I’m also so happy to have the fabulous Miranda Neville on the blog!! I know you’ll help me give her a huge welcome!
Miranda’s spotlighting her latest book, Coming June 24, 2014: Lady Windermere’s Lover (Book 3 of The Wild Quartet)
Don’t you think this cover is gorgeous!
Now for the blurb:
The awkward first meeting between Lord and Lady Windermere, after he returns from abroad, is interrupted by the Duke of Denford. Damian believes him to be Cynthia’s lover; all Cynthia knows is that Denford and her husband have been on bad terms for years.
“Clearly I have much news to catch up with since I’ve been away,” Windermere said, for all the world as though he were on the best of terms with the friends of his youth. “Can I persuade you to join us for dinner one evening, Julian? I am engaged with Grenville tonight, but tomorrow perhaps. Unless you have another engagement, my lady.”
“If I did, my lord, I would cancel it. It would ill become me to amuse myself elsewhere when my husband has been restored to me after so long.”
“Excellent. Shall we say seven o’clock then? Unless you prefer to keep country hours.”
“I am no longer the country mouse I was when you left me at Beaulieu, my lord. I would not dream of sitting down to dine a minute earlier.”
“I can see that you are not. You have become quite worldly, my lady. Admirably so.”
If someone had told Cynthia back at the Birmingham Academy that one day she’d be sitting between an earl and a duke, she’d have called him a fantasist. Keeping up with the byplay between the two men tested her newly developed sophistication. One man had never wanted her, the other said he did. Too bad that the former was the husband to whom she owed loyalty, however undeserved.
She looked at Julian, who had been following the exchange with the wry twist of the mouth that both fascinated and exasperated her, then turned back to her husband. Windermere had a singularly beautiful smile, as she remembered to her cost. In her experience he deployed it seldom and almost never with genuine intent. What he directed at her now sent her heart thudding against her ribs, but it did not reach his eyes. She knew it was a meaningless curve of the lips.
She inclined her head with a graciousness that was wholly feigned. “Why thank you, my lord. Your praise overwhelms me. I live only to please you.”
“What do you say, Julian?”
“How could I possibly resist such an invitation.” He swept a bow of matchless urbane mockery. “A demain, Cynthia,” he said, and stalked out like the sleek black cat he resembled.
She didn’t miss the flash of emotion that crossed Windermere’s face when Julian used her given name, nor the thoughtful look that pursued him out of the room.
“You are very cordial with Denford,” she said. “I had heard you disliked him.”
“And knowing that, you pursued his acquaintance? Such a loyal wife.”
Her behavior did prick at her conscience, though logically Windermere’s had been worse. “I pay little attention to gossip. I am glad I did not allow rumor to keep me from a friendship that obviously you don’t object to. I am delighted to see you and Julian on such good terms.” Her sunny smile felt like a death grimace. “I have lived quietly in your absence without entrée to the ton. Caro, Denford, and their friends welcomed me. Now that you are home, I look forward to expanding my circle with your other acquaintances.”
“I suppose you are ambitious to be received in more fashionable circles,” he said with a sneer. She’d never heard Windermere speak so rudely, and it caused her fierce satisfaction that she’d rippled his glassy calm. She didn’t know why he was upset, but that was nothing new. Since the moment he’d slipped the ring on her finger, pleasing her husband had proved impossible.
“Only for your sake,” she said with a careless wave, intended to convince him—and herself—that his ill opinion meant nothing to her. “I haven’t forgotten you telling me a wife is important to a diplomat’s career.”
He walked over to her chair and extended one elegant finger to tilt her face upward. Her heart skipped a beat when, for an instant, she thought he was going to kiss her, as a man might be expected to do after a year apart from his wife. But those perfect lips came within a foot of hers and no closer. She made herself meet him eye to eye, wishing she could read his thoughts. They were engaged in an unspoken struggle she didn’t entirely understand.
“What?” she whispered finally.
“You have changed,” he said.
“Just as you requested. I tried to become the wife you wanted.”
Miranda Neville grew up in England but as a long time resident of the United States she considers herself bilingual in American and British English. She has written eight historical romances for Avon, including the popular Burgundy Club series and the current Wild Quartet. Publisher’s Weekly has described her work as a “mix of hilarity, mystery, and passion.” She can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, or through her website.