. Clair was abandoned in France and forced to join the French army to survive. Now that the war is over, he has returned to his beloved England and is determined to live a quiet life as a country gentleman. He's struggling to make that wish come true when he falls for his elderly aunt's practical and unpretentious companion, Miss Millicent Danforth. But an old enemy threatens this new love, and plots to destroy everything Sebastian holds dear. Sebastian will have to use all of his wits if he's to hang on to his life, his honor...and Milly's love.
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.
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