It's the last day of my Birthday Bash and we're wrapping things up with one of my favorite people, the wonderful Vanessa Kelly! When she's not busy writing regency historical romances, Vanessa teams up with her husband to pen romantic suspense, sports-themed contemporary romance and their current small-town contemporary series set in the fictional Seashell Bay, a small island off the coast of Maine. I highly recommend them all!
For more information about Vanessa and her books, visit her website and connect with her online at Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
|Vanessa Kelly and her husband, Randy write as V.K. Sykes|
Thanks so much for helping me celebrate my birthday, Vanessa!
Alec Gilbride strolled down the long corridor of the east
wing, heading for his wife’s private sitting room. His grandfather was napping
by the fireplace in his
sitting room (Blairgal had at least a dozen of them), his father was busy in
the library, and the dinner bell wouldn’t ring for at another hour. Perfect
timing for a private afternoon visit with Edie—emphasis on private.
The door to the sitting room opened and their butler came
trotting out, carrying an enormous silver platter.
“Hallo, Barclay. What are you up to?” Alec said.
“Good afternoon, Captain. I just brought Mrs. Gilbride a
nice cup of tea, along with some scones and lovely piece of Cook’s plum cake.”
Alec frowned. “What the devil is she doing drinking tea at
this time of day?” Normally, he and his wife indulged in a glass of whisky
before dinner. A nice cup of tea and some plum cake hardly sounded like an
inducement to amorous activities.
“I wouldn’t know, sir,” Barclay said in an excessively
dignified tone. “You’ll have to ask Mrs. Gilbride. Now if you’ll excuse me, I
have to see about the lobster patties.”
Tea and lobster patties? What a gruesome combination. Something
decidedly odd was afoot.
Edie was sitting by a cozy fire, scowling over the top of
her spectacles at a piece of paper. She looked up, a warm smile replacing her
frown. “I was wondering when I would see you. You’re rather late today.”
“Well, I’m here now.” He sat beside her and tipped up her
chin for a quick kiss. “So whatever it is you’re working on, you can put it
aside. I have other things in mind for the afternoon’s activities.”
Edie laughed and batted his hands away from the bodice of
her gown. “None of that, sir. I’m too busy to spend the afternoon dallying with
“You’re never too busy for that,” Alec said, raising his
“Well, I am today,” she said, again frowning down at her
He plucked it out of her hand. “What is this? And who are
all these people?” A horrible thought occurred to him. “Good Gad. You’re not
planning on inviting all these people to Blairgal for Christmas, are you? We
already have your mother to contend with.”
“No, she has other plans. And you love my mother.”
Alec decided that, for once, discretion was the better part
of valor. “Then what’s all this for?”
“It’s the guest list for PJ’s birthday party. I must get all
the invitations in the mail immediately.”
“She certainly seems to have a lot of friends,” Alec said,
peering at the long list of names. “Manda Collins, Debbie Mason, Janga, Anna
Campbell, Christina Dodd, Theresa Medeiros...hmm. Why are you only inviting
Edie took the list back with an aggrieved sigh. “There are
men included—you just failed to
notice. Randy Sykes, for instance. He’s a wonderful man who writes contemporary
romance and romantic suspense.”
Alec narrowed his gaze. “Wonderful, is he? How well do you
know the blighter?”
Edie whacked him on the arm. “He’s married to Vanessa Kelly,
you big oaf. There’s no need for you to be jealous.”
“Just checking.” He picked up another piece of paper from
the low table in front of them. “Is this the menu for the party? You’ve got a
lot of food here, old girl. Who’s paying for all this?”
“Oh, splendid,” he said. “I can just hear Grandfather
complaining about the bills now.”
Edie rolled her eyes. “We can afford it. Besides, PJ is more
than worth it.”
“She’d better be, because lobster patties are bloody
The door opened and a dark-haired young woman strode into
the room. She was clad in some kind of leggings, and a shirt that bore the
words: Keep calm and eat lobster
I hear you say lobster? How much do you need?”
“Good Lord,” Alec said, as he and Edie stared at her. “Who
are you and why are you dressed like that?”
“I’m Lily Flynn, from Seashell Bay, Maine. I captain a
lobster boat. If you need lobster, I’m your gal.”
Edie waved a vague finger at the attractive woman’s legs. “Is
that what you wear when you’re, um, catching lobster?”
Lily glanced down at herself. “Jeans and rubber boots? What
else would I wear on a fishing boat—a ballgown?”
“Good point,” Edie said. “Now, how many pounds of lobster can
you provide on short notice? We need quite a lot, since we have several hundred
romance writers and readers coming to the party. Oh, that reminds me. Alec, can
you take care of the champagne?”
He mentally winced. Romance writers and champagne? It was a
recipe for disaster.
“Hmm,” Lily said. “I think we can—”
The door flew open again and Lady Reese marched into the
room. “Eden Gilbride, are you planning a birthday party for PJ without me? How
can you even begin
to think of
organizing such an important event without my support?”
“Oh, sorry, Mamma,” Edie said. “I thought you’d already left
for London with Fergus.”
Fergus Haddon was Alec’s cousin. Lady Reese had taken it into
her head that she needed to drag the poor lad down to London to find him a
wife—a Sassenach, no less. Alec very much doubted that his cousin would go
along with that
Lady Reese scowled. “That excessively exasperating young man
seems to have disappeared for the moment. I’ve sent Shana Galen, Theresa Romain,
and Kate Noble out to look for him. In the meantime, I thought I would help
with the party planning.”
“Excellent idea,” Edie said. “Perhaps you could talk to Lily
about how much lobster we need for the patties.”
Lady Reese inspected Lily with a disapproving eye. “Dear me,
young woman. Why are you dressed in that very odd fashion?”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Because I’m a fishing boat captain.”
“That’s certainly an unusual profession for a lady, although
I generally approve of women being able to support themselves. One can never
become too dependent on a man, you know,” Lady Reese said. “But I simply cannot
allow you to run around the castle dressed in so scandalous a fashion. You will
give Alec’s grandfather palpitations if he sees you.”
Her ladyship grabbed Lily by the arm and began to drag her
out of the room. Lily objected, but Alec could have told her not to bother.
What his mother-in-law wanted, she usually got.
“Don’t worry about the party, Eden dear,” Lady Reese called
over Lily’s protests. “This young person and I will take care of everything—after
I get her properly attired.”
The door slammed shut behind them, and silence once more
“Thank God,” Alec said. “As much as I appreciate your
mother’s decisive attitude, sometimes it’s a bit much.”
“I know, and you’re a darling to put up with her,” Edie
said. His wife patted him on the cheek before reaching behind her to grab a
mass of wool yarn in a bright yellow shade. Alec eyed her with consternation as
she also extracted two long knitting needles from under the cushions of the
chaise. Now that they were alone, he was hoping they could return to business,
as it were. But Edie appeared to have other ideas.
“Now what are you doing?” he asked in a frustrated voice.
“What does it look like? I’m knitting.”
“But you don’t knit.” His wife rarely engaged in typically
feminine activities. She was dreadful at needlework, and even worse on the
Suspicious, Alec peered at whatever it was she was making.
“Is that a…”
“Baby bootie,” she said in a shy voice. Then she blushed.
Since Edie wasn’t prone to blushing, Alec had to think it
through. When the answer finally came to him, he felt like someone had thumped
him on the head. “Good God, are you…” He seemed to unable to finish his
“Surprise,” she said with a grin, holding up the unevenly
knit bootie. “In about seven months time, we’re going to be celebrating another
Good God, Edie was…was pregnant! He swept her into his arms
and planted an enthusiastic kiss on her lips. “It’s a splendid surprise, my
love. You’ve made me very happy.”
She hugged him close, then gave him a sly little smile. “And
now that we’re alone, perhaps we should
celebrate the impending event. I can think of the perfect way to do so.” She reached
for the buttons on his waistcoat, but then paused and sucked in a pained
“What’s wrong?” he asked with concern.
“Nothing, really. I’m just feeling a bit queasy at the
“You are looking a little green around the gills,” he said.
A moment later, she was scrambling off the chaise. “You’ll
have to excuse—” She clapped a hand to her mouth and raced for the door.
Alec sighed and followed her from the room. He could foresee
a long seven months ahead. But there’d be much joy—and a wonderful party—at the
end of it.
Happy birthday, dear PJ!
May you have many, many happy and healthy years to come—thank you so much for
all your love and support!!
Thank you, Vanessa!
To celebrate PJ’s
birthday, I’ll give away a copy of HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER, my latest
Vanessa Kelly historical romance, and also a copy of MEET ME AT THE BEACH, one
of my VK Sykes contemporary romances.
In addition to Vanessa's giveaways, I'll also give a package of books from my prize stash (U.S. only) and a copy of Summer at the Shore by V.K. Sykes (open to all addresses serviced by bookdepository.com).
Lily traveled a long way - in both time and miles - for my party. If you could go anywhere, in any time, where would you choose to spend your birthday and why?
Want to spend more time with Alec and Edie? Check out their book, How to Marry a Royal Highlander.
Illegitimate yet thoroughly irresistible, the Renegade Royals are leaving behind their careers as daring spies for the greatest adventure of all…
At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…
After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…
Want to know more about Lily, our Seashell Bay fishing boat captain? Pick up a copy of her book, Meet Me At The Beach.
YOU CAN’T STOP A RISING TIDE
When Lily Doyle spots her high school crush Aiden Flynn on the inbound ferry, she knows trouble is about to dock in Seashell Bay. And not just because he’s more handsome than ever. If Aiden’s in town, the rumors must be true about his family’s plan to sell their coastal land to the highest bidder. But Lily will do whatever it takes to convince the hottest guy on the beach to protect their idyllic island home.
Gorgeous Lily Doyle was the only thing Aiden missed after he escaped from his hometown to play pro baseball. Now all Aiden wants is to wrap up the business deal and get back to his life, not relive a past that still haunts him. But as memories rush in about the night of passion he and Lily shared long ago, everything else washes right out to sea-everything except the desire that still burns between them.
Vanessa is participating in a holiday anthology with Kate Noble, Shana Galen and Theresa Romain that will be published November 10th. Don't miss A Gentleman for All Seasons!
The tiny village of Hemshawe is the sort of place where nothing ever happens…until a handsome ex-soldier and his matchmaking sister let the imposing manor house at the edge of town. The friendly Londoners shake up the staid people of Hemshawe, and villagers see each other in a new and oh-so-appealing light.
Suddenly long-sparring enemies become lovers, a town festival heralds a new start for a fallen woman and a dandy, and a man who has given up on love gets a second chance with the woman he never forgot. And the matchmaker herself? She won’t rest until she finds her own happily-ever-after…
A Madness in Spring by Kate Noble
Adam Sturridge has made Belinda Leonard’s blood boil since childhood, and the feeling is mutual. But when a would-be matchmaker arrives in the village of Hemshawe, she’d determined to erase the thin line between love and hate. Now, Belinda and Adam are faced with falling for someone they’ve always considered an enemy — can they overcome old prejudices and discover how to rub each other the right way?
The Summer of Wine and Scandal by Shana Galen
When viscount’s son and dandy Peregrine Lochley is temporarily exiled from London to the country for his misdeeds, the last thing he expects is to encounter an intriguing woman. But Caroline Martin has a secret to hide, and it just might be too scandalous for even this debauched rogue.
Those Autumn Nights by Theresa Romain
Ten years ago, wealthy Eliza Greenleaf broke lowly soldier Bertram Gage’s heart—but the last decade brought changes in fortune to them both. Now that he’s made his mark on the world, a twist of fate brings the Greenleaf family under his power. Will this war-hardened officer triumph over his former lover…or will Bertie and Eliza give love a second chance?
The Season for Loving by Vanessa Kelly (Renegade Royals 4.5)
Miss Georgie Gage, matchmaker extraordinaire, is resigned to life as a spinster—almost. When notoriously aloof bachelor Fergus Haddon arrives from Scotland to spend Christmas with the Gage family, Georgie thinks she’s finally found her own perfect match—if, that is, she can get the handsome Highlander to agree!