Thursday, July 21, 2016

Northern Rain Blog Tour...A New Day

Available on Amazon
As most of you are aware, by now, I am a big fan of North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Author Nicole Clarkston writes N&S fan fiction novels and I am just as big a fan of her work. (She has a P&P novel, too) It is my happy privilege to be part of the Blog Tour for Northern Rain. Ms. Clarkston was recently a guest on my blog when this latest book, Northern Rain, was released. On that post, she shared 'The Lost Scene', a fun vignette with Hannah Thornton. Today she shares another vignette with us that is not included the book, part of the honeymoon. It is quite romantic and lovely. Enjoy.


This honeymoon vignette picks up where the main story of Northern Rain leaves off, on the first morning after John and Margaret’s marriage. I hope you enjoy this peek into their married life. - NC

         A New Day                 

The black nothingness of sleep vanished in an instant as John Thornton snapped to alertness. His vision blurred for only a second until his eyes focused on the unfamiliar surroundings. Some inner sense, even in the very depths of his slumber, had kept him aware, but now he awoke to a new impression of disorientation.

Within half a heartbeat, he was searching to his right. His arm flexed and his wild, dizzy hope was rewarded. For the first time in his one-and-thirty years, he had not wakened alone.

His entire being wished to cry out in transports of joy. It was too glorious a thing for him, that the truthful light of morning unveiled not the mechanized tasks of his solitary day, but the beautiful communion of one to share in his life. She curled trustingly into the crook of his arm, her lashes brushing the flesh of his shoulder in her dreams. She had melded to him so completely in a precious few hours, without reserve or fear, or- God forbid- shame! The prior night’s tender congress had united them in body and spirit, introducing them both to wholehearted vulnerability such as neither had ever imagined.

Now, as his spellbound gaze traveled slowly over the sleeping form of his wife, he knew her in strange, intimate new ways. He had always been a keen observer of every aspect of this woman, but in the gentle afterglow of their nuptials, he drank in the minute details which he had never before been privileged to witness. That little flicker of her eyes within their softly closed veils; the scarce trembling of her nose as some powerful feeling passed through her dreams; the delectable little freckle he had discovered just at the base of her collarbone…. Each new detail, each little whiff of her soft breath stirring through the sensitive hairs on his chest- all was his alone to cherish. Even in quiet repose, her graceful presence bestowed on him riches beyond compare.

He longed to rouse her, to be the one to witness that moment when she shifted from dreams to wakefulness, but it was too delicious to bask in her peaceful warmth. Sweet, clinging arms draped over his chest, binding him to remain as her comfort in slumber. He began seriously to contemplate how many days a man could live without taking the trouble of leaving his bed. Wedded life, he decided with a grin, held infinitely more delights than he had yet dreamt of exploring!

His perfect euphoria battled with his growing urgency to partake of her loving eyes, and smiles meant only for him. He craved the reassurance that she would be pleased to find herself in his arms, in the luminous revelation of their first morning together. Wishing to draw out his efforts to wake her, he began gently- so softly that he thought she might not even perceive him.

He turned his face somewhat, so that his breath might send warm draughts through her loosened hair. He delighted in watching the prickling flesh of her arm across his chest, proudly reveling in his ability to unnerve her. It was only fair, after all- he had been discomposed and off his balance since their very first meeting! It had been an awakening of sorts for him- the staggering realization that she held him in such power as he had never known, and that there was no place he more desired to be.

Daring more now, he rocked closer to her, nuzzling down her neck with whisper-soft kisses. A sharp intake of her breath was the signal he awaited. He drew back, aching to be the first sight of the day which drew her focus. Her lashes fluttered, and a luxuriating sigh cleansed away the last traces of sleep before she fully left behind the perfect serenity of dreams. A subtle curve lifted the corner of her mouth, and slowly, as if intentionally tormenting him, her languorous eyes opened to him.

He could not contain the guileless pleasure beaming over his entire face. “Good morning, my wife,” he murmured, yet his smile was so intense that he could scarcely command his lips to form the words. How long had he desired to utter that very phrase to her? That such a privilege should be his was still incomprehensible to him.

Margaret Thornton’s cheeks warmed, and with a hint of shyness, she nestled her face contentedly into the hollow of his shoulder. “Good morning, John,” came the muffled answer.

He traced the soft tips of his fingers over the luscious form beneath the counterpane, tickling sensitive new places. With some delight, he felt her tense beside him as she fought back a wave of bashful giggles. Smiling more deeply now, he broadened his explorations and waited for some more forceful reaction from her. Perhaps he had been expecting her to at last cry out in protest, or to grasp his hand to compel him to stop. In that, he had underestimated his bride.

Her hand moved unexpectedly to torment his side, seizing him with the irrational desire to bark out in sudden laughter and leap away from her. “Why, John, whatever is the matter?” she asked in false innocence. “I only return your affections!”

“I shall take more care in the future,” he returned gruffly, stilling her devilish little fingers by pressing them tightly to his chest. “I would prefer your attentions to be of quite a different sort.”

With a demure smile, Margaret shifted her posture and retreated to her pillow. She reclined invitingly, a teasing curve to her brow and a modest flutter to her lashes. “I give you leave to try a different approach, sir,” she sighed.

Accepting the challenge, he rolled close until he hovered above her. His delight shone clearly in that lopsided smile she adored, and he dropped to brush tender lips over her forehead. “Good morning, Margaret,” he whispered reverently, his tones growing husky and raw with desire.

Her hands caressed over his shoulders, and he slid his body down the length of hers until he could comfortably kiss those shapely lips. He lingered there, drinking in the intoxicating bouquet of her natural scent without the enhancement of soaps or perfumes. She was quite positively breathtaking in this native state- authentic and strong, yet beguiling and oh, so sweet, all at once!

His tender ribs were protesting more loudly the longer he remained thus. At length he was obliged to make a reluctant withdrawal, but not without wrapping himself about her so that she tumbled toward him as he went. Margaret tucked her face up beneath his chin, laughing softly and kissing his throat as she fell back into his embrace. A little frisson of sheer longing shivered up the back of his neck and pulsed through his body, driving the breath from his lungs. As on that very first day he had ever beheld her, she stole all of his rational thought and left him bereft of his powers of speech. No longer, thought he with a grin, was that a lamentable state of affairs. There were a great many means of communication which did not require words, and they were all permissible to him now!

With an eagerness he could scarcely contain, his hands began reacquainting themselves with each dip and curve of her glorious form, unfettered now by the trappings of polite femininity. His mouth he occupied in teasing the sensitive cleft below her jaw, slowly and torturously feathering light kisses up to the base of her ear. An unbidden groan of pleasure met his amorous assault, but then she seemed to collect herself. Her responses to his ardour cooled markedly, and she received his attentions with modest reserve.

Disappointed, and with mounting alarm, he drew back. She could not mean to go on so, responding to him only with diffidence! He infinitely preferred the woman he had held all night, whose throaty approval of his hopeful passion still rang in his ears and had echoed in his dreams. His troubled gaze swept over her beloved face, and then stopped. There, glimmering in her curved lips and faintly smiling eyes, he identified a spark of mischief. Some of the dread began to slip from him once more, as he braced himself for whatever frippery she was about to unleash upon him.

She cleared her throat. Though trapped beneath him once more in a shocking state of undress, she effortlessly assumed the airs of grace and deportment he had been treated to at their first meeting. “This is a very fine city, I hear. I am to understand the beaches are quite pleasant, and Lord Street is said to boast a number of notable dwellings. What did you wish to do today, my husband?”

“I am doing it, or at least I was,” came the pointed retort. He tightened his arms about her for emphasis. “I made a conscientious search, you may be sure, and I have ascertained that the most diverting entertainment to be had in all of Southport resides right here in my bed. I thought we should take our meals here for the rest of the week.”

Her mouth quirked. “In such a state of dress! You shall have the whole inn staff walking out in protest.”

His brow wrinkled speculatively. “All the more private, I should say. The notion has merit.”

She shook her head, chuckling. “I believe it would be somewhat… conspicuous… should we never emerge today.”

“I know that I should most certainly take note of that fact,” he grinned roguishly. “You must learn something of a businessman’s ways, Margaret. When important matters are at hand, one must apply all diligence, completely eschewing other pleasures, to see everything to a satisfactory conclusion.”

“And you intend to accomplish this feat today?” she inquired with all credulity.

“A number of times, I hope.”

“John! You are incorrigible!” She blushed crimson, and he indulged his feasting eyes for the first time in watching the heat traveling up to her face from savoury parts below.

“I shall continue to be so, as long as I am rewarded with such an exquisite reaction, Love!” he laughed. “It is high time I that I am able to discomfit you, as you always have me.” His eyes trailed suggestively down to where her shape pressed against his, and soon his hands made the journey as well. She drew a quick breath of fresh surprise at his touch, then her body sighed with pleasure against his as she relaxed. He kissed those pert lips, finding this a far more suitable conversation for the moment, until she pressed him away with a subtle nudge of her mouth.

“John,” she nibbled her lip coyly, raising her gaze to his through lowered lashes. “I think I shall go quite distracted if I am to be denied the pleasure of sea bathing. Whatever shall I tell Edith once she finds I have come all this way, only to skip such a famous attraction?”

A devious light came to his eyes, and his right cheek pulled into that dazzling, troublesome smile of his. “You shall be able to tell her that you enjoyed quite a different sort of bathing, for which you were never bothered to leave your room, nor obliged to engage in the activity alone.”

Southport, with its convenient location and charming amenities, remains a frequent vacation spot of Mr and Mrs Thornton of Milton. The couple are known to retreat thither at least twice per year for a week-end, with claims that Mrs Thornton finds the clean salt air refreshing to her spirits. It is perhaps curious, however, that when asked by those of their acquaintance for recommendations on favourite activities in the area, the only locale ever mentioned is a small, out of the way inn near the shore.

Book Blurb:

There is nothing like a long walk in the rain to guarantee a little privacy… unless the last person you wish to encounter happens also to be in search of solitude.
John Thornton is a man of heavy responsibilities who has many things on his mind, but the most troublesome of them all is Margaret Hale. She wants nothing to do with him, and he wishes he could feel the same. When a moment of vulnerability allows her a glimpse into his heart, she begins to see him very differently.
Is something so simple as friendship even possible after all that has passed between them? Thornton has every good reason to move on, not the least of which is the lovely Genevieve Hamilton and her wealthy father. Will Thornton act according to duty and accept an opportunity to save his mill, or will he take a chance on love, hoping to change Margaret’s mind?


Author Bio:

Nicole Clarkston is the pen name of a very bashful writer who will not allow any of her family or friends to read what she writes. She grew up in Idaho on horseback, and if she could have figured out how to read a book at the same time, she would have. She initially pursued a degree in foreign languages and education, and then lost patience with it, switched her major, and changed schools. She now resides in Oregon with her husband of 15 years, 3 homeschooled kids, and a very worthless degree in Poultry Science (don't ask).

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole's books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.


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 Northern Rain Blog Tour Schedule:

7/8-9: Launch Vignette, Excerpt & Giveaway at Fly High
7/10: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm
7/11: Vignette & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice
7/12: Author Interview at More Than Thornton
7/14: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813
7/15: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice
7/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope
7/17: Vignette & Giveaway at Laughing With Lizzie
7/18: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
7/19: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at So little time…
7/20: Vignette & Giveaway at Stories from the Past
7/21: Vignette & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
7/24: Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads
7/26: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life
9/10: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic

(The date is correct for the review at The Calico Critic. It will have a separate giveaway as the ‘official’ blog tour ends on the 26th and its giveaway will end on July 28th.

Rafflecopter Giveaway: This giveaway is for 4 Paperback copies and 4 eBooks copies of Northern Rain. Two audiobooks of Rumours & Restlessness, Ms. Clarkston's P&P novel, and two audiobooks of No Such Thing as Luck, her first N&S novel, are also included in this giveaway. There will be twelve lucky winners! Winners will be posted at the end of the blog tour and all stops along the way are included in the giveaway. Be sure to visit all and leave your comments. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on the 28th of July.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thank you, Nicole Clarkston, for visiting More Agreeably Engaged during your Blog Tour. I am happy to be a part of it and have this lovely vignette to share with my readers. I have enjoyed going to the other blogs and reading your thoughts, vignettes and other posts during your virtual tour. Readers, if you have not made the rounds, I hope you will find time to do so. You will not be disappointed. I hope you will also have the chance to read Northern Rain soon. It is an excellent. It is available in large print, as well as regular print, for the paperback edition. 


  1. What a beautifully scripted account of John and Margaret's first day of waking up together as husband and wife! So tender, witty,utterly endearing and romantic!!!

    Not a bit surprised at the Thorntons' return to this seaside paradise,reliving happy memories of young love and even happier times!
    Thank you to all concerned for such a delightful vignette!!

    1. Wasn't this an awesome vignette- so much feeling and wonder. Yes, I can imagine those many holidays in memory of that special time.

    2. Mary, thanks for all your support during the virtual tour.

  2. Thank you again, Janet, for all of your hard work and support. You have been an amazing help in bringing this book to life, and I am blessed to count you as a friend!

    1. I am blessed to count you as a friend too. Thank you. I was happy to be a part, in any way possible! I love the story!

  3. I loved the vignette of John and Margaret waking up on their first day as a wedded couple. Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. I did too, Deborah Ann. It was so neat to know John's thoughts and his feelings of awe as he watched Margaret sleep. Lovely!

      Thanks for stopping by and supporting the tour.

  4. More than welcome,Janet! I,too loved the story! I adored all of the vignettes-they were a joy to read.

  5. That was a lovely vignette. Thanks Nicole and Janet. I have to confess to imagining Richard Armitage and Daniella Denby-Ashe there!

    1. I imagine them both, too, Anji. I will always see Richard Armitage as John Thornton. He played him to perfection.

      Wasn't that vignette lovely? I could just see both of them in my mind.

      Thanks for stopping by, Anji.