From Tessa: If you’ve read either of my first two books, you know a little something about Sir Toby Aldridge. In “Goddess of the Hunt,“ he was the object of Lucy’s eight-year crush—but she forgot him quickly enough once Jeremy came on the scene. In “Surrender of a Siren,” he was the guy Sophia left at the altar before she went adventuring with Gray.
So obviously, I had quite the challenge with Toby. How to take a man who’s been passed over by two heroines and make him a completely delicious hero in his own right? It wasn’t easy, let me tell you. I had to create the right heroine to push him to his fullest potential. But in the end, he turned out to be my favorite hero of all.
Here are his deets:
Name: Sir Toby Aldridge
Appearance: Very tall, lean and athletic, golden brown hair and warm brown eyes, dashingly handsome with a charming, boyish grin.
Occupation: Gentleman of leisure (a baronet); owns an estate.
Special talents: Very good with horses, expert at riding and driving both. A born politician, though little he knows it.
Personality: Hopeless flirt. A consummate charmer and ladies’ man with lots of devilish charm.
Much of Toby’s charm comes from his upbringing. His father died when he was quite young, and he was raised by a mother and three older sisters—strong women, all. He not only understands women, he has a deep respect for them hidden beneath all that flirtation. But Isabel, his heroine, is unlike any woman he’s met before. And he finds himself wanting more from her than he’s wanted from any other girl. It’s not enough for him to dazzle her with a wink and a smile—he’s determined to win her heart and earn her love.
Exclusive excerpt, just after their first kiss:
He slid his hand down the slope of her shoulder for one last caress, and her eyes fluttered open.
Blast. Now he’d done it.
Toby recognized the dazzled look in those eyes. He knew it all too well. Charming young ladies was his singular talent, and he’d developed it through years of practice. He knew the precise instant he had them. When they took all their youthful hopes and romantic dreams and shaped them into a tight little ball and tossed it into his hands. Here, they said. Take my heart and break it.
Normally, Toby was happy to oblige. What was that line in the novel his sister Augusta loved so well? “A girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then.” Truer words were never penned. He took that ball of hopes and dreams, made a little show of juggling it, and handed it back—a bit dented, perhaps, but largely intact. Occasionally, he misjudged and the ball slipped from his grasp to shatter on the floor. But even then, the young ladies recovered quickly enough.
Because they always held something back. This little plaything they tossed him—it held the affections of a girl. Their true womanly hearts, their deepest passion and love, this they guarded, saved for another man. Anyone who labeled Toby a heartbreaker underestimated the shrewdness of feminine intellect. He knew, from years of experience, that young women were a great deal wiser than general opinion would allow.
There was something different about this woman, however—aside from her enchanting accent and strident politics. When he’d kissed her, she’d offered him nothing—but neither had she held anything in reserve. She didn’t know how to flirt. None of his compliments or teasing had warmed her a single degree, but in that moment when their lips met…she’d simply been his. With her, there could be no half-measures.
That kiss had rocked him to his boots.
So Toby could be called my beta hero of the three. At least, in public. When it comes to lovemaking, however…let’s just say, he knows how to take charge. Beta at the dinner party, alpha in the bedroom…I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s a winning combination! I was talking about this just last night with blogger Katiebabs, and she likened Toby’s alpha/beta mix to the traditional paradox that’s cited as a male’s ideal fantasy: lady in the ballroom, vixen in bed. Why shouldn’t we get the same in a hero?
What do you think, bellas?
MONDAY: Debut author and long-time Bella Jessa Slade GuestBlogs to celebrate the drop of "Seduced by Shadows," first in her Marked Souls series. Plus, Jessa's got an awesome contest with a wicked-cool grand prize.