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Amy Rose Bennett: Master of Strathburn (Giveaway)

MasterOfStrathburnFINAL copy 2

The Master of Strathburn is essentially a tale about Robert Grant, a wanted Jacobite. After surviving the Battle of Culloden, he escapes to France and then the Caribbean. However, after a decade of living in exile, he desperately wants to return to Scotland and reconcile with his estranged father, the Earl of Strathburn. The only problem is, there is still a price on his head—he isn’t fortunate enough to have been granted a pardon through the Act of Indemnity in 1747. Not only that, his dissolute half-brother Simon and avaricious step-mother would have him arrested by the British in the blink of an eye to prevent him from reclaiming his birthright. Of course, when Robert returns to Lochrose Castle, his long-lost Highland home, the adventures and the romance begin…

Scotland and its rich history has always fascinated me. The idea for writing a novel set around the time of the second Jacobite Rebellion, the Forty-five, came to me when I was sixteen, after I’d read a short story about Flora MacDonald, the brave young woman who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie—the Pretender to the Scottish throne and indeed, the throne of England—escape the Highlands after the rebellion failed. Of course, I’ve done a lot more research into the period since then. After reading about Culloden—the last battle of the rebellion in which the Jacobite army was resoundingly defeated—I knew I particularly wanted to write about a Jacobite hero who was present at the battle and his struggles dealing with the aftermath following the failed uprising. And hence Robert Grant’s story came to life in my mind.

Culloden Memorial Cairn copy

The Battle of Culloden took place at Drumossie Moor, not far from Inverness in the north-west of Scotland on April 16, 1746. I was fortunate enough to visit the site several years ago; it was actually only a few days after the anniversary of the battle and families who’d lost relatives had laid wreaths against the memorial cairn. The moor is actually classified as a war grave and there are small headstones marking the places where particular clansmen fell. It is estimated that 1500 to 2000 Jacobite soldiers were killed or wounded during the brief battle whereas the British army sustained only fifty casualties. Needless to say, visiting Culloden was a very moving experience.

About Master of Strathburn

A sweeping, sexy Highland romance about a wanted Jacobite with a wounded soul, and a spirited Scottish lass on the run.

Robert Grant has returned home to Lochrose Castle in the Highlands to reconcile with his long-estranged father, the Earl of Strathburn. But there is a price on Robert’s head, and his avaricious younger half-brother, Simon, doesn’t want him reclaiming his birthright. And it’s not only Simon and the redcoats that threaten to destroy Robert’s plans after a flame-haired complication of the feminine kind enters the scene…

Jessie Munroe is forced to flee Lochrose Castle after the dissolute Simon Grant tries to coerce her into becoming his mistress. After a fateful encounter with a mysterious and handsome hunter, Robert, in a remote Highland glen, she throws her lot in with the stranger—even though she suspects he is a fugitive. She soon realizes that this man is dangerous in an entirely different way to Simon…

Despite their searing attraction, Robert and Jessie struggle to trust each other as they both seek a place to call home. The stakes are high and only one thing is certain: Simon Grant is in pursuit of them both…

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In the following excerpt, Robert has just escaped the Battle of Culloden by the skin of his teeth. Or has he?

Excerpt

April 16, 1746

Lochrose Castle, Strathspey, Scotland

‘You’ve got a bloody nerve, Robert.’

‘Aye, I do.’ Robert Grant—the soon-to-be disinherited Master of Strathburn and Viscount Lochrose—squinted through the dark spots clustering his field of vision, trying in vain to focus on his sneering half-brother Simon. The bayonet wound across his shoulder-blade throbbed with such thought-stealing intensity, it was all he could do to stay seated upon his trembling, sweating horse. There was no way he would be able to dismount unassisted. He’d end up with his face firmly planted in the gravel of the forecourt. ‘But for the love of God, Simon …’ he continued, his voice no more than a hoarse rasp. ‘Just help me down. I’m wounded for Christ’s sake …’

He barely recalled the moment the English soldier’s blade had sliced across his back. The horror of everything else that had taken place only hours before on Drumossie Moor flooded his mind. Made the nausea rise in his gullet anew.

Simon snorted. ‘You must’ve had a blow to the head then, or else you would’ve remembered that Father forbade you to come back.’ He glanced past Robert, down the gravel drive toward Lochrose’s gates. ‘You’ve killed them all, haven’t you? It was a rout, just like Father said it would be, wasn’t it?’ His grey gaze, flint-hard with accusation and long-held resentment, returned to Robert. ‘He will never forgive you for this.’

No doubt. Twenty-six Clan Grant men dead. And I was the arrogant young cock who led them all out like lambs to the slaughter.

Robert swallowed down both the bile and bitter self-acrimony burning his throat. ‘I know,’ he croaked. ‘But please … I just need to hide until I can move on … tomorrow.’

Even though he had flagrantly disobeyed their father and had led out the clan at Culloden, Robert prayed that he would be shown a modicum of compassion. That the earl would at least grant his eldest son sanctuary for a single night before he fled Scotland to spend a life in exile in some far-flung place. Robert didn’t want to put his family at risk for harbouring a fugitive, but he just couldn’t go on any farther.

Simon smiled, the sentiment not quite reaching his eyes. ‘Of course, dear brother. I shall have a room prepared for you.’ He gripped Robert’s forearm with one hand at the same time he slapped the blood-soaked plaid sticking to his shoulder.

Bastard. Agonising, white-hot pain instantly knifed through Robert. Even as black oblivion at last rose up to claim him, he didn’t fail to notice that Simon was still smiling.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Kindle copy of my Regency noir style romance set in Scotland, just tell me what it is you love about Highland romances.

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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Katherine Givens: Regency Masquerade: The Sinner’s Temptation

Regency Masquerade: The Sinner’s Temptation

by Katherine Givens

Unescorted women disguised in a domino, a mask to disguise their identity to protect their reputation. Rogues scouting the crowd of Marie Antoinettes and Grecian goddesses for their next target. Dandified fops, bucks, and ladybirds mingle with one another as the music lilts in this raucous setting certain to fatigue the most righteous of society’s Grande Dames.

Givens1

A Masquerade at the Pantheon on Oxford Street in London.
Dated 1809, Wikimedia Commons.

A masquerade is always the setting for interludes and intrigue in regency romances. A masquerade plays a central role in my debut novella, In Her Dreams. And why not? The backdrop masked balls provide are absolute fun to envision while writing, and the history is just as interesting!

Masquerades originated in Italy and flourished on the European continent during the Renaissance era. However, masquerades were not introduced to London until 1708 by a Swiss dandy named John James Heidegger. The masked balls slowly gained popularity in the following decades. The stylized masks, gowns, and costumes allowed for the ton to be freed from society’s constraints in an intimate setting where rendezvouses were possible. Venues such as Vauxhall Gardens hosted masquerades, and the reputation of Vauxhall was already in question.

Masquerade at the King’s Theatre in Haymarket.  Dated 1724, Wikimedia Commons.

Masquerade at the King’s Theatre in Haymarket.
Dated 1724, Wikimedia Commons.

These functions gained the disdain of society in the Regency era. Movements against the immorality and sin attached to the masquerade tried to end the popularity. Activists behind this movement accused “foreign influence” as the reason behind its corruption, but the movements had little effect. The masquerade thrived well through the Victorian era. And thank goodness, for it gives me a fun playground to have my characters romp around in!

About In Her Dreams

A flirty, fun, mix-and-match romance about two sisters who are betrothed to the wrong men…

Givens3Evangeline Vernon is a woman on the verge of spinsterhood — until the prim and proper Duke of Manchester steps in. Her family is pleased with the match, but the duke is not the passionate man Evangeline craves. Her heart belongs to an alluring, golden-haired gentleman, perfect in every way…except one: he doesn’t exist.

Angela Vernon is everything a proper, well-brought-up woman should be. She knows her place and understands society’s expectations — which include not being jealous of her sister and not coveting her sister’s suitor. But how can she bear the heartache of watching the only man she loves marry not only her sister, but a woman who doesn’t see past his exterior to the man he is beneath?

Available

Amazon

About the Author

Katherine Givens is a museum employee with a secret. Few know the truth of her greatest passion, but those closest to her know she loves to write historical romances… Alright, maybe more than a few people know she is a writer. Anyone who will listen to her can glean this from a conversation.

Givens4So, Katherine Givens is a museum employee who wishes she had a devilish secret or a jaw-dropping double life, but the characters in her manuscripts often do. From the withdrawn duke mesmerized by his quiet maid or the savage viking eager to ravish a Christian girl, her heroes are always bound to have a secret or two. It is often up to the headstrong heroine to unravel the mysteries surrounding the man that has captured her heart.

Katherine is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Romance Writers of America PRO. She has two novellas, one already released and another upcoming.  In Her Dreams (Harlequin Australia’s Escape Publishing) was released October 1, 2013. much to her delight! Love Amidst the Egyptian Sands (Red Sage Publishing) will be released on January 1, 2015. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines, including The Copperfield Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Nazar Look, and WestWard Quarterly.

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Guest Author Eva Scott and The Last Gladiatrix

Today my guest is Eva Scott, who recently joined a Facebook group called History Lovers, which was originally formed by several of us who were teammates in Savvy Authors NANO Smackdown with Entangled Editors last fall. We’re all history lovers, of course, and we write historical romance, although with quite diverse settings. 

Welcome to Susana’s Parlour, Eva!

eva scottThanks, Susana. It’s great to be here! I’d like to begin by talking about the role of women in ancient Rome.

While my novel The Last Gladiatrix is set in Rome my heroine is not actually Roman.  Xanthe is a Sarmatian, the people who are thought to be the source of the Amazon legend.  Sarmatian women fought side by side with their men in times of war, being equally as skilled in archery as in cooking up a mean pot of lamb stew for afterwards.  Their lives revolved around horses and many Sarmatians were bow-legged as a result of the custom of putting children of both sexes on horseback before they could walk.  The Sarmatians were a nomadic people travelling with the seasons, tending their flocks of sheep and goat not unlike their ‘cousins’ the Scythians or the Alans.

Roman women, however, were not quite as free.  A Roman woman was controlled by her father even after she married.  Her father could order her divorce if he so choose—even if the couple in question didn’t agree!  Once her father died she didn’t automatically pass into the authority of her husband.  If her father appointed a tutor before his death then that man would become her legal guardian.   Yet there was a way out from under the yoke.  If a free-born woman had three legitimate children, and her father was dead, she was rewarded the right to legal and economic independence from her tutor.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom for Roman women.  In the ideal Roman family a husband and wife shared a partnership and made important decisions together.  Not unlike our family model of today.  And there is a lot of historical evidence for the important role mothers played in their son’s life—for better or for worse.  Women often manoeuvred for power in the back rooms and salons of Roman society.  A powerful man often had a strong, clever woman helping behind the scenes.  And the older a woman became the more weight her opinion carried and the more respect she earned. I don’t know about you but I do like the sound of that!

Gladiatrix_Final (427x640)About The Last Gladiatrix

Captured and enslaved by a Roman legion, Xanthe never expects to end up training for the Coliseum floor, but every night after the day’s march, she is put through her paces by a Roman solider who challenges her, tests her, and excites her.

Titus is drawn to Xanthe, her fire and her spirit, so he breaks one of his rules and brings notice on himself, offering to train her as a gladiatrix to spare her a courtesan’s role. But training her, working with her, soon becomes too much. Titus knows the penalty for taking property that does not belong to him, but how long can he resist?

Excerpt

The flash of her green eyes in the candlelight reminded Titus of the verdant wild forests of Northern Italy, which they had recently left. He rubbed a smear of dirt from her cheek with his thumb, and then taking her hand, he raised Xanthe up to stand. With deliberate, slow movements he unfastened her tunic, letting it fall from her shoulders to pool on the ground at her feet.

Xanthe made no move to stop him, their eyes locked, her fear and trust clear to see. He slid his fingers beneath the waist of her leggings and tugged them down over her hips, leaving her naked, standing there before him.

Titus took a sponge and dipped it into a bowl of warm water, letting it soak before applying it to Xanthe’s flesh. He washed her with firm yet gentle strokes, and as the water ran over her skin it dripped deliciously from her breasts. The centurion bent his head and licked at a droplet, pleased to feel her shudder in response. Her nipple hardened, inviting him to explore further. He needed no invitation. Xanthe had to summon all her self-discipline to stand still while Titus explored the curves of her body. His touch turned her core to molten fire; she could barely contain her need.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Gladiatrix-ebook/dp/B00BSKJF98/

http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/products/tag/historical

About the Author

I live on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland Australia with my fabulous husband and gorgeous little boy. When I’m not writing romance you can find me out on the water kayaking, fishing or swimming. When on dry land it’s all about the shoes and the coffee.

http://www.evascottromance.com/

http://www.facebook.com/eva.scottromancewriter

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Romancing-The-Romans/476218929112324?ref=hl#!/pages/Romancing-The-Romans/476218929112324

http://www.twitter.com/EvaScottWriter