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Archive for the ‘Guest Author’ Category

Please welcome Elizabeth Ellen Carter to the blog!! Elizabeth is going to tell you a little about her release, Moonstone Conspiracy!  And she’ll give away a copy to one of you who tells her she likes the book!

As always, we begin with the lovely cover.

MoonstoneConspiracy

Next the blurb.

Revolution in France, rebels in England, and one woman caught in the crossfire…

For her unwitting participation in a plot to embezzle the Exchequer, Lady Abigail Houghall has spent the last two years exiled to the city of Bath. A card sharp, sometime mistress, and target of scandalous gossip by the London Beau Monde, Lady Abigail plots to escape her gilded cage as well as the prudish society that condemns her. But the times are not easy. France is in chaos. The king has been executed, and whispers of a similar revolution are stirring in England. And because of her participation in the robbery plot, the Spymaster of England is blackmailing her into passing him information about the members of London’s upper crust.

When the dashing English spy Daniel Ridgeway takes a seat at her card table and threatens to expose her for cheating, she has no choice but to do as he demands: seduce the leader of the revolutionaries and learn what she can about their plot. As she’s drawn deeper into Daniel’s dangerous world, from the seedy backstreets of London to the claustrophobic catacombs of a war-torn Paris, she realizes an even more dangerous fact. She’s falling in love with her seductive partner. And the stakes of this game might just be too high, even for her.

And an excerpt.

Daniel picked his moment carefully. He watched Sir Percy’s wife leave with another group soon after the announcement was made. And although he made no especial effort to hide, he nonetheless remained in the shadows. He pulled out a cigar and lit it on a nearby taper.

As soon as he heard the footman call for Sir Percy’s carriage, he stepped forward into the carriage and waited for Blakeney to join him.

“Send me to France, Percy,” he said as soon as the carriage jolted into motion.

“I’m not going to do that,” Blakeney replied.

“You can’t just leave Jonathan there!”

“He signed on knowing the same risks as you.”

“He has a wife and children!”

“And you seem inordinately fond of them,” Sir Percy snapped back. “You saw the list you gave me tonight. A dozen good men and women dead because of the Jacobins. I’m not prepared to risk more. Not until we know what we’re up against.”

“It could be too late!”

“You took an oath when you joined the League, Ridgeway. One to command, all to obey. Bear that in mind.”

Daniel leaned forward and rested his arms on his knees and exhaled long and sharp.

He felt Percy slap him on the back.

“Just wait a week until we know the lay of the land. I haven’t studied the documents you gave me and Parliament hasn’t even prepared a response to the National Committee’s declaration of war.”

“A week is a long time, Percy,” Daniel warned.

“So is eternity, dear chap. Don’t lose your head. As you well know, those Frenchies have a devilish way of parting you from it.”

 

Buy links: All RomanceAmazon ~ B&N ~ Google Play

 

About Elizabeth.

EECarterEllen Carter’s debut novel, Moonstone Obsession, was published in 2013 by Etopia Press. Earlier that year, the Regency adventure romance had been shortlisted in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Awards for Best Unpublished Manuscript. Set in England and France during the French Revolution, it was heralded as ‘edge-of-seat adventure and intrigue’ and ‘a rollercoaster of love, blackmail, ill-gotten gains, treason and trickery’ with Carter described as ‘a writer worth keeping an eye on’ with ‘a hint of classic suspense novelist Daphne du Maurier’.

Her second novel, Warrior’s Surrender, was published by Etopia the following year. Set in Northumbria in 1077, it sets the relationship between a displaced Saxon noblewoman and a Norman baron against the turbulent backdrop of England in the years following the Norman invasion of 1066. Reviewers found the novel ‘a fast moving and passionate read’ with ‘strong characters, an intriguing plot, and plenty of action… a sexy romance to be savoured’. Readers agreed, voting Warrior’s Surrender Favourite Historical Fiction in the 2015 Readers & Writers Down Under Readers Choice Awards.

Also in 2014, the short story Moonstone Promise, spinning off from Moonstone Obsession as part of Etopia’s Valentines Heat anthology, followed the fortunes of one of the supporting characters back home to 18th century Pittsburgh in a tale of ‘second chance romance’.

Warrior’s Surrender (now in print as well as eBook) was named Favourite Historical Fiction at the 2015 Readers & Writers Down Under Readers Choice Awards in March this year.

Carter moved up to 1802 for the light-hearted romantic short story Three Ships, part of the Christmas 2014 anthology A Season To Remember, and ventures briefly into contemporary romance for the first time with her Romance Writers of Australia annual Little Gems competition placegetter, The Tin Bear, publishing in August 2015.

And another Moonstone Obsession character, the sinful Lady Abigail Houghall, features in the full length novel Moonstone Conspiracy, coming from Etopia Press in 2015.

Carter is currently working on her fourth novel, set in ancient Rome and tentatively titled Dark Heart, which will bring together the elements for which she has become known in just a few years – in-depth historical detail woven through gripping adventure and captivating romance.

The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats. A former newspaper journalist, she ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years.

 

 

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Please welcome the wonderful Barbara Monajem back to the blog. Barbara is here to day to tell you about her latest book, To Kiss a Rake!! She will also give away one copy to one of you who tells her you want it!

As always, we’ll start with the cover!

To Kiss a Rake 600x900

Now the blurb.

A perfect lady with a secret.

A rake with a code of honor.

The scandal of the season…

And a very inconvenient marriage.

 

I’m beginning to think the Marriage of Convenience trope should be divided into two – the truly convenient marriages made for financial or social reasons, and the forced marriages, which usually come about through some mishap or other. The fun of this trope, either way, is that usually the couple are obliged to go through their courtship after they marry. They have no choice, and having no choice is often what is needed to make people change and grow.

 

Here’s the blurb of To Kiss a Rake, which is up for pre-order now and comes out July 29th.

 

WHEN A LADY IS ABDUCTED BY MISTAKE…

Melinda Starling doesn’t let ladylike behavior get in the way of true love. She’s secretly helping with an elopement, when she’s tossed into the waiting coach and driven away by a notorious rake.

REVENGE REALLY DOESN’T PAY.

Miles Warren, Lord Garrison, comes from a family of libertines, and he’s the worst of them all—or so society believes. When Miles helps a friend to run away with an heiress, it’s an entertaining way to revenge himself on one of the gossips who slandered him.

Except that he drives off with the wrong woman…and as if that wasn’t scandalous enough, he can’t resist stealing a kiss.

And here’s an excerpt:

Setup: Melinda Starling was abducted by mistake and is now being returned home by her abductor. She falls asleep in the carriage.

Melinda dreamed she was safe in the arms of a truly wonderful man. He adored her with a passion that knew no bounds; she loved him with all her heart. The swaying of the coach pressed them together. She inhaled his warm, male scent and snuggled closer, savoring the way her breast rubbed against his arm. She ached for the pressure of his lips on hers, yearning, yearning… She always woke before her dream lover kissed her.

Not this time. His lips were warm and soft, his breath hot and laced with brandy. Her lips parted instinctively beneath his, and she heard herself give a little moan of pleasure. The tip of his tongue slipped between her lips and touched hers.

The coach came to a halt. Her eyes fluttered open as she woke. The obnoxious lord who’d sworn he wouldn’t touch her broke the kiss, still holding her in his arms. She shoved at him, but he held fast.

“How dare you?” she cried.

The interior of the coach was still cloaked in gloom, but dawn was well on the way. She caught a glimpse of amused eyes before he pulled the brim of his hat over his face. “You fell asleep and slid right into my arms,” he said, his calm voice feeding her rage. “I couldn’t resist.”

She wiped a hand across her mouth. “I was—I was—” She couldn’t get the words out. She’d been saving her first kiss for the man she would marry, and this dastardly person had stolen it.

Thank God she was home. She wrenched herself from his arms just as the groom opened the door. She tumbled out of the coach without waiting for the steps, gathered the skirts of her costume, and ran up the pavement to the house.

She lifted the knocker and rapped it hard against the door, and rapped it again. And waited, shivering in the chill dawn wind, her arms tight about herself. Hurry!

No one answered. The servants must be asleep, but surely Grandmama would have left someone on watch for her. She knocked once again. And waited.

Silence, but for the shuffling of the horses, the barking of a dog, and the rumble of a wagon in the next street. London was coming to life.

She turned, anxious now. Why did the coach still wait? “You needn’t stay any longer. Someone will wake up and let me in.”

“Someone should already be awake and waiting,” the man said irritably from within the coach. He didn’t give the order to leave.

Melinda rapped again. What was going on? She thought she heard a sound within the house, thought she heard a voice, and knocked once more… Nothing. This was ghastly. She had to get indoors before someone saw her.

“Miss Starling, are you sure this is the right house?” The man who’d kissed her was framed in the coach window, his hat low over his brow once again.

“Of course I’m sure. Why don’t they answer?”

“Try the area stairs,” he suggested softly.

She’d never gone in by the servants’ entrance, but it was a good idea, the sort she would usually think of herself, but she couldn’t get her mind to work properly. She lifted the latch and hurried down the steep, winding stairs, shivering now from anxiety as much as the chill dawn air. She banged hard on the door. It was close to the housekeeper’s room, so surely that kindly woman would hear.

From inside the house came a furious bellow. “No! Do not open that door.”

Melinda froze. That was Grandma’s voice. She was…ordering the housekeeper not to let Melinda inside.

Her shiver became a tremble. She stumbled up the steep, narrow stairs and through the gate. She gaped at the dark house, her home, its curtains drawn like the blank eyes of a statue, cold and forbidding and utterly silent again.

“Damn,” the man who had kissed her said. “What the devil is going on?”

The sky lightened, and it finally dawned on Melinda. Grandmama wasn’t going to let her in. She’d been turned away from her own home.

“Did I hear her say not to open the door to you?” the man asked in a low, disbelieving voice.

Melinda blinked back hot, horrified tears and faced him, away from the house and the grandmother who had always wanted to be rid of her. “She used to threaten to wash her hands of me,” she said. “And now she has done it.”

Buy links: AmazonAmazon UK  ~  Amazon Canada  ~  Amazon AU

About Barbara.

BarbaraMonajem300x400I grew up on the west coast of Canada among the mountains and cedar trees. I’m not much into putting down roots–I love moving around–but roots have minds of their own. Mine go deep into those mountains and are entwined with the cedars, and no matter where I live, there’s a part of me that always, always longs for home. It’s a magic place which never lets go, and that’s all there is to it. I’m pretty sure that magic is what started me writing paranormals, because I wrote my first at only eight years old.

I lived in Oxford, England for a year when I was twelve, and I have roots there, too, but they’re mostly cultural. My ancestors are English, with some Scots and Irish farther back. Oxford is heavy with the magic of centuries. I loved it there–everything from playing twosy-ball against the school wall, to helping out at an archaeological dig, to spending my pocket money in Blackwell’s bookshop. I think it’s that year in England, coupled with all the Brit lit I read as a child, that inspired me to write historicals.  My foray into teen melodrama, best forgotten, also sprang from that year in England.

I spent several years in Montreal, and now and then I miss the winters–they’re long, but nothing beats the cold, bright, silent magic of a winter’s night. And the French spoken all around me–I miss that, too. Sometime during the years in Quebec and on into the move to Georgia, I started writing paranormals again, in the form of fantasy for my kids. This resulted in my middle grade novel, The Secret of the Stolen Mandolin.

I live in Georgia and spend a lot of time in south Louisiana, so now I have roots in the southern U.S. as well. I love the dense, humid air (well, usually), the lightning bugs and kudzu (so spooky), the live oaks and resurrection fern. On my first trip to Louisiana, I succumbed to the magic of New Orleans. I love it all: Bourbon Street, beignets and the levee, the Mardi Gras parades, the spicy food and hot nights, the dark and lovely moods of the French Quarter, and the swamps to the north. New Orleans is my inspiration for the funky little town of Bayou Gavotte, with its fetish clubs… and vampires… and who knows what else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Please welcome Liza O’Connor back to the blog. Since her last visit, Liza has been very busy. Today she’s going to tell you about all the books in her Victorian mystery series. She is also giving away a book to one of you who tells her you want it. Take it away, Liza!

ARE YOU CAUGHT UP?

In case you haven’t even started, allow me to say you have a bunch of fun sleuthing in front of you.

The books are a humorous and serious, Late Victorian Sleuth Series with a tendency towards romantic moments. And for one lucky commenter, I will give you your choice of the books, although I strongly recommend reading in order.

1) XnV books don't get left behind you be lonely big  small

It all starts with The Troublesome Apprentice where the greatest sleuth in England, Xavier Thorn, hires a cheeky troublesome apprentice. To his shock, he discovers the fellow has awoken his heart and “Vic” is actually a young woman of twenty-two. While they work out their complicated personal feelings, they manage to solve five mysteries.

WARNING: Never call Xavier Thorn by the name of “Sherlock Holmes”. Sherlock is a fictional character and any comparison of Xavier to Doyle’s character sends my sleuth into a fit.

With matters resolved between Xavier and Vic, you would think the next book would go along nicely. HA!

In book 2, The Missing Partner, we begin with a sweet interlude of love between our two sleuths, then Xavier returns to a case he’s been working on for Internal Affairs. Vic is left to handle their cases alone while everyone tries to keep her in the dark about Xavier. Only her incredible intuitive skill lets her know the first time she speaks to Chief Inspector Stone of Scotland Yard that Xavier is missing. Her gut tells her he’s in trouble, but so are a great deal other people. With the assistance of Jacko, Sergeant Meyers, Inspector Stone & Dr. Connors, they attempt to save most of the people involved, during which, Vic is so impressed with a criminal’s ability to abduct her, that she hires him onto Xavier’s staff.

Book 2.5, A Right to Love, is not technically part of the X&V series because the pirate Jacko and Vic’s prior friend, Alice, have fallen in love and this is their love story. It’s an odd love story since Jacko is running about trying to keep Vic safe from getting into too much trouble at the same time he is wooing Alice. Time wise, it overlaps book 2.0 and then moves on, only it’s from Jacko’s and Alice’s point of view. It also provides closures on the case close to Alice, so you’ll definitely want to include it in your reading.

In Book 3, The Mesmerist, you’ll be glad Vic hired Tubs to their staff. Had she not, this villain with inexplicable skills would have killed them all. Only Vic contemplates the Mesmerist could be a woman, and only Tubs has the strength to stop her. But in the eyes of many, Tubs was and will always be a criminal and is not to be trusted.

In Book 4, Well Kept Secrets, Their youngest employee, L’il Pete, is devastated when his mum is murdered. Xavier suggests the boy goes to Vic’s home, to be raised by her butler, since he did such a fabulous job with Vic. Meanwhile, they hunt for those involved in Maggie’s death. The case proves to be part of a larger crime, run by a parliament member. Jacko is called up from the country to assist, while Tubs is sidelined, since everyone in the lower docks knows him. And it turns out the non-faithful use of condoms didn’t work for Xavier & Vic.

In Book 5, Pack of Trouble, while hiding out at Jacko’s Spanish home, Vic almost dies giving birth to her son. Fortunately, Dr. Connors arrives in time to perform a Cesarean and save both Vic and the baby. That’s only the beginning of the abuse poor Vic endures. When they return to England, the first day back, Vic gets abducted. While everyone is trying to find her, the one who actually ferrets her out will surprise you. Vic comes out of the ordeal with a great deal of broken bones, and in her era, bones were not set, they were normally sawed off if they were broken. Fortunately, Tubs possesses the art of bone setting. Still, Vic does not enjoy being on the sidelines, thus she begins her own investigation while she’s in a wheel chair and covered in casts. She has her new driver Samson and Tubs carry her and her wheel chair about town.

And book 6? Yes the series continues, but it won’t come out until 2016, so read the others and be patient.

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels. She loves to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.

Liza is the author of 14 full length novels. Next on her plate is a Science fiction series (with romance) called The Multiverses. The first four books are slotted for last half of 2015.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT

LIZA O’CONNOR

Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

Hyperlinks to books if they fall off while uploading:

http://www.amazon.com/Troublesome-Apprentice-Adventures-Xavier-Book-ebook/dp/B00M7H63VO/

http://www.amazon.com/Missing-Partner-Adventures-Xavier-Book-ebook/dp/B00NAJQ4ZI/

http://www.amazon.com/Right-Love-Spinoff-Adventures-Xavier-ebook/dp/B00QD68XFE/

http://www.amazon.com/The-Mesmerist-Adventures-Xavier-Book-ebook/dp/B00ONMKZ88/

http://www.amazon.com/Well-Kept-Secrets-Adventures-Xavier-ebook/dp/B00UGKDF5G/

http://www.amazon.com/Pack-Trouble-Adventures-Xavier-Book-ebook/dp/B00YI05KT4/

 

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Please welcome historical author Janis Susan May to the blog!! Janis is here to tell you about her latest release,   She will be giving a copy to one of you who tells her you want it!

We begin with the cover.

COTE eBOOK COVER

Next the blurb.

“CURSE OF THE EXILE is a traditional Gothic mystery reminiscent of the best of Victoria Holt and Virginia Coffman that no lover of Gothics should miss. A courageous heroine, 1860s Scotland, two handsome brothers, a moldering castle, an unknown villain bent on a horrid vengeance… delicious! A perfect book for curling up with for a long enjoyable trip to the past.”

Carla Renard, The Literary Lady

After an unhappy childhood and a cruelly broken romance, Angelina Barstow has found a kind of respectable life working as a librarian with her charming but womanizing father. In 1860 they come to the Scottish castle called Merlon Motte, where the owner and his much younger brother are sharply divided on the necessity of selling the place. An ancient sword is stuck into the ceiling of the Great Hall and family legend says it was put there by a long-ago exiled son, who promised to curse anyone who endangers the castle. Angelina regards this as just a charming family story until the prospective buyer is murdered, the Sword of the Exile driven through his heart.

In spite of herself, Angelina has fallen in love, but though she loves one and sincerely likes the other she doesn’t know which of the brothers is the murderer. She thinks things can get no worse, but then there is another, more shocking death when her father is found drowned and the prospective buyer’s friend, the same man who so tried to dishonor her years before, says he intends to make her his mistress by force if necessary. Two more long held secrets threaten Angelina and her beloved before the Curse of the Exile is finally lifted.

And an excerpt.

Once the project was actually under way working at Petter’s Subscription Library was not so bad. We obtained rooms most reasonably within a few minutes’ walk and there were several inexpensive chop houses in the neighborhood. The area could not have been what it was when Miss Petter opened her establishment, but it still held on to a sort of respectability, which meant I could go and come alone without fear. As usual Pappa spent the first two days with me, directing, arranging, making a great number of his beloved notes and generally getting in the way before he finally decided that he had a ‘few little things’ to see to and left me to it.

I had never before worked in a shop – closed or open – and although the experience was different, it was by no means frightening. In fact the bustle of people outside the shrouded windows, the clatter of carts and waggons and carriages and horses over the cobbles outside was stimulating. I had no fear of being there alone, as I was neither of an age nor a station to be noticed by anyone and the shop was perfectly safe. Or so I thought until the afternoon Nairn MacTaggert entered and after that nothing in my life was ever the same.

Seduced by the sunny summer afternoon I had opened the shades and the door and pulled my table into one of the yellow spills of light. From that lapse of discipline it was easy to slip even further; before I knew it I was curled comfortably on the splitting leather divan, lost in the pages of a book and far, far away from Bath. It was unlikely I should be caught, as in all the days there I had never been disturbed. Doubtless all the denizens of the city seemed to know that Petter’s Subscription Library had died with the late Miss Petter, so when a large shadow fell across the page the surprise jerked me back into the present with a start.

The sun was behind him and for a moment all I could see was a large, indubitably masculine silhouette. Unnerved more by my unaccustomed rush of fear than by his sudden appearance I quickly stood and straightened up to my full height – a maneuver which had seldom failed to intimidate both males and females. In this case it was utterly wasted. He still topped me by several inches.

“May I help you?” I asked in arctic tones.

“What a great number of books!”

He had stepped out of the direct glare, giving me a chance to see him. I tried not to stare, but it was difficult. I had never seen such a handsome man. My heart, painfully schooled to being nothing but a working organ, gave a fluttery little jump as if I had been nothing but an impressionable schoolgirl. Even my memories of Myles paled in comparison.

His skin was burnished to a golden bronze by a sun that had never touched this clime. His curly hair was thick and richly chestnut-colored, while his eyes were remarkable, being the same brilliant turquoise of a dimly remembered Mediterranean Ocean. His body was lithe, but with an unquestioned look of strength. Only a rugged cast to his features and a nose that seemed to have taken a fair amount of abuse over time kept him from being downright pretty.

No, that wasn’t quite right. On closer inspection there was a harshness about his face, a hint of ruthlessness in the eyes that would make one cautious about crossing him. Despite the heat in the stuffy little shop a tiny shiver danced on my spine.

“Well,” he asked, “am I acceptable as a customer?”

“I’m sorry, sir, but the library is closed.” Embarrassed both at being caught in a dereliction of duty as well as scrutinizing him so openly, I spoke more coldly than usual.

“But your door is wide open.”

“I did not make myself clear. The library is permanently closed and has been since Miss Petter’s death. I am a librarian here to compile an inventory for the heir.”

He did not seem surprised. “And do you like being a librarian?”

“What an extraordinary question!”

“Quite right. I apologize.” He smiled and a flash like summer lightning shot from his eyes. My knees trembled. “But it is the most extraordinary luck, too.”

“I do not understand.”

“Because I am seeking a librarian.”

“A librarian?” I repeated stupidly, mesmerized by those glowing eyes. Seldom had I seen a man who appeared less likely to need the services of a librarian. “But why?”

“To take home with me, of course. Home to Scotland.”

 

Buy Links:

Paperback

CreateSpace eStoreAmazon

Ebook

Amazon ~ iBooks ~ KoboB&N

About Janis.

Janis Susan - colorJanis Susan May/Janis Patterson is a 7th-generation Texan who writes in mystery, romance, and horror. Once an actress and a singer, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. One of the original founders of RWA, Janis belongs to several RWA chapters, The Authors Guild, NINC, Sisters In Crime, and MWA, where she is a board member for the Southwest Region. Janis’ husband even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.

 

 

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I am so pleased to welcome the fabulous author Cara Elliott back to the blog. Cara is here to tell us about her latest release, Passionately Yours!! And she is giving a copy to one of you who tells her you want it!

As always we begin with the beautiful cover!!

Passionately Yours-larger

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 . . .

The youngest of the Hellions of High Street, Caro Sloane has watched her two sisters have exhilarating encounters with dashing heroes, and now she is longing for some excitement of her own. After all, how can she write truly passionate poetry until she has experienced a Grand Adventure? But that seems unlikely to happen as she’ll be spending the next few weeks in the quiet spa town of Bath, where nothing grand or adventurous ever happens . . . until she and her new friend Isobel are nearly abducted while walking on a quiet country road—only to be rescued by Alec McClellan, the moody and mysterious Scottish lord she met at Dunbar Castle.

Alec has come to England to deal with a treacherous betrayal and fears that his half-sister Isobel is in peril from an old enemy. Does he dare share his secrets with Caro? The bold and brave beauty leaves him no choice, and together they are quickly caught up in a swirl of dangerous intrigue . . . but it’s the fiery desire between them that may ignite into the greatest danger of all.

 

And an excerpt.

“Did you enjoy the organ recital, too, Miss Caro?” For some inexplicable reason Alec chose to fall in step beside her instead of his sister. She couldn’t help but notice that his gait had the muscular grace of a prowling predator. Deceptively relaxed, but ready to spring for the kill at an instant’s notice.

A lordly wolf. With sharp, chiseled nose and ice-blue eyes that seemed lit by an inner fire.

“I have an indifferent ear for music,” she replied.

“Indeed?” He cocked an appraising look. “I would have thought a poet would appreciate the nuances of sound.”

“Then I must be a bad poet,” said Caro a little tartly. “Or your assumptions are mistaken.”

“Or perhaps there is some other answer that is not quite so obvious,” he said slowly. “The world can rarely be depicted in such stark shades of black and white.”

His gaze didn’t waver and Caro could feel it burning like phosphorous against her skin.

“Ah, a lecture on painting, as well as poetry and music?” It was, she knew, a shrewish reply, but she couldn’t help herself. The exchange she had heard in the churchyard had left her very unsettled. “It seems we shall cover all of the arts before we reach York Street.”

“You seem bent on deliberately misunderstanding me,” replied Alec softly. “Is there a specific reason? Aside from the fact that, in general, you find me an odious oaf?”

“I don’t . . .”

When she didn’t go on, he murmured an encouraging “Yes?”

“As you say, sir, it’s not so black and white.”

His mouth quirked, softening the forbidding lines of his face. At that moment he no longer looked like a wild arctic wolf. But nor did he look like a housebroken lap dog.

“Your skill with language seems as sharp as ever,” observed Alec. “Which is no surprise. I would imagine that the author of a poem as lyrical as “Mist-Shrouded Moors” would never be at a loss for words.”

“H-how did you know I wrote that?” Shocked, Caro released his arm and came to an abrupt halt on the walkway. “I swear, I shall throttle Anna when she returns from Russia. She promised she wouldn’t tell a soul.”

“Anna didn’t tell me.”

“Then how—”

“It was simply an educated guess,” he replied. “You said it was by McAdam, and I happen to be own a copy of his complete works.” He fixed her with a speculative stare. “There seemed little reason for the subterfuge unless you had written it yourself.”

“Hmmph, I see that I shall have to work on becoming a better liar,” grumbled Caro.

He didn’t smile. “Concentrate your talents on learning to become an even better poet. There are enough accomplished liars in the world.”

She wasn’t sure how to answer. He thought her a good poet? Her stomach gave a queer little lurch.

“Come, we had better catch up with the others.” Taking her arm, Alec lengthened his stride.

“McAdam is very good,” she said in a small voice as they crossed to the other side of the street. “It is poetic justice that I was caught trying to fob off my own verse as his.”

“You are better,” said Alec brusquely.

Her foot slipped on one of the smooth paving stones, pitching her up against him.

Wrapping an arm around her waist, he steadied her stumble.

Caro was instantly aware of a myriad of sensations—the lithe strength of his muscles, the solid breadth of his shoulders, the subtle scent of bay rum pervading the crisp linen of his cravat.

“Don’t tell me the intrepid Miss Caro Sloane is going to swoon again?” he murmured dryly.

She realized that her legs had gone all soft and floppy like those of a rag doll, and she was clinging to his coat like a helpless peagoose. It would have been utterly mortifying if it hadn’t been so utterly silly.

Stifling a laugh in the soft folds of merino wool, she managed to say, “Oh, dear, I seem to be making a complete cake of myself. You must think me an idiot.”

Or worse.

A flash of amusement accentuated the sapphire highlights in his slate blue eyes, giving hint that there was sunlight behind the stormclouds. “You are,” he drawled, “far too interesting to be an idiot.”

“I dare not try to think of what other words you might consider more appropriate.”

“Even with your impressive vocabulary, I doubt you would come close to guessing,” he agreed.

Oh, but it was a very tantalizing game to play. As well as a little frightening.

“That sounds like a warning,” she said . . .

 Buy Links: Amazon ~ B&N.com

 

About Cara.

I 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.

www.caraelliott.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cara.elliott.71

blog with Cara at the Word Wenches: http://wordwenches.typepad.com/

 

 

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Please welcome historical author Judith Laik to the blog! Judith thought her book, A The Lady Protests, would be finished by now, but has had to push off the publication until later in June. But, she has decided to share with us some of her writing process! Judith will give away either the new book or reader’s choice of one of her other books. All you have to do is leave a comment telling her you want it.

Sometimes, or all the time, an author needs visual inspiration to see what their characters look like. And that is what Judith did.  So, she is sharing with you the pictures she found of her secondary her heroine Arietta Foxworth.

Mauzy Mackenzie from Soap Opera Magazine

Mauzy Mackenzie from Soap Opera Magazine

This is a photo of her secondary hero Jasper Linton (although Jasper is a little more blonde).

Jared Padelecki

Jared Padelecki

Eventually, actually, probably pretty quickly, Judith’s thoughts about her characters and story will produce a cover something like this.

the-lady-in-question-web-copy2

Now the blurb.

A Lady in Charge

Since the death of her musician stepfather, Beatrice Foxworth has struggled to hold her remaining family together: her innocent, head-in-the-clouds stepsister, Arietta; and her devastated mother. When Arietta is abducted, Beatrice must save her from ruin – or worse.

A Pleasure-seeking Gentleman

Philip Hollesley carelessly promised a friend to oversee his naïve younger brother’s first essay into London bachelorhood. When Jasper Linton elopes with an unsuitable young woman, the last thing Philip wants to do is become involved. But he gave his word, so it’s up to him to chase down the young fool before he can tie the knot in Gretna Green.

Adversaries turned Reluctant Allies

But there never was so strange a pursuit. Beatrice and Philip, chaperoned by her matchmaking mama, discover an odd assortment of humanity is also tracking them: a rejected lord, an aging demimondaine and her aristocratic lover, a group of rowdy young bucks, and a mysterious man.

The Lady Protests

Beatrice and Philip can’t agree on anything – except the necessity to overtake Jasper and Arietta – and to fight their inconvenient attraction to each other.

 

And an excerpt.

As Jasper paid for two meat pies, Arietta spotted something moving in the alley and nearly moved away from the corner, suspecting a rat or other vermin. The creature didn’t move like one, however, and she peered as it slunk closer.

It crawled under the cart and looked fearfully at Arietta. She realized it was a small dog, the tan color of the dirt in the street, with a matted coat, and, even through the mats and dirt, she could see it was terribly thin. Two bright black eyes shone through the hair falling in its face, and a pink tongue lolled out of its mouth.

With her pie in hand, Arietta bent down, and the dog darted away, just a few feet, then stopped, staring at the pie. “You poor ragamuffin,” she said in a coaxing voice, “do you want some pie?” She broke off a piece and held it out to the dog, who looked at it suspiciously, but longingly.

“That beast been hanging about for days. It’s just a nuisance, but nobody’s been able to catch it,” said the pie lady.

“Come here, love, and I’ll give you some pie,” Arietta wheedled. A stump of a tail wagged doubtfully, and the dog came forward a foot or two.

Jasper said, “The thing is filthy, probably has fleas. You should let it be.”

“No, he’s starving, poor puppy. And he’s so afraid. Come here, baby,” she pleaded again, and the dog crawled closer, merely a couple of feet from her outstretched hand. “Just a little more and the pie is yours.” She waved the bit of pastry slowly so as not to startle him, and he came all the way to her hand and snatched the tidbit, then ran as if afraid to be trapped.

He stopped just a few feet away, looking back at the rest of her pie. “Yes, you can have more if you come back,” she said, breaking off another bite and holding it toward him.

He moved towards her more boldly, but still snatched the bite and ran off. This time, Arietta went toward him. He retreated, and she bent down again with her hand out. He came forward, to discover she didn’t have any treat in her hand this time. As he sniffed, her hand settled very gently on his head and stroked him softly. She offered him more of the pie, with her hand resting in her lap, and he climbed up to take it from her, not retreating this time, but looking at the rest of her pie.

She closed her arm around him and cuddled him against her, feeding the rest of the pie to him, then standing with him in her arms. He wiggled a little bit and she reassured him with soothing sounds. “We need to take him with us,” she said, looking up at Jasper. “He obviously has no one to care for him.”

Jasper groaned. “We can’t take him. How can we care for him on the road?”

“It’s no harder than caring for ourselves. He won’t be any trouble. Could you buy me another pie? I’m still hungry.”

With a quiet curse under his breath, Jasper obeyed, and they headed back to the inn. “I strongly doubt the innkeeper will let you bring him inside. He’s filthy and no doubt flearidden.”

“You already pointed that out. He needs a bath, obviously. I’ll ask the maid to bring up a tub. Once he’s cleaned up, I’m sure he’ll be quite presentable.”

 

An hour later, Jasper reflected that Arietta’s airy words had proved utterly false. Not only was the dog trouble, he was a damned pestilence. And the bath that would make him presentable had turned out to be near-impossible.

He looked around their room at a scene of chaos. The tub full of muddy, cooling water, puddles of water dotting the floor, Arietta’s dress and his own clothing soaking, and the dog lying, in his mud-bespattered glory, on the white coverlet of the four-poster bed, which was now spotted with paw prints all over its surface.

The mutt lay panting, an expression that looked very like a laugh of triumph.

Arietta, on the other hand, appeared about to cry. She glanced at him, took a deep breath, and said, “We are not going to let one small dog get the best of us.” She marched over to the bed, picked up the dog, and carried him, squirming in her arms, back to the tub.

“Here, you hold him, and I shall find something to tempt him to behave.” She handed over the wet bundle, and started for the door. The terrier growled at Jasper and, with teeth bared, leaped at his face. Jasper threw his head back, his grip on the dog loosening.

As Arietta departed the room, Jasper’s nemesis squirmed out of his arms, dashed through the open door, and down the stairs. Screams and crashes sounded from below. Jasper and Arietta raced down the stairs.

A party of passengers from a stagecoach had arrived at the inn, and were refreshing themselves while the horses were changed. From the spatters of mud on their coats, the dog had bounced off them all, as well as the barmaid, who had dropped a tray with a teapot and cups on the floor.

At that moment the front door opened, and the coachman started through it. Arietta yelled, “Close the door! Don’t—” But it was too late. A brown streak flashed through the opening.

“Oh, no!” Arietta ran to the door and looked out, Jasper following in time to see the dog run down the street in front of the inn and around a corner, disappearing.

 

About Judith.

headshotI live on a mini-farm near Seattle with my husband, daughter, some horses (only two are ours), two cats, and a number of Collies — we’re a dog show family.

Our vintage farmhouse needs constant upkeep, which we can barely keep up with, since it always needs new paint or new fences or…Luckily the most recent thing we repaired is the plumbing, so that’s working pretty well these days. With us living out in the country, we experience frequent power outages. There’s nothing more romantic than huddling under blankets in front of a cozy fire in the fireplace, with more blankets blocking the drafts from the other rooms in the house. The downside is that without power the well doesn’t work, either.

My husband and I like to get away as often as we can, taking off for a few days at the ocean or the lake. I usually bring my laptop with me on these excursions, working on whatever my current writing project is. I love to travel to more faraway places also. Our big adventure this year will be a family trip to my husband’s birthplace, Estonia. I think his relatives are a little taken aback by the thought of being inundated with seven of us, but we’ll manage.

My favorite destination, though, is England. My most recent trips there, in 2003 and 2005, were with groups equally fascinated with the Regency period, and we visited many sites with associations to that time. Heaven! There’s nothing like actually seeing the locations where my stories took place, even if altered to varying degrees by the 200-some years since those events happened. As a bonus, the gift shops at many of the museums and historic sites have more lovely books that I would never have come across at home!

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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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