Máire Claremont’s Five Fun Facts behind …

‘The Dark Affair’

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Chris HemsworthFact 1: The very sexy Viscount Powers is real to me. Shhhhh. Don’t tell Mr. Claremont. Helk ffts snarks and raises a disdainful brow in our conversations to hide his pain. He can’t fool me! I see that that gorgeous man needs an awesome HEA.

Fact 2: My very favorite heroes are wounded with exceptionally dry senses of humor, In fact, James Mallory from Johanna Lindsay’s Gentle Rogue and  the Duke of Jerveaux from Laura Kinsale’s Flowers From the Storm are my favorite heroes after Viscount Powers, of course!

Romola GaraiFact 3: Even though I am Irish, I was nervous having an Irish heroine! I wanted to get her “right”.  She’s a handful and she insisted she was a match for James. Luckily,jl gr I listened. No one else could have survived that man let alone fallen in love with him. She needs his passion like he needs her good sense.

Fact 4: Anorexia  was prevalent in the Victorian period but not for the reason one might think. A woman who had a “healthy” appetite was a woman who likely had sexual passion and to Victorian prudish upper middle class and proper high society this was a very bad thing. Women would starve themselves to ensure those around them thought they were pure.

Fact 5: I listened to Go Ask Alice soo many times whilst writing the Mad Passions books its a miracle I didn’t fall down a rabbit hole or start talking to door knobs!

 

 

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BOOK BLURB: Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.

Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart….

EXCERPT: here.

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N

 GIVEAWAY: 1 e or print copy/1 Winner

Maire ClaremontAUTHOR BIO: 2011 Golden Heart winner Máire Claremont first fell in love with Mr. Rochester, not Mr. Darcy. Drawn to his dark snark, she longed to find a tortured hero of her own… until she realized the ramifications of Mr. Rochester locking his first wife up in his attic.

Discovering the errors of her ways, Máire now looks for a real-life Darcy and creates deliciously dark heroes on the page. Oh, and she wants everyone to know her name is pronounced Moira. Her parents just had to give her an Irish Gaelic name.

Social Media Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Blog

 

 

‘The Dark Affair’ by Máire Claremont

mc tdaSTORY: Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.

Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart….

REVIEW: In this third novel of Ms. Claremont’s Mad Passions series we reconnect with James Stanhope, Viscount Powers who came to aid of Lady Mary in ‘Lady in Red’. Have no fear, you don’t have to read that story in order to follow this one, although come to think of it, maybe you should. Lady Mary has a significant part to play in James’s story as much as he did in hers. The relationship they built is very strong and the scenes between James and Mary are heartbreakingly tender because of their intimate knowledge of what the other is going through.

If you’re a fan of ‘tortured hero’ trope, please don’t pass this one up. I can’t tell you how much I loved it. Everything about this hero touched my heart. I was pulling for him from the first page and the satisfaction I got as I watched his courage emerge out of despair, was elating.

Maggie was the only woman for James. Without her tenaciousness, her determination and strong spirit, this man would still be lost. She may have appeared to be cold, calculating and without warm emotions, but once you start to know her, to see behind all this front veneer, you start to understand this amazing woman.

This is without a doubt a character driven, fast-paced and emotionally draining story that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.

I can’t praise it enough! If you haven’t read this series yet, you’re missing out on a wonderful prose, solid plots and a pace that will give you an adrenaline rush you won’t soon forget.

Melanie for b2b.

Complimentary copy from the publisher.

 

Máire Claremont stops by b2b….

Dearest readers of bookworm2bookworm,

I’m so thrilled to take part in the anniversary celebrations and shenanigans of this wonderful blog. I always love getting to visit or see my books reviewed here!

The tale I wish to share with you today is one of passion, darkness, madness and of course a Happily Ever After. I hope you jump into Mary and Edward’s world, loving those two tortured souls as much as I do!

Certainly, few deserve a happy ending more. Good luck!

LIR MC‘Lady in Red’

BOOK BLURB: Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?

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EXCERPT I:

          For the first time as long as Edward could recall, he was at a loss for words. One did not usually find frightened, naked young women in Madame Yvonne’s room. Especially frightened, half-starved young women who glared with defiance etched upon every feature.

“Go.” Her pale lips parted, exposing white teeth.

“If that is what you wish.” Yet he found his boots unable to move and do her bidding. It was as if she were a snake charmer upon the dusty street playing her tune to keep him mesmerized. A strange stirring he hadn’t felt in an age kindled inside him. Not desire, but. . . interest.

“Go,” she snapped again, breaking the thrall of her gaze.

In one shaking sweep of motion, her hands tightened on the copper tub and she pulled herself from the water. She didn’t even try to cover herself but stood fiercely, her defined and lean muscles tense. She was most definitely accustomed to being naked before men. But from the anger and apprehension crackling from her, she despised every moment of it.

He should have left. Immediately. He was not one to force his company on women, especially vulnerable ones.

But nothing could make him leave, not even if the building were burning to ash around him, not when he had to know who she was and why she was here. And he did need to know. The very demand echoed in his bones.

Water sluiced her small frame and he winced at the austerity of her body. Damnation, but she hadn’t been eating enough. Delicate was one thing. . . This was emaciation and then there was the chartreuse, telltale signs of healing bruises on her forearms and ribs.

The sight filled him with anger so intense he had to close his eyes briefly and force the fury to still so that he wouldn’t frighten her.

She vaulted out of the tub and darted towards the fire.

It took him only moments to realize she was going for the poker. But before she could reach it, her bare, wet feet slipped on the marble before the grate and she plummeted forward, arms flailing as she desperately tried to catch herself.

Edward sprang across the room. His arms circled her just as her head narrowly missed the iron grating that would no doubt have left her severely unconscious or dead.

The warm water soaking her body dampened his shirt, and he could barely get a good hold on her sleek skin. He held her carefully with his hands pressed into her back, taking all her weight though her toes still skimmed the ground. She kept her hands folded protectively over her chest, not daring to touch him.

Her violet eyes widened, wounded and old for a woman of her years. “Are you going to hurt me?”

Her pulse thudded wildly, tangible beneath his fingertips. The very essence of her face that of a doe right before the hunters moved in for the final kill.

The muscles along her neck strained as she attempted to keep her head up. Before she could protest, he slid one of his hands up to her nape and cupped it carefully.

Two warring emotions brewed riotously within him. Sadness that her life had been so bleak and a sudden spark of hope. . . Perhaps she was the one who could shake him from his darkness. The one who could finally see justice done.

“No,” he whispered, his voice rough to his own ears. “No harm will come to you by me. By anyone. Not now, not ever again.”

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EXCERPT II:

The books towered all around her. Hundreds of them. Mary stared in awe at the beautifully leather bound copies of more novels than she could ever have imagined stacked carefully on the mahogany shelves. This was twice the size of her father’s library.

Several titles jumped out at her, Pride and Prejudice, Les Miserable, Tom Jones, Wuthering Heights, Villette. . .

How long had it been since she had slipped a book into her hands and vanished into a story? Years. So many years and stories lost. Hesitating, her fingers curled into her palms, aching to touch them, but unsure if she should.

She’d almost not left her room, but after being locked away for so long, her new relative freedom couldn’t be denied. Slipping down Edward’s wide stairs had been thrilling and the first room she’d found had been this one.

A sanctuary.

She took a step forward, her slippers sliding over the deep red and cream Turkish carpet. The long hem of Edward’s dark navy dressing gown trailed behind her.

Wearing his clothing hadn’t bothered her as she thought it would. Surprisingly, the lustrous feel of the velvet and silk traced over her skin easily, as carefully as his own touch had done. She hugged it a little closer and glanced to the tall windows.

Though the drapes were all pulled back, exposing London’s dark night, lantern light spilled in over the carpets dancing with the candles flickering from the many candelabras interspersed throughout the library. The lights surrounded her in a soft glow giving the room an ethereal feel of magic and hope.

In this room, she felt so warm, so at ease. . . Well, more at ease. She was still unsure of her position and what Edward truly thought of her and what he might think if he found out the truth.

“Do you enjoy reading?”

She jumped then whipped towards that deep voice.

Edward stood in the door, his shoulder pressed against the frame. His white linen shirt was open slightly at the neck, a careless posture.

It was all so strange. Being free and being here with him. She should have been terrified. But she wasn’t. Not at all. “I do,” she folded her hands tightly before her. “If the book is good.”

He pushed away from the door and took two steps forward, close, but still far away enough to allow her space. She appreciated his effort. She imagined everything he did was rather calculated, even the decision to take only two steps.

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EXCERPT III:

She’d never been to the grave. Now, standing only feet from her mother’s remains, she once again wished tears would come or some rending pain would finally pull her apart. But nothing happened. There was no overpowering, soul-searing moment, only the sound of the wind whistling through the trees.

Edward stared at the crypt for several moments. Then his piercing gaze turned toward her. “I don’t understand.”

“Don’t you?” She had known he wouldn’t find precisely what he was looking for. There was more, so much more.

He let his attention wander from her to the crypt. “No.”

“Read the names,” she said tightly.

He scanned the words. There was a single beat of silence, before he said, “Mary.”

“Lady Mary Elizabeth, yes.” Her eyes locked on the crypt until they burned.

Only the slightest exhale revealed his shock. “You’re the Duke of Duncliffe’s daughter.”

“I am,” she confirmed flatly.

“I. . . came to your funeral.”

“Did you? How kind.”

He turned to her, his shoulders squared and his gaze snapping with a hundred unspoken questions. “I don’t– I don’t know what to say.”

A mocking smile forced her mouth wide. Even though she knew it was a grimace, the way her lips pulled against her lips, she couldn’t help herself. How she wished they could go back to his townhouse and sit and read. But Edward seemed consumed by the need to know what had nearly destroyed her, as if that might help her somehow. “Imagine my position, then. . . if you don’t know where to begin.”

He shook his dark head, disbelief paling his sun-kissed skin. “What happened?”

“I died.”

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EXCERPT IV:

One could never fall if one felt such ecstasy. Mary slipped her hands into his hair, savoring the hot taste of his mouth and the careful touch of his lips. Was this the pleasure of freely giving oneself? With no condition or expectation?

She would never plummet to the hard earth with this feeling of wonder. She would glide free and alive in this kiss. . . In his glorious touch. Mary opened her mouth in a gasp of delight and immediately tasted crushed mint and the hint of red wine.

Without thinking, she pushed herself against him, as if she might climb inside his strong fortress of a body. The full bells of her skirt batted at her legs, the hoop dancing out, but she gave no notice. If anything, she longed to be divested of her garments and feel him.

Freedom was in his touch. The freedom of knowing that she was giving herself because she wished it, not because she had to or had anything to gain but the pleasure of the moment.

Carefully, she lowered a hand to his chest, just over his heart and its solid beat. Gently, she pushed.

He broke the kiss, his breath ragged. “Forgive me.”

Her own breath came at a rapid pace as she let her hand hover over the thin linen covering his hot skin and hard muscle. “As you are always telling me, there is nothing to forgive.”

A slight smile touched his lips and he began to step away, but she grabbed him, her fingers holding tightly to the linen shirt covering his warm body. “There is something. . . I would like to do.”

Stilling under her touch, his dark eyes flashed with desire as they searched carefully over her face. “Whatever you wish.”

Every bit of her urged her to lower her gaze, but she would not be meek. She wanted this.

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Maire ClaremontAUTHOR INFO:  2011 Golden Heart winner Máire Claremont first fell in love with Mr. Rochester, not Mr. Darcy. Drawn to his dark snark, she longed to find a tortured hero of her own… until she realized the ramifications of Mr. Rochester locking his first wife up in his attic.

Discovering the errors of her ways, Máire now looks for a real-life Darcy and creates deliciously dark heroes on the page. Oh, and she wants everyone to know her name is pronounced Moira. Her parents just had to give her an Irish Gaelic name.

Social Media Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Blog

Five Fun Facts with Máire Claremont!

LIR MC

1. I wrote most of ‘Lady in Red’ while I was living in Ireland in Costa Coffee shops. The joke over there is that Costa coffee costs a lot. :D

2. One of my favorite parts of this whole research process was looking at the fabulous poofy dresses from the period. House of Worth gowns make me swoon. I want a big princess dress!

3. Laudanum which is distilled opium mixed with alcohol was easily available at apothecaries. Ladies were often prescribed it when they were discontented in their lives and had “nerves”.

4. Apparently, uteruses migrated all over a woman’s body in the Victorian period. . . Wait, no, they didn’t.  Actually, in my research I found many accepted theories for women’s moods and unacceptable behavior. Doctors claimed that if a woman’s uterus moved around, she was mentally unstable. I will let you imagine how the lovely exam took place and how frequently to ascertain whether the lady’s uterus was in the proper place.

5. James Stanhope, the Earl of Powers is a secondary character who quite shocked me with his cheekiness. He kept trying to be the hero. I told him he had to wait his turn.

Maire ClaremontAUTHOR BIO: 2011 Golden Heart winner Máire Claremont first fell in love with Mr. Rochester, not Mr. Darcy. Drawn to his dark snark, she longed to find a tortured hero of her own… until she realized the ramifications of Mr. Rochester locking his first wife up in his attic.

Discovering the errors of her ways, Máire now looks for a real-life Darcy and creates deliciously dark heroes on the page. Oh, and she wants everyone to know her name is pronounced Moira. Her parents just had to give her an Irish Gaelic name.

Social Media Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Blog

MClaremont-blogtour200x400BOOK BLURB: The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor…

Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?

EXCERPT: here.

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Books-A-Million / Book Depository

 

Giveaway: 1 commenter – $10 Amazon gift card. * International.

 CLICK the Banner for the tour schedule!

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‘Lady in Red’ by Máire Claremont

LIR MCSTORY: Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?

REVIEW: Lady Mary, daughter of the Duke of Duncliffe, has just escaped from an insane asylum where she had been placed by her father after the death of her mother, Esme. He put her there after she witnessed him murdering her mother.  Subjected to unspeakable treatment, rape, swill for food and constantly dosed with laudanum, her body and her mind are very weak.  Mary travels by foot to her mother’s friend, Yvonne, in hopes of finding shelter.

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, is a tormented man filled with guilt over many crimes that his father committed.  

Yvonne feels that Mary will be safer staying with Edward who takes her in and strives to help her adjust to normal life again and to help her get over her dependency on the laudanum.  In helping her, Edward finds a feeling of salvation in payment for his father’s crimes.

This novel is dark at times and will make the reader cringe at the abuse that Mary suffered and the evil of some men.  However, it is also a lesson in the patience, caring and love of human beings helping others to heal from difficulties in their lives.

I was very impressed with the depth of sensitivity and knowledge of the author in understanding and expressing the pain, fear, frustration and anger suffered by Mary.

Connie for b2b

*Book provided by the author 

TDA MC

MEL’S THOUGHTS: I want to thank Connie for such a great and concise review of this extraordinary tale. We read it at the same time, and I just thought I needed to let you all know how much this story touched me as well.

Reading this book had me hold my breath on more than one occasion; it made my hands shake from anger at the society of the day; it brought tears to my eyes from pure impotence I felt in not being able to hold these two souls in my arms and in theTDL MC end I shed some more tears, but this time of happiness at finally witnessing good win over evil.

Máire Claremont is quickly earning her space on my ‘keeper shelf’ with her wonderful writing, believable plots and heroes and heroines who are willing to risk their souls for their happiness and never give up on themselves.

Please, please be sure to read this book, and the series of Mad Passions, starting with ‘The Dark Lady’ and coming in March, 2014 ‘The Dark Affair’.

*Book provided by NetGalley

‘The Dark Lady’ by Máire Claremont

TDL MCSTORY: Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure haunts him. But even his jaded soul can’t anticipate the shocking sight of beautiful, independent Eva confined in a madhouse.

Locked in an asylum, forgotten by society, Eva is adrift in both body and mind. For Ian to break her free, they must cross a powerful enemy—and prove her sanity to England’s unforgiving aristocracy. But the biggest danger of all may come when the secrets of Eva’s tragic past are finally unlocked.

REVIEW: The first word that came out of my mouth as I’ve finished reading this story was WOW… and then I exhaled.

‘The Dark Lady’ by Máire Claremont is her début, and what a début it is!

If you’re like me, one of those bookworms that have a need for the book to grab them from the first page, then you’re in luck if you decide to read this book. You’ll be on pins and needles ‘till the end.

For a change this story develops in 1865, Victorian era and what a contrast to Regency era it is. For some reason it looks like women suffered even worse than in the earlier years. This is the case with our heroine. This woman, as the story opens, is in hell and she’s hanging by a thread.

Lady Eva Carin not only lost her husband, but soon after suffered a loss even greater than that, a loss of her son in an accident of her making. Thomas, her brother-in-law who is now the new Lord Carin, uses her pain and devastation to his advantage and commits her to an asylum in which for the past two years she’s endured many ‘disciplinary’ treatments ordered by the woman who runs the place, such as a regular dose of opium to a point of addiction, many beatings and more.

Lord Ian Blake is back from India and as much as he dreads coming face to face with Eva, he knows that he ows her the truth about Hamilton’s death, and feel that this as his only opportunity of redeeming himself in her eyes and coming to terms with his role in it. He’s been haunted with memories of not just Hamilton’s death but also with their life as children as all three have grown up together in a wonderful home provided by Hamilton’s father, Lord Carin. He took in both Eva and Ian after their individual parents died. As they grew together, boys were always vying for love and approval of the old man but it was Hamilton who started envying the bond that had developed between his father and Ian.

Ian on the other hand hadn’t realized that his earnest admiration and love for Lord Carin was a sore point to his best friend so whatever he did to please him, Hamilton viewed it as a challenge and affront to his own character. Even Eva was in some way touched by their rivalry. While they all were aware of her duty to marry Hamilton, they also realized that she had more in common with Ian than Hamilton, but neither Eva nor Ian voiced their thoughts or feelings out loud as that would be a breach of duty and bring much hurt to the man who they both loved like a father.

Ian is shocked to find out that she’s been committed, but once he enters the hell she’s been living, he is livid and enraged. The only thing stopping him from committing murder is the thought of saving the poor creature who is now Eva.

What an awesome characterization of a woman on a brink this was. I was brought to tears as Eva goes through so many emotions, not believing her eyes or her laudanum infected mind that there is someone who cares if she’s dead or alive.

And then there’s Ian caught between his quilt over his best friend’s death and desire for the woman he always loved but could never allow himself even a dream of having.

Beside being well written and plotted, paced to perfection with many moments of hair-raising action,  this is without a doubt, one of the best haunting, poignant and heart wrenching stories of love I’ve read in a while.

Bookworms, mark your calendars for February 5, 2013 and remember that as the arrival of Máire Claremont. This author is here to stay and I welcome her with open arms.

*Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.