Guest Blogger: Author Donna Dalton
Today, I'm welcoming guest blogger, Donna Dalton, author of Loving Bryne. Please enjoy her post and the excerpt from Loving Bryne. I apologize to Donna that I couldn't get the picture of the Union Troops passing by the Willard Hotel to load, so I used one I found through Google.
The idea for LOVING BYRNE emerged from the royal wedding of William and Kate. Being a lover of history, I wondered about the past weddings of American royalty. I found that there have been nineteen White House weddings, including nine presidential children and one president. In my research, I learned that many of the guests were quartered in The Willard Hotel. Intrigued, I dug a little more into this historic hotel located at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC.
In 1847, Henry Willard leased six buildings and combined them into a single structure. He enlarged them into a four-story building which he named The Willard Hotel. Many famous people have stayed in the hotel over the years, including nearly every U.S. President since Franklin Pierce. In February 1861, delegates from 21 states met at the Willard in a last-ditch effort to avert the Civil War. Detective Alan Pinkerton smuggled President-elect Lincoln into the Willard a day ahead of schedule to foil any possible assassination attempts brought on by threats of a Civil War. Julia Ward Howe penned the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic when she overheard a Union regiment singing John Brown’s Body as they marched beneath her hotel window.
The Willard has been the focal point for many elegant dinners, meetings, and gala social events. In1859, departing British Ambassador Lord Napier was honored with the Napier Ball, a reception for 1,800 guests in the Willard’s tenth floor ballroom. Since I like to include historical figures and settings in all my stories, this wondrous hotel seemed the perfect setting for my fictitious “royal” wedding.
You can find more information about my books at www.donnadalton.net
Lieutenant Stephen Byrne stands guard over a British envoy asleep after an all-day drinking binge. So when his fiancée arrives, Stephen feels safe leaving his post for a quick meal. Yet his worst nightmare comes true when the Englishman slips from the room and leaves the hotel.
Victoria Manning will soon have everything she’s ever wanted—a loving husband and a new life at Fort Leavenworth as an Army officer’s wife. When loneliness and a special picnic lunch for her fiancé bring her to the Willard Hotel, their meal soon falls by the wayside as their passion ignites and their agreement of abstinence is put to the test.
Stephen and Victoria must put their special night on hold as they search for the fugitive envoy. Can they find him and save Stephen's commission in the Army, or will their future together be in jeopardy?
Her gentleman officer was a thief.
His gaze, dark as midnight and intense as a bonfire, robbed her of all good sense. Determined lips stole the breath from her lungs. Prowling touches fleeced the strength from her legs until all Victoria Manning could do was slump in the rock-hard embrace holding her captive.
He pulled her closer, his palms scorching her skin through the gown’s thick material. Practiced fingers skimmed over her ribs and hunted their way to a breast that ached for his touch. He thumbed a nipple, circling and brushing with butterfly softness. Warmth blossomed inside her like a bud opening up to the sunshine.
“Stephen...” she pushed out on a raspy exhale.
His warm breath grazed her face. “We what?”
She closed her eyes and splayed fingers over his broad chest, the Army wool uniform scratchy beneath her fingertips. He smelled of soap and aftershave. Something spicy. Her head reeled. She could dine on him for the next hundred years and never be sated.
A door slamming shut deep in the hotel plunged through the desire clouding her head. She pushed away, more to restrain herself than him. “Stop, Stephen.”
He dipped closer as if to resume his plunder, and she tilted her head aside. “Not here.”
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
The gas-lit hallway was deserted, but it wouldn’t stay that way. Due to the upcoming social event, The Willard Hotel nearly bulged with out-of-town guests. She dropped to a whisper. “Someone could come along and see us.”
He barked out a laugh and scooped up her hand. “Come. I know a place where we can have some privacy.”