A Gentleman’s Game is the story of Nathaniel and Rosalind. He’s a seemingly carefree Thoroughbred trainer and baronet’s son; she’s the baronet’s unlikely secretary. They’re both hiding more than a few secrets, and not only from other people. Neither Nathaniel nor Rosalind has dreamed about what they’d like to make of their lives…until they meet each other.

One of my favorite parts of the book to write was the lead-up to the first love scene. It’s less about passion than it is about acceptance, as Rosalind—who bears scars from a severe burn—begins to see herself in a new way. Exploring characters is what I love best about writing romance. I hope you enjoy this snippet from my favorite scene of A Gentleman’s Game!

She opened her eyes, prepared to see him staring with disgust.

He wasn’t, though. He was only staring. Not with disgust, but with what instead?

She folded her arms across her breasts. The scars over her right elbow tugged. “Not what you expected?”

“I never know what to expect where you are concerned.” He smiled. “But if you refer to your scars, they saved your life. I can only be grateful to them.”

He took her within his arms again, kissing his way down from her smooth shoulder to the puckered web over her arm. 

She felt little on the scarred areas of her body—less heat and cold, and hardly a gentle touch at all. Sometimes she felt her skin was too tight. Sometimes it itched.

Never had it been kissed like this, sweet and slow and gentle. Down the arm that had protected her face and neck, the arm that had beat back and rolled over the flames. It was a good arm; it had saved her life as much as Aunt Annie’s treatments had. After all it had been through, it still held reins and wrote. It could unfold to stop protecting her body, her heart. Its fingers could twine in the still-damp silk of Nathaniel’s hair.

And it could still feel pleasure, a prickling dance of sensation down its length. Here the skin was thickened, her own armor that she always carried about. It bumped and puckered; it was darker and redder and paler in spots. Her scars did not match the rest of her. Her scars were a part of her.

Tears welled up, filling her eyes, but they were not from sadness. “They did save my life,” she said. “You’re right.”

She would still have traded them in an instant for smooth unmarked skin that had never known fire. But that wasn’t a choice. The only choice was to be grateful or not to be. For her life being saved. For her body, still strong and healthy. 

For the firelight that warmed without hurting, and for this man who lifted his head to look at her with desire.

Theresa is giving away a print copy of A Gentleman’s Game to three lucky readers. To be entered in a drawing for the winners, make a comment below.

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest.

Dabney Grinnan
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Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.