Well there is a new historical author, Elizabeth Hoyt, and if the rest of her book is witty like her chapter on her site...she is going to be a hit!
Little Battleford, England
The combination of a horse galloping far too fast, a muddy lane with a curve, and a lady pedestrian is never a good one. Even in the best of circumstances, the odds of a positive outcome are depressingly low. But add a dog—a very big dog—and, Anna Wren reflected, disaster became inescapable.
The horse in question made a sudden sideways jump at the sight of Anna in its path. The mastiff, jogging beside the horse, responded by running under its nose, which in turn made the horse rear. Saucer-sized hooves flailed the air. And inevitably, the enormous rider on the horse’s back came unseated. The man went down at her feet like a hawk shot from the sky, if less gracefully. His long limbs sprawled as he fell, he lost his crop and tricorn, and he landed with a spectacular splash in a mud puddle. A wall of filthy water sprang up to drench her.
Everyone, including the dog, paused.
Idiot, Anna thought, but that was not what she said. Respectable widows of a certain age—one and thirty in two months—do not hurl epithets, however apt, at gentlemen. No, indeed.
"I do hope you are not damaged by your fall," she said instead. "May I assist you to rise?” She smiled through gritted teeth at the sodden man.
He did not return her pleasantry. “What the hell were you doing in the middle of the road, you silly woman?”
The man heaved himself out of the mud puddle to loom over her in that irritating way gentlemen had of trying to look important when they'd just been foolish. The dirty water beading on his pale, pockmarked face made him an awful sight. Black eyelashes clumped together lushly around obsidian eyes, but that hardly offset the large nose and chin and the thin, bloodless lips.
“I am so sorry.” Anna’s smile did not falter. “I was walking home. Naturally, had I known you would be needing the entire width of the throughway—”
But apparently his question had been rhetorical. The man stomped away, dismissing her and her explanation. He ignored his hat and crop to stalk the horse, cursing it in a low, oddly soothing monotone.
The dog sat down to watch the show.
The horse, a bony bay, had peculiar light patches on its coat that gave it an unfortunate piebald appearance. It rolled its eyes at the man and sidled a few steps away.
“That’s right. Dance around like a virgin at the first squeeze of a tit, you revolting lump of maggot-eaten hide,” the man crooned to the animal. “When I get hold of you, you misbegotten result of a diseased camel humping a sway-backed ass, I’ll wring your cretinous neck, I will.”
The horse swiveled its mismatched ears to better hear the caressing baritone voice and took an uncertain step forward. Anna sympathized with the animal. The ugly man’s voice was like a feather run along the sole of her foot: irritating and tantalizing at the same time. She wondered if he sounded like that when he made love to a woman. One would hope he changed the words.
The man got close enough to the bemused horse to catch its bridle. He stood for a minute, murmuring obscenities, then he mounted the animal in one lithe movement. His muscular thighs, indecently revealed in wet buckskins, tightened about the horse’s barrel as he turned its nose.
He inclined his bare head at Anna. "Madam, good day." And without a backward glance, he cantered off down the lane, the dog racing beside him. In a moment, he was out of sight. In another, the sound of hoofbeats had died.
Anna looked down.
Her basket lay in the puddle, its contents—her morning shopping—spilled in the road. She must've dropped it when she dodged the oncoming horse. Now, a half-dozen eggs oozed yellow yolks into the muddy water, and a single herring eyed her balefully as if blaming her for its undignified landing. She picked up the fish and brushed it off. It, at least, could be saved. Her gray dress, however, drooped pitifully, although the actual color wasn’t much different from the mud that caked it. She plucked at the skirts to separate them from her legs before sighing and dropping them. She scanned the road in both directions. The bare branches of the trees overhead rattled in the wind. The little lane stood deserted.
Anna took a breath and said the forbidden word out loud in front of God and her eternal soul: “Bastard!” She held her breath, waiting for a thunderbolt or, more likely, a twinge of guilt to hit her. Neither happened, which ought to have made her uneasy. After all, ladies do not curse gentlemen, no matter what the provocation.
And she was, above all things, a respectable lady, wasn’t she?
By the time she limped up the front walk to her cottage, Anna’s skirts were dried into a stiff mess. In summer, the exuberant flowers that filled the tiny front garden made it cheerful, but at this time of year, the garden was mostly mud. Before she could reach it, the door opened. A small woman with dove-gray ringlets bobbing at her temples peered around the jamb.