Please welcome historical author, Georgie Lee, back to the blog. We’re going to do something just a little different today. Georgie is promoting her October release, The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets, but giving away her April release, Rescued from Ruin! She is extremely organized, much more so than I am right now and even has a Rafflecopter link for you!
As always, we’ll begin with the cover. How do you like that?
The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets by Georgie Lee
Available October 1, 2014 from Harlequin Historical
Uncovered: a list of noblemen’s names—each one guilty of treason.
To save his family legacy, Rafe Densmore must seize a courtesan’s infamous register. No one can ever know how his father betrayed his country! One person stands in Rafe’s way—the beautiful Cornelia, Comtesse de Vane.
In the card rooms of Paris, Rafe and Cornelia made an unbeatable…intimate team. Until, convinced of Rafe’s desertion, desperate Cornelia married an elderly comte. Now, returning to London an impoverished widow, she’ll do anything to possess the register.
Even if that means becoming Rafe’s partner once again….
Here is an exclusive excerpt!
London, July 1803
Rafe Densmore, Fifth Baron of Densmore, marched up the stone staircase of Mrs Ross’s unimposing town house off Gracechurch Street. He rapped his knuckles against the door and the black ribbon hanging from the brass knocker fluttered in the breeze. He eyed it with a frown, wondering if the ancient courtesan’s sudden demise would be to his benefit or his detriment. She’d been perfectly alive and well when she’d penned the letter in his pocket, summoning him to her sad doorstep.
The old shrew.
He shifted back and forth on his feet. Deep in his boot, his toe caught the beginning of a hole in one stocking.
Damned cheap wool. If he employed a valet, the man would do something about it. Perhaps he might charm Mrs Linton, his landlady, into mending it for him. Though if her needlework proved anything like what she did to the meagre meals she deigned to deliver to his room, he might as well mend it himself. He wondered if her meals were the true extent of her culinary skills or revenge for his grossly outstanding rent.
The hackney horse waiting at the kerb whinnied, failing to disturb the thin driver leaning against the vehicle, smoking a long pipe. The smoke swirled around his head before the wind carried it over the back of his stocky grey animal.
Rafe eyed them both. Whoever had hired the poor beast and his horse must still be inside and it was time for them to draw their business to a close. He hadn’t fought so hard to reach Mrs Ross, or to raise the blunt needed to meet her demands, only to be stalled on the doorstep by a dawdling caller.
He raised his fist to knock again when the bolt scraped and the door creaked open to reveal the drooping eyes of a withered old butler. Rafe brushed past him and into the small entrance hall, his throat tightening from the thick dust covering every surface. A spider scurried behind a dark painting. Compared to this house, his current lodgings seemed breathtakingly opulent.
‘Lord Densmore to see Mr Nettles,’ Rafe announced. ‘He’s expecting me.’
‘Yes, of course. This way, my lord.’ The butler shuffled across the hall.
Rafe followed before something along the edge of his vision brought him to a halt at the morning-room door.
A tall, voluptuous woman draped in gauzy black silk stood by the cold fireplace. She didn’t move or greet him, but remained silent beneath the dark veil covering her face. A slow smile spread across Rafe’s lips, his fever in obtaining the register momentarily dampened. Despite her silence, something about her called to him and he moved closer to the doorway. The slight tensing of her shoulders made him stop, but not turn away. Her dress, dark and wispy like smoke, swirled around her curves. She clutched a book to her chest. The leather tome obscured the full roundness of her breasts, except for the creamy tops which were just visible beneath her black-net chemisette.
‘Good morning.’ He swept off his hat and dropped into a low bow, noting the few white petals scattered on the faded carpet at her feet, probably the remains of Mrs Ross’s funeral. By her own account, Mrs Ross was a recluse, but apparently she wasn’t completely devoid of friends to mourn her.
And what a delightful friend this is. Rafe straightened, admiring the woman’s generous measure of height. Heat flooded through him as he imagined tucking the statuesque creature into the curve of his body and brushing his lips along the bit of exposed neck caressed by her short veil. He tapped his fingers against his thigh, sensing her height would match his perfectly, the way Cornelia’s once did.
His hand tightened into a fist, the sharp edge of betrayal cooling his ardour. He relaxed his fingers and struggled to keep smiling. Why the deuce was he thinking of Cornelia? He’d left that business in France where, with any luck, it would stay.
The Source of Inspiration
Inspiration often strikes in the most unlikely places. OK, that isn’t entirely true. As a rabid reader of non-fiction history, it’s hard for me to get through a non-fiction history book without slapping a sticky tab on some story idea. I don’t always use the story idea right away, but the sticky tab makes it easy to come back to the idea at a later date. This was the case behind the inspiration for my upcoming October release, The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets. The story centers on Rafe, a destitute Baron, and Cornelia, a widowed comtesse, who must recover a book filled with the names of traitors or face ruin.
The idea for The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets first took hold when I was reading a biography of Nell Gwyn, one of King Charles’ II of England’s mistresses. The book mentioned a register listing the names of all the women King Charles slept with. It was kept by the woman who helped sneak the ladies in and out of Whitehall. The book has since been lost to history. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were suddenly found? The idea of writing a story about a book filled with names and scandals reemerging to shock and perhaps ruin members of society never left me. Eventually, the idea became Rafe and Cornelia’s story.
Researching their story was a treat because both characters, though they move through respectable society, have ties to the darker side of the Regency. It was fun to read about seedy coffee houses, unscrupulous moneylenders, coaching inns and the laws governing treason. I had to learn how to play Regency era card games in order to give my gambling scenes and my characters more depth. I also had to research limestone deposits in the Weald of England and how they could make a man rich. It was quite a mish-mash of research reading, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I also garnered a few more story ideas for future books. I’ve had to buy sticky tabs in bulk!
I hope you will consider adding The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets to your reading list, and if you do, that you will enjoy reading Rafe and Cornelia’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thank you Ella for having me here today, and thank you to everyone who stopped by. I’m giving away one e-book copy of Rescued from Ruin, my April Harlequin Historical. All you have to do is follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter. The giveaway runs from midnight July 18, 2014 until 11:59pm July 20, 2014. I will email the winner on Monday, July 21, 2014. Good luck and happy reading!
Now for the book you have a chance to win.
A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.
Her first novel, Lady’s Wager, and her contemporary novella, Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood, and Studio Relations, a love story set in 1935 Hollywood, are currently available from Montlake Romance. Hero’s Redemption, a Regency novella, is now available from Carina Press.
When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit www.georgie-lee.com for more information about Georgie and her novels.
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