Once a Soldier
by Mary Jo Putney
GENRE: Historical Romance
As heir to a title and great wealth, Will Masterson should have stayed home and tended his responsibilities. Instead he went to war. Now, after perilous years fighting the French, he intends his current mission to be his last. But all his plans are forgotten when he arrives in the small mountain stronghold of San Gabriel and meets her.
Knowing herself to be too tall, strong, and unconventional to appeal to a man, Athena Markham has always gloried in her independence. But for the first time in her life, she finds a man who might be her match.
Two of a kind, too brave for their own good, Athena and Will vow to do whatever it takes to vanquish San Gabriel’s enemies. For neither will back down from death, and only together can they find happiness and a love deeper than any they’d dared imagine…
She stared at him. “You’re a most unusual man, Major Masterson.”
“I’ve been told that before,” he said sadly. “It’s never a compliment.”
She had to smile. “Now I know you’re teasing.”
“Possibly,” he agreed; his expression sober, but his eyes amused. “If I’m forgiven for the kiss, will you call me Will again? I prefer to be on first name terms with you.”
“Very well, Will.” She preferred that as well. “For whatever time you’re here, we can be friends. After you leave . . .” She shrugged. “In my experience, men are not such good letter writers as women, and it’s a long way from San Gabriel to Oxfordshire.”
“I’m a rather decent letter writer, actually.” His gaze intensified. “Friends. And who knows? Perhaps we can become more than friends.”
She felt as if the breath had been knocked out of her. He could not possibly mean what he seemed to be implying. Returning to irony, she said, “What are the relationship possibilities?” She held up her left hand and ticked off one finger. “Friendship is the broadest category and can range from mild acquaintance to deep, enduring loyalty. I think we are already mild friends?”
“If we weren’t more than mild friends already, we wouldn’t be having this extremely interesting discussion,” he agreed.
She ticked off another finger. “We could become enemies.”
“I will not allow that,” he said firmly. “I have had enough of enemies.”
“One does not always have a choice.” She tapped her middle finger. “The opposite of love or hate, which is indifference.”
“It is much too late for indifference,” Will said seriously. “I believe I mentioned my immediate interest in kissing you.”
“Do you always want to kiss women who aim rifles at you?” she asked curiously.
“No, you’re the only one,” he said. “Though if the truth be known, women seldom greet me with weaponry.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” She studied her hand. “Two fingers left for listing relationships, and those remaining are deeply implausible.”
“But these are the most interesting possibilities!” he exclaimed.
“‘Interesting’ doesn’t mean good.” She ticked her ring finger. “We could have an affair. That will not happen for any number of reasons, most of which you can imagine.”
“Which leaves another possibility,” he said, his voice soft.
She closed her hand into a fist. “You can’t possibly be interested in marriage! You scarcely know me.”
“That’s true, as is the reverse. If we get to know each other better, one or both of us might decide we’d never suit.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Mary Jo Putney is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has written over 60 novels and novellas. A ten-time finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA, she has won the honor twice and is on the RWA Honor Roll for bestselling authors. In 2013 she was awarded the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Though most of her books have been historical romance, she has also published contemporary romances, historical fantasy, and young adult paranormal historicals. She lives in Maryland with her nearest and dearest, both two and four footed. Visit her at maryjoputney.com.
Mary Jo will be awarding a print copy of Once a Soldier (US/Canada only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.