Ally Broadfield: How to Beguile a Duke

Message From Ally

Thanks for hosting me at the Parlour today, Susana. I have a funny…or perhaps I should say ironic story to share with you about my new release. I’ve been reading historical romance for most of my life. I read in just about every time period, but the Regency is my favorite. I’ve read a lot of books set during the Regency period, and Jane Austen is my favorite author. Strangely enough, when I decided to try to write a book, I didn’t think I could write historical romance. I wrote a young adult book and a children’s book before I decided that maybe I could write a Regency.

As a lifelong history buff and a history major in college, my first step when I write any new book is to research. One area I needed a lot of information about was the British peerage. I studied the various peerages, forms of address, laws of succession, and many other topics. One thing I discovered really surprised me. In 1820, there were only eighteen dukes, seventeen marquesses, and one hundred earls. So where are all of these dukes and lords coming from in the stories I read? I decided then and there that I would not write a story with a duke as the hero because there was such a remote chance that there would have been a young, unmarried, desirable duke available.

HTBAD-1600 copyExcept my second book, How to Beguile a Duke, was just released. Yeah, how did “duke” get in the title if I refuse to use a duke as the hero? Of course I didn’t plan for the hero to be a duke at first. I had the heroine all figured out first. Raised in the Bahamas, the daughter of an English lady and a French man rumored to be a pirate, she was unconventional to say the least. I thought an unconventional hero would be perfect for her, but my editor had other ideas. She suggested that what my heroine needed was someone who was her polar opposite. Someone who would challenge her at every turn. Who could be more unlike an unconventional, impetuous girl than a stuffy duke who thinks he is always right? The moment Nick and Catherine appeared on the page together, the story took off and I could barely type fast enough to keep up with them. So, I decided to break my own rule. I’d like to share a short excerpt with you so you can judge for yourself whether it was a good decision:

She crossed her arms. “Your Grace. I have never been so insulted. I am not accustomed to having my word questioned.”

“Well you must become accustomed to it if you are going to continue to break into other people’s homes at your whim.”

“You should as well if you are going to lie to your guests about your whereabouts.”

He took a step forward and looked down his nose at her. Every part of her body awakened to his proximity. A whiff of cedar tickled her nose.

“Miss Malboeuf, you would do well to learn the customs of English society. It is my prerogative to turn away callers I do not wish to see. When my butler told you I was not at home, you should have understood it meant I did not wish to give you audience.”

She took a step back, hoping her mind would reengage. “It is still an untruth, which is the same thing as a lie. Why not tell the truth? Then I would have known your intentions from the start.”

The duke clenched his jaw. “Perhaps you should seek out someone who can provide you lessons in deportment.”

“That won’t be necessary, Your Grace. I attended a class on deportment in New Orleans.”

His gaze dropped to her unshod feet. “It’s a pity you weren’t able to complete the course.”

Now I understand why authors like to use dukes as their heroes, even given how unlikely it was that there were any eligible dukes to be had.

What do you think? Are there too many dukes in Regency romances, or do you prefer, like me, to pretend there were plenty of dukes to go around?

Resources:

Nancy Mayer, Regency Researcher: http://www.regencyresearcher.com/pages/peer1.html

Cannon, John. Aristocratic Century. Cambridge University Press, 1984

About How to Beguile a Duke

The spirited Catherine Malboeuf has just arrived in England to reclaim her ancestral home, Walsley Manor, and a valuable missing heirloom. Nicholas Adair, the attractive and frustratingly inflexible Duke of Boulstridge, however, is quite unwilling to sell the estate back to Catherine. Unless, of course, she accepts a small wager…

Nick will sell Walsley Manor if—and only if—Catherine secures an offer of marriage from an eligible member of the ton before the end of the London season.

Of course, Nick is certain he’ll win. After all, no proper gentleman would ever marry a woman who conceals a cutlass in her skirts. Yet something about Catherine’s unconventional disposition seems to ignite a need deep inside him. A need that won’t just cost him the wager, but the very heart he swore to never give away…

 AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes

Amazon UKAmazon CAKobo

Video Trailer

About the Author

bio pic largeAlly has worked as a horse trainer, director of marketing and development, freelance proofreader, and a children’s librarian, among other things. None of them were as awesome as writing romance novels (though the librarian gig came closest). She lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, five dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and assorted reptiles. Oh, and her husband.

Ally likes to curse in Russian because very few people know what she’s saying, and spends most of what would be her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She has many stories in her head looking for an opportunity to escape onto paper. She writes historical romance set in Regency England and Imperial Russia.

WebsiteFacebookTwitter

GoodreadsYouTube

Collette Cameron: Triumph and Treasure

updatedTriumphandTreasure_200x300

About Triumph and Treasure 

Book One in the

Highlander Heather Romancing a Scot Series

 A disillusioned Scottish gentlewoman.

Angelina Ellsworth once believed in love—before she discovered her husband of mere hours was a slave-trader and already married. To avoid the scandal and disgrace, she escapes to her aunt and uncle’s, the Duke and Duchess of Waterford. When Angelina learns she is with child, she vows she’ll never trust a man again.

A privileged English lord.

Flynn, Earl of Luxmoore, led an enchanted life until his father committed suicide after losing everything to Waterford in a wager. Stripped of all but his title, Flynn is thrust into the role of marquis as well as provider for his disabled sister and invalid mother. Unable to pay his father’s astronomical gambling loss, Flynn must choose between social or financial ruin.

When the duke suggests he’ll forgive the debt if Flynn marries his niece, Flynn accepts the duke’s proposal. Reluctant to wed a stranger, but willing to do anything to protect her babe and escape the clutches of the madman who still pursues her, Angelina agrees to the union.

Can Flynn and Angelina find happiness and love in a marriage neither wanted, or is the chasm between them insurmountable?

Amazon

Excerpt

“My lord, are these some of your blossoms?” Her Grace waved at the flower vases positioned throughout the room. “I’ve heard of your successful venture into breeding these beauties.”

That caught Mrs. Thorne’s attention. Her jewel-green eyes swept the roses. A line formed between her brows, and she mashed her lips together, lowering her gaze to her cup. She took a dainty sip of tea.

Didn’t she care for roses? Or perhaps the tea displeased her. Dolt. He ought to have had coffee served as well, since she preferred the beverage.

“Oh, indeed they are.” Pride rang in Grandmamma’s voice. “See those stunning blooms on the mantle? Have you ever seen roses that particular shade of pink? Why, they appear almost lavender. Makes me think of fresh highland heather on the Scottish moors. And Flynn has a rose that is almost black.”

“Mrs. Thorne, don’t you like roses?” Franny also noticed Mrs. Thorne’s expression.

The Duchess chuckled indulgently. “With a name like Angelina-Rose, of course she does. Tell them of your gardens in Salem. Your mother wrote of your fascination with the flower.”

A becoming flush pinkened Mrs. Thorne’s high cheekbones.

So, she entertained a penchant for roses after all. Precisely the excuse he needed to invite her to tour his conservatories and spirit her away from the watchful eye of the duchess. Franny could accompany them and act as chaperone.

Flynn controlled the satisfied grin threatening to twist his lips. “Did you know the great bard, Shakespeare, professed a fondness for them? He proclaimed, ‘Of all the flowers, methinks the rose is best.’”

Mrs. Thorne nodded, her interest fixed on a painted porcelain vase poised on a side table. “I’m partial to them myself, though I cannot claim such a complicated endeavor as breeding them. I simply tended a few humble plants in our gardens. I don’t believe they numbered in excess of ten in all.”

About the Author

Collette CameronAward winning, multi-published historical romance author, Collette Cameron, has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in Teaching. A Pacific Northwest Native, Collette’s been most of her life, has three amazing adult children, and five dachshunds. Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, the beach, trivia, birds, shabby chic, and Cadbury Chocolate. You’ll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels.

Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, or too many flowers.

She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.

Website • Blue Rose Romance Blog • Twitter   • Facebook Newsletter • GoodreadsAmazon Author Page

Cynthia Moore: It’s Never Enough

Cotillion Christmas Feasts

fireplace small

2014 is the final year of Ellora’s Cave’s Cotillion Christmas anthologies. Enjoy these sweet Regency Christmas tales this year while you still can!

Message From Cynthia

It all started with the theme-Christmas Feasts. I wanted to set up an opening scene showing the heroine unable to sleep because she is hungry. She convinces her maid to accompany her to the kitchen for a late night meal. I needed the heroine to encounter the hero in the kitchen unexpectedly. They should each show embarrassment as well as longing and concern for one another (an obvious hint at continued affection on both sides). Then I had to come up with a reason why they were each holding their emotions in check. That’s when I decided that there would be a misunderstanding between them the night before the hero goes to war. This mistake has festered and bothered each of them in the months the hero has been away. She is confused and heartbroken, he is full of longing for her but he believes he did the right thing to set her free so that she could be with the man she loved.

About It’s Never Enough

Lady Selina Durwood has been in love with Lord Robert Crestor since she was a young girl. As the years passed by and their relationship matured, it was assumed by all who knew them they would eventually marry.

Robert makes a decision to join the British cavalry to assist in the fight against Napoleon. While attending a ball the night before he leaves, Robert observes his best friend Justin Wexley, Marquess of Rockton, speaking to Selina. They both appear to gaze longingly into each other’s eyes while they talk. Robert assumes they are in love with each other. Later that night, he informs Selina that she is released from any expectations of marriage with him.

Invited to spend the Christmas holidays with her parents at his family’s estate, Selina agrees to attend believing Robert is still stationed with his cavalry in Brussels. Upon entering the kitchen with her maid for a late night meal, she unexpectedly encounters Robert.

Will Robert come to realize he made a very unfortunate conjecture about his friend and Selina? Can Selina forgive Robert for the heartache and pain she has lived with since he set her free and went away to battle? The true strength of their love for one another is put to the test in this holiday story.

AmazonBarnes & Noble Ellora’s CaveKobo

Excerpt

Chapter One

December 23, 1815

“Ellie! Miss Worth! Please wake up!”

“What…what? Whatever is the matter, my lady?”

“I’m famished. I can’t sleep. My stomach is growling like an angry bear with a bee in its ear! You need to accompany me to the kitchen.”

9781419993367_p0_v1_s260x420Miss Worth yawned loudly and then looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry, my lady. We were traveling all day to get here and I ate a huge meal in the servants’ quarters this evening. I’m plumb exhausted as well as stuffed. Are you sure you’re hungry, my lady?”

Selina walked back into her own room and reached for her wrapper. She tied it securely at her waist and thrust her feet into the slippers that were on the floor near the bed. “You know what has happened lately whenever I go to balls or parties and I have to sit at a table and eat food surrounded by people I don’t know. I get nervous. I worry someone will ask me a question just as I take a mouthful of meat. Or a piece of cabbage will get stuck in my teeth and it will shine like a green beacon for everyone to see when I smile. I end up taking a few small bite before the hostess rises from her seat and announces it is time for the women to leave the gentlemen to their brandy and cigars. Such a thing occurred tonight.”

Miss Worth sat up in her cot and frowned at Selina from the connecting room. “But, my lady, Lord and Lady Dunstable have been friends of your parents since before you were born. And you’ve known Lord Rockton for many years. Surely you have no trouble eating a meal around them?”

Selina began pacing across the carpet that lay in front of the hearth. She needed some sort of activity to keep her mind off her hunger pains while she waited for Ellie to get ready. “Of course I don’t. But several new acquaintances are joining us here for the holidays. A Lord John Bartley, his sisters, Miss Bartley and Miss Francis Bartley and Lord Bartley’s friend, Sir William Elsmere. They were all at the table this evening.”

Miss Worth struggled to her feet and trust her arms into her wrapper. “Oh yes. I believe I heard the butler mentioning the arrival of more guests. He seemed very upset that Lord Crestor hadn’t made an appearance, my lady.”

“Robert…um, Lord Crestor? He is busy with the Cavalry Brigade in Brussels. He can’t make time to be with us now.” Selina stopped pacing and frowned down at the glowing bits of coal in the hearth.

“But, my lady, Napoleon is safely imprisoned on Saint Helena. Surely Lord Crestor could take some time away from his duties to be here for the holidays?”

“You seem unduly concerned by his absence, Ellie.” Selina raised her eyebrows as she looked at her maid.

“I’m the one who dried your tears after he left, my lady. I know how much you love him.”

“Yes, well, Lord Crestor made it perfectly clear that any thoughts of affection I might have had were misplaced when he released me from any prior claim to him just before he left to join his regiment in April.”

“My lady, you know that he hadn’t formally asked for your hand. He wanted you to be free in case he should be killed in battle.”

“We’ve been over this before, Ellie. He obviously didn’t care for me as much as I did for him.” Selina forced a smile upon her face and picked up the lighted taper on the bedside table. “Come, my mouth is watering when I think of the roasted quail and apple tarts that are taking up space in the larder this very moment.”

They made their way down the stairs, through the darkened entryway and tiptoed past the housekeeper’s quarters at the back of the house until they reached the door leading to the kitchen. Selina put a shaky hand against the frame as a loud rumble of hunger omitted from her stomach once again. Without further ado, she turned the knob and entered the room.

“Selina…um, Lady Selina? Is that you?”

Her hand trembled and the candle wavered as she heard the sound of the deep, soothing voice of the man she had known and loved since childhood. She raised the candle and focused her gaze on the figure that had risen from the nearby table. She stifled a gasp when she saw him clearly. He had lost a considerable amount of weight in the months since he had gone away to battle. His black hair was still thick and wavy, brushed back off his forehead. But his cheek bones seemed more pronounced and prominent on his face. He had taken off his coat and draped it over the back of a chair. His cravat was untied and his white linen shirt hung loosely across his chest. As she looked into his hazel eyes, she had the impression that he was holding himself in check-hiding something from her. “Robert? Uh, Lord Crestor? I thought you were still in Brussels.”

Susana Says

SusanaSays3…sweet and light holiday romance: 4/5 stars

Can a gentleman be too honorable?

Robert believes his betrothed is in love with his best friend, so he releases her from the relationship before he takes off for the war on the Continent.

Selena is left heartbroken when her betrothed gives her the freedom he believes she wants and then takes off for war.

Now he is back for Christmas with his family and a party of friends that includes Selena and the man he thinks she loves. He doesn’t understand why they have not married after so much time has passed, and besides, show no partiality for each other even now.

Cute love story set among English holiday traditions and culinary delights. Short enough to finish at one setting. Enjoy!

About the Author

author_photoCynthia Moore is a native Southern California girl. At a very early age, she discovered her local library and the exciting potential of escaping the real world inside the pages of a good book. In her early teens, she became a fan of British literature. After reading most of the Victorian classics, Cynthia found English Regency romance novels in 1987. It was love at first read. Since her chance introduction to this wonderful era, Cynthia has read over three thousand fiction novels and she maintains a large collection of research books on the period. She is extremely proud to be able to say she has several published novels taking place during the English Regency.

Other Stories in the Cotillion Christmas Feasts Series

Christmas Fete by Barbara Miller

The Size of the Scandal by Jillian Chantal

Her Very Major Christmas by Saralee Etter

A Christmas Scheme by Christa Paige and Vivien Jackson

It’s Never Enough by Cynthia Moore

Vanessa Kelly: Tall, Dark and Royal

Interview with Vanessa Kelly

Susana: What comes first: the plot or the characters?

IMG_0031 copyVanessa: It seems to change from book to book. If I had to come down on one side or the other, I’d say character, although sometimes I do get story concepts from watching a movie or from reading. But usually it’s a character that appears in my head and refuses to let go. That’s what happened with Dominic Hunter, the hero of Tall, Dark, and Royal. I came across a few references in a biography to an interesting but very little known historical personage. In my head, he turned into Dominic Hunter. From there came the entire series concept for The Renegade Royals.

Susana: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Vanessa: I’m a crazy plotter. I work up plot boards, character biographies, goal and motivation charts, character trait charts, and write a long synopsis before I actually start writing the book. It gives me a comfort level to get through any dry spells that might crop up. It’s also a process I really enjoy and find a lot of fun.

Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Vanessa: Dominic Hunter’s story began in the introductory novella to my Renegade Royals series as a fourteen-year old boy. His story arc and romantic journey takes place over the next two books before reaching a final resolution in Tall, Dark, and Royal. I really enjoyed creating a character with such a substantial role in the first four stories of the series.

Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?

Vanessa: I’m working on the concept for a spin-off series to The Renegade Royals with my editor. So far it’s a lot of fun, especially since it means certain characters from the first series of books will reappear in the new series. Of course, I still have two more books to come out in my current series!

Susana: What are you reading now?

Vanessa: Rogue Spy, by Joanna Bourne. Her mastery of plot and characterization, combined with the sheer beauty of her prose, is really awe-inspiring. She’s just an amazing writer.

Susana: If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you mostly likely want to go? Why?

Vanessa: Scotland—I’m starting to write more Regencies set in the Highlands, and I’d love to see that part of the world in person. I went to Scotland once when I was a teenager, and I never forgot it. It’s so flat-out beautiful, and its history is fascinating, tragic, colorful, and triumphant all at once.

Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Vanessa: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke. That’s pretty much the moral philosophy that informs the actions of both my heroes and heroines.

Susana: Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, would you consider straying outside your genre?

Vanessa: I do write in multiple genres. I write historical romance under my own name, and I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense with my husband as V.K. Sykes. We actually have a new contemporary romance series coming out from Grand Central Publishing at the end of February. The first book is called Meet Me at the Beach, and it’s set in a small island community in Maine.

giveaway

I’m giving away an ARC of my next book in The Renegade Royals Series. For a chance to win a copy of How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy, just tell me a few of your favorite character traits in a romance hero.

Tall Dark Royal.ebook copy

About Tall, Dark and Royal

He’s the man behind the mission to track down the illegitimate children of England’s Royal Princes and help them get their due. But his deepest desire is far more personal…

Magnificent and stubborn. Fourteen years apart had not changed Chloe Steele, or Dominic Hunter’s love for her. He’d been a street urchin, a boy raised at court, and finally a magistrate, yet he’d never belonged anywhere—except by her side. Now Chloe devoted herself to girls threatened by scandal–like she had been. But she was in danger, and Dominic was determined to help–and hopefully make up for lost time…

Even in childhood, Dominic had made Chloe feel safe. Now she also felt thrillingly flustered by the powerful man he’d become, and by the longing he inspired. Because Dominic meant not only to protect her, but to untangle the lies that had separated them. Yet for Chloe, surrendering to temptation may be easier than risking a future that could ruin them both…

 AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunesKoboGoogle Play

How to plan a weddingroyal spy copy

 Vanessa’s current series, The Renegade Royals, is a national bestseller. The first book in the series, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Excerpt

http://www.vanessakellyauthor.com/books/tall-dark-and-royal/tall-dark-and-royal-excerpt/

Susana Says

SusanaSays3 …Second-chance romance brought tears to my eyes: 5/5 stars

Chloe has spent twenty-eight years of her life feeling unworthy, hiding from the world, because of a childhood tragedy that was not her fault. Eventually, her life takes a turn for the better, and she finds fulfillment in running a home for unfortunate girls who have suffered in much the same way she has.

Dominic spent many of those years searching for her, and when he was informed that she had died, he immersed himself in his work—a sort of Bow Street Runner for royals and government entities.His search continues when he discovers she is alive, but when he finds her, she’s not the same fourteen-year-old he knew.

He wants to love and protect her. She has survived on her own for twenty-eight years and won’t settle for anything less than an equal partnership. Is it too late for the two of them to merge their lives together?

Ms. Kelly has a deft hand with characterization. Dominic is quite swoon-worthy, and I’d fall for him in an instant if my heart were not already taken by Outlander’s Jamie Fraser. Chloe is a strong, independent woman, not untainted by her unfortunate past, but tenacious and determined because of them.

Yes, I confess to having to wipe away tears more than once while reading this story.

I strongly recommend buying the entire series as I am doing! You won’t regret it!

About the Author

Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her sensual, Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her third book, My Favorite Countess, was nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Regency Historical Romance.

Website BlogFacebookGoodreads • Twitter

Caroline Warfield: Dangerous Works

giveaway

Caroline  is offering a choice of Her Very Major Christmas by Saralee Etter or The Earl’s Christmas Delivery by Susan Gee Heino. Click here for the Rafflecopter.

Discovered in the papers of Andrew Mallet

Notes from my interview with Georgiana Hayden who, though she has hired me to tutor her, persists in being disagreeably autocratic about the work.

Summer, 1816

Cambridge, England

 AM: What on earth made you think you could approach the authorities about access to the library at Magdalene College, that bastion of male superiority?

GH:   How else am I to get the information I need for my work?

AM:   You must have had a maggot in your brain if you thought Watterson would tutor you.

GH:   I hoped interest in the work would draw him. He dismissed the women’s poems as “worthless, minor at best.”

Interviewer note: The daft woman walked right into humiliation. Alphaeus Watterson is a pompous old windbag treats the college as a private fiefdom and delights in cutting down students. He wouldn’t know good work if it bit him in the arse.

AM: How did you come to start this work that means so much to you?

GH: I found the poems of Nossis of Locri quite unexpectedly in the Anthologia Graeca.

AM: Did you actually own a copy of the Greek Anthology?

GH: Not then.

AM: Unusual reading for a woman. Some would call it peculiar. Your mother cannot have been pleased. I can’t believe she would have permitted you to own a book in Greek.

Interviewer’s note: Some would have perhaps, but not her dragon of a mother. I should know. I gave Georgiana her first Greek text when we were in our teens. She hid it behind the palms in her father’s conservatory.

GH: Of course not. She didn’t catch me reading it either.

AM: Where did you find it then?

GH: We were at the house party in the country house of a famous antiquarian. I spent my time in his library. The discovery rocked my world. The inclusion of poems by a woman shocked me. I thought that if she could write them, I could translate them. I never went back. Collecting and translating those poems gave shape to my life ever after.

AM: How many years ago was this?

GH: Six months and fourteen days after you left me waiting in my father’s drawing room for you to call.

Interviewers note: I will not discuss what happened eleven years ago. After fruitless attempts on her part to question me about it, we returned to the work.

AM: Where did you find the other poets?

GH: Here and there. Some simply quoted in books by men. Some in fragments in anthologies. They hide in plain site.

AM: Why is this work so important to you?
GH: I am enraged that they hide, that they aren’t studied as much as Pindar and the other men, that their voices are suppressed, that—

Interviewer’s note: She went on at length and became quite agitated. Georgiana in righteous rage is glorious to behold, but I digress.

AM: You know Greek. What do you want from me?

Interviewer’s note: The look of yearning on her face in response put us on dangerous ground. I rephrased my question.

AM: That is to say, what is it you want me to teach you, about Greek?

GH: It isn’t enough to uncover the literal meaning of words. To do more, I need to know about their world, their lives, and the things female education never teaches. I don’t want these poems to plod along. I want them to sing!

Interviewer’s note: There’s more to understanding love poetry than Greek culture. I fear we will discover how much together.

About Dangerous Works

Lady Georgiana Hayden has struggled for years to do scholarly work in the face of constant opposition and even outright derision from the scholarly community at Cambridge. Her family ignores her as long as she doesn’t draw attention to herself.

DangerousWorks_600x900 copyA little Greek is one thing; the art of love is another. Only one man ever tried to teach Georgiana both. She learned very young to keep her heart safe. She learned to keep loneliness at bay through work. If it takes a scandalous affair to teach her what she needs to complete her work, she will risk it. If the man in question chooses not to teach her, she will use any means at her disposal to change his mind. She is determined to give voice to the ancient women whose poetry has long been neglected.

Some scars cut deeper than others. Major Andrew Mallet returns to Cambridge a battle scarred hero. He dared to love Georgiana once and suffered swift retribution from her powerful family. The encounter cost him eleven years of his life. Determined to avoid her, he seeks work to heal his soul and make his scholar father proud. The work she offers risks his career, his peace of mind, and (worst of all) his heart.

Andrew and Georgiana battle their way through the work to a fragile partnership. Even poetry, with its musical lyrics and sensual traps, can be dangerous when you partner with the love of your life. In Regency Cambridge it can lead a lady quickly past improper to positively scandalous.

Amazon

Excerpt

Georgiana attempted to make her work, as always, her sturdy bulwark against the blows of life. This time, the work only added to her emotional vortex. She read the epigrams with new eyes, and what she found there disturbed her. “Erotos” she knew meant love, certainly, and romantic love at that. How should I translate this line? she wondered.

“‘Nothing is sweeter than love.’”

“‘Nothing is sweeter than Eros.’” In English the meaning tilted slightly with the change of wording. The next phrase appeared to be about delight or pleasure.

“Definitely Eros,” she said to the empty room. Whatever it is, Nossis prefers it to honey. Yesterday, Georgiana wouldn’t have understood. Love has a taste; she knew that now. She recalled the feel of Andrew’s mouth on hers, and the taste when he opened and let her explore. The taste was sweeter than honey, indeed. She felt warmth rise again deep within her. Heat colored her neck and pooled deep in her belly.

The words of Nossis hadn’t changed since yesterday, but Georgiana had.

About the Author

Carol Roddy - AuthorCaroline Warfield has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, an Internet and Web services manager, a conference speaker, an indexer, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She has sailed through the English channel while it was still mined from WWII, stood on the walls of Troy, searched Scotland for the location of an entirely fictional castle (and found it), climbed the steps to the Parthenon, floated down the Thames from the Tower to Greenwich, shopped in the Ginza, lost herself in the Louvre, gone on a night safari at the Singapore zoo, walked in the Black Forest, and explored the underground cistern of Istanbul. By far the biggest adventure has been life-long marriage to a prince among men.

She sits in front of a keyboard at a desk surrounded by windows, looks out at the trees and imagines. Her greatest joy is when one of those imaginings comes to life on the page and in the imagination of her readers.

 FacebookWebsiteTwitterPinterest

Maeve Alpin: The Brass Octopus

Message From Maeve

The ugly duckling is a favorite fairy tale of mine. I’ve seen the ugly duckling plot in a lot of books and films. I use it in The Brass Octopus.

The so called duckling was always beautiful, she was just with the wrong family. If she’d been with a family of swans no one would have ever used the word ugly. That’s what happened to my heroine Piety. Her verbally and emotionally abusive mother called her ugly. As she grew up, Piety protected herself by trying not to bring attention to herself – dressing drably and throwing herself in to her work. She’s the head librarian at London’s library. The story is set in the Victorian era. So a  prim and proper Victorian librarian transforms to an enticing beauty. What makes my version different?

I’m going to get to that. First, let me tell you about the hero. Blake Blackmore is a bad boy, a rich rogue who spends his nights gambling and womanizing. I’m sure you’ve already guessed, once he meets Piety he’s willing to give all that up for her.

Now, back to the earlier question. What makes The Brass Octopus different is – in The brass octopus, Piety lives in an alternate dimension in which inventions depicted in Jane Loudon’s book the Mummy have been created. So even though it’s Victorian London, there is some advanced technology for the era, woman wear pants, and tinkering or inventing gadgets is a favorite pastime for proper Victorian ladies along with decoupage, scrapbooking, and hand painting china. Piety’s sister, Polly, has  created a beauty machine called the brass octopus.

About The Brass Octopus

brass octopus copySpinster Librarian Piety Plunkett is happy alone with her books, until her sister Polly transforms her with a bras octopus beautifying machine. With her new look, the librarian catches the lusty attentions of London’s most notorious rogue. Blake Blackmore enjoys the favors of beautiful women from the brothels of London to high society’s most fashionable debutantes but only the spinster librarian consumes his mind night and day. Piety insists she will not wed but devote her life to her position as head librarian, but Blake will stop at nothing to win her. He takes matters into his own hands and tutors her in carnal pleasure in three passion filled lessons. Now that she is sharing her body, instead of just her books, Piety is shocked yet pleased at how naughty she can be under Blake’s personal tutelage. But if anyone finds out about what goes on in the library after closing time, her reputation would be ruined. Is that Blake’ ultimate plan?

Excerpt

“That is why we cannot waste a moment more.” Polly dropped her arm from Piety’s shoulders and grabbed her sister’s hand, pulling her into the dressing room. “Wait until you see my latest invention.” She pointed to a large brass octopus standing in the corner.

Held on a brass stand, its bottom was fashioned in the shape of an x, with a thin straight pole to the back of the head jointed to another rod so it could be adjusted. Two molded eyes on the side of its head stared at her. Eight long arms reached out from the tiny body beneath its gleaming head, and directly underneath stood a brass stool.

“This will make you even more beautiful than you are.” Polly walked over to the brass sea creature and reaching up, she patted its large head.

“Is it the pregnancy? Is that what has caused you to lose your mind?”

“This machine is fabulous.” Polly gestured to her to sit on the stool. “Try it.”

Piety scratched her head. “It’s good the Queen encourages all housewives to develop their creativity by crafting gadgets like the ones in Loudon’s book, to make life easier for them and their families, but I fear you’ve taken it too far.”

Each of the eight burnished arms held something in the suction cups attached on the end, where hands would be on a human. An open tin of rouge in one arm, the second, grasped a cosmetic brush and powder puff, in the third lay a tin of powder, an unwrapped silk paper container of red lipstick in the fourth, the fifth arm clutched a small bottle of hair oil, the sixth held a hairbrush, while the seventh grasped a fancy glass container of French perfume and the eighth arm lay empty.

Polly took Piety’s spectacles off.

“I need those.”

“For reading. You don’t need them right now or at the ball. You’ll be dancing, not reading books.”

She sat on the stool with the octopus behind her. “What is this?” Her upper back rested against its small, brass body.

“You will see. Just sit still so the machine can work its magic.” Polly pressed the ruby button on top of the octopus’s head.

The clanking, churning sound caused an on-edge sensation in Piety. As the hand holding the oil moved toward her, she grew shaky. She braced her toes on the floor, ready to lunge off the stool and make a run for it. The hand holding the oil reached her head, tilted slightly, then straightened after pouring some of its contents on her hair. Her scalp tingled from the warm liquid.

“It tickles, but feels quite nice. What does it do?”

The hand clutching the brush in its suction cup moved toward her. Piety grimaced, fearing it might hit her. She let out a pent up breath, relaxing her neck and shoulder muscles as the brass octopus brushed her hair, spread the oil to her roots and through the strands, and then swept her hair into a pile on top of her head.

“It helps it curl.” Polly grinned as she shoved a wayward blonde strand of her hair out of her face.

The octopus’s hollow head, which ran along the brass pole in back, rose, separating from its body, then swung forward, hovering over Piety. It lowered, inch by inch, until it dropped over her head, covering her hair and forehead.

“This is daft. It has swallowed me.” She cringed as tiny things, she didn’t know what, gripped sections of her hair and twirled it. “What is happening?”

“It curls hair better than any lady’s maid.”

“I do not want my hair curled by a brass octopus.“

“It’s guaranteed to bring out the beauty in everyone. Isn’t it marvelous?”

Before Piety could answer, the arm clutching the powder puff dipped it in the large round tin held in another arm. She had to shut her mouth as the octopus powdered her face.

From inside the octopus’s head, it squirted liquid on her scalp. “It sprayed me.”

“I have always liked your hair, but you say it’s drab. Now it will be a different color. That should make you happy.”

The octopus seemed to be baking her scalp. “Why is it hot?”

“It’s battery-powered rather than clockwork. I needed it to heat to curl hair fast and tight.”

“A battery. Like the galvanic one in The Mummy that resurrected Pharaoh Cheops?”

“Smaller and not as strong. It’s just a lead-acid battery. Remember when Father took us to the seashore for holiday and we flew in the balloon-coach? It’s the same type of battery that powered the lights on in the carriage at night.” Polly flashed a toothy grin at her sister. “It doesn’t bring anything alive except your hair.”

“How fabulous,” she said with full sarcasm. “My head itches.” She wished this would all be over soon. “What color will it be?”

“We won’t know until it’s finished, but whatever it is will be the best color for you.”

“Of course, everyone knows if you need beauty advice, just ask a brass octopus. Polly, my only sister or not, I shall kill you when I escape the clutches of this confounded contraption.”

The Brass Octopus is for ages 18 and up and is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N9N498E

About the Author

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 23 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. http://maeveAlpin.com

Mariana Gabrielle: Royal Regard

RR Memes 10-22-14-3 copy

Facebook Launch party Nov. 28, 3-9pm MST, https://www.facebook.com/events/299686360237365/

About Royal Regard

When Isabella, the Countess of Huntleigh, returns to England after fifteen years roaming the globe with her husband, an elderly diplomat, she finds herself in a locale more perilous than any in her travels—the Court of King George IV. As the newly elevated Earl and Countess settle into an unfamiliar life in London, this shy, not-so-young lady faces wicked agendas, society’s censure, and the realities of a woman soon to be alone in England.

Unaccustomed to the ways of the beau monde, she is disarmed and deceived by a dissolute duke and a noble French émigré with a silver tongue. Hindered by the meddling of her dying husband, not to mention the King himself, Bella must decide whether to choose one of her fascinating new suitors or the quiet country life she has searched the world to find.

Smashwords AmazoniBooksBarnes & Noble • Kobo

Excerpt

Royal Regard cover100x150Her hand shot like a musket ball into his shoulder. Arms flailing for a handhold, his feet went right out from under him, dumping him gracelessly and painfully on his behind, legs sprawled on the tiled floor. Next to him, on top of a pile of broken pottery and loam, sat a crumpled shrub he had dragged off the table when he fell. Rosemary, he assumed, as it smelled suspiciously like the capon his cook served at least once a week. Examining the punctures and scrapes on one hand, using the other to rub his hip, he stretched to ease the bruise he would have by nightfall, finally kneeling to right himself.

She looked down her nose at his undignified position, then swept past him to the greenhouse entrance.

About the Author

Mariana Gabrielle is a pseudonym for Mari Christie, a mainstream historical and Regency romance writer. She is also a professional writer, editor, and graphic designer with twenty years’ experience and a Bachelor’s in Writing from the University of Colorado Denver, summa cum laude. She lives in Denver, Colorado with two kittens who have no respect at all for writing time.

Mari Pic2 copy

Website • Facebook • Twitter • WordPress blog

Pinterest • Amazon Author Central • Goodreads Author page

RR Memes 10-22-14-10 copy