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Do you want to read Chapter 1 of MARRYING WINTERBORNE (The Ravenels, #2)? Just follow the link below.

https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/416161-marrying-winterborne

(The Ravenels, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…

A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable…the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…

Publication date: 31st May 2016

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I have read and loved THE PARFIT KNIGHT (you can read my review HERE ) and today I’m spotlighting the recently released audiobook.


(Rockliffe, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1762 and 1774)

Cover Blurb:

Rosalind Vernon, robbed of her sight by childhood accident, had no idea that the cherished voice at her door belonged to a notorious rake. Marquis of Amberley had distinguished himself in gaming room and boudoir alike. Now, stranded by snowfall, he became enamored of his innocent hostess. And she, who had lived in seclusion, welcomed his lively wit and distinctive charm.

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LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stella Riley is a British author of historical novels. Having trained as a teacher and worked as a primary-school music and drama specialist in London, she has lived in various UK locations but has now settled in Sandwich, Kent. She enjoys reading, dancing, theatre and travel.

Her preferred period is mid-sventeenth century England and her Civil War novels reflect this in their vast historical detail. She is also author of the Rockliffe trilogy of Georgian romances which she claims to write ‘for fun’ and which she is currently having transformed into audiobooks, narrated by Alex Wyndham.

Her writing has been described as “exciting, often funny, romantic,poignant and intelligent” and her books have received numerous five star reviews.

ABOUT THE NARRATOR

An Oxford University and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art graduate, Alex Wyndham has voiced everything from Apple TV campaigns to fertilizer instructions. He’s starred in numerous BBC 4 radio plays, and narrated documentaries for Channel 4 and The Discovery Channel. He started recording audio books a couple of years ago – and fell in love with it. Alex also has a successful screen career and has starred in several BBC and HBO shows including the Emmy winning Little Dorrit and Rome, and in various films including Kenneth Branagh’s As You Like It. Most recently he played a louche surgeon in The Crimson Field mini-series and has just had his first stab at starring in a video game – We Happy Few – about a dystopian 60s England.

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THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Stella is giving away an Audible download (you must have an Audible account) of THE PARFIT KNIGHT. To be eligible to enter, just leave a comment. The Giveaway will run until midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 27th January. The winner will be announced on Thursday 28th January.

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Victoria Vane is one of my favourite Historical Romance authors and I am delighted to feature her latest historical novella (the first in a series) on Rakes and Rascals.

(A De Wolfe Pack Kindle Worlds novella)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking – 907 AD)

Cover Blurb:

She vowed to defy him to her dying breath… but passion blurs the line between love and hate…

The bluest blood and the hardest heart… at least when it comes to marriage… The daughter of a duke and granddaughter of a king, Adele of Vannes was bartered at birth in a marriage treaty for the sole purpose of producing a royal heir. When her philandering husband is slain by Norse marauders, Adele’s only desire is to retire to the peace and solitude of a cloister—until coerced to wed a savage Norseman. Adele knows that her beloved Brittany needs a strong hand to survive, but how can she ever reconcile her bitterness and hatred with the desire she feels for her avowed enemy?

She’s the jewel he seeks for his Breton crown…A Barbarian bent on building a dynasty, Valdrik Vargr, ‘the Norse Wolf,’ is renowned for both his bravery in battle and shrewdness in statecraft. Setting his sights on claiming the kingdom of Brittany, he knows that siring sons from royal blood would solidify his hold, but the woman he would claim as his queen refuses to have him. Will he fuel her hatred by taking her to his bed, or will the man who strikes terror in the hearts of men be reduced to wooing his bride?

 

Purchase Link

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Hcyu5I

 

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EXCERPT

Adèle spent the night on her knees in prayer, gaze cast heavenward in supplication. She hadn’t dared to bow her head and shut her eyes for fear that sleep would overtake her. She couldn’t afford to be caught aware when the marauders came. And they would come. That was a certainty. Rudalt had never returned from his ‘Norse” hunt. None of them had returned. They were dead. She felt it down to her bones.

She’d dispatched riders to Cournailles but he was days away. He would never arrive in time. Her home would be burned to ashes before help ever came. Perhaps she could buy them off? Did she have enough silver and jewels to pay tribute? Or would the Norsemen simply extract their payment in woman’s flesh and men’s blood?

Her throat thickened at the sudden remembrance of her wedding night. She had borne Rudalt’s ravaging for years; surely she could survive it again. And survival was all she dared hope for. The Norse would come with their battle axes and siege machines. The Bretons might keep them at bay for a few hours or maybe a day, but penetration of their walls was inevitable. She had no true defenses outside of a few dozen archers. In his arrogance, Rudalt had taken the best warriors, leaving her defenseless.

From her bedchamber window, Adèle cast her gaze eastward where the sun was rising, painting the landscape of rolling hills in soft shades of pink and gold. She stared off into the distance, chewing her lip and willing her nerves to settle. Last night she’d worn holes in her slippers and bitten her fingernails to the quick. She now accepted that her fate was out of her hands. She had no choice but to entrust herself to the merciful will of God. If death awaited her, she prayed it would be swift.

Moving shadows appeared on the horizon. A moment later they took shape as a solid line of men. Hundreds of mounted men. But rather than shrinking in terror, a strange peace settled over her. She was the daughter of Judicael, a great warrior and Duke of Brittany. Her great-grandfather was Erispoe, the first proclaimed King of the Bretons. She would do as the father and grandfather had done before her—she would fight them to her dying breath.

 

Connect with Victoria:

Email: victoria.vane@hotmail.com

Website

Facebook

Twitter
 

 

 

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This is Lady Phoebe Batten and Captain James Trevillion’s story – publication date: 26th May 2015

Follow this link to Elizabeth Hoyt’s website to read an excerpt.

http://www.elizabethhoyt.com/books/dearestrogue.php

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I’m spotlighting Marguerite Kaye’s new book today. I only recently discovered Marguerite’s books when I read NEVER FORGET ME but she is already on my must-read list. Isn’t that a beautiful cover?

Genre: Historical Romance (Early Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

The secrets behind the wedding veil

For penniless widow Ainsley McBrayne, marriage is the only solution. She’s vulnerable yet fiercely independent, so shackling herself to another man seems horrifying! Until handsome stranger Innes Drummond tempts Ainsley to become his temporary wife.

Once married, Ainsley hardly recognizes the rugged Highlander Innes transforms into! He sets her long-dormant pulse racing, and she’s soon craving the enticing delights of their marriage bed. She has until Hogmanay to show Innes that their fake marriage could be for real…


Buy the Book

Mills&Boon  Harlequin  Amazon (UK)  Amazon (.com)  Barnes+Noble  Book Depository
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EXCERPT

Ainsley stared at him in astonishment. ‘Your father’s will sets up a trust that requires you to marry?’

‘No, it establishes a trust to control the family lands which will remain in effect until I marry,’ Innes replied.

‘Lands?’ She only just managed to prevent her jaw dropping. ‘As in – what, a country estate?’

‘A little more than that. I’m not sure what the total acreage is, but there are about twenty tenanted farms as well as the home farm and the castle.’

‘Good heavens, Mr Drummond – a castle! And about twenty farms. Is there a title too?’

He shook his head. ‘My father was known as the Laird of Strone Bridge, but it’s just a courtesy.’

Laird. The title conjured up a fierce Highland patriarch. Ainsley eyed the impeccably-dressed gentleman opposite her and discovered it was surprisingly easy to imagine him in a plaid, carrying a claymore. Though without the customary beard. She didn’t like beards. ‘And these lands, they are in Argyll, did you say?’

When he nodded Ainsley frowned in puzzlement. ‘Forgive me Mr Drummond, but did you not say you had spent most of your life in England? Surely as the heir to such a substantial property – I know nothing of such things, mind you – but I thought it would have been customary for you to have lived on the estate?’

His countenance hardened. ‘I was not the heir.’

‘Oh?’

She waited, unwilling to prompt him further, for he looked quite forbidding. Innes Drummond took a sip of whisky, grimaced and put the glass back down on the table. ‘Dutch courage,’ he said, with a shadow of her own words and her own grim little smile. ‘I had a brother. Malcolm. He was the heir. It is as you said, he lived on the estate. Lived and breathed it, more like for he loved the place. Strone Bridge was his world.’

He stared down at his glass, his mouth turned down in sorrow. ‘But it was not your world?’ Ainsley asked gently.

‘It was never meant for me. I was the second son. As far as my father was concerned, that meant second best, and while Malcolm was alive, next to useless, Mrs McBrayne.’

He stared down at his glass, such a bleak look on his face that she leaned over to press his hand. ‘My name is Ainsley.’

‘I don’t think I’ve heard that before.’

‘An old family name,’ she said.

He gave her a very fleeting smile as his fingers curled around hers. ‘Then you must call me Innes,’ he said. ‘Another old family name, though it is not usually that of the laird. One condition I have been spared. He did not specify that I change my name to Malcolm. Even he must have realised that would have been a step too far. Though then again, it may simply have been that he thought me as unworthy of the name as the lands.’

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ABOUT MARGUERITE

I was born and raised in Scotland, the eldest of a large family of siblings, which explains why I’m so bossy, and why my  books feature so many sisters.

I’ve been a voracious reader since a very early age, but despite winning a children’s national poetry competition aged nine, it didn’t occur to me that I could write for a living. For reasons I can’t explain now, I did think I’d make a good lawyer, and I clung doggedly to that belief right through university where, to everyone’s astonishment, not least mine, I graduated with a degree in Scots Law.

Several years into a rather boring mainstream career in business, I took up history with the Open University (which I loved) and wrote and submitted my first ever romance to Mills&Boon. Set in a garden centre, it had an orchid-growing heroine called Flora and an instantly-forgettable arrogant hero. It was declined very politely but firmly. I still have the letter, my very first rejection.

A  few years later, I plucked up the courage to abandon my career, do a bit of travelling and take up writing. I wrote all sorts – travel pieces, food pieces, short stories, a column in my local newspaper. Finally, after finishing one of my favourite Georgette Heyer’s for the umpteenth time I thought, why don’t I try writing what I love to read. So I wrote my first ever historical romance, I submitted it to Mills&Boon, and I got the call!!!

These days, I have moved back to my native Argyll, where I’ve now set a number of books. It’s a beautiful place but it rains a lot. When the going gets tough or I need to escape for a while, I go hill-walking or cycling. I love gardening, cooking, and I do a bit of knitting too.


My writing view


Connect with Marguerite:

Website – http://www.margueritekaye.com.

Facebook –  http://www.facebook.com/margueritekayepage

Email – marguerite_kaye@hotmail.co.uk

Twitter – @margueritekaye

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/margueritekaye/

 

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I am so addicted to Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series that, whenever a new book is released, I’m like a child at Christmas excitedly waiting to open that special present. I’ve always had lots of questions buzzing about in my head that I wanted to ask Elizabeth about this amazing series. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when she agreed to do this interview. I was literally jumping up and down and, if you have never seen a 67 year old jumping up and down, it is not a pretty sight!

Welcome to Rakes and Rascals, Elizabeth. It is such a pleasure to have you join me here today.

Thank you for inviting me, Carol!

 

R&R: First of all, I’ve always wanted to know how the idea for the Maiden Lane series came about?

Elizabeth: It was several things coming together at once: I wanted to write books in a more complex world—one that readers would want to stay in for more than just a trilogy. I wanted the time to develop characters and plotlines over several books while at the same time keeping each book squarely focused on the romance of the couple in that book.

Then I read about the gin craze in early eighteenth century London. That gave me a time and place. I started thinking about swashbucklers such as Scaramouche by Rafael Sabini and Dr. Syn the Scarecrow (a Disney movie from the 1970s about a hero who disguises himself with a scarecrow’s mask.) I wanted that same sense of sweeping adventure and intrigue. That got me the Ghost of St. Giles and I suppose everything evolved from there.

R&R: Why did you choose the early 18th century as the setting for the series and what aspects of that period particularly appealed to you?

Elizabeth: Swords. Basically swords, wigs, big dresses and swashbuckling. Also, London was really rich in change and upheaval at this time period. It was the largest city in Europe with a lot of people coming into it from all over Britain and beyond. There was a huge gulf between the very rich and very poor. And it was the time of the Enlightenment—the ushering in of modern thought and civilization. I find it endlessly fascinating.

R&R: The notorious St. Giles area of London features predominantly in the books and you have always brought it so vividly to life.  I’ve often wondered if you consulted any contemporary documents in your research and whether William Hogarth’s etchings might have been a useful resource?

Elizabeth: I’ve read some stuff from the time period—newspapers articles, death and birth records, diaries, etc, but I have to confess that I love visual documents like Hogarth’s engravings. I have several books of his engravings and I can spend hours examining them—his artwork, especially his crowd scenes, are so very rich in information.

R&R: When you started writing the series what was foremost in your mind, the story or the characters?

Elizabeth: I always start with character and then work outward: what makes this person the way they are? Who would challenge them most?

R&R: Do you work with any sort of storyboard to keep track of all the different threads and characters running throughout the series?

Elizabeth: No, not really. I have a spread sheet with statistics for each character—eye and hair color, which books they appeared in—very simple, and I have a timeline I keep for significant events like birth and deaths, but most of it is in my head.

R&R: Did you always have in mind which hero and heroine would be paired together or have there been some surprises along the way?

Elizabeth: Usually I know, sometimes for a long time in advance. And sometimes things change at the very last minute. I sent an email to my editor a month ago, telling her I had a new idea for Asa Makepeace’s heroine (two books after DARLING BEAST.) The heroine I had picked for him was just too close in personality to him—and also a new character suddenly popped into my head. 😉

R&R: Is there any line you would not cross when writing a love scene?

Elizabeth: LOL! Well, I’m writing mass market romances and as my editor, the very, very smart Amy Pierpont once said to me, the point of mass market is that it appeals to a large pool of people. It’s not niche. So, while I have nothing against the sex that would appear in erotica, that’s not the type of book I write.

R&R: What has been the most challenging aspect of writing the series?

Elizabeth: Keeping each book interesting and different and as good as I can make it. Actually, that kind of pertains to any book I write. 😉

R&R: What has been the most fun aspect of writing the series?

Elizabeth: I really like setting up a long plotline—one that plays out over several books. It’s intellectually stimulating. And some characters are just fun to write. The Duke of Montgomery in Darling Beast is an example.

R&R: In the latest book, DARLING BEAST, I think Apollo is possibly the most tortured hero so far in the series. What aspects of writing his character did you find the most rewarding?

Elizabeth: You know, aside from his tortured past, Apollo is kind of a regular guy. A really nice guy. But he’s also pretty self-aware (which not all my heroes are) which was kind of refreshing. I liked writing about him working through who he was now after years of enduring Bedlam. Because at the beginning of the book I’m not sure he knows who or what he is.

R&R: Lily, the heroine, is a comedy actress and very different from your other heroines. Did you base her on any real actress of the time?

Elizabeth: I’m glad you asked that! I did quite a bit of research into theatre, playwrights, and actresses of the time period–I was surprised at how many female playwrights there were. I didn’t base Lily on any one actress—although she’s a breeches role actress like Nell Gwyn.

Her writing process, however, is quite similar to mine (although I don’t act out my dialogue) and I have cursed trying to write wittily on several occasions. 😉

R&R: Finally, I’m dying to know whether the intriguing Valentine Napier, Duke of Montgomery will be getting his own book.

Elizabeth: I hope so! I am having problems trying to figure out his heroine though. And he’s going to be one of those characters with a bit of a long arc…

 

Elizabeth, it has been a privilege to have you on Rakes and Rascals today and thank you so much for answering all my questions.

Thank you, Carol—it’s been fun!

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About DARLING BEAST

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(Maiden Lane, #7)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb

A MAN CONDEMNED . . .

Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown’s soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he’s quickly driven to distraction . . .

A DESPERATE WOMAN . . .

London’s premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she’s forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren’t the only inhabitants-a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there’s more to this man than meets the eye.

OUT OF ASH, DESIRE FLARES

Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he’s forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.

BUY LINKS

.  Amazon
· Barnes & Noble
· Books·A·Million
· Blackwell’s (UK)
· Chapters (Canada)
· IndieBound
· The Book Depository

· BAM!
· eBooks.com
· iBooks
· Kobo
· Nook

 

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EXCERPT

Caliban—no, Lord Kilbourne—was coming toward her and Lily wasn’t entirely certain what to do. She’d been aware of him this entire time, for his eyes seemed to burn into her back no matter where she moved in the room. It really wasn’t fair: it was he who had disappeared into thin air without so much as an explanation or word to her whether he was all right or not. And now he’d turned up at a house party of all things, still using that ridiculous name, Mr. Smith. Had he even invented an appropriate Christian name to go with Smith? A thought struck her, low and terrible. Dear God, she didn’t even know his proper Christian name! She’d let him kiss her and yet didn’t know the first thing about him. The realization made her bitter and a little unwise.

“What’s your real name?” she demanded as he made her side, and if she had to blink back wetness from her eyes, she told herself it was tears of anger.

He glanced around, presumably making sure no one could overhear him. Fortunately, Mr. Phillip Warner had moved away to flirt with his own wife and no one was within earshot.

He replied in a very low voice, “Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne.”

Apollo? Apollo? She nearly goggled.

Well, he certainly couldn’t use Apollo with Smith—what an entirely inane name. Almost as bad as Caliban when one considered it. What mother looked down at an infant son and thought, god of light? No one could live up to a name like that. Especially since he had a twin sister…

Lily’s brain stuttered to a stop and she realized simultaneously both who Apollo-the-god’s twin sister was and who Apollo-the-man’s twin sister must be.

“Your sister is Artemis Batten, the Duchess of Wakefield,” she hissed.

“Hush,” he muttered.

“Your sister’s a bloody duchess.”

“Yes?” He looked at her oddly, as if everyone had a duchess as a sister.

“Which means the duke is your brother-in-law.”

“He’s rather an ass, if that makes any difference.”

“It doesn’t,” she said decisively. “It truly doesn’t. Why are you even talking to me? I’m the blasted help.”

“You are not and you know it,” he said impatiently. “I need to talk to you. To explain—”

“I’m paid to be here,” she said with as much dignity as possible under the circumstances. “And you’re born to all this”—she waved her hand at the room, which, ill-lit though it was, still had a gold ceiling—“and more. You and I have nothing—absolutely nothing in common. I don’t know why you’re here, but I’ll thank you to stay away from me.”

She pasted a smile on her face and moved away from him as gracefully as she could. There was no need to cause a scene, just because her heart was breaking. Ridiculous, really. When he’d been a penniless workman in a garden, shabby and mute, he’d been well within her reach. Now that he was cleaned up and dazzling in his expensive clothes—that waistcoat alone must have cost more than she’d make in a half a year—he was as high above her as the sun itself.

Apollo, indeed. Perhaps his name really did fit him.

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About ELIZABETH

The author of the New York Times bestselling Maiden Lane series and the Legend of Four Soldiers series as well as the Prince Trilogy, Elizabeth Hoyt writes “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly) historical romances. She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in central Illinois with three untrained dogs, two angelic but bickering children, and one long-suffering husband. Central Illinois can be less than exciting, and Elizabeth is always more than happy to receive missives from her readers. You can write to her at: P.O. Box 17134, Urbana, IL 61873.

Connect with Elizabeth:

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Pinterest
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THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

I will be picking THREE winners and each winner will receive a signed copy of DARLING BEAST together with a copy of Elizabeth’s contemporary romance HOT, written under her alternative name, Julia Harper .

 

For four years, play-by-the-rules bank teller Turner Hastings has brooded over her uncle’s wrongful imprisonment. But when two bumbling crooks stumble into her branch (barely disguised in Yoda and Sponge Bob masks) and hold up the place, she sees a chance to do something she’s never thought possible: get revenge. She takes advantage of the melee to pull a heist of her own, seizing info from a security box that will exonerate her uncle.

Sent to investigate a bank robbery in small town Wisconsin, Special Agent John MacKinnon discovers the robbers were two not-quite-so-bright thugs and one woman. Now, Turner is on the run. With SA MacKinnon on her trail, she’s breaking into the bank president Calvin’s house, kidnapping his Great Dane, and for the first time in her life, setting out to break a few rules. But when Calvin hires a hit-man, MacKinnon will have to decide between his career–and saving Turner.


The Giveaway is open Internationally and to enter just leave a comment or a question for Elizabeth. The Giveaway will run until midnight (GMT) on Sunday 9th November and I will announce the winners on Monday 10th November.

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I love Anna’s books and snapped up this novella  to add to my seasonal December reading.  Only 99cents/77p!

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

No good deed goes unpunished…

To save her hen-witted sister from scandal, Philippa Sanders ventures into a rake’s bedroom—and into his power. Now her reputation hangs by a thread and only a hurried marriage can rescue her. Is the Earl of Erskine the heartless libertine the world believes? Or will Philippa discover unexpected honor in a man notorious for his wild ways?

Blair Hume, the dissolute Earl of Erskine, has had his eye on the intriguing Miss Sanders since he arrived at this deadly dull house party. Now a reckless act delivers this beguiling woman into his hands as a delightful Christmas gift. Is fate offering him a fleeting Yuletide diversion? Or will this Christmas Eve encounter spark a passion that lasts a lifetime?

 

Buy Links:

Amazon.com  Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com.au

Amazon.ca  Smashwords

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EXCERPT


The Boar’s Head, Salisbury, Christmas 1823

   Philippa was his, however undeserving he was. Erskine had a piece of paper to prove it. And it was time he introduced her to some of the benefits of married life.
   He unlaced her fingers from her wineglass and placed it on the nightstand. She’d nearly emptied the glass, thank goodness. He leaned in and placed his lips softly on hers. She released a little huff of surprise, but didn’t draw away.
   Because her mother had told her to submit? Or because she wanted him to kiss her? He prayed it was the latter.
   Exquisitely aware of her innocence, he kissed her chastely, rediscovering the satiny texture of her lips and her tart, intriguing taste. To support his weight, he splayed his hands on the counterpane. With encouragement from the claret, she’d stopped acting as if he was about to devour her, but he knew he hadn’t banished her fears.
   After an interval both delightful and frustrating, she pressed forward with a breathy sigh. Reluctantly he withdrew. He lifted one hand to brush his thumb across her plump, glistening lips, pulling the lower one down to reveal a glimpse of straight white teeth. Her eyes were as dark as a starless night. He could dive into her gaze and never come up for air.
   Puzzlement creased her forehead. “You kissed me.”
   She didn’t sound entirely pleased. A tender smile curved his lips. “I promised I would, remember?”
   “After I married you.”
   He said what he must, although every word cut like a razor. “I’m prepared to wait.”
   The faint line remained between her dark brows. “You don’t have to.”
   He bit back a sigh and cupped her cheek. “We’re strangers, Philippa. I want you, but I’m not a barbarian. If you’re not ready, I can give you more time.”
   For a prickling interval, she studied his face in silence. He struggled to convey patience and understanding, although she must also see his barely contained hunger.
   He steeled himself to retreat to the room next door. Or perhaps she’d relent and let him sleep beside her. Holding her in his arms without possessing her would be torture, but still it seemed preferable to the lonely hell of a night without her.
   Reluctantly Erskine withdrew his hand and straightened. He told himself that this was for the best. No man of honor could expect his wife to welcome him tonight, whatever rights this morning’s ceremony had conferred.
   Which wasn’t much consolation when he faced a cold bed.
   “Sleep well, Philippa.”
   In the light of candles and fire, her eyes turned even darker. He shifted away slowly like a man going to his execution. He knew he did the right thing, but the knowledge offered no satisfaction.
   His wife remained very still, watching him, although her hands curled slowly into the sheets at her waist. He expected Philippa to look relieved or, best of all, grateful. He’d like her to be grateful. A grateful wife was likely to invite him to consummate their union sooner rather than later. Hopefully before he went completely mad wanting her.
   He’d risen to his feet before she spoke. “I trusted you yesterday.”
   Because of that, he’d lay down his life for her. “Yes, you did. Thank you.”
   Without lowering her gaze, she bit her lip. He wasn’t sure where she was going with this, but he’d much rather stay than leave, even if she only wanted to talk.
   “You’ve always been kind to me.”
   It was his turn to frown. “You make me sound like an aged uncle.”
   A rueful smile twisted her lips. “You’re nicer to me than Uncle Theodore ever was.”
   He didn’t smile back and his voice emerged with a bite that he regretted but couldn’t contain. “Philippa, let me be frank-I don’t feel remotely avuncular when I look at you.” He sucked in a breath and spoke the words likely to terrify her into running back to her unpleasant mother. “The first time I saw you hovering in the shadows like a little ghost, I wanted you. I wanted you when we were trapped in the dressing room. That’s why I kissed you. Every hour since then, I’ve wanted you more. Tonight I’m offering you a postponement, but I don’t… I can’t let you think that I’ll accept a chaste marriage.”
   He waited for an appalled reaction, but she didn’t flinch away. Neither, confound it, did she leap into his arms declaring overwhelming desire.
   “I…see,” she said slowly after a tense interval.
   He stepped closer to the bed, even if it was a step he’d need to retrace when he left her. “Have I shocked you?”
   “A little.” She paused. “You have a husband’s rights.”
   “I’m not a bully.”
   “No, you’re not.”
   He should go. This awkward conversation just extended the torture.
   Her eyes flickered away and her hands stopped twisting at the sheets. Instead, she began to pluck nervously at them. Not much of an improvement.
   Why the deuce was the chit nervous? Hadn’t he just given her a reprieve? Surely that saintly act alone must cancel out a few of his sins in the heavenly register.
   “It’s late,” he said regretfully, starting to feel like a fool standing in the middle of the room, gazing at Philippa like a dog slavering at a butcher shop window. He turned to leave.
   “Don’t go.”
   Erskine stopped, wondering if he’d heard her aright. Slowly he faced her. He couldn’t read her expression. “What did you say?”
   Her deep breath made her breasts swell voluptuously against her nightgown. He closed his eyes. God give him strength. She wasn’t doing this to get him excited. Although he was undoubtedly getting excited.
   She licked her lips. How he wished she wouldn’t.
   Philippa swallowed and spoke in a rusty whisper. “I said… don’t go.”
   He braced his shoulders and told himself he could be strong. They had years to get this right. A wedding night was just another date on the calendar. “You don’t want to sleep alone in a strange place? I can understand that.”
   Her eyes flashed with annoyance, surprising him. “No, I don’t want to sleep alone. But that’s not what I mean.”
   “What do you mean?”
   Her lips tightened with displeasure. “You’re the blasted rake. You work it out.”
   His heart kicking into an excited gallop, he stared at her without moving. It took him far too long to realize that while she looked uncertain, she also looked… interested.
   He could work with interested, by God.
   On an astonished laugh, he dived across the floor and onto the bed, dragging her into his arms. “Prepare to be ravished, lassie!”
   Before Philippa could reply or, heaven forfend, change her mind, he captured her lips with his in a kiss that wasn’t chaste at all.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Meet ANNA CAMPBELL

ANNA CAMPBELL has written nine multi award-winning historical romances for Grand Central Publishing and Avon HarperCollins and her work is published in sixteen languages. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set stories including Romantic Times Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Aspen Gold (twice) and the Australian Romance Readers Association’s favorite historical romance (five times). Anna is currently engaged in writing the “Sons of Sin” series, which started in 2012 with SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED and now continues with book 3, WHAT A DUKE DARES. Anna lives on the beautiful east coast of Australia where she writes full-time.

You can find Anna online at:

Website  Facebook Fan Page  Twitter: @AnnaCampbellOz  Goodreads

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