Please welcome bestselling author, Sally MacKenzie back to the blog!! Sally is here today with the first book in her new series, What to do with a Duke. She’ll also be giving away a copy to one of you who tells her you want it.
We begin with the fabulous cover!
Now the back cover blurb.
Welcome to the charming, fatefully named village of Loves Bridge, where a woman destined for spinsterhood can live a life of her own choosing—or fall unexpectedly, madly in love…
Miss Isabelle Catherine Hutting would rather be lounging in the library than circling the ballroom in search of a husband any day. So when Cat hears that the town’s infamous Spinster House is open for a new resident, she jumps at the chance to put all this marriage business behind her. But first she must make arrangements with her prospective landlord, Marcus, the Duke of Hart—the most handsome man she’s ever seen, and the only man who’s ever impressed her in the least…
With her wit, independent spirit, and not least of all her beauty, Marcus can’t help but be stirred by Cat. It’s terribly unfortunate he’s not looking to marry, given the centuries-old curse that left his family with the Spinster House to begin with. No duke shall live to see his heir’s birth. But is there a chance the curse could be broken—in true fairy-tale fashion—by an act of true love? The race to Happily Ever After is about to begin…
And an excerpt.
“I’ll see you to the door, Your Grace,” Miss Hutting said.
Some emotion, rather darker and more complicated than Dunly’s, stirred in his gut, turning to an intense ache in the most predictable part of his anatomy as he followed Miss Hutting and watched her hips sway.
My heart aches, too. Is this what love feels like?
Of course not. This emotion wasn’t the chaste and virtuous one lauded by poets. It was intensely, painfully carnal.
He must have an especially bad case of lust.
Miss Hutting led him to the door—and then outside and down the walk.
Hmm. What is she about?
“Do you plan to escort me all the way to the castle, then?”
She looked over her shoulder at him. “Of course not. I just wish to speak to you in private.” She headed for a clump of tall bushes that appeared not to have benefited from a gardener’s attention recently, if ever.
“We can converse here without being overheard or observed,” she said, and stepped through a narrow gap in the foliage.
His eyebrows almost shot off his forehead.
If this were bold Miss Rathbone, he’d be certain his freedom—and thus his life—was in danger. But this was Miss Hutting, one of the most determined candidates for the position of Spinster House spinster.
“Are you coming?” Her voice hissed from the greenery. “Or are you going to stand there like a complete lobcock all evening?”
Such seductive words.
He should stay where he was, but his raging lust moved from his…heart to his head, sending rational thought packing.
“I’m coming.” He stepped into the small, shadowy space. “I’m here.”
There was hardly enough room for both of them—or maybe it was merely his intense awareness of Miss Hutting that made the place feel close and intimate and tempting.
He could not be tempted.
Temptation was thick in the air, in the light scent of her hair, in the curve of her cheek…of her breast.
“What did you wish to discuss?” That had come out rather harsher than he’d intended.
“Shh! If you don’t keep your voice down, we’ll be discovered.”
“Yes.” And then they’d be marched lock-step to the altar.
It was a very bad sign that the thought didn’t cause him to run for the castle.
“So why did you drag me into these bushes?”
“I didn’t drag you,” she whispered. “You came of your own accord.”
No, it was the lust that agreed to this, not me.
“I needed to talk to you privately, and I couldn’t do that inside. I want to be sure you understand why I must win the Spinster House position tomorrow.”
Was Prudence correct? Had Miss Hutting been casting sheep’s-eyes at me?
“But my understanding isn’t necessary, Miss Hutting. Isabelle determined how the matter would be settled two hundred years ago. It is all to be left to chance.” She had no more control over her fate in this instance than he had ever had over his. “To luck, good or bad.”
He moved a little closer. She put a hand on his chest.
“Be careful. You’re about to step on my toes.” She frowned. “I never realized how large you are. You take up a lot of space.”
“Mmm.” He covered her hand with one of his. He expected her to jerk away, but she didn’t. “Why do you want the Spinster House so badly, Catherine?”
He hadn’t meant to use her Christian name, but it felt very good on his tongue.
Other things would feel good on his tongue, too. Her lips, her breasts, her—
She’d stiffened. Was she going to slap him? She would be wise to do so.
“Everyone calls me Cat, Your Grace.” Her voice sounded husky.
She hadn’t bothered to put on her bonnet when they’d left the vicarage. He wanted to touch her hair, to undo its pins and watch it tumble down over her shoulders. He wanted to bury his hands and face in the silky mass.
“But I will call you Catherine.” He brushed his thumb over her cheek. It was almost as soft as her little brother’s. “And you must call me Marcus.”
“M-Marcus? I could never do that.”
Did she realize her other hand had also come up to rest on his chest? He covered it, too. “You just did.”
“No, I…” She shook her head as if to clear it. She must feel the same drugging heat clouding her thoughts that he did. “Why are you—”
“Shh.” He put his fingers over her lips. They were softer than her cheek. “You don’t want to be discovered, remember?”
What would happen if I put my mouth where my fingers are?
Need throbbed in him—in his cock, but also in his heart and in his mind. He shouldn’t do this. He knew he shouldn’t, but he wanted it. Just a taste. That was all.
If only he were an ordinary man like Theo Dunly. A man who could court a pretty girl, who could steal a kiss, who could think about marriage and dream of a future with a wife and children and perhaps someday even grandchildren.
“Didn’t you see how it is with my family? How crowded and noisy? How it’s impossible to have any privacy? I never have a moment to myself.” Catherine leaned into him, completely caught up in her need to persuade him.
She was persuading him, but not to the action she wished.
“I have too many moments to myself,” he said.
“Oh. Yes. Well, I suppose so, but your situation is vastly different, Your Grace.”
“Marcus. Please, Catherine. Marcus.”
Her tongue peeked out to moisten her lips, and he was lost.
“M-Marcus,” she said.
And then he kissed her.
USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie writes funny, hot, Regency-set books for Kensington Zebra. Her Naked Nobility series concluded (at least for the time being) with The Naked King, which was named one of ALA Booklist’s top ten romances for 2011; now she’s hard at work on a new “Duchess of Love” series. The prequel novella, “The Duchess of Love,” is a 2013 RWA RITA® finalist in the Romance Novella category. Bedding Lord Ned, the first full-length book in the series, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and also made Booklist’s top ten romance list of 2012. Surprising Lord Jack, the second book, received a starred review from Booklist. Loving Lord Ash will release March 2014. Her books have been translated into Czech, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish. Sally graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame in the first class of women. She’s a Cornell Law School dropout, former federal regulation writer, recovering parent volunteer, mother of four grown sons (and mother-in-law to two daughters), and middle-of-the-pool Masters swimmer. A native of Washington, D. C., she still resides in suburban Maryland with her husband.