We hear about volunteerism every day and I'm pretty sure most of us can say we try to help our friends and neighbors whenever we can. Around here, when someone has a death in the family, we take over food and supplies and try to help the bereaved in that way. Often, I'll clean out my closets and bag up lots of nearly-new items or I'll need to get rid of a piece of furniture. I always call Salvation Army and contribute. Our dry cleaners collects Coats for Kids and every year I'd drop off my children's barely used coats. We contribute to the local food bank. There are just so many ways to help others.
Quite some time ago, a group endorsed by RWA set out to encourage writers to write romance novels that were geared toward beginning readers. This was an attempt to help many young women learn to read with material that was more adult than the books used by our kiddos in the classroom. I remember thinking...what a FANTASTIC idea. I mean, really, this project gave writers a way to give back in a meaningful way.
Last year, a member of Ellora's Caves staff lost her only child in a terrible fire. Lara was studying to be a vet tech and lived in an off-campus apartment with several roommates when a fire broke out in the middle of the night. Most of the kids who lived there were saved but not Lara or her friends. In an effort to help the family in any small way, a group of EC writers banded together and wrote books, all with proceeds going to benefit Lara's family. So if you visit EC's site and see one of these books (yes, there is a little note about the benefit) please pick up a copy!
On that note, my friend Cindy Spencer Pape, has added to the collection of benefit books with Marry Me, Marietta so pick up your copy today.
Buy it Here!
Marietta James is a proper Victorian widow—until the night fate throws her together with handsome doctor Adam Hamilton. Adam has tried to ignore his desire for his voluptuous neighbor, but when the two of them are alone together, the passion burns out of their control. Now Adam is determined that their relationship continue while Marietta wants to forget their night of passion ever happened. It will take all his powers of seduction and persuasion to get her back in his bed—and into his life for good.
Note: Part of the proceeds from this book is being donated to the family of Lara Anne Punches, whose life ended tragically and too early.
Wingate Village, Devonshire
Marietta James hurried through the village, keeping her face turned down to avoid the rain. Why she hadn’t brought her umbrella, she wasn’t sure, but she always seemed to forget the thing on the days it actually rained. If she carried it skies would be clear. Now her one reasonably nice bonnet would likely be ruined, and there would be no money to replace it until next quarter day.
The click of her boots on the cobblestone streets and the rolling thunder in the distance made the village square a noisy place indeed this afternoon. She’d left for home at her usual time, but the storm had darkened the skies enough that it could have been midnight. Her heel turned on a cobble and she fell, bruising her hip and splashing mud all over her skirts.
“Fabulous,” she muttered. There was a crack of thunder and she barely heard the approaching carriage in time to scramble out of the way. The conveyance racketed down the lane, its driver heedless to others less fortunate in their modes of transportation.
“Thank you, Mr. Winstead.” The youngest scion of the local lord was a reckless lout—she was surprised he hadn’t wrecked the new carriage yet. Picking herself up, she brushed what mud she could off her skirts and continued on her way. As the coach turned the corner, she heard a loud yelp then a thump. The carriage continued on.
Marietta scurried to the corner and saw the animal—a large dog—lying beside the road. As she drew closer, she began to make out its pale color and distinctive shape.
“Oh no. Not Monty.” She knelt beside the dog and laid her hand on its side. In the dim light of the streetlamps, her fears were confirmed. This was indeed the faithful companion of the family who lived next door to Marietta’s small cottage. What had Monty been doing out in such a storm? The good news was that his chest still moved. Monty was hurt but alive.
Marietta paused a moment to consider her options. She could take the dog to his owners, but if he was gravely injured, that might be traumatic for the Denslow children, especially little Lana, who had been gravely ill and doted on her faithful companion. She could take him to her own small house, but she would have no idea how to care for him. Another house that was closer held Monty’s best chance for survival. Marietta didn’t care for Doctor Adam Hamilton, but her feelings were of no importance. She should run to Dr. Hamilton’s house for help.
She stood then paused. She hated to leave him lying so close to the road, even for the few minutes it would take. She’d have to carry him herself. Carefully, she gathered the injured dog to her chest and lifted him. He was heavy but she managed. Marietta had grown up on a working farm—she was no fragile village maiden. Not for the first time she gave thanks for her sturdy build and her sensible, if unfashionably loose, stays. With slow, careful steps, staggering only a little, she carried Monty down the darkened street toward the doctor’s residence.
* * * * *
Adam lounged in front of the crackling fire in his front parlor, reading a medical journal when he heard something banging on his front door. It sounded less like a knock and more like a muffled kick. Knowing that anyone out on a dreadful day like this must be in serious need of his services, he hurried to the front door of his small house and yanked it open.
“I’m sorry, I don’t treat animals,” he began when he saw the small woman with the big dog in her arms, standing on the step. He couldn’t see her face behind the bloodied yellow fur, but the animal had to weigh nearly half what she did.
“Please, Doctor. It’s Monty, the Denslows’ dog. Alfie Winstead just hit him with his carriage.”
Oh hell. “Come on in.” He recognized the voice now, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t give a rip about the snooty little widow, but he did care a great deal about little Lara Denslow. He’d just barely been able to save the child after last winter’s pneumonia and he knew she was still weak. Losing her best friend could give the girl a major setback.
He took the dog and hurried to his surgery. When Marietta James followed him in, he saw she was limping just a bit. Her skirts were torn and covered in blood and mud up to her waist.
“Did the carriage hit you, as well?”
“No, I simply fell when I jumped out of the way. I’m fine.” Her sharp gaze darted curiously about the room before landing back on Monty. “What can I do to help?”