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Julie Johnstone, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, Victoria Vane: Once Upon a True Love’s Kiss

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USA Today Best-selling author, Julie Johnstone, joins best-selling, award-winning authors, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, and Victoria Vane in this delightful limited edition, containing eight tantalizing kiss-and-tell stories. Meet dashing, wildly charming rogues, spies, pirates, rakes and their extraordinary, intrepid heroines as they whisk you along on sweet to sizzling romantic romps in these wickedly entertaining historical romances.

After Forever by Julie Johnstone

Lady Julia is hired to turn a rogue into a gentleman and receives lessons in love and desire.

Widowed Lady Julianna Barrows never wants to fall in love again. But when the notorious former boxer Nash Overton hires her to transform him into a gentleman, Julianna quickly becomes the student, learning more about passion than she’s ever known, and more importantly, learning how to love again. 2 1/2 Kisses

The Pirate’s Duchess by Katherine Bone

A duke masquerading as a pirate to “rob from the rich and give to the poor” sheds his darkest-kept secrets to keep from losing the duchess his wife has become.

Duty forces him to take on the pirate code, but honor brings him back.

Prudence, Duchess of Blackmoor, has one desire—to be happy again. After struggling to overcome the horrifying death of her husband, she accepts an earl’s offer of marriage, confident she’s taking a step in the right direction. But demons, refuse to die, and Prudence finds herself caught in an intricate web of deceit that threatens the very foundations of all she holds dear.

Tobias, the Duke of Blackmoor, crosses the line when an assassination attempt on him fails. To restore the reputations of friends under attack by the same villain, and ensure his wife’s safety, he stages his own death, becoming The Black Regent, a notorious pirate bent on brandishing justice, never thinking he’d survive. But to his amazement, he has, and now the darkest-kept secrets are not worth losing the duchess his wife has become. 2 1/2 Kisses

Her Scandalous Wish by Collette Cameron

A marriage offer obligated by duty . . . an acceptance compelled by desperation.

Philomena Pomfrett is resigned to spinsterhood, but to ease her dying brother’s fretting, she reluctantly agrees to attend a London Season with one purpose—to acquire a husband. Stumbling upon her hiding in a secluded garden arbor during a ball, Bradford, Viscount Kingsley doesn’t recognize his first love, yet something about the mysterious woman enthralls him, and he steals a passionate, moonlit kiss.

Caught in the act by Philomena’s brother, Bradford is issued an ultimatum—a duel or marry Philomena. He offers marriage, but even impoverished and with no other decent prospects, she rejects his half-hearted proposal until her brother collapses. Now, Philomena’s faced with marrying a man who deserted her once already. 2 Kisses

Milady and Her Spy by Jillian Chantal

A lady, a spy, a traitor… a battle of wills.

Raised in the country after her mother’s death with only the company of three unruly brothers, Lady Augusta Covington is more proficient at fencing, riding and playing cards than being prim and proper. Myles Cuthbert, a spy in His Majesty’s service on a mission to find and expose a traitor, crosses paths with Lady Augusta when she rides to the aid of her brother, believing him to be injured. With the assignment at risk, Cuthbert agrees to accept the assistance of the troublesome lady eager for intrigue. As they move forward, his sense of obligation to her and the danger involved stir his soul. 1 Kiss

Kissed By a Scottish Rogue by Samantha Grace

Scottish land steward Fergus McTaggert calls a temporary truce with his employer’s companion only to discover their passionate battles have been masking their hidden desires.

His Mother Insists He Needs a Wife.

Fergus McTaggart, Aldmist Fell’s land steward, has no time for wife hunting. Any day his employer’s sisters will be arriving at the Scottish castle for a long overdue reunion. Fergus is determined to make their stay memorable, but all anyone is likely to recall are the loud rows between him and his employer’s cheeky paid companion.

She Insists He Needs a Good Knock to the Head.

Edith Gallagher has been charged with watching over her employer’s youngest sister while the family winters in Scotland, but the stubborn land steward interferes at every turn. Eventually, she and the Scot call a truce for the sisters’ sakes only to discover their passionate battles are masking hidden desires. 2 Kisses

Stolen Kisses From the Viscount by Alanna Lucas

A rake, an heiress, and stolen kisses…this seduction could be his last.

Desperate times call for drastic measures as Miss Aveline Redgrave enters her third season. Fearful of fortune hunters, she attempts to stay clear of Lord Leybourne, a rogue who is not to be trusted. But his seductive smile and enticing kisses awaken a passion that threatens her common sense. No stranger to scandal, Leybourne is determined to save his family from ruin whatever the cost, even marrying an heiress he doesn’t love. But an unexpected desire and need to protect threatens his plans. Will past heartaches and a devastating wager destroy their future or will true love’s kiss triumph? 3 Kisses

Tempted By a Rogue by Lauren Smith

Gemma never planned on falling in love with her childhood sweetheart’s best friend, Jasper, when he returns home, but she can’t resist the naval officer’s brooding charm.

Gemma plans to marry James, her childhood sweetheart. With every letter written between them while he’s been off at sea, their love has grown. Now they will be reunited with his return to England. But the man whose words she’d fallen in love with isn’t James…

Jasper, a gentleman rogue of the first order, is trapped. Talked into a scheme by his friend, he pretended to be James for eleven years while writing to Gemma. He’s promised James he’d break it off. But when he returns home, his secret will come out – and he’ll lose the one woman he can’t live without. 4 Kisses

The Redemption of Julian Price by Victoria Vane

She gave him a chance to bury his past… but the price would be his heart…

Burdened by the past…Orphaned at a young age and left to run wild, at eighteen Julian Price joins the fight against Napoleon in the hope of attaining honor. Devastated when his best friend, Thomas, is killed in battle, Julian returns home burdened with guilt, only to find his wastrel uncle has squandered his inheritance.

Desperate to live her own life… Facing a future of drudgery caring for her aging mother and raising her brother’s children, Henrietta Houghton believes her chance at a real life died with Thomas, the only man who ever wanted her. But Henrietta is still full of dreams. When her wealthy aunt, offers her a gift of ten thousand pounds, Henrietta finally has the chance to choose her own destiny.

Everything has a price…With a fortune at her command, Henrietta offers Julian a marriage of convenience, unaware that she really offers Julian a means of salvation—not just his fortune, but his very soul. 3 Kisses

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SusanaSays3Susana Says

A lovely mélange of charming romantic tales by highly acclaimed authors: 4/5 stars

A former boxer determined to raise his and his daughter’s status in life falls in love with his widowed etiquette tutor. A widowed lady’s second marriage ceremony is interrupted by… her dead husband! A young lady promises her ailing brother she will find a husband encounters the beau who deserted her when she was scarred in a fire. Another young lady finds herself embroiled in a dangerous espionage plot with a handsome young spy. A lady’s companion with a tarnished background finds herself drawn to the annoyingly handsome Scottish land steward. A rakish young viscount in need of a wealthy wife to compensate for his late father’s profligacy pursues a young lady determined to avoid fortune hunters. A not-so-young lady who has been exchanging love letters with her childhood sweetheart at sea eagerly awaits his homecoming, but what happens when the man who returns is someone else entirely? With her first love a casualty of war and the prospect of a life of nothing but drudgery, a young lady is offered the opportunity to forge her own destiny… with a man in need of much more than her money.

If you are looking for well-written romantic tales for a pleasant evening’s diversion, you won’t be disappointed by this delightful anthology.

About the Authors

Julie Johnstone is an USA TODAY best-selling author of edgy Regency Romance. She feels she’s living the dream by working with her passion of creating worlds from her imagination. When not writing, she’s chasing her precocious children around, cooking, reading or exercising. Julie loves to hear from her readers.

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Katherine Bone is an Amazon #1 best-selling Historical Romance Author passionate about history since she had the opportunity to travel to various Army bases, castles, battlegrounds, and cathedrals as an Army brat-turned-Officer’s-Wife. Now she lives in the south where she writes about Rogues, Rebels and Rakes, aka Pirates, Lords, Captains, Duty, Honor, and Country and the happily-ever-afters every alpha male and damsel deserve.

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Jillian Chantal is a 2015 RONE Finalist and lives on the beautiful coast of Florida, and even though she loves her little slice of paradise, she’s an Anglophile at heart. Writing in a variety of romance genres makes her happy, but she has a particular fondness for the Georgian/Regency era as it was the age she adored as a teen and as her introduction to the world of happily-ever-afters. Living on the gulf coast also reminds Jillian, daily, that even though she loves the past, she needs the present. Air conditioning is vital for her survival.

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Collette Cameron is an Amazon #1 best-selling and award-winning Historical Romance Author of more than ten Scottish and Regency Romances featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intrepid damsels who reform them. Mother to three and self-proclaimed Cadbury chocoholic, she makes her home in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. You’ll always find animals, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels.

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Samantha Grace is an Amazon best-Selling, RITA-nominated Historical Romance Author who discovered the appeal of a great love story at the age of four, thanks to Disney’s “Robin Hood”. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience, and she wanted the warm fuzzies to go on forever. Now that Samantha is grown, she enjoys creating happy-endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publisher’s Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.

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Alanna Lucas is an Amazon best-selling author and grew up in Southern California, but always dreamed of distant lands and bygone eras. From an early age she took interest in art, history, and travel, and enjoys incorporating those diversions into her writing. However, she believes that true love is the greatest source of inspiration and is always an adventure. Alanna makes her home in California where she spends her time writing historical romances, dreaming of her next travel destination, spending time with family, and staying up too late indulging in her favorite past time, reading.

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Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, is an Amazon best-selling, award winning author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat, and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being a New England Reader’s Choice Winner, Greater Detroit Bookseller’s Best Award Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.

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Victoria Vane is an Amazon #1 bestselling author of smart and sexy romance. Her works range from comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance and have received over twenty awards and nominations to include: a 2015 Red Carpet Finalist for Best Contemporary romance (SLOW HAND), 2014 RONE Winner for Best Historical Post Medieval Romance (Treacherous Temptations), and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 (The Devil DeVere series). Victoria also writes romantic historical fiction as Emery Lee. She currently resides in Palm Coast, Florida with her husband, two sons, a little black dog, and an Arabian horse.

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For the purpose of this anthology, the following ratings apply:

One KissStories will either not have consummated love scenes, or subtly sexy undetailed scenes behind a closed bedroom door. You’re not invited inside. Sorry.

Two KissesStories are more sensual than sweet with some love scenes that are more sensual than graphic. You might blush, but you won’t need a fan.

Three KissesStories are sexier and bolder with more explicit love scenes and the language used to describe them may be more graphic. A fan and a cool beverage might be in order, but you won’t experience everything. *Wink*

Four KissesStories have frequent, graphic love scenes with explicit language. Be prepared to blush and stand in front of the air conditioner, a tall, iced drink in hand. Clothing is optional.

Five KissesStories have frequent graphic, descriptive love scenes and/or contain subject matter some readers may find objectionable. Blushing guaranteed, and you might learn a thing or two or three. But never fear, we won’t tattle if you don’t.

Vanessa Kelly: How to Marry a Royal Highlander

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About How to Marry a Royal Highlander

Illegitimate yet thoroughly irresistible, the Renegade Royals are leaving behind their careers as daring spies for the greatest adventure of all…

At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…

After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…

SusanaSays3Susana Says

… another Renegade Royal meets his match: 5/5 stars

Alasdair Gilbride, a natural son of the Duke of Kent (who will soon become the father of the future Queen Victoria), has been avoiding his responsibilities as heir to a Scottish earldom (through his deceased mother) for the past ten years by serving his country as a spy during the war with France. The war is over, his grandfather is ailing, and he no longer has any excuse for avoiding his dilemma—an unwanted betrothal to his cousin.

At the same time, Eden Whitney finds herself needing to get out of Town for awhile. The last thing she wants to do is spend the winter in a cold castle in Scotland, but her mother insists they accept Captain Gilbride’s offer. Edie and Gilbride have always had a bickering sort of relationship, but the closer they get to the frozen tundra that Scotland is presumed to be, the more her feelings for him begin to melt her antagonism. But family honor demands that he marry another… even if breaks her heart.

Like the rest of the Renegade Royals, Alasdair harbors his share of guilt and shame for being the “cuckoo in the nest,” even though he was the innocent party, and even though he does legitimately carry the blood of the earl his grandfather, through his mother. Eventually that’s what causes him to abandon the family and seek honor through service to his country. But does that mean he can get away with breaking a betrothal and wreaking havoc in the clan without a pang of conscience?

The relationship between Alec and Eden was amusing to watch, as it was easy to see how they felt about each other even before they could admit it to themselves. Mrs. Whitney took a bit longer to warm up to, but even she proved to be a worthy opponent to the crotchety old earl. How to Marry a Royal Highlander was a truly enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it—whether or not you’ve read any of the other books in the series.

About the Author

IMG_0031 copyVanessa 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.

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.

When she’s not dreaming up plots for her next Regency historical novel, Vanessa is writing USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance with her husband under the pen name of V.K. Sykes. The first book in their forthcoming Seashell Bay Series will be released by Grand Central in February, 2015.

You can find Vanessa at www.vanessakellyauthor.com or at www.vksykes.com. She’s also a member of The Jaunty Quills, a group of bestselling authors like Kristan Higgins, Shana Galen, and Jesse Hayworth. You can visit The Jaunty Quills at www.jauntyquills.com.

Heather King: A Sense of the Ridiculous

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About A Sense of the Ridiculous

When a prank goes wrong, headstrong squire’s daughter Jocasta Stanyon wakes up in the bedchamber of an inn with no memory of who she is. The inn is owned by widow Meg Cowley and her handsome son, Richard, who proves to be more than a match for the unconventional Miss Stanyon. Initial attraction leads, through various scrapes and indiscretions, to love, but their stations in life are far removed from each other and fate tears them apart with a cruel hand. Forbidden by her father to have any contact with Richard for six months, Jocasta is horrified when she is then summoned to receive the addresses of a fashionable stranger…

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SusanaSays3Susana Says

… a new favorite Regency author: 5/5 stars

The first time I read anything by Ms. King was a few weeks ago when I was copy-editing her story, Copenhagen’s Last Charge, for a Waterloo anthology we are both involved in*. I kept telling myself to slow down, since I was supposed to reading slowly and carefully to find errors. But I found myself so immersed in the story that I couldn’t seem to slow down. (Disclaimer: Copenhagen’s Last Charge was copy-edited by another person as well, so if anything was missed, it isn’t entirely my fault. However, the story itself is so compelling that not even the most draconian proofreader could fail to be captivated.)

A Sense of the Ridiculous had the same effect on me. This time, of course, I wasn’t copy-editing, since it was already published, but I have to admit I was hooked from the moment I met Miss Jocasta Stanyon. A more delightful hoyden heroine was never before invented, well, that I can remember, that is. She’s just as horse-mad as her creator (hi, Heather!), but is just as comfortable in a ballroom, and can sew her own clothes as well!

She has her faults. She’s stubborn, impulsive,a bit spoiled by her adoring father, and she doesn’t always tell the truth, although her untruths are more faults of omission than outright lies.Hey, she’s human.You can’t help liking her. She’s also daring, witty, and… ahem… sometimes wears men’s clothes.

Richard Cowley, the hero, is a cut or two above the average innkeeper. Well, at least half a dozen. Most of the innkeepers I’ve run into in my experience reading historical romances have definitely not been young, handsome, good-natured, fun-loving, and still loves his mother. And his grandparents too. No wonder our heroine takes a few liberties with the truth so that she can hang around a bit longer with the fascinating Mr. Cowley and his delightful family.

Read this story immediately. You’ll want to know

  • if the squire’s daughter ends up becoming an innkeeper’s wife
  • if the innkeeper decides to let convention hang and fly off to Gretna Green with his beloved
  • if the squire’s daughter decides to get even with her father by running off with the stable boy
  • if the squire’s son ever feels guilty about putting his passion for sport ahead of his responsibility for his sister

That’s all I’m going to say. You’ll have to read the story to find out if any of those things happen, and you’ll probably be laughing all the way through it.

*Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles, to be released April 1, 2015, in celebration of the Waterloo bicentenary (June 18, 1815 – June 18, 2015). You are cordially invited to attend our Cover Reveal party on March 18th, from 12:00 noon – 9:00 p.m. EST. Prizes and fun to be had by all!

About the Author

I am an author with a passion for history and in particular the Regency. I love to write warm, flowing and light-hearted stories, following with tiny steps in the magnificent wake of Georgette Heyer.

I live in a beautiful rural part of the UK and share my home with various life forms, including two ponies, three cats and a bouncy dog. When I am not writing, I enjoy reading, walking my dog, horses and music, as well as creative crafts. I also love watching costume dramas on the television.

From being small, I have loved to write—and dream. In my bedroom I had a wallpaper with flower-edged squares—just perfect for writing my ‘news’. I don’t think my mother was overly impressed, although I don’t recall any major repercussions.

I discovered Georgette Heyer in my early teens and in my opinion, there is still nobody in the modern era who can match her in the Regency genre. At this stage my writing career took a back seat when my passion for horses led me off in another direction.

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Just Released: An Improper Marriage

improper-marriage-e1422916352924When her stepfather suggests she should marry ironmaster Jeremiah Knight, Eleanor Honeybourne knows a lifetime of dullness awaits her, but at the annual glass-maker’s ball, the discovery of an injured man in a summer-house and an overheard conversation lead her to suspect Mr. Knight is not all that he appears. With both her own and Robert’s life at risk, Eleanor sees only one way out of the fix… and when she meets her childhood hero, she is forced into a situation which could well spell her ruin…

Vanessa Kelly: How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy

History Revisited

Hi, Susana! Thanks for hosting me on your lovely blog to talk about How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy. This is the 3rd book in my Renegade Royals historical romance series, featuring the illegitimate sons of England’s royal dukes. Most Regency readers know who Prinny is, aka the Prince Regent, well-known rake and bon vivant. It’s thought that he had at least four illegitimate offspring and possibly more.

IMG_0031 copyBut the Prince Regent wasn’t the only bad boy in the family. Most of his brothers also produced children born on the wrong side of the blanket. The Duke of Kent, for instance, had at least ten with Mrs. Jordan. Trust me—those guys were busy! All told, there may have been as many as twenty-five illegitimate children with royal blood running through their veins. It’s fairly ironic, then, that there was such a scramble to produce a legitimate heir to the throne after the death of Princess Charlotte, the Prince Regent’s daughter, in 1817.

There’s not a lot of information about most of these children. After all, their births would surely have been scandalous and, in most cases, would not have been formally acknowledged. That, naturally, makes them perfect fodder for writers, since we can take quite a lot of license in creating characters that are actually well grounded in historical fact. That’s what I did with my Renegade Royals: I researched the royal dukes and their reputed offspring, worked up the appropriate timelines, and then came up with fictional heroes who would fit both the period and also my goals for the book.

Which, of course, is to write sexy, appealing, and dashing heroes that my heroines and readers will fall in love with!

How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy introduces the next two heroes in the series—Captain Will Endicott and Captain Alasdair (Alec) Gilbride. Will is the son of the Duke of York, and Alasdair is the son of the Duke of Kent. They’re friends, cousins, and military spies who’ve worked many missions together.

Now, I have to admit that my inspiration for Will and Alec didn’t just come from history. While I was developing the proposal for this particular book, I also happened to be binge-watching the TV show Strike Back, an exciting thriller about two agents for the British Defense Intelligence Service. I won’t deny that some elements of that show, particularly the portrayal of the heroes, made their way into my story! It was huge fun to meld modern inspiration with historical background to create my take on a slice of Regency history.

How much history do you like in your historical romance? Do you prefer the emphasis on the history or the romance, or does it matter?

One person who comments will win a copy of Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard, book one in the series.

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About How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy

Whether as spies or lovers, the Renegade Royals—illegitimate sons of England’s Royal Princes—are bold, skillful, and a force to be reckoned with…

A war hero returned from Waterloo should be able to indulge in a bit of bad behavior. Instead, Captain William Endicott is summoned by his father, the Duke of York, to investigate an assassination plot. The unlikely suspect: William’s former sweetheart. Will can’t believe that innocent Evie Whitney could be mixed up in anything so nefarious. Then again, almost everything about Evie has changed—except for his body’s instinctive response to hers…

Just as Evie’s life is finally coming together, Will saunters back into it. Should she slap him—or seduce him? Even as she tries to decide, scandal pushes her toward marriage with a man she can neither trust nor resist—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy…

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Excerpt

Will pushed away from the column, scowling at the smirk on Alec’s face. “It’s about time you showed up. I’ve been trailing around after Beaumont and his friends for the last hour, trying not to look like a lunatic. The last time I dodged behind a potted palm our hostess looked ready to have me carted off to Bedlam.” He was joking, of course, since his skills at discreet surveillance were as good as they’d ever been—despite the distractions Evie posed.

Alec, resplendent in his regimentals, cast a quick glance around them.

“No one is listening,” Will said dryly. “You know I haven’t lost my touch.”

His cousin shrugged. “Can’t be too careful, not with the cannonball this bloody assignment is turning out to be.” His gaze fixed on Beaumont and Evie, just coming off the dance floor on the other side of the massive ballroom. “I spent some time with Beaumont last week. While you were capering about with Miss Evelyn, I was practically paying court to the fellow. God only knows what he must think of me.”

“That you’re an ardent philanthropist, no doubt. And, by the way, I was hardly capering with Evie. Except for that day in the ruins, she’s treated me like I’m a leper, bells and all.”

Alec folded his arms across his chest and smiled, conveying the appearance of a man engaged in casual conversation. He liked to give the impression that he was a genial and not very bright giant, but Will knew he had his eye on Beaumont, Evie, and probably twenty other people in the room at the same time. “I noticed that. What did you do to rattle the poor girl?”

“I’m not sure,” Will said with a casual shrug. It was a lie, but Alec didn’t need the gory details. “I suppose she hasn’t yet forgiven me for abandoning her, as she put it.”

“And yet you two seemed quite chummy in the carriage.”

“I know it’s difficult, but try not to be an idiot,” Will replied in a tone of false sympathy.

Alec’s laughing gray eyes flashed back at him. “Someone is certainly in a foul mood. You know what you need?”

“No, but I’m sure you’ll tell me.”

“A visit to a cozy little brothel. It’s been much too long since you’ve had a good shagging.”

“I think not, but feel free to carry on without me.”

His cousin let out a soft hoot. “That’s what I thought. You’re still keen on the girl, aren’t you?”

Will narrowed his eyes in warning. “I suggest we stick to business. We haven’t had much chance to speak the last few days, since you’ve been busy with other things.”

Before answering, Alec took the time to give a pair of pretty girls strolling by a flourishing bow. They both giggled, flirting behind their fans, before gliding away.

“I’m sorry, old son,” Alec finally said in a vague manner. “What were we talking about?”

SusanaSays3Susana Says

…another thoroughly enjoyable Regency romp: 5/5 stars!

I can’t say enough about Ms. Kelly’s knack for characterization. The relationship between Evie and Edie, their parents (particularly their frequently misguided mother), and Will and his friend Alec (surely the next of the not-so-royal brood to be struck by Cupid’s arrow) give the story authenticity. Hovering over the courtship—if it can be called that—is a dangerous secret that threatens to wreak havoc on the security of England…and yet Ms. Kelly manages to weave it all together with a light touch of humor, leaving no doubts in the reader’s mind that Will and Evie’s romance will stand the test of time.

Highly recommended read!

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 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 current series, The Renegade Royals, is a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance with her husband under the pen name of V.K. Sykes.

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Charlotte Russell: One Wicked Weekend

Dear Grandmama,

I hope this finds you well, though I cannot imagine you any other way. Illness would never dare corner the dowager Countess of Hartfield.

I have only just left Edinburgh and I am afraid I will not be returning directly to Remington Chase. My good friend Robert has entrusted me with an errand I could not refuse. Rest assured that I have already written my assistant with detailed instructions for the stewardship of the estate in my absence.

I know that by now you are consumed with curiosity as to where I am going and what I am to do for Robert. I must admit I am hesitant to tell you the former and unable to tell you the latter.

I can see the frown creasing your forehead. Very well. I will confess that I am to attend Lord Bruton’s house party next week. I do hope that tidbit has not sent you into an apoplectic fit. I very much doubt it, as you are made of sterner stuff.

Anyway, please know that I intend, as always, to uphold the dignity and rectitude of the Drake name even though I am sure to be surrounded by licentiousness and debauchery. And lovely young women who care not the least bit about propriety and modesty. Surely it wouldn’t be too depraved to entertain one of them for I will refrain from any and all unworthy thoughts and keep my mind focused on the task at hand. I apologize for not being more forthcoming about that task, but I have promised Robert complete confidentiality.

I will return with all due haste as soon as I am able. Until then I am

Your good and faithful grandson,

Hugh Drake

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About One Wicked Weekend

Hugh Drake attended the scandalous house party to help a friend, but what he found was a woman he could never relinquish. 

From This Night Forward

As a newcomer to Lord Bruton’s scandalous house party, Hugh Drake was to choose first. He would select the woman whose eyes and body excited him most, whose lips and tongue would do all of the things he had been told a true lady never did. He would select a woman who would need all he wanted to give—and less. He would choose she who showed him both strength and desperation, and who would be the answer to his secret mission. He would choose an angel and a temptress, a protégé and a partner. He would choose his future wife.

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SusanaSays3Susana Says

…the sizzling story of a Regency-style liberated woman and a man who needs to be liberated: 5/5 stars

In so many of these stories, a heroine with a past seems to feel the need to live like a nun and forego a normal life, even when she was the victim. This story is the antithesis of that. Although Catherine has been victimized, she refuses to behave as a victim.This unusually strong female first intrigues Hugh and then makes him realize that he needs some liberating of his own.

I loved it!

About the Author

Charlotte Russell copyCharlotte Russell didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. At one point she had grand plans to be an architect, until she realized she couldn’t draw anything more complicated than a stick figure. So, she enrolled at the University of Notre Dame and studied her first love—history. Now she puts all that historical knowledge to good use by writing romances set in Regency England. When not pounding on the keyboard, she watches sports with her husband (yes, he’s lucky!), chauffeurs her three kids around, volunteers for too many things, and entertains two cats. (Of course there are cats; she’s a writer.)

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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…

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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.

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Christa Paige & Vivien Jackson: A Christmas Scheme

Cotillion Christmas Feasts

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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 Christa

The fun thing about co-writing is that you can come up with an idea, lob it through the ether at your writing partner and watch as she takes off with it. This is the case with the orangery in A Christmas Scheme. If I could show you my message feed with my lovely co-author, Vivien Jackson, it might make you wonder how we managed to craft an entire story with the crazy amount of idea lobbing going on. It was kind of like a fun snow ball fight. One of those ideas stuck. And, it was after we agreed on incorporating an orangery into the story that I had to actually figure out what it was beyond what I had read a long time ago in a Stephanie Laurens’ Bar Cynster novel.

There are a few interesting facts about orangeries that I found out in my research. They started in the 1600’s but became popular throughout Britain and France during the 17thcentury. Originally, they were buildings made from rudimentary supports like wooden beams and heated stoves but by the height of their incorporation in the English manor, they became architectural masterpieces with heating vents and glass-paned windows. Some famous orangeries are still around today like at Versailles in France and Kew House in England.

One of the benefits of an orangery was that it continuously offered a plethora of fruits, especially those citrus fruits that would not normally grow in the frigid temperatures of an English winter. And, that fact worked nicely for our Christmas story. At first, the orangery only had one purpose in A Christmas Scheme: the oranges. However, as the story unfolded, it turned out that this orangery was used for far more than just growing trees through the winter cold.

Vivien incorporated the orangery in Doctor Avery’s medical practice. And, I went with that and added a use for his lovely bride, Caroline. As the story continued on, we found that the orangery became a bigger aspect throughout the plot. There is a pivotal scene between Kiran and Kate in the orangery. And, though it is snowing outside and Christmas is nigh, there is a warm fire burning within the orangery, keeping things summery and tepid. It is a place of escape, a place of solitude, a place of secrets.

And, a place to grow oranges.

I’m so glad that I lobbed that idea to Vivien and that she ran with it.

So, join Miss Kate Avery and Kiran in the orangery at White Withering. There might even be a few schemes in there, too.

About A Christmas Scheme

Sequel to A Christmas Caroline, but you don’t have to read the prequel first!

With her brother’s recent marriage to the daughter of an earl, Kate Avery is no longer needed to keep his house or look after their younger sister. She’s free. But for what? Secretly she wishes for purpose and adventure, but finding it seems unlikely. Then her brother arrives home from London just in time for Christmas…with an exotic and mysterious visitor.

A displaced Bengali lord, Kiran now serves the British Crown in a covert capacity. He’s been charged to deliver a secret message to the Earl of Withering at his country estate. He feels out of place in this very English home and is eager to leave until he meets Kate, who shares his desire for adventure.

Kate and Kiran must choose between the loyalties they have long held and the unexpected affection that blooms between them.

A Blush® Regency historical romance from Ellora’s Cave

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Excerpt

Copyright © CHRISTA PAIGE & VIVIEN JACKSON, 2014

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

Chapter One

22 December 1809, Shropshire

Kate Avery crested a high point on the lane at White Withering, the grand country estate belonging to her brother’s new father-in-law, and turned in a slow circle to observe the white-cloaked park and grounds. Drat winter. Drat the country. Drat Christmas. If there was an exact opposite of joy, she was feeling it today.

A Christmas Scheme_HiRes copyA crusty scab of snow lingered from this morning, and if the leaden clouds were any indication, more bad weather was soon to come. It never snowed so unseasonably early in London. The hem of her sturdy woolen pelisse was soaked and her head felt blown up tighter than a hot-air balloon. Hydrocephalus, her brother Samuel would worry, and give her a tincture and put her to bed. Sometimes it was a burden having a physician for a brother, especially one who was so fond of her.

Thank heaven he was away in town and wasn’t expected home for another two days. He had promised Lady Caroline he would return home for the whole of Christmastide. This season was special for them; last year during the holiday had seen them wed.

For Kate, her brother’s professional obligations in town presented her with something of a reprieve. By the time he returned, her nose ought to be quite sorted. And she would have her sister Virginia in hand.

Probably.

For the last several months, since they’d moved to the country with Samuel and his Lady Caroline, nine-year-old Virginia had been playing truant of her studies. Ladies do not learn mathematics, the child would say. Ladies learn forte-piano. And Kate would hide her handed-down cyphering tables and bite her tongue. Adjusting from making do in their modest house on Dean Street, appropriate for a young physician and his family, to the opulence of Lady Caroline’s world had been difficult for Kate. Not so for her sister, apparently. Virginia had taken to grandness like the Queen to tea. Worse, the Earl of Withering, Lady Caroline’s curmudgeon of a father, encouraged such behavior.

Virginia always had been special, the youngest of the Avery siblings, an unexpected baby, the one Papa called a bonus. Kate had promised her dying mother that she would care for her wee sister, and by God she planned to do just that. Only…what if she had indeed been teaching Virginia the absolute wrong things all these years? After all, Kate herself had no formal instruction and no notion really what ladies ought to know. What if the earl and Lady Caroline had the right of it, and Virginia required more ladylike accomplishments, not Latin verbs?

Kate swiped the handkerchief once more over her face, then tucked it in her pocket, turning her head toward a copse nearby, a barrier between the lane and the formal gardens. On the thin winter wind she thought she caught voices coming from that direction, one tinny and childish. She squinted past the lace of bare branches. It took her not five moments to locate the wispish figure of her sister, flitting amongst the trees, bundled up like an overstuffed doll and singing some melody at the top of her voice. Kate gathered breath to call after the child.

But in the next instant she swallowed her shout. Choked on it. Following a short distance behind the child was Miss Blackthorne, Virginia’s new governess. New as of last week. Kate dropped her hand.

Lady Caroline had hired this governess, and her references were impeccable. She even taught deportment and watercolor. They had been in the orangery this morning, coddling saplings, and in the music room in the afternoon, chiming scales. And now here they were, the child and her teacher, heedless of the cold or gathering twilight, moving apace, and casually. Virginia’s voice came clear again, and Kate realized she was singing a song…in French.

Her sister was speaking French . Was skipping through the country woods of White Withering, in the company of her hired servant, confidently intoning—with some occasional comment on the pronunciation from Miss Blackthorne—the sounds Kate had only ever dared to read and never to speak.

“Oh, Mama,” Kate murmured, “I would you could see this.” Truth was, Virginia was growing into a fine young lady. And quite, quite without her sister’s help. The governess and her charge passed the slight hill Kate stood upon, bound for the house, without a pause in their song or a glance to the side.

A sneeze bristled the inside of Kate’s nose, but she swallowed savagely and the urge went away.

Blinking the odd brightness of the snow-clad twilight from her eyes, she began back the way she had come. Back toward the great looming house and her unnervingly aristocratic, if generous, sister-in-law and…what else? How would she now fill this evening, or tomorrow?

Virginia might be learning how a lady ought to occupy her time, but Kate flailed. Lady Caroline spent whole days in letter writing, riding her horse, visiting around the neighborhood, and tending her hothouse flowers. Did she expect Kate to amuse herself in similar pursuits? The thought was soul-blanching. Kate was more used to sorting household accounts, reading bits of broadsides her brother picked up at the coffee shops, and making certain Virginia adhered to a schedule and lessons. If those were no longer appropriate tasks for her, she needed…something. Adventure. Excitement. A place in the world. A purpose.

She stifled a sneeze against her sleeve.

She had heretofore found that purpose in helping others—quizzing her brother in his studies before he went off to school, helping her mother when Virginia was born, and then taking over care of the child after Mama succumbed. If Kate was not required to supervise Virginia now, what else was she good for?

A sound swept over the park. Such noise, which layered every moment in London, was alien out here in the country, unusual enough that she turned toward it.

The carriage was not beyond the park, as she had supposed. It turned onto the lane even as she watched, flashing the crest of the Earl of Withering. It lumbered a bit, the coachman taking his horses gingerly over fresh ice, but clearly it was coming here to White Withering. Her brother had returned early from London!

Eager to hurry back to the house before Samuel arrived, Kate picked up the hem of her pelisse and started down the hill, but a movement in the carriage arrested her momentarily. A shape leaned out the narrow window. A head. Even from this distance she could discern that it was dark. Unusually so and quite exotic. He looked straight at her.

Goodness. Of a certainty not her brother.

Kate’s breath caught up with the prickle in her throat, and for a heartbeat she could not breathe. She paused, strangling the mass of wool in her fist.

Who was this stranger? And why had Samuel brought him to White Withering, just in time for Christmas and with no warning whatsoever? Even were this guest quite common to look at—and Lord help her, he was not—the Earl of Withering, master still of this estate, would very well want to know about him.

Kate decided to bypass the imposing stone portico and divided stairs at the front and enter the house via the garden instead. She needed to locate the earl before meeting Sam and his guest on the steps.

As purposes went, relaying information to the earl was a simple one, but at least she had a reason to go back into that house.

SusanaSays3Susana Says

An engaging tale of two lovers finding unexpected love and purpose in life at Christmastide: 4/5 stars

Exciting things always seem to happen at Christmas at the White Withering estate. Last year, when Lady Caroline decided to make her father’s last Christmas a memorable one, she found her match. And this year, the earl is still around, and an unusual guest turns up to make her sister-in-law Kate Avery’s Christmas a special one.

A native of India and clearly a foreigner, Kiran’s ethnicity adds to his charm as he wins over the Kate and her family. His life has come to a crossroads and he feels alone and uncertain about his future. He sees that Kate, whose role in life has been usurped by Lady Caroline in the past year, is likewise feeling at loose ends, and ideas begin to form in his mind…

Add to that an insightful old earl, an impish little sister, and an unexpected episode in an orangery and you have a lovely tale of two lovers finding each other through the magic power of Christmas.

About the Authors

Vivien Jackson • Christa Paige

On our own, we write paranormal and sci-fi and fantasy and hot cops. Together, it’s all about the cravats and Hessians. Polished, of course.

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