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Archive for the ‘excerpts’ Category

Please welcome historical author Ashley York to the blog. Ashley is here to promote her latest book, The Gentle Knight!! She will give a copy of the book to one of you who tells her you want it.

As always we’ll start with the cover.

TheGentleKnight5_1400

Next the blurb.

A medieval soldier returns home to find his lover died in childbirth just as his own mother had. Believing he is cursed, Peter of Normandy turns from love. When he must give escort to an Irish princess more noble than many knights, he struggles with his decision to live a solitary life. Can he take the chance that his love won’t be a death sentence and possibly make them stronger?

Padraig MacNaughton’s death bed decree rips his daughter, Brighit, from the shelter of her protective clan in Ireland. Forced to take vows at a Priory in England, she finds herself in the hands of lecherous mercenaries with their own agendas. Dare she trust the Norman knight to see her safely to her new life as a nun? Even when she finds in him the fulfillment of all she’s ever wanted?

Or will honor and duty eclipse their one chance for happiness?

And an excerpt.

The barrenness of the countryside would take Brighit some time to get used to. Perhaps it was only this area, but it seemed nothing like her home which was so lush and green. She missed her family. A tightness began to build in her throat but Brighit refused to acknowledge it. A splashing sound came to her from just beyond the tree stand.

She glanced back the way she’d come. The need to return immediately or confront Ivan’s wrath had her clenching her teeth. That splash sounded very much like the lake Lachlann had mentioned. A chance to clean her face and hands in a refreshing body of water rather than with a soaked cloth? The heat in that confined carriage was making her wilt. She sniffed and confirmed her stench was overwhelming. Before even thinking it through, she headed in the direction of the sound.

Brighit paused on the barely discernible path. Sure she heard rustling, she glanced behind at the open field she’d come from. It was empty. Nothing behind her that could make such a sound. Was it a deer perhaps? Taking a few steps farther, the small rise gave way to the breathtaking sight of a small lake. The top glistened like glass without a ripple to disturb its surface.

The slight breeze carried the pungent aroma of honeysuckle and lavender. The plants would be a wonderful thing to find and put in with her few belongings. Each night she would be surrounded by the smell of flowers. Without another thought she headed through the bushes to her right, careful to not make a sound in case the deer were still nearby. Movement along the banks drew her attention and she froze.

A man stood there dripping wet and naked. He pushed his hair away from his face. A handsome face with a strong jaw and a thick brow. She followed the movement of his hands, sloshing the water off his chiseled body. Blond hair spanned his broad chest and across his rippled torso, leading down his muscular legs, glistening in the fading light. His tarse was visible even from this distance. She looked long and hard. Her breathing became labored. Magnificent.

He turned in her direction. She ducked. She held her breath and shivered in the bush, willing her heart to stop pounding so loudly. When she ventured another peek, he was gone. Disappointment welled up inside her gut. She’d wanted nothing more than to sit and watch him, imagine how it would feel to run her hands down his expansive chest and firm body as he had done, to appreciate the rippled strength there. She blew out the breath she’d been holding and licked her dry lips. That certainly wasn’t going to happen, not in this lifetime—as a nun. A small bush of purple flowers brushed her hand and she snatched it. Lavender. The sun was dropping below the hills in the west and she needed to get back. Enough of these wasted desires.

Desire made things happen. It was her grandfather’s favorite saying. As the seventh son, he had been a man of some notoriety among Irish nobility. He was given the Celtic Princess, Faighrah, to wed. When he sired his own seventh son, the other leaders turned to him for guidance, for wisdom, in return for unfailing loyalty. The belief always that the seventh son of the seventh son of the seventh son had a special anointing from God. No evil could befall him.

Brighit was no son and evil seemed a little too close. Ivan had told her he would not hesitate to make up a lie about who she was. Even saying she was his wife. Others would believe him because he was a man. Perhaps a little more protection from the same God who made her a female was not asking too much.

Buy links:

Apple    Kobo    Amazon    Barnes and Noble

 

About Ashley.

headshot Ashley YorkI have wanted to be a writer since the sixth grade. My first story was a mystery and I discovered that my classmates loved it and it kept them guessing. I was a voracious reader, even at a young age, and loved the history in the novels I picked up. I was so enthralled with that history that I decided to get my MA in History. The early medieval period is my favorite, as you can tell from the novels I write.

Although all my works are fiction, I often like to incorporate authentic places, events, and people to increase the reader’s enjoyment. One of the more valuable lessons I have learned as a writer is the importance of using real history with the flair of artistic license. You’ll discover a world of fiction wrapped around historical people and events! I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I delight in writing them.

I live in New England with my husband, two cats and a yellow Labrador named Caledonia. I can be found at http://www.ashleyyorkauthor.com

 

 

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It’s been awhile. On the other hand, it’s hard to post when one doesn’t have an internet connection.

Let’s have a free for all. Post anything you like from a book you’ve already released, or are about to release. If you’re not published, post an excerpt of what you are querying or working on. Buy links and social media links are welcome and encouraged.

Here is mine from A Kiss for Lady Mary which releases on May 26th! A Kiss for Lady Mary

Kit looked out the window as Mary and the rest of the ladies returned. Her chin had a mulish cast, and he wished he knew what the others had said to her.

“Have you told her how lovely you think she is?” Marcus asked as he glanced out the window.

Kit dragged his gaze from her. “That would be forward.”

“Good God, man.” Huntley dropped his head into his hands. “Every woman likes to be complimented.”

That wasn’t fair. Kit did flatter her. He sniffed. “I do. I tell her what an excellent job she’s done with Rose Hill.”

“We could just take him out and shoot him now,” Rutherford said to no one in particular. “It would put him out of his misery and ours.”

“It’s a good thing”—Marcus gave a rueful smile—“you have us here to help you.”

Huntley refilled Kit’s glass. “When being courted, a lady wants to be told she is beautiful and desirable, not that she is a good land steward.”

“They also need to be kissed.” Rutherford shook his head in disgust when Kit scowled. “I think you’re making a mistake. The normal rules of polite behavior do not apply to courting, but if you’re not going to kiss her, then you must figure out some way to be more attentive. She probably doesn’t realize you’re even interested in her.”

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to kiss Mary. Her lips drew him like a siren’s call, but he’d made a habit of correct behavior, and his friends’ advice went against everything he considered honorable. On the other hand, he was becoming desperate, and they could be right. What if he had given her the wrong idea?

“Very well.” Kit took a swallow of the sherry. “I will do as you suggest. If she slaps me, I’ll blame it on you.”

“Here they come.” Huntley grabbed the tumbler from Kit’s hand. “Now tell her how much the fresh air agrees with her. That she has roses in her cheeks or something like that.”

The door opened and the ladies strolled in, all of them but Mary with broad smiles for their men. Kit moved toward her, took her hand, and gave her his most charming smile. “How lovely you look. The fresh air agrees with you.”

God, he sounded like an idiot.

Her eyes widened, and her cheeks turned a pretty shade of pink. “Thank you.”

Well, perhaps not so much of an idiot. She seemed to enjoy the accolade, and she hadn’t even looked as if she wanted to hit him. This wasn’t so bad after all.

Buy Links: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ B&N ~ Apple

Now it’s your turn!!

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I know it’s Monday, but after I returned from RT I discovered the screen on my laptop had died. This has far reaching consequences as I cannot access my blog calendar from my tablet. So please bear with me, I could not put the post off for another week.

We will start with book winners!! Please help me congratulate

Patricia Wissore who won Sheri Cobb-South’s Baroness in Buckskins!

Glenda Martilloitti for winning Susana Ellis’s Waterloo collection!

Linda Thum who won Julia Justiss’s The Rake to Reveal Her!

And Isis the 12th for winning Cara Elliott’s Sinfully Yours!

Ladies, the authors have been notified and will be contacting you.

As you know Hubby and I had only planned to be out for about a week. Well, that didn’t happen. We ran out of wind, had a problem with one of the engines, and the wind thing caused us to motor a lot more than we thought we’d have to. The result was that we ended up diverting through the Bahamas and running into weather. That caused a delay of several days. When we finally got to Florida that Sunday was Mother’s Day and I was on my way to the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention in Dallas. Where, by the way, I had a great, if exhausting, time!

One of the best things about the convention was catching up with old friends, meeting new ones,  and having a meeting with my publicists about the release of the next series, The Worthingtons. You remember. The one that begins with this cover!Three Weeks to Wed

Just before I left for RT, I received the cover for my Christmas book, Miss Featherton’s Christmas Prince, the last book in The Marriage Game for a while.

miss featherton's christmas prince_ebook

Here is the blurb.

Ella Quinn’s wealthy, titled bachelors think they’re immune to romantic notions. Yet no matter how they try to evade it, love somehow finds a way…

       In the two seasons since her triumphant debut, Meg Featherton’s heart has been tested to its limits. Her first suitor: a criminal. The second, a cad. For her third act, Meg vows to leave love completely out of the marriage equation. She has set her sights on a newly made viscount whom she could take or leave. However, now she must avoid his handsome, roguish, irresistible best friend like the plague. It’s no easy feat, as they are all attending the same house party…

          Damon, Marquis of Hawksworth, cannot imagine why Miss Featherton seems so damn disinterested—or why he cares so terribly much. Certainly Meg is a fine wifely prospect for a man in his position, but more than that, he finds he longs for her as he has never done for another woman. She may be determined to protect her heart, but Damon is equally set on winning her over, one delicious kiss at a time…

And an excerpt.

Featherton House, London, Late Autumn 1817, London.

Miss Margaret Elizabeth Lucinda Featherton, second daughter of Viscount Featherton, glanced down at the missive in her lap. The letters were rounded, much like a child’s would be, but the spelling and grammar were correct.

Dear Miss Featherton,

I pray this letter arrives in time to save you from making a horrible mistake. Lord Tarlington is not what you think him. I do not expect you to take my word for it. However, if you go to number twenty-three Basil Street in the neighborhood of Hans Crescent around seven in the morning, you will find the evidence for yourself.

A Friend

The first time she had received such a letter the warning had concerned her last suitor, the Earl of Swindon. She shuddered at how close she had come to marrying such a monstrous man. A heaviness lodged in her chest making it hard to breathe. What would she discover about Tarlington?

The following morning at half past six, Meg and her maid, Hendricks, sallied forth as if taking their usual early stroll in Hyde Park. However, instead of walking down Charles Street toward the Park they headed in the opposite direction to Hay Hill, then on to Bond Street and hailed a hackney.

The day was cool, but sunny. A clean crisp scent which reminded her of just harvested apples, unusual for London, filled the air. Trees were showing off their brilliant autumn colors. It was all together too pretty a day for their mission. Meg was tempted to go back and hide in her chamber as if she had never received the missive. Yet if she did, she could end up wed to a man as bad as or worse than Swindon.

Twenty minutes later, she and her maid were situated two houses down from twenty-three Basil Street. The town house consisted of three stories and a cellar area. Flowers in pots stood on either side of the well maintained front door. The brass knocker gleamed as if it were polished regularly.

Hendricks drew back the leather shade, keeping watch on the house as Meg pressed back against the thin, poorly cushioned squabs. She resisted the urge to pleat her skirts, which would surely draw a rebuke from her maid, and waited.

Wondering if, yet again, she had fallen in love with a fiend.

After several minutes, she shifted on the hard bench. Two women carrying baskets hurried past the coach, staring at the vehicle as they went. If Meg and Hendricks remained here much longer, they would begin attracting attention.

Frustrated with waiting, Meg blew out a puff of air. “Do you see anything yet?”

“No.” Her maid started to shake her head then stopped. “Oh, wait. The door is opening.”

Finally. She slid to the other side of the hackney and glanced out the window. A handsome gentleman with curling dark-blond hair stepped out of the town house holding an infant. Lord Tarlington smiled down at the woman standing next to him who clutched the hand of a small child still in skirts. For a moment the smile appeared to be the same as the ones he had given Meg on numerous occasions. Then his smiled deepened and his face lit with love as he embraced the woman before kissing her and handing her the baby. As the woman’s hand rose, a glint of gold on her the third finger of her left hand appeared.

Married! The cur was already wed!

It’s not on pre-order yet, but I’ll let you know when it is.

As you know, A Kiss for Lady Mary releases next week. I have five copies to give away for signing up for my newsletter. The names will be picked randomly and announced next Sunday.

On to boat news. We have been anchored in Lake Worth, off the Palm Beach Sailing Club for the past ten days or so. As soon as the grill arrives, we lost ours crossing the Bahamas, we’ll head to Ft. Pierce. Let me know if you are in the area. I’d love to meet you. After that we’re going to Daytona, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, and Fernandina Beach.

Here are some photos I took in the Bahamas and at RT.

Swimming Pigs

Swimming Pigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pig swimming 2

 

 

 

 

 

Arriving Lake Worth 2015-05-04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facinator I made for my granddaughter

Facinator I made for my granddaughter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Boyle and me

Elizabeth Boyle and me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Model

Cover Model

What have you been doing lately?

Have a great week!!

Ella

 

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Please welcome bestselling author Cara Elliott back to the blog!! Cara is here today with her new release, Sinfully Yours!! She will give away a copy to one of you who tells her you want it!

First the beautiful cover.

Sinfully Yours-CElliott

Now the blurb.

Proper young ladies of the ton—especially ones who have very small dowries—are not encouraged to have an interest in intellectual pursuits. Indeed, the only thing they are encouraged to pursue is an eligible bachelor. So, the headstrong Sloane sisters must keep their passions a secret. Ah, but secret passions are wont to lead a lady into trouble . . .

After an eventful Season, Anna Sloane longs for some peace and quiet to pursue her writing. Though her plots might be full of harrowing adventure and heated passion, she’d much prefer to leave such exploits on the page rather than experience them in real life. Or so she thinks until she encounters the darkly dissolute-and gorgeously charming-Marquess of Davenport. Davenport has a reputation as a notorious rake whose only forte is wanton seduction. However the real reason he’s a guest at the same remote Scottish castle has nothing to do with Anna . . . until a series of mysterious threats leave him no choice but to turn to her for help in stopping a dangerous conspiracy. As desire erupts between them, Davenport soon learns he’s not the only one using a carefully crafted image to hide his true talents. And he’s more than ready to show Anna that sometimes reality can be even better than her wildest imaginings . . .

And an excerpt.

Anna’s steps quickened as she passed by the room reserved for the ladies and ducked around a darkened corner. From a previous visit to the townhouse, she knew that a set of French doors in the library led out to a raised terrace overlooking the back gardens. It was, of course, against the rules for an unchaperoned young lady to venture outdoors on her own. But she had chosen the secluded spot with great care—the chances of being spotted were virtually nil.

The night air felt blessed cool on her overheated cheeks. “Thank God,” she murmured, tilting her face to the black velvet sky.

“Thank God,” echoed a far deeper voice.

A pale plume of smoke floated overhead, its curl momentarily obscuring the sparkle of the stars.

“It was getting devilishly dull out here with only my own thoughts for company.”

Speak of the Devil!

Anna whirled around. “That’s not surprising, sir, when one’s mind is filled with nothing but thoughts of drinking, wenching and gaming. Titillating as those pursuits might be, I would assume they grow tiresome with constant repetition.”

“A dangerous assumption, Miss Sloane.” Devlin Greville, the Marquess of Davenport—better known as the Devil Davenport—tossed down his cheroot and ground out the glowing tip beneath his heel. Sparks flared for an instant, red-gold against the slate tiles, before fading away to darkness. “I thought you a more sensible creature than to venture an opinion on things about which you know nothing.”

Anna watched warily as he took one . . . two . . . three sauntering steps closer. Quelling the urge to retreat, she stood her ground. The Devil might be a dissolute rake, a rapacious rogue, but she would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her flinch.

“Sense has nothing to do with it,” she countered coolly. “Given the rather detailed—and lurid—gossip that fills the drawing rooms of Mayfair each morning, I know a great deal about your exploits.”

“Another dangerous assumption.” His voice was low and a little rough, like the purr of a stalking panther.

Anna felt the tiny hairs on the nape of her neck stand on end.

He laughed, and the sound turned even softer. “I thought you a more sensible creature than to listen to wild speculation.”

“Indeed?” Feigning nonchalance, she slid sideways and leaned back against the stone railing. Which was, she realized, a tactical mistake. The marquess mirrored her movements, leaving her no way to escape.

“I—I don’t know why you would think that,” she went on. “You know absolutely nothing about me.”

“On the contrary. I, too, listen to the whispers that circulate through the ton.”

“Don’t be absurd.” She steadied her voice. “I am quite positive that there’s not an ill-word spoken about me. I am exceedingly careful that not a whiff of impropriety sullies my reputation.”

“Which in itself says a great deal,” drawled Devlin.

“You’re an idiot.”

“Am I?” He came closer, close enough that her nostrils were suddenly filled with a swirl of masculine scents. Bay rum cologne. Spiced smoke. French brandy. A hint of male musk.

Her pulse began to pound, her breath began to quicken.

Good Lord, it’s me who is an idiot. I’m acting like Emmalina!

Shaking off the horrid novel histrionics, Anna scowled. “You’re not only an idiot, Lord Davenport, you are an annoying idiot. I’m well aware that you take perverse pleasure in trying to . . .”

Cocking his head, he waited.

“To annoy me,” she finished lamely.

Another laugh. “Clearly I am having some success, so I can’t be all that bumbling.”

To give the Devil his due, he had a quick wit. Biting back an involuntary smile, Anna turned her head to look out over the shadowed gardens. Flames from the torchieres on the main terrace danced in the breeze, their glow gilding the silvery moonlight as it dappled over the thick ivy vines that covered the perimeter walls.

She shouldn’t find him amusing. And yet like a moth drawn to an open fire . . .

“What? No clever retort?” said Devlin.

Anna willed herself not to respond.

“I see.” Somehow he found a way to inch even closer. His trousers were now touching her skirts. “You mean to ignore me.”

“If you were a gentleman, you would go away and spare me the effort.”

“Allow me to point out two things, Miss Sloane. Number one—I was here first.”

The marquess had a point.

“And number two . . .” His hand touched her cheek. He wasn’t wearing gloves and the heat of his bare fingers seemed to scorch her skin. “We both know I’m no gentleman.”

 Buy Links: Amazon ~  B&N

About Cara.

Cara ElliottI started creating books at the age of five, or so my mother tells me. And she has the proof—a neatly penciled story, the pages lavishly illustrated with full color crayon drawings of horses and bound with staples—to back up her claim. I have since moved on from Westerns to writing about Regency England, a time and place that has captured my imagination ever since I opened the covers of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” (Clearly I have a thing for Men in Boots!)

I have a BA and an MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University and now my work as a writer lets me combine my love of the printed word with my love of art. I’m very fortunate in that research for my historical novels allows me to travel to interesting destinations around the world—however, my favorite spot is London, where the funky antique markets and used book stores offer a wealth of inspiration for my stories.

 

 

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Please welcome Susana Ellis back to the blog!! Susana is here today to tell  you about a Waterloo boxed set she and several other fabulous authors have published!! She is also giving away a copy to one of you who tell her you want it!!

 

As always we’ll start with the cover, but the rest of the post is a little different.

waterloo_cover_best

Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles:

A Celebration of Waterloo

 June 18, 1815 was the day Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armée was definitively routed by the ragtag band of soldiers from the Duke of Wellington’s Allied Army in a little Belgian town called Waterloo. The cost in men’s lives was high—22,000 dead or wounded for the Allied Army and 24,000 for the French. But the war with Napoleon that had dragged on for a dozen years was over for good, and the British people once more felt secure on their island shores.

The bicentenary of the famous battle seemed like an excellent opportunity to use that setting for a story, and before I knew it, I had eight other authors eager to join me, and to make a long story short, on April 1, 2015 our Waterloo-themed anthology was released to the world.

 You are all invited to visit our Website and Facebook Page

Giveaway

 Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles mug to a random commenter

Our Stories

Jillian Chantal: Jeremiah’s Charge

Emmaline Rothesay has her eye on Jeremiah Denby as a potential suitor. When Captain Denby experiences a life-altering incident during the course of events surrounding the Battle of Waterloo, it throws a damper on Emmaline’s plans.

 

Téa Cooper: The Caper Merchant

The moon in Gemini is a fertile field of dreams, ideas and adventure and Pandora Wellingham is more than ready to spread her wings. When Monsieur Cagneaux, caper merchant to the rich and famous, introduces her to the handsome dragoon she believes her stars have aligned.

 

Susana Ellis: Lost and Found Lady

Catalina and Rupert fell in love in Spain in the aftermath of a battle, only to be separated by circumstances. Years later, they find each other again, just as another battle is brewing, but is it too late?

 

Aileen Fish: Captain Lumley’s Angel

Charged with the duty of keeping his friend’s widow safe, Captain Sam Lumley watches over Ellen Staverton as she recovers from her loss, growing fonder of her as each month passes. When Ellen takes a position as a companion, Sam must confront his feelings before she’s completely gone from his life.

 

Victoria Hinshaw: Folie Bleue

On the night of the 30th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Aimée, Lady Prescott, reminisces about meeting her husband in Bruxelles on the eve of the fighting. She had avoided the dashing scarlet-clad British officers, but she could not resist the tempting smile and spellbinding charm of Captain Robert Prescott of the 16th Light Dragoons who— dangerously to Aimée— wore blue.

 

Heather King: Copenhagen’s Last Charge

When Meg Lacy finds herself riding through the streets of Brussels only hours after the Battle of Waterloo, romance is the last thing on her mind, especially with surly Lieutenant James Cooper. However, their bickering uncovers a strange empathy – until, that is, the lieutenant makes a grave error of judgment that jeopardizes their budding friendship…

 

Christa Paige: One Last Kiss

The moment Colin held Beatrice in his arms he wanted one last kiss to take with him into battle and an uncertain future. Despite the threat of a soldier’s death, he must survive, for he promises to return to her because one kiss from Beatrice would never be enough.

 

Sophia Strathmore: A Soldier Lay Dying

Amelia and Anne Evans find themselves orphaned when their father, General Evans, dies. With no other options available, Amelia accepts the deathbed proposal of Oliver Brighton, Earl of Montford, a long time family friend. When Lord Montford recovers from his battle wounds, can the two find lasting love?

 

David W. Wilkin: Not a Close Run Thing at All

Years, a decade. And now, Robert had come back into her life. Shortly before battle was to bring together more than three hundred thousand soldiers. They had but moments after all those years, and now, would they have any more after?

 

About Lost and Found Lady

On April 24, 1794, a girl child was born to an unknown Frenchwoman in a convent in Salamanca, Spain. Alas, her mother died in childbirth, and the little girl—Catalina—was given to a childless couple to raise.

Eighteen years later…the Peninsular War between the British and the French wages on, now perilously near Catalina’s home. After an afternoon yearning for adventure in her life, Catalina comes across a wounded British soldier in need of rescue. Voilà! An adventure! The sparks between them ignite, and before he returns to his post, Rupert promises to return for her.

But will he? Catalina’s grandmother warns her that some men make promises easily, but fail to carry them out. Catalina doesn’t believe Rupert is that sort, but what does she know? All she can do is wait…and pray.

But Fate has a few surprises in store for both Catalina and Rupert. When they meet again, it will be in another place where another battle is brewing, and their circumstances have been considerably altered. Will their love stand the test of time? And how will their lives be affected by the outcome of the conflict between the Iron Duke and the Emperor of the French?

 

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Amazon.com Print

 

Excerpt

 

September 14, 1793

A beach near Dieppe, France

 

“I don’t like the look of those clouds, monsieur,” Tobias McIntosh said in fluent French to the gray-bearded old man in a sailor hat waiting impatiently near the rowboat that was beginning to bob more sharply with each swell of the waves. “Are you sure your vessel can make it safely all the way to Newhaven in these choppy seas?”

 

The old man waved a hand over the horizon. “La tempête, it is not a threat, if we leave immédiatement. Plus tard…” He shrugged. “Je ne sais pas.”

 

“Please, mon amour,” pleaded the small woman wrapped in a hooded gray cloak standing at his side. “Allow me to stay with you. I don’t want to go to England. I promise I will be prudent.”

 

A strong gust of wind caught her hood and forced it down, revealing her mop of shiny dark locks. Tobias felt like seizing her hand and pulling her away from the ominous waves to a place of safety where she and their unborn child could stay until the senseless Terreur was over.

 

“Justine, ma chère, we have discussed this endlessly. There is no place in France safe enough for you if your identity as the daughter of the Comte d’Audet is discovered.” He shivered. “I could not bear it if you were to suffer the same fate at the hands of the revolutionaries as your parents did when I failed to save them.”

 

She threw her arms around him, the top of her head barely reaching his chin. “Non, mon amour, it was not your fault. You could not have saved them. It was miraculeux that you saved me. I should have died with them.”

 

She looked up to catch his gaze, her face ashen. “Instead, we met and have had three merveilleux months together. If it is my time to die, I wish to die at your side.”

 

Tobias felt like his heart was going to break. His very soul demanded that the two of them remain together and yet… there was a price on both their heads, and the family of the Vicomte Lefebre was waiting for him in Amiens, the revolutionaries expected to reach them before midday. It was a dangerous work he was involved in—rescuing imperiled French nobility from bloodthirsty, vengeful mobs—but he had pledged himself to the cause and honor demanded that he carry on. And besides, there was now someone else to consider.

 

“The child,” he said with more firmness than he felt. “We have our child to consider, now, Justine ma chère. The next Earl of Dumfries. He must live to grow up and make his way in the world.”

 

Not to mention the fact that Tobias was human enough to wish to leave a child to mark his legacy in the world—his and Justine’s. He felt a heaviness in his heart that he might not live long enough to know this child he and Justine had created together. He could not allow his personal wishes to undermine his conviction. Justine and the child must survive.

 

Justine’s blue eyes filled with tears. “But I cannot! I will die without you, mon cher mari. You cannot ask it of me!”

 

“Justine,” he said, pushing away from her to clasp her shoulders and look her directly in the eye. “You are a brave woman, the strongest I have ever known. You have survived many hardships and you can survive this. Take this letter to my brother in London, and he will see to your safety until the time comes that I can join you. My comrades in Newhaven will see that you are properly escorted.”

 

He handed over a letter and a bag of coins. “This should be enough to get you to London.”

 

After she had reluctantly accepted and pocketed the items beneath her cloak, he squeezed her hands.

 

“Be sure to eat well, ma chère. You are so thin and my son must be born healthy.”

 

She gave him a feigned smile. “Our daughter is the one responsible for my sickness in the mornings… I do not believe she wishes me to even look at food.”

 

She looked apprehensively at the increasingly angry waves as they tossed the small boat moored rather loosely to a rock on the shore and her hands impulsively went to her stomach.

 

“Make haste, monsieur,” the old sailor called as he peered anxiously at the darkening clouds. “We must depart now if we are to escape the storm. Bid your chère-amie adieu maintenant or wait for another day. I must return to the bateau.”

 

“Tobias,” she said, her voice shaking.

 

He wondered if he would ever again hear her say his name with that adorable French inflection that had drawn him from their first meeting.

 

“Go, Justine. Go to my family and keep our child safe. I promise I will join you soon.”

 

He scooped her up in his arms and carried her toward the dinghy, trying to ignore her tears. The old sailor held the boat as still as he could while Tobias placed her on the seat and kissed her hard before striding back to the shore, each footstep heavier than the last.

 

He studied the darkening sky as the sailor climbed in the boat. “You are sure it is safe?”

 

“La Chasseresse, she is très robuste. A few waves will not topple her, monsieur.”

 

“Je t’aime, mon amour,” she said to him plaintively, her chin trembling.

 

“Au revoir, ma chère,” he said, trying to smile, although his vision was blurring from tears.

 

Will I ever see her again?

 

He stood watching as the dinghy made its way slowly through the choppy sea to the larger ship anchored in the distance, grief-stricken and unable to concentrate on anything but his pain. When the ship finally sailed off into the horizon, he fell to his knees and prayed as he had never done before for the safety of his beloved. He remained in that position until drops of rain on his face reminded him of the Lefebre family waiting for him in Amiens.

 

With a deep breath, he rose and made his way to the nearby forest, where his horse waited, tied to a tree.

 

“Come, my friend. We have a long, wet journey ahead of us.”

 

Setting foot in the stirrup, he swung his leg over the saddle and urged the horse to a gallop, feeling his heart rip into pieces with every step away from his beloved.

 

About Susana.

Author photoSusana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. Voracious reading led to a passion for writing, and her fascination with romance and people of the past landed her firmly in the field of historical romance.

A teacher in her former life, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.

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Susana’s ParlourSusana’s Morning Room

 

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Things have been a little off kilter due to our passage from the Caribbean to the States. I hope you’ll forgive me and please welcome historical author Janet Justiss to the blog!! This is her first time here, and I know you’ll make her feel welcome. Janet is going to tell us a little bit about her latest book, The Rake to Reveal Her. She is also giving away a copy to one of you to tells her you want it!

First we’ll start with the cover.

REVEAL

 

Now the blurb.

THE SOLDIER NEXT DOOR…

Dominc Ransliegh lost more than his arm in battle—he lost his reason for living.  Returning to his family seat, he shuns all society.  If only his beautiful, plainspoken tenant, Theodora Branwell, wasn’t so hard to ignore…

Since her fiance’s death on the battlefield, Theo’s devoted herself to caring for soldiers’ orphans.  She’s powerfully attracted to Dom, but knows all too well the consequences of temptation.  Is Theo, who’s survived so much, brave enough to reveal her secret to her handsome, wounded neighbor?

And the excerpt.

SUFFOLK, SPRING 1816

His ears still ringing from the impact of the fall, Dominic Fitzallen Ransleigh levered himself to a sitting position in the muddy Suffolk lane.  Air hissed in and out of his gritted teeth as he waited for the red wave of pain obscuring his vision to subside.  Which it did, just in time for him to see that black devil, Diablo, trot around the corner and out of sight.

Headed back to barn, probably, Dom thought.  If horses could laugh, surely the bad-tempered varlet was laughing at him.

It was his own fault, always choosing the most difficult and high-spirited colts to train as hunters.  Horses with the speed and heart to gallop across country, jumping with ease any obstacle in their paths, but needing two strong hands on the reins to control their headstrong, temperamental natures.

He looked down at his one remaining hand, still trembling from the strain of that wild ride.  Flexing the wrist, he judged it sore but not broken.  After years of tending himself from various injuries suffered during his service with the 16th Dragoons, a gingerly bending of the arm informed him no bones broken there, either.

His left shoulder still throbbed, but at least he hadn’t fallen on the stump of his right arm.  Had he done that, he’d probably still be unconscious from the agony.

Resigning himself to sit in the mud until his muzzy head cleared, Dom gazed down the lane after the fleeing horse.  Though the doctors had warned him, he’d resisted accepting what he’d just proved:  he’d not be able to control Diablo, or any of the other horses in his stable full of hunters just like the stallion, with a single good hand.

Sighing, Dom struggled to his feet.  He might as well face the inevitable.  As he’d never be able to ride Diablo or the others again, there was no sense hanging on to them.  The bitter taste of defeat in his mouth, he told himself he would look into selling them off at Tattersall’s while the horses were still in prime form and able to fetch a good price.  Sell the four-horse carriages, too, since with one hand, he couldn’t handle more than a pair.

Thereby severing one more link between the man he’d been before Waterloo, and now.

Jilting a fiancé, leaving the army, and now this.  Nothing like changing his world completely in the space of a week.

Could he give it all up? he wondered as he set off down the lane.  Following in his hunting-mad father’s footsteps had been his goal since he’d joined his first chase, schooling hunters a talent he worked to perfect as his cousin Max had aspired to a career assisting his father in Parliament, his cousin Alastair had trained to run his extensive agricultural holdings.  Before the army and between Oxford terms, he’d spent all his time studying horses, looking for that perfect combination of bone, stamina and spirit that made a good hunter.  Buying them, training them, then hunting and steeplechasing with the like-minded friends who called themselves “Dom’s Daredevils.”

Stripped of that occupation, the future stretched before him as a frightening void.

Though he’d never previously had a taste for solitude, within days of his return, he’d felt compelled to leave London.  The prospect of visiting his clubs, attending a ball, mixing with the old crowd at Tatt’s, inspecting the horses before a sale—all the activities in which he’d once delighted—now repelled him.  Sending away even his cousin Will, who’d rescued him from the battlefield and tended him for months, he’d retreated to Bildenstone—the family estate he’d not seen in years, and hadn’t even been sure was still habitable.

He’d sent Elizabeth away, too.  A wave of grief and remorse swept through him as her lovely face surfaced in his mind.  How could he have asked her to wait for him to recover, when the man he was now no longer fit into the world of hunts and balls they’d meant to share?

Ruthlessly he extinguished her image, everything about her and the hopes they once cherished too painful to contemplate.  Best to concentrate on taking the next small step down the road ahead, small steps being all he could manage toward a future cloaked in a shifting mist of uncertainty.

Fighting the despair threatening to suck him down, he reminded himself again why he’d left friends, fiancé, and all that was be familiar.

To find himself…whatever was left to find.

Wearily he picked up his pace, his rattled brain still righting itself.  He traversed the sharp corner around which his horse had disappeared to find himself almost face-to-face with a young woman leading a mare.

They both started, the horsing rearing a little.

“Down, Starfire,” a feminine voice commanded.  Looking up at him expectantly, the girl smiled and said, “Sir, will you give me a hand?  I was almost run down by a black beast of a stallion, which startled my mare.  I’m afraid I wasn’t paying enough attention, and lost my seat.  I’ll require help to remount.”

His mind still befuddled, Dom stared at her.  Though tall enough that he didn’t have to look down very far, his first impression was of a little brown wren–lovely pale complexion, big brown eyes, hair of indeterminate hue tucked under a tired-looking bonnet, and a worn brown habit years out-of-date.

The unknown miss didn’t flinch at his eyepatch, he had to give her that.  Nor did her eyes stray to the pinned-up sleeve of his missing arm–the sleeve now liberally spattered with mud and decorated with leaf-bits, as was the rest of his clothing.  Heavens, he must look like a vagrant who’d slept in the woods.  It was a wonder she didn’t run screaming in the opposite direction.

His lips curved into a whimsical smile at the thought as her pleasant expression faded. “Sir, could you give me a hand, help me remount?” she all but shouted.

Dom flinched at the loud tones.  She must think me simple as well as disheveled.  As his mind finally cleared and her request registered, his amusement vanished.

The images flashed into his head–all the girls he’d lifted in a dance, tossed into saddles…carried into bed.  With two strong arms.

Anger coursed through him.  “That would be a bit of problem.”  He gestured to his empty sleeve.  “Afraid I can’t help you.  Good-day, Miss.”

Her eyes widened as he began to walk past her.  “Can’t help me?” she echoed.  “Can’t–or won’t?”

Fury mounting, he wheeled back to face her.  “Don’t you see, idiot girl?” he spat out.  “I’m…impaired.”  ‘Crippled’ would be better description, but he couldn’t get his mouth around the word.  He turned to walk away again.

She hurried forward, the horse trailing on the reins behind her, and blocked his path.  “What I see,” she said, her dark eyes flashing, “is that you have one good arm, whether or not you choose to use it.  Which is more than many of the soldiers who didn’t survive Waterloo, including my father.  He wouldn’t have hesitated to give me a leg up, even with only one hand!”

Before he could respond, she shortened the lead on the horse’s reins and snapped, “Very well.  I shall search for a more obliging log or tree stump.  Good day, sir.”

Bemused, he watched the sway of her neat little bottom as she marched angrily away.  With well-tended forest on either side of the lane–deadfall quickly removed to provide firewood for someone’s hearth–he didn’t think she was likely to find what she sought.

Turning back toward Bildenstone, he set off walking, wondering who the devil she was.  Not that, having spent the last ten years either with the army, at his hunting box in Leceistershire or in London, he expected to recognize any of the locals.  That girl would have been only a child the last time he’d been here, seven years ago.

He’d probably just insulted the daughter of some local worthy–though, given the shabby condition of her riding habit, not a man of great means.  He meant to limit as much as possible any interaction with his neighbors, but in the restricted society of the country, he’d likely encounter her again.  Perhaps by then, he’d be able to tender a sincere apology.

Stomping down the lane without encountering any objects suitable for use as a mounting block, Theodora Branwell felt her angry grow.  After a fruitless ten-minute search, she conceded that she might have to walk all the way back to Thornfield Place before she could find a way to remount her horse.

Which meant she might as well abandon her purpose and try again tomorrow.

Not the least of her ire and frustration she directed at herself.  If she’d not been so lost in rehearsing her arguments, she would have heard the approaching hoofbeats and had her mount well in hand before the stallion burst around the corner and flew past them.  After all the obstacles they’d ridden over in India and on the Peninsula, how Papa would laugh to know she’d been unseated by so simple a device!

No sense bemoaning; she might as well accept that her lapse had ruined the timing for making a call on her prospective landlord today.

She had Charles to check on, she thought, her heart warming as she pictured the little boy she’d raised like a son.  Then there were the rest of the children to settle, especially the two new little ones the Colonel had just sent her from Brussels.  Though the manor’s small nursery and adjoining bedchamber were becoming rather crowded, making settling the matter of the school and dormitory ever more urgent, Constancia and Jemmie would find them places.  But she knew the thin boy and the pale, silent girl would feel better after a few sweetmeats, a reassuring hug, and a story to make them welcome.

How frightening and strange the English countryside must seem to a child, torn from the familiar if unstable life of traveling in the van of an army across the dusty fields and valleys of Portugal and Spain.  Especially after losing one’s last parent.

It was a daunting enough prospect for her, and she was an adult.

The extra day would allow her to go over her arguments one more time.  She liked Thornfield Place very much; she only had to convince Mr. Ransleigh, her mostly absentee landlord now unaccountably taken up residence, that turning the neglected outbuilding on his property into a home and school for soldier’s orphans would cause no problem and was a noble thing to do.

A guilty pang struck her.   She’d really been too hard on the one-armed, one-eyed man in the lane. Though he might have been injured in an accident, he had the unmistakable bearing of a soldier.  Had he suffered his wounds at Waterloo?  Recovering from such severe losses would be slow; frustration over his limitations might at times make him wonder if it would not have been better, had he never made it off the battlefield.

She knew it was.  She’d have given anything, had Papa been found alive, whatever his condition.  Or Marshall, dead these five years now.

The bitter anguish of her fiancé’s loss scoured her again.  How much different would her life be now, had he not fallen on that Spanish plain?  They’d be long married, doubtless with children, her love returned and her place in society secure as his wife.

But it hadn’t been fair to take out her desolation on that poor soldier. Wholly preoccupied with her own purpose, she only now recalled how thin his frame was, how disheveled his rough clothing.  When had he last eaten a good meal?  Finding employment must be difficult for an ex-soldier with only one arm.

He’d not carried a pack, she remembered, so he was must be a local resident.  Country society comprised a small circle, she’d been told, much like the army.  Which meant she’d probably encounter the man again.  If she did, she would have to apologize.  Perhaps in the interim, she might also think of some job she could hire him to perform at Thornfield Place.

Satisfied that she’d be able to atone for her rudeness, she dismissed him from her mind and trudged down the lane back toward Thornfield.

Buy Links: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble

About Janet.

AUTHOR PHOTOJulia Justiss wrote her first plot ideas for a Nancy Drew novel in the back of her third grade spiral and has been writing ever since.  Before turning her hand to fiction, her writing ventures included publishing poetry, composing the wording on the envelope enclosing the death benefit check for an insurance company and editing an American embassy newsletter.  Her Regency historical novels have been winners or finalists in the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart, Romantic Times Magazine’s Best First Historical, Golden Quill, National Readers Choice, and Daphne du Maurier contests.  She lives with her husband in the Piney Woods of East Texas.

 

Find her at: www.juliajustiss.com

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Today is a free for all. Post any excerpt of up to 600 words as well as your buy links or social media information.

lady beresford's lover_ebookHere is mine from Lady Beresford’s Lover which just went on pre-order.

Rupert tried not to grin as Wigman, his valet, plucked an invisible piece of lint from Rupert’s jacket. It was a ritual they had gone through every day since he was sixteen, when his grandfather Stanstead had insisted Rupert have a valet. Some gentlemen would probably become annoyed with such fussiness, but he believed in encouraging everyone to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. If that meant a few moments’ delay in dressing, so be it. “Am I presentable, Wigman?”

“None more so, my lord.” Wigman gave a small sigh. “I do regret that Mr. Brummell was allowed to hold sway over gentlemen’s clothing. There was nothing like a nice lace cuff or velvet jacket to show a gentleman to perfection.”

“I have no doubt you are correct.” Truth be told, Rupert thought the previous styles had some merit. “Though, I do have an aversion to wigs and hair powder.”

“I must agree with you regarding that particular affectation, my lord.” He handed Rupert his watch fob and quizzing glass. “You are fortunate that you do not require padding. One could more easily disguise additions to a gentleman’s physique before the styles changed so drastically.”

“Fortunate indeed.” Rupert clamped his lips together. If he didn’t depart immediately, he’d be subject to the litany of faults in Wigman’s previous employers. “I have no idea when I’ll return.”

“Yes, my lord.”

Rupert strode out of his Grosvenor Square town house to the waiting town coach. He’d considered walking to Robert’s home on Berkeley Square, but dark clouds had hung low all afternoon, and the scent of rain was in the air. Not to mention arriving at his cousin’s house for their first ball, soaked, was not a wonderful idea. Rupert settled on the soft brown leather seat, a footman closed the door, and his coachman started forward.

He attempted to tamp down the feeling that something momentous was about to happen. His parents and Robert were most likely correct that he wouldn’t meet anyone he didn’t already know. Still, he couldn’t help a surge of excitement when the carriage came to a stop. Somewhere the perfect lady was out there waiting for him. All he had to do was find her.

The coach door opened, and he caught a glimpse of pale blue skirts moving up the steps before they disappeared into the house. The urge to chase after her, whoever she was, was almost too strong to resist. Rupert could feel his pulse beating a tattoo against his cravat; still, he forced himself to calmly take his place in the line. What were the chances it was the same woman who had watched him as he traversed the Mount Street Gardens? Surely she wouldn’t wear the same gown to a ball, yet he had noticed that when a lady favored a certain color, she wore it more often than she did others.

He was being absurd. Even a bit mad. Rupert knew absolutely nothing about the woman, not how old she was, or if she was married, or what she looked like, or if it was indeed the same female. In addition, there were a great many people between him and the lady in blue. Yet there was some force pushing him forward, necessitating that he follow her.

Buy Links: Amazon ~ B&N

 

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