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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Spotlight, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway: Last Chance Cowboys: The Lawman by Anna Schmidt

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Last Chance Cowboys: The Lawman (Where the Trail Ends, #2) by Anna Schmidt

Publication Date: December 6, 2016

Genre: Historical Western Romance

Synopsis

img_5264From acclaimed author Anna Schmidt comes a sweeping historical Western romance about the unbreakable bonds of family, second chances, and a whole lot of heart in the Wild West.

“This is me, Addie,” Jess murmured. “You and me, the way we always were.”
But it wasn’t, no matter how much she wished it were true. They were different now. She would always love him…
But can she trust him not to break her heart?

Jess Porterfield fled to the big city after his father’s sudden death, leaving behind his family ranch-and his childhood sweetheart. Now Jess has returned as the local lawman, determined to prove his worth…and win back the one woman he could never live without.

Young frontier doctor Addie Wilcox was devastated when Jess left her behind. Now he’s back and it’s difficult to remember why she should keep her distance. But with the town’s richest man set to see her hang for a crime she didn’t commit, Addie must put her faith in the lawman who broke her heart-and trust that together they’ll find their second chance at love.

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Author Guest Post

When authors aren’t hard at work crafting books readers can fall in love with, like readers, they enjoy unwinding with a good book, movie or television program. Maybe the writing is inspiring, or maybe it’s just nice to escape the real world for a little bit. I asked Anna about her favorite stories, ones from popular books, movies, and television shows that many of us probably know too. Read on to see what she had to say!

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
Anna: Give me a WWII setting in Europe any day of the week; add in love interests who cannot be separated by world events, and I’m hooked.

Interestingly enough, Anna takes inspiration, not just from other books, but from film and television most of all. She says:

That’s the way I write. My characters are actors on a stage or in a movie, and they walk around doing whatever they please while I try to get it all down!

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Excerpt

FROM THE AUTHOR…

Sometimes characters I think are minor speak up. (Sometimes they pretty much grab me by the shoulders and shout, “I want to tell my story!”) That was the case with Dr. Addie Wilcox. So when her childhood sweetheart and love-of-her-life Jess Porterfield returns at the end of The Drifter, I knew what the second book in the series would be. In The Lawman, Addie has to fight her lifelong attraction to Jess, determined that he won’t break her heart again. Trouble is, once he gets appointed to serve as the town marshal and is pretty much living down the street from Addie and her family, avoiding his good looks, charming smile and determination to win her heart becomes pretty much impossible.

The story of Addie and Jess is all about first love and second chances. Here’s an excerpt that I hope sends you running to the store or your computer to read more…

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Addie could not for the life of her figure out why she continued to allow that man to get to her. Why couldn’t she be more like Jess’s younger sister and her good friend, Amanda—calm and sophisticated? She searched the gathering for Amanda, but hesitated when she saw her friend surrounded by the usual trio of admirers. Amanda had been planning this party for weeks now. She certainly deserved to enjoy herself and not have to sympathize with Addie. Besides, Jess was Amanda’s brother, newly returned to the fold from his travels following his father’s death—a death everyone now knew had not been the accident they’d first thought.
Addie stopped dead in her tracks. Her hand flew to her mouth. What was she thinking?
Poor Jess. Did he know? Had anyone told him? Of course not. Jess had a temper, and if he knew what everyone now knew—that his father’s death was not the accident they’d first thought–he’d likely be off trying to track down the killer.
Maybe Jess had overheard some of the talk. Maybe that was why he was talking about applying for the marshal’s position. After all, Jasper Tipton had built that big house in town to please his bride, Pearl, and his brother, Buck, lived there as well. While the local marshal had no jurisdiction outside the town limits, Jess might just think the fact the Tiptons resided in town opened the door for him to go after them. More than likely he would get himself killed in the bargain. Her head was spinning as she tried to think the issue through from every side.
“This is not one of your medical cases,” she muttered to herself. “This is Jess.” And when it came to figuring out what Jess Porterfield might be thinking, she fully appreciated that logic was not part of the process. She was still mad at him for leaving all those months ago but that didn’t mean she didn’t care about him and, knowing his temper, he was bound to get into trouble. With a sigh, she headed off to find her father. Maybe he could talk some sense into the man—the man she had fallen in love with, planned a future, with and then rejected. But as she moved through the throng of party guests pausing now and then to exchange a greeting, it wasn’t her father she saw—it was Jess.
He wasn’t spoiling for a fight at all. No, he was laughing and flirting with Sybil Sinclair. Sybil with her blonde curls and her bright blue eyes and a cupid’s bow of a mouth that made her look like a porcelain doll. Sybil with her tiny waist and her flawless skin and giddy laugh that actually came out as Tee-hee-hee.
“My brother is trying to make you jealous,” Amanda murmured, coming to stand next to her. “Do not let him know that it’s working.”
“It’s not,” Addie insisted, pushing her glasses more firmly onto the bridge of her nose. She straightened to her full height, which was still a good three inches shorter than Sybil’s willowy five foot four. She brushed back a lock of hair that had come loose from the practical bun she preferred and tried not to think about how her stick-straight locks would look worn down like Sybil’s long curls. “I really couldn’t care less if your brother wants to make an utter fool of himself with that…”
“Good to know you aren’t affected,” Amanda said wryly.

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Buy Links

Kindle: http://amzn.to/2ghzGBq
Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.to/2gHlePZ
B&N: http://bit.ly/2f1LKFQ
iBooks: http://apple.co/2eXO11s

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Giveaway

Win one of five copies of Last Chance Cowboys: The Drifter, the first book in Anna Schmidt’s Where The Trail Ends series

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Award-winning author Anna Schmidt delights in creating stories where her characters must wrestle with the challenges of their times. Critics have consistently praised Schmidt for her ability to seamlessly integrate actual events with her fictional characters to produce strong tales of hope and love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She resides in Wisconsin.

 

Spotlight, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway: THE UNTOUCHABLE EARL by Amy Sandas

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The Untouchable Earl (Fallen Ladies, #2) by Amy Sandas

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

img_5070“Are you afraid?”
“Yes,” she replied in a soft voice. “But I love the way you frighten me.”

Lily Chadwick has spent her life playing by society’s rules. But when an unscrupulous moneylender snatches her off the street and puts her up for auction at a pleasure house, she finds herself in the possession of a man who makes her breathless with terror and impossible yearning…

Though the reclusive Earl of Harte claimed Lily with the highest bid, he hides a painful secret—one that has kept him from knowing the pleasure of a lover’s touch. Even the barest brush of skin brings him physical pain, and he’s spent his life keeping the world at arms’ length. But there’s something about Lily that maddens him, bewitches him, compels him…and drives him toward the one woman brave and kind enough to seek to heal his troubled heart.

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Author Guest Post

Amy Sandas/ The Untouchable Earl – Guest Post

Brooding heroes. I’ve always been drawn to them over all other hero types. They stay in my mind long after they attain their happy ending, perhaps because that HEA tends to be so hard-won. They tend to carry around scars that won’t heal and painful memories that won’t fade, closing themselves off from others, fearing judgement or further hurt. I love their complexity, their secrets, the deep inner darkness they don’t bother to hide, and the tenderness they don’t want you to find.

Who are my favorite brooding heroes?

Derek Craven from Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas – Derek Craven is one of my favorite romance novel heroes of all time. It is not just his ruthless determination to distance himself from the gutters from which he had been born that makes him so alluring, or even his rough, almost brutish masculinity, though it certainly helps! Craven is a man of power and wealth of his own making, he is “a figure of mystery; arrogant, self-mocking, sociable and yet intensely private.” Ultimately, it is the unexpected sentimentality buried in depths of Craven’s soul that gives him his greatest mystique and urges a worthy woman to bring light to his darkness.
Avenell Slade, the hero in my latest title, The Untouchable Earl, is also a wonderful brooder. Keeping people beyond arms reach is vital to his survival in a society that would scorn him for the physical affliction he acquired from a childhood illness. No one can know his secret, and that means no one can get too close. It is a wretched existence made only more devastating when he meets Lily Chadwick, a woman whose closeness he desires beyond all else.

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Excerpt

“Are you going to try the champagne?” she asked.
He looked at the elegant glass in his hand. The act had become such an ingrained habit that he never even thought about it anymore. But then, no one else seemed to notice when he did not actually raise his glass to drink.
“I prefer not to have my judgment clouded.”
In truth, he never consumed anything that might promote a loss of control while among society. He had to be ever diligent if he was to successfully maintain his composure.
Perhaps tonight more than ever.
“Then why pour yourself a glass?”
“It has become habit, I suppose. A way to blend with my peers and avoid drawing attention.
She tilted her head. A smile played about the corners of her mouth. “You do what you can to blend in, whereas I’ve always secretly wished I possessed some quality that might help me to stand out. We make an odd pair, my lord.”
Avenell’s lips curved upward involuntarily. “We do indeed, Miss Chadwick.”
He hadn’t intended the intimate tone that had crept into his words, but in seeing her eyes widen with that barely perceptible reaction she had to him, he was glad for it. Knowing he could cause the involuntary response made him feel as though they were on a bit more equal ground.
“Will you call me Lily?” she asked with a modest dip of her chin. “It feels odd to be so formal, considering our…association,” she added hesitantly.
It took him a moment to gather himself enough to respond. “Would you like me to call you Lily?”
“Yes. I think so.”
He nodded.
“Shall I call you Avenell?”
Hearing his name on her lips created a fine point of pressure in his chest. He instinctively squared his shoulders in defense. Although he was pleased she would allow him the intimacy of using her given name—in fact, he intended for her to share far more intimacies with him—he could not do the same in return.
“I prefer you address me as Lord Harte.” He knew his words sounded cold, but there was no help for it. “Or my lord.”
A shadow slid across her expression at this response. Her mouth curved softly downward in a way he found intensely alluring. A tiny line formed above her brow, then quickly disappeared. He could see his refusal bothered her. For a moment it appeared she might dispute him, but she held her tongue.
While she remained silent, Avenell felt an unusual desire to provide some sort of explanation. Not all of the truth, perhaps, but something to help her understand that the denial was not a personal rejection.
“I have never kept a mistress,” he began, carefully easing into what he needed to say.
“I recall you telling me as much,” she replied. “And of course, you know I have never been one before.”
Her tone was gentle, and her features were set in a perfect expression of serenity, but he could have sworn he detected a note of dry humor in her tone. Her composure despite the subject matter astounded him. She was so unlike the typical modest young lady.
Something in the steadiness of her gaze urged him to glance away, to look anywhere but at her. He resisted the temptation and began again. “I never entered into such an arrangement because I knew there would be an expectation of certain liberties that I cannot allow.”
There was a long pause, during which the point of pressure in his chest spread outward. Then she tilted her head in a subtle gesture.
“What sort of liberties?” she asked softly.
Her voice had changed. It was difficult to identify exactly what it was, but it warmed him. Made him feel a burst of impatience, a wave of deeper desire. He took a moment before he replied.
“You will understand more fully soon enough. But I promise, I will not allow my limitations to lessen the pleasure you experience during our association.”
A blush pinked her cheeks. But she did not look away.
“And what of your pleasure, my lord?” Her voice was soft and low. Smoky, like her eyes.
It weaved through Avenell’s senses and hit him hard in the gut. Heat scored through his insides on a direct path to his loins. He had suspected from the start that her gentle manner had lured him so strongly. But the unexpected boldness in her query had an intense effect on him.
His arousal roughened his tone as he answered, “My pleasure is assured. Do not doubt that.”
The pink in her cheeks spread down across her chest and the upper swells of her breasts, but still she held his gaze. He wondered what she might be thinking. Her stillness was disconcerting when he sensed so much going on inside her.
After a few moments, her lashes swept low as she looked down at the glass of champagne held lightly in her hands.
Avenell set his own glass on the mantel over the fireplace and turned to face her more fully. It was time to begin.
“Come here, Lily.”

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Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2f6j1jf
B&N: http://bit.ly/2e2j3Hz
iBooks: http://apple.co/2dPh2gc

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Giveaway

10 Copies of Luck is No Lady

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Amy Sandas’ love of romance began one summer when she stumbled across one of her mother’s Barbara Cartland books. Her affinity for writing began with sappy pre-teen poems and led to a Bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She lives with her husband and children in Wisconsin.

Social Networking Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: How to Impress a Marquess by Susanna Ives

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How to Impress a Marquess (Wicked Little Secrets, #3) by Susanna Ives

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

img_4674TAKE ONE MARQUESS: Proper, put-upon, dependable, but concealing a sensitive artist’s soul.

ADD ONE BOHEMIAN LADY: Creative, boisterous, unruly, but secretly yearning for a steadfast love, home, and family.

STIR in a sensational serialized story that has society ravenous for each installment.

COMBINE with ambitious guests at an ill-fated house party hosted by a treacherous dowager possessing a poison tongue.

SHAKE until a stuffy marquess and rebellious lady make a shocking discovery: the contents of their hearts are just alike.

Take a sip. You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon, you’ll never want this moving Victorian love story to end.

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Author Guest Post

Five Ways To Impress A Marquess

I didn’t title my book. I just called it “book” or “that &*%$! book” during its writing. My publisher came up with the catchy “How To Impress a Marquess.” However, for the first third of the book, my heroine, Lilith Dahlgren, couldn’t care less about impressing George, Marquess of Marylewick, and told him as much on numerous occasions. Hmmm, so maybe that should be my first “way” to impress the marquess.

  1. Have a healthy disregard for the marquess’ opinion. After all, Lilith is a strong woman who knows her own mind. She doesn’t need some starchy marquess telling her what to do, how to behave, and what to think. The only reason she must interact with him is because he’s her trustee and keeps a tight handle on her purse strings.
  2. Make the marquess a villainous sultan in your work of fiction. It is possible that Lilith was been attracted to the marquess all along. Why else would she have created such a sexy villain in her popular serialized story, which she published under a pen name? Even better, make a fictional heroine who is your alter ego. Through her fictional heroine Collette, Lilith puts into print all the tender parts of herself that she can’t show to George. Have your marquess fall in love with your fictional alter ego but never let him know that he is the villain. Warning: this is a very dangerous course and could later blow up in your face.
  3. Wear tight clothes and flowing robes to entice him. This actually could be considered a subpoint of point two. Writing a story requires Lilith to sit for long periods of time and eat loads of toffee to fuel her creative brain. This really wreaks havoc on that famed Victorian waistline. Poor Lilith is popping her stays to fit in her clothes, so she usually flounces about the house in comfortable robes or shifts.
  4. Dig into a painful secret from the marquess’ boyhood to reveal his true sensitive heart beating beneath the fusty exterior. For example, discover that he was once a talented artist who quit painting after numerous spankings ordered from his disapproving father. Force the marquess to face his old secrets and personal demons. Lilith finds George’s hidden boyhood art and tricks him into looking at it again. Of course, digging into a marquess’ past might not impress but anger him, so proceed with caution.
  5. Love the marquess, not for his title, wealth, estates, or societal position. Love him with all your being for his kind heart and beautiful spirit. This is the most impressive point of them all.

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Excerpt

George stared at a painting of what appeared to be the blurred image of a woman with flowing hair. Or was that a flowing gown? In any case, something was flowing around her. Blobs of blue and green paint were splattered along her feet and around her head—if that indeed was her head and not another random blob.
“Good heavens, what blind sot vomited that?” George wondered.
The man’s jaw dropped. Tears actually misted his eyes. “I—I did.”
Damn. George should have known as much. “I’m sorry, my good man, I didn’t mean… It’s most colorful,” he grappled. “I admire the subtle depth in the shades of blue and so much symbolism in those…well, whatever those splotches are at the bottom.”
“Water lilies, Lord Marylewick,” a familiar dusky voice said. Behind the man, Lilith materialized in all her brilliance. “It’s A Muse Amongst the Water Lilies,” she stated as if it were readily apparent Dutch realism.
Whenever Lilith appeared, George had the sensation of walking from a pitch-black room into the piercing sunshine. He needed time for his eyes to adjust. When they did, he didn’t approve of what he saw. Her lustrous auburn locks, adorned with flowers, were loose and flowing over her azure robe and gauzy shawl. From the way the thin silk of her robe rested on her ripe contours, he could only guess that she wore no semblance of undergarments. That tiny vein running over his temple began to throb, as did another part of his body.
“There, there.” She hugged the distraught artist. “Don’t let the horrid Lord Marylewick distress you. He has the sensibilities of a dishcloth.”
She impaled George with a glare. “You see, Lord Marylewick, it’s about capturing the ethereal and fleeting. Those moments when the beautiful morning light illuminates the garden in all its blues, greens, and golds. It is not a representation of reality, but a sensation captured in time. A sensual impression of a moment. And philosophically, we could argue that all we have are mere impressions of a greater reality.”
George’s mind had left off after the “impression of a moment” part. With Lilith now standing beside the painting, he could see the resemblance in the flowing gown and hair and splotches.
“Lilith!” he barked. “That had better not be your impression in those ethereal blobs.”
By God, she was a grown toddler. He couldn’t turn his back on her for a moment or she would be playing near fire or gleefully shedding her clothes for some filthy-minded artist. He didn’t wait for her answer but seized her wrist and dragged her through the nearest door, which led to a paneled study with a leather sofa stacked with pillows. Cluttering the walls were paintings of pale-skinned, nude ladies gazing off to some sorrowful horizon. Luckily, these paintings appeared to be from King George III’s reign, when Lilith hadn’t been born yet to pose for them.
He shut the door behind them. She sauntered to the mirror and began to curl her locks around her finger and then let them unfurl in spirals about her cheeks. There was a dangerous, ready-for-battle tilt to the edge of her mouth, lifting the little mole above her lip.
“Lilith, did you pose for that…that…Tart Amid Blue Pigeon Cack painting? And in a rag even a Covent prostitute would think twice about wearing for fear of attracting the wrong clientele?”
Anger flashed in her eyes for a half second, and then a delicious smile curled her lips. A warm shiver coursed over his skin.
“And what if I did?” Her eyes, the color of coffee, gazed at him from under her thick lashes. He couldn’t deny their sultry allure. “What would you do? Tuck me away to another boarding school? But I’m all grown up.” She shook her head and made a clucking sound. “What to do with a grown woman who dares to have a mind of her own?” She snapped her fingers. “Ah, why not control her by taking away her money?”
With gentlemen and ladies of his set, he might say that he “spoke on the level” or “gave the news straight.” There was nothing straightforward or level about Lilith. She was all curves and turns. Conversing with her was akin to Spanish flamenco dancing with words.
“I never took your money away,” he said, feeling like a weary father cursed with an errant, irresponsible child. “And if I truly controlled you, I would never have consented to your living with your father’s cousins. Your grandfather warned me about the Dahlgrens. Nor would I have consented to use his hard-earned money for this ridiculous party. Or allowed you to pose for illicit impressions of fleeting moments.”
“Good heavens, I never posed for anyone! The painting was in the man’s imagination—that mental faculty you are woefully missing, darling. I merely dressed as the muse in the painting as a lark for the exhibit opening.” She tossed back her wrists. “You know, a muse who inspires artists to great heights of fancy.”
“Lilith, the only people you are inspiring are unsavory men to low depths of debauchery.”
“Unsavory men?” She raised her arms and draped her gauzy shawl across his head and over his eyes. “I didn’t know you found me inspiring, Georgie.” The peaks of her unbound breasts lightly brushed against his chest. Ungentlemanly desire pooled in his sex.
“Lord Marylewick,” he corrected in a choked voice and pulled her garment from his person. “And try to behave with some semblance of propriety.”
“Propriety, propriety, propriety.” She tapped her finger on the side of her mouth, as if she were searching her memory for the meaning. “I remember now. It’s when you address a lady, such as myself, as Miss Dahlgren.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t realize I had addressed you inappropriately. But if one insists on acting like a child… You are, what? Three and twenty, and continuing to romanticize this ramshackle lifestyle that any lady of good sense would—”
“It’s the Lord Marylewick patronizing play!” She clasped her hands. “I adore it! In fact, I know every line. Wait. Wait. No, don’t continue.” She withdrew the cane and hat from his hand, letting her fingers flow over his skin. “Allow me.” She placed the hat over her head, the flowers sticking out around the brim. She scrunched her eyebrows. “It’s high time you grew up, my little lamb, and threw yourself to the wolves of high society.” She croaked like a stodgy man of seventy-five, not George’s thirty-one years.
He regretted coming here. He should have driven home to gentle, fictional Colette. And when they hauled Lilith into police court, he would say to the judge, “You see what I must suffer?”

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Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2dJEt9N
B&N: http://bit.ly/2dArlqC
iBooks: http://apple.co/2e8lrQC

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Giveaway

3 Sets of the Wicked Little Secrets trilogy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Susanna Ives started writing when she left her job as a multimedia training developer to stay home with her family. Now she keeps busy driving her children to various classes, writing books, and maintaining websites. She often follows her husband on business trips around Europe and blogs about the misadventures of touring with children. She lives in Atlanta.

Social Networking Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: To Love a Texas Ranger (Men of Legend) by Linda Broday

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To Love a Texas Ranger (Men of Legend) by Linda Broday

Publication Date: October 4, 2016

Genre: Western Historical Romance

Synopsis

img_4458Gravely injured on the trail of a notorious criminal, Texas Ranger Sam Legend boards a train bound for his family ranch to recuperate…only to find himself locked in battle to save a desperate woman on the run. Determined to rescue the beautiful Sierra, Sam recruits an unlikely ally. But can he trust the mysterious gunslinger to fight at his side?

Sam is shocked to discover his new ally is not only an outlaw, but his half-brother. Torn between loyalty to his job and love of his family, Sam goes reeling straight into Sierra’s arms. Yet just as the walls around his battered heart begin to crumble, Sierra is stolen away. Sam will risk anything to save her—his life, his badge, his very soul—knowing that some bonds are stronger than the law…and some legends were born to be told.

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Excerpt

“Stop, Weston! Stop, damn you!” Sam raised his gun and fired. A large tree trunk shielded the outlaw as he rode by, the bullet splitting the bark. Weston never looked back.
Only one thing remained—see if the outlaw had left them a horse, or untied and run them all off.
The overlapping branches had kept back much of the deluge. Though water dripped from the leaves, the ground was firmer here. He moved forward, afraid to hope. It wasn’t for him but for Sierra. She wouldn’t last long afoot.
He finally glimpsed movement through the leafy forest and made out the shapes of horses.
Sam gave a sigh of relief. At least they had a way to travel.
That Weston had again shown a smattering of compassion came as a shock. He’d done wrong but had turned around and tempered it with good. Just like the time he’d shot Sam in the leg then sent help.
Damn, if he could only figure the outlaw out!
A sound from behind alerted Sam Legend. Was it Luke doubling back and sneaking up behind him? He whirled, his finger tightening on the trigger, and shoved his Colt into the person’s face.
A jolt raced through him as he stared at Sierra.
She gasped, her eyes wide in fear.
“Thought I told you to stay in the shack.” He hated the angry words, but he reeled from the shock of how close he’d come to ending her life.
His jagged nerves had trouble settling for several beats of his heart. He could still feel his finger pulling back on the trigger that would’ve sent a bullet into her. Sam’s hand shook as he returned the Colt to his holster.
“I couldn’t wait. Something’s going on. What’s wrong, Sam?” A quiver in the words spoke of Sierra’s fear. “Where’s Andrew?”
“Andrew Evan is the outlaw Luke Weston, and I’ve been chasing him nigh onto a year.” At her soft cry, he put his arm around her and held her next to him. “I recognized him this morning when I finally saw him without his hat. Those eyes are burned into my memory.”
“I liked him. He seemed real nice. You suspected, didn’t you? That was the reason for the tension I kept feeling.”
“I knew he was familiar, but it’s been hard trusting my instincts lately.” He smoothed back her tendrils of dark hair. “Forgive me? I almost shot you. Lady, you scared me out of ten lives.”
“Of course. I should’ve done as you told me, only I heard shots. It’s my fault.”
Sam tried to drag his stare from her tousled hair and soft curves that the trousers did little to hide. She was a sight for sure. He swallowed hard, trying not to think about running his hands over her satiny skin and kissing her until neither had an ounce of breath left.
He felt more like his old self, and he realized it was because of her. She’d fixed him by pushing back the darkness and allowing light into his life. By giving him something—someone—to be a hero for. A swell of deep gratitude rose as he struggled to contain his emotions.
“No, no. I beg to differ, pretty lady. I see no fault at all with you.” He looked deep into her blue eyes that saw only goodness. “Since you’re here, can you help me bring the mounts to the shack?” Somehow, someway, he’d return the horses that didn’t belong to the Ford gang to their rightful owners.
“Sure, Sam.” Pride, and maybe a little sadness too, rippled in her pretty eyes. They reminded him of a pale blue sky. In fact, he wasn’t sure if they were blue or gray. Maybe a combination of both. Whichever, he loved looking at them.
Her softly parted lips beckoned like a light that guided sailors on a dark, storm-tossed sea.
Kissing her was the only thing on his mind. Not Luke Weston. Not the trials they faced ahead. Not the time he’d have to spend twiddling his thumbs on the Lone Star Ranch. He knew he had to taste her mouth or die wanting.
Placing his large hands below her jawline, Sam lowered his head and gently pressed his lips to hers. Heat pooled low in his gut as he tasted the tangy sweetness that did faintly resemble wild honey. Just as he’d imagined.
He tried to hold back, to make the kiss light and meaningless, but his need for her made it impossible. In seconds, the gentle kiss turned urgent, demanding a response.
And Sierra did answer his invitation. With a smothered cry, she leaned into him, clutching a handful of his shirt, holding him to her. The passion and desire that filled Sam seemed to have swept her along.
That she didn’t pull away sent joy through him.
A low moan rumbled in his throat as he slid his hand into her dark hair. The satiny strands wrapped around his fingers, tethering her to him. Closing his eyes, he savored the feel of her soft curves molding against the hard planes of his body.
In that second he knew heaven wasn’t only golden streets and angels playing harps.
Heaven was Sierra Hunt in his arms.

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Buy Links

Amazon | B&N | iBooks

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Author Guest Post

Ever since I’ve been writing and publishing westerns (14 years now) I’ve heard that this genre is dead. I don’t know who started that nasty rumor but I have to say that historical western romance is very much alive. Romance readers love books about cowboys—whether they’re historical or contemporary. Cowboys are much more than men who babysit a bunch of cows. These men have a deep love for the land, for their families, and for animals. I want to share one of my favorite westerns with you. It’s a 5-star read in my book.

FUGITIVE HEARTS by E.E. Burke will keep you turning the pages. From the opening line—“Sheriff, I just killed my husband”—to the very last page, Burke will hold you in suspense. Is she a killer? Is she crazy? Or is she covering for someone? As Frank unravels the mystery, he’s torn between his love for her and his duty to bring her to justice. Claire Danes with her level head and logic is the perfect match for Sheriff Frank Garrity. He needs someone to help heal the hole in his heart and Claire is just the one to do it. This is book #4 of her Steam! Romance and Rails series. Fugitive Hearts is a riveting story woven together with amazing skill.

What’s your favorite Western?

I hope you’ll try out my newest – TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER. Texas was a wild place and one man, Texas Ranger Sam Legend, answered the call to help tame it. He’ll take you on a dangerous journey full of twists and turns. Follow along as he finds love where he least expects it.

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Giveaway

5 copies of To Love a Texas Ranger

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

At 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 now resides in the panhandle of Texas on the Llano Estacado.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Spotlight, Top 10 List & Giveaway: As Rich as a Rogue by Jade Lee

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As Rich as a Rogue (Rakes & Rogues, #3) by Jade Lee

Publication Date: August 2, 2016

Synopsis

imageThird in the saucy, vibrant Rakes & Rogues Regency romance series from USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee

A most unusual wager

Mari Powel’s fiery Welsh temper is up. Peter Norwood, Lord Whitly, is back in town after six years romping around India making his fortune. Mari blames him for her social downfall and has spent all this time clawing her way back into the ton’s good graces. How dare he show up on his first day back and publicly embroil her in a bet involving long-awaited apologies, illicit kisses, and Lady Illston’s unruly parakeet? Mari is outraged, and is going to show him—and everyone else—what she’s made of. Little does she know, the unrepentant Lord Whitly has been dreaming of her all this time. Now he’ll do anything to win the wager—along with Mari’s heart.

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Author Guest Post

Top 10 Fun Facts about As Rich as a Rogue

1. As Rich as a Rogue was inspired by Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. Can you say, duh? Everyone who writes and reads regency romance loves Austin’s work. But I was listening to an audio copy of Pride and Prejudice when I had the strongest desire to write a story based on an absolutely rude incident at a party. Just like in Austin’s book, the heroine overhears the hero being awful, but then I made it more confrontational. She chastises him face to face and both of their lives are forever changed. Each spirals in a different way from that one incident. So, in short, P&P was the basis for my book!

2. This series has an animal character in every book. 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake features a turkey that gets mistaken for a dodo bird. I wanted the publisher to put pictures of little turkeys in between every scene, but they refused. L One Rogue at a Time features a pig who gets drunk and forces all sorts of mishaps in the mud. I just love bathing in the creek scenes. And then As Rich as a Rogue features a bet about a rude parakeet. Hero and Heroine are racing to see who can teach the parakeet an appropriate phrase first. So in my mind (and because I’m awful with titles) the books were the turkey book, the pig book, and the parakeet book.

3. I am notoriously terrible at titles. In fact, my editor once called my title suggestion the worst she’d ever heard in 30 years of publishing. Guess what the original title of this book was.

a. The Duke’s Cunning Plan
b. That Nobody Chit from Hull
c. Of Birds, Brides, and Men
d. Megan and Peter’s Book

Answer: C and D – Option A, The Duke’s Cunning Plan was the original title for 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake. (Damon Suede changed that to the Duke’s Cunning Linguist which made my editor blush). That Nobody Chit from Hull was dubbed the worst title ever and became One Rogue at a Time. Birds, Brides and Men was just a cute thing I made up and used in my brain interchangeably with Megan and Peter’s book.

4. I’ve had lots of great covers in my career. After 50 books, some of them have been absolutely stunning, but As Rich as a Rogue is probably my favorite. Guess why.

a. Red and gold were my high school class colors. So of course, this would be my favorite cover!
b. Doesn’t the hero look hot? Enough said!
c. Her facial expression. She looks wickedly mischievous and I love that!
d. My name. Big, bold, and gold! Yes sir, I do have an ego!

Answer: C – The colors are awesome, but that has nothing to do with my class colors. The hero looks hot, but without man chest, it’s just nice. And I do have an ego, so it’s great to have my name so large, but that’s not why I love the cover. It’s all about her face.

5. One scene in As Rich as a Rogue was built directly from my Downton Abbey imagination. Guess which one.

a. The love scene of course. I’ve built lots of love scenes in my imagination with the handsome male cast of Downton Abbey.
b. The scene where the Cook and Housekeeper share tea with the hero and give him important information on the villainous things his father is doing. I set the scene in Mrs. Hughes’ tiny office and imagined her and Mrs. Patmore trying to tell Matthew Crawley something sensitive.
c. In my mind, the ball was set in the Downton Abbey ballroom. Where else would it be?
d. We’re able to visit a few lower class pubs in Downton Abbey and in my book. My imagination grabbed the seediest pub and put it into my book.

Answer: B – In my imagination, the hero’s Cook and Housekeeper worked in Downton Abbey’s belowstairs. So that setting was lifted directly into my book (minus certain appliances). All the other options above didn’t quite translate to the Regency time period.

6. All of the Rakes and Rogues books have a silly side to it. A part of the plot that is designed for humor and inevitably spirals out of control. In 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake, every person in the book has a plan that goes horribly awry. A zillion competing agendas clash in hilarious ways! In One Rogue at a Time, the heroine believes something that no one else does. Her insistence becomes funnier and funnier until the world aligns with her. In As Rich as a Rogue, I played with all the things we do to maintain or fight appearances until it becomes incredibly silly. Great fun to read, but OMG it was hard to write. Finding that spot of funny without becoming too silly is a difficult target to hit. I think I managed it, but you’ll have to decide for yourself.

7. True or False: I wrote this book without benefit of coffee.
TRUE! I hate having to search for coffee when travelling. Sometimes I have to get up incredibly early during conferences (well early for me), and adding in time to find a café for a soy latte is a real challenge. So I decided to go coffee free and see how I felt. Answer: TIRED! They say everyone has a drug of choice, and mine is caffeine. This book took a month longer than usual to write and I felt like I had to work twice as hard to be witty. All of that was magically solved the minute I went back on a morning cup of joe!

8. My very first published regency romance, Rules for a Lady, featured a young street boy adopted by the heroine. He was a delightful source of a disagreement between hero and heroine. It works because the heroine has a very soft heart and picks up strays all over the place. In As Rich as a Rogue, I turned that around. The very practical-minded hero ends up adopting a street boy and trying to justify his tender heart. Plus, this street boy is a great deal more savvy than in my first book, so there’s a few more challenges there. Great fun!

9. The first sexual encounter (more than a kiss) in As Rich as a Rogue had to be completely re-written several times. That’s extremely unusual for me. Normally love scenes are relatively easy for me. By the time the characters get sexual, I’ve built up the tension so high that the hero and heroine just implode together. But in this case, I couldn’t get the tone right. In the first go round, what started as a funny scene becomes hero dominant fast. That wasn’t right, so I lessened the funny and it just didn’t work with the lighter tone of the book. I tried fully funny and ended up with slapstick. OMG it was a mess. Finally, I just stopped and re-read the book from beginning again. I flowed deeper into the heroine’s mindset and managed a balance. My editor didn’t have one correction on the scene, so I think I finally got it right!

10. Mari, the heroine of As Rich as a Rogue, appears in an earlier ebook novella titled Winning a Bride. In fact, that’s my favorite novella of all that I’ve ever written, but it has a significant error. It features a character named Megan when that name didn’t come into use until the twentieth century. Oops! So rather than perpetuate the error, I changed her name to Mari and wrote her story with that name.

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Excerpt

“I never imagined that I would have to fight so hard for the woman of my choice.”

“Because you are a wealthy lord?”

“Yes.”

She sighed and kicked idly at a stone. “If you wish to pursue this, you need only speak to my father. He will put me on bread and water and lock me in a dungeon until I accept your proposal.”

His eyes narrowed. “Your father would do that?”

“Probably,” she said with a laugh. Her expression was easy despite what she was suggesting.

“So your father is a harsh man,” he pressed. This was something he needed to know.

“What? Papa? Well, no more than the usual, I suppose. He’s considered merciless in business.”

“How merciless?” In his experience, a man’s business practices could be very ugly indeed. “I need particulars, Miss Powel.”

She faced him squarely. “Then you should talk to my father.”

He took a deep breath. “Very well,” he said. “I will.” It took her a moment to process those words and then another breath before she grabbed his arm in alarm. “Oh no. I misspoke. My father is the gentlest man in the world, and you should definitely not speak to him.”

Now they were getting somewhere. “Afraid of bread and water, are you?”

“Yes! Well, no, not literally. Good God, why are we speaking of my father? You are correct, he is the one who wants the title and would do a great deal to see me wed to you. But after the vows are exchanged, you would not be shackled to him. It would be me in your bed. Day in and day out with a wife who spends most of her time wanting to throttle you.”

He heard her words, but most of them were lost under the fantasy of her in his bed. Of her beneath him night after night and well into the morning, when he could wake her with sweet kisses and bold thrusts. “My lord?” she pressed when he had been silent too long.

He forcibly drew himself out of his reverie. “So what is it that you want in a man, if it isn’t a title or money?”

She glanced at him but quickly looked away. “Shall I name for you the countless well-heeled peers who would be a nightmare as a husband? There are exactly fifty-three.”

“Are those the eligible gentlemen?”

She shuddered. “Goodness, no. The unmarried or widower titles number thirty-seven. Beyond that, there are over a dozen in my acceptable column, and exactly none who wish to court me, a wayward Welsh cit.”

“Lord Rimbury is courting you.”

“Well-heeled, my lord.”

“I am courting you.”

“You are in my nightmare category.” He turned to her. “Why?”

“And here we are full circle. I have explained to you that we do not suit. We fight constantly. You make me want to do violence. Every single one of my good intentions fly to the boughs the moment you enter a room. You make me insane, my lord, and—” He did not allow her to say more. He knew her words were meant to dissuade him, but he heard what she didn’t say. He heard that she lost her careful plans when he was around. That she was mad for him. And if they were wed, she would be this creature who challenged him at every turn to speak better, to think more clearly, and to act in every way better than the lummox he had been. That he often still was.

So he kissed her.

He jerked her into his arms and put his mouth on hers. He wrapped her tight against his chest, knew the glorious feel of her breasts flush against his torso, and when her mouth opened on a gasp of surprise, he thrust his tongue inside.

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Buy Links

Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million | iBooks

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Giveaway

10 Copies of 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake by Jade Lee

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

imageUSA Today bestselling author Jade Lee has been crafting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ballgowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than 40 romance novels and winner of dozens of reader awards, she brings laughter into the sexy nights of England’s elite. Quirky characters and sexy banter are her hallmarks. Find out more at her website http://www.JadeLeeAuthor.com, or check out her wild contemporary half at http://www.KathyLyons.com.

AUTHOR LINKS: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: Every Time with a Highlander (Sirens of the Scottish, #3) by Gwyn Cready

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Every Time with a Highlander (Sirens of the Scottish, #3) by Gwyn Cready

Publication Date: August 2, 2016

Synopsis

imageShe can work her magic on any man

In a quest to bring peace to her beloved Scottish borderlands, fortune-teller and spy Undine Douglas agrees to marry a savage English colonel. Desperate to delay the wedding long enough to undermine the army’s plans, Undine casts a spell to summon help and unexpectedly finds herself under the imperious gaze of the handsome and talented Michael Kent, twenty-first century British theater director.

But in this production, he commands the action

Though he abandoned acting years ago, Michael will play whatever part it takes to guard Undine’s safety—he’s used to managing London’s egocentric actors and high-handed patrons, after all. But not even Shakespeare could have foreseen the sparks that fly when the colonel’s plans force Undine and Michael into the roles of their lifetimes.

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Author Guest Post

Top Five Time Travel Romance Movies, According to Gwyn Cready

Okay, brace yourself. This list does not include Somewhere in Time. Hurl your spitballs if you must, but it doesn’t make the top five time travel romance movies—at least not my top five. Now, let’s pick the fragments out of our hair from that bombshell and move on to the qualities a good time travel romance movie must possess in my world. First, time “travel” is a little too precise. I’m just as happy with a movie that fiddles around with time. Second, one or both protagonists have to undergo a transition in order to be worthy of love. Third, the protagonists have to work to overcome what time has done to them, not just be battered around by it. I want my protagonists to be fighters. And fourth, there has to be love and lots of it.

5. Time Traveler’s Wife (Robert Schwentke, 2009.) This movie probably shouldn’t have made this list for two reasons important reasons. First, the movie is so-so, but the book is so, so great, the movie gets to draft behind it into fifth place here. Second, the ending isn’t exactly happy. To be fair, it’s not exactly unhappy either. But the story is one of the finest examples of the power of love to overcome all obstacles, even the most capricious involuntary time travel forced on Henry De Tamble, the friend, lover, and eventual husband of Clare Abshire, that I have ever experienced. Henry has been tossed into almost every part of his past and future life by a tendency for time travel he can’t control. My favorite part is when Clare, who has met his traveling self before though he doesn’t remember it, tricks him into taking her virginity.

4. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993.) Not your classic time travel romance, for sure. The screenwriter plays with time, and, in this case, that’s even better. Phil Connors is a Pittsburgh weatherman. His worst assignment ever turns into a never-ending loop of small town inanity. But does Phil let that get him down? Well, at first, yes. He seduces women, gets drunk, gets arrested, and even dies trying to free himself from the hell he’s stuck in. But he always wakes up at the start of the same awful day—and what’s worse, nothing he does gets him any closer to his producer, the beautiful and smart Rita Hanson, who hates her self-centered co-worker. It isn’t until Phil gives up trying to use his special circumstances in selfish ways and instead commits himself to becoming a better person, He learns to play the piano and speak French, and he even saves lives. And for his hard work—Harold Ramis estimated that Phil lived through enough Groundhog days to make up ten calendar years—Phil is finally rewarded with Rita’s love. A better version of desire for a good woman making a bad man worthy has never been written.

3. About Time (Richard Curtis, 2013.) Another time Spirograph, and this one hits all my time buttons. It’s funny, sweet, veers into heartbreaking, and then just as quickly gives us the happy ending we’ve been waiting for. And it’s populated with some of my favorite British Isle actors—Domhnall Gleason, Bill Nighy, and Tom Hollander. Gangly, sweet Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleason) is an attorney who is told by his father on his twenty-first birthday that all men in their family line can time travel back in time to an earlier point in their lives whenever they’d like. Tim uses his new-found talent to fix problems for his friends and to set himself up with a beautiful American woman (Rachel McAdams). Eventually, he discovers what his father did with his own time travel abilities—pack a box of Kleenex. But in the end, Tim realizes that living life as well as one can in each day one is given, rather than savoring it again by living it over, is the best way to appreciate it.

2. The Adjustment Bureau (George Nolfi, 2011.) David Norris is meant for good things. He’s running for the senate but falls in love with Elise, a beautiful, vivacious dancer. The mysterious people who plot out our lives—the Adjustment Bureau—can’t have David derailed from his intended career path. They move Elise out of his reach. But David catches on to the game, and begins to try to outmaneuver them in order to find her again. But when the men from the Adjustment Bureau tell him Elise is meant for better things too—things she’ll never achieve if she stays with David, he has to decide if love rules our lives or fate.

1. 13 Going on 30 (Gary Winick, 2004.) A dark horse for #1, I’ll admit it, but I can’t pass up the story of 13-year-old Jenna Rink, played by Jennifer Garner, who is transported into her future and discovers a great job and a closet full of shoes isn’t enough to make up for losing Matt, the boy who was her best friend. The über-fun acted-out dance numbers from “Thriller” and “Love is a Battlefield” made this 80s gal’s squeal with delight. I cry every time grown-up Jenna tracks down grown-up Matt, the one person she knows she can trust with her story, and he says, “Jenna, we’re not friends anymore.” The movie makes us ask ourselves, “What do we lose when we take the people closest to us for granted?” Fortunately, the answer for Jenna is not Matt, at least not forever. Happy sigh.

In Every Time with a Highlander, Michael Kent is the handsome, talented director of Britain’s national theater who longs to leave the self-centered actors and imperious patrons behind, and be sipping a dry Rioja on a beach somewhere in Spain. Unfortunately for him, Undine, a fiery fortune teller, spellcaster, and spy in eighteenth century Scotland, has a different plan for him, a fact he discovers when her spell pulls him right out of a production of Romeo and Juliet, where he’s filling in for a sick Friar Laurance. Undine is trying to undermine the battle plans of the violent head of England’s northern armies–a man who also happens to be her fiancé. She needs a partner who’s a versatile actor. And the first role the man must play is a priest who will stop her fiance’s plan to marry her as soon as possible.

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Excerpt

The blinding lights were on, he thought, blinking, but he was no longer sure how long he’d been onstage. Seconds? The set had changed—he’d have to speak to Eve, though he felt rather woozy, as if he’d left her a few hours ago and been drinking ever since. What was the stained glass doing in the back? Who’d authorized such an expense?
Someone cleared his throat, and Michael wheeled around, searching for his line.
But it wasn’t Paris nor Romeo nor even Juliet or Eve. It was an actor in a tawny frock coat with a waterfall of lace at his neck—he must speak to the costume manager as well—and the theater was empty.
Well, another theater perhaps, not the National Rose. One with hand-carved pews and an enormous painting of Henry VIII beyond its door.
The spiking adrenaline of missed cues and forgotten lines had nothing on finding oneself sucked out of a play into an unknown room with an unknown man. Sweat began to form on Michael’s back, and his mouth moved in an incoherent attempt to speak.
“I beg your pardon,” the man said, mildly incensed. “I asked you where Bishop Rothwell went.”
“I told you, John,” said a woman Michael hadn’t noticed. “He was called away.”
She stood apart from the man, arms crossed, in a gown of ethereal pink. Her words had been accompanied by a laser look at Michael that would have reduced the Greenland ice cap to a large cup of steaming tea.
Why were these people dressed for Shakespeare—or Congreve, really—yet nothing from their mouths rung of any play he’d ever seen? His gut began to tighten.
“Called away?” the man she’d called John said. “For what?”
“An emergency in the bishopric.” The “-pric” lingered on the woman’s tongue a second longer than necessary, though this time the look that accompanied it was for her companion.
She was beautiful—stunning, really—with hair like wet gold and eyes that shone an emerald green, but everything about her carriage and voice carried the expectation of being obeyed. In the instant Michael could spare to process the players rather than his own uncertain circumstances, he could see John might be an overbearing prig but the woman was flat-out trouble.
“And this…cleric?” John looked at Michael’s habit with poorly concealed distaste.
“The bishop’s colleague,” she said. “An ascetic, it seems.”
The two clearly weren’t actors—though they were nearly as irritating—and this wasn’t a set. Somehow, between stepping onstage and the lights going up, Michael had lost the National Rose. What had happened? The closest he’d ever gotten to feeling what he felt now was playing Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest, when the actor playing Algernon jumped twenty-seven pages ahead, leaving Michael thrust unexpectedly into Act Three’s happy engagement to Gwendolen with all the play’s loose ends resolved, hoping in earnest for the curtain. At least Michael had known what theater he’d been in then—and what play.
“Is he capable of marrying us?” John asked, dubious.
“I should think so,” she said. “It’s woven into the burlap.”
In a remote place in his head, at a distance from the panic that had seized control of his cerebellum, the amusement in her words cut him. He may not be the most rehearsed Friar Laurence who ever walked the stage, but that was certainly no reason to impugn the character’s inner nobility.
“Then let him do it.” John’s exasperation was growing. “You’re still willing, aren’t you, my love? Even without a proper bishop?”
“Most willing.” She smiled sweetly, but Michael saw the falsehood even if her fiancé did not. “Are we not in need of witnesses, though?” she added.
John growled. “They were behind me a moment ago. Let me find them. I’ll be but a moment.” He strode out.
Perhaps this was a dream—a dream conflating all the Shakespeare and Farquhar and Marlowe that Michael had ever done—with a generous helping of Wicked thrown in for good measure. Then it came to him. The potion.
He willed his fingers open and looked at his quaking palm.
A hand snatched the empty bottle away.
“Wake up,” the woman said in a razor-sharp whisper, and now he realized the voice he’d heard had been hers. “Listen carefully. I called you here for one reason. Keep that blackguard from marrying me or I shall shrivel your man parts like dates in the Barbary sun.” She stashed the bottle in her bodice and turned, smiling, to greet her fiancé as he returned with two footmen straight out of Molière.
Michael felt as if a blast furnace had scorched him from brows to sandals. He also felt his indignation grow. No one threatened Michael’s man parts, certainly not in a theater—even if this wasn’t exactly a theater or a play…or even a space he remotely recognized.
“Are you ready?” John said.
Michael held up a finger. “Actually, I’m not.”
He felt rather than heard the woman’s exhale of relief.
“Your fiancée was just telling me how truly eager she is to begin life as your wife,” Michael said. “However, she has made me aware of a few, well, shall we say blemishes upon her conscience, and I know she wishes to unburden herself before the happy marriage is consummated.”
John blinked. “Undine…my fiancée…wishes to confess?”
Undine, was it? Like the water fairy in Giraudoux’s play? More like Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
“I most certainly do not,” she said, eyes flashing.
“No?” Michael shrugged. “Well then, let us proceed apace with the ceremony. Good sir, do you have the Book of Common Prayer?”
“Wait,” Undine said.
Michael turned, triumphant. “Aye?”
“I might have something to confess after all,” she said with an iron glare.
“Ahh,” Michael said, hand over his heart, “the heart wishes to forget, but the soul demands its redemption. Aye, let us retreat to a private place, where you can unburden yourself of everything—everything—that I and the Lord need to know.”

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Giveaway

5 Copies of Gwyn Cready’s Just in Time for a Highlander

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Buy Links
AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

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About the Author

Gwyn Cready is a writer of contemporary, Scottish, and time travel romance. She’s been called “the master of time travel romance” and is the winner of the RITA Award, the most prestigious award given in romance writing. She has been profiled in Real Simple and USA Today, among others. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 25 years in brand management. She has two grown children and lives with her husband on a hill overlooking the magical kingdom of Pittsburgh.