Genre: Adult historical with strong romantic elements
Word count: 85,000
My MC and MA are dressed as:
Szoszo would come to the masquerade ball as an elegant Cleopatra because the queen was known for her cunning and political acumen. Plus, she must have had a sumptuous wardrobe. And the jewels. Gracious, it would be delightful to forgo stays and a corset at a party, too.
Drawn to the statesman for obvious reasons, Felix would make a perfect Julius Caesar. Both men would have done anything for their countrymen—even marrying an enemy to promote unity in the Empire. And he’d secretly love showing off his active physique in breastplate and whatever that kilt thing is called.
After the death of her exiled hero father, accident-prone Countess Szoszo Vecsey flees Washington, D.C. and the scandal that nearly ruined her life. Once back in her native land of Hungary, she’s convinced the distance, and her father’s reputation, will give her the chance to start over. When she runs—or falls, really—into diplomat Duke Felix zu Hohenlohe, the man she’s daydreamed about since she was sixteen, Szoszo hopes her school girl crush will blossom into a romance. And with the way he keeps kissing her? It just might.
With all of his focus on accelerating his career, Felix doesn’t have much time to fantasize about the delectable Szoszo. His posting in Budapest is complicated enough by the country’s vow to break free from the Empire. If Felix can broker a compromise, his election as the next Prime Minister of a united Austria-Hungary is almost guaranteed. But as a detested Austrian, he isn’t given the chance to practice his savoir-faire, until Szoszo invents a long-time friendship between him and her father—a ruse that will give Felix credibility to negotiate.
Felix claims a sizzling kiss for every fib Szoszo tells, and they soon channel their attraction into an engagement to avoid their own scandal. But when Szoszo’s sordid past arrives in the form of the new American ambassador, Felix must figure out how to prove her innocence before the hard-won tranquility of Central Europe, and Felix’s political aspirations, are shattered.
The bell over the door to the stationery shop clanged for the third time in minutes. Lightheaded from nerves, Szoszo focused on the nearest shelf. Calm yourself. For this plan to work, the appearance of a relaxed tourist was imperative. How humiliating for Felix to know she angled to meet him. Had posted herself in the shop on two separate afternoons after she saw him exit three days before.
Tingles lit her nerves on fire, a sensation she embraced with pleasure. Szoszo ran a gloved finger over the translucent sheet of onionskin. No one in Washington desired her correspondence, but maybe she’d form new friendships in Budapest. Or have cause to write love letters. Heat flushed her skin, and she fanned herself. Yes, please.
Would he recognize her? It was six years ago when he dined with Papa. Her seventeen-year-old self probably made no impression on a sophisticated man like him.
Unable to resist, she peeked out the front window. A silver-haired woman rubbed her thumb across the face of a pocket watch. Please be Felix's sister. They’d been together last time, too.
Shoulders loose, feign disinterest. She’d flash him a hesitant smile that would turn to gradual recognition. Aren’t you Duke zu Hohenlohe? That wouldn’t do—too forward.
Hand over heart with fluttering lashes? Gracious, you’re so familiar, have we met? Her nose wrinkled. Unrefined Yankee wasn’t her goal.
A clip of leather-heeled shoes moved closer to her hiding spot, steady and unhurried, unlike the blood pounding in Szoszo’s body.