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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

Once-Upon-A-True-Love39s-Kiss2D-Cover

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 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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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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Saralee Etter: Her Very Major Christmas

 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 Saralee

Thanks, Susana, for inviting me to talk to your readers about my Christmas story, Her Very Major Christmas.

I love food – what can I say? I was the kind of kid who really loved reading cookbooks, imagining the glorious smells of cinnamon and citrus, and looking at photographs of perfectly prepared dishes. Canning vegetables and making marmalade is a fun challenge that always leaves me with a sense of accomplishment. Baking cakes and making marvelous stews is one of my favorite ways to show love.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that this year’s Cotillion Christmas theme was the traditional holiday feast during the English Regency! Old cookbooks offer us a fascinating glimpse into the foods of the past, and I couldn’t wait to explore the dishes that might have appeared on a nobleman’s dining table in 1815.

Of course, since making delicious food is important to me, my heroine had to enjoy cooking too. Even though an upper-class lady wouldn’t be expected to slave in the kitchen, she certainly might be interested in making certain special food items like jellies, candies, and other preparations including home remedies. Back in an era when medicines, lotions, and other concoctions had to be made by hand, the lady of the house might well have learned how.

As it happens, Rosalind Joslin’s remedies help to heal the wounds suffered by her cousin-by-marriage, Major Harry Joslin. He’s a gruff and somewhat imposing veteran of Waterloo who finds her gentle, practical nature a soothing balm to his spirit.

About Her Very Major Christmas

HVMC copyWidowed Rosalind Joslin is an extra female in her in-laws’ household. Longing to prove she still has value, she uses her skills to make remedies and medicinal preparations for the poor. She misses the warmth and sun of India where she was raised but looks forward to her first real English Christmas with holly and the traditional feast.

Major Harry Joslin never expected his cousin’s death to thrust him into the unwanted role of nobleman. Still recovering from the emotional and physical injuries inflicted at Waterloo, he’s not ready for the demands of a new position and his family’s pressure for him to marry a debutante. His cousin’s widow is just another complication.

But it’s the season of miracles and two wounded hearts may find love blooming in the depths of a snowy Christmas day.

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Excerpt

It was a devilish way to be welcomed into the family.

The dark-haired woman had crept into the library, taken one look at him then screamed and fainted dead away. He’d lunged toward her, hoping to catch her before she crumpled to the floor. He didn’t quite reach her in time.

Women had screamed at the sight of his scarred face before but usually not until they’d gotten a better look at him. Guiltily aware that her unconscious condition was his fault, he gathered her up into his arms, meaning to place her on the sofa at the far end of the room. If he moved fast enough he could put her down before his marked visage caused her to faint again. She was a soft, sturdy little thing with a pale face and dark hair that spilled over his arm.

He only had time to carry her halfway to the sofa before he heard a furious pounding of feet on the floorboards outside the library. The door to the library burst open. Through the door came an elderly lady, followed by an old man with a pair of dueling pistols, one in each hand.

“Unhand that female! Get back, you fiend!” the old man shouted, waving the pistols.

Burdened by the woman in his arms, the major froze as one of the weapons dipped dangerously in his direction.

The gun went off with a roar.

A pistol ball whistled past his head and lodged in the wall near the window. The lady shrieked.

The old man looked astonished, turning the pistol around so he could squint down the smoking barrel. “By Jove, I didn’t even touch the blasted trigger.”

SusanaSays3Susana Says

…delightful tale of unexpected love at Christmas: 4/5 stars

After being widowed and orphaned and finally taken in by her late husband’s crotchety old grandfather, Rosalind finds her purpose in life by studying herbs and treating the aches and pains of the neighborhood.

Major Harry Joslin never expected to inherit his grandfather’s baronetcy, but the unexpected deaths of his cousin and uncle make him the last male heir. Still recovering from his experiences at Waterloo, Harry just wants to live a normal life, and his cousin’s pretty widow seems like the perfect lady to share it with.

But the powers that be seem to have other plans. Little do they know that Major Harry is no man’s—or woman’s, for that matter—fool.

Her Very Major Christmas is a well-written, sweet Christmas love story about two wounded souls who find love and hope in each other. The characters are well-drawn; the inclusion of the Spanish servant is a special surprise.

If you like short, sweet Christmas reads, this one will not fail to please.

About the Author

saralee-2-webfileSaralee loves to read, and always knew that writing was the only career for her. Next to reading stories, what could be better than thinking up stories all day long? But instead of writing the stories that were teeming in her head, she wrote other things: Newspaper articles, public relations releases, legal briefs.

Now she’s turned to writing fiction full-time. Her traditional Regency romance, A Limited Engagement, is available from the Cotillion line of stories, as is her 2013 Christmas Cotillion novella, Lydia’s Christmas Charade.

She is a long-time member of the Central Ohio Fiction Writers and the Romance Writers of America.

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

Jillian Chantal: The Size of the Scandal

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 Jillian

I’m Jillian Chantal and want to thank Susana for having me here to talk about my new release, a Christmas story from the Cotillion Collection at Ellora’s Cave.

AuthorPicI love Christmas stories and when I saw the call for this year’s stories based around the Regency Christmas feast, I had an idea for a young lady who never seemed to be able to behave quite properly. She skated on the edge of scandal her entire life and her father was concerned she would land in the middle of one before she could be married.

Since her first season was a failure, the heroine’s father betroths her to an old friend of her brother who she hasn’t seen in years. The heroine’s reaction to what she sees as her father’s betrayal is to run away. That’s when the story starts.

I love to write pert, sassy heroines and I hope this one pleases the reader. The cover of this book made me giddy with delight. The couple is absolutely perfect for the story. He’s handsome and witty and she’s sassy. The cover epitomizes them and their personalities.

About The Size of the Scandal

the-size-of-the-scandalCharlotte Greystone can’t seem to stay out of trouble. When her father betroths her to a man she hasn’t seen in almost ten years, she runs away. Never mind that it’s days before Christmas and she has no survival skills.

When she’s almost crushed by hunters on horseback, a handsome man on a black stallion comes to her rescue. Not thinking of the scandal of being alone with a strange man, she allows him to assist her in returning to her home.

The next day, Charlotte is appalled when the butler announces her betrothed—the same man she shared a horse with the day before. Terrified he will tell her father of her behavior or cause an even bigger scandal by breaking off the engagement, Charlotte is knocked off-kilter—and stays that way as she spends the hours until Christmas trying to understand the man.

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SusanaSays3Susana Says

…a coming-of-age love story set at Christmastime: 4/5 stars

An earl’s daughter on the cusp of womanhood is shocked to discover her father has betrothed her without her knowledge to a man she hasn’t seen for nearly a decade: a man she remembers as being short and stubby.When it turns out that “Stubby”is not only a war hero, but also tall and excessively good-looking, she begins to see how childish she has been. Fully expecting Major Cavanaugh to reveal her behavior to her parents, she is gratified and intrigued when he does not. But that doesn’t mean he’ll go through with the marriage after everything that’s happened. And that’s when Charlotte begins to realize that she might have inadvertently ruined her chance for a real-life happy-ever-after.

Young girls might dream of fairy-tale romance, but in the Regency, quite often marriages were arranged for quite different reasons. Eventually, a young woman must put away childish things and learn to deal with reality in a more mature manner. Happiness is, after all, a choice. And sometimes love pops up in the most unexpected places.

About the Author

Jillian Chantal lives in the beautiful state of Florida, where she works in the legal profession as well as writing romance novels in her spare time. She is multi-published in the romance genre. She is the mother of two sons and enjoys the laid-back Florida lifestyle. Other hobbies are photography and travel. She uses both as inspiration for her fiction work. Jillian loves to hear from readers.

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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

Barbara Miller: Christmas Fete

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 Barbara

Barb July 08When the theme of a holiday feast was presented for the 2014 Christmas novella challenge I wanted something different, so I pulled out a Regency cookbook by Verity Isitt called Take a Buttock of Beef. You could say I made up the menu for the novella before I made up the characters. Of course I just mention the dishes without giving the recipes but most are straightforward.

I had experienced only a dessert fete, but decided to make the background for the story an all day fete at a country house, almost like a winter country fair. Who would put on such an event? Only someone who is passionate about Christmas. My heroine Dinah Claypool has never had a truly perfect Christmas but keeps trying. When she meets Richard Chandler she finally finds someone who cares about all the things she does. But he has a secret that could ruin Christmas for Dinah forever.

I started writing Christmas Fete during Christmas week 2013 to keep myself in the spirit. I thought back to what Christmas used to mean to me and it was always about making other people happy. The anticipation of them opening their surprises far outweighed any joy I got out of my presents. What was true for my parents and siblings is still true today for friends and relatives. I spend all year thinking about the perfect gift for them and the items just leap out at me. Frequently they are books, sometimes even the very novella I’m working on.

About Christmas Fete

511yitb0k3L._AA160_When Dinah’s father inherits an estate, he decides she and her brother must go settle the matter. They arrive to find the place in need of much repair—and holiday spirit. As Dinah plans a cheerful fete for Christmas in hope of winning over the locals, she finds herself winning over someone else as well—Richard, the handsome man who lives next door.

Richard never expected to meet someone like Dinah—a woman who is headstrong and decisive. A woman he could spend his life with. Unfortunately, Richard needs a Christmas miracle to extricate himself from a tricky obligation.

If it’s a miracle he needs to be free, Dinah is determined he’ll get it—that way they can spend their Christmas fete together and everyone can enjoy their happily ever afters.

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Excerpt

Richard wet his lips, which had gone numb. “I’m not sure how it happened.”

“You were compelled to offer for her,” Dinah whispered.

“Somewhat reluctantly. Later I suspected she manipulated me into it, but that does her an injustice. I did offer.” He saw tears sparkling on Dinah’s lashes and raised a finger to brush them away but she ducked her head.

“Should we announce your engagement during the festivities? People will hear of it soon enough.”

“Please don’t. I keep hoping something will happen to prevent it, the earth crack or a violent storm that will blow the two of us away from here, never to return. I want to be with you, only you, always. Life with Ophelia will be living a lie.”

She smiled at his fantasy. “And yet you are bound to honor your generous impulse.”

“I don’t want to. I only offered because I had never met anyone like you before, never met you, who seem to be the only like-minded soul I have ever found on this earth. You understand me.”

“I am in the same case. I never thought about marriage until I met you, someone who actually cares, who takes me seriously.”

He took her in his arms and kissed her, the heavy coat falling to the floor. If only this moment could go on forever. He could imagine their future life, lose himself in it, but then she dipped her head with a sigh.

“I am so glad we did that at least once,” she said.

SusanaSays3Susana Says

…heartwarming & sweet Regency Christmas tale: 4/5 stars

At a time when marriage is considered the ultimate destiny of all young women, Dinah Claypool is remarkably content with her role as the sensible one of the family, her father being rather unworldly and eccentric and her older brother, a good-natured rakehell. It isn’t until her father sends her to Hammersmith Hall, the estate he has just inherited, that she meets Richard Chandler and begins to think seriously about the wedded state.

What she doesn’t know is that just prior to her arrival, Richard rather half-heartedly offered to marry Ophelia, the daughter of the previous earl, when she wailed to him about having nowhere to go. No matter that he regrets it almost immediately, particularly after meeting Dinah; he can’t jilt Ophelia without causing a scandal.

And speaking of scandal, Dinah discovers to her surprise that her father has been reviled in the area for twenty-five years for jilting Ophelia’s mother. Why has he never mentioned it before? Could that be the reason he sent her instead of coming himself? Could it be true that Ophelia’s mother was his one true love and not Dinah’s own mother, who died when she was small?

Christmas Fete is a delightful Midsummer Night’s Dream sort of story, where the Spirit of Christmas must work its magic to untangle one mismatched couple before true love can prevail.

About the Author

Barbara Miller teaches in the Writing Popular Fiction graduate program at Seton Hill University and is Reference Librarian at Mount Pleasant, PA Public Library. She has published historical and contemporary romances, mysteries, young adult books, a story book and a paranormal novel. Two of her plays have been performed at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival. You may email scribe@fallsbend.net or visit www.fallsbend.net.

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

Ashlyn Macnamara: A Most Devilish Rogue

About A Most Devilish Rogue

Untitled-1Years ago, when Isabelle Mears was still a young miss too infatuated to know better, she surrendered her innocence to a dishonorable man. Though ruined and cast out from society, she has worked hard to shelter her illegitimate son, Jack. Having sworn off men in her quiet but dignified life, Isabelle is unprepared for the deep longing that rips through her when a handsome stranger rescues her rambunctious six-year-old from the pounding ocean surf.

George Upperton is a man in trouble with debts, women, and a meddling family. He is, by all accounts, the last gentleman on earth Isabelle should be drawn to. But loneliness is a hard mistress, and caution gives way to desire . . . even though Isabelle is convinced that happiness can’t be found in the arms of such a devilish rogue. Only when Jack is kidnapped does Isabelle discover the true depth of George’s devotion—and how far a good man will go to fight for the woman whose love is all that matters.

Excerpt

“Chin up, dear, we’ve almost arrived.”

George suppressed the urge to roll his eyes at his mother. Gads, how could the woman beam so after hours of jostling in a carriage through the Kentish countryside, crammed in with his sisters?

He exchanged a glance with Henrietta. “And not a moment too soon,” he said. “I can barely stand the excitement. We’ll go from being packed into this carriage to being packed into a house with entirely too many people.”

How he dreaded the thought of a house party, even if the host was his oldest friend. Worse than a ball, because the blasted things lasted days rather than mere hours. He could only escape to the card room in the evenings, while the rest of the day he’d have to find more creative means of avoiding his mother’s attempts at matchmaking.

Mama’s smile wavered not at all. “Sarcasm does not become you. How many times must I say it? You’d do better to put on a bright outlook. I imagine you’d attract a bride if you did that.”

His left eye twitched, as it always did when his mother brought up the topic of matrimony. “I’ll keep that in mind, should I wish to attract one. What do you recommend? Something like this?”

He pulled an exaggerated face that doubtless exposed his back teeth. God knew his cheeks would ache soon enough if he maintained the expression. It didn’t help matters that he’d tweaked a few bruises in the process.

“Stop this instant,” Mama scolded, but the woman, Lord help her, could never manage to sound stern. “Pity you had to turn up with your face all beaten. Why you men insist on pounding each other is beyond me.”

“It’s sport.” He’d explained the state of his face away with a minor lie about an incident at his boxing club. The truth would only give Mama the vapors.

“Be that as it may, I am certain you will meet your future wife at this party. See if you don’t.”

“Ah yes, and Henny”—he winked at his sister—“will announce her engagement to the head groom at the same time. Why, I think a double wedding at Christmas will be just the thing.”

Mama made a valiant attempt at creasing her brows, but an eruption of laughter quite ruined the effect. “You are completely incorrigible.”

“But endlessly diverting.”

“And if you turned that charm on a few young ladies . . .”

He held up a hand. “Madam, I believe I’m not the only incorrigible one in this conveyance.”

“Nonsense.” Mama tossed her head, and the feathers on her bonnet scrubbed across his sister Catherine’s face. “I’m simply determined. There’s a difference.”

Single-minded and obsessed were the terms that immediately leapt to George’s tongue, but he swallowed them back. Of course his mother wanted to see him wed. It was what mothers did once their children reached an appropriate age. Unfortunately, his idea of an appropriate age didn’t agree with hers by at least ten years. For God’s sake, he was only twenty-nine.

He caught Henrietta’s eye. Her mouth twitched into a smirk that spoke volumes. Better you than me. But Mama would turn her attention back to her oldest daughter soon enough. No doubt the moment they reached the ballroom where Revelstoke housed his pianoforte. Coupled with what Catherine passed off as singing . . .

In spite of himself, he winced. He prayed Revelstoke had laid in a good supply of brandy. He was going to need it in vast quantities if Mama insisted on her daughters being part of the entertainment.

The carriage rumbled to a halt at the head of a sweeping drive. The stone bulk of Shoreford House rose gray against a backdrop of blue sky. Shouts hailed from the yard, followed by a heavy thunk as the steps were let down. George leapt from his seat, ready to hand his mother and sisters out of the conveyance.

A gentle breeze bore the salt tang of the Channel, mingled with an earthy heaviness that wafted from the stables. The late August sun beat a gentle warmth on the back of his neck.

“I can’t believe you’ve actually come.”

George turned to find Benedict Revelstoke approaching from the main house, a grin across his cheeks. But as he neared the carriage, his gaze glanced over the bruises on George’s face, and he frowned. “I was about to ask how far your mother twisted your arm to convince you to come, but I see she’s resorted to more drastic means of persuasion.”

George clasped his old friend’s hand. “Do me a favor and don’t call attention to it. If I have to put up with any more cold compresses and female twittering, I may as well take to my bed permanently.”

“I don’t know how you’ll avoid it. Once Julia gets a good look at you . . .”

“I thought I heard my name.” Benedict’s wife appeared just beyond his shoulder, waddling from the house in the wake of a prominent belly. “Gossiping about me behind my back, are you?”

Revelstoke caught her hand and pulled her close. Their fingers entwined as if they couldn’t bear as much as an instant apart. For a moment, they stared into each other’s eyes, and in that brief expanse of time, they disappeared into their own realm where only the pair of them existed. It lasted less than two seconds, but an entire conversation seemed to pass between them.

Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, George cleared his throat. God help him if he ever became that love-struck.

Excerpt ©2013 Ballantine Books. All Rights Reserved.

SUSANA SAYS: One of the best I’ve read in recent years: 5/5 stars!

SusanaSays3I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of rehabilitating a fallen woman in a Regency; in this case, Isabelle was a victim, but to the whole of society—including her parents—she was a fallen woman. Tossed into the streets pregnant with no means of support. Nice, huh? Most girls in that situation would have no recourse but to sell themselves. Fortunately, Isabelle finds a kind woman willing to share her humble home with an outcast and her illegitimate son.

Regency society is much more tolerant of male lapses, and George has made a lot of them. He never really thought much about it, though, until he met Isabelle and her son Jack. They are victims, while he—well—he deserves whatever consequences come from his careless actions. He’s drawn to Isabelle more than to any woman, but for the first time he considers the consequences before pursuing her. She doesn’t deserve the censure she’s suffered over the past seven years; nor does he wish to put her through the same thing again.

But something links the two of them together, and even though Isabelle knows there’s no future for them, she can’t stop herself from giving in to her passions. But there’s a lot about George Upperton that she doesn’t know; once she does, will she regret her recklessness?

This is a fascinating story that I didn’t want to put down. George does seem quite a devilish rogue in the beginning, but no worse than your average Regency rake. He’s arrived at a turning point in his life, and meeting Isabelle is just the impetus he needs to pull him back into reality. His rehabilitation into responsible manhood is both convincing and delightful. Somehow one knows that these changes are permanent, and not dependent on Isabelle at all.

And Isabelle…well, she too has some issues to resolve, even though she is essentially a victim here. Bitterness—who wouldn’t be bitter under the circumstances?—distrust, self-deprecation, fear—all of these things have to be dealt with before she can accept the happiness and love she deserves.

This is the second of the a series. I’ll be checking out the first one, A Most Scandalous Proposal, as soon as I’m finished writing this!

Available

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About the Author

ashlynThey say that once you reach your forties, you undergo some sort of mid-life crisis. That must have been what happened to Ashlyn Macnamara when she finally made up her mind to set down some of the stories that had been accumulating dust in the dark recesses of her brain for years. As space becomes available, other plots and characters have developed the pesky habit of moving in to take their place.

Ashlyn lives in the wilds of suburbia outside Montreal with her husband, two teenage daughters, and one loudmouth cat. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading and wasting time on the internet in the guise of doing research.

She is represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary.

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