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Thursday, April 05, 2012
The Scarred Heart - Excerpt
I haven't been out here in a while, but with the advent of The Scarred Heart nearly upon us, I thought it was high time you got a sneak peek. So, here's the blurb and an excerpt.

The Scarred Heart

Sometimes, the greatest casualty of war is trust.

Lionel Cantrell has all but given up hope of finding his missing wife and child. He left them in the care of his parents and older brother while he went abroad to fight the French, only to return to a marriage in shambles, a daughter who cannot possibly be his, and his wife and son fled to parts unknown.

Until now. At a former comrade’s house party, Lion comes face to face with the object of his five-year search. Emma, whose cold reception is keenly edged with barely concealed panic.

When Emma’s perfect marriage to her childhood sweetheart crumbled into an unendurable year of humiliation and torment, she had no choice but to take their son—and her sanity—to build a new life under an assumed name. Her chance meeting with Lion threatens to expose long-buried emotional scars. And physical ones, the origins of which he must never know.

Emma’s stubborn refusal to explain why she won’t return home only fuels Lion’s relentless curiosity. So does their undeniable passion. Time is on his side, and his well of patience is deep. But Emma’s trauma runs far deeper…perhaps too deep for love to reach.


Lion watched Sarah and Emma go. He and Royden followed them moments later, but not fast enough. Sarah was standing in the foyer when the two men appeared. There was a concerned expression on her face as she looked up the stairs. Emma was nowhere to be seen.
“What happened?” Sarah turned on her husband.
“Where?” he countered.
“In the drawing room. I’ve never seen Emma so agitated. Not even when Jamie fell out of that tree and broke his arm was she this upset.” She looked at him, wondering if he had any answers.
He did, but he wasn’t certain he was willing to tell them. Yet he knew he owed them some explanation.
“Let’s go into the library,” Royden said, turning his wife in that direction.
Once there, Max turned to Lion. “Sarah and Emma have become fast friends,” he said, “so she’s a bit over-protective. But”—he turned to Sarah—“blaming Lion is going a bit far.”
He smiled. “Short for Lionel, my lady. You may call me Lion or Lanyon.”
“I see.” She studied him through pale blue eyes brimming with curiosity. “Then you may call me Sarah.” The grouping of three chairs the men had occupied earlier still sat near the fire. Sarah took one then looked up at him. “So, what did you do to terrify Emma?”
Max snorted. “He did nothing. I merely introduced them.”
Lion noted the skepticism that crossed her face. He didn’t blame her. Emma had said nothing at all, only stared at him through large green eyes in a face devoid of color. She’d managed a curtsy and, if it wasn’t for that busybody, Lady Marleton, might have responded. Her reaction left no doubt she’d been shocked at seeing him.
“I’m afraid ’tis true, my lady,” he said now, “however, I suspect Emma reacted the way she did because I was the last person she expected to see. The surprise, by the way, was mutual.”
“So, you know Emma?” she asked.
His attempt at a smile probably looked more like a grimace. He did and he didn’t. “I have been searching for her for nearly five years,” he explained instead. It was obvious he was in for a thinly veiled interrogation.
He glanced over at Max, who had taken the last chair but not participated in the conversation, then sighed as he turned his attention back to Sarah. Why? There were so many reasons, he didn’t know where to start. Perhaps he ought to just give her the most obvious one.
“Perhaps I just wanted to know where my wife and son were.”
Sarah sat back in her chair and frowned at him. “Emma’s a widow.” He shook his head. “Then why would she say so?”
“Perhaps she thought so,” Max spoke for the first time. “You were at Waterloo with me. There was so much confusion in the aftermath that many men were thought dead, but turned up alive, sometimes months later.”
He did not contradict Max’s plausible explanation, but Sarah wasn’t convinced.
“I thought your family name was Cantrell. Yet her name is Laughlin.”
He had no answer to that. Laughlin wasn’t even Emma’s maiden name. He had no idea where she’d gotten it.
“I have no explanation for that.”
Sarah’s eyes narrowed. “Perhaps she didn’t want to be found.”

And, don't forget, you can read the entire first chapter at the link above.

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