Elise Rome stops by b2b…

TSH ER2‘The Sinning Hour’

BOOK BLURB: She came from the alleyways, adorned by grime and soot…

Simon Astley has no reason to hire Miranda Post as his housemaid. She has no experience, no credible qualifications. She looks and smells better suited to the East End rookeries than to his West End town house. Worse yet, she reminds him of a soul-staining past he’d prefer to forget.

Unfortunately, she also becomes his fascination.

Physically scarred and lost to a life of poverty, Miranda has but one goal: survival. Although she distrusts her new employer’s generosity, she is determined to save herself, to save her father, and to crawl her way out of despair.

Each wants nothing more than to continue their roles of master and housemaid. But one night, in one sinful hour, when everything changes, a sensual battle begins between the corrupt and the innocent, and to win both Simon and Miranda must lay at stake something neither can afford to lose: their hearts.

EXCERPT: 

Miranda wrapped the shawl around her shoulders then returned the bonnet to her head, carefully tying the ribbons in a bow. Shadows edged her vision as she watched Mr. Astley stride back to his chair.

Envy curled in her chest at the way he moved: no tucking of the chin or stooping of the shoulders for him. No hustling as if through dank and filthy lanes, racing toward the salvation of the next alley. He had a home, clothes without tatters or holes, security. She, too, would have strutted about.

She, once, had also been fearless.

Despite her attempt at restraint, her gaze flew to the plate of food on his desk. The tower of food. Pastries stacked so thick and high, with golden, flaky crusts, and he ignored them all. Hadn’t even spared them a glance while toying with her earlier, arranging his books into their own sturdy little tower.

Cherry. They would be cherry tarts, she was certain. The sauce sweet and voluptuous, juice exploding from the bits of fruit and gushing over her tongue. A buttery shell, so soft and moist as it crumbled against the roof of her mouth—

God. Saliva ran slick over the insides of her cheeks. Her stomach clenched with greedy fervor.

Wicked, her father had called her, for daring to seek work from a nude portraitist. Wicked, he said she’d become, convinced her duties in such a household would mimic those of a harlot.

Perhaps he’d been right, Miranda thought, swaying a little. She’d stood in Astley’s house for less than an hour and already felt quite wicked. Envy and greed and taking the Lord’s name in vain. Next, the sins of theft and gluttony. Lust, presumably, could not be far behind.

Astley had hired her. Hired, when she’d received nothing but threats and sneers seven times before. And all she could think of was snatching the plate of pastries and scurrying away like the mouse he’d likened her to, hunkering down in the nearest corner as she shoveled the tarts into her mouth—one, two, three…there would never be enough to calm the gnawing inside.

“Miss Post?” Suddenly he was there, in front of her again, his hand cupping her elbow.

How she resented him for his casual disregard of the pastries, for knowing he need only ring the servants’ bell to summon more food from his kitchens. He should have emptied the plate upon its delivery; the contents should be stretching and warming his stomach rather than lying there untouched, taunting her.

He probably knew nothing of hunger’s sour taste, of these awful black shadows that dimmed sight, of the cold and hollowing numbness. He’d likely dripped with sweat under the summer sun, when at noon in August not even a shawl and her thickest stockings had succeeded in keeping her warm.

Indeed, he was hotter than the sun now: the fingers he closed about her arm sent heat sinking into her skin, through her flesh, to her very bones. Miranda fought the instinct to lean into him, to climb up and wind her body around his. She could steal his food and all of his heat and not worry about hunger or cold until tomorrow.

Hired. The word whispered again in her mind. She’d not yet settled her faith on it, though. It sounded like a promise. A very nice promise, but then she knew how transient promises could be. And this one didn’t possess nearly as much substance as the endless ache to which she woke and fell asleep each day.

“Miss Post?” he repeated, neither altering the inquiry’s volume or tone. He seemed to employ patience like some men used a blade; it made her wary. “You denied illness yet appear as if you might collapse at any moment. And retrieving you from the floor would be very inconvenient. The mud, you see.”

The whores across from the tenement would have crawled all over themselves for a chance at Mr. Simon Astley, so kind and chivalrous was he.

“Come now,” he coaxed. She wondered whether he was conscious of stroking the inside of her elbow with his thumb, whether a caress—like patience—was just another of his tools in extracting information. She wondered whether he realized she had mud at her elbow, too. “We’re not strangers anymore, are we? You may tell me the truth.”

She hadn’t said the words in two months. She’d rather have stolen the pastries, but his grip wouldn’t allow her escape. She darted another covetous glance at the plate and immediately felt her pulse throb with regret.

Foolish. Foolish. Confessing her weakness in such a way.

Astley tilted his head, studying her, then twisted to look behind him. His fingers flexed against her arm, five burning points of possession. When he turned back his expression was inscrutable. “You’re hungry.”

I’m hungry.

Her constant, silent litany. It chased her during the day, at night. When she walked, when she sat, when she lay down. Even after she ate the food her father hadn’t consumed, for those few scraps did nothing to fill her stomach. The words felt engraved in her thoughts, as permanent as the color of her eyes, the birthmark on the inside of her right knee. The scar on her cheek.

Still, she couldn’t say it aloud.

Astley stared for a moment then led her—or rather, dragged her—to one of the chairs across from his desk. A victory: she only stumbled once.

“When did you eat last?” He released her arm and motioned for her to sit. Miranda found herself grateful for the way he treated her: with the assumption she was more steel than china. As if she could not break.

Seconds passed as she weighed each of his syllables and struggled to follow with an appropriate response. Before, during her interview, he’d simply gone on talking. Now he stood and waited, his gaze steady on hers as she sifted through words.

“Two days ago,” she finally said, her heart beating faint and frantic. She cleared her throat. “I had a loaf of bread.” And then she smiled at him.

It was a ferocious overstatement. Her first theft, and she’d been so clumsy from shame and fear that she’d torn off only one tiny corner of the loaf, a piece little more than crumbs.

Astley reached for the plate of pastries; a resonant anticipation vibrated from the top of Miranda’s head to her toes like he’d instead reached deep inside her and plucked a string. He shoved one of the pastries into her hand, his fingers squeezing hers around the food.

“Here,” he said. “Eat.”

She wanted to keep it trapped inside her fist, to never let it go. Instead, she ripped off piece after piece and stuffed them into her mouth. When the crust became lodged in her throat, she pushed another bite in and swallowed the obstruction. Astley watched her closely, his gaze following the pastry when she lifted the remainder to her lips and bit into the center.

Not cherry. Meat. Pork. Or…beef? It was the best food she’d ever eaten, and heat surged into her cheeks and up into her scalp. More warmth spread in currents from her stomach to her arms and legs and along her spine. Her heart still raced, but the movement felt fierce now instead of weak. Her thoughts, scattered heretofore like stones cast from a child’s hand, began assembling themselves into coherence.

When she finished the first piece, he nodded toward another. A few minutes later, she took a third.

Halfway through the fourth, when her stomach grew uncomfortable, Astley smiled and leaned his hips against the desk. A low sound of approval encouraged her when she reached toward the plate for a fifth, and when she sought a sixth pastry he lifted it from the dish and extended his hand.

Their fingertips touched as hasty footsteps entered the room behind her. “Yes, sir?” Mrs. Dunworth asked.

He relinquished the pastry to Miranda. “I’ve decided to hire Miss Post. We intend to celebrate with a tea service.”

Miranda ate despite her surprise. She ignored the voice she’d obeyed all of her life, the one that urged her to stop before she became ill, to cling to the last of her dignity and act more human than animal. This was the same voice that had prevented her from stealing for so long, then attacked her with shame when she did.

She’d ceased listening to the sound of her own righteousness when the crumbs she’d stolen had disappeared with one swallow. She would eat everything Astley offered, even if her stomach must purge itself once or twice before she could do so.

“Do you have a particular food you prefer with your tea, Miss Post?”

Miranda’s chewing slowed. His question confused her…and made her even warier. He’d said he would hire her, had kept her from fainting. Strange enough he gave her the food from his desk instead of sending her below stairs; stranger still to take tea with her, too.

His kindnesses were excessive.

She glanced up then blinked, feeling as if the world which had righted itself as she ate abruptly became upended again. As if her previous interactions must have occurred in a different room with a different man. The one who fed her had vanished, revealing in his place another whose attention was far too invasive, a man much more dangerous than any who might only lead her into various acts of debauchery.

For the first time since entering his study, all thoughts of hunger and food retreated before the excruciating intensity of Astley’s blue eyes. So fiercely he stared—as though searching inside of her for pieces of her soul.

She couldn’t breathe. Dear God, she couldn’t breathe.”

EXCERPT continues here.

***   ***   *** 

2 part/2 eBook GIVEAWAY!

One lucky Commenter will win both eBooks! 

*NOW: eBook (B&N, Amazon, or Kobo)

ALLIS MD

of Meredith Duran’s

A LADY’S LESSON IN SCANDAL 

Buy Links:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | B-A-M | Indiebound |
Book Depository | Vroman’s

[EXCERPT here]

[one of the inspirations behind my idea for THE SINNING HOUR]

*LATER: eBook of THE SINNING HOUR [upon release]

*Giveaway INTERNATIONAL!

Won’t you join our celebration by:

1) Telling us what you liked best in the Excerpt & why

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

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If a follower & FB buddy, just COMMENT! 

***   ***   ***

Elise RomeAUTHOR INFO: Elise Rome has never forgiven Margaret Mitchell for making her fall in love with Scarlett and Rhett in Gone with the Wind and then not giving them a happy ending.

She likes to think that she makes up for this injustice with each romance novel she writes. When she isn’t telling stories about sexy, headstrong heroes and intelligent, independent heroines, Elise stays busy refereeing between her two young daughters, coaxing smiles from her new baby, and semi-attempting to do housework.

Social Media: Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

b2b is Three!

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Someone pinch me! Has it really been THREE years already?! WOW!

Another year just whooshed by me…Personally, it has been another year filled with health issues I just wasn’t ready to deal with, but then when are we, right?!

Through it all I found that my hubby’s love can get me through everything life throws at me and that is a blessing I don’t ever want to take for granted.

As always, I still feel blessed with so many of you that are faithfully stopping by, commenting and making me laugh out loud. Your support is appreciated and always welcome. I’m really humbled by the romance community all over the world!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you all!

This year saw our Krissie leave us, but we welcomed with opened arms two of our faithful followers with their unique reviews, Connie and Leah. I was seriously considering shutting the blog down when they jumped in and literally saved me. Please help me welcome them with a huge HIP-HIP-HOORAY!

Since last year our one month-long PUSH-A-BOOK celebration was such a great hit with readers and authors alike, we thought why mess with something that ain’t broke?

Clipart Illustration of a Bunch Of Floating Party Balloons With

So get ready, our bookworms as we’re kicking off our ONE month long celebration on November 1st with Vanessa Kelly and ending it with Anna Campbell.

Throughout the month we’ve invited some of the most hard-working, amazingly creative and way too talented people in the romance community to stop by and help us celebrate. Our invitations once more answered with so much enthusiasm that we just might schedule some visits in twos and threes!

Here’s just a few of the authors that will be coming over… Delilah MarvelleVicky DreilingEileen DreyerDanelle HarmonMaureen Driscoll, Anna CampbellGrace BurrowesMia MarloweMarilyn BrantVanessa KellyLouise AllenShana Galen, Elise RomeNicola CornickJillian StoneSaralee EtterPatricia RicePriscilla ShayBethanne Strasser, Valerie Bowman, Bella Love, Monica BurnsElla Quinn, Caroline LindenSandra OwensTerri BrisbinVictoria Vane, Jenn LeBlanc, Norah WilsonAmanda ScottDonna CummingsNicky Wells, Marguerite KayeBarbara MonajemSaralee EtterDeborah Doucette, Lila DiPasqua, C.C. HumphreysTracy Anne Warren…and a few surprise guests too! There will be prizes…books, and books and some more books, a bookworm heaven, right? There will be many surprises and a Grand Prize as well!

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Won’t you help us celebrate with:

1) Telling us which ‘Book’ would you like to ‘Push’ and why…

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

All three are required for a TRIPLE chance to win in the Grand Giveaway!

However, if you’re already a follower and our FB buddy, all you need do is…COMMENT on the upcoming posts and you’re all set to go. Are you ready to PARTEY?!

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‘The Sinning Hour’ by Elise Rome

Mel’s Author Recommendation: Today I’d like to jump in myself and tell you about this author I discovered a couple of years ago. Her name, then, was Ashley March

I honestly don’t know how we got introduced to each other [we never met in person] but from the start, we hit it off. It was like we’ve known each other forever. I remember being scared to pick one of her books to review because I was dreading it being bad!

In the end, I was so glad I started to read them. 

Have you ever read a book that grabbed you from the first sentence? The opening scene? Well, that’s Elise Rome aka Ashley March. Her stories are character driven by heroes and heroines breathing life to the story she’s telling. Her plots are fun and entertaining. 

When I asked her if she’d like to stop by and be featured this month, she politely declined as the book she is writing now has yet to be finished. That, however, didn’t stop her to offer to push her fellow author Carrie Lofty. She recently read ‘His Very Own Girl’ and was blown away by the story and wanted to spread the word to all of us bookworms out there. What a class act this woman is!

Ashley March will have her new book, under her brand new name of Elise Rome, out probably some time next year and I for one will be here to welcome her under that name.

And as we all are waiting for it, I thought why not give you a taste of her prose? Now, get a cup of coffee, tea or whatever poison it’s the closest to you, and enjoy this short excerpt.

Clicking on the cover, you’ll find a two chapter excerpt. For further information about Elise, please click on her photo or the links provided.

EXCERPT:

“Miranda wrapped the shawl around her shoulders then returned the bonnet to her head, carefully tying the ribbons in a bow. Shadows edged her vision as she watched Mr. Astley stride back to his chair.

Envy curled in her chest at the way he moved: no tucking of the chin or stooping of the shoulders for him. No hurrying as if through dank and filthy lanes, constantly looking to the salvation of the next alley. No fear of being preyed upon inside this grand hulking town house, where servants guarded his every step and power made his words both currency and weapon.

Her gaze flew to the plate of food on his desk. The tower of food. Pastries stacked so thick and high, with golden, flaky crusts, and he ignored them all. Hadn’t even spared them a glance while toying with her earlier, moving his books into their own sturdy little tower.

Cherry. They would be cherry tarts, she was certain. The sauce sweet and voluptuous, juice exploding from the bits of fruit and gushing over her tongue. A buttery shell, so soft and moist as it crumbled against the roof of her mouth—

God. Saliva ran slick over the insides of her cheeks. Her stomach clenched with greedy fervor.

Wicked, her father had called her, for daring to seek work from a nude portraitist. Wicked, he’d said she would become, warning that her duties in such a depraved household would likely be the same as a harlot’s.

Perhaps he’d been right, Miranda thought, swaying a little. She’d stood in Astley’s house for less than an hour and already felt quite wicked. Envy and greed and taking the Lord’s name in vain. Soon she would succumb to the sins of theft and gluttony. Lust, presumably, could not be very far behind.

Astley had hired her. Hired, when everyone else had threatened to fetch the constable or sneered in her face. And all she could think about was snatching the plate of pastries and scurrying away like the mouse he’d likened her to, hunkering down in the nearest corner as she shoveled the tarts into her mouth—one, two, three…there would never be enough to calm the gnawing inside.

“Miss Post?” Suddenly he was there, in front of her again, his hand cupping her elbow.

How she resented him—for his casual disregard of the pastries, for knowing he need only ring the servants’ bell to summon more food from his kitchens. He should have emptied the plate as soon as it was delivered; the contents should now be stretching and warming his stomach rather than lying there untouched, taunting her.

He probably knew nothing of the sour taste of hunger, of these awful black shadows that dimmed sight, of the cold and numbness and hollowing inside. He’d likely dripped with sweat under the summer sun, when even at noon in August she’d been forced to wear a shawl and her thickest stockings in a futile attempt to keep warm.

Indeed, he was hotter than the sun now: the fingers he wrapped around her arm sent heat sinking into her skin, through her flesh, to her very bones. Miranda fought the instinct to lean into him, to climb up and wrap her body around his. She could steal his food and all of his heat and not have to worry about becoming hungry or cold again until the next day.

Hired. The word whispered again in her mind. She’d not yet settled her faith on it, though. It sounded like a promise. A very nice promise, but then she knew how transient promises could be. And this one wasn’t nearly as substantial as the endless ache she woke to and fell asleep with each day.

“Miss Post?” he repeated, neither altering the inquiry’s volume or tone. He seemed to employ patience like some men used a blade; it made her wary. “You denied illness yet appear as if you might collapse at any moment. And retrieving you from the floor would be very inconvenient. The mud, you see.”

The whores across from the tenement would have crawled all over themselves for a chance at Mr. Simon Astley, so kind and chivalrous was he.

“Come now,” he coaxed. She wondered whether he was conscious of stroking the inside of her elbow with his thumb, whether a caress—like patience—was just another of his preferred tools in extracting information. She wondered whether he realized there was mud at her elbow, too. “We’re not strangers anymore, are we? You may tell me the truth.”

She hadn’t said it in nearly two months. She’d rather have stolen the pastries, but his grip was too tight for her to escape. She darted another covetous glance at the plate and immediately felt her pulse throb with regret. Foolish. Foolish. Confessing her weakness in such a way.”

 

FEATURED AUTHOR:  Elise Rome [aka Ashley March]

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*Bookworm will giveaway to one lucky Commenter this eBook as soon as it becomes available.

*Giveaway US only!

Won’t you join our celebration by:

1) Telling us which ‘Book’ would you like to ‘Push’ and why…

2) Subscribing to our Blog…

3) ‘LIKE’ -ing us on our Facebook!

All three are required for a TRIPLE chance to win in the Grand Giveaway!

However, if you’re already a follower and our FB buddy, all you need do is…COMMENT on the upcoming posts and you’re all set to go.

*Clicking on the author’s name/pic will give you their contact info, website or bio. 

*Clicking on the cover of the book/s will take you to Amazon.

March Madness w/Elise Rome!

Last year Ashley March (aka Elise Rome-or vice-versa) has started this great giveaway that she named ‘MARCH MADNESS’ blog party and in her own words she wanted to “celebrate romance readers, writers, and bloggers. While last year we focused on the historical romance sub-genre, this year we’ve expanded the blog party to include 31 historical romance authors, 31 contemporary romance authors, and 31 paranormal romance authors. In addition, to bring attention to the many talented self-published authors in the romance genre (which includes self-published-only authors as well as authors who have previously been traditionally published), I’ve also included a special section for indie authors, in which you’ll find authors many different romance sub-genres.

While the primary purpose of March Madness is to celebrate the romance genre, I also hope that you’ll find a new author to love. Many of the authors who will be interviewed this year are debut authors, some are New York Times bestsellers, and others carry neither label but are fantastic nonetheless.

In addition to featuring romance authors, I also believe it’s important to feature romance readers and romance bloggers as a way to express my appreciation for all that they do for the genre. Please don’t forget to visit the Readers & Bloggers page throughout March Madness to chime in on your thoughts about the romance genre and show your support!”

So, how much do you like free book?! Well, if you like it as much as I do, you’ll get your ‘bums’ out there and enter the Giveaway, PRONTO! And just an aside: b2b is on tomorrow with a THREE book giveaway! Be sure to stop by and enter!

(Photo courtesy of Salon.com)

Epic Book Giveaway Contest!

Don’t Miss the

“Indulge in Our Favorite Authors”

Epic Book Giveaway Contest!

If you haven’t already heard, five romance authors are holding an epic book giveaway contest of *their* five favorite romance authors’ books. But they’re not just giving away a few books—they’re giving away complete, SIGNED backlists of the following authors:

Julia Quinn (sponsored by Shana Galen)

Lisa Kleypas (sponsored by Elise Rome)

Julie Garwood (sponsored by Heather Snow)

Elizabeth Hoyt (sponsored by Lila DiPasqua)

Cynthia Eden (sponsored by Vanessa Kelly)

Yes, it’s an epic contest, and it’s being held on Facebook right now. All you have to do is visit the Facebook pages of Shana Galen, Lila DiPasqua, Vanessa Kelly, Heather Snow, and Elise Rome, and enter the favorite book (the hint is given on the contest tab) for each of these authors.

At the end of February the contest will be over—so hurry!—and five lucky winners will win a backlist of one of the amazing authors mentioned above. Elise has said that Lisa is even signing her books after the winner is chosen for her backlist, so if you win Lisa Kleypas’ books, they’ll be personally made out to you. Also, the five authors are giving away books of their own, too.

Good luck to everyone who enters,

and don’t forget to tell your friends!