Want to know more about the books and their journeys to publication? Sign up for my newsletter. You’ll be the first to receive information about publishing dates, giveaways and see the covers.
THE MARRIAGE GAME
For Ella Quinn’s bachelors, courtship is all about gamesmanship, until the right woman shows them how much they have to learn…
Book #1, THE SEDUCTION OF LADY PHOEBE ~ On pre-order now. Releases September 19, 2013
LADY PHOEBE STANHOPE, famous for her quick wits, fast horses, and punishing right hook, is afraid of nothing but falling in love. Fleeing a matchmaking attempt with the only man she despises, Phoebe meets a handsome blue-eyed stranger who sends her senses skittering. By the time Phoebe discovers the seductive stranger is the same arrogant troll she sent packing eight years ago, she is halfway to falling in love with him.
LORD MARCUS FINLEY last saw Phoebe striding regally away, as he lay on the floor with a bruised jaw and a rapidly swelling eye. Recently returned from the West Indies, Marcus is determined to earn Phoebe’s love, preferably before she discovers who he is. Determined to have Phoebe for his own, Marcus begins his campaign to gain her forgiveness and seduce her into marriage.
Can Phoebe learn to trust her own heart and Marcus? Or is she destined to remain alone?
~Lady Phoebe is a heroine Georgette Heyer would adore–plucky, pretty, and well worth the devotion of the dashing Lord Marcus. A marvelous find for Regency romance readers.~
~ Grace Burrowes ~
“Ella Quinn’s The Seduction of Lady Phoebe is a passionate tale full of humor, romance, and poignancy. Quinn writes classic Regency romance at its best!”
Late June 1806, Worthington Hall, England
Lord Marcus Finley poured his third glass of brandy and strolled back to the library window. The sunlit terrace and lawn provided a stark contrast to the dim, wood paneled room in which he stood contemplating his bleak future and imminent banishment to the West Indies.
His gaze was drawn to the petite figure of Lady Phoebe Stanhope. The sun caught her reddish-blond curls, creating a halo effect as she laughed and played with the Worthingtons’ young girls. Simply seeing her joy eased some of his pain.
Everything about Lady Phoebe was perfect, from her curls and deep sky-blue eyes to her small feet and neatly turned ankle. There was a connection between them. He’d felt it. She was the only one who had tried to understand him. He wanted to marry her, but it seemed impossible now. Why had he met the only woman he’d ever want just days before he left?
He wondered what their children would have looked like. Another rush of anger swept through him, and he forcibly loosened the fingers he’d tightened around his glass.
“Marcus, there you are.”
He turned as his friend, Mattheus Vivers, heir to the Earl of Worthington, strode toward him. Vivers was the only reason Marcus was at the house party.
His friend pointed at the brandy. “That’s not going to help, you know.”
Marcus stared at the glass for a moment, watching the sun catch the amber shades of the liquid before downing the drink. “I’m going to hell in any case. What does it matter how I do it?”
Vivers rubbed a hand over his face. “When was the last time you were completely sober?”
“When my father told me I was being banished—and to where.” Marcus turned back to the window, his anger consuming him. Even his brother, Arthur, hadn’t defended Marcus. That had been the worse betrayal.
Vivers joined him at the window. “What’s so interesting out there?”
Marcus went back to the view of Lady Phoebe. “My last unshattered dream.”
Vivers glanced out. “Lady Phoebe Stanhope? Give it up.”
Scowling, Marcus replied, “Why? I may be a second son, but I’m still eligible. Once I reach my majority, I have the inheritance from my mother’s aunt.”
His friend ran a hand through his hair, disordering its fashionable style. “Very well, I’ll list the reasons. You’re a minor and need your father’s consent to wed, the same father, by the way, who is banishing you to the West Indies before you embroil yourself in a scandal here that can’t be smoothed over. The most important is she is not yet out.”
Marcus’s stomach clenched as if he’d been punched. “What do you mean she’s not out?”
“Not. Out. Not old enough to be on the Marriage Mart,” Vivers enunciated clearly. “At twenty you’re five years too young yourself. Do you really imagine that her father would consent to you marrying her? Ladies marry at twenty, not gentlemen.”
Marcus shook his head, trying to clear it. Why was she at this house party then? Was this some joke fate was playing on him? Or was it more punishment? “How old is she?”
“I don’t really know,” his friend shrugged. “Sixteen or seventeen, maybe. She has a great deal of countenance, so it’s hard to be certain. It’s a shame you won’t be here when she does come out,” Vivers mused. “I don’t expect she’ll last long on the Marriage Mart.”
Marcus felt like he was dying. By the time he was five and twenty, she would be married and have children. “Perhaps Lady Phoebe would go with me to the West Indies. God knows I love her.”
“We’ll have dinner at the tavern and attend the cockfight,” Vivers said. “That will put you in a better frame of mind. She leaves early to-morrow. Better if you don’t see her.”
Marcus poured another glass, tossed it off. “There must be something I can do.”
He went to add more brandy to his glass, but Vivers snatched the tumbler from Marcus’s hand.
“You’ve had more than enough to drink. Good God, man. Get it through your head. You cannot marry her. Now go to your chamber, and sleep it off before you do something stupid.”
Vivers left, and Marcus went to follow. He wobbled a bit as he took a step.
Lady Phoebe was waving as she made her way to the house. He would intercept her and make his case. This was his last chance to win her. In nine days he’d be on a ship to the West Indies, but first he’d take her to Gretna Green.
Phoebe entered the house through a side door. She’d thought Lord Marcus would join them outside and wondered if he was off with Mr. Vivers. Lord Marcus was so nice—no, better than nice—and handsome. Her stomach felt like it had butterflies whenever she thought of him. He’d touched her hand once and it tingled. She couldn’t even breathe when he was near, his presence filled her with such joy and her heart pounded when they spoke. Phoebe was sure she was in love. Nothing else could be so magical.
She hesitated, remembering what Lady Worthington had said. That Lord Marcus wasn’t at all the thing, and that he was being banished before he caused a large scandal. But if that was true, surely Phoebe would not have fallen in love with him. The only thing to do was to ask him about the rumors.
An hour later, dressed in a very pretty gown of sprig muslin, Phoebe made her way toward the drawing room, passing through the picture gallery. The afternoon sun lit one-half of the wide corridor. Long mullioned windows were flanked by red and gold brocade hangings and red velvet-covered benches sat against the outside wall.
Centuries of portraits of somber-faced Vivers hung on the inside paneled walls. As she approached the ancient, carved, double doors leading to the grand staircase, something moved. She stopped.
Lord Marcus staggered slightly as he strolled out from the corner. “I’ve been looking for you, my dear.” His words were slurred as if he was drunk.
Book #2, THE SECRET LIFE OF MISS ANNA MARSH on pre-order now. Releases ~ November 7th, 2013
“Let yourself be seduced by this sexy mix of spies, smugglers, and happily ever afters.” —Sally MacKenzie
Since she was a young girl, Anna Marsh has dreamed of Sebastian, Baron Rutherford asking for her hand in marriage. But that was in another life when her brother Harry was alive, before she vowed to secretly continue the work he valiantly died for. Now as Sebastian finally courts Anna, she must thwart his advances. Were he to discover her secret, he would never deem her a suitable wife…
Sebastian has always known Anna would become his wife someday. He expects few obstacles, but when she dissuades him at every turn he soon realizes there is much more to this intriguing woman. Somehow he must prove to her that they are meant to be together. But first he must unravel the seductive mystery that is Miss Anna Marsh…
October 23, 1814, London
Lord Florian Iswell, the fifth son of the Marquis of Wigmore, entered his rooms on Jermyn Street after eating dinner at his club in the convivial company of some old school friends. He spied a sealed letter propped up on the fireplace mantel.
His heart thudded painfully. It had been months since he’d seen his name in that bold scrawl. Gingerly, he reached out his trembling hand. Using two fingers, he plucked the missive up as if merely touching it might harm him, and broke the unadorned seal.
As he read the note, his stomach roiled. He should have never eaten the lobster patties.
My dear Florian,
Meet me at the Cock and Crow at eleven o’clock this evening. Do not, my friend, be late. We have matters of Great Urgency to discuss.
“Envill,” Florian bellowed to his valet, “when did this arrive?”
“About an hour ago, my lord.”
Florian shook the letter. “Why did you not send for me? I’ll barely make the meeting as it is.”
“I’m sorry, my lord, I told him you were out. He didn’t say it was urgent.”
Forty-five minutes later, dressed in a shabby brown frieze coat and well-used hat, Florian entered the dingy tap of the Whitecastle inn a few minutes before the appointed time. The pungent smell of unwashed bodies, gin, and ale made him wish he could hold his handkerchief to his nose.
He glanced around the room. A man, indistinguishable from the other patrons, sat in the far corner, nursing an ale. From this distance, he was very like Florian, not much above average height, medium brown hair, and a forgettable face, though in the man’s case, it was a ruse. Florian should have seen about killing Georges long ago.
Trying to maintain a casual appearance, Florian walked to the table and assumed a polite smile. “Georges, how are you?”
The man motioned to the chair opposite him. “I’m glad you could meet with me.”
After so many years in England, Georges’s French accent was almost nonexistent.
“I didn’t know I had a choice,” Florian said, dryly, eying the seat with disgust. Who knew what was on it.
The smile on the other man’s lips didn’t reach his dark eyes. “You did not. I merely thought to be pleasant.”
Florian ordered a tankard of ale and sat. “What’s all this about? I thought we were finished.”
“Yes? Many thought the same,” Georges said. “One must not underestimate the Corsican.”
Sweat broke out on Florian’s forehead. Napoleon? He was in exile on Elba. “I take it some small changes are expected?”
“How perceptive you always are,” Georges said and took a pull of his ale. “Then again, it runs in the family, does it not?”
“You would know.” Florian’s stomach clenched. Between the smells and the unwelcome news, he was starting to feel ill. “Tell me what I can do for you.”
Georges leaned forward and lowered his voice. “We need to bring in some rather large packages. Your part is to contact the sort of people who can be helpful to the endeavor.”
Tightening his lips into a thin line, Florian asked, “Do you have any particular area in mind?”
“We,” Georges said, grinning wickedly, “rather like the cliffs of Dover and further east along the coast.”
Florian nodded. “I can’t go any where until the week’s end. I’ll contact you when I return.”
“My dear cousin,” Georges said, his cold gaze bore through Florian. “I knew I could count on you.”
Only because of the mistake he’d once made in trusting the wrong people. “I want this to be over. If I get caught . . . the scandal.”
“You should have thought of that before.” Georges stood. “I shall await word from you.”
“Yes, of course.”
Georges left the tavern. Florian waited a few minutes before quitting the place himself. Bile rose in Florian’s throat. He was to have been done with this. Where to find a smuggling gang? There was only one he knew of he might approach. What if they balked? No, they’d help bring the French spies in, or he’d threaten to expose them to the Home Office. He had too much at stake now to be caught. If his father found out, Florian would be cut off without a penny.
Despite what he’d told Georges, Florian decided to leave for Thanport to-morrow, after he made arrangements to rid himself of his demanding cousin.
October 25, 1814, Marsh House, London
Miss Anna Marsh was in her parlor reading, when her maid, Lizzy, entered and held out a grubby piece of paper.
“Came from my brother, Kev, this morning,” Lizzy said.
Anna nodded, took the note, and opened it. She perused the contents then closed her eyes. “I’m going to have to find a way to convince Mamma to allow me to remove to Marsh Hill before the Little Season has ended. Though I cannot do anything until after Lady Phoebe’s wedding.”
“That bad, miss?” her maid asked, screwing up her face. “You might have a time of it. I heard Lady Marsh was planning to go to some country house next week.”
Anna sighed. Ever since her brother Harry’s death, Mamma had become difficult. “She probably expects me to go with her.” Anna shrugged. “Well I cannot. Someone has been sniffing around Thanport. I don’t like the sound of it.” Anna rose and walked over to her mahogany writing desk. She opened a drawer. Eschewing the neat stack of elegant pressed paper, she pulled out a piece of the distinctly rougher type. “I’ll write Kev and tell him to lay low until I can get there.”
No information exchanged or meetings scheduled until I arrive.
She sealed the message and handed it to Lizzy. “Make sure this goes out to-day, even if you have to take it yourself.”
Anna pinched her upper nose. “I do hope this is not going to make our lives even more complicated.”
“What do you think that other man wants?” Lizzy asked.
“I don’t know.” Anna shook her head. “But I have a feeling whatever it is will do us no good. I’m going to Mamma and try to talk her around. I do wish she and Papa could settle their differences.”
Lizzy nodded. “It does make things a bit more difficult.”
“That it does,” Anna said, smiling grimly.
THE TEMPTATION OF LADY SERENA ~ January 2013
LADY SERENA WEIR has achieved the impossible. At the spinsterish age of twenty-six, she is the most sought after lady on the Marriage Mart. Serena is determined to find not only a husband, but love.
ROBERT, VISCOUNT BEAUMONT, London’s most hardened rake, was betrayed by a woman once and now wants a wife he can rule with an iron hand. Love has no place in his life or in his heart, or so he thinks.
When Robert decides the only way to marry Serena is to compromise her and smugly declare their betrothal, Serena takes off to Paris until Robert can mend his ways. Can love settle the differences between these two strong-willed characters? Or will both live in the shadows of ruin?
LADY CARO’S ACCIDENTAL MARRIAGE
After witnessing his friends succumb one by one to the parson’s mousetrap, GERVAIS, EARL OF HUNTLEY, left England for Venice to visit his aunt. Yet upon his arrival, he immediately meets the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen.
Five years ago, LADY CAROLINE MARTINDALE fled England to her godmother’s house in Venice. Still haunted by nightmares, she cannot even bring herself to put her hand on a gentleman’s arm. All she wants is to be left alone. Unfortunately, Huntley’s arrival coincides with unwanted attention from a Venetian marquis and Huntley has appointed himself her protector.
But when marquis refuses to give up and a series of well-intentioned remarks find Caro and Huntley forced to wed, Caro insists on a marriage in name only. Will Huntley be able to convince her to change her mind? Or will her fear destroy any chance of happiness.