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Amy Rose Bennett: The Ice Duchess (Scandalous Regency Widows, Book 2)

In The Ice Duchess, my heroine, Georgiana, the widowed Duchess of Darby, prides herself on her ability to be a brilliant piquet player. Because of her past history—she suffered tremendous heartbreak at the hands of a scoundrel when she was a debutante—she became an adept player. She uses piquet as both a shield and a weapon during ton social events. In her mind, her fearsome card-playing reputation is a way to keep men, especially rakehells, at bay. Rather than converse, or worse still, flirt, she can just play cards. And it feels good to trounce the other player, particularly if he is a man!

Piquet was a popular card game during the Regency era and was often played at home, society events and even at the gaming table. A trick-taking game played by two players, it has quite a complicated scoring system. My hero, Lord Markham, and Georgie play several games during the story and as an author, it was quite a challenge to first of all, come to grips with the rules, and secondly, write the card playing scenes in a way that would be both entertaining and further the plot. I hope readers get a sense of the great strategy involved during the course of play as well as enjoy the banter between Georgie and Markham as both try to gain the ‘upper-hand’. And if any piquet experts out there read my story and find I haven’t got it quite right, I hope they’ll forgive me—it is a very tricky game to say the least!

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About The Ice Duchess

Georgiana Dudley, the ‘Ice Duchess’, has just emerged from mourning after a nine-year marriage of convenience to the Duke of Darby, her twin brother’s lover. Deeply hurt by a scoundrel a decade ago, Georgie swore she would never turn her head for any man, let alone another rakehell. But then she encounters the wickedly handsome and all too charming Rafe Landsbury, the Earl of Markham and against her better judgment, her interest is reluctantly aroused. An affair may be impossible to resist but dare she trust Lord Markham with her most intimate secrets… and her heart?

Society believes Rafe to be a diplomat but for many years he has been working on the Continent as a spy for the Crown. Leaving the shadowy world of espionage behind, he returns to London with the intention of finding a wife. When he is paired with the frosty yet fascinating Duchess of Darby at the piquet table during a ton ball, he is intrigued. Do-or-die man that he is, he’s certainly not going to let her cool demeanor dissuade him from pursuing her.

When Rafe’s dark past returns to endanger Georgie, he is determined to protect her at all costs, even if that means hiding who he once was. With the stakes so high, both Georgie and Rafe must decide if love is a risk worth taking…

Heat Level: Steamy to hot. This story is a Regency romance with open-door love-making scenes and frank language is used.

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Excerpt

To give you an idea of the game, I thought I’d share an excerpt from The Ice Duchess. In this scene, Georgie, and Rafe, Lord Markham, are engaging in a piquet re-match at the end of a dinner party. Both are skilled players and both are equally determined to put the other off their game by flirting, which is quite a novel thing for Georgie…

Whilst she shuffled, he deliberately raked her with an appreciative gaze, his eyes shamelessly lingering on her face, her delicious mouth and then her breasts. As he’d anticipated, color immediately rose to her cheeks. She glanced away from him, suddenly very interested in the cards in her hands.

Leaning forward a little, he drew her gaze to him again. “Because the rest of the company are otherwise engaged and we are still somewhat… alone,” he said in a low voice, “I thought I should take this opportunity to tell you how beautiful you look this evening, Your Grace.”

She affected a little laugh before she placed the cards on the table. Something hot and bright flashed beneath the cool blue of her eyes. Anger or desire, he couldn’t tell. “Heavens, you are full of compliments this evening, Lord Markham,” she said. Although she sounded a little breathless, she arched an eyebrow. “But you must realize by now that flattery will get you nowhere when it comes to playing. Only strategy will.”

Cutting the cards with a decided flip, she revealed the seven of clubs. Not good by any means. Her lips flattened, her displeasure clear.

“It would seem a modicum of good luck doesn’t go astray either,” Markham ventured with a wicked grin. He took his turn to shuffle and added, “I don’t know about you, Your Grace, but I’m feeling rather lucky tonight.” His cut revealed the knave of hearts. Although he wouldn’t have first choice from the talon in this first round, the advantage would be his in the sixth and final round of the partie. “I shall be the younger hand to begin with.”

“Of course. I wouldn’t have expected anything less.” The duchess observed him from beneath her eyelashes as he started dealing. “Playing with you again will be quite a romp I should expect, regardless of the outcome.”

The seductress was back. He couldn’t help but play the rake. “I can think of no lovelier woman to romp with than you, Duchess.”

This time, when she blushed, it was to the roots of her hair. There could be no mistaking what he meant by romp. He was a devil, but if she wanted to play with fire, she should expect to get a little burned.

Join Amy’s Release Day Party!

Friday, September 30, 2016 • 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. EDT

Guest Authors • Fun • Books • Prizes

https://www.facebook.com/events/944693238989915/

6-6:20pm EST- Amy Rose Bennett – Author
6:20-6:40pm EST- Susana Ellis
6:40-7pm EST- Jessica Cale
7-7:20pm EST- Nicole Zoltack
7:20-7:40pm EST- Jude Knight
7:40-8pm EST- Elizabeth Ellen Carter – Author
8-8:20pm EST- Sherry Ewing
8:20-8:40pm EST- Cerise DeLand
8:40-9pm EST- Amanda Mariel
9-9:20pm EST- Aurrora St. James
9:20-9:40pm EST- Gina Conkle, Writer
9:40-10pm EST- Amy Quinton

About the Author

AuthorPic copyAmy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

Amy is happily married to her own Alpha male hero, has two beautiful daughters, and a rather loopy Rhodesian Ridgeback. She has been a speech pathologist for many years but is currently devoting her time to her one other true calling—writing romance.

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Alicia Quigley: Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy (Giveaway)

A Tale of Two Soldiers: Class in Wellington’s Army

by Alicia Quigley

Social hierarchy was rigid and strict in Regency England, and there were relatively few paths for ambitious sons of the middle classes to work their way in to the gentry. Only three professions offered a nearly certain entrée: the law, the Church, and the military. In the military an ambitious and brave young man could, if he survived and was clever about his career, make a reasonable income, achieve or purchase promotion, and eventually, perhaps even be knighted, or have a title created for him. Some well-known examples from Wellington’s era include General Sir Harry Smith, and General Colin Campbell who was made the 1st Baron Clyde.

George Scovell in SpainHowever, the military was also viewed as a very good career for the younger sons of aristocrats, and they typically received preferential treatment. The stories of George Scovell, and Lord Fitzroy Somerset, who served on Wellington’s staff at the same time during the Peninsular War are good examples. The Duke of Wellington, who was the younger son of an Irish peer, held strong views about the importance of “family, money and influence” in moving up in the military, and surrounded himself with other scions of the aristocracy as his aides-de-camp whom he referred to as “my boys.” He distrusted the emerging new ‘scientific soldiering’ being introduced, which was particularly important in the case of the artillery, (which was rapidly gaining relevance) but also for all other aspects of soldiering.

In this post, let’s compare the careers of Lord Fitzroy Somerset, a younger son of the Duke of Beaufort, who was born in beautiful Badminton Castle, a privileged younger son of the Duke of Beaufort, and Mr. George Scovell, an ambitious young man with little breeding or money, but great intelligence and ambition.

Scovell GeneralGeorge Scovell attended the recently established Royal Military Academy, learning the methods scientific soldiering and in 1798 purchased a commission as a Cornet in the 4th Queens Own Hussars, a cavalry regiment. A young Winston Churchill started his career as a Cornet in the same regiment 97 years later. The cavalry was the glamour side of the military, and Scovell was tremendously proud of this position. But, as a socially insignificant scientific soldier, promotions were hard to get.

As George also had siblings who needed financial help, he had to sell out of the cavalry and join the infantry, a drop in social status that he felt deeply. He moved to the Quartermaster General’s staff, where he excelled due to his education and diligence, although he had to purchase his promotions to captain and major. His accomplishments included, besides helping improve logistics in the Peninsula, standing up a new unit of Scouts with English, Spanish and Portuguese soldiers, and critically, cracking Napoleon’s Paris Chiffre in his spare time, thus making Napoleon’s plans available to the English.

Scovell was given the opportunity in 1813 to raise and command a new regiment, the Staff Corps of Cavalry, also known as the Staff Dragoons or the Corps of Gendarmerie which was the first recognized unit of military police in the British army. He was knighted and received the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) and continued his career in the Army, even becoming a colonel in the in the same cavalry regiment he had to sell out of earlier. Later, he was the Lieutenant-Governor and then Governor of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst(1829-1856), where he helped expand scientific soldiering in the British army. He received the Knight Grand Cross in 1860 and retired from the Army as a general. His hard work finally brought him success, but it was a long time in the making.

Fitzroy SomersetLord Fitzroy Somerset also joined the Army in the peninsula as a Cornet, this time in the 4th Light Dragoons, in 1804. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1805, and captain in 1808, presumably by purchase since he transferred to the 43rd Regiment of Foot. He went to Spain in 1808 as one of Wellingtons’s crew of aristocratic aides-de-camp. Somerset’s bravery and gallantry is not in question; he was involved in leading charges in any number major battles in Spain, and was the first over the wall at the bloody storming of Badajoz. He was only twenty-four when he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1812.

Somerset fought in numerous other brutal battles, and served at Waterloo, where he lost his right arm. He also received the KCB in 1815. He went into politics, became Military Secretary, and eventually returned to active duty. He was named Baron Raglan, and eventually Field Marshal. He is famous for being the general on whose watch the Charge of the Light Brigade occurred. As a sidebar on the advantages of being a duke’s son in the army, it is worth noting that Lord Fitzroy’s older brother Lord Robert Somerset, also became an army general!

Somerset_Raglan GeneralTwo soldiers of very different backgrounds, with very different paths to military success. What do you think of this?

In my soon-to-be-released Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy, we have a similar juxtaposition: our hero, Sir Tarquin Arlingby, is a titled gentleman involved in finding smugglers who are running guinea boats to France, and are getting letters back and forth for French spies.

Our heroine, Valerie Carlton, is a military widow, whose husband was more the George Scovell-type soldier. She followed the drum and learned first-hand the adventures, dangers and sense of commitment to something greater than herself that came from the experience. The two are thrown together through a series of odd events and find themselves in quite an exciting—and potentially deadly—adventure.

Excerpt

Note: This book will be up for pre-order soon! The author will choose a random commenter to receive of the first two books in the series, A Collector’s Item and The Contraband Courtship.

Sir Tarquin handed her to a seat in front of the fire, and then took a chair across from her, settling into it comfortably and crossing his elegantly booted ankles. “So, Mrs. Carlton, I find that I am almost vulgarly curious about your past. It is evident that you are a gentlewoman, yet I found you penniless and unescorted at the Angel this morning. How did that come to pass?”

Valerie gazed down at her hands, before looking at him. “I am the oldest daughter of Lord Upleadon and his first wife,” she answered, “and married Robert Carlton, an officer in the Light Division.”

“Upleadon?” exclaimed Sir Tarquin. “You are an Upleadon, yet I found you alone, penniless, and ready to board a mail coach?”

LadyLoverSmugglerSpy_Final-FJM_Kindle_1800x2700 copy“My father did not approve of Mr. Carlton, I fear,” Valerie answered economically.

“That stiff rumped old tartar–” Sir Tarquin suddenly recalled that his listener was not only a lady, but also the daughter of the gentleman he was about to malign, and fell silent.

“Quite so,” Valerie responded with a definite hint of laughter in her voice. “In any event, when I insisted on marrying Mr. Carlton my father cut me off entirely. Even when my husband was among the dead at Sabugal he refused to see me.”

“While I’m not well acquainted with the baron, as he is a good deal older than I am and moves in very different circles, I’m sorry to say that I can easily imagine him lacking remorse. You must have been a mere child. How have you managed since then?”

“When I returned to England, several of my friends had married, and were happy to help me get on my feet. I was mourning my husband, and had no wish to remarry or to be a burden on them, however, so I quickly found a position as a governess.”

“But the Battle of Sabugal was three years since. Have you been a governess all this time?” Sir Tarquin asked.

She nodded. “I had only been with the Forneys for in a few months. When I first became a governess I was in charge of a young lady who needed some polishing before she came out, as her parents were not people of fashion. I enjoyed it very much; the daughter was charming and her mother and father were kind and grateful. Unfortunately the two positions that followed it have been much less satisfactory.”

Valerie fell silent, looking down at her hands, and Sir Tarquin, finding himself appreciating the sight of her blonde curls, fine figure, and aura of calm, didn’t need to stretch his imagination far to imagine the son of the Forney household had been unable to resist the temptation of the pretty governess.

“It makes me angry to think of you being preyed upon,” he said abruptly, much to his own surprise.

“It is a common enough problem, and far worse has befallen others. He did not force me and, while Mrs. Forney was unkind, I left of my own volition,” said Valerie uncomfortably. “My friends have helped me before and will help me now. I would rather spend my time with children, but perhaps I will have to seek employment as a companion to an older lady instead.”

“You do not deserve a life as a drudge to children or as the companion of elderly harridan, who will doubtless have a horrid grandson who will treat you as Mr. Forney did,” Sir Tarquin exclaimed. “You are young, and have given far too much.”

“Whatever do you mean?” she asked.

“You sacrificed a husband and a family to your country, did you not?”

“I suppose you could say so, although it has been three long years since then.” A wistful look came over her face. “It seems so long ago. Thinking of it now, Robert and I were both practically children; it is almost as though it happened to someone else, or was a story someone told to me.”

“Yet you are still all but penniless and without protection as a result, are you not? That is not much of an ending to the story.”

She gazed at him thoughtfully. “It was my decision, though I was far too young to understand the possible consequences. In some ways it was worth it all the same; I loved Robert as much as an eighteen-year-old can love anyone, and perhaps even more, I loved following the drum.”

Sir Tarquin looked startled. “Did you really? Surely it was a very hard life for a gently bred and sheltered young lady?”

Valerie laughed. “Indeed it was! I had no notion that such hardships were ahead of me. Yet the sense of purpose, of being needed and useful, and of having a meaning to my life was so powerful, that it overcame them all. I was always rather bookish, and never truly enjoyed the rounds of parties and balls, to my stepmother’s despair.”

“Even in the tail of the Army with all the camp followers, and rabble you felt so?” Sir Tarquin asked curiously.

“Oh, I rode with the column, Sir Tarquin,” she exclaimed proudly. “I had no children to care for and I was handy with horses even before I went on campaign, for my father’s stables are renowned and I spent a great deal of time in them as a child. I soon learned to kill and stew a chicken, and make sure that there was always something to eat at our billet, so it was not long before many of the other officers were to be found at our table.”

“You rode with the column?” her companion echoed in surprise.

“Except when an engagement was imminent, yes. In many respects it was as safe as being in the tail of the Army, for Robert’s friends would watch out for me. I moved rearward when there was any real danger.”

“But it must have been difficult to be so far ahead without any servants to help you.”

“Oh, my husband engaged a woman for me, a large, rather foul mouthed Scotswoman, who was a match for most of the men! She did much of the heaviest work, although I helped, of course.” Sir Tarquin watched as Valerie’s eyes filled with memories that were clearly dear to her. “His batman was also there, and it never seemed as though things were unmanageable. Difficult yes, but even the worst days were just another challenge to rise to…” Valerie’s voice trailed off, and she gazed into the fire, seeing another place and time.

Sir Tarquin watched her in pensive silence, for a moment and then stood, shaking his head to dispel the thoughts that filled it. “My glass is empty. May I pour you some more punch as well, Mrs. Carlton?”

Valerie shook off her memories, and handed him her empty glass. “Thank you, Sir Tarquin. You have a way with a punchbowl, it seems.” She watched as he walked away, enjoying the wide set of his shoulders, and athleticism of his gait. After some moments he returned and offered her the cup, now full of warm, spicy liquid. Her fingers brushed his slightly as she took it. She looked away, taking a sip.

“I so miss feeling part of something bigger than me,” she murmured. “A governess makes herself useful, I suppose, but it is not the same. Being a paid companion would be even duller, I fear.”

Sir Tarquin, who still stood beside her chair, reached out with one long finger and tipped her chin up, gazing into her face intently.

“You most assuredly must not be a companion to a querulous dowager,” he murmured. “It would be an utter waste.”

Valerie stared back at him, at a loss to answer. In the quiet and warmth of the private parlor they seemed removed from the world, and she simply waited for him to act. He gave a tiny sigh, and then lowered his mouth to hers, pressing her lips firmly yet gently as he sought the right pressure. Her mouth trembled a little, and he lifted his, only to press it against hers at a slightly different angle before drawing back, to kiss her cheek, and then one of her eyelids, which had fluttered closed, before releasing her chin and stepping away.

About the Author

AQ Twitter AviAlicia Quigley is a lifelong lover of romance novels, who fell in love with Jane Austen in grade school, and Georgette Heyer in junior high. She made up games with playing cards using the face cards for Heyer characters, and sewed regency gowns (walking dresses, riding habits and bonnets that even Lydia Bennett wouldn’t have touched) for her Barbie. In spite of her terrible science and engineering addiction, she remains a devotee of the romance, and enjoys turning her hand to their production as well as their consumption.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Amazon Author Page

 

Em Brown: Master and Temptress Erotic Historical Trilogy

Who was G#?

In Book 3 of the Master and Temptress Erotic Historical trilogy, Granville Sharp makes a “cameo” appearance at a key time for the hero, Charles Gallant. Gallant is standing for Parliament, and the issue of slavery puts him between a rock and a hard place as he attempts to secure the endorsement of key figures in the community, whose support can assure him victory.

The year before, England had formally abolished the slave trade but left the institution of slavery intact in her colonies. At the time, England was the largest slave trafficker in the world. Granville Sharp played a significant role in leading the campaign to abolish the slave trade.

Born into a musical family in 1735, the son of an Archdeacon, Sharp loved to debate and discuss theology. He became active on the issue of slavery after coming across Jonathan Strong, a young black slave beaten so badly that he had to spend four months in the hospital. Sharp and his brother paid for Strong’s medical bills. Sharp started to study English law and “could not believe the law of England was really so injurious to natural rights.”

In 1772, a slave named James Somerset, who had run away from his master, asked Sharp for help. Sharp worked with Somerset’s lawyers, and the case was ruled in Somerset’s favor. The case was a pivotal one in the history of abolition because it effectively set slaves free in English territory (but not her colonies) because Lord Mansfield, the Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, wrote that English law, absent an act of Parliament, did not provide for slavery.

A few years later, Sharp was approached by Quakers, who had been active in the cause of abolition but barred from full participation in English society. The Quakers needed Anglican support, and Sharp was an obvious choice. In 1787, nine Quakers and three Anglicans formed The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Working with William Wilberforce, a young MP tapped by Pitt the Younger to lead the cause of abolition in Parliament, Sharp and the Society campaigned for 20 years before Parliament finally passed The Slave Trade Act 1807.

Sharp, who sometimes signed his name “G#”, passed away in 1813 and did not live to see the full abolition of slavery in 1833. A memorial tablet erected for Sharp can be seen in Westminster Abbey.

Master vs. Temptress: The Final Submission (Book 3) is available for only $0.99 until February 28th. Plus, you can now get Seducing the Master (Book 1) for FREE. Click here to get your copy today.

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About The Master & Temptress Trilogy

“Ravage Me.”

No man has ever resisted the charms of Miss Terrell before, but Master Gallant refuses to grant her request and have his way with her.

Miss Terrell is spoken for by Sir Arthur, a man with a dubious past but whose wealth and influence hold the key to Charles Gallant’s bid for Parliament. Without Sir Arthur’s support, Charles will not realize his lifelong ambition to win election and succeed where his father before him had failed.
But Terrell cannot quell her scorching desire for Master Gallant, whose deft hand and command of rope bondage inflame her deepest, darkest cravings. She will tempt the Master to surrender. Only love can stop her, but it will devastate them both.

READER ADVISORY: This Regency-set erotic romance contains themes of dominance and submission, BDSM elements, and other forms of wicked wantonness.

Start this epic romance for FREE with Seducing the Master. Click here to get your free ebook today.

Excerpt from Seducing the Master

He pinned her with a solemn stare. “Behave yourself, Miss Terrell, or I will remove you by force.”

“I should like nothing more than to receive your punishment, Master Gallant.”

He inhaled sharply. The saucy jade. Catching her off-guard with a quick movement, he wrapped his arm about her waist and whirled her over to the other side of the doorframe. She landed against the wall with a soft thud. Disengaging himself, he grabbed the handle of the door and pulled, intending to depart without his usual civility.

To his surprise, the door did not open. At first he thought it to be stuck, but then he noticed that the key was missing from the lock. He turned to look at Miss Terrell, whose lips curled in a slight but telling grin.

He could hardly believe the woman—the chit. Did she truly intend to hold him hostage?

“Produce the key, Miss Terrell,” he commanded.

She returned a smoldering stare. “Dominate me first. Do unto me as you had done to Mistress Scarlet.”

He felt his nostrils flare. He needed no second reminders of her, especially from Miss Terrell, who now tested his patience much like Greta had, but for wholly different purposes.

“You think impudence will gain you what you seek?” he asked.

She leaned toward him. “If my impudence displeases you, then punish me for it. Punish me…hard.”

He stared at her in disbelief. No woman had ever made such a request of him. He wanted to reiterate that she knew not what she spoke. She had witnessed but one instance of the punishment he had applied to Miss Greta.

As if guessing his thoughts, she added, “I can withstand anything you desire to do to me, Master Gallant.”

“That is a bold and foolhardy statement. You know nothing of what I am capable.”

Pressing herself back against the wall, she cupped her breasts and caressed her ribs. “Prove me wrong. I dare you to.”

He shook his head. He was done with challenges.

“I vow I can endure more than Mistress Scarlet, more than any person of either sex. I could be the most perfect submissive for you.”

“Unlikely. You have already shown a penchant for misbehavior.”

“You could correct my waywardness.”

He frowned—because the prospect did not repulse him as he would have wanted it to.

“You need have no reservation with me,” she continued. “You would be free to unleash your full strength, to test the breadth of your wicked creativeness.”

His blood pumped forcefully through his veins at her words. “Miss Terrell, this tête-à-tête serves no purpose. I bid you desist from wasting your time as well as mine.”

Stepping forward, she grabbed the lapels of his coat and pulled herself closer to him. Lust burned like anger in her eyes, calling to a primal part of him that he could not ignore. Her skirts brushed against his legs, and her corset nearly touched where his hardened length was fast becoming visible.

“Then ravage me.”

She reached for his burgeoning erection, but, dropping his articles, he grasped both her wrists and pinned them above her head to the door behind.

“Miss Terrell, I am done with this tomfoolery. Produce the key.”

She squirmed a little in his hold. “I should be happy to, Master Gallant, after you have had your way with me. You cannot deny that you desire to do so.”

He pressed his lips together in a grim line. The scent of the pomade she used in her hair wafted into his nose once more. Their bodies were far too close together for comfort. She slid her leg along his. Holding her wrists aloft with one hand, he cupped her chin with the other and lifted her gaze to meet his eyes.

“The key, Miss Terrell,” he demanded, unable to keep the vexation from his voice.

She did not blink and demanded, equally hotly, “Ravage me.

Her words rang in his ears like a song of sirens. The air between them grew thin. With a frustrated grunt, he yanked her from the door and dragged her across the room to the sideboard where he kept the ropes.

GET THIS EBOOK (PLUS 3 MORE!) FROM EM BROWN BY CLICKING HERE.

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

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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.

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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.

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Website • Facebook • Twitter • WordPress blog

Pinterest • Amazon Author Central • Goodreads Author page

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Kathryn Kane: Deflowering Daisy 

Interview with Kathryn Kane

Susana: What inspired you to start writing?

Kathryn: After college I was a museum curator and later the curator of a historic house. I enjoyed working with historic furnishings and artifacts and learning how they were made and used in their own time. Some years ago, having left the museum field for the tech industry, I realized I could put my knowledge of social and cultural history, as well as the history of things to use. As an author, I could create historically accurate environments for my characters and enable those characters to use those objects as they were originally intended. Many of those objects have interesting aspects to their use which I though would enrich my stories for my readers.

Susana: How long have you been writing?

Kathryn: In terms of scholarly articles, I have been writing for over twenty years. But when in comes to romance, about six years. I went through a number of different stories, with multiple drafts, as I honed my romance-writing skills. I think now I have found the right balance in my work, telling a heart-warming romance within a historically accurate setting.

Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Kathryn: Read. But not just romance novels. Take the time to read lots of reviews of romance novels, particularly in your preferred genre. Doing that gave me the confidence to write the stories I wanted to write, since I discovered there were quite a lot of readers out there who liked the same kind of stories I did. I think that kind of confidence improves your writing and helps you to write with your own, true voice.

Susana: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Kathryn: Occasionally. Fortunately, I have a few solutions, or perhaps I should say, distractions, available to me. I have found that the easiest way for me to break through writer’s block is to get my mind off the blockage for a time. Physical exercise is often the best distraction for me, so I go for a long ride on my bicycle, if the weather is fine. If not, I am fortunate to live near a property which is now a large park, but used to be one the greatest country estates in New England in the early nineteenth century. Since I wrote my Master’s thesis on the estate, though the buildings are all gone, I know not only what they looked like, but how they were furnished. As I walk, I imagine life on the estate when it was at its peak. Usually, by the time I get home, new ideas are bubbling up and my writer’s block dissolves away. If a walk or a bide ride don’t do the trick, I switch gears and work on an article for my Regency history blog. It takes a lot of concentration, and by the time I finish a new article, the next chapter in my current romance does not seem quite so daunting.

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

Kathryn: My debut Regency romance is called Deflowering Daisy, so, as a play on the title, I have woven a number of snippets of floral history into the story. Daisy is the heroine of the story, who got her name after I did quite a lot of research into a number of flowers with names which start with “D” to find just the right characteristics. Though daisies seem to be quite common flowers, they have several valuable properties, one of which is that of healing. The hero of the story, David, is a former spy who is war-weary, soul-sick and desperately in need of healing. And the heroine, Daisy, thinks she is just as common and seemingly insignificant as the flower after which she is named. Through the course of the story, Daisy and David give each other forgiveness, self-esteem and peace, with the help of a lot of flowers.

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

Kathryn: It is a change of genre for me, a romantic fantasy with ecological overtones. I am working on the story of a young woman who offers herself as the human sacrifice to save an ancient forest. The guardian of the forest, a powerful wizard who hates humans for the damage they have inflicted on his forest, accepts her offer. However, as he comes to know her, he finds he cannot bear the thought of her death. Yet, without it, he will die along with the forest.

Susana: What author or authors have most influenced your writing?

Kathryn: Georgette Heyer. She created the Regency romance genre, which is my favorite. She was also a diligent researcher who did her best to write historically accurate stories. I do my best to emulate her efforts in my own work, since I so much enjoyed reading hers.

Susana: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Kathryn: A librarian, since I thought all the books were kept at the library and I love books. Then, after reading lots of books by Georgette Heyer when I was in high school, I decided I wanted to study history when I went to college. But I still love libraries, because I still love books.

Susana: What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

Kathryn: My favorite food is ice cream, because it is sweet, cool and creamy.
My least favorite food is liver, because it is liver.

Susana: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

Kathryn: That I love progressive rock and roll, especially Rick Wakeman, Yes, and Emerson Lake and Palmer. I don’t listen to prog rock when I write, because I find it too compelling and am not able to concentrate. But I often listen to it when I am working around the house or relaxing and can give it my full attention. I find the rich layers of sound in prog rock very satisfying. Since I like those layers in music, I also try to incorporate them into the stories I write.

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?

Kathryn: England, in particular Bath. I have never been there, though I have read a lot about it. Jane Austen and her family spent several years there, and quite a lot of the city which remains today was there during the Regency. To me, it is the most “Regency” city in England and I would love to have the time to walk the streets and visit places like the Pump Room and the Assembly Rooms to soak up the atmosphere and get a sense of the space.

Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Kathryn: It is the last line from the poem, To Lucasta, Going to the Wars, by Richard Lovelace.
“I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov’d I not Honour more.”

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

Kathryn:  I write primarily in Regency romance, but in the past couple of years some stories in the fantasy genre have just popped into my head and I had to write them down. It was the only way to get those characters out of my head. I am currently re-working one with an eye to publication.

Susana: What are your favorite pastimes?

Kathryn: I enjoy riding my bicycle, but I freely admit, I am a fair-weather cyclist and only ride on sunny days. However, my real passion is needlework. I love all forms of needlework. I love to crochet and tat, and I am learning to make cord with a lucet. Embroidery is also a great pleasure for me, particularly when it involves beads and silk ribbon. I love to sew, especially quilting, and have made a number of “straight” quilts, but crazy quilts are my real favorites.

Susana: What is the one modern convenience you can’t do without?

Kathryn: A washing machine. Working with fabrics requires they be washed before using to remove the chemicals with which they are treated, so a washing machine is the most important modern convenience to me. Though I am also quite fond of my clothes dryer, my iron and my steamer.

About Deflowering Daisy

“She cannot remain a virgin!”

For so she was, after nearly a decade of marriage. When she was sixteen, Daisy had willingly, happily, married a man more than fifty years her senior, to escape a forced marriage to a man she abhorred. Though Sir Arthur Hammond had been a wild rake in his youth, he was so deeply in love with his late, beloved first wife that he never considered consummating his second marriage, certainly not with a woman he considered a daughter. But now, knowing he was dying and that he would be leaving sweet, innocent Daisy ignorant of the physical intimacies which could be enjoyed between a man and a woman, he felt that it was imperative she be given the knowledge which would prepare her for the life of a wealthy widow. Armed with the knowledge of physical intimacy, she would be much better prepared to deal with any fortune hunter who might try to seduce her into marriage for her money. And who better to initiate Daisy into the pleasures of the bedchamber than his godson. David had become nearly a recluse since a tragedy which occurred while he was serving the Crown against the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prior to that, his skill as a tender and considerate lover had been bruited about in certain circles. Therefore, Sir Arthur believed that David was just the man to introduce Daisy to physical pleasure. And what might spending time with true and gentle Daisy do for David?

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Excerpt

London
May 1816

She cannot remain a virgin!”

“You want me to rape your wife?” David Everard rose from his chair, shocked to his core. Sir Arthur Hammond, a man whom he had admired and respected all his life, his godfather and the man he loved as dearly as a father, was asking him to deflower his wife.

“No!” exclaimed Sir Arthur. “No, of course not. She is as dear to me as a daughter.”

Deflowering Daisy-96dpi_200 copy“And yet, in six weeks’ time, you propose to give this young lady into my keeping for the express purpose that I violate her person and take her virginity. A young lady, I might add, whom I have never met, a young lady to whom I will be a complete stranger.” His eyes narrowed as he fixed his godfather with the same withering stare which had broken more than one enemy agent under intense interrogation. “She does not know who I am?”

“No, I am sorry to say, she does not,” the older man responded with equanimity, and a note of sadness. Sir Arthur met his gaze without flinching. “I have not spoken of you, David, to anyone, even George, from the day I gave you my word I would not. I keep my promises, young man!”

“Yes, sir, I know. It gave me hope you would be safe.”

“I made that promise to you only because you asked it of me. I was never afraid.”

“But I was,” he admitted. “It was necessary that everyone believed my friends and family had cast me off. I did not want to take the chance anyone might think they could get to me through you or George. I wanted the world to think I was nothing to you, nor you to me. I had to know you were both safe in order to do what I had to, for England.”

“And you have, my boy,” Sir Arthur said. “But the war is over now and Boney is put away for good, in no small part thanks to you, I am sure.”

“Don’t try to make me into a hero, Arthur,” he said. “I am nothing of the sort.”

“Hrrmph! I will never think you anything else, no matter what you say,” came the staunch rejoinder.

Though he did not reply, deep in his soul, David felt again a wave of infinite gratitude for his godfather’s unconditional loyalty to him. Without it, he was not sure he would have been able to endure these past few months as the social exile he had become since that day on Beachy Head.

“You have spent most of this past decade risking life and limb here and on the Continent, to protect England. Have you not the courage to spend one week to protect a kind and gentle young lady and a host of orphans?”

“Protect her by taking her to bed? If she is as you say, I am sure you can find any number of men willing to bed her.”

“There is no one else I can turn to, no one else I can trust. You are like a son to me.”

“So, now you are advocating incest?” David asked, his voice thick with sarcasm. “You want a man you consider a son to violate the woman you consider a daughter?” Was it possible for this to get any more repugnant, he wondered to himself.

“God’s teeth, David!” the older man shot back. “You bloody well know that is not what I am asking. Or why.” He took a long, slow, deep breath. “You have a reputation for having a way with women. It is said you give your bedmates pleasure equal to what you take, that you are a kind and considerate lover. That is what I want for Daisy. She is a complete innocent. She should be initiated tenderly, gently, by a man who will appreciate her quality.”

“Then find a man of quality to initiate her, not some spawn of hell unfit to associate with civilized people.” David walked the few paces to the fireplace as his bitter words fell into silence. When Sir Arthur did not speak, he turned. “I have not touched a woman in nearly a year and I have never taken a virgin,” he admitted. “I am the last man of whom you should ask this.”

“You are the only man I can ask, David,” the older man replied. “Despite your words, I know you to be the most decent and honorable man of my acquaintance. And Daisy is a very special girl, a loyal and generous soul whose sweet spirit should not be crushed by a cold-hearted bedding. I know you would never do that to her.”

“She is your wife. You can do the deed yourself,” David reminded him.

“No, my boy,” Sir Arthur said on a sigh. “Even if I were not much too old for her, there was only ever Millie for me. From the day I met her I never wanted another woman. Even though she is more than eleven years gone, there will never be anyone else.”

“Then encourage her to take a lover,” David suggested, trying to keep the desperation from his voice. He dropped back into his chair.

“I have tried for years, but she has never shown interest in any gentleman to whom I have introduced her. Of which there are few, near our estate in Kent,” he admitted. “And I can seldom get her to leave the country in order to broaden her acquaintance in London. She is determined to be a devoted and faithful wife, even though I doubt she has any concept of what unfaithfulness would entail. And now, it is too late. I cannot leave her so exposed, at such risk.”

“Why? What is so different now?”

Please visit Kathryn’s Books page at her web site for an extended excerpt.

Historical Snippet: Embroidery

Early in the story, the heroine, Daisy is working on her embroidery, of flowers, of course. When she puts it away for the evening, she pauses to look at her thimble when she takes it off. It is a very special thimble which means a great deal to her. It has a tiny purple enamel pansy which marks it as the product of the famous Palais Royal in Paris. The needlework implements and workboxes which were sold at the Palais Royal were considered to be the finest available at the time. Daisy received a small Palais Royal workbox on her first wedding anniversary. She had never been given anything so fine in all her life and that gift was so important to her that it quite literally saved her life. (You will have to read the story to find out how).

Though the Palais Royal stitching implements and workboxes were available only in Paris, there were still quite a number of English ladies during the Regency who had a set. Some had been acquired by the English who traveled to Paris during the Peace of Amiens, but there were also those who had contacts in Paris who could make special acquisitions for them. Therefore, despite Napoleon’s blockade, these luxury items still made their way to the needlewomen of England. And it is almost certain that any lady lucky enough to receive a workbox or implement set from Palais Royal would treasure it. These items were beautifully made and quite a few of them had delightful little secrets. Some contained music boxes, others had secret compartments, and still others were made as realistic miniatures of other objects.

More information about the exquisite Palais Royal sewing implements and workboxes can be found at Kathryn’s blog, The Regency Redingote.

About the Author

KKane_AuthorAvatarAV300Kathryn Kane is a historian and former museum curator who has enjoyed Regency romances since she first discovered them in her teens. She credits the novels of Georgette Heyer with influencing her choice of college curriculum, and she now takes advantage of her knowledge of history to write her own stories of romance in the Regency. Though she now has a career in the tech industry, she has never lost her love of the period and continues to enjoy reading Regency novels and researching her favorite period of English history.

Sabrina York: Defiant (Noble Passions Book Five)

About Defiant

When rakish Ned falls in with the wrong crowd, his brother decides to send him to the Continent for “seasoning”. For Sophia, this just won’t do. She’s loved Ned for ages—and also longed for adventure. She runs away from her boring suitors and disguises herself as a cabin boy on the Defiant, the ship sailing Ned to Italy.

Ned knows he’s not good enough for Sophia, but once they’re on the Defiant, he can’t stop himself from touching her, tasting her, loving her. Not when a wild tempest and a band of ruthless pirates threaten them. Not when every look from her gives him such pleasure. And certainly not when she comes, warm and wild and willing, to his bed.

If they survive their voyage, Sophia’s brother might kill him, but it will have been worth every moment and every hot, sweet kiss.

A Romantica® Regency historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

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Excerpt

Sophia stood on the bow of the boat in the dark as the wind and rain lashed her face. She loved it. Loved it. Not only was the storm elemental and fierce, it hid her tears.

Surely she hadn’t expected Ned to greet her with open arms. Not when she had barged in on his adventure as she had. But she certainly hadn’t expected him to be so horrid. His expression had devastated her.

defiant copyFoolish girl, it said.

But then, her heart agreed.

She was foolish.

Foolish to ever think that he—

“You’re soaked.”

She whirled around, though she knew what she’d see. More glowering.

She was right.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m reveling.” She thrust out her chin, in case he didn’t believe her.

He gaped at her. “Reveling?”

“Yes.” She didn’t mean to shout, but his wintry demeanor annoyed her tremendously. She threw out her arms. “Look at this!”

“It’s a storm.”

“It’s beautiful. The waves are wild, untamed—”

“You could be swept overboard.”

“The wind is howling and the rain is savage. It’s glorious.”

“It’s freezing. Come inside.”

“It’s not freezing. It’s summer.”

I’m cold.”

“Then you go inside.”

“Sophia Fiona—”

“Don’t call me that.”

“It’s your name.”

“You sound like Ewan.”

“I’m starting to think Ewan is a saint.”

She glared at him. “What a beastly thing to say.” She hated that her chin wobbled a little. Hated that he winced.

“I’m sorry, Sophia. This has been trying for me.” He sluiced the water from his face. “Won’t you please come inside?”

“All right. Fine.”

“You will?”

“You did say please.”

He blew out a breath and offered her his arm. She frowned at it. “I’m a cabin boy, remember? You don’t offer a cabin boy your arm.” When he didn’t lower it, she smacked it. “Someone will see.”

That caught his attention and he slowly lowered his arm. “Right then. Come inside.” He followed her back to the cabin, his stride decidedly unsteady. If anyone was tipping overboard, it was most likely him.

When she once again stood in his chambers, she realized the folly of her actions. She hadn’t brought a change of clothes and she was drenched. So was he. Without a word, he relit the lamp and then opened his trunk and pulled out several shirts, two of which he tossed to her. “Change.”

That was it. One word. Just “change” and then he presented her with his back. She huffed a breath, but did as he asked because she was really rather cold. The feel of the cloth falling over her chilled flesh warmed her. Because it was his shirt. It had touched his skin. She wasn’t sure why the thought sent heat scudding through her belly.

“Use the other shirt to dry your hair,” he suggested, as he began toweling off as well.

She huffed a laugh. “All of your clothes will be wet.”

“They’ll dry. Are you clothed?”

“Yes.”

He turned. And froze. His gaze locked onto her bare legs. “I-I thought you said you were clothed.” A squawk.

“I am.” But the intensity of his stare made her self-conscious, so she slipped into the bed.

“Close your eyes,” he said as he unbuttoned the damp linen clinging to his chest.

“Why?”

“I need to change as well. I’m f-freezing.”

“Okay.” She did. But she peeked.

He ripped off his wet shirt and her breath caught at the sight of his broad back. Muscles rippled as he moved and she swallowed. He was beautiful. He tugged the fresh shirt over his head and she nearly whimpered as that magnificent vision disappeared. But then, he unfastened his trousers.

All pretense of not peeking evaporated.

He sat and took a moment to work off his boots. And then he stood. His trousers were tight, as was the fashion, and he had to peel them off. As he bent, she caught a flash of his bare behind.

She must have made a noise because he whirled around. His cheek bunched when he saw her watching. “You’re supposed to have your eyes closed.”

She hunkered in the covers, as though that would disguise the fact that her eyes were open wide.

“Sophia…”

It was probably wrong to grin at him, but she couldn’t help it.

“Sophia Fiona!”

“Stop calling me that. It always makes me think I’m in trouble.”

“You are in trouble. You have no idea how much trouble you’re in.”

She tipped her head to the side. “We both know Ewan will be so relieved to see me, he’ll forget how angry he is—”

Ned stilled and fixed her with a dark glare. “What makes you think I’m talking about Ewan?”

“I… ah…”

“I’ve a mind to bend you over my knee.”

Why a shiver rippled through her, she had no idea. She’d been spanked once or twice as a child and she hadn’t cared for it in the slightest. But something dark and domineering in Ned’s tone made her womb warm.

“You-you wouldn’t.”

“Wouldn’t I? Now, look away. Your brother would skewer me if I gave you the education you’re about to have.”

She attempted not to snort. Ned—and everyone—thought her a prim and innocent miss on account of the polish she’d acquired at Lady Satterlee’s. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a child, before Ewan had made his fortune, they’d lived a hand-to-mouth existence in the slums of Perth. She’d seen more than one couple rutting against a wall in a dingy alleyway. And at one point, she and her brother had taken refuge in a bordello. She’d been only seven, but if she’d had an education, she got it there. She could probably teach Ned a few things.

Still, because he seemed to expect it, she squeezed her eyes tight and didn’t hardly peek at all as he finished changing. Besides which, the spot she was interested in was mostly shadows.

With a great huff, he threw himself back into the chair. “Now, go to sleep.”

“Don’t you want me to put out the light?”

“No. I want to be able to see where you are.”

“I’m not leaving again tonight.” Probably. Unless her despair overcame her once more.

“Leave it on.” A grunt, and not a very nice one at that. Why he had call to be annoyed, she couldn’t fathom.

Blast and damn, he was an annoying man. Sophia grunted as well and rolled over, facing the wall of the cabin. She studied the patterns the swinging lamp made for a long while, listening as he shifted one way and then the other.

It was really unfair for him to have to sleep in the chair. This was his room. But he would never share her bed. She grimaced at the way the words came out, but it was true. He wouldn’t. Unless…

She rolled over again and watched him twist in the chair. He caught her eye and frowned.

“Ned?”

An impatient groan. “Yes, Sophia?”

“Ned, I’m cold.”

He stilled. Then barked, “Put on another blanket.”

“There aren’t any more.” She faked a shiver. She wasn’t cold in the slightest. She never was. Ewan said she ran hot. “Brr. My teeth are chattering.”

His glower became a frown.

“I hope I don’t get ill.”

He paled. “You shouldn’t have gone out in the rain. Why did you go out in the rain?”

She sneezed. Or something like it. “I don’t know.”

“Sophia?”

“Am I running a fever?” She put her palm to her forehead. “I think I’m running a fever.”

His brow wrinkled. He stood and made his way across the tiny chamber as though on his death march. He set the backs of his fingers to her cheeks. His frown darkened. “You are warm.”

“No. I’m cold.” She shivered and peered up at him, her eyes as wide as she could make them. “Won’t you warm me?”

He wrenched his hand away as though she’d burned him. “What?”

“Lie here beside me and warm me up?”

“There’s not enough room for both of us.”

“I’m small.”

“Sophia.” She’d never heard her name in such a strangled voice, not even when Ewan was at his wit’s end.

“Just for a bit? You can be on top of the covers. Surely that is decent.”

The muscle in his cheek bunched again, as though he were grinding his teeth.

“Please?”

He gusted a sigh. “All right, Sophia. Scoot over and make room.”

She did. With alacrity.

“And roll over, facing the wall.”

She frowned at him “Why?”

“Just do it. Please.”

“Oh, all right.” But only because he said please. And because, when she was facing the other way, he couldn’t see her grin.

He settled in behind her and a shiver rocked her. He was warm. And he smelled delicious. Not fishy in the slightest. It was delightful, lying here with him. She closed her eyes and imagined he wanted this as much as she.

If only. If only.

Check out the other books in the Noble Passions Series from Sabrina York

 

Follow the decadent exploits of friends and enemies as they find love and passion in the glittering world of the Regency—and its dark underbelly.

folly_msr (final) copyBook 1: Folly

2014 EPIC eBook Award Finalist

2013 Passionate Plume Finalist

Widowed and threatened with penury by her heartless in-laws, Eleanor–Lady Ulster–hatches a plot to save herself. Determined to produce the Ulster “heir”, she seduces a stranger at a tawdry masquerade. Little does she know, this magnificent masked lover is none other than her husband’s greatest nemesis. And God knows Ulster had plenty.

Ethan Pennington is mortified to arrive at a house party and discover Lady Ulster in attendance. He has wanted her and hated wanting her–his enemy’s bride–for years. When he overhears Eleanor’s predicament and her plans to place a cuckoo in the Ulster nest, he is more than willing to oblige. The opportunity to finally claim her–while taking the revenge he craves–is more than he can resist. Ethan strikes a bargain with Eleanor, promising to provide her with the heir she so desperately needs…if she will meet his needs in return. Every decadent one of them.

darkduke_msrBook 2: Dark Fancy

The sizzling prequel to Folly

2014 Winner of the Carolyn Readers’ Choice Award

When Lady Helena Simpson flees an unwanted marriage to a revolting lord, she finds refuge with James, a charming, handsome man unlike any she’s ever known. Helena concocts the perfect solution to her problem. She asks—begs—James to ruin her. Surely her betrothed will repudiate her if she is no longer pure. And if all her efforts fail and she still ends up married to a horrid man until the end of her days, she will at least once have known true passion.

But James is not all he seems. He is, in fact, a wicked lord with a dark fancy. When Helena awakens his desire, he becomes determined to take everything she has to offer and more. No matter the cost.

darkfancy_msrBook 3: Dark Duke

Edward Wyeth, the Dark Duke of Moncrieff’s life has been turned on its end. His well-ordered home has been invaded. By destitute relatives. From Scotland. How on earth can he write Lord Hedon’s salacious novels with hellions battling in the garden and starting fires in the library? But with the onslaught has come a delicious diversion. His cousin’s companion, the surprisingly intriguing Kaitlin MacAllister. He is determined to seduce her. Using her desperate need for funds and her talents as an artist, he convinces her to draw naughty pictures for his naughtier books…and he draws her into his decadent web.

But Kaitlin has a secret. She’s fled Scotland—and a very determined betrothed. When Edward’s cousin is kidnapped and held in her stead, Kaitlin is honor-bound to return to her homeland and rescue her—much to Edward’s chagrin.

Because suddenly he can’t bear the thought of Kaitlin marrying another man. He can’t bear the thought of losing her at all.

brigand_msrBook 4: Brigand

Kidnapped and held prisoner by menacing Scottish brigand, the notorious McCloud, Violet Wyeth does her best to persevere…and resist his rakish charms. But when she realizes The McCloud is really Ewan St. Andrews, the boy who once saved her life, the boy who once kissed her and made her heart flutter, she is lost.

Ewan has every intention of marrying Lady Kaitlin MacAllister. He desperately needs the entrée into the ton this bride can provide. But when his bride is delivered—bound and gagged—it’s not Kaitlin. It’s Violet Wyeth—the girl who betrayed him and ruined his life when he was a boy. He keeps her, determined to punish her for her sins. But when he discovers the truth about what really happened so long ago, and seething passion rises between them, he can no longer hold on to his rusty grudge. By the time he realizes how much he loves Violet—that he always has—he’s lost her.

All he can do is follow her. Follow her into the bowels of hell—and partake in the torment of the glittering London Season, where the harpies are far more dangerous than a Scottish brigand.

About Sabrina York

Sabrina_head_smHer Royal Hotness, Sabrina York is the award winning author of over 20 hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & sexy erotic romance to scorching BDSM. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests.

Free Teaser Book: http://sabrinayork.com/home-2/sabrina-yorks-teaser-book/ And don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!