Anna Campbell stops by b2b …

‘Midnight’s Wild Passion’

ACBOOK BLURB: London’s most notorious seducer, Nicholas Challoner lives solely for revenge…

The dashing, licentious Marquess of Ranelaw can never forgive Godfrey Demarest for ruining his sister—now the time has come to repay the villain in the same coin. But one formidably intriguing impediment stands in the way of Nicholas’s vengeance: Miss Antonia Smith, companion to his foe’s unsuspecting daughter.

Having herself been deceived and disgraced by a rogue—banished by her privileged family as a result and forced to live a lie—Antonia vows to protect her charge from the same cruel fate. She recognizes Ranelaw for the shameless blackguard he is and will devote every ounce of her intelligence and resolve to thwarting him.

Yet Antonia has always had a fatal weakness for rakes . . .

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository

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Hi Melanie, Leah and Connie! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today on bookworm2bookworm and a big mushy mwah on your third birthday! Congratulations! What a fabulous achievement!

Book pushing is something I love to do. I do reviews once a month over at the Romance Dish of older books that might have gone under people’s radar. I was originally going to do that here, but then I decided to talk about a book of my own that I’ve always had a particular soft spot for.

MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION came out in 2011 as my take on the classic Regency romance that I’d grown up reading, most memorably from Georgette Heyer. It has elopements and glamorous Regency parties and duels and frumpy companions with shady pasts to hide and a hero who tries very hard to be a wicked man, but can’t quite manage it once he falls, very much against his will, in love.

Here’s a short excerpt from the scene where ruined lady in disguise Antonia is very close to succumbing to the rakish Lord Ranelaw, much against her better judgement.

Bascombe Hailey, Surrey, Spring 1827

When she rounded the side of the building, Antonia glanced across the silent lake. Stars shimmered on the still blackness, turning it into an inverted sky.

“Good evening, Antonia.”

She wasn’t surprised to look back at the summerhouse and see Lord Ranelaw watching from the shallow flight of steps. His presence seemed part of the enchantment. Or perhaps she was so tired, she drifted in a blur where nothing seemed quite real.

“Lord Ranelaw,” she said softly. A breeze across the lake ruffled her loosely arranged hair.

“Nicholas,” he said equally softly. He leaned against one of the four Corinthian columns that supported the portico and folded his arms.

“Nicholas.” His name signaled a concession they both recognized.

Starlight glimmered on his white shirt—did the man never go decently dressed in coat and neckcloth?—but she discerned few other details. She didn’t need to see him. His image was etched on her heart. Handsome, careless, wicked.

Precious…

“I knew you’d come.” He sounded calm, sure.

The darkness sharpened senses other than sight. She heard the rustle of the trees, smelled the slight dankness of the lake behind her, felt the evening breeze cool against her skin. Skin flushed with awareness.

“You waited three days.”

“I can be patient,” he responded steadily.

She bit her lip. Had she expected to see him? Did her presence mean they’d make love? Somewhere she’d already said yes.

“Are you going to run?” he asked in a casual voice, as if consent or refusal were all the same to him. But even in the shadows, she saw he tautened with anticipation.

“I should.”

He straightened and prowled down to the bottom step. She knew he waited for her to flee like a frightened bird. Like a woman with an ounce of self-preservation.

He became preternaturally still. His voice was low, coaxing, thick and deep as velvet. “What’s it to be, Antonia?”

“Don’t bully me, Ranelaw,” she said sharply.

“Are you pretending you’re just out for an evening walk?”

That’s what she’d told herself. Not even she believed it.

She’d left the house, wandered toward the summerhouse, because she knew Ranelaw waited. She admitted that to herself. She wasn’t quite ready to admit it to him. “I didn’t realize you’d be here.”

Her eyes had adjusted enough to see the glint of his teeth as he smiled. “Yes, you did.”

What use struggling to preserve her pride? He’d soon know she was helpless to resist him. He knew already.

“Yes, I did,” she answered almost soundlessly.

The words lay between them like a challenge.

She poised in breathless suspense for him to sweep her into his arms. Across the several yards separating them, she couldn’t mistake his urgency. The silence developed a vibrating quality. Even the breeze dropped in expectation.

Why hadn’t he touched her yet? They both knew she wouldn’t fight.

He turned his face to the glittering sky then he stared directly at her. Through darkness, that regard burned.

“Why?” The question cut through the night like a blade.

You can read another excerpt on my website.

I’d love to give away a copy of MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION (print or e-book, international) today. Just leave a comment! I’d love to know what was the book that got you hooked on reading historical romance.

AAUTHOR INFO: Australian ANNA CAMPBELL has written eight 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 romances. Anna’s latest release is Book 2 in the Sons of Sin series, A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, which has just been nominated as best sensual historical romance of 2013 in the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Awards.

Social Media: Website / Twitter / Facebook / GoodReads

Headlines from Little Derrick! – reported by Anna Campbell

ARMK ACHi Mel! Thanks for having me as your guest today on bookworm2bookworm. Always a pleasure to be on your blog.

Today, I’ve got my intrepid roving reporter hat on (and doesn’t it suit me? I think the veil is particularly becoming!).

So, dear readers, imagine yourselves back to the lovely autumn of 1827 in Oxfordshire, England. In my endless search for fascinating stories, I’ve snuck into the obscure village of Little Derrick which is part of the Duke of Sedgemoor’s Leighton Court estate. I have it on good authority that the duke has made an appearance in the area over the last few weeks after never setting foot in the place before. Naturally, this roused my reporter’s instincts (and also, the duke is single – perhaps he’s looking for a duchess! Please let him know I’m available!).

The duke’s arrival isn’t the only significant news in this formerly unremarkable village. There was a break-in at the local vicarage! Luckily brave Genevieve Barrett, the vicar’s daughter, was on hand to banish the ruffian before anything was taken. Since then, our heroine has been surprisingly quiet about the events of that night. Terror must still have her in its grip, although I hope to probe her recollections with my usual journalistic sensitivity. Unfortunately to date, she has refused all requests for an interview.

Miss Barrett’s father is the famous medieval scholar, the Reverend Ezekiel Barrett, who was dining with the duke on the night of the outrage. What’s odd about all this skullduggery is that everybody knows the vicarage contains no valuables, whereas a few miles away, Youngton Hall, home of avid collector Lord Neville Fairbrother is stuffed to the gunwales with gold and jewels.

Another worthy recent addition to Little Derrick’s social scene is handsome bachelor Christopher Evans who has moved in with the vicar to pursue his studies. Mr. Evans is handsome enough to set this tough lady reporter’s heart beating – please don’t tell the duke. There has been some talk about his attentions to Miss Barrett who until this point has been a dedicated spinster, interested only in scholarship and the welfare of the parish.

Could St. Katherine’s, the pretty village church, be ringing out the wedding bells soon? If so, your intrepid reporter promises to cover the event!

I was lucky enough to interview Mr. Evans yesterday about his impressions of the village – not to mention our local beauties, and I don’t mean the romantically ruined abbey. What struck me as I talked to him is how much he resembles sketches I’ve seen in the newspapers of that arbiter of elegance, Sir Richard Harmsworth.

ANNA CAMPBELL, JOURNALIST: Mr. Evans, welcome to Little Derrick. I can’t help noticing that you bear a resemblance to the scandalous Sir Richard Harmsworth.

MR. CHRISTOPHER EVANS: Don’t know the fellow. Sounds like a dunderhead.

ACJ: No, he’s the darling of London society. All the ladies swoon over him. Despite the scandal of his bastardy.

MCE: Still sounds like a dunderhead.

ACJ: Hmm, if you say so. On a happier note, the residents of Little Derrick have noticed that you’ve taken a shine to our vicar’s daughter.

MCE: Miss Barrett is all that’s gracious to a guest in her house. She only wished me to the devil once yesterday.

ACJ: Forgive me for saying, but she doesn’t seem to have taken quite as much of a shine to you.

MCE: Never fear, she will. I’m like a fungus. I grow on people. She likes my dog. That’s a start.

ACJ:  Yes, Sirius has become a local favorite. Although he tried to bite me when I patted him.

MCE: He doesn’t like nosy parkers.

ACJ: Mr. Evans, that’s hardly polite!

MCE: Your pardon. I’m just speaking on Sirius’s behalf. I of course love the press’s intrusive attentions.

ACJ: That’s all right, then.

MCE: I have an appointment with my dog groomer. Must dash. And definitely don’t waste any time looking for a connection with that Harmsworth blockhead. Definitely nothing to do with me. I’m from Shropshire.

ACJ: Mr. Evans, wait! I have more questions…

Now, that’s interesting. A gentleman who flees so swiftly from a reporter would seem to have something to hide. I must dig further…

Make sure you check back for more Doings in Little Derrick from your correspondent!

EXCERPT: here.

Buy links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Book Depository:

OK, loyal readers, help our correspondent out here. Do you think Genevieve really doesn’t like Christopher? What do you think Genevieve would say about Christopher if she agreed to an interview? Do you think there really is a connection between the mysterious Sir Richard Harmsworth and Christopher Evans? And do you think there’s enough work to keep a dog groomer in business in such an unfashionable backwater?

If you want to find out exactly what’s happening in Little Derrick, I’ve got a signed copy of  A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS to give away to someone who comments today (international).

AUTHOR BIO: Anna Campbell has written six multi award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and her work is published in eleven languages. Always a voracious reader, Anna decided when she was a child that she wanted to be a writer.

Once she discovered the wonderful world of romance novels, she knew exactly what she wanted to write. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set romances 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 (four times).

Her books have twice been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award and three times for Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year. In 2012, Anna launches an exciting new publishing venture with Grand Central Publishing.

You can catch Anna on social media: Website / Facebook / Twitter / GoodReads

‘A Rake’s Midnight Kiss’ by Anna Campbell

ARMK ACSTORY: It Takes A Lady

Brilliant scholar Genevieve Barrett knows how to keep a secret. Her identity as the author of her father’s academic articles has always been her greatest deception—until a charming housebreaker tries to steal the mysterious Harmsworth Jewel from her. She doesn’t reveal that she recognizes her father’s devastatingly handsome new student as the thief himself. For Genevieve, this will be the most seductive secret of all…

To Catch A Thief

Sir Richard Harmsworth has been living a lie, maintaining a rakish façade to show society that he doesn’t care about his status as a bastard. Yet long haunted by his unknown father’s identity, Richard believes the Harmsworth Jewel will confirm his claim as the rightful heir. But when Richard sets out to seduce the bookworm who possesses the stone, he instead falls for its beautiful owner. But even as she steals Richard’s heart, Genevieve will be in greater danger than her coveted treasure…

REVIEW: By now the cat’s out of the bag, and you all know that Anna Campbell is one of my all-time fave-authors and reading and reviewing one of her books is a lot fun and it never-ever gets dull.

I knew she can right well developed three-dimensional characters, and this was no surprise, but what surprised me most about this book is how funny, almost slapstick comedy is in this read. I just couldn’t read fast enough, or laugh out loud more.

She gave us a fast pace, an interesting plot with twists and turns, and a sweet, sensual and very touching romance. As for the dialogue, I dare you guys not to laugh reading most of it. I also found the secondary characters as well developed as the first ones, and for all us fans out there, she brought back Jonas and Sidonie from ‘Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed’. She even gives us some fun pets to read about!

Honestly, once I started reading, I just couldn’t put it down. It had action from the start, and it just wouldn’t let go!

To say that ‘A Rake’s Midnight Kiss’ was a good read is an understatement. This was really one of those books so well written; plotted and executed that will stay with me forever.

Highly recommending it and its accompanying little novella ‘Days of Rakes and Roses’ for hours and hours of fun, entertaining and pure pleasure!  

EXTRA REVIEW: ‘Days of Rakes and Roses’ by Anna Campbell

DORAR ACSTORY: Lady Lydia Rothermere has spent the past decade trying to make up for a single, youthful moment of passion. Now the image of propriety, Lydia knows her future rests on never straying outside society’s rigid rules, but hiding away the desire that runs through her is harder than she could have ever dreamed. And as she prepares for a marriage that will suit her family, but not her heart, Lydia must decide what’s more important: propriety or passion?

Simon Metcalf is a rake and adventurer. But for all his experience, nothing can compare to the kiss he stole from the captivating Lydia Rothermere ten years ago. Simon can scarcely believe he’s about to lose the one woman he’s never forgotten. The attraction between them is irresistible, yet Lydia refuses to forsake her engagement. With his heart on the line, will Simon prove that love is a risk worth taking?

MINI REVIEW: This was such a great fast & furious [pun intended] short novella.

The couple, Simon and Lydia gets separated after their youthful indiscretion, but these two never forgot that incident, and both were forced by their parents to deal with the repercussions in a best way they saw fit, regardless of the young couple’s feelings.

My heart broke for these two, and Ms. Campbell wrote their emotions so well that I couldn’t help but feel for them!

After a full decade, just as our heroine is ready to take the plunge, here walks in her youthful indiscretion and with her brother’s blessing, the man now wants her back.

Anna Campbell is one of my favorite authors and I expect she will be for a very long time. The short format of a novella must be a challenge to many authors, yet she somehow managed to develop a great plot, entertaining and three-dimensional characters with plenty of action, romance and a killer dialogue.

Let me tell you, if you like a story with star-crossed lovers, then this story will touch your heart, your funny bone and just may have you dip into the cold swimming pool, for after all, this IS Anna Campbell, and she can sure write HOT!

Melanie for b2b

*Books provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Spotlight on Anna Campbell and…

These Haunted Hearts: A Regency Ghost Story

THH ACBOOK BLURB: On one fateful wedding day at Marston Hall in 1818, four linked destinies hover in the balance.

Josiah Aston, Earl of Stansfield, wakes to discover he’s seventy years dead and he alone can free his beloved wife Isabella’s tormented soul. But first he must convince her to trust him against all the evidence…
Lady Isabella Verney, beautiful and tempestuous, married the man of her dreams, only to die violently on her wedding day. Every clue points to Josiah as the murderer…

Is true love strong enough to defeat ancient malevolence forever?
Miles Hartley, Viscount Kendall, is society’s ideal catch, but what does that matter if he can’t convince Calista Aston that he loves her? When an age-old curse strikes, only by proving himself worthy of her faith can he save their happiness…

Lady Calista Aston, noted bluestocking, fears she loves Miles Hartley not wisely, but too well. On her wedding day, her doubts place her at evil’s mercy. When death and disaster loom, is it courage or mad folly to believe that Miles loves her in spite of all her faults?

On one fateful wedding day at Marston Hall in 1818, will the lovers emerge triumphant or will darkness conquer all?

EXCERPT:

The Chinese Bedroom, Marston Hall, Norfolk, May 1818

Calista watched Miles at the window. The light limned him, turned him into a being from another world. The magnificent sight made the breath catch in her throat. He wore a loose white shirt and breeches. She’d never been so aware of his height or the lean strength of his body.

He turned and at last she saw the smile that tilted his mouth. His eyes focused on her and the smile faded, replaced by an expression that looked like awe. He tautened into stillness as he surveyed her from her loosened hair to her bare toes peeping beneath the white hem of her simple night rail.

The moonlight was so bright, she saw his Adam’s apple bob when he swallowed. She could almost imagine that he found her as breathtaking as she found him. His expression smoothed the sharpness from her uncertainty. The clamorous babble of thoughts in her head quietened to a low hum of need.

“You’re undressed,” he said huskily.

It seemed foolish to blush when they both knew she was in this room to offer herself to him, but heat flushed her cheeks. “I wasn’t sure what to wear.”

His joyous smile made her toes curl against the Turkish rug at her feet. “Or not, as the case may be.”

“Or not.”

She waited in an agony of pleasurable suspense for him to seize her, ravish her into delight so that she had no chance to remember the dictates of propriety. But he approached slowly, as though afraid if he moved too abruptly, she might vanish. By the time he stopped in front of her, she trembled with apprehension and desire. Her body felt too small a vessel to contain the storm of emotions raging inside her.

He reached out to smooth her hair away from her face. His touch always turned her knees to custard. Now, when the bed and all it portended filled the shadows behind him, the glance of his hand set her burning. If such a seemingly innocent touch had this effect, she’d most likely combust into ashes before they were done tonight.

Calista bit her lip and stood in shaking stillness as he trailed his hand across her neck and shoulders. His touch felt like a discovery rather than a seduction. Although of course she was seduced. Her heart thundered and her breasts tightened against the thin lawn of her nightdress.

“Beautiful,” he whispered, running his hand down her side then up again.

A tremulous sigh escaped her. This tender wooing lured her deeper and deeper into the turbulent waters of desire. She should move, speak, do something to encourage him. But his touch was so delicious, she found herself unable to do anything beyond accept this worship. His scent was spicy, clean. Familiar, yet with a musky tinge that awakened her senses.

Through the haze of pleasure enveloping her, she managed to send up a silent prayer. That the reverence she read in his face would last. That he’d still love her after he’d taken her to bed. That he’d look at her like this in the morning when she stepped inside the Marston parish church to pledge herself to him for the rest of her life.

REVIEW: This is a short but sweet and very suspenseful story of two couples fighting for their love.

I was spellbound by the suspense and read the story in one sitting. Its Gothic feel gave me goose bumps!

My heart went out to both couples as they were fighting this curse.

Josiah Aston, Earl of Stansfield can’t remember how he died, but one thing he does remember is how much he loves Lady Isabella Verney, his bride…

Lady Calista Aston is sure of her love for Miles Hartley, Viscount Kendall, her future husband, but she’s full of doubts about his feelings for her. She somehow feels unworthy of his love and believes he would be better off without her…

I highly recommend this tension and suspense filled gem. You’ll be hooked from the first page to the last. Promise!

*Book purchased from Amazon.

AUTHOR’S BIO: Anna Campbell has written six multi award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and her work is published in eleven languages. Always a voracious reader, Anna decided when she was a child that she wanted to be a writer. Once she discovered the wonderful world of romance novels, she knew exactly what she wanted to write. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set romances 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 (four times). Her books have twice been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award and three times for Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year. In 2012, Anna launches an exciting new publishing venture with Grand Central Publishing. She launches her first series, “Sons of Sin”, with SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED in October 2012.

Keep in touch with Anna at: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Romance Bandit / Harper Collins / Goodreads

GIVEAWAY: Tell us if you believe in ghosts and why. One lucky commenter will get an eCopy of this book.

‘The Winter Wife: A Christmas Novella’ by Anna Campbell

WW ACSTORY: Will a chance meeting on Christmas Eve…

Alicia Sinclair, Countess of Kinvarra, cannot believe that fate has been so cruel as to strand her on the snowy Yorkshire moors with her estranged husband as her only hope of rescue. During their rare encounters, the arrogant earl and his countess act like hostile strangers. Now that Alicia has fallen into Kinvarra’s power, will he seek revenge for her desertion? Or does the dark, passionate man she once adored have entirely different plans for his headstrong wife?

…deliver a second chance at love?

Sebastian Sinclair, Earl of Kinvarra, has spent ten wretched years regretting the mistakes he made with his young bride, but after long separation, the barriers between them are insurmountable. Until an unexpected encounter one stormy night makes him wonder if the barriers of mistrust and thwarted desire are so insurmountable after all. When winter weather traps Sebastian and his proud, lovely wife in an isolated inn, could the earl and his headstrong countess have a Christmas miracle in store?

REVIEW: The above blurb is just perfect so I won’t summarize the story, but will come straight out and tell you that its worth every penny!

For a short little book, this one packs a punch and a half! I just loved everything about it. It’s very hard to offer a short novella without sacrificing something of the story, but Anna Campbell does it, by God!

It was such fun watching these two hot-tempered people come together and set this story afire. It’s intense, sensual and so much fun to read and I highly recommend it.

‘Captive of Sin’ by Anna Campbell

BOOK BLURB: He pledged his honor to keep her safe . . .

Returning home to Cornwall after an unspeakable tragedy, Sir Gideon Trevithick comes upon a defiant beauty in danger and vows to protect her whatever the cost. He’s dismayed to discover that she’s none other than Lady Charis Weston, England’s wealthiest heiress—and that the only way to save her from the violent stepbrothers determined to steal her fortune is to wed her himself! Now Gideon must hide the dark secrets of his life from the bride he desires more with every heartbeat.

She promised to show him how to love—and desire—again . . .

Charis has heard all about Gideon, the dangerously handsome hero with the mysterious past. She’s grateful for his help but utterly unwilling to endure a marriage of convenience—especially to a man whose touch leaves her breathless. Desperate to drive him mad with passion, she would do anything to make Gideon lose control—and fall captive to irresistible, undeniable sin.

EXCERPT:

Winchester, early February, 1821

“Good God, what have we here?”

The man’s deep voice pierced Charis’s pain-ridden doze. She flinched, stirring from her cramped position. For one dazed moment, she wondered why she was shivering in fetid straw, instead of snuggled in her bed at Holcombe Hall.

Blazing agony struck and she stifled an involuntary moan. And a curse for her rank stupidity.

How could she forget the danger long enough to fall asleep?

But she’d been blind with exhaustion when she’d stumbled into the stable behind the sprawling inn. Unable to manage another step even though she hadn’t come far enough to be safe.

Now she wasn’t safe at all.

The light from the man’s lantern dazzled her bleary eyes. She discerned little more than a tall shape looming outside the stall. Choking with panic, she clawed upright until she huddled against the rough planking. Blood pulsed like thunder in her ears.

Muffling a whimper as she moved her injured left arm, Charis crossed shaking hands over her torn bodice. Scenting her terror, the big chestnut horse that filled most of the space shifted restively.

As the man lifted the lantern to illuminate Charis’s corner, she shied away. Beyond the ring of yellow light that surrounded him, menacing shadows thickened and multiplied up to the high pitched ceiling.

“Please don’t be frightened.” The stranger made a curiously truncated gesture with one black-gloved hand. “I mean you no harm.”

The rich baritone was sheathed in warm concern. He made no overt movement toward her. Charis’s crippling fear didn’t subside. Men, she’d learned from cruel experience, lied. Even men with velvet voices, smooth and cultured.

A sharp twinge in her chest reminded her she hadn’t drawn breath since he’d found her. The air she sucked into her starved lungs reeked of horse manure, hay dust and the sour stink of her own fear.

She turned her head and really looked at the man. Her throat jammed with shock.

He was utterly beautiful.

Beautiful. A word she’d never before associated with a male. In this case, no other description sprang to her churning mind.

Beauty as stark and perfect as this only stoked her alarm. He embodied the elegant world she must relinquish to survive.

Despite her terror, her attention clung to the slashing planes of forehead and cheekbones and jaw, the straight arrogant prow of his nose. He was tanned, unusual in February.

With his intense, compelling features and ruffled hair, black as a gypsy’s, he looked like a prince from a fairytale.

Charis no longer believed in fairytales.

Her eyes darted around the narrow stall. But he blocked the only exit. Again she cursed her idiocy. With her good hand, she fumbled beneath her for a rock, a rusty nail, anything she could use to defend herself. Her trembling fingers met nothing but prickly straw.

Unblinking she watched him set the lantern on the ground. His movements were slow and easy, openly reassuring. But if he wanted to snatch her, he now had both hands free. Her sinews tautened as she prepared to scratch and punch her way out.

In the charged silence, the rattle of her breathing deafened her. It even masked the wind’s constant wail. The powerful horse shifted again and gave a worried whicker, tossing its head against the rope that tied it facing toward the corridor.

What if the nervous beast started to kick or buck in this confined space? The horse’s hooves looked huge, sharp, deadly. Dread settled like a stone in her empty belly. With every moment, her refuge’s unsuitability became more apparent.

Why, oh, why hadn’t she kept going, no matter how tired and hurt? Even sheltering in a hedgerow, she’d be safer than here.

The man stepped into the stall, his black greatcoat swirling around his booted ankles. Shrinking back, Charis prepared to wrench free of grabbing hands. Fresh sweat chilled her already icy skin. He was so much bigger and stronger than she.

But he merely snagged the animal’s halter with a firm grip that brooked no rebellion. “Hush, Khan.” He stroked the gelding’s nose as his voice softened into alluring music. The man’s tall body conveyed an assured confidence that was almost tangible. “There’s nothing to worry about.”

The complex mixture of authority and care in his tone should have calmed Charis. Instead it slipped down her spine like glacial ice. She knew all about men who believed they ruled the universe. She knew how they reacted when their wishes were thwarted. Her furtive search for a weapon grew more frantic.

Khan, foolish, trusting creature, quieted under his master’s murmured promises. For the man must own the beast if he knew its name. Nobody could mistake the stranger for a groom. His manner was too effortlessly aristocratic, his clothing too fine.

She found no weapon.

She’d have to make a dash for freedom and hope her stiff, tired legs carried her. Surreptitiously, she pushed upward. Even this small movement sparked agony. Every muscle ached and her arm felt like it was on fire. She locked her teeth to muffle her whimpers.

“There’s no need to run away.” He didn’t glance up from the now docile horse.

“Yes, there is,” she surprised herself by saying, although she’d resolved not to address him. Her swollen face thickened her voice into unfamiliarity. But her upper-class diction marked her as an object of interest. Memorable. Noticeable.

A target.

Clumsily she struggled to her feet. She felt less vulnerable standing. In her awkward rise, she bumped the wall and bit back a sharp cry. Battling dizzying pain, she cradled her throbbing arm against her.

Her ungainly lurch spooked Khan who sidled and snorted. Her father had been a connoisseur of horseflesh. Charis had immediately recognized Khan for the high-bred aristocrat he was.

Much like the man holding the beast’s head.

“I know you’re afraid.” At first, she thought he spoke to Khan. His attention remained on the horse. “I know you need help.”

Help to hand her over to the law, she thought bitterly. “Why should you care? You’re a stranger.”

“That’s true. Although when you chose my horse’s stall, you also chose me.”

“That was just chance.”

At last, he looked directly at her. Surely it was only a trick of the lamplight that his eyes shone so dark and brilliant above those dramatic cheekbones. “All things in life are chance.”

FEATURED AUTHOR: Anna Campbell

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Seven Love Song Dedications by Anna Campbell

Hi Melanie! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today on bookworm2bookworm!

I’m a sucker for a great love song. I suspect most romance fans are. There’s something so beautiful about the quintessence of love refined down into a three-minute burst of melody and heartfelt lyrics.

In honor of my seventh historical romance, SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED, out 25th September from Forever, I’m listing my seven favorite love songs. It’s really difficult, though – after all, most great songs are love songs. There’s something about the romantic urge that lends itself to melody!

7.            Undisclosed Desires by Muse: this song played constantly in my head when I wrote MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION. There’s a savage tenderness in the lyrics and in the music that really hit me hard and so suited the love building between Ranelaw and Antonia.

6.            Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol: skinny Irish guy lying on pedestrian crossings in New York, singing about longing. What’s not to like?

5.            Heroes by David Bowie. The bleak, doomed romanticism of this one always gets me right in the solar plexus. There’s something about Bowie’s tortured baritone above that wall of sound – like the Berlin Wall he’s singing about perhaps? – that cuts straight to the heart. Definitely one for the tragic romantics!

4.            If I Loved You by Rodgers and Hammerstein: I love that this song from CAROUSEL is about NOT being in love, but by the end of it, they’re both head over heels. Not that it does them much good. It’s not the jolliest of plots, CAROUSEL. Actually I could have done a whole post featuring beautiful love songs from musicals. Oh, well, next time I write a book with ‘seven ‘in the title.

3.            I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Frank Sinatra (and Cole Porter): oh, no, more longing. What is the story? The lyrics of this one are just gorgeous and I think Frank Sinatra’s version gives a wonderful balance between the unconvincing outer “I really don’t care” to the hidden message of “You’re breaking my heart.” Sigh.

2.            Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers: who doesn’t love this song? It reappears as a hit with every generation and I’m not at all surprised. It’s simple but it’s heart-wrenchingly beautiful. A true classic. And it must have done wonders for enrolments in pottery classes!

1.            Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You by Frankie Valli: hard to pick a number one love song but this one is just breathtakingly beautiful and with its simple lyrics, so true and sincere.

Oh, no! I haven’t been able to fit in Something by the Beatles or Angie by the Rolling Stones or… Perhaps next time I’ll have to write 14 Nights in a Rogue’s Bed! I’m sure my hero and heroine won’t mind!

OK, that’s my seven favorite love songs (for today anyway). Any favorites of yours in the list? What are your seven favorites? What do you think makes a great love song? One commenter today wins a signed print copy of SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED which includes lots of scenes with Jonas and Sidonie making beautiful music together. International giveaway! Good luck!

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