I picked an excerpt from Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do.
Griff cracked open a single eyelid. A bright stab of pain told him he’d made a grave mistake. He quickly shut his eyes again and put a hand over them, groaning.
Something had gone horribly wrong.
He needed a shave. He needed a bath. He might need to be sick. Attempts to summon any recollection of the previous evening resulted in another sharp slice of agony.
He tried to ignore the throb in his temples and focused on the tufted, plush surface under his back. It wasn’t his bed. Perhaps not even a bed at all. Was it just a trick of his nausea, or was the damned thing moving?
God’s knees, Halford. The next time you decide to bed a woman after a months-long drought, at least stay sober enough to remember it afterward. “Griff.” The voice came to him through a thick, murky haze. It was muffled, but unmistakably female.
He cursed his stupidity. The epic duration of his celibacy was no doubt the reason he’d been tempted by … whoever she was. He had no idea of her name or her face. Just a vague impression of a feminine presence nearby. He inhaled and smelled perfume of an indeterminate, expensive sort.
Damn. He’d need jewels to get out of this, no doubt.
Something dull and pointed jabbed his side. “Wake up.”
Did he know that voice? Keeping one hand clapped over his eyes, he fumbled about with the other hand. He caught a handful of heavy silk skirt and skimmed his touch downward until his fingers closed around a stocking-clad ankle. Sighing a little in apology, he rubbed his thumb up and down.
I loved this historical novel and this opening where you see the hero has already made at least a few changes (he hasn’t imbibed in months) and is now doing what we see “rakes” in historicals do. Wake up next to someone new. Except Griff is waking up to find his mother! And the reader soon learns she has kidnapped him. I love this twist on the trope – which Tessa Dare does very well. I come back to this story over and over when I just need a pick me up!
And my other choice was also historical – Anne Gracie’s The Summer Bride. Daisy may be my favorite historical heroine of ALL time.
London March 1817
“I can make anyfing out of anyfing, but even I can’t make a silk purse out of a bloomin’ sow’s ear!” Daisy Chance declared. “I was born in the gutter, raised in an ‘orehouse and I got a gimpy leg. I don’t look like a lady or speak like a lady and I ain’t never gunna be a lady, so what’s the point of—”
Lady Beatrice cut her off. “Nonsense! You can do anything you set your mind to!”
Daisy rolled her eyes. “Maybe, but I don’t want to be a lady! I want to be a dress maker—and not just any dressmaker. I aim to become the most fashionable modiste in London—fashion to the top nobs.”
The old lady shrugged. “No reason why you can’t be a modiste and a lady.”
This is the fourth book in the Chance Sister series. Daisy is was raised in a brothel and after the events of books one through three is now in society. The start of this book sets up exactly who Daisy is…and what she isn’t! It’s a fresh start that makes you really want to keep reading to see if she can be a “modiste and a lady.”