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Archive for the ‘excerpts’ Category

Please welcome Jenna Jaxon back to the blog!! Today she has her medieval romance, Time Enough to Love. She’ll be giving away a signed print copy to one of you!!  Just tell her you want it!

Look at this lovely cover!

TETL front

Now the blurb.

When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend.

From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.

As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

And an excerpt.

“Lady Alyse de Courcy!” King Edward called out again, bringing Alyse’s head up like a startled deer. “Present yourself before the court.”

Alyse shot off her seat. Oh, Lord! She had kept King Edward waiting.

“I beg pardon, sire.” She hurried from behind the table, too aware of all the eyes now on her. As she moved to stand before the king, the low drone of many voices rose around the room.

“Impudent girl.”

“I’d not want to be in her place.”

“Do you think the king will…”

Each snatch of conversation made her heart beat faster.

What will he do to me?

Her normal embarrassment at being the center of attention tripled at the thought of this blatant lapse of protocol. She stopped several feet from the dais and the room hushed as though everyone held their breath.

“What do you require of me, Majesty?” Her mouth so dry she could taste sand, Alyse fought to speak in a normal tone. With a sigh of relief, she dropped into a deep curtsy, hiding her face in the folds of her skirt. If only she could remain bowed thus before His Majesty for the remainder of the evening.

King Edward laughed. “Obedience, Lady Alyse, as I require of all my subjects. As your father requires of his daughter.”

Her heart thumped wildly in her breast. That could mean but one thing.

“Rise, my lady.”

She did so on unsteady feet. “I am ready, as always, Your Majesty, to obey my father as I would you.”

Holy Mary, let it be Lord Braeton.

King Edward lifted an eyebrow toward Alyse. “A very pretty answer, my lady. And are you ready to accept your father’s decree for your betrothal? His messenger has today reached me with the contract, as I am to stand in his stead in this matter.”

Alyse took a deep breath and hoped her voice did not tremble. “Yea, Majesty, I will obey my father.”

King Edward nodded and leaned over to whisper something to Queen Phillipa, who sat beside him, heavy with their twelfth child.

Mere seconds before she learned her fate. She could scarce affect an indifferent pose before the court when inside every inch of her quivered with anticipation of the name. His name, pray God, on the king’s lips.

  1. Thomas.

In her mind, she heard the word.

The king straightened, glanced at her then at the man by her side.

“What say you then, Sir Geoffrey? Does the lady not speak fair? I vow she will make you a proper wife and a dutiful one as well.”

Alyse turned, until that moment unaware that Geoffrey Longford stood beside her. Chills coursed down her body as the king’s words echoed in her mind. The sensation of falling backward assailed her, as though she rushed away from the tall man at her side even as his figure loomed larger and larger in her sight.

Not Lord Braeton.

Her numbed brain repeated the phrase, trying to comprehend that instead he would be her husband. Geoffrey Longford.

God have mercy on me, for by the look of him, this man will not.

Buy Links: Amazon

About Jenna.

Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance.  She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as a member of Chesapeake Romance Writers. Her debut novel, Only Scandal Will Do, is the first in her House of Pleasure series, set in Georgian London.  Her medieval novel, Time Enough to Love, is a Romeo & Juliet-esque tale, set at the time of the Black Death.

She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

 

 

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Last week we did heroes. Today we’ll show off our heroines. Please post the first page of your heroine’s POV from your latest release, a next release, or your WIP!!

Here is mine from Enticing Miss Eugénie Villaret.

Enticing Miss Eugenie VillaretJuly 1816, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies

Miss Eugénie Villaret de Joyeuse followed Gunna, an old black slave, down a narrow back street lined with long houses in Crown Prince’s Quarter. Her maid, Marisole, stood watch as Eugénie and the woman entered the building.

“He be here, miss.”

A baby, not older than one year, sat in the corner of the room playing with a rag doll. His only clothing was a clout, which, by the strong scent of urine, needed to be changed.

She and Gunna and the boy were the only occupants of the cramped, dark room. She crouched down next to the child. “What happened to his mother?”

“Sold.”

Naturally; why did she even bother to ask? It was cruel to separate a mother and child, but there was no law against it here.

“When?”

“A few days ago.” Gunna glanced at the child. “He be gone to a plantation soon.”

Even worse. He’d likely die before he was grown. Eugénie placed the small bag she carried on the floor. “Help me change him. He can’t go outside like this.”

A few minutes later the baby’s face and hands were clean, his linen was changed, and he wore a fresh gown.

She handed the woman two gold coins. “Thank you for calling me.” Gunna tried to give the money back, but Eugénie shook her head. “Use it to help someone else. Our fight is not finished until everyone is free.”

One tear made its way down the woman’s withered cheek. “You go now, before the wrong person sees you.”

Eugénie pulled a thin blanket around the babe’s head, thankful her wide-brimmed hat would help hide his face as well as hers, and stepped out into the bright sunshine.

“That’s her!” a male voice shouted.

She shoved the babe at Marisole. “Take him and run! I’ll catch up.”

Amazon US ~ Barnes and Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Amazon CA ~ Amazon DE ~ Amazon FR ~ Amazon UK

Now it’s your turn!! I can’t wait to read them!

 

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Happy Sunday to you!! Let’s start with winners! This is the first time all the books won are signed print copies!!

Drum roll please!! Congratulations to:

Enticing Miss Eugenie VillaretEli Yanti who won a copy of Enticing Miss Eugénie Villaret.

 

 

 

 

Merri Williams who won a copy of Grace Burrowes’s laird_4501Laird.

 

 

 

 

 

Murder In Retribution coverKi Pha who won a copy of Anne Cleeland’s Murder in Retribution.

 

 

 

 

 

This week has been crazy. I’m still neck deep in moving plans and, for the first time, under a real deadline for a book I haven’t finished. Maddie, my husband’s new kitty, has decided pouncing on Raphaella, my older cat, is a fun thing to do. Raphaella begs to differ. Raphaella not happy

Maddie also likes shopping bags. As you can see, we only use non-plastic.Maddie bag good

She is having to learn office etiquette, such as no paws on the computer, or the iPhone. One of her major fascinations is the printer. We have a new one that opens and closes itself, better for a boat environment. Every time it turns on, she rushes over to see what’s going to happen next.

Maddie printer

Next weekend we’ll be in southern Illinois at my mother-in-law’s house. Our son and granddaughter are meeting us there. It will be the first time we’ve all been together since he got back from Afghanistan.  What are your plans for Labor Day?

Have a great week!

Ella

 

 

 

 

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I’m so happy Grace Burrowes is back with us again. She is not only a fabulous author, but a wonderful friend and mentor as well. She has graciously offered to give away a copy of her latest release to one of you who take the time to tell her you want it. Now, without further to do, here is the cover!!

Tell me you wouldn’t buy the book on the cover alone!

laird_4501

 

The blurb because you like them.

After years at war, Michael Brodie, Baron Strathdee, comes home to his Scottish estate to find his clan expects him to set aside Brenna, the arranged bride he left behind nearly a decade ago. To make matters worse, Michael’s Uncle Angus, whom Michael relied on to manage estate matters, is also impatient with Brenna’s independence and contrariness, though the clansmen and tenants loathe Angus, too.
 
Michael will not abandon a wife who has loyally—if angrily—waited for his return, but he soon realizes the resentments stirring among his family have deep, shameful roots, and the war he left behind was paltry compared to the battle he must fight to win his wife’s heart, and keep her in her rightful place at his side.

After all, why else to you buy a book, other than for the cover.

Michael and Brenna finally have the time, privacy and most of the trust necessary to consummate the marriage vows they took nearly a decade earlier. For Michael, the stakes for this campaign eclipse those of any he’s fought before… 

 

“Shall you undress me, Wife?” Michael asked.

Brenna set her footwear tidily beside the bed and scooted back against the pillows.

“I think not. A grown man can undress himself if he’s properly motivated.”

Michael considered her suggestion as he arranged his boots beside hers. Brenna wasn’t being entirely shy, though she was being entirely Brenna.

Making him work for his pleasures, which he was more than happy to do.

“Watch, then, and plan our afternoon while you do,” he said, unbuttoning his waistcoat. The better to entertain his wife—and the better to stop himself from falling upon her like a beast—he moved away from the bed, making a proscenium of the hearth rug.

The waistcoat he tossed in the direction of the privacy screen.

“Michael Brodie, for shame.”

Brenna wasn’t teasing, though she was watching, so Michael hung the blasted waistcoat on the back of the rocker and got busy with his neck cloth. The knot had become Gordian at some point in the day’s rambles, but he managed to wrench it open without strangling himself.

When he would have whipped the damned thing out the window, Brenna arched one fine, eloquent eyebrow.

That eyebrow promised that husbands who were cavalier with their clothing would suffer retribution at the hands of their wives. Michael folded his neckcloth and laid it tidily over the back of the rocker as well.

“Am I to be the only one sporting about unclad?” Michael asked as he took a seat on the hearth and started on his cuffs.

“The breeze is fresh. When you’re done dawdling, I’ll consider your question. One doesn’t want to suffer an avoidable chill.”

Because his head was bent toward his wrist, Michael permitted himself a smile.

“I am available to assist my wife,” he said, which was, at last, the blessed, blasted truth. He pulled his shirt over his head, draped it neatly over the waistcoat, then rose, clad only in his kilt.

Brenna remained on the bed, crossed-legged and barefoot, but otherwise fully clothed. She gave nothing of her mood away, not in her expression, not in her posture, not in her silence.

“Brenna, have you changed your mind?” Asking the question nigh killed Michael, but never, never, even by persuasion or innuendo would he prevail on his wife for favors she was reluctant to grant.

She regarded his chest, her brows knitting at a particularly bewildered angle, and that’s when insight struck: Brenna wanted to be in charge of this situation, but had no idea how to go on. She needed to be in charge, in fact, but had never traveled the path they would follow.

Whoever had betrayed her youthful trust, whoever had trespassed against her person, had left scars where a woman’s natural sense of her own urges and pleasures should lie.

Michael would deal with the rage such a conclusion provoked—later. For now, he had a wife to please. Wearing his kilt and what he hoped was a reassuring smile, he climbed onto the bed and took her hand.

“Brenna, I love you. I want very much to please you, and right now, I’m a bit nervous of my prospects.” More than a bit, though determined, nonetheless. “Can you meet me halfway?”

“Meet you halfway?”

“I am your willing slave in all that might transpire in this bed, but a slave needs instructions, hints, the occasional command. A husband needs them even more.” A husband needed them desperately, because so much that was wondrous, sweet, and nourishing to the soul might be lost if Michael misread his wife in the moments that followed.

Those delicate, lovely brows rose on the word husband.

“You are not my slave, Michael Brodie, and I will never be yours. Not your slave, your plaything, your wee pleasure, your little secret—”

She closed her eyes, as if willing herself to put aside the ire gathering in her words.

“I am your husband,” Michael said, kissing her knuckles. “I would like to become your lover, and I would adore having you for mine.” He would like to be so much more to her, too—her friend, champion, partner, confidant, most loyal opposition, lady’s maid, companion, and favorite pest, for starters.

Brenna took the hem of his kilt between her fingers and thumb and rubbed the wool slowly back and forth. “I know nothing of being a lover.”

She spoke with regret and rubbed the wool the way a child grasps a favorite blanket for reassurance.

Perhaps Michael should have waited for the dark of night, not to spare Brenna’s sensibilities, but to spare himself the sight of her bewilderment. He spun a half-truth as delicate as the dust motes wafting about on the afternoon sunbeams.

“This part of being married is not complicated, Brenna Maureen. We touch, we kiss, we pleasure each other, and pleasure each other yet more. If God is generous, we conceive a child, the first of many, and then we sigh and hold each other and wonder at all the loveliness we’ve shared.”

And Michael would wonder, too, at all the years they’d missed. For as surely as desire hummed softly through his veins, so to, did regret. He’d made decisions any soldier would be proud of, and served in a difficult position loyally and well.

Those same decisions were something any husband—any lover—would regret for all his days and nights.

“So kiss me,” Brenna said. “We’ve kissed before, and I think I have the knack of that much.”

Her posture was wary, her eyes downcast, and yet she still stroked her fingers over the hem of Michael’s kilt. Michael kissed her palm, and without giving up her hand, stretched out on his back.

“Let the kissing begin,” he said. Let the loving begin, for Brenna did love him. She had to have some form of tender regard for him, or she would not take these steps with him.

He’d amused her, though, and that was good. “I’m to do the work?”

“A little guidance to your husband shouldn’t be too much to ask.” Brenna had been guiding the entire castle for years, navigating past financial difficulties, clan jealousies, Angus’s backward notions, and Highland winters. Appealing to her sense of responsibility earned Michael a considering look that turned into a shy grin.

Brenna swung a leg over his thighs and straddled him. “Fine, then. Here’s a place to start.”

You can find the link to all the buy links here.

About Grace:

graceburrowes-headshot-01

Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania and is the sixth out of seven children. She discovered romance novels when in junior high (back when there was such a thing), and has been reading them voraciously ever since. Grace has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a Bachelor of Music in Music History, (both from The Pennsylvania State University); a Master’s Degree in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University; and a Juris Doctor from The National Law Center at The George Washington University.

Grace writes Georgian, Regency, Scottish Victorian and contemporary romances in both novella and novel lengths. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Novelist, Inc. and enjoys giving workshops and speaking at writer’s conferences. If you’d like Grace to speak or present at your conference, contact her here. Giving back to the industry is a large part of the fun of being published!

 

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My good friend Liza O’Connor has released a Victorian Romantic Mystery!! As usual, she has a lot going on. Please welcome her back to the blog!!

Take it away, Liza!

Thank you, Ella.

Today, let’s talk about an item that has become the most beloved object in the universe: the telephone

xnv_telephone

In 1854 the French engineer Charles Bourseul wrote the first design of a telephone in a public memorandum, but everyone considered it a fantastical concept, thus no one would fund him, so endeth the story.

In 1860, Johanne Phillip Reis constructed a prototype which he named ‘telephon’. Sadly, he couldn’t find anyone in Germany who had the least bit of interest in his invention, so again, endeth the story.

In 1871 Antonio Meucci created a voice link between floors of his house, but failed to mention voice in his patent claim. Never underestimate the importance of proper documentation or persistence. If Meucci had been able to pay the $10 fee to maintain the caveat after 1874, no patent could have been issued to Bell. Sadly Meucci was too poor and let it expire.

1876:  Two inventors: Alexander Graham Bell (Bell Telephone Co.) and Elisha Grey (Western Electric Co., now Lucent Technologies) both filed for patents on the same day for voice over wire devices. Gray entered his first, which meant it was further down in the stack of patent requests, thus Bell’s patent was plucked from the pile first, and therefore awarded the patent.

Any of these earlier inventors could have created the telephone if only they had received more encouragement and had the support structure necessary to succeed. Bell happened to have a rich and business-savvy father-in-law who did not wish his daughter to live in disgrace and poverty so he ensured Bell succeeded, whether the fellow liked it or not. (Bell hated being his puppet.)

Throughout the years, there have been a great many patent wars on who actually invented the telephone and specific designs within the phone. But without doubt, the Bell Company was the first to commercialize the telephone.

Still, had Bourseul received funding and support like Bell, the world might have had telephones twenty years earlier.  What I do know, if Bell hadn’t had married his wife and gotten a control-freak father-in-law, he wouldn’t not be the father of telephony. Someone else would have stepped up and taken his place.

And who was Alexander’s father in law? Gardinar Greene Hubbard, U.S lawyer, financier, & philanthropist. He founded National Geographic and then made himself its first president, Founded (with friends) Bell Telephone and made himself president. (By the way: Alexander Bell, resident genius, only received the title of Chief Electrician.) If you haven’t figured it out yet, Hubbard was uber high society and Alex would never be one of ‘them’.

The only reason why Alexander even met Hubbard’s daughter was because he taught at the school for the deaf that Hubbard funded to help his daughter Mabel learn to speak. (Yes, he basically bought a school to teach his daughter to live among the hearing). Mabel had gone deaf at five from scarlet fever. She fell in love with her instructor (Bell) and wanted no one else. Given her limited opportunities for a happy life in high society, Hubbard decided to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. His son-in-law would amount to something rather he liked it or not!

In retrospect, Alex might have been happier if he remained a teacher, married someone of his own class, and let one of the other guys invent the phone, but he loved Mabel and Mabel loved her daddy, so he bent his will to that of Hubbard’s.  During his life, he created other fascinating things, as well, such as electric heaters, sound carried by light (the beginning of Digital music), electronic mail, and composting toilets, (two of those were practical needs in Canada, the other two were clear foresight into future needs.) Hubbard wasn’t interested in his other inventions. He just wanted a son-in-law that didn’t bring shame to his family name (and for the telephone to sell well enough to pay him & his investors back for all the money they had put out to make Bell Telephone successful, plus a profit.)  Ironically, he achieved getting Bell into the history books, while Hubbard has pretty much been been forgotten.

But then the youth of the world may soon forget Bell and insist the inventor of the phone is Steven Jobs.

Main sources: Wikipedia and the biography by Charlotte Gray. Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention.

And what do my characters think of this new contraption? Vic would love a phone but the network to make them useful isn’t established yet. It will be a few more years before Gregory the butler acquires one in his room.

Xavier is appalled at the idea clients could call him up day and night without an appointment set 24 hours in advance. So he stubbornly refuses to consider the matter even once they become a useful item.

Book 1 Banner1

Book 1 Prize Banner2

 

The Adventures of

Xavier & Vic

Book 1

The Troublesome Apprentice

By Liza O’Connor

XnV Troubled Apprentice 400 x 640

Cases to be Resolved:

The Key to Aunt Maddy’s Death

The Missing Husband of Mrs. Wimple

The Disappearing Scarlet Nun

The Clever Butcher’s Wife

The Rescue of Lady Anne

 

blurbWhile investigating the death of a friend and client, Maddy Hamilton, Xavier Thorn (reputed to be the greatest sleuth in England) is greatly impressed with Maddy’s nephew, Victor, and offers him a job as his secretary. Aware of Xavier’s history of firing secretaries, Victor garners a promise that for three months he cannot be fired. Vic then proceeds, in Xavier’s view, to be cheeky and impertinent at every turn. Xavier endures the impudent pup because Victor is most skilled in extracting the truth from clients and intuiting facts with little evidence to assist.

As they solve a string of cases, Xavier discovers a few more important details about his troublesome apprentice, such as her true gender, and the realization that she has awakened his long dormant heart.

An Excerpt

Mrs. Wimple entered and, before Xavier could ask if she wished tea, Victor, the impertinent pup, asked the question as he showed her to a chair. She requested tea, and Victor promised to bring it shortly.

“He’s new,” Mrs. Wimple said once the scamp had left the room.

“Yes, I recently acquired him. He’s just come down from Oxford.”

“Oxford,” Mrs. Wimple repeated, clearly impressed. “I would not think a young man from Oxford would wish to be a mere secretary.”

“Daresay you are right. Victor is my apprentice. He is learning the craft of investigation.”

“Oh, how very exciting for him.”

“I have strong hopes for the young man. He’s incredibly bright and very insightful. I daresay, within a year, I will be forced to make him my partner or he’ll leave and open his own office.”

“And then we would have two Sherlock Holmes.”

Xavier’s muscles tightened at her words. He had already told the damnable woman during her first visit Sherlock Holmes was a fictitious character who bore no resemblance to him at all. He hated it when clients thought themselves clever. “Yes, and imagine how confusing it would be.” He rapped his pencil on the edge of his desk. What is taking Vic so damn long? Unless he has never made tea and hasn’t a clue, but surely he can figure out something so simple.

Victor returned carrying a silver tray burdened with a large assortment of bowls, cups, and saucers. Where the bloody hell did he find a serving set? In the past, all the secretaries had brought a single cup of tea.

Mrs. Wimple seemed to appreciate all the tomfoolery and complimented Victor on his fine manners.

 

***

 

“Mr. Holmes was telling me you are an Oxford man.”

Vic smiled with amusement at Xavier being called “Mr. Holmes”. “I am indeed, ma’am.” Vic smiled at Xavier. “And you, Mr. Holmes, how do you wish your tea?”

Xavier’s eyes narrowed. “Guess.”

Vic handed him a plain tea, then removed the service tray and returned with pencil and paper to take notes. To her surprise, Xavier had waited for her to return before beginning.

“I’ve decided to place Victor in charge of your case, Mrs. Wimple.”

That made no sense. She’d nearly burnt down his place of business. Hardly a reason to promote her to investigator. Without a doubt he was up to something.

“Since he has not read my notes from the first meeting, we are going to start at the beginning, as if you have never been here before. I would like you to tell him all pertinent facts, but bear in mind, if you lie to him, he cannot help you.”

“Lie? Why would I lie?”

“I sincerely hope you will not, but you lied to me. You wasted my time in our last interview and I’ve no patience left. Therefore, I am going to sit quietly and enjoy my tea while Victor conducts his interview. If he manages to do what I could not, I will allow him to continue to learn this business. However, if he cannot pull the truth from you, I will fire him for incompetence and it will be on your head, Mrs. Wimple.”

“But that’s not fair,” she protested.

Vic couldn’t agree more. True her actions had almost scarred Xavier for life and burnt down his business, but he had given her his word she would not be fired for three months. She was barely into her second day. She studied her cranky employer, trying to make sense of his turnabout. He showed no anger, only annoyance, all aimed at Mrs. Wimple.

Xavier set his cup on his desk and leaned forward. “I’m sorry, but it’s your punishment for wasting my time with lies and half-truths.”

lINKS

 

The Troublesome Apprentice

Amazon

Kindle Unlimited

 

About the author

 I’m tired of telling my proper bio. So you get the improper bio.

Liza O’Connor was raised by feral cats, which explains a great deal, such as why she has no manners, is always getting in trouble, and doesn’t behave like a proper author and give you a proper bio.

She is highly unpredictable, both in real life and her stories, and presently is writing humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.

Mostly humorous books by Liza:

Saving Casey – Old woman reincarnates into troubled teen’s body. (Half funny/half traumatizing)

Ghost LoverTwo British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. There’s a ghost cat too. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)

A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)

Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.

Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.

Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.

Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.

 

Social Networking

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT

LIZA O’CONNOR, XAVIER & VIC:

Investigate these sites:

Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

Prior Tour Sites

 

 

Don’t Forget to enter to win one of the two $25 Amazon Gift Cards.

Enter Rafflecopter

 

 

 

 

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It’s time to hook your reader! Today let’s post the first page of you new or recent release, or your WIP that is in your hero’s point of view! Don’t forget your buy or social media links.

Here is mine from Enticing Miss Eugénie Villaret.

Enticing Miss Eugenie Villaret

July 1816, England

William, Viscount Wivenly, caught a glimpse of sprigged muslin through a thinly leafed part of the tall hedge, behind which he’d taken refuge.

“Are you sure he came this way?” an excited female voice whispered.

  1. He didn’t like the sound of that. Will found himself in sympathy with the fox at a hunt.

“Quite sure,” came the hushed response. “You must be careful, Cressida. If I reveal to you what Miss Stavely told me in the strictest confidence, you must vow never to repeat what I’m about to say. I swore I’d never breathe a word.”

“Yes, yes,” Miss Cressida Hawthorne replied urgently, “I promise.”

He’d been dodging the Hawthorne chit for two days now, and unfortunately she wasn’t the only one. The other woman sounded like the newly betrothed Miss Blakely.

“Well then”—Miss Blakely paused—“I really shouldn’t. If it got out, she’d be ruined!”

“I already promised,” Miss Hawthorne wheedled.

After a few moments, the other girl continued. “Miss Stavely said she followed Lord Wivenly to the library so that they’d be alone, and he’d have to marry her.”

“What an excellent plan.” Miss Hawthorne’s tone fell somewhere between admiring and wishful.

“Well, it wasn’t.”

Even thinking about the incident with Miss Stavely made Will shudder. There were few worse fates than being married to her in particular. Fortunately, the lady was not as intelligent as she was crafty. The minute she’d turned the lock, she had announced he would have to marry her. However, she’d failed to take into account the French windows through which Will had made his escape.

“What do you mean it wasn’t a good idea?” Miss Hawthorne asked.

“Have you heard a betrothal announcement?”

Their footsteps stopped. Drat it all, there must be another way out of here. He surveyed the privet hedge, which bordered three sides of this part of the garden. Across from him was a wooden rail fence about five feet high. Large rambling roses in pale pink and yellow sprawled along it, completing the enclosure. Whoever designed this spot had wanted privacy. Will’s attention was once again captured by the voices.

“No,” Miss Hawthorne said slowly, as if working out a puzzle. “So it didn’t work.”

“Do you know what Miss Stavely failed to take into account?”

When Miss Hawthorne didn’t reply, Miss Blakely continued. “She didn’t bother to ensure she had a witness at hand. Miss Stavely said Lord Wivenly looked her up and down like she was a beefsteak and told her he’d ruin her if she wished, but not to think he’d take her to wife.”

Now it’s your turn! I can’t wait to read them.

Ella

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While I’m off on the last stop of my blog tour at Karen’s Killer Fixen’s. , Anne is going to introduce you to her latest release, Murder In Retribution! The second installment of Anne Cleeland’s Acton & Doyle Scotland Yard series. The two detectives are investigating an escalating turf war between two underworld factions.

Ann is giving away one print copy to a commenter who tells her you want the book!

Murder In Retribution cover

Now the blurb.

Perhaps there’s nothing more to the murders than under-the-table business dealings gone wrong, but Doyle is uneasy because there’s something here that doesn’t make sense. . .and sometimes vengeance takes a wrong turn.

Here’s the starred review from Library Journal:

“While dealing with the aftermath of their relationship going public, DC Kathleen Doyle and CI Michael Acton set out to discover who is behind a rash of underworld murders in London. As the couple try to find a balance between their work and personal lives, everything escalates when violence hits close to home. In addition to dealing with her not-so-traditional marriage to Acton, Doyle must face some hard truths during her investigation that might better have stayed unrevealed. VERDICT Doyle and Acton are incredibly flawed and engaging protagonists who stay in the reader’s mind long after the case is solved and the last page turned. With just a second book (after Murder in Thrall), Cleeland is developing a memorable series that will captivate fans of police procedurals and complicated sleuths such as the protagonist in Carol O’Connell’s “Mallory” series.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Detective Constable Doyle and Detective Chief Inspector Acton crouched on the cement floor of the aqueduct and peered into the conduit that diverted surface waters into the greater London drainage system. Lodged in the conduit—dry at this time of year—was the decomposing body of an adult white male of perhaps forty years.  Doyle held a paper mask over her face because the odor was making her stomach heave, and they studied the crime scene in silence while the SOCOs—Scene of the Crime Officers—stood by, clad in their paper bunny suits and awaiting instruction. Weak morning sunshine filtered through the trees lining the aqueduct, which ran though a remote wooded area near Epping Forest.

“Less than a week?” suggested Doyle.

“Perhaps,” said Acton. “Difficult to say—it is cool down here, and so we’ll wait for the Coroner to come up with something more precise.” He glanced at her. “Ready to pull him over?”

Doyle nodded, unaccountably annoyed that he was being so deferential, and they carefully rolled the corpse over, allowing the SOCO photographer to step in and take photos as they studied the decedent. It was an unusual wound; the man had been shot in the face with a large caliber weapon. An act of rage, thought Doyle; not your average professional job, which was a bit strange as all other aspects indicated a professional job. The remains of the face were a mess as the maggots had been busy, and between this gruesome sight and the odor of decomposition, Doyle made a strangled sound in her throat and wished she were elsewhere.

“Need a moment?” asked Acton quietly, motioning the photographer away.

“No. I am in perfect curl.” Annoyed, she broadened her Irish accent so that she pronounced it “paarfect,” just so he was aware she was annoyed—not that there was any mistaking. She knew she was being childish, snapping away at him, but couldn’t seem to help herself; she was miserable, he knew she was miserable, and he was walking on eggshells which was a sad, sad testament to her supposed role as his helpmeet.  Unconsciously lifting a hand to bite her nails, she was thwarted in this desire by her latex gloves, and so instead fought an almost overwhelming urge to cry. Or start throwing things; either, or.

Acton’s dark eyes rested on her for a moment and then returned to study the body. “It would probably be best to know for certain.”

With a monumental effort, Doyle took hold of her foolish, sorry self. “I do know for certain. I took a pregnancy test this mornin’.”  Best not to mention that she had panicked, thinking he’d discover the evidence, and so had thrown the stupid stick out the bathroom window, no easy feat from seven stories up.

He raised his gaze to meet hers.

“I am wretchedly sorry, Michael; I am bein’ such a baby and I can’t seem to help myself.” She sighed so that her mask puffed out and then collapsed again.

He touched her hand and said with quiet emphasis, “I am not sorry; it is wonderful news, Kathleen.”

It was the truth—which came as a complete surprise. Doyle had an innate ability to read people, and she could usually tell when someone was lying. Presumably, this ability was inherited from some Irish ancestor—hopefully one who hadn’t been burned at the stake as a result—and it was a mixed blessing; it was no easy thing to constantly aware of the currents of emotions that swirled around her at any given time. Acton guarded his own emotions very closely but she knew on this occasion he was speaking the pure truth. It was a huge relief, all in all.

Fearing she would disgrace herself by being sick during what should be a sentimental milestone in married life, she stood and backed away a step, taking in a deep breath and trying to settle her stomach.  Acton rose to stand alongside her and the SOCO team took this as a cue that the visual inspection by the detective staff had now concluded—although there had been precious little detecting done, thus far.  As Acton nodded permission, the examiner moved in to bag the corpse’s hands and conduct preliminary tests for trace evidence before the body itself would be bagged and removed.  After the man moved away, Doyle continued, “And do not pretend this blessed turn of events is not completely my fault.”

“Oh? I feel I may have had a hand in it.”  He cocked his head, trying to tease her out of the sullens.

For whatever reason, this attempt to humor her only succeeded in making her more annoyed and she made a hot retort. “I am well-aware that you have no self control, my friend; mine is the burden of keepin’ you at arm’s length.”

“You failed miserably,” he agreed. “A very memorable occasion.”

She had to duck her head to suppress an inappropriate smile; it wouldn’t do at all to be seen giggling while this poor mucker’s mangled body was supposedly under examination.

 

Buy Links: Amazon ~ B&N

 

about Anne.

Anne Cleeland

Anne Cleeland holds a degree in English from UCLA as well as a degree in law from Pepperdine University, and is a member of the California State Bar.  She writes a historical series set in the Regency period as well as a contemporary mystery series set in New Scotland Yard.  A member of Romance Writers of America, The Historical Novel Society and Mystery Writers of America, she lives in California and has four children.  www.annecleeland.com; @annecleeland.

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