[Manga Maniac Café] Good morning, Ally!
[Ally Broadfield] Thanks so much for inviting me to Manga Maniac Café! I’m excited to be here.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Ally Broadfield] Passionate, determined, whimsical, kind, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Just a Kiss?
[Ally Broadfield] The idea for this story came from a short story I entered into a Jane Austen contest in the spring of 2011. It was a continuation of Sense and Sensibility focusing on the youngest sister, Margaret. I didn’t win, but Sebastian was such a fabulous hero I decided to write Just a Kiss so I could expand his story, and Charlotte gladly took over the role of Margaret.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your favorite scene?
[Ally Broadfield] After more than an hour of brisk walking and a rousing game of tag, the boys settled down to investigate a fountain while their grateful nanny rested on a nearby bench. Charlotte chose to continue walking. Of all the gentlemen she’d met since her arrival in London, there was only one she imagined herself wanting to know more intimately. She wondered what it would feel like to kiss him, to run her fingers through his thick, dark hair. Both Charlotte’s thoughts and her momentum were abruptly halted when she crashed into a horse blocking the path in front of her.
“I say, Miss Lightwood, are you all right?” Lord Marley said. It was as if her imagination had conjured him to appear in this very spot.
The timbre of his voice set her heartbeat into a staccato rhythm. Despite the protection afforded by the rim of her bonnet, the sun shone so brightly she had to shade her eyes as she gazed up at him. “Yes, I am fine, thank you, Lord Marley.”
The horse shook its head, and he loosened the reins. “Then why did you walk into my horse?”
She put her hands on her hips. “Why did you position him in the middle of the path?”
He returned the wave of a gentleman trotting past along Rotten Row. “I’d thought to greet you, but had I known you meant to attack my horse, I would have moved on.”
“I did no such thing.” Charlotte stroked Lord Marley’s very fine bay gelding along his neck and shoulder. “He’s beautiful.”
Lord Marley momentarily appeared as if he’d sat on a thorn. He cleared his throat before speaking. “If you step back, I shall dismount so we can converse more comfortably. I know how overwhelmed you must be by my illustrious presence, but I shouldn’t wish to be the cause of you injuring your neck.” His eyes sparkled with mirth.
Charlotte let out a disgusted snort and stepped back.
“Why, I do believe that is the first time I’ve been snorted at by a lady.” He swung down from his horse.
“That’s the first time you’ve ever noticed a lady snort at you, more likely,” Charlotte said mildly. She noted a spaniel trotting along behind the man on horseback. A wave of longing for her own dog unfurled inside her, and she cursed Elizabeth for forbidding her to bring her dog to London.
He raised one brow but declined to comment. “May I walk with you?”
“Of course, my lord. Please call me Charlotte. I do not like to be called Miss Lightwood.” In truth, she was no longer accustomed to responding to her surname. Everyone now called her by her given name because Elizabeth didn’t wish for Charlotte to be confused as one of her offspring.
He tapped his riding crop against his boot. “As you wish. You may take leave to call me Sebastian.”
Charlotte slanted her head back, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her face, which was rare this time of year. Lord Marley sighed. Their eyes met when she turned toward him.
He drew his brows together. “Does your family call you Charlotte? It seems rather a long name for everyday use.”
“As opposed to Sebastian,” she said, giving him a sideways glance. “I am sorry the recitation of my name is too taxing for you, my lord, but I have no other. You may revert to calling me Miss Lightwood if you prefer.”
“I guess I shall have to be satisfied with Charlotte. And you are supposed to call me Sebastian.” He returned her sideways glance.
“Sebastian.” She liked the sound of his name. It rolled off her tongue quite pleasantly. “What about you? Don’t you have a sobriquet I should use?”
“None I can repeat in front of a lady. And none I would wish you to use.” Without warning, Sebastian stopped and searched the area. “Where is your maid? Surely you are not without an escort.”
Charlotte stroked his horse again. “I’m here with Nanny Filcher and the children.”
He nodded. “Ah, that explains your disheveled appearance.”
“My what?” Her gloves were a bit soiled, but she could find nothing amiss with her dress. Perhaps the hem was a tad dirty, but that wasn’t uncommon when one went out walking.
“It’s not your dress so much as your hair that contributes to your general state of disheveledness.” He reached out and ran his fingers down the length of a loose tress.
A rush of heat suffused her. She attempted to tuck her hair back into her bonnet. “I don’t believe disheveledness is a word, my lord.”
“It should be. Is dishevelment more to your liking? I expect it would work in this situation.” He waved toward her dress.
She swallowed, his nearness momentarily stealing her words. “Yes, my lord.”
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?
[Ally Broadfield] Charlotte and Sebastian love to exchange witty banter and it was difficult to keep them from going off on tangents that had nothing to do with the story.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Ally Broadfield] A leash. I keep one in my purse, one in my car, and one in the pocket of most of my coats in case I come across a loose dog or have one or more of my dogs with me (they love to ride in the car!). You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve come across someone’s dog running loose.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Ally Broadfield] Empty coffee mug, my compact edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, and my daughter’s potholder loom, patiently waiting for someone to finish the edges.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Ally Broadfield] Jane Austen, because I would love to experience Regency England for one day. I kinda wanted to say my husband, though, because I want to know how difficult and stressful his job really is!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?
[Ally Broadfield] I’m not sure this is a superpower, but I recently watched the move About Time (which is excellent, by the way!), and I’d love to be able to travel back in time to see my mom again, and maybe fix a few situations that deserve a shot at a do-over.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Ally Broadfield] The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins, The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas, and Janet Evanovich’s Takedown Twenty (who doesn’t love Stephanie Plum?).
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Ally Broadfield] My website: http://allybroadfield.com/
Just a Kiss by Ally Broadfield
Tagline: His proposal could only lead to temptation…
Book Synopsis: Charlotte Lightwood has one season to find a husband or she’ll be forced to marry her guardian’s loathsome cousin. With no title or dowry, she doesn’t have much hope of making a good match. Sebastian Wilkinson, the Earl of Marley, has been the most eligible bachelor on the marriage mart for more years than he cares to count and is very aware of his duty to marry a woman who will add to the wealth and stature of his title. Sebastian makes Charlotte an offer she can’t refuse: he will pretend to court her to help her attract more suitors in exchange for her advice about which ladies he should pursue. As they work together, their mutual attraction grows. When they realize they just might be perfect for one another, they must decide whether to bow to the dictates of society or follow their hearts.
Author Bio: Ally lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, five dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and several reptiles. Oh, and her husband. She likes to curse in Russian and spends most of her time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She writes historical romance set in Regency England and Imperial Russia.