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The Bluestocking Belles: Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem

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Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem

A Bluestocking Belles Collection

In this collection of novellas, the Bluestocking Belles bring you seven runaway Regency brides resisting and romancing their holiday heroes under the mistletoe. Whether scampering away or dashing toward their destinies, avoiding a rogue or chasing after a scoundrel, these ladies and their gentlemen leave miles of mayhem behind them on the slippery road to a happy-ever-after.

***All proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.***

All She Wants for Christmas, by Amy Rose Bennett

A frosty bluestocking and a hot-blooded rake. A stolen kiss and a Yuletide wedding. Sparks fly, but will hearts melt this Christmas?

The Ultimate Escape, by Susana Ellis

Abandoned on his wedding day, Oliver must choose between losing his bride forever or crossing over two hundred years to find her and win her back.

Under the Mistletoe, by Sherry Ewing

Margaret Templeton will settle for Captain Morledge’s hand in marriage, until she sees the man she once loved. Who will win her heart at the Christmas party of her would-be betrothed? 

’Tis Her Season, by Mariana Gabrielle

Charlotte Amberly returns a Christmas gift from her intended—the ring—then hares off to London to take husband-hunting into her own hands. Will she let herself be caught?

Gingerbread Bride, by Jude Knight

Traveling with her father’s fleet has not prepared Mary Pritchard for London. When she strikes out on her own, she finds adventure, trouble, and her girlhood hero, riding once more to her rescue.

A Dangerous Nativity, by Caroline Warfield

With Christmas coming, can the Earl of Chadbourn repair his widowed sister’s damaged estate, and far more damaged family? Dare he hope for love in the bargain? 

Joy to the World, by Nicole Zoltack

Eliza Berkeley discovers she is marrying the wrong man—on her wedding day. When the real duke turns up instead, will her chance at marital bliss be spoiled?

About the Bluestocking Belles

The Bluestocking Belles’ books carry you into the past for your happy-ever-after. When you have turned the last page of our novels and novellas, keep up with us (and other historical romance authors) in the Teatime Tattler, a Regency scandal sheet, and join in with the characters you love for impromptu storytelling in the Bluestocking Bookshop on Facebook. Also, look for online games and contests and monthly book chats, and find us at BellesInBlue on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Come visit at www.BluestockingBelles.com and kick up your bluestockinged heels!

Eliza Redgold: Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva (Giveaway)

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Eliza Redgold will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click on the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

The Morning (After) Gift

 Silently he rolled away and reached over to where his belt laid cast aside on the floor. My eagle gold beside it.

A small leather pouch. He held it out it to me.

“The morgengifu. Your morning gift.”

My brow furrowed. “But we’ve set our terms.”

Coventry. Was he revoking our agreement?

He shrugged and pressed the package into my palm.

Slowly I untied the long cord.

A ring. A dull gleam of gold. Carved swirls. A large smooth gem in the centre, egg shaped. I held it up to the light.

The gem glowed red as a wood berry. “It’s beautiful.”

“A ruby.”

I’d not expected such a courtesy of him, just as I hadn’t expected the pleasure he’d given me.

I slipped the ring onto my finger. “Thank you,” I said, made shy. “Where did it come from?”

“It was my mother’s. It’s Mercian made.”

So he’d brought it with him to Coventry. The eagle belt too he must have had with him. He must carry them with him always, a family keepsake.

“And now you give it to me.” 

A beautiful old custom I discovered while writing NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva was the Anglo-Saxon custom of the morgengifu or ‘morning gift’.

The morning gift was given to a bride by her husband the morning after their wedding. It could be land, money, goods or jewels. More than a mere dowry, it defined the power relations in a marriage and between the two families of the bride and groom joined in wedlock. Negotiations could be heated and many alliances (and misalliances) were built.

In NAKED, Godiva’s morgengifu is more than the ring she receives by surprise from her new husband. Historical documents from the 11th century show Godiva’s name as a female landowner. Her status as a landowner indicates that she inherited her own estate. Godiva had a lot to offer … and a lot to lose.

Marriage was a risk for Anglo-Saxon noblewomen like Lady Godiva. As Lord Leofric puts it:

“There’s something you have forgotten.” Moving nearer still, he closed the gap I’d stretched between us. His breath warmed my cheek. “The morgengifu is given to a woman by her husband the morning after their wedding night. Not before. To wed is to gamble. In our language even the words have the same meaning.”

Godiva vows to protect her land and her people, whatever the cost. As you’ll discover in NAKED, her marriage gamble may cost her virtue, her heart… or her life.

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About Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva

We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.

We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax.

Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.

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Excerpt

Magic sparkled in the sunlight, falling on the leaves as we reached the edge of the Forest of Arden.

Leofric stroked Wyrd’s neck as we tethered our horses. “This is a sacred place.”

“How did you know?”

Arden was the home of our ancient spirits but it wasn’t common knowledge beyond our borders. Many still came to worship in Arden on holy days, but only those who lived in the Middle Lands.

A shrug was his only reply as we went deeper into the forest by foot, the oaks, elms and poplars whispering their mysterious welcome. Yet I swore he bowed as we entered the deep green grove.

About the Author

MediaKit_AuthorPic_Naked copyEliza Redgold is an author, academic and unashamed romantic.

Eliza Redgold is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. Eliza has also written two upcoming Victorian historical romances for Harlequin Historical. Look out for Enticing Benedict Cole in November 2015.

NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released internationally by St Martin’s Press New York in July 2015.

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Beth Trissel: Traitor’s Curse (Giveaway)

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About Traitor’s Curse

Halifax, North Carolina, 1783.

Captain Stuart Monroe returns home from the Revolutionary War to find Thornton Hall threatened by a peacetime foe: debt. He knows the location of a treasure amassed to pay for the capture of Benedict Arnold that would restore his manor to its former glory. The catch, it’s hidden in the graveyard, and coveted by old enemies.

Hettie Fairfax inherited the Sight from her Cherokee ancestors, and her otherworldly visitors warn her, and Stuart, away from the buried treasure. Half-dead from fever, she delivers a message: the treasure is cursed. But will he believe a girl half out of her mind with illness? Even when a very real enemy attempts to poison her? Stuart soon wants to marry Hettie, but she fears her “odd ways” will blemish his reputation. The spirits have their own agenda, however, and the battle against darkness tests everything the couple holds dear, including their love for each other.

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Excerpt

Halifax, North Carolina, 1783.

Captain Stuart Monroe returns home from the Revolutionary War to find Thornton Hall threatened by a peacetime foe: debt. He knows the location of a treasure amassed to pay for the capture of Benedict Arnold that would restore his manor to its former glory. The catch, it’s hidden in the graveyard, and coveted by old enemies.

Hettie Fairfax inherited the Sight from her Cherokee ancestors, and her otherworldly visitors warn her, and Stuart, away from the buried treasure. Half-dead from fever, she delivers a message: the treasure is cursed. But will he believe a girl half out of her mind with illness? Even when a very real enemy attempts to poison her? Stuart soon wants to marry Hettie, but she fears her “odd ways” will blemish his reputation. The spirits have their own agenda, however, and the bat“Turn back. A man watches you.”

Again, the warning carried from the unseen source.

What man, and how did she know Stuart was observed? He could barely discern anything.

“Who are you? Show yourself.” Uneasiness lent indignation to his demand.

Through the haze, he spotted the figure of a young female dressed all in white. A death shroud?

Pray God, it wasn’t. His gut knotted, and he stood staring at her.

Ethereal, ghostly, she seemed to float toward him, but must have walked.

Must have.

A cold shiver stood the hair on the back of his neck on end. Was she flesh and blood, or spirit? Had she crossed the divide between the two worlds?

He scarcely dared to breathe.

Still, he stood rooted to the trail. And not only from fright. Fascination. Despite fear of being haunted, an aura about her drew him.

He waited, every muscle taut, poised betwixt heaven and earth, the scent of crumbling leaves in his nose. At least, that was real.

Whiteness swirling around her, she neared.

Then he spotted it, an ivory coverlet draped over her head and around her slender shoulders pinched together in front with pale fingers.

No shroud.

The blanket reached to her ankles and trailed behind along the ground. Mist muted the flowers stitched into the cloth. This accounted for him not spotting her sooner. She’d blended in with the vapor.

About the Author

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TraitorsCurse copyMarried to her high school sweetheart, Beth Trissel lives on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by her children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, her love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into her work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans, and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of her inspiration. She’s especially drawn to colonial America and the drama of the American Revolution. In addition to historical romance, she also writes time travel, paranormal romance, YA fantasy, and nonfiction.

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Linda Bennett Pennell: Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn (Giveaway)

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Linda will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn is set in 1943 in the weeks leading up to the First Allied Conference. The book could just as easily have been entitled Unconditional Surrender. It was at the conference that Roosevelt and Churchill set that policy with regard to surrender of the Axis powers. Might have made a nice little double entendre, no?

In the novel, the hero, OSS officer Kurt Heinz, is sent on a mission that has a high chance of proving fatal. If he is successful, no one will ever know of his heroism and that he prevented disaster from occurring for the Allied war effort. As he flies toward danger, he thinks about Sarah, the army nurse whom he loves. Their paths crossed by accident in a vortex of danger and intrigue. Falling in love was unexpected and unwanted, but became an undeniable force for both of them. Kurt scribbles a last minute letter to Sarah as he prepares to parachute into the night somewhere over the Tunisian desert.

My Darling,

I owe you an apology and I must beg your forgiveness. I still can’t tell you where I’m going or what I will be doing, but I should have been honest with you about one thing. The chances of my coming back from this are not great. I should never have talked you into promising to wait for me. It was selfish and wrong. You are young and beautiful with your whole life ahead of you. You shouldn’t spend months or years waiting and worrying, but even now, I cannot bring myself to tell you to forget me. A less selfish man would write those words and mean them.

If I don’t make it, live life for both of us. Find a guy who will love you and take care of you. You deserve happiness, marriage, children, and that little cottage with the white picket fence you said you wanted. For now, I can’t promise anything except that I love you with my whole heart and will cherish our time together as the most important and happiest of my life.

With All My Love,

Kurt

What is this suicide mission Kurt is on? Does he make it back alive? Does Sarah wait for him?

The answers are in Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn.

About Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt Heinz, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.

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Excerpt

Kurt watched in dismay as the man in gray picked up his fedora and rose from the table next to the one recently vacated by the two women. This had to be his contact. The man had watched Kurt on the sly since he arrived at the restaurant. Moreover, the guy matched the description right down to the red pocket square in his suit breast pocket and the thin, pale scar running along his left jawline. Making a quick decision, Kurt pushed his chair back and tossed some cash on the table.

“It’s been interesting guys, but I’m calling it a night. Use this to cover my tab.”

“What’s the rush, Heinz? We haven’t even ordered dinner.”

“I guess my sins are catching up with me. It’s return to quarters and bed for me.”

“You headed back with us on the return flight tomorrow?”

“Nope, I’m here with the Old Man for the duration. You boys have a good trip.”

The street was nearly deserted when Kurt stepped out onto its glistening concrete surface. Misty rain created halos around the sparse street lamps and obscured most objects more than a few feet distant. Only the two women, Sarah and Agnes, stood under an umbrella waiting for a taxi. Kurt watched them from the restaurant’s portico. Focused on their conversation, they seemed oblivious to anyone behind them.

Glancing to his right, Kurt saw his man in gray scurrying toward the cross street. He stepped onto the sidewalk and crept along a good twenty paces behind. When his quarry slowed at the corner and looked back over his shoulder, Kurt stepped into the shadow of a doorway behind the taxi stand and waited. If this guy didn’t want to make contact, he wouldn’t appreciate being followed.

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_CasablancaAppointmentAtDawn copyI have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, “Let’s pretend.”

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

“History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire

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Other Books:

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel (Soul Mate Publishing)

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Confederado do Norte (Soul Mate Publishing)

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When War Came Home (Real Cypress Press)

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Beverley Eikli: Wicked Wager (Giveaway)

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Beverley will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Wicked Wager

A dissolute rake, a virtuous lady, a ruthless society beauty, and a missing plantation owner with secrets – just another day in Georgian England…

1780

Wealthy Jamaican plantation owner, Harry Carstairs has disappeared – and everyone wants to know where he is…

Celeste Rosington knows her place in society, and while she may not be overjoyed at her upcoming wedding to her detached cousin, Raphael, she nonetheless hopes the marriage will be successful. When Raphael asks her for her help to save Harry, she agrees. But her decision costs her more than she knows…

Celeste’s clandestine visit to Harry’s home is witnessed, and her connection to Harry misconstrued. Harry’s secrets put Celeste into more danger than even Raphael understands, and throws her into the path of the ruthless, cunning, beautiful Lady Busselton and the dissolute, dangerous Lord Peregrine.

Raphael is invested in keeping Harry alive. Lady Busselton is invested in keeping him quiet. Lord Peregrine is invested in anything that staves off boredom. And Celeste is becoming increasingly invested in Lord Peregrine.

After all, what resistance does an innocent young woman have against something so deliciously wicked?

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Excerpt

Chapter Two

Setting the Scene: Lord Peregrine contemplates his ‘wicked wager’ …

Peregrine rubbed thoughtfully at his left knee with the sea sponge, careful not to slosh water over the side of the bathtub. Two candle sconces above the mantelpiece cast long shadows across the chamber, which was silent but for the crackle of the fire and the ebb and flow of the bathtub’s contents as Peregrine reached up to place his scoring markers on the cribbage board.

‘Ha! Trump that!’ he muttered softly, as his giant, broad-shouldered Negro manservant, Nelson, bent to study his own cards.

Nelson frowned. ‘I accept your challenge, master.’ The corner of his mouth quirked at the oblique reference to the ambiguous relationship between the two men.

Nelson could not in fact be free under the current legislation, yet it was on account of this slave’s heroic actions that Peregrine was still alive today.

Cursing as he conceded a loss at Nelson’s next play, Perry relaxed back into the soapy water, stiffening when Nelson, remarked, glancing up from his cards, ‘I gather there’s trouble a-brewing with Miss Paige, m’lord.’ Nelson’s English was as impeccable as his master’s.

Perry considered the question. In no other servant would he have countenanced such impertinence, but Nelson was not the usual servant.

Until the dramatic incident five years before, when footpads had set upon Perry one night, Nelson had been a silent, obedient footman acquired some years previously to form a matching pair.

However, since Nelson had hurled himself into the fray and succeeded in disarming to the blackguards, and doing a great deal of damage besides, before assisting a seriously wounded Perry back to his home, an unusual bond between the men had been forged. Nelson had been promoted to valet and there had been a great many mutually enjoyable conversations since then between master and servant over the cribbage board in the bathtub.

‘Trouble, yes. And more than just a-brewing,’ Perry admitted, glad of the opportunity to unburden himself. With the game concluded, Nelson held up a strip of linen to wrap about his master and Perry elaborated. ‘It’s not just my sister. There’s another young lady.’

‘There is usually another young lady.’ Nelson nodded sagely, the candlelight highlighting his noble features. Nelson had been groomed for the chieftainship before he’d been snatched from his coastal village by slavers.

Clad in his banyan and seated in his dressing room, Peregrine picked up a nail file from his grooming box and toyed with its smooth mother-of-pearl handle. He wondered if Miss Rosington’s pale skin would feel as smooth beneath his hands. The mere thought of his immoral wager made his breath quicken with desire but his conscience gave him pause. The woman had the face of an angel, but what of her morals? Xenia would have it seem they were as corrupted as his own.

‘I’ve just returned from visiting my sister who has got it into her head that a certain young lady is the source of all her troubles.’

Charlotte’s hysteria had been disconcerting when Peregrine had ventured to suggest she might have been mistaken in identifying Miss Rosington as Harry Carstairs’ accomplice. ‘Ask her if she knows anything of this, then!’ she’d screamed, hurling a gold locket at his head. ‘I tore it from Harry’s neck as he ran past me.’ Peregrine was aware now of the locket’s oval contours against the lining of his pocket as he watched Nelson consider the matter. To be sure, the cryptic, half-torn message the locket contained was perplexing, but it was not enough to convict Miss Rosington of the charges Xenia had laid at her door.

‘Miss Paige has no husband.’ Nelson looked up from folding his master’s clothes and his mouth stretched wide in a slow grin. ‘If she blames another woman for the fact, I pity that woman. Perhaps you will have to protect her from Miss Paige’s ire, m’lord,’ he added suggestively. Charlotte was, after all, famous for her hot and cold moods.

Peregrine grunted. ‘I’m ashamed to say I’m involved in a scheme to discredit this other young woman, yet the truth is, even if she is guilty, I’ve lost the appetite.’

‘Lost the appetite?’ Nelson’s face contorted into an expression indicating great disgust. ‘So she is not a woman you’d care either to besmirch or champion?’

‘God, no!’ Peregrine shook his head emphatically. ‘She is angelic. There’s the rub. I should be flayed for entering into such devilry.’

‘You are an honourable man, m’lord. If you have doubts, I suggest you relinquish your involvement and leave this possibly innocent young woman be,’ Nelson said with another sage nod, pausing on the threshold, having brushed and put away Peregrine’s coat.

It was as if Nelson was dismissing him, Peregrine thought with a mixture of irritation and amusement as Nelson offered him a bow before stepping gracefully backwards.

‘I shall do nothing of the sort.’ He floundered for a plausible excuse, aware that his motives for furthering his acquaintance with Miss Rosington were cloudy at best. ‘Indeed, she may, as you suggest, need my protection,’ he added, feebly.

‘Then if this young lady is worthy of your protection, my lord, I wish you great joy of her.’

An ambiguous remark, Peregrine reflected as he climbed into his carriage a short while later, and took the short journey across London to Vauxhall Gardens where he was to meet Lady Busselton.

Joy of her? Well, he was fully anticipating more pleasure than pain at the end of all this, but he’d rather he was protected by the usual indifference that ensured he never lost his heart or his head. The truth was Miss Rosington, up close, had unleashed a veritable storm of emotions that denied rational explanation. A visage of such purity surely could not belong to a woman who’d betray her cousin and the man she was to marry. Hers was not the guise of a hardened strumpet capable of destroying his sister’s happiness.

Now he was in danger of becoming mawkish. He turned his head away from the gathering group of beggar children chasing his carriage, frowning deeply at the extraordinary conundrum beginning to consume him. A moral dilemma? That would be a first.

Yet if there was more to her behavior than met the eye, Miss Rosington did need to be revealed. And if Perry went through with Xenia’s wager and Miss Rosington did indeed throw herself at Perry, as Charlotte claimed she’d done to Harry Carstairs, then Miss Rosington deserved everything she got.

Suddenly filled with charity, Peregrine tossed a handful of coins out of the carriage window, the corners of his mouth lifting as he looked back to see the children throw themselves upon the spoils like starved animals, their shouts and wails fading as the carriage rounded a bend by the river.

Yes, if the spoils were worth it, he didn’t mind getting a little dirty along the way. For ten long years he’d wanted Xenia.

Yet as he drew in a breath laden with anticipation, it was not Xenia’s heaving bosom that speared him with excitement.

Ah, Xenia, he sighed, closing his eyes to savour the thought of what shared delights would soon be his for the taking, irritated that instead of Xenia’s creamy, sculpted perfection, it was Miss Rosington’s fresh-faced visage that nagged at him.

About the Author

Beverley Eikli and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, HomerBeverley Eikli wrote her first romance when she was seventeen but discovered that killing her heroine on the last page was death to her burgeoning romance writing career.

She became a journalist, occupied for many years with life’s newsworthy – but often, unhappy – events until romance finally trumped after she met a handsome Norwegian bush pilot around a camp fire in Botswana’s beautiful Okavango Delta where she was running a safari lodge for a couple of months.

Unhappily, Beverley was due to return home the following day to marry her Australian boyfriend.

Happily, though, that fell through and after a whirlwind eight-month courtship based on regular 18-page letters between Botswana and South Australia, Beverley returned to live with her handsome Norwegian bush pilot in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest beside a flood plain of lurking wild animals, marrying her handsome bush pilot in Norway shortly afterwards.

Twenty happy years—and 12 countries later—Beverley is now back in Australia living a more conventional life with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne.

She writes traditional Regency romance as Beverley Eikli and sensual historical romance as Beverley Oakley.

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Rachel L. Demeter: Finding Gabriel

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Rachel Demeter will be awarding a Momentum bundle of 3 romance titles chosen by the winner to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click on the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

The Timelessness of Historical Romance 

“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.”

– Nicholas Sparks

When we set off to read a romance novel, we expect to encounter an emotionally charged story, relatable characters, and universal themes. True, genuine love surpasses time and place, overcomes seemingly impossible barriers, and manifests itself in the most unexpected ways. True love is founded upon kindness, compassion, empathy, sacrifice, and friendship. It is full of surprises and revelations—and its eternal power touches our minds and hearts with an astonishing force.

These are common elements which enrich the genre and equip romantic stories with a poignant, unique, and timeless quality. They focus on the trials of tribulations of the human heart, and exist independently from time and place. Indeed—romance novels are special in that they showcase humanity’s continuous quest for hope, personal growth, pursuit of dreams, and the ability to conquer internal and external obstacles in spite of all oppositions.

Historical romance embodies the notion of timelessness even more so. It shows us that, no matter the location or century, the basic elements of romance endure. The hero and heroine still seek the same end goals, are still driven by the same forces, and are still swept by the same emotions.

The most satisfying historical romances, however, further incorporate the cultural fabric of the era and seamlessly weave it into the relationship’s very fabric. These historical elements add depth to the characterizations and story by demonstrating the unique complications of a particular time and setting.

Finding Gabriel emerged from my love of French history and unconventional romances. I have always been drawn to the darker facets of love, and these elements served as my central inspiration. Severely scarred inside and out, Colonel Gabriel de Laurent’s twisted past has hardened his heart and led him to the brink of utter desperation—and Ariah’s gentle nature and compassion embodies the ideal counterpoint to his darkness. However, like Gabriel, she also suffers from a tragic and ill-fated past. Gabriel and Ariah are two flawed characters who are made perfect only through their love and shared darkness.

In addition to the romance and sensual heat, Finding Gabriel offers a vivid perspective into the war-torn streets of Paris. My book truly is a historical romance; the history of the era, as well as the central figures (Napoleon makes a memorable cameo) play a significant role in both the story and characterizations. I utilized the conflicts of the time period as a way to echo Gabriel and Ariah’s personal battles across a universal scope. Furthermore, issues of orphans, inheritance, illegitimate children, and the absence of women’s suffrage and feminine independence are all authentic to the period and play a noteworthy role in Finding Gabriel.

So, what exactly makes historical romance timeless? Simple. People are people no matter what era they live in. Sure, they may dress differently, hold slightly different values, or speak in a different manner… but basic, human emotion never really changes.

And that is the magic of romance novels.

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About Finding Gabriel

Colonel Gabriel de Laurent departed for the war intending to die.

After a decade of bloodstained battlegrounds while fighting in Napoleon’s army, Gabriel returns to the streets of Paris a shattered and haunted soul. Plagued by inner demons, he swallows the barrel of his flintlock pistol and pulls the trigger.

But fate has a different plan.

Ariah Larochelle is a survivor. Orphaned at twelve and victim to a devastating crime, she has learned to keep her back to walls and to trust no one. But when she finds a gravely injured soldier washed up on the River Seine, she’s moved by compassion. In spite of her reservations, she rescues him from the icy water and brings him into her home.

Now scarred inside and out, Gabriel discovers a kindred spirit in Ariah – and feelings he imagined lost forever reawaken as he observes her strength in the face of adversity. But when Ariah’s own lethal secrets unfold, their new love is threatened by ancient ghosts. Can Gabriel and Ariah find hope in the wreckage of their pasts—or will the cycle of history repeat again?

Perfect for fans of Gaelen Foley’s Lord of Ice and Judith James’s Broken Wing, Finding Gabriel features all the dark romance, searing passion, and historical intrigue of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables.

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Excerpt

Ariah’s eyes blinked open. Their heads were mere centimeters apart, mouths sharing the same breaths of air. She took in the irregular features of Gabriel’s face – half achingly handsome, half a testament to years of torment. Tears threatening to surface, she pressed her lips against the uneven skin, not daring to leave a piece of him unloved. A salty tang flavored her tongue – and she realized that he was weeping.

Clasping both of her hands in one of his own, he stepped backward, leading her away from the railing. She followed without thought, her soul carrying her feet. Those powerful, haunted eyes never left her face as he edged toward the center of the roof. What a breathtaking and surreal figure he made, silhouetted against Paris’s eternal night sky. A light breeze ruffled the material of his greatcoat. Carried by the wind’s breath, the greatcoat billowed around his body like a pair of colossal wings. Beneath this light, he resembled a fallen angel. Her legs grew heavy, each one weighed down with desire and anticipation.

His hand slipped free, and Ariah’s knees nearly gave way at the loss of his touch. Then he stripped away his greatcoat, eyes still locked on her own, and suavely smoothed the material across the flooring. Gabriel lowered to his knees and held out his hand, beckoning Ariah forward with the raw magnetism of his eyes.

Pulse thrumming, she moved forward until she stood on the edge of the greatcoat. Moonlight flashed against his raven hair, brightening the locks to a rich amber. His shoulders were strong and wide, and Ariah was struck with the desire to feel his muscles constrict beneath her fingers. Indeed, he resembled a crouching panther – dark, smooth, and infinitely powerful. Admiring his silhouette, she wordlessly stared down at him. She attempted a smile, but her dancing nerves prohibited the simple movement. “Touch me. Touch me, Gabriel…”

About the Author

MEDIA KIT RachelDemeter_portrait copyRachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of eleven years. She enjoys writing dark, poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.

Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel’s passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul.

Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.

Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words.

Don’t be a stranger! Rachel loves to connect and interact with her readers!

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Sabrina York: Laird of Her Heart (Book One in the Dundragon Trilogy)

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About Laird of Her Heart

When Maggie Spencer is mysteriously transported to the Scotland of her ancestors, she is stunned to come face to face with him. Dominic Dundragon, the man she’s been half in love with her whole life. A man who’s been dead for 700 years.

They both have enemies aplenty. Will she have a chance to win his love, or will this adventure end in disaster?

Excerpt

Maggie yelped as, without warning, the burly warrior named Declan whipped her up into his arms and tossed her over his shoulder. To her horror, she lost the hold on her locket.

“Wait,” she cried. She wriggled to get free, but his grip was too hard. When she pummeled his back with her fists as he strode from the circle of stones, he chuckled. The beast. But to be fair, he was so large, it would have felt like a kitten batting him. “Put me down.”

“I willna,” he said. “The Mackintosh will decide how you die.”

All right. That shut her up. For a minute. “Die? Why do I need to die?” What the hell had she done to him?

The man following, an enormous blond with a scar tracking his cheek bent down to peer at her. “The Mackintosh’s doona tolerate spies.”

“I’m not a spy.” Seriously. She wriggled more and Declan smacked her ass.

Smacked her ass.

She’d kill him when she got free. Just kill him.

“Yer wearing the Cameron colors,” the blond said. “And the Mackintosh’s doona—”

“Right. I know. The Mackintosh’s doona tolerate spies.” Her head was starting to spin from being upside down and jounced around with each step. Her temper was on a short leash. “But honestly, if I were a spy, would I wear the Cameron colors? It seems a little counterproductive in my opinion. I mean, if I’m spying and all. I might as wear a sign that says, oh, I dunno, honk if you love spies.”

His brow rumpled but he didn’t respond. At least, not to her. “She speaks strangely,” he complained to Declan.

Her captor snorted a laugh. “She dresses strangely too.”

“Aye. She does at that. I’ve heard the Cameron lasses are a wild lot, but I had no idea—”

“I’m. Not. A. Cameron.” She reached out and smacked the blond, but only because he came close enough. He reared back and gaped at her—as though he’d never been smacked before—and then he quickly moved out of range.

It hardly mattered, because, apparently, they had reached their destination, a camp on the edge of the woods. The sounds of nickering horses and clanks of pots gave her her first clue—she was facing the other way, after all.

Her second clue was that Declan dropped her on the ground. She landed with an oof. She glared at him. He didn’t seem to mind in the slightest. “Go get my brother, Ewan,” he barked, and the blond trotted off to one of the larger tents.

When she stood and brushed off her jeans, Declan bristled and she shot him a sardonic glare. Did he think she was stupid enough to run away? For one thing, these enormous men had her surrounded. For another, she never ran. Not if she could help it.

Instead, she made a quick survey of her surroundings. The camp was little more than a huddle of tents with the forest on one side and a sweeping plain on the other. A small herd of horses were hobbled to one side and a deer roasted over a pit fire. An entire deer. Before she could silence the thought—she often had that problem—she said, “You killed Bambi.”

Declan’s brow rumpled. “I dinna kill anyone.” And then he asked, “Who is Bambi?”

“Never mind.” She crossed her arms and turned away pretending to ignore them. But she wasn’t. She was aware they were all staring at her like she was a curiosity in a zoo, but she was taking in tiny details as well. Like the fact that their clothes were all handmade and simple. Their hair appeared to have been cut with a chainsaw and their beards were scraggly and long. Their weapons were what made her mind really start to spin though.

One held a crossbow that dated from the thirteenth century. Another had a Mackintosh dirk that resembled one she’d seen in a museum once. Declan had a simple calfskin sporran tied to his belt.

Odd. Could she have wandered into some renaissance faire? But no. It had been evening when she stepped into the woods and now it was daytime. Early afternoon. And the acres of woods around the house belonged to the family. It couldn’t be—

“So.” She flinched as a deep, melodious voice wafted to her on a hint of humor. Shivers danced through her, along with a prickling sense of premonition. “You’ve captured a Cameron spy?”

She turned slowly and froze as her gaze landed on him. On that so-familiar face. Broad, handsome, savage. Much more captivating than the sketch had been. Much more captivating by far.

She must be hallucinating. She had to be.

He was the hero of her dreams come to life.

Dominic Dundragon, Laird of the Mackintosh clan.

Large, looming and in the flesh.

Her head went woozy. Her vision blurred. And then, for the first time in her life, she fainted.

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 About the Author

Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet and sexy to scorching romance.

Website: SabrinaYork.Com

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If you love hot Highlanders, be sure to read Sabrina York’s Untamed Highlanders from St. Martin’s Press!

Hannah and the Highlander

Susana and the Scot

Lana and the Laird—Coming in 2016