Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: THE GIRL WITH THE MAKE-BELIEVE HUSBAND by Julia Quinn

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THE GIRL WITH THE MAKE-BELIEVE HUSBAND (Rokesbys #2) by Julia Quinn

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

GIRL WITH THE MAKE BELIEVE HUSBANDWhile you were sleeping…

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He’s unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier’s life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie…

I told everyone I was your wife

When Edward comes to, he’s more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he’d always assumed he’d marry his neighbor back in England.

If only it were true…

Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.

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Excerpt

Manhattan Island
July 1779

His head hurt.
​Correction, his head really hurt.
​It was hard to tell, though, just what sort of pain it was. He might have been shot through the head with a musket ball. That seemed plausible, given his current location in New York (or was it Connecticut?) and his current occupation as a captain in His Majesty’s army.
​There was a war going on, in case one hadn’t noticed.
​But this particular pounding—the one that felt more like someone was bashing his skull with a cannon (not a cannonball, mind you, but an actual cannon) seemed to indicate that he had been attacked with a blunter instrument than a bullet.
​An anvil, perhaps. Dropped from a second-story window.
​But if one cared to look on the bright side, a pain such as this did seem to indicate that he wasn’t dead, which was also a plausible fate, given all the same facts that had led him to believe he might have been shot.
​That war he’d mentioned… people did die.
​With alarming regularity.
​So he wasn’t dead. That was good. But he also wasn’t sure where he was, precisely. The obvious next step would be to open his eyes, but his eyelids were translucent enough for him to realize that it was the middle of the day, and while he did like to look on the metaphorical bright side, he was fairly certain that the literal one would prove blinding.
​So he kept his eyes closed.
​But he listened.
​He wasn’t alone. He couldn’t make out any actual conversation, but a low buzz of words and activity filtered through the air. People were moving about, setting objects on tables, maybe pulling a chair across the floor.
​Someone was moaning in pain.
​Most of the voices were male, but there was at least one lady nearby. She was close enough that he could hear her breathing. She made little noises as she went about her business, which he soon realized included tucking blankets around him and touching his forehead with the back of her hand.
​He liked these little noises, the tiny little mmms and sighs she probably had no idea she was making. And she smelled nice, a bit like lemons, a bit like soap.
​And a bit like hard work.
​He knew that smell. He’d worn it himself, albeit usually only briefly until it turned into a full-fledged stink.
​On her, though, it was more than pleasant. Perhaps a little earthy. And he wondered who she was, to be tending to him so diligently.
​“How is he today?”
​Edward held himself still. This male voice was new, and he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know he was awake yet.
​Although he wasn’t sure why he felt this hesitancy.
​“The same,” came the woman’s reply.
​“I am concerned. If he doesn’t wake up soon…”
​“I know,” the woman said. There was a touch of irritation in her voice, which Edward found curious.
​“Have you been able to get him to take broth?”
​“Just a few spoonfuls. I was afraid he would choke if I attempted any more than that.”
​The man made a vague noise of approval. “Remind me how long he has been like this?”
​“A week, sir. Four days before I arrived, and three since.”
​A week. Edward thought about this. A week meant it must be… March? April?
​No, maybe it was only February. And this was probably New York, not Connecticut.
​But that still didn’t explain why his head hurt so bloody much. Clearly he’d been in some sort of an accident. Or had he been attacked?
​“There has been no change at all?” the man asked, even though the lady had just said as much.
​But she must have had far more patience than Edward, because she replied in a quiet, clear voice, “No, sir. None.”
​The man made a noise that wasn’t quite a grunt. Edward found it impossible to interpret.
​“Er…” The woman cleared her throat. “Have you any news of my brother?”
​Her brother? Who was her brother?
​“I am afraid not, Mrs. Rokesby.”
Mrs. Rokesby?
​“It has been nearly two months,” she said quietly.
​Mrs. Rokesby? Edward really wanted them to get back to that point. There was only one Rokesby in North America as far as he knew, and that was him. So if she was Mrs. Rokesby…
​“I think,” the male voice said, “that your energies would be better spent tending to your husband.”
Husband?
​“I assure you,” she said, and there was that touch of irritation again, “that I have been caring for him most faithfully.”
​Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it?
Who was this woman?
​Edward’s heart began to pound. What the devil was happening to him?
​“Did he just make a noise?” the man asked.
​“I… I don’t think so.”
​She moved then, quickly. Hands touched him, his cheek, then his chest, and even through her obvious concern, there was something soothing in her motions, something undeniably right.
​“Edward?” she asked, taking his hand. She stroked it several times, her fingers brushing lightly over his skin. “Can you hear me?”
​He ought to respond. She was worried. What kind of gentleman did not act to relieve a lady’s distress?
​“I fear he may be lost to us,” the man said, with far less gentleness than Edward thought appropriate.
​“He still breathes,” the woman said in a steely voice.
​The man said nothing, but his expression must have been one of pity, because she said it again, more loudly this time.
​“He still breathes.”
​“Mrs. Rokesby…”
​Edward felt her hand tighten around his. Then she placed her other on top, her fingers resting lightly on his knuckles. It was the smallest sort of embrace, but Edward felt it down to his soul.
​“He still breathes, Colonel,” she said with quiet resolve. “And while he does, I will be here. I may not be able to help Thomas, but—”
Thomas. Thomas Harcourt. That was the connection. This must be his sister. Cecilia. He knew her well.
​Or not. He’d never actually met the lady, he felt like he knew her. She wrote to her brother with a diligence that was unmatched in the regiment. Thomas received twice as much mail as Edward, and Edward had four siblings to Thomas’s one.
​Cecilia Harcourt. What on earth was she doing in North America? She was supposed to be in Derbyshire, in that little town Thomas had been so eager to leave. The one with the hot springs. Matlock. No, Matlock Bath.
​Edward had never been, but he thought it sounded charming. Not the way Thomas described it, of course; he liked the bustle of city life and couldn’t wait to take a commission and depart his village. But Cecilia was different. In her letters, the small Derbyshire town came alive, and Edward almost felt that he would recognize her neighbors if he ever went to visit.
​She was witty. Lord, she was witty. Thomas used to laugh so much at her missives that Edward finally made him read them out loud.
​Then one day, when Thomas was penning his response, Edward interrupted so many times that Thomas finally shoved out his chair and held forth his quill.
​“You write to her,” he’d said.
​So he did.
​Not on his own, of course. Edward could never have written to her directly. It would have been the worst sort of impropriety, and he would not have insulted her in such a manner. But he took to scribbling a few lines at the end of Thomas’s letters, and whenever she replied, she had a few lines for him.
​Thomas carried a miniature of her, and even though he said it was several years old, Edward had found himself staring at it, studying the small portrait of the young woman, wondering if her hair really was that remarkable golden color, or if she really did smile that way, lips closed and mysterious.
​Somehow he thought not. She did not strike him as a woman with secrets. Her smile would be sunny and free. Edward had even thought he’d like to meet her once this godforsaken war was over. He’d never said anything to Thomas, though.
​That would have been strange.
​Now Cecilia was here. In the colonies. Which made absolutely no sense, but then again, what did? Edward’s head was injured, and Thomas seemed to be missing, and…
​Edward thought hard.
​…and he seemed to have married Cecilia Harcourt.
​He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the green-eyed woman peering down at him.
​“Cecilia?”

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Cori 3.5 Stars review

THE GIRL WITH THE MAKE-BELIEVE HUSBAND is the second book in Julia Quinn’s Rokesbys series, but can be read as a standalone. It’s a light and fun historical romance to curl up with this summer. I’ve been on a historical romance reading binge and this was a good one. The romance between Edward and Cecilia was steamy. I thought the plot was good, but I wanted Cecilia to confess her deception sooner and thought it dragged on a little longer than necessary. The ending was satisfying though. I recommend this book for historical romance lovers looking for a steamy love story with a little mystery.

*Review copy provided by Avon Books in exchange for an honest review. 

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Buy Links

AMAZON | B&N | ITUNES | KOBO

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Giveaway

(Win a print copy of BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON (US Only))

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

julia-homeJulia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

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Blog Tour, Q&A, Excerpt & Giveaway: FROM DUKE TILL DAWN by Eva Leigh

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FROM DUKE TILL DAWN (The London Underground #1) by Eva Leigh

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

from duke dawn mm cEva Leigh launches a seductive new series that sizzles with the dark secrets of London’s underworld…

Years ago, the Duke of Greyland gave his heart—and a princely sum of money—to a charming, destitute widow with unparalleled beauty. But after one passionate night, she slipped from his bed and vanished without a trace. And just when he’s given up hope of ever seeing her again, Greyland finds her managing a gaming hell. He’s desperate to have her… until he discovers everything about his long-lost lover was a lie.

In truth, Cassandra Blake grew up on the streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a mark—to be fleeced and forgotten—but her feelings for the duke became all too real. Once he learns of her deception, however, the heat in his eyes turns to ice. When her business partner absconds with the gaming hell proceeds—leaving unsavory investors out for blood—Cassandra must beg the man she betrayed for help.

Greyland wants compensation, too, and he’ll assist her under one condition: she doesn’t leave his sight until her debts are paid. But it’s not long before the real Cassandra—the smart, streetwise criminal—is stealing his heart all over again.

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Excerpt

London, England
1817

A woman laughed, and Alexander Lewis, Duke of Greyland felt the sound like a gunshot to his chest.
It was a very pleasant laugh, low and musical rather than shrill and forced, yet it sounded like The Lost Queen’s laugh. Alex could not resist the urge to glance over his shoulder as he left the Eagle chophouse. He’d fancifully taken to calling her The Lost Queen, though she was most assuredly a mortal woman. Had she somehow appeared on a busy London street at dusk? The last time he’d seen her had been two years ago, in the spa town of Cheltenham, in his bed, asleep and naked.
The owner of the laugh turned out to be a completely different woman—brunette rather than blonde, petite and round rather than lithe and willowy. She caught Alex staring and raised her eyebrows. He bowed gravely in response, then continued toward the curb.
Night came on in indigo waves, but the shops spilled golden light in radiant patches onto the street.
The hardworking citizens of London continued to toil as the upper echelons began their evening revelries. Crowds thronged the sidewalk, while wagons, carriages, and people on horseback crammed the streets. A handful of pedestrians recognized Alex and politely curtsied or tipped their hats, murmuring, “Good evening, Your Grace.” Though he was in no mood for politeness, responsibility and virtue were his constant companions—had been his whole life—and so rather than snapping, “Go to the devil, damn you!” he merely nodded in greeting.
He’d done his duty. He’d been seen in public, rather than disappearing into the cavernous chambers of his Mayfair mansion, where he could lick his wounds in peace.
The trouble with being a duke was that he always had to do his duty. “You are the pinnacle of British Society,” his father had often said to him. “The world looks to you for guidance. So you must lead by example. Be their True North.”
This evening, before dining, Alex had taken a very conspicuous turn up and down Bond Street, making certain that he was seen by many consequential—and loose-lipped— figures in the ton. Word would soon spread that the Duke of Greyland was not holed up, sulking in seclusion. His honor as one of Society’s bulwarks would not be felled by something as insignificant as his failed marriage suit to Lady Emmeline Birks. The Dukes of Greyland had stood strong against Roundheads, Jacobites, and countless other threats against Britain. One girl barely out of the schoolroom could hardly damage Alex’s ducal armor.
But that armor had been dented by The Lost Queen. Far deeper than he would have expected.
Standing on the curb, he signaled for his carriage, which pulled out of the mews. He tugged on his spotless gloves as he waited and adjusted the brim of his black beaver hat to make certain it sat properly on his head. “Always maintain a faultless appearance,” his father had reminded him again and again. “The slightest bit of disorder in your dress can lead to rampant speculation about the stability of your affairs. This, we cannot tolerate. The nation demands nothing less than perfection.”
Alex’s father had been dead for ten years, but that didn’t keep the serious, sober man’s voice from his mind. It was part of him now—his role as one of the most powerful men in England and the responsibilities that role carried with it. Not once did he ever let frivolities distract him from his duties.
Except for one time . . .
Forcing the thought from his mind, Alex looked impatiently for his carriage. Just as the vehicle pulled up, however, two men appeared and grabbed his arms on each side.
Alex stiffened—he did not care for being touched without giving someone express permission to do so. People on the street also did not normally seize each other. Was it a robbery? A kidnapping attempt? His hands curled instinctively into fists, ready to give his accosters a beating.
“What’s this?” one of the younger men exclaimed with mock horror. “Have I grabbed hold of a thundercloud?”
“Don’t know about you,” the other man said drily, “but I seem to have attached myself to an enormous bar of iron. How else to explain its inflexibility?” He tried to shake Alex, to little avail. When he wanted to be, Alex was absolutely immovable.
Alex’s fingers loosened. He tugged his arms free and growled, “That’s enough, you donkeys.”
Thomas Powell, the Earl of Langdon and heir to the Duke of Northfield, grinned, a flash of white in his slightly unshaven face. “Come now, Greyland,” he chided. A hint of an Irish accent made his voice musical, evidence of Langdon’s early years spent in his mother’s native County Kerry. “Is that any way to speak to your oldest and dearest friends?”
“I’ll let you know when they get here.” Alex scowled at Langdon, then at Christopher Ellingsworth, who only smirked in response.
Alex took a step toward his carriage, but Ellingsworth deftly moved to block his path, displaying the speed and skill that had served him well when he’d fought on the Peninsula.
“Where are you running off to with such indecorous haste?” Ellingsworth pressed. He held up a finger. “Ah, never tell me. You’re running back to the shelter of your Mayfair cave, to growl and brood like some big black bear in a cravat.”
​“You know nothing,” Alex returned, despite the fact that Ellingsworth had outlined his exact plans for the rest of the night.
​Ellingsworth looked at Langdon with exaggerated pity. “Poor chap. The young Lady Emmeline has utterly shattered his heart.”
​Alex shouldered past Ellingsworth, only to have Langdon move to stand in his way.
​“My heart is not shattered because of Lady Emmeline,” Alex snapped. At least that much was the truth.
​“But why shouldn’t your heart be strewn in pieces throughout Regent’s Park?” Langdon mused. “You courted the young lady for several months, and you told Ellingsworth and I that you’d already received her father’s grateful acceptance of a marriage offer.”
​“She never agreed to anything,” Alex said flatly.
​“A modest girl, that Lady Emmeline.” Ellingsworth nodded with approval. “She wouldn’t have said yes right away. They never do. Nothing to be alarmed by.”
​“How would you know?” Alex’s voice was edged. Ellingsworth had little experience with offering for ladies’ hands, committed as he was to a life of reckless pleasure.
​Langdon added, “It’d be unseemly for an earl’s daughter to eagerly snap up a marriage proposal the moment it was offered.”
​Alex scowled. Despite the fact that, at thirty-eight, he was sixteen years her senior, they would suit well as a wedded couple. Lady Emmeline had been perfectly trained in the responsibilities of an aristocratic wife. Though he wished she stated her own opinion rather than constantly agreeing with him, there were worse faults one could find in a prospective bride.
​They could marry at Christmas, eight months from now. It would be a small but elegant wedding, followed by a lavish breakfast and a wedding journey in the Lake District. And then, if everything went well, in less than a year, Alex and Lady Emmeline might welcome their first child—hopefully a boy so the line would be secure. It would’ve been precisely the sort of match Alex’s
father would have approved, considering Lady Emmeline’s faultless background and her spotless reputation.
​“Look at him now, mooning away,” Langdon sighed, smugly thwarting Alex’s attempts to step around him. “He looks poorly.”
​It would be bad form to knock his friend to the ground. Damn the social niceties that dictated a man couldn’t punch another without repercussions.
​“Perhaps he should be bled,” Ellingsworth suggested with his habitual smirk. It was his constant companion since returning from the War, as if he refused to take anything seriously.
​“I am perfectly well.” Alex looked back and forth between these two rogues whom he called friends. “No need to call for a quack.”
​“He’s already had an amputation,” Langdon noted, raising a brow as he always did. “One prospective bride—gone.” He made a sawing motion at his ankle, as if cutting the shackles of matrimony.
Alex glanced down at his own lower leg, as if he could see the invisible links that might have bound him to Lady Emmeline. He’d come so close to becoming a married man and sharing the rest of his life with one woman—the faultless duke his father had bred him to be. It hardly mattered that Alex felt nothing for the gel other than a sense of distant respect. She would have made a fine duchess.
“We were at White’s yesterday when we heard about what happened,” Langdon said with disapproval. “Didn’t even tell your two closest friends that Lady Emmeline had run off with a cavalry officer. No, we had to hear it from Lord Ruthven, of all people.”

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Describe yourself in five words or less. Feminist who believes in HEA.

Can you tell us a little about your book? Alexander Lewis, the Duke of Greyland, met a beautiful, destitute widow and lost his heart to her—but she disappeared. Two years later, the duke finds Cassandra again as she manages a gaming hell. Alex is prepared to offer Cassandra everything, even his name, until he discovers a gut-wrenching truth. Cassandra is not a genteel widow. She’s a confidence artist, targeting aristocratic men with her swindles. Heartbroken and furious, Alex wants nothing to do with her. Fate steps in when Cassandra’s business partner vanishes with the profits from the gaming hell, leaving Cassandra at the mercy of dangerous people. In desperation, Cassandra turns to Alex for help. Delving into London’s underworld, they form an uneasy partnership as they track down her partner. Yet the passion they’d shared two years ago is nothing compared to their desire now. Can Alex protect himself, or will Cassandra once again steal his heart?

How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story? As with my Wicked Quills of London series, I enjoy having characters that aren’t necessarily part of Regency High Society. I’m fascinated by confidence artists—their methods, their motivations—and thought it would be exciting to see what would happen when England’s most morally upright duke falls for a morally ambiguous woman.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Exploring the other, shadier side of Regency London was a lot of fun. That time period is so rich with possibility, with so many people of many different walks of life all living in one place. I also really enjoyed having Alex learn to lighten up a little and free his wild side. Nothing like a buttoned-up guy who loosens the reins of his control. (It turns out Alex likes talking dirty!)

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Baking is one of my favorite things to do, because, unlike writing, you finish with a tangible result. Plus, you make something delicious. I read, of course, and spend too much time on the internet. When I’m feeling industrious, I crochet little soft toys called amigurumi and give them to friends.

A la Twitter style, please describe your book in 140 characters or less. Uptight duke. Beautiful con artist. Trouble and sexytimes ahead.

Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉

Alex has been born and bred to be a duke. Everything he does falls within a strict code of responsibility and honor. He doesn’t fully understand degrees of morality. Having a brief, passionate affair with Cassandra two years ago was entirely out of character. Once she comes back into his life, he’s shocked and infuriated to learn that he was just another mark. He’s ready to write Cassandra off as a cold, calculating criminal—despite the fact that he still desires her. If Alex was stranded on a desert island, he’d need his walking stick. He doesn’t have an injury that requires it, but a walking stick can be a useful took for building shelters, using to hunt for food, or making it into a sundial. He’s a no-nonsense, practical guy!

Cassandra grew up alone on the rough streets of London. She had to learn how to survive in a brutal world. With no one to take care of her, she turned to crime as a way to keep from starving. Her life changed when she met a man who taught her the art of pretending to be a gentlewoman while swindling members of the gentry. Instead of sleeping on filthy hay, now she could rest her head on feather mattresses, and she had as much as she wanted to eat. She always thought of aristocrats as targets to be swindled, until she met Alex, who treated her with dignity and kindness. With Alex, she broke her rule of never sleeping with a mark, and later fled out of self-preservation. Cassandra is street wise, self-sufficient, and has learned to view everything with suspicion. Only Alex sneaks past her defenses. If she was stuck on a desert island, she’d be practical and take a small knife (which could also be used as a lock pick if she found buried treasure).

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? Find a way to sit down in front of your computer and just start writing. Even when you doubt yourself, you have to keep going. It’s trite, but books really don’t write themselves. And also, enjoy the process of writing simply to write. Success isn’t a guarantee so we have to love what we do.

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Buy Links

AMAZON | B & N | IBOOKS | KOBO

Amazon Author Page

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Giveaway

(5 print copies of FROM DUKE TILL DAWN)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

EVA LEIGH bw author photoEva Leigh is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ’80s. Eva and her husband live in Southern California.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | AMAZON

Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: NOTHING LIKE A DUKE by Jane Ashford

IMG_8268 NOTHING LIKE A DUKE (The Duke’s Sons, #4) by Jane Ashford

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

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9781492621652-PRHe wants her.
She has no intention of wanting him.
But even Flora has to admit…
There’s nothing like a Duke.

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful and independent Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about the beauty haunting his thoughts.

Too bad the lady in question has no intention of being forgotten.

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NLAD Spotlight

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A protruding bit of bramble caught the side of Flora’s pelisse. She twisted to reach for it, and a whole raft of briars shifted with her, entangling the other side of her skirts, her right arm, and the brim of her bonnet. If she pulled away, it would rip the cloth. She struggled a little; more thorns dug in. “Blast it, I suppose you were right, you wretched dog,” she exclaimed, and discovered that Plato was gone.
Flora lifted a hand to free her hat. The movement tipped another part of the bush, which swayed and seemed to grab at her. A second branch lodged in her bonnet. She felt several claw at her back. A stem lashed across her neck. That one drew blood. She tried to step back, and was pricked by more thorns, through her clothes, from all directions.
Flora went very still. She saw that the path petered out just ahead. Or perhaps this hadn’t been a path at all, but merely a deceptive opening in the vegetation. She hadn’t been paying attention. She tried again to move. She was trapped in a sea of briars. The thorns were long and wickedly barbed. They pricked the skin of her neck, her arm, her back, her side.
She became aware of a rustling in the leaves near her feet. What next? The badgers? Snakes? No, of course not snakes. It was far too cold.
A small black-furred head poked through an opening at the base of the briars. Evading the thorns with no visible effort, Plato emerged and stared up at her. “Oh, you’re back, are you?” said Flora. He sat down at her feet. “Come to gloat? Point out that if I’d followed you, I wouldn’t be in this predicament?”
Plato looked at her. Not judgmentally, because that was impossible.
“Go fetch help,” commanded Flora. The dog didn’t move. “Some clever gardeners. A footman from the house. Anyone. Go!”
“Plato? Where are you, you dratted animal?” called a voice nearby.
“Lord Robert?” she called.
There was a short silence. “Flora?”
“Yes. I’ve, ah, become entangled in some brambles. Plato doesn’t appear to care in the least. Or, actually, he’s staring at me as if it was all my fault.” She frowned down at the dog. “Does he ever blink? He’s really a bit uncanny, don’t you—”
Robert appeared on the path. “Good God!” He started forward.
“Be careful! It’s very easy to get caught. If you touch one branch, the whole mass moves.”
“I see.” He examined the arching stems. “You really are caught, aren’t you?” His lips twitched.
“If you laugh, I’ll…make you sorry,” Flora promised. Plato made one of his odd grumpy gargling sounds. “And you! I’ll find a badger and hand you over to him.”
Robert choked. “So, would you say you’re in need of rescue?”
“Just get me out!”
Robert moved a few steps closer. He could see that the thorns had barbs like fishhooks, ready to rip and tear if not removed very carefully. There was a trickle of blood on Flora’s neck. After a moment of calculation, he eeled between two branches. He had to stop once and detach thorns from his sleeve before he reached her side.
“These things are diabolical,” she said. “When I turned to pull loose, they seemed to…sort of lunge at me.”
“Stay very still.”
“I know!” She let out a huff of breath. “I beg your pardon. This is…rather irritating.” She smiled an apology.
Robert felt a catch in his chest, as if his heart had stumbled briefly. “Right then. Move back, Plato,” he said. For once, the little dog obeyed him, slipping easily out to a more open spot.
He began on the closest branch, embedded in the skirts of Flora’s pelisse. He had to kneel to reach it properly. His knife was small for the tough fibers. The bush swayed as he sawed at the branch. A spray of thorns rasped across his hair, but didn’t catch hold.
Robert soon pricked his skin. There was no way to hold the branch still without being stuck, and he’d left his gloves indoors when he’d seen Plato shoot wildly out of the bushes and then go haring off again.
Blood made the blasted thing slippery. Robert got out his handkerchief, used it to wrap the branch, and went back to work. At last, he was through. The severed stem sprang back a little, he was glad to see, giving him a few inches of working room. He looked up. “One down,” he said with a smile.
The heated gaze he encountered went through him like a thunderbolt. He was suddenly acutely aware of his position, right in among her skirts. His shoulder rested against her thigh. The scent of her—flowery perfume and sheer female—enveloped him.
“You’ve hurt yourself,” she said.
“It’s nothing.” Intensely aroused, Robert eased to his feet. Flora smiled at him again. Her fierce blue eyes raked him. He knew, absolutely, that she was remembering their kisses.
The next branch was wrapped around her far sleeve. He had to press close to her to avoid the briars at his back as he reached for it. And stay there while he cut through the stringy fiber of the bramble. The feel of her—curve of breast and hip, her cheek resting on his chest—made him clumsier. At one point a thorn drove deep into the pad of his index finger, and he stifled an oath.
Flora was having trouble breathing. She could feel his heartbeat, so near her ear, accelerating in tandem with her own. She could feel his muscles shift against her as he cut at the brambles. If she looked up, carefully, she could see his face—handsome, intent. The lips that had thrilled her were only inches away. But she couldn’t move enough to offer her own again. She had to remain very still, plastered against him.

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Kindle http://amzn.to/2lHwsdX
Amazon Paperback http://amzn.to/2qXrHz1

Amazon Series Link  http://amzn.to/2q5wuxH

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Enter to win one of five Jane Ashford bundles!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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JANE ASHFORD, a beloved author of historical romances, has been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, and Spain, as well as the United States. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Social Media Links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

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Review: THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH by Amanda Quick

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THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH by Amanda Quick

Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance/ Mystery/ Thriller

Synopsis

IMG_8241The New York Times bestselling author of ’Til Death Do Us Part transports readers to 1930s California, where glamour and seduction spawn a multitude of sins…

At the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel on the coast of California, rookie reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool…

The dead woman had a red-hot secret about an up-and-coming leading man, a scoop that Irene couldn’t resist. Seeking the truth about the drowning, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Once a world-famous magician whose career was mysteriously cut short, Oliver Ward is now the owner of the hotel. He can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago…

With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under…

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Excerpt

Read an Excerpt Here

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Cori 4.5 Stars

I loved this book! Amanda Quick is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz. She writes historical romance novels under the Amanda Quick name and romantic suspense novels under the Jayne Ann Krentz name. THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is an incredible combination of both genres. It’s a murder mystery set in 1930s Hollywood. I felt like I was swept up in the story and couldn’t put this book down. The romance was a little  light but the story was great. I love Amanda Quick/ Jayne Ann Krentz’s writing style and the plot of this book would be a great movie. I really loved it and highly recommend it for readers looking for a good murder mystery with a love story.

*Review copy provided by Penguin in exchange for an honest review.

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Hardback | Amazon Author Page

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About the Author

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Amanda Quick is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, the author, under various pen names, of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers; there are more than 35 million copies of her books in print. She has written contemporary romantic thrillers under the Krentz name as well as historical and futuristic romance novels under the pseudonyms Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle, respectively. Learn more at jayneannkrentz.com and connect with her on facebook.com/JayneAnnKrentz.

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Blog Tour, Review, Q&A & Giveaway: NEVER TRUST A PIRATE (Playful Brides) by Valerie Bowman

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NEVER TRUST A PIRATE (Playful Brides) by Valerie Bowman

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

IMG_8136The rules of engagement were never so scandalous. . .

A rumored pirate and the scurrilous black sheep of his well-to-do family, Cade Cavendish relishes his world of rebellion, deception, and seduction. Nothing and no one can hold him to be the duty-bound, honorable man he is expected to be. But when an unexpected run-in at his twin brother’s estate with a ravishing, raven-haired maid leads her to believe he’s actually a viscount, Cade’s renegade life is thrown wildly off-kilter. And even though a case of mistaken identity can be quickly set to rights, matters of the heart are quite different…

Miss Danielle LaCrosse is startled to learn that the handsome gentleman who radiates sin and has the devil in his eyes is not her employer the Viscount, but rather his infamous brother. A former heiress, orphaned and left penniless, Danielle has more than a few secrets of her own. Cade may be skilled at coaxing even the most hidden desires out of Danielle but can he earn her trust—and win her heart—as they embark on an adventure to confront a dangerous enemy from both of their pasts . . . and uncover the identity of the so-called Black Fox along the way?

Never Trust a Pirate is part of the Regency-set Playful Brides series by Valerie Bowman.

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Author Guest Post

  1. What is your favorite scene in Never Trust a Pirate? I truly do love the whole book but I think everything that happens after they get on the ship is especially fun. The book is sort of pre-ship and post-ship.
  2. What’s your favorite underappreciated romance novel?
 One of my favorite romances ever is Dark Future by KC Klein. It’s a futuristic scifi romance, which is not normally something I gravitate toward (I like to read historical romance!) but I picked up KC’s book and couldn’t put it down. It’s fantastic. She also has me reading contemporary cowboy stories.
  3. Are you methodical in your writing, certain hours of the day, certain rituals you may perform before you sit down? Or are you one of those writers who binge write when the mood is upon you? I’m a binge writer, but it’s not about the mood striking so much as it’s about having more time to write on the weekend because I’m not at my day job.
  4. Are there particular tropes you are fond of using? My favorite trope is probably reunited lovers or old friends who fall in love. I love the brother’s best friend trope, too. I’ve used all of those and am currently writing a story where a married couple (who haven’t seen each other in ten years) are forced to work together again. Of course hijinx (and romance) will ensue!
  5. What lead you to writing historical romances? My love of reading them. I read them a lot as a teenager. They made me so happy.
  6. How would you describe Never Trust a Pirate using only three words? Racy Regency Romp. That’s how I describe all of my books, actually.
  7. What is your advice for other writers? Write! It’s simple. I see a lot of would-be writers taking classes and reading books about writing but the best thing to do is just write, write, write. Worry about the mechanics later. You do need to study craft and learn the business but you’ve got nothing to improve if you’re not actually writing.
  8. Do you, or your publisher decide on your beautiful covers? If your publisher, do you have any input? My publisher makes the covers for the books and I love them. They send them to me for input but it’s usually quite minimal. They are gorgeous! I’m very lucky.
  9. Why this setting and why pirates? Inquiring minds want to you, or me anyway. I unabashedly love pirates! I love to read stories about them and when I was a kid I wanted to be one. Of course I get horribly seasick and am about the least adventurous person you’d ever meet. Swashbuckling would stress me out. I guess that’s why I have to write about it instead.
  10. What do you do to relax, after a day of writing? And how, do you set your writing day in order to achieve your goal of a certain number of pages? My favorite way to relax is to take a nap. I should have been born in a country that embraces the concept of siesta. That’s where I belong. Ha! I don’t count pages so much as I count words. So if I have to get twenty thousand words (about ¼ of a novel) written in a weekend, I would need to write about 6,600 Friday night, 13,000 on Saturday, and 6,600 on Sunday. I have a day job so weekends are very important to me as far as hitting my word count goals.
  11. Another inquiring minds want to you, approximately, how long does it take you to write a full length novel?  How many books can you write in a year? It takes me about two months to actually write the novel (working mostly nights and weekends around my full-time job) but it takes months to plot and think about the novel which is why I only write two novels per year.
  12. Which Hollywood stars would you like to see as the main characters in NEVER TRUST A PIRATE? I actually have a Pinterest board set up with my idea of who all the main characters in the Playful Brides series look like. For Cade Cavendish and Danielle LaCrosse it’s Chris Pine and Zooey Deschanel. You can find the board at: https://www.pinterest.com/valeriegbowman/playfulbrides/.
  13. Do you write fulltime? No and I actually have a theory that if I did write full-time I would get much less writing done. I think having to be so disciplined about my writing time forces me to focus. At least that’s what I tell myself.
  14. Twitter or Facebook? Both!
  15. Favorite TV show? Of all time? Gilmore Girls. As for what’s on today, I love Homicide Hunter: Lt Joe Kenda. I’m a sucker for true crime.
  16. Who is your ultimate Book Boyfriend? My book boyfriend is Jason Fielding from Judith McNaught’s Once and Always. Talk about the perfect tortured hero!
  17. What are you reading right now or what’s on your TBR? I’m currently reading Kerrigan Byrne’s, The Duke, and I can’t wait to dive into Anna Bennett’s, I Dared the Duke!
  18. 2017 Movie you’re most looking forward to? I just saw a trailer for Dunkirk and I got goosebumps! I can’t wait. I love WWII-era history almost as much as the Regency. 
  19. Give us the “elevator pitch” for your new book. I call Never Trust a Pirate: The Scarlet Pimpernel meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in Regency England.
  20. Series or stand alone?  If series do you already have a set number of books that you plan to write? Series. When I began to write the Playful Brides series, I planned three books. I’m happy to say it’s going to be eleven altogether, plus a novella. Plans change!
  21. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? I’ve been to Bath and seen the Jane Austen museum there. Does that count?
  22. What are your future project(s)? Right now, I’m editing book 8 in the Playful Brides series. It’s called The Right Kind of Rogue and comes out on Halloween. I’m also writing book 9 of the Playful Brides series. And I’m always plotting future books in my head. In this case I’ve already got a lot of ideas for how I’m going to end the series with book #11 (Delilah and Thomas’s book) in Spring 2019. 
  23. For novices who haven’t read a novel of yours what is it that they will find unique in your work? I hope they will find a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is filled with humor and heart. Above all, I just want my stories to entertain. I’m not here to give anyone a history lesson. I just want readers to smile and sigh. 
  24. Do you find that you base any of your characters on people in your life? Have you gotten any inspiration for scenes in your novel from things that have happened to you in real life? The entire Playful Brides series was conceived based on my friend’s terrible boyfriend. She wouldn’t break up with him and I kept telling her to let me call him and break up with him for her (I was kidding, sorta). On a drive home from dinner with her one night, after she’d filled my ear yet again with a bunch of stories of the awful things he’d done (forgot her birthday, asked her to pay his cell phone bill), I started thinking how funny it would be if there was a service that you could call to break-up with your boyfriend for you. The opposite of Cyrano de Bergerac. I decided that would be great story and immediately began to think about how I could set it in the Regency. That was the idea for The Unexpected Duchess, the first story in the series.
  25. Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you? Lisa Kleypas was a huge influence on me. I was snowed in at an airport in 2007 and picked up Scandal in Spring. Many hours later (I couldn’t put the book down) I considered giving romance writing a try. She is a brilliant writer and a lovely person both inside and out.
  26. Have you read anything lately that you loved? Julie Anne Long’s The Legend of Lyon Redmond was sheer perfection if you ask me.
  27. Do you usually work off of an outline while writing or do you tend to just start writing and see where the story takes you? I don’t have an outline per se, but I sketch out a few sentences for each chapter in my Word .doc so I know where the story is going. I’ve been working lately on making my stories more character driven so I may change this up a bit.
  28. Where did you get the inspiration for your main characters? What other books or movies or music influenced this novel? As with all of the stories in my Playful Brides series, Never Trust a Pirate was inspired by a play. In this case it’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. I loved the concept of a character with dual identities.
  29. What advice do you have for pair wanting to get into the writing field? If you want to write romance, join Romance Writers of America (RWA.org). Hands down it was the best thing I did to learn how to write a romance novel. Leslie Wainger’s book, Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies, is also fantastic.

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Cori 4 Stars

I really enjoyed this one! I was in the mood for a good historical romance and Valerie Bowman’s NEVER TRUST A PIRATE fit the bill. It was fun and sexy, with a bit of mystery that added to the story. It satisfied my historical romance craving and had me craving more. I’ll be checking out Valerie Bowman’s previous books and I look froward to the next book in her Playful Brides series. NEVER TRUST A PIRATE is part of a series, but can be read as a standalone. I recommend this book for historical romance lovers looking for a good book to curl up with.

*Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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Excerpt

Read an Excerpt Here

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Buy Links

Kindle | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Amazon Series Link

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Giveaway

Paperback Copy of NEVER TRUST A PIRATE by Valerie Bowman

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Paperback provided by St. Martin’s Press. 

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About the Author

IMG_8135Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides series, starting with Secrets of a Wedding Night, Secrets of a Runaway Bride, and Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |Pinterest

Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY by Linda Broday

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THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY (Men of Legend, #2) By Linda Broday

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Historical Western Romance

Synopsis

9781492630203-PRThree Brothers. One Oath.

No Compromises.

The MEN of LEGEND

The Cowboy

One bullet is all it takes to shatter Houston Legend’s world. He swore he’d never love again, but with the future of the Lone Star Ranch on the line, he finds himself at the altar promising to love and cherish a woman he’s never met—a woman whose vulnerable beauty touches his heart.

All Lara Boone wants is a name for her baby. She never expected to fall in love with her own husband—or any man—after the heartache she’s endured. Yet when her troubled past catches up with them, Houston will move heaven and earth to protect his bride…and discover depths to a marriage of convenience neither realized could be theirs.

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Heart of a Texas Cowboy Spotlight Graphic

Excerpt

With night wrapped around her like a cloak, Lara hummed while she washed the dishes and put everything away.

Houston sat on the ground with Gracie, his back against his saddle. The babe lay on his chest with his hand patting the small back. He caught Lara looking and winked as boldly as some scoundrel. Heat rose to her cheeks. She lowered her gaze and made quick work of the dishes.

“Do you want me to take Gracie to her bed?” Lara asked, joining him.

“If you can pry open her fist to get my vest out of it. For such a little thing, she’s sure got a grip.”

Houston was so near his soft breath fanned her cheek. Her pulse raced. This man she’d married invaded every thought. He’d shown kindness and caring and brought hope back from the grave where she’d buried it.

He laid a hand on her arm. “You’ll be back?”

“Yes. I won’t be long.”

“I’ll only be in camp a little while,” Houston said, yawning. “Have to spell the other drovers.” At her questioning glance, he explained, “Everyone shares guard duty, me included.”

She nodded and hurried to lay Gracie in her crib next to her crib beside the chuck wagon. With her precious daughter sleeping soundly, she returned to the fire to find no sign of Houston. Her heart sank with disappointment. She’d missed him, missed her goodnight kiss that he’d begged for.

Houston called quietly from the deep shadows. “Over here, Lara.”

Following his voice, Lara discovered him leaning against the trunk of a mesquite tree. Rays from the full moon lightened the dark brown strands nestling against his collar, adding glints of silver.

“I didn’t want to take a chance on us being interrupted so I walked out here,” he explained.

Lara wet her lips. “I thought you’d changed your mind.” That he didn’t want to kiss a woman so scarred.

“Not a chance, lady,” he growled low and pushed away from the tree. “It’s all that’s been on my mind since you agreed.”

When she moved to him, he opened his arms. She walked into his embrace as though it was door and pleasure awaited there. Inhaling the scented air, she laid her head against the hard wall of his chest. She wanted to stay there forever.

Houston lightly rested his chin on the top of her head. “I’m real glad you came on this drive. Nights can get lonely out here.”

His deep voice vibrated inside her. It was like he became part of her. “I’m glad I did too. Even though I had to work to convince you.”

“Yeah, well, I’m a stubborn fool.”

He put a finger under her chin and lifted her face. Without a word, he lowered his mouth. The minute his warm lips touched hers, Lara had to clutch his arm to keep from falling. Her heartbeat pounded as though trying to keep up with the blood racing through her veins.

A hot, demanding, achiness swept over her. She needed this man and at the moment didn’t think she could live without him. Nor did she want to try.

With a low cry, he placed his large hands under her jaw and deepened the kiss, sending a series of quickenings into her stomach similar to the ones she felt when Gracie curled in her womb. Maybe these stirrings signaled life much in the same way her baby’s movements did to let her know she was alive and couldn’t wait to be born.

Maybe she was being reborn.

Maybe she could forget the past and start fresh.

Maybe this was what she’d waited so long for.

As she leaned into him and gripped Houston’s vest, pleasure like she’d never felt swirled inside her. She clung to him afraid if she let go, he’d vanish and she’d discover it was a dream.

Could this be tiny stirrings of love?

Lara suddenly pushed away. No it wasn’t love because that didn’t exist. Not for her. It was too dangerous to believe in love. To believe she had anything to give any man.

What’s wrong, Lara?” Houston gently pushed back her hair. “Did I do something to upset or frighten you? I shouldn’t have grabbed you like that.”

“You did nothing wrong.” It was her. She almost let herself believe that someone could love her. One look at her reflection showed the impossibility of such a thing. “I’m sorry,” she murmured brokenly.

Through tears, she stumbled back to the light of the campfire, escaping all that brought pain.

The past.

Herself.

An impossible future.

Escaping everything. If only it was that easy.

Houston stole up behind her and touched her shoulder. “Talk to me. I want to understand.”

She owed him some explanation. Impatiently dashing away the tears, she turned and let anger spill. “It’s not you, Houston. It’s me. I’m broken. Too broken to fix. You can’t repair something that’s missing the pieces. Blackstone took a lot more than….” she paused, “He stole….”

“Your soul,” he supplied quietly.

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Buy Links

Amazon | Additional Links

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Giveaway

Enter to win one of ten copies of To Love a Texas Ranger by Linda Broday

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Linda Broday_newAt a young age, LINDA BRODAY discovered a love for storytelling, history, and anything pertaining to the Old West. Cowboys fascinate her. There’s something about Stetsons, boots, and tall rugged cowboys that get her fired up. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Linda has won many awards, including the prestigious National Readers’ Choice Award and the Texas Gold Award. She resides in the Texas Panhandle and is inspired every day.

Social Networking Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway: IF THE DUKE DEMANDS by Anna Harrington

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IF THE DUKE DEMANDS (Capturing the Carlisles, Book 1) by Anna Harrington

Publication Date: February 28, 2017

Synopsis

img_6892A LESSON IN SEDUCTION . . .

Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent-Robert’s formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: He’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

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Excerpt

Her eyes narrowed as she took in that bit of dubious advice and contemplated what he asked of her, with a curious look of deep study and concentration. For a moment, her expression was damnably disconcerting as she tried to think up a compliment to give him, as if she had never truly noticed him before as a man. Which inexplicably irked him to no end. How could she have not noticed him before as someone other than the Duke of Trent, other than just a friend?
“What you’re asking of me is impossible.” She shook her head with a soft sigh of defeat. “Every man in this room knows the rank you hold, the power and influence you’re gaining in Parliament. As for the ladies, you should have seen the way they all watched you when you crossed the room to ask me to dance.” She shrugged. “What could I possibly add to what everyone has already told you about how wonderful you are?”
He stared at her, momentarily stunned speechless. What she’d just said was exactly the kind of compliment a man wanted to hear from a beautiful woman . . .
And he didn’t believe a word of it. When he saw her lips twitch with amusement, his eyes narrowed. “You are incorrigible.”
She laughed happily. “Perhaps.” Her eyes shined, and for a brief moment, she shifted closer, somehow rising up on tiptoes as she danced to bring her mouth close to his ear. “But it is all true, you know.”
Then she pulled back into her original position and looked at him shyly through lowered lashes even as the tip of her tongue darted out to wet her lips. The paradoxical effect of innocent seduction was mesmerizing, and for a moment, he forgot they were dancing in the middle of a crowded ballroom. For a moment, there was only Miranda. And the pull of her was undeniable.

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Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ms84Kt
B&N: http://bit.ly/2kZAlpC
iBooks: http://apple.co/2l8qsaf
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2kMdpyP
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2mciTjy

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Giveaway

10 copies of IF THE DUKE DEMANDS

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

img_6889Anna Harrington fell in love with historical romances–and all those dashing Regency heroes–while living in London, where she studied literature and theatre. She loves to travel, fly airplanes, and hike, and when she isn’t busy writing her next novel, she loves fussing over her roses in her garden.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Extra Author Goodies:

Anna will be hosting a Release Party on Facebook, there will be giveaways, contests and guest posts from romance authors in addition to a special sneak peek at the end of the night.

If you can’t attend the Facebook party, or are just interested in learning behind the scenes information about Anna’s books, be sure to visit the “extras” page on her website for deleted scenes, insider info, and bonus shorts.

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Spotlight, Quiz, Excerpt & Giveaway: My Highland Rebel by Amanda Forester

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My Highland Rebel (Highland Trouble Book 2) by Amanda Forester

Publication Date: January 3, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

img_6066A conquering hero

Cormac Maclean would rather read than rampage, but his fearsome warlord father demands that he prove himself in war. Cormac chooses what he thinks is an easy target, only to encounter a fiery Highland lass leading a doomed rebellion and swearing revenge on him.

Meets an unconquerable heroine

Jyne Cambell is not about to give up her castle without a fight, even though her forces are far outnumbered. She’s proud, hot-blooded and hot-tempered, and Cormac falls for her hard.

It’s going to take all of Cormac’s ingenuity to get Jyne to surrender gracefully—both to his sword and to his heart…

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Amanda Forester Books http://amzn.to/2iQ1ivP

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Excerpt

Highlands, 1362
She had always wanted to have an adventure. That was her first mistake. Her second was to set off for a little privacy in the thick fog of the Highland morning.
Lady Jyne Campbell tramped along the cold ground of the Highland moor, trying to retrace her steps back to camp. She could not have gotten far. Could she? She considered calling out to her brothers for help, but rejected the idea. She wished to show her clan that she was capable of taking care of herself. Admitting she had gotten lost in the fog was not going to help her cause.
Being the youngest daughter, Jyne was accustomed to being bossed about by all of her fourteen siblings. And not just any siblings—Campbell siblings. Her eldest brother was David Campbell, laird of the powerful Campbell clan. The Campbell brothers were tall, broad-shouldered, hardworking, and a formidable foe to their enemies. The Campbell sisters were statuesque, brave, bold, and ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with any man to defend the Campbell clan, or against any clansman who got out of line. Jyne’s mother had borne fifteen children, and not one of them had the audacity to die in childhood. No, frailty was not allowed in the Campbell household.
All except Jyne. She had been born a little too soon and had always been small. In childhood, she was prone to illness and had a delicate constitution. Being of questionable health during her formative years, she was never chosen to travel or have any adventures. Though her dreams were as big as any of her siblings, she had to content herself with listening to the stories of others and making herself useful about the castle, while the other siblings returned with wild tales of their exploits.
Jyne paused a moment, straining to hear sounds from the camp. She would rather search for hours than admit to her overprotective brothers she had gotten lost in a bit of mist. She continued walking in the thick gray fog, which blanketed the rugged landscape. Straining to see ahead of her in the fog and stepped onto something she thought was firm ground, but suddenly wasn’t.
“Oh!” She fell forward into a bog, gasping as the cold, muddy water engulfed her to her thighs. “Oh, no!” She struggled, trying to find firm ground to drag herself out of the treacherous moor, but everywhere she touched was made of cold, wet mud. Her efforts were rewarded only by her sinking into the bog a few inches more.
The freezing sludge seeped through her clothes and held her fast, like an icy claw. The smell of rotting swamp gas made her gag. Her heart pounded in her throat, along with the remnants of her last meal. She had heard stories of people getting trapped in the bog and never returning.
She clenched her teeth to stop them from chattering. Should she call for help? The thought of the looks on her brothers’ faces to find her stuck in the bog shut her mouth. She made another try for solid ground, straining her reach for a crop of grass.
She could almost make it. Her fingertips brushed tantalizingly against the stems of the grass, but there was nothing to grasp. She could not reach solid ground. Her efforts had only caused her to sink another few inches as fear slithered down her spine. Nothing she could do was going to get herself out.
“Help! David? Help!” Her pride was gone. She only hoped her brothers would hear her before she was gone. “Can anyone hear me?”
She had expected her siblings to come running as soon as she called. She could not be that far from camp. Could she? She listened for footsteps, for any hint that help was on the way. She heard nothing.
Panic surged within her, tinged with frustration. The one time she actually wanted her brothers to hover over her, and they were nowhere in sight. She made another lunge for solid ground, but the more she moved, the farther the bog sucked her down, and soon she was up to her waist, panting with exertion and sheer terror.
She closed her eyes and screamed with all her might, “Help! Heeeeeelp!”
“Here, lassie, take my hand.” A man, a stranger to her, flung himself onto the solid ground and reached out his hand over the murky bog. She grasped it, and he began to back up slowly, pulling her from the quagmire. He pulled hard, but the swamp resisted, as if unwilling to release its prize from its cold clutches. Finally, he wrenched her from the deadly swamp, and she collapsed beside him on firm ground.
“Thank ye,” she gasped, not sure if she was trembling from the fear of coming near death or the frozen chill of the mire still permeating her bones.
“Are ye hurt?” asked the stranger. He was a tall man dressed in the plaid kilt of the Highlander, belted at the waist and thrown over one shoulder. He had a wild mop of unruly brown hair and glinting dark eyes. He was armed with a bow and quiver of arrows and had several scrolls stuck into his wide leather belt.
Her teeth chattered. “N-nay, just relieved to be out o’ the bog.”
The stranger stood up and took her with him, easily lifting her to her feet. “Ah, lass, ye’re chilled to the bone.” He pulled her close and wrapped the ends of his plaid around her, warming her with his own heat. She melted into the comforting warmth and safety of his arms.
Jyne sighed. She had a vague feeling she should not be enjoying an embrace with a total stranger. She must be simply thankful to be out of the bog. At least that is what she told herself to justify resting her cheek against his chest.
“Thank ye. I dinna ken what would have happened to me if ye hadna come along,” said Jyne into the man’s solid chest. “Ye must have been sent by the angels to save me.”
The man laughed. “Angels? That would be the first time anyone said that about me.”
Jyne looked up at him. He had a decided jawline and sharp cheekbones. His face was almost angular, but attractive. His dark green eyes gleamed in the early morning light. He was a trim, muscular man who looked to be in his early twenties. Perhaps it was her brush with danger, but she decided he was the most handsome Highlander she had ever seen.
“Then I am glad to be the first to say it to ye. Ye truly are my hero.” Jyne’s voice trembled with sincerity.
“I’m nobody’s hero.” He tilted his head with a sardonic smile.
“Ye are to me. I am Jyne and much in yer debt.”
He shook his head. “Ye owe me naught.”
She touched her hand to his cheek, and he tilted his head toward her, leaning closer.
“Unhand my sister!”
Jyne jumped away from the stranger and turned to see her brother, Laird of the Campbells, emerging from the mist.

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon PBK

Additional Store Links

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Giveaway

Win one of ten copies of My Highland Rebel by Amanda Forester

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance was way more fun. A Publishers Weekly Top Ten author, her books have been given starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest outside Tacoma, Washington.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES (Windham Brides, #1) by Grace Burrowes

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THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES (Windham Brides, #1) by Grace Burrowes

Publication Date: December 20, 2016

Genre: Historical Romance 

Synopsis

img_5671This first novel in a new Regency series from USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes is a spinoff of her highly popular Windham series.

THEY CALL HIM THE DUKE OF MURDER…

The gossips whisper that the new Duke of Murdoch is a brute, a murderer, and even worse—a Scot. They say he should never be trusted alone with a woman. But Megan Windham sees in Hamish something different, someone different.

No one was fiercer at war than Hamish MacHugh, though now the soldier faces a whole new battlefield: a London Season. To make his sisters happy, he’ll take on any challenge—even letting their friend Miss Windham teach him to waltz. Megan isn’t the least bit intimidated by his dark reputation, but Hamish senses that she’s fighting battles of her own. For her, he’ll become the warrior once more, and for her, he might just lose his heart.

Listen to Chapter 1 of the audiobook!

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AUTHORS LOVE THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES!

“The hero of THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES reminds me of Mary Balogh’s charming men, and the heroine brings to mind Sarah MacLean’s intelligent, fiery women… This is a wonderfully funny, moving romance, not to be missed!” —Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author of My American Duchess

“Grace Burrowes writes from the heart–with warmth, humor, and a generous dash of sensuality, her stories are unputdownable! If you’re not reading Grace Burrowes you’re missing the very best in today’s Regency Romance!” —Elizabeth Hoyt, New York Times bestselling author

“Sexy heroes, strong heroines, intelligent plots, enchanting love stories…Grace Burrowes’s romances have them all.” —Mary Balogh, New York Times bestselling author

“THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES has everything Grace Burrowes’s many fans have come to adore: a swoonworthy hero, a strong heroine, humor, and passion. Her characters not only know their own hearts, but share them with fearless joy. Grace Burrowes is a romance treasure.” —Tessa Dare, New York Times bestselling author

“THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES is captivating! It has everything I love in a book–a sexy Scotsman, a charming heroine, witty banter, plenty of humor, and lots of heart.” —Jennifer Ashley, New York Times bestselling author of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

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Excerpt

“I don’t want any damned dukedom, Mr. Anderson,” Hamish MacHugh said softly.
Colin MacHugh took to studying the door to Neville Anderson’s office, for when Hamish spoke that quietly, his siblings knew to locate the exits.
The solicitor’s establishment boasted deep Turkey carpets, oak furniture, and red velvet curtains. The standish and ink bottles on Anderson’s desk were silver, the blotter a thick morocco leather. Portraits of well-fed, well-powdered Englishmen adorned the walls.
Hamish felt as if he’d walked into an ambush, as if these old lords and knights were smirking down at the fool who’d blundered into their midst. Beyond the office walls, harnesses jingled to the tune of London happily about its business, while Hamish’s heart beat with a silent tattoo of dread.
“I am at your grace’s service,” Anderson murmured, from his side of the massive desk, “and eager to hear any explanations your grace cares to bestow.”
The solicitor, who’d been retained by Hamish’s late grandfather decades before Hamish’s birth, was like a midge. Swat at Anderson, curse him, wave him off, threaten flame and riot, and he still hovered nearby, relentlessly annoying.
The French infantry had had the same qualities.
“I am not a bloody your grace,” Hamish said. Thanks be to the clemency of the Almighty.
“I do beg your grace’s—your pardon,” Anderson replied, soft white hands folded on his blotter. “Your great-great aunt Minerva married the third son of the fifth Duke of Murdoch and Tingley, and while the English dukedom must, regrettably fall prey to escheat, the Scottish portion of the title, due to the more, er, liberal patents common to Scottish nobility, devolves to yourself.”
Devolving was one of those English undertakings that prettied up a load of shite.
Hamish rose, and for reasons known only to the English, Anderson popped to his feet as well.
“Devolve the peregrinating title to some other poor sod,” Hamish said.
Colin’s staring match with the lintel of Anderson’s door had acquired the quality of man trying to hold in a fart—or laughter.
“I am sorry, your—sir,” Anderson said, looking about as sorry as Hamish’s sisters on the way to the milliner’s, “but titles land where they please, and there they stay. The only way out from under a title is death, and then your brother here would become duke in your place.”
Colin’s smirk winked out like a candle in a gale. “What if I die?”
“I believe there are several younger siblings,” Anderson said, “should death befall you both.”
“But this title is Hamish’s as long as he’s alive, right?” Colin was not quite as large as Hamish. What little Colin lacked in height, he made up for in brawn and speed.
“That is correct,” Anderson said, beaming like headmaster when a dull scholar had finally grasped his first Latin conjugation. “In the normal course, a celebratory tot would be in order, gentlemen. The title does bring responsibilities, but your great-great aunt and her late daughter were excellent businesswomen. I’m delighted to tell you that the Murdoch holdings prosper.”
Worse and worse. The gleeful wiggle of Anderson’s eyebrows meant prosper translated into “made a stinking lot of money, much of which would find its way into a solicitor’s greedy English paws.”
“If my damned lands prosper, my bachelorhood is doomed,” Hamish muttered. Directly behind Anderson’s desk hung a picture of some duke, and the old fellow’s sour expression spoke eloquently to the disposition a title bestowed on its victim. “I’d sooner face old Boney’s guns again than be landed, titled, wealthy, and unwed at the beginning of London season. Colin, we’re for home by week’s end.”
“Fine notion,” Colin said. “Except Edana will kill you and Rhona will bury what’s left of you. Then the title will hang about my neck, and I’ll have to dig you up and kill you all over again.”
Siblings were God’s joke on a peace-loving man. Anderson had retreated behind his desk, as if a mere half ton of oak could protect a puny English solicitor from a pair of brawling MacHughs.
Clever solicitors might be, canny they were not.
“Then we simply tell no one about this title,” Hamish said. “We tend to Eddie and Ronnie’s dress shopping, and then we’re away home, nobody the wiser.”
Dress shopping, Edana had said, as if the only place in the world to procure fashionable clothing was London. She’d cried, she’d raged, she’d threatened to run off—until Colin had saddled her horse and stuffed the saddle bags with provisions.
Then she’d threatened to become an old maid, haunting her brothers’ households in turn, and Hamish, on pain of death from his younger brothers, had ordered the traveling coach into service.
“Eddie hasn’t found a man yet, and neither has Ronnie,” Colin observed. “They’ve been here less than two weeks. We can’t go home.”
“You can’t,” Hamish countered. “I’m the duke. I must see to my properties. I’ll be halfway to Yorkshire by tomorrow. I doubt Eddie and Ronnie will content themselves with Englishmen, but they’re welcome to torment a few in my absence. A bored woman is a dangerous creature.”
“You’d leave tomorrow?” Colin slugged Hamish on the arm, hard. Anderson flinched, while Hamish picked up his walking stick and headed for the door.
“Your pugilism needs work, little brother. I’ve neglected your education.”
“You can’t leave me alone here with Eddie and Ronnie.” Colin had switched to the Gaelic, a fine language for keeping family business from nosy solicitors. “I’m only one man, and there’s two of them. They’ll be making ropes of the bedsheets, selling your good cigars to other young ladies again, and investigating the charms of the damned Englishmen mincing about in the park. Who knows what other titles their indiscriminate choice of husband might inflict on your grandchildren.”
Hamish had not objected to the cigar selling scheme. He’d objected to his sisters stealing from him rather than sharing the proceeds with their own dear brother. He also objected to the notion of grandchildren when he’d yet to take a wife.
“I’ll blame you if we end up with English brothers-in-law, wee Colin.” Hamish smiled evilly, though he counted a particular few Englishmen among his friends.
A staring match ensued, with Colin trying to look fierce—he had the family red hair and blue eyes, after all—and mostly looking worried. Colin was soft-hearted where the ladies were concerned, and that fact was all that cheered Hamish on an otherwise daunting morning.
Hope rose, like the clarion call of the pipes through the smoke and noise the battlefield: While Eddie and Ronnie inspected the English peacocks strutting about Mayfair, Hamish might find a peahen willing to take advantage of Colin’s affectionate nature.
Given Colin’s lusty inclinations, the union would be productive inside a year, and the whole sorry business of a ducal succession would be taken care of.
Hamish’s fist connected with his brother’s shoulder, sending Colin staggering back a few steps, muttering in Gaelic about goats and testicles.
“I’ll bide here in the muck pit of civilization,” Hamish said, in English, “until Eddie and Ronnie have their fripperies, but Anderson, I’m warning you. Nobody is to learn of this dukedom business. Not a soul, or I’ll know which English solicitor needs to make St. Peter’s acquaintance posthaste. Ye ken?”
Anderson nodded, his gaze fixed on Hamish’s right hand. “You will receive correspondence, sir.”
Hamish’s hand hurt and his head was starting to throb. “Try being honest, man. I was in the army. I know all about correspondence. By correspondence, you mean a bloody snowstorm of paper, official documents, and sealed instruments.”
Hamish knew about death too, and about sorrow. The part of him hoping to marry Colin off in the next month—and Eddie and Ronnie too—grappled with the vast sorrow of homesickness, and the unease of remaining for even another day among the scented dandies and false smiles of polite society.
“Very good, your grace. Of course you’re right. A snowstorm, some of which will be from the College of Arms, some from your peers, some of condolence, all of which my office would be happy—”
Hamish waved Anderson to silence, and as if Hamish were one of those Hindoo snake pipers, the solicitor’s gaze followed the motion of his hand.
“The official documents can’t be helped,” Hamish said, “but letters of condolence needn’t concern anybody. You’re not to say a word,” he reminded Anderson. “Not a peep, not a yes-your-grace, not a hint of an insinuation is to pass your lips.”
Anderson was still nodding vigorously when Hamish shoved Colin through the door.
Though, of course, the news was all over Town by morning.

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Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2dBwsK4
Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/2hOY7Yk
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2hFPw7c
iBooks: http://bit.ly/2hCgy1M
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2hs5zrd

Series Page on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2gTcV6z

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Giveaway

Ten (10) Mass Market Copies of THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania and is the sixth out of seven children. She discovered romance novels when in junior high (back when there was such a thing), and has been reading them voraciously ever since. Grace has a bachelor’s degree in political science, a bachelor of music in music history, (both from Pennsylvania State University); a master’s degree in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University; and a juris doctor from the National Law Center at the George Washington University.

Grace writes Georgian, Regency, Scottish Victorian, and contemporary romances in both novella and novel lengths. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, and enjoys giving workshops and speaking at writers’ conferences. She also loves to hear from her readers, and can be reached through her website or her social channels.

Author Information:
Author Website: http://bit.ly/2hs2SWI
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2gSqLaW
Twitter: http://bit.ly/2hDevsc
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2hWqoYS

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Spotlight, Quiz, Excerpt & Giveaway: How to Train Your Highlander by Christy English

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How to Train Your Highlander (Broadswords and Ballrooms, #3) by Christy English

Publication Date: December 6, 2016

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

img_5590She’s the Hellion of Hyde Park…

A foolproof plan to avoid marriage:
1. Always carry at least three blades.
2. Ride circles around any man.
3. Never get caught in a handsome duke’s arms.

Wild Highlander Mary Elizabeth Waters is living on borrowed time. She’s managed to dodge the marriage banns up to now, but even Englishmen can only be put off for so long…and there’s one in particular who has her in his sights.

Harold Percy, Duke of Northumberland, is enchanted by the beautiful hellion who outrides every man on his estate and dances Scottish reels while the ton looks on in horror. The more he sees Mary, the more he knows he has to have her, tradition and good sense be damned. But what’s a powerful man to do when the Highland spitfire of his dreams has no desire to be tamed…

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Buy Links

Kindle | Books-A-MillionBarnes & NobleiBooks

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WHICH HERO SHOULD YOU DATE? 

TAKE THE QUIZ: https://www.qzzr.com/c/quiz/295421/which-hero-should-you-date

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Excerpt

Harry had just begun to find his rhythm as he dug up the parterre rosebushes so that Simmons might plant them along the east-facing wall when he heard a thump and a curse that belonged on the docks or perhaps on one of his ships at sea.
“Damn and blast it!” the girl said again. “Now I’ve ruined another gown, and Ma won’t give me an allowance for any more.”
He looked up then from his work, knowing what he would find, for it seemed he knew the girl’s sultry voice already.
His siren from the carriage an hour earlier had wandered back into his domain, and had fallen in one of the holes left by the vacated rosebushes, her pink traveling gown covered in a long streak of ochre. He sighed, the last vestige of his peace falling away like the last bit of an orange peel. He watched it go, then turned to the lady, expecting tears at the very least, followed by sniffling and the need for his filthy handkerchief.
He wondered for one benighted moment if the girl had heard from the staff that the Recluse Duke was in the garden and, as a result, had come hunting him. His flesh began to cool, both from horror and from the sea wind touching the sweat on his shoulders. He wished for his waistcoat, which he had abandoned somewhere in the stables hours before, just as he wished for his friend Clyde to appear and occupy this woman with charm while Harry affected his escape.
Harry reminded himself that he was a gentleman and reluctantly started to help the girl out of her hole, when she straightened her skirt and leaped out of it on her own, apparently unscathed.
“Are you the blighter who left this gaping chasm so close to the path?” she asked.
Harry blinked and nodded. “I am.”
She seemed to want to say more, but perhaps she was remembering that she was a lady, for she drew a breath and let it out on one long exhale. “Well,” she said. “And this is what comes of letting a stable boy get into the garden. Hand me that shovel there, and be quick about it, before your head gardener sees this mess.”
He blinked and obeyed, and then watched as she filled the hole in the space of five minutes, layering the soil loosely so that it might breathe, then packing down the top with a flourish. She found the bag of crushed seashells bleached white sitting close by, and she covered the hole with a liberal amount of those, so that the next person who happened by might not trip as she had done.
Until he stood by and watched a beautiful woman fill a hole in the garden, the skirt of her gown pulled tight over a delightfully rounded behind as she worked, Harry would have said that he was a civilized man. Something was clearly wrong with him, for he had not fled, nor had he offered to assist her.
“I ought to have helped,” he said as she finished.
She leaned on her shovel and surveyed her work with what he could only assume was pleasure. His siren tipped her head back and took in the slanting rays of the afternoon sun on her skin. The summer days were long in the North, but the sun was cool. She seemed to drink it in like mead, before she turned her smile on him.
“And ruin a fine job?” she said. “I think not. You’re better off with the horses. Has his Royal Grace the Duke too few men to work for him, that a decent man of horses finds himself shifting among the flowers, then?”
Harry had never heard himself referred to in such a blasé yet disrespectful manner. He felt a frisson of irritation. He thought of revealing himself to this girl then and there.
But her curls were falling from their pins in a delightful disarray, catching the light of the sun with hints of honey brown and gold buried in them. She had the coloring his mother once had, when he was still a boy in short pants.
He put aside all thoughts of his mother and her plans for him, as his day had as yet been a pleasant one. He did not want to think of his mother and of all he had promised her.
Instead, he turned to the girl and offered her his arm.
“Might I escort you back to the house?”
“God forbid! I just escaped from there.”
“I am told the house is very fine,” he said, feeling slightly miffed.
She laughed at him. Her laughter was warm and sultry, as her voice was, but completely free, as if she were a courtesan who had been born into the wrong life. His siren did not seem to notice that he had not spoken again, nor did she seem to care for anything he might have said. She stopped laughing at last and handed the shovel to Simmons, who had appeared out of the bushes at the sound of her mirth.
“I’m off to find the sea, but I thank you.” She nodded to Simmons, who bowed to her. She frowned to see him do it, a bit of darkness coming into the maple brown of her eyes. But she rallied at once, so quickly that Harry was not certain he had seen the shadow at all.
“Try not to fall in a ditch on your way back to the stables.”
She sauntered off then, her rounded derriere swaying. Harry stood staring after her like a fool, not even offering her a farewell. He felt the eyes of his man heavy on him, and Harry shrugged to Simmons before he took off after her.

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Giveaway

5 copies of How to Seduce a Scot

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in North Carolina.

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