Tag Archive | Lauren Smith

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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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.

Lauren Smith: The Duelist’s Seduction

The Duelist’s Seduction Playlist

Have you ever heard a song that just fills your mind with images? That’s how music is for me. I can be standing in a crowded mall and hear the faint strains of a song and it just captures me. I see things, scenes, characters, stories not yet told, as they unfurl like brightly colored flags in my mind.

Music is true inspiration. For every song you can dream up a thousand stories. Music enchants us, spellbinds us, weaves emotions and tones into a beautiful symphony that leaves us bewitched. Because this connection for me and music is so incredibly powerful, I make sure to create a playlist for every story I write. Some characters have their own theme music, some scenes have a particular song, or the hero and heroine together have a song or songs that help me channel the emotions and the plot points of the story. In other words, music is magic for a writer like me.

When I set out to write my Regency romance novella The Duelist’s Seduction, I knew I’d need a special blend of songs because the hero, Gareth is dark and brooding, and the heroine, Helen is young and innocent, but full of love and hope.

So dear readers, settle back in your favorite armchair, with a cup of hot chocolate, your e-reader and your mp3 player and settle in for a great playlist!

The List:

  • Bad Company by Bad Company
  • Don’t Deserve You by Plumb
  • Elements (Orchestral Version) by Lindsey Stirling
  • Dead in the Water by Ellie Goulding
  • You Can Go Your Own Way by Lissie
  • Feel Me by Mecca Kalani
  • New York by Snow Patrol
  • Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey

Hope you all enjoyed the songs and get a chance to check out my novella, The Duelist’s Seduction, the first in the sexy Seduction series!

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About The Duelist’s Seduction

Helen Banks is going to die. When her twin brother gambles away their fortune, she must save his life and take his place in a duel to satisfy the honor of a man her brother couldn’t pay. Disguised as her brother, Helen faces the one man she’s admired from afar, a widower with a dark past and eyes that scorch her very soul.

Since Gareth Fairfax lost his wife, the darkness in his heart continues to grow. Lashing out at anyone who opposes him, Gareth is stunned to face a lovely young woman opposite his dueling pistol. After discovering Helen’s deception, he offers her a choice: become his mistress or her brother dies.

Their devil’s bargain turns into a slow, sweet, intoxicating seduction. With each passing hour, Helen uncovers Gareth’s secret heartbreak and yet she can’t help but fall for the man who has ruined her. With Helen in his arms, Gareth wonders if he might yet be saved. All it takes is one passionate embrace, a kiss from the depths of his soul and a night of wild abandon.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

The predawn sky shone brightly with flickering stars as Helen Banks readied herself for the duel. Her hair was coiled and pinned tightly against her head, concealing its thick mass and giving her a boyish look—a disguise she prayed would last. Checking the black mask covering her face, she resumed walking. She took a deep, steadying breath as she adjusted her breeches and the black coat she’d pinched from her brother’s wardrobe.

The open field near the spa city of Bath was quiet. Two coaches waited in the distance along the roadside, and ahead of her, two men waited, watching her approach. Not even a breeze dared rustle the knee-high grass as Helen walked up to her enemy and his second. Both men also wore masks to conceal their identities should someone witness the illegal duel. The paling skies played with the retreating shadows of night, lending a melancholy air to the moment she stopped inches from the men.

perf5.500x8.500.indd“You are late, Mr. Banks,” the taller of the two men announced coldly.

With his broad shoulders and muscular body, Gareth Fairfax cut an imposing figure. He seemed perpetually tense, as though ready to strike out at anyone who might offend him. Dark hair framed his chiseled features, and the eyes that glowered from between the spaces of his mask were a fathomless blue. They were the sort of eyes a woman lost herself in, like gazing into a dark pool of water that seemed to sink endlessly, drawing her in until she can’t find her way back to the surface. She recognized the sensual, full lips, now thinned by anger, and the gleam of his eyes on her. She was never more thankful that the early morning’s pale light did not expose her as being a woman.

If he ever discovered she was a woman, he would be appalled and furious. Especially given that she was only dueling him to save her brother’s life.

She briefly studied her opponent’s second. He was just as tall, his features nearly as striking as Gareth’s.

Helen choked down a shaky breath. “I was waylaid.” She prayed her voice sounded gruff and masculine.

Gareth’s eyes were dark orbs, burning with thinly controlled anger. He shifted restlessly on his feet, his imposing form momentarily revealed by the dark blue coat that contoured to his shape.

“Is this your second?” His growl sent shivers down her spine as his glaze flicked to the squat man in his mid-thirties standing behind her. She glanced over her shoulder, widening her eyes in silent encouragement for her second to come closer.

“I am,” Mr. Rodney Bennett replied and bowed.

“Mr. Banks, I am Mr. Ambrose Worthing,” Gareth’s second announced politely.

Well, finally someone was acting like a gentleman. “Mr. Worthing,” Helen said, making sure to keep her voice low. “Allow me to introduce my second, Mr. Rodney Bennett.”

Bennett passed by Helen, and he and Worthing shook hands. Bennett offered the pistols to Worthing for inspection. Since Gareth and Worthing had not brought the weapons, that duty fell to her as the challenged party. As the two men drew apart from her and Gareth, she tried not to stare at him. He was impossibly handsome, in that dark, mysterious sort of way that a woman simply couldn’t ignore. Like gazing upon a visage of an angry god, all fire and might, ready to burn her to ash with passion.

Her opponent glowered at her. “I suppose I should trust that you’ve not tampered with my pistol?”

His icy tone made her bristle with indignation. “You have my word it shoots fair,” Helen snapped. The nerve of the man to accuse her of cheating!

“Your word? We would not be here if I could trust your word. A man who does not honor his debts may not find it necessary to honor the rules of a duel,” Gareth retorted.

She wanted to scream. Her fists clenched at her sides. Her nails dug painfully into her palms as she struggled to calm down. She wanted to throttle her brother, whose rash and inconsiderate behavior had gotten her into this mess.

“Easy, Fairfax. Both pistols appear to be in working order,” Worthing announced as he and Bennett rejoined them.

Helen breathed a sigh of relief as Bennett resumed his position behind her. She’d paid him the last bit of money she’d had for him to appear as her second. She didn’t really know the man, having only met him briefly when she’d had to drag her brother away from the card tables a few nights ago. When she first approached Bennett with her plan, he had tried to talk her out of it, but when she offered money, he couldn’t refuse and had agreed to help her take her brother’s place in the duel. Even though he was a gentleman, the gambler inside him craved any bit of money he could get his hands on to return to the tables. She was lucky he hadn’t gambled away his pair of pistols, or else she would have been completely humiliated to turn up at a duel without weapons.

“Now,” Mr. Worthing said, “before we settle this, is it possible that you and Mr. Banks can reconcile the dispute?”

Helen started to nod, wanting desperately to find a way to settle the problem without bloodshed, but Gareth spoke up, stilling the bobbing of her head.

“Mr. Banks has run up a debt to me of over a thousand pounds. He has not been able to pay it back to me over the last three months. Furthermore, he created an additional liability of five hundred pounds last evening when he played with money he did not have.”

Helen swallowed hard, a painful lump in her throat choking her. Martin, you damned fool…

“Why did you accept his vouchers then?” Rodney spoke up. “I saw you agree to play with him. You didn’t have to.”

“Banks had money on him. I assumed he’d replenished his funds and would settle his debts to me.” Gareth shot a withering look in Helen’s direction. “Shooting him will be a bonus.”

A man who would now take her life as payment for a debt she didn’t owe. But what else could she do? She couldn’t let Martin die. A man had options to survive, a woman did not, at least not one that wouldn’t make her despise herself for the rest of her life.

Her memory of the previous night was tinged with fury and disappointment in Martin. Her heart had plummeted into the pit of her stomach when she’d retired for the evening and found his room empty. All of her hopes were dashed the moment she’d learned he’d gone back to the gambling tables.

She’d hidden in the shadows outside the gambling hell, trying not to be seen by anyone passing by. The smell of alcohol stung her nose, and the raucous laughter echoing from the entrance sent chills of trepidation down her spine. It would ruin her completely if she were witnessed outside such an establishment. Bennett had promised to bring Martin out to her, but when Martin emerged, he was being roughly hauled out by a dark-haired gentleman, a man she recognized, a man she’d admired for the last few months from afar.

About the Author

Lauren_Smith_2014 copyLauren Smith is an attorney by day, 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 an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.

Check her out at http://www.laurensmithbooks.com. You can sign up for her newsletter at her website, follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LaurenDianaSmith and on Twitter at @LSmithAuthor. Her blog is http://theleagueofrogues.blogspot.com.

Lauren Smith: The League of Rogues, Book 2

Character Interview with Lucien and Horatia

from His Wicked Seduction

Rochester Hall in Kent was full of life for the Christmas holidays. I was fortunate that I could take a chance to interview Lord Rochester and his soon to be bride Horatia Sheridan. Their engagement had caused quite a scandal because Horatia’s brother Cedric was Lucien’s friend, and they had fought a duel on Christmas day over Horatia’s honor, and then all three of them were nearly killed by an assassin from Lucien’s past. It was a story I needed to hear more details about and had reached out to Horatia for an interview.

Lauren_Smith_2014 copyShortly after arriving at the beautiful mansion in the countryside via coach, I was escorted to a drawing room to wait for his lordship and Horatia to arrive. A few moments later, a maid with a tea tray bustled in, followed by a handsome man in his early thirties with dark red hair and a wicked, yet playful smile. He tugged the edges of his silver waistcoat down and walked over to where I sat on the settee and bowed gracefully.

“Tis a pleasure, Madame.” He captured my hand and feathered a light kiss across my knuckles.

“Thank you, my lord. It’s a pleasure to meet you too.” I knew I was blushing, and by the amused glint in his eyes, he knew I was blushing too. Even betrothed and most decidedly off limits to a woman like me, Lucien, Lord Rochester, was irresistible.

The door opened again, to admit a woman I recognized, my friend Horatia Sheridan. In a rich blue silk gown, a color more suited to a married lady than a unmarried one, she looked stunning. In Rochester Hall, away from society’s judgmental eyes, Horatia was wearing gowns that looked much better with her fair skin.

“Lauren!” She rushed to greet me and we embraced.

“I’m so happy for you, Horatia. When I heard the news, I knew I had to come down and speak to you and meet your future husband.”

“Thank you.” Horatia snuck a little glance at Lucien who was grinning openly. The rogue. I smiled too.

“Why don’t we sit down and you can ask us your questions.” Horatia suggested.

Me: Lucien, it is no secret that you are a member of the League of Rogues. What is it like to be branded a rogue by London’s society?

Lucien: “Good lord, you don’t hold back, do you? Well, yes, I’m a member of the League. There are six of us: Godric, Cedric, Ashton, Charles, Jonathan and myself. I don’t mind the amusing moniker of the name. It suits me quite well. I’m both an acknowledged rake and a rogue, so why deny it?” he leaned back in his chair and crossed one booted knee over his ankles.

Me: So, Lucien – tell us about this Midnight Garden we’ve heard about? Is it the type of place you would think to encounter a young girl?

At this Lucien actually paled. “Right, well. It’s a place of ill repute,” he hesitated. “You know, a place where a man or woman with sensual appetites can be sated. Certainly not a place for a well bred young woman.” He coughed and shot a direct gaze at Horatia. She shrugged at him, then smoothed her skirts, as though unperturbed by his silent chastisement.

Me: Then it must have about given you a heart attack when you noticed Horatia there! Tell us about it?

“I’ll tell you,” Horatia butted in before Lucien could speak. “I think I was more shocked than he, even though it was my plan to find him. You see, I bribed one of his servants to find out where he went in the evenings, and decided that if he wanted a woman to take to bed, it had better be me, since I was so completely in love with him. Then when I came into his room, we each wore masks per the rules of the Garden, but he recognized me, and I knew it was him.” Horatia finally looked over at her lover, a playful little smile on her lips. “He thought he’d teach me a lesson and half-seduce me, but we both lost ourselves to the passion and it was wonderful.”

Me: Horatia – it must have been quite frightening to go to that place – what made you decide to do that?

“Lucien was afraid to fall in love with me because he is my brother’s best friend. Cedric would have killed him if he even looked at me in a desiring way. But I knew I had to be with Lucien, and that meant taking wild risks in order to save him from his attempt to hide from me.”

Me: It seems like you took a round about way to love – did you ever have any doubts that you would be separated?

Lucien answered this time. “Well, when her brother had his pistol pointed at my chest there were definitely doubts that I might shed this mortal coil and never seen my beloved, darling Horatia ever again.”

Horatia’s eyes sparked with tears. “And that wasn’t even the worst of it. When that assassin trapped us in the burning gardener’s cottage, I was convinced we would not make it out. But we did.” She took Lucien’s hand and they shared a secret look of love.

Me: You’ve known each other since you were quite young.  Any fun childhood memories?

Lucien laughed. “I was a young man when I met Horatia. She was only fourteen and I was in my twenties. She was also so serious as a child, determined to replace her deceased mother in the family and take care of her older brother Cedric and her younger sister Audrey.”

“And you were all charm and teasing, Lucien. It’s what drew me to you. Like a flower to the sun, I craved your light-hearted spirit to ease my serious one,” Horatia added.

Me: Were any of those memories at Rochester Hall? Had you ever spent the Christmas holidays there before with Lucien’s family?

Horatia shook her head. “I only spent one real holiday at Rochester Hall and it wasn’t during Christmas. I was there during the spring and accidentally ruined Lucien’s attempt to propose another woman. I spilled a bucket of water over her head from the top of a gazebo.”

Lucien chuckled. “I was so furious with you, love, but now I can only thank you from saving me from marrying that awful creature.” He turned to face me. “You see, I was going to marry Melanie Burns. She ended up marrying my dreaded enemy, Hugo Waverly. It was him who sent the assassin after us to kill us, but not because of Melanie. That’s another story, I won’t share here.”

Me: As one of the League of Rogues, we had never thought you’d settle down – not for years! What was it that Horatia did or said to get you to abandon your single life so quickly? 

Lucien smirked. “What indeed?” He slid a hand into the pocket of his dark blue trousers and pulled out a piece of fine red silk cut into a strip. “I discovered my little Horatia had a taste for bondage in bed, she like to be tied up, just as much as I loved to tie her up, among other things.” He winked at his future wife. “But the truth is this, she wasn’t afraid to be herself with me, even when I was a fool and tried to push her away. She was brave, bold and beautiful, and I knew a woman like that was a rare find and I couldn’t deny my feelings for her any longer. A woman like that deserves to be loved and cherished, even by a scoundrel like me.”

Me: Are you sad to leave your reputation as a playboy behind – or are you excited for whatever new adventures lie in front of you with your new wife?

He laughed. “Sad to leave behind my lonely bachelor ways? Absolutely not.”

Horatia giggled. “He’s most happily entertained with me. I keep him busy and satisfied.

“No doubt,” Lucien continued. “We’ll have plenty of children to keep us both busy. My mother will get her wish for grandchildren sooner rather than later I expect.”

Me: And now the most important question of the interview – now that Lucien is in wedded bliss, which of her children will Lady Rochester now turn her matchmaking abilities to?

“My mother? Who will her next matchmaking victim be? That’s a frightening guess to make. I feel, if I answer that I’d condemn one of my younger brothers or my sister to a wedding. But, then again, I’d love to torture one of my siblings. Let’s see, next in line by age is Lawrence, he’s like me, too stubborn for even my mother to arrange anything. Then there’s Avery, the family spy, always off on the Continent doing lord knows what to save King and Country. Then there’s Linus, he’s lovestruck with Lucinda Cavendish but far too young to marry, he’s only twenty-one. I would have to my bet on Lysandra, my only sister, just nineteen. However, she’s a real blue stocking, addicting to education and learning, not into husband hunting. I imagine my mother will set her sights on poor Lysa.”

I laughed and thanked Lucien and Horatia for allowing me to ask those rather personal questions. They in turn insisted that I stay with them through the remainder of the holidays. A Russell family Christmas? How could I refuse? Humming merrily, I picked up my belongings and went straight to my rooms, determined to write their story, His Wicked Seduction, one more adventures of the League of Rogues. I can’t wait!

About The League of Rogues, Book 2

Can the League’s most wicked rakehell be tamed? Or has this Rogue fallen too far?

Horatia Sheridan has been hopelessly in love with Lucien, her brother’s best friend, ever since he rescued her from the broken remains of her parents’ wrecked carriage. His reputation as London’s most notorious rakehell doesn’t frighten her, for under his veneer of cool authority she has glimpsed a man whose wicked desires inspire her own.

HisWickedSeduction300 copyLucien, Marquess of Rochester, has deliberately nurtured a reputation for debauchery that makes every matchmaking mother of the ton quake with fear. His one secret: he is torn between soul-ripping lust for Horatia, and the loyalty he owes her brother.

That loyalty is put to the test when an old enemy of the League threatens Horatia’s life. With Christmas drawing near, he sweeps her away to his country estate, where he can’t resist granting her one wish—to share his bed and his heart.

But sinister forces are lurking, awaiting the perfect moment to exact their revenge by destroying not only whatever happiness Lucien might find in Horatia’s arms, but the lives of those they love.

Warning: This book contains an intelligent lady who is determined to seduce her brother’s friend, a brooding rake whose toy of choice in bed is a little bit of bondage with a piece of red silk, a loyal band of merry rogues and a Christmas love so scorching you’ll need fresh snow to extinguish it.

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Excerpt

She is going to be the death of me.

“Lucien! You’re not even listening to me, are you? I’m in desperate need of a new valet and you’ve been woolgathering rather than offering suggestions. I daresay you have enough for a decent coat and a pair of mittens by now.”

Lucien Russell, the Marquess of Rochester, looked to his friend Charles. They were walking down Bond Street, Lucien keeping careful watch over one particular lady without her knowledge and Charles simply enjoying the chance for an outing. The street was surprisingly crowded for so early in the day and during such foul wintry weather.

“Admit it,” Charles prodded.

Lucien fought to focus on his friend. “Sorry?”

The Earl of Lonsdale fixed him with a stern glare which, given that his usual manner tended towards jovial, was a little alarming.

“Where is your head? You’ve been out of sorts all morning.”

Lucien grunted. He had no intention of explaining himself. His thoughts were sinful ones, ones that would lead him straight to a fiery spot in Hell, assuming one wasn’t already reserved for him. All because of one woman: Horatia Sheridan.

She was halfway up Bond Street on the opposite side of the road, a beacon of beauty standing out from the women around her. A footman dressed in the Sheridan livery trailed diligently behind her with a large box in his arms. A new dress, if Lucien had to hazard a guess. She should not be out traipsing about on snow-covered walkways, not with these carriages rumbling past, casting muddy slush all over. It frustrated him to think she was risking a chill for the sake of shopping. It frustrated him more that he was so concerned about it.

“I know you think I’m a half-wit on most days, but—”

“Only most?” Lucien couldn’t resist the verbal jab.

Charles grinned. “As I was saying, it’s a bit obvious our leisurely stroll is merely a ruse. I’ve noticed we’ve stopped several times, matching the pattern of a certain lady of our acquaintance across the street.”

So Charles had been watchful after all. Lucien shouldn’t have been surprised. He hadn’t done his best to conceal his interest in Horatia Sheridan. It was too hard to fight the natural pull of his gaze whenever she was near. She was twenty years old, yet she carried herself with the natural grace of a mature and educated queen. Not many women could achieve such a feat. For as long as he’d known her, she’d been that way.

He’d been a young man in his twenties when he met her, and she’d been all of fourteen. She’d been like a little sister to him. Even then, she’d struck him as more mentally and emotionally mature than most women in their later years. There was something about her eyes, the way her doe-brown pools held a man rooted to the spot with intelligence—and in these last few months, attraction…

“You’d best stop staring,” Charles intoned quietly. “People are starting to notice.”

“She shouldn’t be out in this weather. Her brother would have a fit.” Lucien tugged his leather gloves tighter, hoping to erase the lingering effects of the chill wind that slid between his coat sleeves and gloves.

Charles burst out into a laugh, one loud enough to draw the attention of nearby onlookers. “Cedric loves her and little Audrey, but you and I both know that does not stop either of them from doing just as they please.”

There was far too much truth in that. Lucien and Charles had known Cedric, Viscount Sheridan for many years, bonded during one dark night at university. The memory of when he, Charles, Cedric and two others, Godric and Ashton, had first met always unsettled him. Still, what had happened had forged an unbreakable bond between the five of them. Later, London, or at least the society pages, had dubbed them The League of Rogues.

The League. How amusing it all was…except for one thing. The night they’d formed their alliance each of the five men had been marked by the Devil himself. A man by the name of Hugo Waverly, a fellow student at Cambridge, had sworn vengeance on them.

And sometimes Lucien wondered if they didn’t deserve it.

Lucien shook off the heavy thoughts. He was drawn to the vision of Horatia pausing to admire a shop window displaying an array of poke bonnets nestled on stands. Her beleaguered footman stood by her elbow, juggling the box in his arms. He nodded smartly as Horatia pointed out a particular bonnet. Lucien was tempted to venture forth and speak with her, possibly lure her into an alley in order to have just a moment alone with her. Even if he only spoke with her, he feared the intimacy of that conversation would get him a bullet through his heart if her brother ever found out.

Charles had walked a few feet ahead, then stopped and turned to kick a pile of snow into the street. “If this is how you mean to spend the day then consider me gone. I could be at Jackson’s Salon right now, or better yet, savoring the favors of the fine ladies at the Midnight Garden.”

Lucien knew he’d put Charles out of sorts asking him to come today, but he’d had a peculiar feeling since he’d risen this morning, as though someone was walking over his grave. Ever since Hugo Waverly had returned to London, he had been keeping on eye on Cedric’s sisters, particularly Horatia. Waverly had a way of creating collateral damage and Lucien would do anything to keep these innocent ladies safe. But she mustn’t know he was watching over her. He’d spent the last six years being outwardly cold to her, praying she’d stop gazing at him in that sweet, loving way of hers.

It was cruel of him, yes, but if he did not create some distance, he’d have had her on her back beneath him. She was too good a woman for that, and he was far too wicked to be worthy of her. Rather like a demon falling for an angel. He longed for her in ways he’d never craved for other women, and he could never have her.

The reason was simple. His public reputation did not do justice to the true depth of his debauchery. A man like him could and should never be with a woman like Horatia. She was beauty, intelligence and strength, and he would corrupt her with just one night in his arms.

Within the ton, there was scandal and then there was scandal. For a certain class of woman, being seen with the wrong man in the wrong place could be enough to ruin her reputation and damage her prospects. These fair creatures deserved nothing but the utmost in courtesy and propriety.

For others, the widows still longing for love, those who had no interest in husbands but did from time to time seek companionship, and that rare lovely breed of woman who had both the wealth and position to afford to not give a toss about what society thought, there was Lucien. He seduced them all, taught them to open themselves up to their deepest desires and needs, and seek satisfaction. Not once had a woman complained or been dissatisfied after he had departed from her bed. But there was only one bed he sought now, and it was one he should never be invited into.

He glanced about and noticed a familiar coach among the other carriages on the street. Much of the street’s traffic had been moving steadily and quicker than the people on foot, but not that coach. There was nothing unusual about it; the rider was covered with a scarf like all the others, to keep out the chill, yet each time he and Charles had crossed a street, the coach had shadowed them.

“Charles, do think we’re being followed?”

Charles brushed off some snow from his gloved hands when it dropped onto him from a nearby shop’s eave. “What? What on earth for?”

“I don’t know. That carriage. It has been with us for quite a few streets.”

“Lucien, we’re in a popular part of London. No doubt someone is shopping and ordering their carriage to keep close.”

“Hmm,” was all he said before he turned his attention back to Horatia and her footman. One of her spare gloves fell out of her cloak and onto the ground, going unnoticed by both her and her servant. Lucien debated briefly whether or not he should interfere and alert her to the fact that he and Charles had been following her. When she continued to walk ahead, leaving her glove behind, he made his decision.

Lucien caught up with his friend still ahead of him on the street. “I’ll not keep you. Horatia’s dropped a glove and I wish to return it to her.”

“Plagued by a bit of chivalry, eh? Go on then, I want to stop here a moment.” He pointed to a bookshop.

“Very good. Catch me up when you’re ready.”

Lucien dodged through the traffic on the road and was halfway across the street when pandemonium struck.

Bond Street was turned on its head as screams tore through the air. The coach that had been shadowing him raced down the road in Lucien’s direction. Yet, rather than trying to halt the team, the driver whipped the horses, urging them directly at Lucien.

He was too far across the street to turn back; he had to get to safety and get others out of the way. Horatia! She could be trampled when it passed her. Lucien’s heart shot into his throat as he ran. The driver whipped the horses again, as if sensing Lucien’s determination to escape.

“Horatia!” Lucien bellowed at the top of his lungs. “Out of the way!”

About the Author

Amazon Best Selling author, Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, 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 an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.

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“Smith’s fast-paced historical keeps readers on their toes as they’re taken hostage by a whirlwind of characters and an unforgettable romance. Readers will get their fair share of emotional outbursts, which includes laughter, lust, anger and sadness…it’s action-packed, sizzling hot and readers of all genres will enjoy the scramble to the finish.”—RT Book Reviews Magazine
 
“Lauren Smith’s debut League of Rogues novel is a fun, clever and wonderfully sympathetic read that will no doubt earn her a number of fans. Her insight into her characters and willingness to take risks with them is impressive…and brought a fresh voice and a heap of compassion, transforming it into something highly readable and quite enjoyable.”—The Romance Reviews
 
“The best thing for me was the quality of Lauren Smith’s writing. I will read her again. She is a fresh voice to watch out for.”—Romantic Historical Reviews
 
“I really enjoyed Wicked Designs, Lauren Smith’s debut Regency historical novel. This witty and entertaining romance features an emotionally scarred hero, a smart heroine and a loveable group of rogues… Emily is a delightful heroine. She is smart, courageous and spirited enough to stand up for herself. I love her determination to outwit her captors and escape. She certainly keeps those five rogues on their toes!”—Rakes and Rascals.com