Moonlight and Oranges by Elise Stephens: Excerpt and Giveaway

Author Elise Stephens

Elise Stephens received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction from the University of Washington in 2007, where she also received her degree in Creative Writing. “Moonlight and Oranges” is her first novel and was a quarter-finalist for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband where they both enjoy swing dancing, eating tiramisu, and savoring the flavor of local live theater.


Moonlight and Oranges by Elise Stephens

A timeless tale of young romance.

Lorona Connelly is ready for a change from her carefully planned, bookish life. When sparks fly at a costume party, she embraces a chance for romance with the handsome Kestrin Feather. However, she quickly realizes that even love and destiny may not be enough to overcome the reality of an overprotective mother-in-law and Kestrin’s long, tarnished history of relationships. When Lorona’s curiosity leads her to Kestrin’s journal, doubt plagues them both with insecurities and threatens the relationship. Can true love overcome the odds, or was their whirlwind romance just a frivolous crush?

Author Elise Stephens shares a journey of young love, fate, and wounded trust in the story of Lorona and Kestrin, a couple who must learn to overcome their fears to share a life together.


Kestrin looked like he had more to say, but he only managed, “I was trying to protect you,” before the crowd threatened to push them over. They stumbled to the top landing of the stairs.

“A toast!” Enrique roared from below. “A toast to the queen of the night!”

They stood at a good vantage point for all to see them. A song with a heavy bass beat pulsed through the room. The sea of observers surrounded them with bobbing heads painted in morbid anticipation. Kestrin took Lorona’s hand again and her mind flinched.

He’s trying to be kind.

There was nothing flirtatious now. He squeezed her shoulders gently between his palms and murmured, “I promise I’ll just kiss you and I don’t care what they want; it’s all on me. I can deal with a few disappointed partiers.”

“A toast!” Enrique shouted again.

Kestrin realized Lorona didn’t have a drink, so he took a sip of his, and handed his cup to her. “There’s nothing in here. Just orange juice and vodka. Take a drink and then you can just close your eyes and this will be over and we can all go home.”

The moment he said ‘all go home,’ like he’d accepted terms of defeat after a long war, Lorona knew that he was being genuine. She whispered, “I don’t know if you’ve been lying to me all night, but right now you look like you’re the one who’s scared.”

“Kiss!” the crowd chanted. “Kiss! Kiss!”

Kestrin looked down. “You’d just think I was crazy. Don’t worry about me.” He was staring at her hair again and Lorona wondered for a moment if there was something serious and

profound that she was missing. She took a sip. It burned with fire and citrus. “It’s bitter and

sweet.” She took another swallow and her tongue felt like it was melting.

“You’ll get used to it.” He took the cup and placed it on the ground. “Okay, here we go. Close your eyes.” His arm wrapped around her shoulder as the other scooped under her legs so that he held her in his arms. A shoe tumbled down the stairs. She smelled orange and vodka close to her face and then he kissed her. It was brief and soft and powerful and then it was over, faster than she could process. Energy thrilled through every follicle on her skin and its aftershock felt like some wonderful memory that had slipped out of reach as soon as it was born.

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