Tag Archive | Historical romance

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 Historical documents from the 11th century show Godiva’s name as a female landowner.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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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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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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Heather Hiestand: Wedding Matilda

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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.

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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…

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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.

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Sandra Masters: Once Upon a Duke

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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?

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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

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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…” 

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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.

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Captivated By His Kiss

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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.

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Sabrina York: Tarnished Honor (The Incomparables)

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Tarnished Honor by Sabrina York

One of six amazing novels in a landmark collection honoring the heroes of Waterloo and the ladies they love!

This limited edition box set includes 6 scorching romances that commemorate the 200th anniversary of the June 18, 1815 Battle of Waterloo.

From the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels to the Battle of Waterloo and beyond, join these six unforgettable heroes as they journey back from the physical and emotional trials of war and discover the passion that thrills the body can also heal the heart.

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Interlude with a Baron by Cerise DeLand

Emma wants only an interlude with the man she’s adored for years. But Drayton Worth has spent five years riddled with guilt for hurting her—and he’s determined to have more than a few nights in her bed.

Tarnished Honor by Sabrina York

Daniel Sinclair is a broken man with war wounds that are physical and spiritual. He’s weighed down by grief and guilt and tormented by his tarnished honor. When he meets Fia Lennox, a beautiful and brave Highland lass in dire need of his protection, he sees in her his chance for redemption…or utter damnation. Because despite his valiant attempts to resist her, he cannot.

Love After Waterloo by Suzi Love

When Lady Melton and her son join Captain Belling and the last wounded soldiers evacuating from Waterloo to London, she expects clashes with army deserters but doesn’t anticipate how falling in love with the antagonistic captain will change her life.

Dreaming of Waterloo by Lynne Connolly

Paul “Lucky” Sherstone daren’t even let his wife too close because of his headaches and the living nightmares he can’t dispel. Hetty hardly knows the man who comes back from war, but one thing she does know—she still wants him.

The Captain’s Heart by Suzanna Medeiros

A man who is determined to fulfill his duty at the expense of his own happiness, a woman who wants only one taste of true passion, and a case of mistaken identity. Can Captain Edward Hathaway and Grace Kent overcome the guilt that continues to haunt them both and find true love?

For Love or Revenge by Dominique Eastwick

Captain Roarke Wooldridge is about to find out that sometimes love does heal all wounds.But when his need for revenge collides with desires he never believed he would feel again, will he be able to put aside the scars of Waterloo to embrace his future?

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About Tarnished Honor by Sabrina York

Daniel Sinclair is a broken man with wounds that are physical and spiritual. He’s weighed down by grief and guilt that he could not save his friend, Graeme Lennox, and is convinced that a French lance left him less than a man. He has no prospects. Nothing left but his tarnished honor. But then he meets a vexing boy who makes him question even that.

Fia Lennox’s world turned on its end with her brother’s death. She’s gone in one fell swoop from lady to servant…to a woman on the run. The world is a dangerous place for a woman alone—even when she is masquerading as a boy—so when she meets up with a strong, valiant ex-cavalryman, she decides to become his traveling companion. Whether he likes it or not.

Battling villains, would-be-friends and their own finely-forged battlements, Fia and Daniel rush toward their destiny, a scorching passion and, hopefully, redemption. Can love conquer all? Even the ghosts of the past?

Excerpt

Glorious.

There was no other word for it. Simply glorious.

Daniel tipped his face up to the sky and grinned. The sun was shining and the breeze was mild. The sky was blue and tufted with fat white clouds. It was a lovely day to travel—it could have been raining, could have been cold. But since he’d set out from London, on this lengthy journey to Inverness, each day had been prettier than the last.

His mood had improved too. He was swamped with the conviction that he’d done the right thing, leaving his haven. As much as he appreciated his position at the club, he’d allowed himself to sink into it, into the rut of it. He’d allowed himself to wallow in his woes.

There was no wallowing on the road; there simply wasn’t time for it.

It was energizing to be traveling again, invigorating to be out in the world, breathing fresh air and going somewhere. He enjoyed the solitude, the quiet, the absence of need to make conversation.

That left him alone with his thoughts, his regrets, his guilt, but such specters had haunted him for so long, they were like old companions. He wouldn’t know who he was without them.

Aye. This was far more healing than any medicine—the power of his mount between his thighs, the kiss of warmth on his face, the movement. Surprisingly, his leg hardly pained him at all, except when he moved suddenly. In fact, it even felt better after several days of riding. He hadn’t fallen off his horse once.

Hunnam was in good form as well. No doubt he’d enjoyed the fresh air and the chance to prance once again. An hour’s exercise a day was one thing, but for a Scots Grey, the chance to run and run wild spoke to his soul.

It spoke to Daniel’s too, so he put his heels to his mount’s sides and gave him his head.

And it was glorious.

He hadn’t realized how closed up he’d allowed himself to become. How isolated. He hadn’t realized how much he’d allowed his injury—and his guilt—to shrink his horizons.

Well, his horizons weren’t limited now. They spread before him in a verdant green wash that stretched as far as the eye could see. He passed a loch and paused to admire the sparkling waters, to watch an osprey swoop down to snatch a hapless fish.

And damn, but it was a fine thing to be back in Scotland. Daniel hadn’t realized just how much he’d missed hearing the lilt of his own brogue, or tasting a well-made haggis. The Brits didn’t care for haggis, a fact he’d never quite understood. When created by someone who knew what they were doing, it was delicious. And Scottish innkeepers, apparently, knew what they were doing. Or their wives did.

There was no doubt about it, he’d probably gained a stone since crossing the border to his homeland. He’d never felt so vibrant and alive. And while he had enjoyed the occasional chat with a fellow countryman, he had never enjoyed his own company more. There was something about being alone with one’s thoughts that was very peaceful. It allowed a man to explore his soul at leisure without interruptions. It allowed a man to process all that had happened in his life. To put everything in the place it belonged. Though he still had several days of travel, at most a week, he was already lamenting the journey’s end.

After he passed the Kinclaven Crossroads, the landscape changed from fields and farms to orchards. The looming trees shaded the road in a lacy pattern; the scent of crisp apples filled the air, tempting Daniel to reach up and pluck one for a taste.

He did not. That would be stealing and he was a man of honor.

He pulled back on Hunnam’s reins when he spotted a white mare standing in the road. She was difficult to miss. Her lines were exquisite, her saddle and tack were the finest…but she had no rider. His brow wrinkled as he rode closer. No one would ever abandon such a fine horse. It was—

“Blast.”

The imprecation came from the leafy tree next to which the mare stood.

Daniel glanced up; the boughs riffled. An apple fell to the ground.

The mare whinnied and walked over to it, lipping up the treat.

Another apple fell and the horse made short work of that one was well.

“Stop eating them all,” the tree said. “Save some for me.”

Daniel cleared his throat. It seemed prudent to make himself known. “Hullo?”

The leaves rustled and a face peered out. Enormous blue-green eyes stared at him. Something flickered through them. Something that could have been construed as…guilt.

Daniel frowned. “What are you doing up there?” he asked.

The eyes blinked. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” He drummed his fingers on his saddle. “Are you stealing apples?”

The chagrined expression on that elfin face was nearly whimsical. “Is this your orchard?”

“Indeed it is not.”

An entrancing, mischievous smile blossomed and the thief tossed him a fat red apple. “Then catch.”

He did not. He did not catch. The apple bounced off his pate.

“Oh really,” an amused voice echoed from above. “Let’s try again.”

“Let’s not.”

Too late. Another apple flew in his direction. He missed it again. It fell to the ground and Hunnam gobbled it up.

“Sir, you are supposed to catch them.”

“I doona care to abet you in your thievery—” Another missile flew. By the grace of God, he caught this one. “Please stop throwing stolen apples at me.” It was large and red and shiny and looked delicious. Aside from that, it smelled quite tantalizing. As he felt he had earned it, he polished it on his lapel and took a bite. Flavor exploded in his mouth and juice dribbled down his chin. They were excellent apples.

The face disappeared, followed by more rustling. A satchel fell to the loam with a soft thud. Then a pair of feet appeared. Legs. Slim hips. Slender shoulders and then a mop of tousled black curls.

A boy dropped to the ground with an oof. He looked up at Daniel, his head tipped saucily to the side, and then he grinned. It was a rakish grin. “Not stealing,” he said. “Borrowing.”

This he said with such conviction, Daniel had to struggle not to laugh. This was no laughing matter. Thieves ended up in the gaol. “Ah. Borrowing. Surely you won’t mind explaining that to him.” Daniel nodded to the distance, where a farmer was running through the trees toward them, arms flailing.

The boy’s eyes widened. He picked up the satchel and hefted it over his shoulder. Then he bounded into the saddle and shot a glance back at Daniel. His grin was wicked as he urged his mount forward…leaving Daniel behind to explain to the farmer why his apples were missing.

And why apple juice dribbled from his chin.

About Sabrina York

Sabrina_head_logo copyHer 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 & sexy to scorching erotic romance. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pinterest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests.

 

 

Jessica Jefferson: Chasing the Other Tisdale

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Jessica will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N 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.

Author Insights into Chasing the Other Tisdale

by Jessica Jefferson

Writing as therapy could have been the other name for this novel.

I am a big fan of the “wallflower” concept in historical romance. What woman hasn’t had at least one moment in her life where she felt trapped behind the sidelines, feeling out of her element and easily glossed over?

I was a fairly chunky kid and during the first part of elementary school, my family moved around a lot. We eventually settled in a small town, but many of the kids I attended school with had been together since before kindergarten. It’s hard to break into that kind of environment.

As I grew older, I became more confident with my personality, but less and less confident with my looks. I modeled my heroine Lilly much after myself. Lilly is everyone’s favorite, but still a disaster when it comes to boys. I always compensated with my other short-comings by trying to be the funniest kid in class, just like Lilly.

I can’t say that I modeled my hero, Will, after one guy or another. But his encounters with Lilly are similar to those I have experienced in my past—with some artistic embellishment of course. There was a fairly popular guy at my high school, a few grade levels ahead of me, a real jock type. He made a mooing sound at me once in the hallway. Granted, it could have been in reference to any number of fat kids, but I felt as if it was only meant for me. Years later I met him again while we were both working one of those college-aged mall jobs. I was older and had slimmed out a bit, but he was the same good looking guy he always was. We ended up dating. Nothing serious, just a couple of people who liked to watch movies and occasionally make out. It was the ultimate “chunky girl made good fantasy”, and I made sure to include a similar circumstance in Chasing the Other Tisdale.

A few years later I met my husband. We started out as just friends, having a few mutual acquaintances and attending the same college. At one point we were dating other people, and I remember his girlfriend being one of those petite, buxom types that I don’t typically stand too close to for fear of comparison. He broke up with her and a few months later, I found myself single and more than a little interested in my friend. But, that’s all we were. Now, I’m fairly tall and even at my thinnest, the term “big-boned” comes to mind. Having known who he’d dated before me, I’d be lying if I didn’t feel the slightest bit self-conscious and reluctant to make the first move. One night while we were watching a movie, he looked at me with dreamy eyes and told me, “I love your personality.”

He meant it as a compliment. We had a ton in common and I knew he really enjoyed having someone he could talk to. But at that moment in time, I would have given anything for him to tell me that he wanted me as a wanton sex object and not just as a cool chic to hang out with!

And that is the moment in my life that inspired a fairly large section of dialogue in which our heroine throws a tantrum after hearing how much the hero values their friendship. I feel like offering myself and bits and pieces of my own life into my books helps give them an air of authenticity that I don’t believe would be there otherwise.

About Chasing the Other Tisdale

She’s the other sister…

Overshadowed by the beauty of her older sister, Lillian is better known as the other Tisdale; unremarkable and unsure how she will ever deliver on the promise of her family’s name.

He’s a rake in need of reforming…

Will Colton leads a frivolous existence, embracing notoriety instead of managing his family’s fortune. Determined to forget his financial burden and his father’s growing resentment, he maintains a lifestyle dedicated to pleasure and self-indulgence. When Will is invited to the Tisdale estate for an extended holiday, he never expects to become friends with the forgettable Lillian. But when a family secret comes to light, he must choose between leaving London and protecting the honor of one woman or staying and risking the reputation of another.

Upon his return, Will finds the girl he left behind has come out of the shadows and into her own. Lillian’s finally the center of attention, and not all of it good. With his own reputation in tatters, can a reformed rake lure her out of the hands of London’s bachelors and back into his own arms? Can he escape his past and reclaim her heart, or has he lost her forever?

Chasing the Other Tisdale, Compromising Miss Tisdale and Taming Miss Tisdale from Soul Mate Publishing are all available now on Amazon.

Excerpt

When Lillian Tisdale dreamt of that magical moment when she would fall in love, she never imagined that it would be so sudden, so complete, or so…

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Lilly, as she was more commonly known, sat cradled in between a large branch and the massive trunk of the hundred year old willow tree near the pond at Brightly, her family’s ancestral estate. She set her sketch book and charcoal pencil down on the branch and took a moment to appreciate the scenery before her. Brightly was noted for its lush gardens and rolling green hills, and she found it impossible to imagine any other property in England being as lovely.

This was her favorite tree, had been for years, and one of the only places she could disappear to when she felt the need for a respite from her three sisters and older brother. She relished the quiet of her hiding place, the silence disturbed only by the soft wind skimming the pond, the rustling of the leaves in the oak groves, and the occasional coo of a nesting bird.

“You naughty minx!”

Lilly startled, the unexpected sound of a man’s voice coming from out of nowhere. She steadied herself against the branch in front of her, knocking her sketchbook onto the ground in the process. She sighed, doubting the book would survive the fall intact. She’d spent the last of her pin money on that sketchbook and wouldn’t be able to afford a new one for at least a month. Her parents, for all their wealth, were sticklers when it came to their children’s allowances.

“You’re a wicked, wicked man, Mr. Colton!”

This time, the voice was distinctly female and the name she mentioned sounded familiar…

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_ChasingTheOtherTisdale copyJessica Jefferson makes her home in northern Indiana, or as she likes to think of it—almost Chicago. She is heavily inspired by classic sweeping, historical romance novels, but aims to take those key emotional elements and inject a fresh blend of quick dialogue and comedy. She invites you to visit her at jessicajefferson.com and read more of her random romance musings.

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Kathy Fischer-Brown: Winter Fire

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Kathy will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N 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.

Message From Kathy

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by early American history. In fact, when I was ten, I wrote my first novel; it was very loosely based on the Swamp Fox TV series (a Disney production 1959-1960), starring Leslie Nielsen as the Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since then J

From around this time until I was fourteen or fifteen, our family vacations involved visits to old forts, battlefields and living history sites up and down the East Coast of the US and Canada. My father was a Civil War buff who owned an extensive collection of books on the subject, but he was eclectic enough to include sites from earlier periods in our itineraries. Strolling through formal gardens and marveling at sumptuous bed chambers and ballrooms of Tryon Palace in North Carolina or expressing wonder over the three tiny rooms of an 18th century farmer’s house in Connecticut, I was deeply moved by the vibrations set off by the clothes, furniture and personal effects on display. Subsequent trips to Williamsburg, Virginia, and Old Sturbridge in Massachusetts—among others—provided far more insight than any high school history text could on how people in the past lived, worked and died, and with detail that struck all of my sensory nerves.

It was only natural that, when I took up writing seriously, I chose to set my fiction in the period I had come to love—the time encompassing the colonial and Revolutionary War eras in the U.S.

While searching for information on a book idea back in the days before the Internet, I became intrigued by “captive narratives.” In their time, and for a populace starved for the type of fabulous accounts that scream from today’s tabloids, this was an extremely popular genre depicting stories of white settlers taken in raids by Native Americans. Although these tales provided entertaining and informative reads, none was more gripping than the story of Mary Jemison, a teenage girl who was captured by a raiding party of French and Shawnee and adopted into the Seneca tribe in the area around what is now Syracuse, New York. Even as she mourned her family, Mary lived the rest of her life among the Haudenosaunee, marrying twice and giving birth to a number of children. By the time she was an old woman, Deh-he-wä-mis (as she came to be called) had all but forgotten her native language and was venerated by her tribe.

The story of Zara Grey, the heroine of my historical romance, Winter Fire, has as its core elements of these old captive narratives. Like many in the literature of her time, she is returned to what remains of her family. Fifteen years after her capture and adoption into a Seneca tribe in upstate New York, she finds herself once again reluctantly attempting to assimilate. As difficult as it was for many of these “redeemed captives” to readjust to a former life, the complications often proved far too great. The suspicions and mistrust with which they were perceived by their own people for their “Indian ways” put added strain on relationships and often prompted attempts on their part to rejoin their Indian families. In Zara’s case, a brutal murder makes her an easy scapegoat and puts her life in danger.

About Winter Fire

When Ethan Caine pulled the unconscious woman from the half-frozen creek, he had no idea that his world was about to explode. Dressed in quilled doeskin of Iroquois design, she stirred up dark secrets from his past. At the same time, she was everything he desired. But she was more Indian than white, and on the run for murder. He needed to know the truth. He needed to find it within himself to trust her.

Banished by the Seneca Indians who had adopted and raised her, ostracized by the whites in the settlement, Zara Grey wanted only to be accepted. “Ethancaine” treated her with kindness and concern. It was easy to trust him. But her Indian ways disturbed him, and in her heart she would always be Seneca.

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Excerpt

October, 1779. Six Nations Territory

She ran. Breathless, heart straining. Despite the stabbing pain in her side and the fire in her lungs, she forced herself on through the crackling underbrush. The cold wind whipped hair in her eyes. Briars tore her face and hands.

Cover_Winter Fire copyYet with each labored stride, the soldiers’ shouting voices drew closer. She dared not look back for fear of losing ground, dared not avert her eyes from the forest path.

But where was she to run? As if the question were an obstacle in her path she stumbled to a halt.

There was no one to help her. The People had gone, taking with them all help, all hope. She was alone. The outcast. Nameless.

Gasping, she slumped to her knees into the dew-drenched leaves.

The witch Jiiwi is no more!

The truth of it choked her. She set her teeth against the cry of anguish rising in her throat. She could have chosen death! Death at the hands of The People would have been swift. Nichus, her-husband-no-longer-her-husband, had assured her.

But her fear of death had been stronger than her fear of the unknown. She had chosen life. And with it, banishment.

She tore wind-blown hair laced with leaves and twigs from her face and glanced back over her shoulder. The soldiers were nearly upon her.

Five of them. They slowed their pace. Perhaps they knew she could run no more. They approached as if puzzled, talking among themselves. “Savages musta left her behind when they sneaked off,” one of the men said. “Why d’you suppose…?”

“Hotakwih!” she said to herself, unable to hold back the tears. It is finished. Raising her eyes to the sky above the autumn colored hills, she whispered, “Hohsah,” It has begun. She bowed her head. “Haywokahweh!” I have gone in a circle.

When the blue-coated soldiers caught up with her, she had neither the strength nor the will to resist.

Two of them edged closer to her in the shadows. “Here, we’re not going to harm you,” one said, his voice a raspy whisper. “Do you understand?”

She could not bring herself to look at them. Soon they would do more than talk. She knew. Soon they would see what she was. They would take her away. Take her back. Back to where the circle had begun.

She shuddered.

“Not so close,” the other man ordered. “Give her room. You’re scarin’ her.”

A twinge of unease rippled through her stomach. These were the same blue coats that had left a trail of ashes where thriving villages once had stood, who girdled the fruit trees so they would wither and die, who laid waste the fields of corn and squash and beans. She had seen them before, in her dreams. Her dreams had shown them the way.

“Good God!” another of them cried out. “She’s white! The woman’s white!”

The first man knelt before her. “Do you speak English? Can you tell us your name?”

She would not trouble herself to reply.

“Here!” A man fumbled in his pack, producing a slice of jerky. He extended it just beyond her reach, an attempt to lure her closer, like a starving dog. But she would not oblige him. “I’ll wager you’re hungry.”

She lifted her head slightly and eyed the meat with longing. Three days of subsisting on nothing but roots and groundnuts had left her light-headed and weak. But she would accept none of their food. She looked down at the leaves.

“Suit yourself,” the man grumbled, and tore off a piece with his teeth.

In the distance, the shouts of men rose above the morning stillness. An acrid odor wafted on the wind through the trees. Across the meadow, lush with green grasses, beyond the expanse of ripening fields and orchards, the soldiers had set fire to the village.

From a place deep inside her, as if awakened by the sounds and smells, an old terror forced itself past the dust of forgotten memory.

Zara! Run!

Voices from the past rang out across time. Silenced for so long, they gained new strength and force on the billows of smoke darkening the sky.

Mama! Her own voice. The voice of the child she had been.

For as long as she could remember, her dreams had been filled with fire and smoke. And a savage host tore her from one world and thrust her into another. So it had been in the past. So it would be again.

“Haywokahweh!” she said, and she closed her eyes.

The circle was complete.

About the Author

AuthorPic_Winter Fire copyAs a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could.

Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.

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