Please welcome Shannon Donnelly back to the blog!! Shannon is here today with her latest release, Lady Chance, Book 2 in the Regency Ladies in Distress series
She’ll also give a copy of the book to one of you who tells her you want it.
We begin with the lovely cover.
Now the blurb
Can an English lady find love and common ground with a French soldier?
In Paris of 1814, as a Bourbon king again takes the throne, the Black Cabinet—a shadowy group of agents employed by the British—is sent to unmask dangerous men and stop assassinations. When Diana, Lady Chauncey—known as Lady Chance—is recruited by her cousin to use her skill at cards to help him delve into these plots, she meets up with a man she thought dead.
Diana finds herself swept into adventure and intrigue, and once again into the arms of the French officer she tangled with ten years ago. But she is no longer an impulsive girl, and he may not be the man she once thought was honorable and good.
After the recent defeat of his country, Giles Taliaris wants nothing more than a return to his family’s vineyards in Burgundy. But his younger brother seems involved in dangerous plots to return France to a republic. To get his family through these troubles, Giles can only tread warily. When he again meets meet the English girl he once knew and thought lost to him, he finds himself torn between duty and desire. Can he find his way through this tangle—and if he does, how can he convince his Diana to give up everything for him?
She turned her steps toward the river and let her stride lengthen. The Seine flowed through Paris in civilized curves. It struck her as a tidy body of water with arching, stone bridges crossing it like stitches. It lacked the size and depth of the Thames—no tall sailing ships lined the shore. No warehouses or docks stood along its edges. The small islands that lay like oblong scones in the river had been built upon for centuries with their stone houses and cathedrals. Notre-Dame’s square towers rose into the sky, dark from soot. Its bells would ring soon for morning mass of some kind. Another place she ought to visit, but not with the feel of cards still stiff in her hands and champagne light in her head. Besides, what would a good Anglican do in a Catholic church other than make herself an awkward tourist?
Her walk did nothing to settle her. However, she became aware of other steps behind her. At the next corner, she turned sharp and waited to see who followed.
Taliaris stepped from a swirl of morning mist like some phantom soldier after a battle. Unfair that he should look not an ounce fatigued by a long night. He stopped in front of her. The impulse danced inside her to swing up her umbrella and poke him in the chest with its tip and tell him to go to blazes. But Jules had said she must patch things.
Cocking her head to one side, she said, “We always seem to meet at the most inopportune moments.”
“I would not bother you, but you have no maid with you, no servant. No one in fact. Paris keeps uneasy company these days.”
“But the city is so very well guarded just now, and I can manage.” Diana waved her umbrella as she might a saber. “I have been doing so for any number of years.”
“Managing to get and lose a husband?” Giles asked, his voice a low growl.
He frowned at himself. He had told himself he would not pry. Yet, as soon as he had glimpsed her in the Jardin des Tuileries like some queen from the past, so certain of herself—seemingly unknowing that even queens could die—he had decided he must follow. Too many soldiers would think any woman on her own was no better than she should be, and he did not trust the manners of either the Prussians or the Russian.
Eyeing Diana and her umbrella—not much of a weapon that—he tucked her empty hand into the crook of his arm. She made no move to object. He started to walk her back the way she had come.
She glanced at him. “You make poor Chauncey sound no more than a glove I dropped. I assure you, it—”
“Was a love match? A passion that left you broken hearted?”
“Now you sound a cynic—and, well, no, it did not—” She broke off her words and bit her lower lip. The dawn bathed her in a pink glow. She looked the goddess now for whom she had been named, lush and proud. The years fell away. Giles could feel his mood softening. “He what, ma chère?”
She made a face and looked down to where she swung her black umbrella in step with her stride. “I hate complainers, so I do not intend to become one. And I ought to apologize. Another thing I hate. But I was in the wrong to strike you. I want to make amends.”
“Now you do not sound like a Frenchwoman. You sound too English. You look it as well, with your little bonnet and your long stride.”
“You, sir, are mocking me. No, do not waste your breath with a protest. You are. I can hear it in your tone. But tell me one thing and then I promise to leave the past be. Did you at least think of me over the years? Imagined me in Surrey, at Edgcot Place, sitting by a window, pining—”
“Never that,” he lied.
“Yes, pining. Probably sighing, too, and…and knitting, or stitching. They are the sorts of things men somehow think women are born knowing.”
“A huntress with domestic skills? You malign my imagination. No, I had you slaying hearts in ballrooms and—”
“Ah, so you did think of me,” Diana said, turning to face him, her eyes bright.
He pressed his lips tight. This was why one should not ask questions. The past was the past and should be left there. He lifted a shoulder and gave her as much of the truth as he could afford. “Do you think you did not leave your mark? I am certain many a man remembers you, much to his dismay.”
“Dismay? Nothing more?”
“Come now. We met by chance years ago. I managed to be of service to you and your aunt, and that knave with you.”
“Paxten Marset. He is now my aunt’s husband and utterly respectable, I shall have you know.”
“My felicitations to your aunt. I suppose I must give them late to you as well for the marriage you had.”
“Oh, no, not for that. I ought to have listened to my mother. I could have done far better than poor Chauncey in my earlier seasons. Why there was one year I had three proposals.”
His sharp question stopped Diana.
She widened her eyes and put a hand to her mouth as if she had let the words slip. She hadn’t. She wanted him to know she had once been quite the prize. The umbrella swung between them, dangling from her fingers. She pulled her hand down and jabbed the umbrella point forward, swinging it to indicate the path back into the formal gardens. “Perhaps we should save those stories for another time. We ought to manage some courtesy to each other this late in the day. Or is it early? Ah, I know. Let us start again.”
She pulled away from him. With both hands braced on the handle of the umbrella, she offered a smile and bobbed a curtsy. “Enchante. I am Diana, Lady Chauncey—Lady Chance to almost all. But I give you leave to call me Diana, for I feel we must be good friends.” She held out her gloved hand.
He looked at it. Lifting his stare to her face, he frowned. “This is absurd.”
“No, no. It is a new day. Let us not spoil it with an argument before breakfast.”
Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a nomination for Romance Writer’s of America’s RITA award, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”
In addition to her Regency romances, she is the author of the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the SF/Paranormal, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes the Historical romances, The Cardros Ruby and Paths of Desire.
She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and has also written computer games and offers editing and writing workshops. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and the one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at shannondonnelly.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.