Tag Archive | Historical romance

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

VBT_TourBanner_Naked copy

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 Historical documents from the 11th century show Godiva’s name as a female landowner.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.

MediaKit_BookCover_Naked copy

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.

Amazon

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.

TwitterFacebookPinterest Newsletter

 

Advertisements

Beth Trissel: Traitor’s Curse (Giveaway)

SBB_TourBanner_TraitorsCurse copy 2

Beth is awarding a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

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.

Barnes & NobleAmazon

MediaKit_BookCover_TraitorsCurse_w9629_med (1) copy

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.

BlogFacebookTwitterAmazon Author Page

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

NBTM_TourBanner_Casablanca copy

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.

perf5.000x8.000.indd

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

FacebookTwitter Website

Other Books:

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel (Soul Mate Publishing)

Amazon

Confederado do Norte (Soul Mate Publishing)

Amazon

When War Came Home (Real Cypress Press)

Amazon

Beverley Eikli: Wicked Wager (Giveaway)

Excerpt_TourBanner_WickedWager copy

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?

Amazon

BookCover_WickedWager copy

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.

WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitter

Heather Hiestand: Wedding Matilda

BBT_TourBanner_MeddingMatilda copy

Heather Hiestand will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN 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 chance of winning.

BookCover_WeddingMatilda copy

About Wedding Matilda

Sugared violets, buttercream…but he craves her kiss most of all…

Orphaned as a boy, Ewan Hales is proud to make his living as secretary to the manager at Redcake’s Tea Shop. But the startling news that he’s heir to the Earl of Fitzwalter changes everything. While tendering his resignation to lovely Matilda Redcake, however, Ewan is struck by her spirit, the luscious bow of her lips—and a realization. Matilda might not marry a working man—but will she wed a future nobleman?

Ewan’s unruly hair and roguish kisses are tempting, but Matilda has far too many problems to consider romance. With sabotage at a cake factory threatening the family empire, she must focus her considerable willpower on keeping Redcake’s from ruin—until she learns that her young son has been kidnapped. Together, she and Ewan must uncover the truth before they can savor the sweet freedom of love…

AmazonBarnes & Noble

Excerpt

Matilda knew Mr. Hales was the spider at the center of a web of information about Redcake’s.

The man himself had his back to her, one finger on a row of figures in an open ledger and the other on a typewriter key. She had no idea how to operate such a machine, but it did make reports easier to read, so she had insisted that her own secretary, her cousin Greggory Redcake, learn to operate one.

“Mr. Hales?” she inquired.

The finger went up in the air in a request for silence. Her eyebrows lifted. When had the man become so imperious? He probably thought she was a cakie, the Redcake’s name for waitresses. Still, she’d have expected him to be more charming. Her sister Alys said he was notorious for relationships among Redcake’s female employees, having worked his way through accounting, the Fancy, and the bakery staff.

His finger moved down the row of neatly printed numbers in the ledger. The keys clicked a few times. A pause. He turned a page in the ledger and repeated the sequence.

“Mr. Hales,” she tried again.

His fingers stopped moving, pinched around the page he was turning. His back stiffened as he slowly resumed his page turn. His other hand left the keys and he swiveled his chair around.

“Yes?”

He remained cold. No little bow, no small obsequious smile, as she had seen from him in the past. His hair had been mussed, she now realized.

Didn’t he recognize her? “I’m Matilda Redcake.”

Her announcement brought no change in his demeanor. “I know who you are, Miss Redcake.”

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_WeddingMatilda copyHeather Hiestand was born in Illinois, but her family migrated west before she started school. Since then she has claimed Washington State as home, except for a few years in California. She wrote her first story at age seven and went on to major in creative writing at the University of Washington. Her first published fiction was a mystery short story, but since then it has been all about the many flavors of romance. Heather’s first published romance short story was set in the Victorian period, and she continues to return, fascinated by the rapid changes of the nineteenth century. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. With her husband and son, she makes her home in a small town and supposedly works out of her tiny office, though she mostly writes in her easy chair in the living room.

WebsiteEmail • Facebook • Twitter Pinterest

Sandra Masters: Once Upon a Duke

OnceUponaDuke_w9429_100 copy

Interview with His Grace, the Duke of Sutton

Sandra: What is your main fear, Your Grace?

His Grace the Duke: Getting leg shackled by a woman. I fear commitment and what love can do to a man. My interaction with Lady Serena started out as just another notch on my bedpost, but somehow it grew into something profound when she kissed my scar with tenderness and genuine concern. Even as I now speak, I can feel her nurturing lips.

Sandra: What is the main conflict?

His Grace the Duke: Serena wants a commitment of marriage. As a child, I did not see love from my mother to my father. I have offered the position of mistress. She refused. I left without saying goodbye. Interviewer:

Sandra: What has messed up your life?

His Grace the Duke: When I arrived in London, my thoughts were consumed with Serena. I did return and visited her surreptitiously one night at the lakeside manor and it was…comfortable. I wondered how along the way I had acquired a family: a woman, a maid and a puppy.

Sandra: If everything was so good, why didn’t you propose?

His Grace the Duke: I thought I had time to consider everything. Ours was a tempestuous relationship. The concept of a future relationship intrigued me. I returned to visit her, but she was gone. Her brother informed me she was engaged to wed another man in three weeks, and that she ordered the puppy drowned and my portrait burned.

Sandra: How did you react?

His Grace the Duke: Unfortunately, I believed him. Enraged, I did not care about the portrait she burned, but to order the dog, Adonis, killed—how could I have misjudged her? I drank myself into a stupor with a good friend.

Sandra: Then what happened?

His Grace the Duke: And just when I thought there was no other choice than to forget her, visitors came to my London townhouse who informed me of Serena’s brother’s lies. They returned the pup to me unharmed. She reaffirmed her love for me in letters.

Sandra: Were you now convinced of her love for you?

His Grace the Duke: It was then I realized her brother’s duplicity—about everything. Serena’s letter ended with the words that she would love me forever, in this world or the next. What else could I do but have the maid tell her I loved her with all my heart, that she would either attend our wedding—or my funeral. I leave your readers to draw their conclusion as to how my author, you, charted the ending of the novel.

Sandra: Your Grace, I have created you out of the figment of my imagination. Did I do you justice?

His Grace the Duke: It is a difficult question and I can only say that you and I have been in each other’s heart and soul for a long time. I do believe readers should enjoy our fairy tale romance. After all, you showed me what love can do to redeem a man.

About Once Upon a Duke

Serena, an artist and widow, has no desire for another husband. When she meets Geoffrey Austen, attraction sizzles to a scorch. Stolen days and nights ignite forbidden passion. Geoffrey asks Serena to be his mistress, but she wants commitment, love and marriage, not an affair with a notorious rake.

Geoffrey realizes Serena might be the one woman who can care for his tortured soul, and maybe release his demons. The magic they shared is shattered when he learns she has been forced into an engagement with another. He vows to save her even at the cost of his own life.

Will Geoffrey’s gallantry prove he truly loves Serena?

If he survives, will Serena surrender all to him?

AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboWild Rose Publishing

Goodreads

Excerpt

London 1817

If Lady Serena could be granted one wish, she would ride off into the morning mist and vanish. That, of course was not possible, but here in her favorite lakeside retreat, she could relax in safety.

With her mare nearby, she bent her head over her sketchbook and inhaled the scent of sweet honeysuckle. She paused her charcoal, leaned her head against the tree at her back, and envisioned how her sketch would be completed.

Hoof beats disturbed her contemplation. In the distance, a vision of man and steed, moved as one, and rode toward her.

The vision spoke as he drew his horse to a halt. “Good day, my lady.” He dismounted, and tethered his stallion to a tree away from the mare. “It is a beautiful day, and to have my path cross with a lovely woman makes it more so.”

“Yes, it is a welcomed morning, sir, but your flattery does not turn my head.”

Alarmed, she thought to reach for her riding crop, but checked the impulse. Serena raised her hand to shield the sun and eyed the well-dressed handsome stranger. She assumed him to be of noble birth if on Henry’s property. Her snobbish brother would never allow an outsider to encroach. Something about the man demanded her rapt attention. Curiosity compelled. What harm could come of it?

Allow me to introduce myself, Lord Geoffrey Austen, at your service.” He swept off his hat and bowed. “I am Henry Worthington’s hunting guest for the week.”

“I am Lady Serena Worthington, sister of your host. I would rise and curtsy to you, but I am far too comfortable. You may, however, consider I have proffered the appropriate respect, if you would indulge me.” She meant her smile to charm, and to distract him from her breach in etiquette.

“I would be happy to humor you in any manner you prefer.” His voice murmured low and husky. He removed his gloves and walked to sit next to her on a log fashioned into a bench. Serena noticed the large ring on his finger as it caught the sunlight’s glint.

“I have seen you twice before from a distance when I have come to visit Sir Henry, but never approached you. Some things are best appreciated from afar, but today I was compelled to ride over and speak with you.”

Serena smoothed her skirt, her palms damp.

“Your brother is well aware of my notorious reputation. He would prefer I did not seduce his sister and has made his wishes known to me. However, I feel the Fates demanded we meet.”

“Seduce or merely tempt?”

He grinned. “Dear Lady Serena, a beautiful woman is always a challenge. A wonderful circumstance caused me to come upon you this glorious morning, but I see I have interrupted your sketching. Shall I depart? Or will you show me your wares?”

“They are not my wares, Lord Austen. They are representations of my artistic imagination. There is a difference.”

“I offer my apology. Allow me to rephrase the question. May I see your work?” His eyes sparked with blatant flirtation.

“You may.” She handed him the sketch pad.

He flipped through a few pages. “God’s blood, you are talented. You could sell these.”

“I considered the notion, but Henry would think it crass.”

“I disagree entirely with his perception.” Lord Geoffrey turned to face her. “I wonder, my lady, why your brother has hidden you? Rumor has it you are unattached.”

“I have chosen solitude. It is my personal preference, I assure you. Why do men think every woman in England wants to leg-shackle a man?” She cocked her head in appraisal and met his inquisitive gaze. “I cannot abide the need to display myself on the marriage auction block. I would rather remain a liberated widow or enter a convent before I’d suffer nuptials to some old goat, or a young wastrel who looks for a generous inheritance.” She rose to pace, both hands akimbo on her hips. “If I shock you, it is intentional.”

His lips lifted, the cleft in his chin apparent. “I have a fondness for women who provoke.”

Her heartbeat skyrocketed. He had a maddening hint of arrogance that beguiled her. She lowered her lashes, and then focused her gaze.

“Lord Austen, I know my brother’s horses and your animal is not familiar.” She hoped to steer the conversation in another direction. Her stomach quivered, uneasy.

“Solomon is mine. He is an Arabian and strong-willed, like his master. It takes a firm hand to control him, but he flies like the wind.”

“Your pride is evident.” Serena gestured toward her horse. “My mare is Sheba. She is also high-spirited. We are a good match as well. Perhaps we should consider mating?”

Had she actually said that? Nerve endings tingled, warmth flooded her.

Lord Austen arched a brow. “Were you referring to our mounts, or do I dare hope you meant their owners?” His suggestion wicked.

Serena stopped pacing long enough to meet his direct gaze. “My lord, you disappoint with your practiced words.” She wanted to look away, but curious, dared to ask, “Are you available?” How had the brazen words escaped her lips?

“I could be, for the right woman.”

“Do you have criteria?” There she was, egging him on again. Why was the man so hypnotic?

“Perhaps one could say my only requirement is the effect she would have on my sensibilities.” His smile held a salacious bent.

“How are your sensibilities today?” She continued to play the game and resumed her restless pacing.

He walked to his horse and ran his hand over the silky flesh of its neck. “I would demand to sample the offerings. Do you agree?” Lord Austen turned to her and continued to stroke the stallion in a slow deliberate manner.

Serena took a deep breath and tried to quell her rapid heartbeat. She shivered as if he caressed her skin, his fingers working their magic.

His eyes refused to leave hers. His lips curved sensuously. “Are you about to offer me something?”

She returned to her seat. “I am not familiar with breeding rights. Do we still speak of the horses?” Serena eyed the man and his steed. “How magnificent, a fine specimen.”

“Yes, I agree, or are you a woman who desires to dabble in double entendres? I would say you contemplate the splendid creature before you.” Lord Austen’s stance was presumptive with his feet wide apart, one hand held his riding crop at his hip. “I do not know which of us you mean.”

“Perhaps you will figure it out, Lord Austen,” she flirted back.

Serena noted the twinkle in his blue eyes, as his full dimpled smile emerged. She had a sudden desire to touch that arrogant face. What was it about this man? Her gaze centered on a straight scar down his right cheek. It intrigued her.

“Allow me to explain,” Lord Austen postured. “You see, I am considered quite unsuitable for marriage to most respectable ladies. My reputation precedes me, in part because I allow it. The rest is a fabrication of gossip I refuse to dispel.”

“You are a true rogue? Should I be worried? Are you good at your craft? I am told that a man with a rake’s soul can be a dangerous excitement.”

“So many questions, my lady, which require a thoughtful response. Let me say I have had no complaints.”

“It grieves me to wound you, but since I have not heard about you or your notoriety, could it be possible we do not travel in the same social circles? Should I swoon and fall at your feet? Perhaps I do not find you irresistible?”

Her stomach tightened when he strode toward her in lightning-fast motion. Her breath quickened. His arms uprooted her from the seat, his finger rested under her chin with just enough pressure to tilt it upward.

“Have you not been unattached long enough? Do you desire a man in your bed? If so, I could be persuaded.”

“Perhaps I am the one who needs persuasion.” Against the warning bell in her head, she opened to him when his lips claimed hers. Their tongues teased and the kiss lingered, laced with intimacy. Her body swayed, and made Serena aware of her heartbeat against his chest.

She traced the scar at his cheek, curious how he’d sustained such an injury. Perhaps her heated fingertips would erase the memory of pain to fade away. Serena knew too much about such marks. Her uncharacteristic response, in spite of her fear, confused her. His allure difficult to resist.

She embraced him, pressed her breasts against his chest and experienced a pleasurable frisson which warmed her, his spice and clove cologne an additional attraction. Serena again enjoyed how his mouth plundered and tasted her lips. His skillful tongue flicked in erotic foreplay, something she had heard of, but never experienced. She quivered when he pulled his mouth from hers.

“My reckless lady, your kisses are the sweetest I have tasted. I must have more.”

He again crushed her against him. Seeking. Tasting. Wanting. Taking. Demanding.

Lord Austen set her body afire as he explored, tantalized. An odd sensation stirred within her and caused a warm tingle in her lower body. Strange, to her it had no name, but it delighted.

He untied her hair ribbon, released the untamed dark curls that fell free against her shoulders. The red band lay unheeded on the pine-needled ground.

“I like you this way,” he whispered, his breath warm against her ear. “Do my lips satisfy your desire, my lady? You look wild and wanton, an eager beauty I must possess.”

“I am no man’s possession.”

She reeled from Lord Austen’s sensual assault. His blatant arousal pressed against her and rather than desire, filled her with fear. His nearness too intimate. His touch too hot. His desire too obvious.

A sinful leer crossed his face. He took her hand and placed her palm against his hardened manhood. “This is the kind of rake I am.”

She yanked away from him, and sent a hard slap to his face. “You assume too much. I do not play this game.”

“I think you are well-practiced in such games, dear lady.”

“How dare you tarnish me so? You go too far.” She chastised herself for her role in fanning the flames, but she’d never admit it to him. Serena raised her chin in defiance, looked away, and pointed an accusing finger toward the fall of his breeches. “A mild flirtation does not cause that. I suggest you swim in the cool lake water to ease your discomfort.”

She reached for her large canvas bag of art supplies, marched straight to her horse, and attached the bag to the special custom-made leather strap on her saddle. She mounted Sheba and reined her horse to face the man who stood with his mouth agape. “Do not visit this place again if I am here. This is not a request, Lord Austen. If you do not abide my wishes, I will report your transgression to my brother. Do I make myself clear?”

Lady Serena lightly touched her horse’s rump with her whip and cantered off without a backward glance.

Lord Austen rubbed his cheek, ran his finger down the welt that would soon bruise.

He spoke to Solomon. “I will survive this assault, but the damage done begs retribution. His laughter echoed through the sunlit trees as he recaptured his esteem. Geoffrey found Serena a refreshing change from the ladies who paraded in front of him with marriage on their minds. Still, a decadent thought invaded his head. He wished the yards of fabric which separated him from the softness of her body had dissolved when she was pressed against his hardness. The wanton lady had halted his seduction before it had barely started. “I think I have a coquette on my hands.” How he loved the chase.

The ribbon he pulled from her hair lay on the ground. Geoffrey picked it up and inhaled its lemony fragrance. He pressed it to his lips, and then placed the pretty scarlet band in a pocket. It would be a remembrance until next they met. Perhaps he would tie one of her hands to the bed post? No. He wanted those beautiful fingers free to stroke his body, while he explored hers.

He recalled the pleasure when her generous breasts pressed against his chest and he’d envisioned his body above hers. In his mind, he saw her writhe in ecstasy beneath him. She would beg him to make her his own.

Lord Austen closed his eyes and imagined the pleasure of touching her most intimately, inch by inch, and time and time again, until they were both exhausted and sated. He would wager she would not slap him then.

He mounted his stallion and gave another hearty laugh. “Solomon, I am tempted to place a bet in the White’s Club books that she will be mine by week’s end, perhaps even sooner. He guided his horse along the well-worn path to the large manor house of his host and whistled a bawdy tune.

 About the Author

Barbara Monajem: Lady of the Flames

Lady-of-the-Flames-Cover-LARGE-EBOOK

About Lady of the Flames

Perfect lady, disgraced lord, traitor, spies, magic with fire, magic with blades and love (of course!).

Magic with is fraught with peril—but so is love.

Lord Fenimore Trent’s uncanny affinity for knives and other sharp blades led to knife fights, duels, and murderous brawls. Five years ago, he faced a choice: marry Andromeda Gibbons, the woman he loved, or find a safe, peaceful use for his blades by opening a furniture shop—an unacceptable occupation for a man of noble birth. The choice made itself when Andromeda turned to another man. The furniture shop prospered, but now Fen’s partner has been accused of treason. In order to root out the real traitor, he may face another unpalatable choice—to resort to the violent use of his blades once again.

Once upon a time, Andromeda Gibbons believed in magic. That belief faded after her mother’s death and vanished completely when Lord Fenimore, the man she loved, spurned her. Five years later, Andromeda has molded herself into a perfect—and perfectly unhappy—lady. When she overhears her haughty betrothed, the Earl of Slough, plotting treason, she flees into the London night—to Fen, the one man she knows she can trust. But taking refuge with Fen proves to mean far more than getting help—it means learning to believe in love, magic, and the real Andromeda once again.

“I love historical romances but add in the paranormal aspect and it is perfect.” 
“It was a quick read for me, mostly because I couldn’t put it down!” 
“A thoroughly enjoyable twist on (a) Regency novel…” 

$.99 for a limited time

AmazonBarnes & Noble • Kobo

SusanaSays3Susana Says

…truly a magical Regency romance: 4/5 stars

A lighthearted story of two lovers kept apart for years by an untruth—or was it something else?—until they are both entangled in a dangerous web of espionage and violence that forces them to confront the truth about each other and those around them.

Ms. Monajem’s skill in combining humor and violence (although not graphic) reminds me of Kresley Cole’s in her Immortals After Dark series. And magic too, as Cuff the hobgoblin is one of my favorite secondary characters and he doesn’t speak.

A perfect selection if you are seeking a historical romance with a touch of the whimsical to read at the beach or on the back porch.

Heat Level: a trifle over sweet, but not really steamy.

About the Author

81O8T58bcmL._UX250_Winner of the Holt Medallion, Maggie, Daphne du Maurier, Reviewer’s Choice and Epic awards, Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. When they grew up, she turned to writing for adults, first the Bayou Gavotte paranormal mysteries and then Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Some of her Regencies have magic in them and some don’t (except for the magic of love, which is in every story she writes).

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups, and is an avid reader. There are only two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding and succeed at knitting socks. She’ll manage the first but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

WebsiteFacebookTwitter • Goodreads • Newsletter

Captivated By His Kiss

captivated

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Cheryl Bolen and USA Today Bestselling Author Bronwen Evans are joined by Barbara Monajem, Collette Cameron, Wendy Vella, Heather Boyd, and Lauren Smith in this exciting collection of regency romances. Be Captivated By His Kiss in these seven emotional stories of second chances, scandalous wagers, and the quest for true love. Lose yourself again and again in beautifully written romance.

$.99 for a limited time

Amazon