‘Lady Wild’ by Máire Claremont

lw mcSTORY: Victorian England is about to go wild…

Lady Ophelia longs to be independent, daring and bold, but her mother’s illness has stolen the last of her creative fire. Condemned to an isolated country cottage after the death of her idealistic father, she and her mother are forsaken by family and all of society. Disappointed by those she once trusted, Lady Ophelia lovingly nurses her dying mother knowing that her own dreams of being an artist will never be realized. That is until she meets a devilish aristocrat who reawakens her desire to be wild.

Viscount Stark has never known love. Reputed to be a rebel and a rake by all, at heart he is anything but. When he meets Lady Ophelia, he is struck by her haunting presence, dignity, and honor. Will he continue to play his wicked games and risk ruining the last of Lady Ophelia’s wounded heart? Or will he dare to be the gentleman he always wanted to be and unveil a love he never thought possible?

EXCERPT:

“You’re a perfect stranger,” she said.

“I came upon you for a reason, or are you one of those strange modern people who believe that all is at random?” He stroked back a lock of damp, fiery red hair clinging to her cheek. “That there is no order, and that the soul is a figment of our desperate pinings for meaning to our seemingly meaningless world?”

“You speak the words of a poet,” she whispered.

“And you shall have consumption if we don’t get you out of these soaked garments.” He set her down, making certain her feet had found purchase upon the soft earth before turning her and working at the lacings of her gown.

“What are you doing?” she gasped.

“Ensuring you don’t die of exposure.”

“By taking off my frock?”

“Yes, and giving you my coat.” His usually sure fingers stumbled over the lacings. How many women had he extricated from their far more elaborate clothes? More than he could ever recall. But this woman? Trepidation dumbed his movements. “Then I shall see you home. Is that acceptable?”

She hesitated then replied,“It seems logical.”

“I am nothing if not logical,” he teased.

“I somehow doubt that, sir.”

“My lord, actually,” he corrected.

“I beg your pardon?”

Slowly, carefully, painfully, he worked the laces of her bodice, not daring to allow his fingers to wander over her delicate back as he exposed her flesh. With each inch of damp undergarment he exposed, he found his brain flying off and something quite different taking over his actions. And it wasn’t exactly lust. Lust he knew quite well, and this burning was not just one of bodily desire, but the mystifying possibility that he had found a better reflection to his damaged soul. Could fate be at work here? The circumstances certainly were remarkable.

He leaned in, bending his head down to accommodate for the several inches of difference in their heights, and whispered, “My lord Viscount Stark, if you must know.”

She tensed but didn’t pull from his grasp. “How fortunate for you, my lord viscount.”

The fabric of her gown peeled away from her corset and chemise, which had become transparent. He ached to slip his fingers beneath the thin fabric and caress the delicate skin of her back, but he refrained. “Yes, it is. I promised whilst you were in the river to tell you who I am. No prince, alas.”

Her shoulders straightened, a strange prickliness giving her body starch. “Princes, I should think, are far and few between.”

“So are lords.”

“Lords seem to be everywhere,” she countered, a brittle note to her voice.

“You know many?”

“I know enough.”

“Enough to have clearly harbored an unfavorable disposition toward them?” he observed dryly.

“Please, just continue on with your task.” She shivered, and a delightful display of chilled skin mirrored what she might look like when overcome with desire. It was a damned appealing image.

He teased his fingers along the base of the wool bodice, inching it away from her white corset and chemise, sliding it down her arms. “You can continue to call me sir or mister, if it gives you more pleasure.”

She tossed her head at that, her hair, the color of the setting sun, flying over his hands. “What I call you does not change who you are.”

The feel of her slightly wet, silken locks stole his breath. The waist-length strands spilled over his fingers. He longed to wind them with his palm, grip her nape and take her sweetness in a wicked kiss. “I suppose not. What shall I call you?”

“Ophelia, of course.”

He frowned. There was more to her name. He felt certain of it. “Yes, but—”

“Plain Ophelia will do.”

“You could hardly ever be called plain.”

She snorted.

She was so unlike the other women of his acquaintance, fanciful and strange. He couldn’t help himself. He liked her. Andrew gazed down at her through heavy-lidded eyes, the air about them growing tangible with his growing desire for her.

“Come now,”he said. “Has no one ever told you of your beauty?”

She flushed, heady at his nearness. Whether she realized it or not, she tilted her head back slightly, her lips parting, baring the slightest hint of pink tongue. “You are so. . .”

“Handsome?” he teased.

“Odd.”

Andrew drew her to him and lowered his mouth to hers. Unthinking, he took her lips, kissing with a softness he had not felt in a decade. It made no sense, the desire to meld her body to his own.

The taste of her was sweet, mint leaves and unsurety, as she gasped against his assault. Her hands gripped his arms, hard at first, but then she yielded, her body pliant.

A pleasure so great he could scarce countenance it overwhelmed him. She was the answer to his unknowing pleas that he find solace in this broken world.

And how could he ever let that go?

REVIEW: Let me start this review by addressing the cover. I’m not a fan of this cover but I am a HUGE fan of this author. I’ve read, or more like gobbled up, everything she’s written so far and I’m sure I always will.

Even though she’s an ‘up and coming’ romance author, she is someone to watch out for. Her writing style is unique as much as her characters are; her stories are well written, researched and plotted while she still manages to populate them with characters that are strong, appealing and intriguing.

This is a short novella that does an excellent job in introducing us to the new Wicked Games series, and I could go on in praising Ms. Claremont’s skills in telling a compelling, touching and heart wrenching story of two people who are thirsting, craving affection and love, which they finally satisfy with each other, but I’ll leave that for the other reviewers.

What I want to do here is use this opportunity and tell you why this novella was written and try to compel you to buy it.

You see, this author wrote it to raise $10,000 for donation to Hospice. Many of you may not know, but her mother and father died losing their battle with cancer, both spending some months on Hospice. She says “It’s such an incredible organization and I don’t know how my mom or dad and I would have made it without the support of the staff. It’s wonderful that so many people raise money for cancer prevention! But I also think it’s important to help those who’ve sadly reached a point in which terminal illness is the reality. Death is expensive and painful. Thankfully Hospice helps with nursing, counselors, medication, and sometimes even bills. They provide relief for the caretaker. I can’t tell you how huge that is. I’m sure many of you already know. So, together, let’s help make the crossing over of a terminally ill person a little more peaceful, a little more loving, a little more free of fear.”

Now, how can we not help after such a heartwarming plea? I for one am honored to do so, especially after having a personal knowledge of what Hospice is all about. I had my mother, mother-in-law and my aunt benefit from the loving care of wonderful people from Hospice. While I hope to God you never have to go through what our families did, I also pray that if you do, you may be assured that Hospice is an organization that will always be there for you, as it was for us.

This novella is ONLY 0.99 cents. I can honestly say I’ve managed to spend [read waste] many times that amount on so many crap purchases it would make your head spin if I tried to name it here! Hell, dollar store is my vice [don’t judge!], however this time my ‘dollar’ purchase will be going toward a worthy cause and that makes me feel warm all over! So, get on that Amazon and go for that feeling yourself, and while you’re at it, why not gift it to someone who never read Máire Claremont’s work before? That’s another warm feeling we Bookworms have, hooking our friends on authors we love! And I love this one!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

mcAUTHOR BIO: here.

PERSONAL NOTE from Máire:

My dearest readers!

While I had the misfortune to lose both of my parents to cancer, I did have the fortune to have assistance from Hospice. WithoutHospice, I don’t know how I or my parents would have coped. So often we focus on recovery, working on projects to raise money for cures which is wonderful, but some people will never be able to recover and Hospice provides them and their families with an invaluable service. Hospice’s support of family, the ill person, and their knowledge of death and dying is so necessary in our society. Right now, they need donations desperately as many of the non-profit hospices are facing cuts. Lady Wild was written largely while my mother was dying and it became incredibly important to me to honor her and the organization which made her death a peaceful experience. I would be so grateful for any help in spreading the word about Lady Wild.

My goal is to raise $10,000 in profits for Hospice and their mission to provide comfort and compassion to those facing advanced illnesses.

Máire

GIVEAWAY for readers that have NEVER read this author!

b2b is giving away THREE eBooks/3 Winners!

Máire Claremont’s Five Fun Facts behind …

‘The Dark Affair’

mc tda

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!

 

 

mc tda

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.

 

Closing out 2013 with …

My 2013 Debut Authors are:

As the year ends I look back at the books I’ve read, some new ‘to me’  and some début authors I’ve enjoyed and today I’m giving you heads up on these because I think they’re the ones to watch out for in the years to come.

Please note that they come in no particular order. All are equally good and worthy of my esteem.

TP KWKate Worth and ‘The Promise’

BOOK BLURB: When pastry chef Jane Gray tries to sell her daughter’s locket, she becomes the unlikely subject of a massive police hunt and fodder for London’s tabloid press. Secrets unravel, lies are exposed, and the Duke of Rutledge demands custody of his niece.

Charming and handsome, the duke’s brother Finn spends his leisure time between the sheets of London’s most beautiful, wanton women. The seasoned rake is perplexed by his attraction to demure, virtuous Jane… definitely not his usual type. It soon becomes evident there is more to Jane than meets the eye and Finn longs to possess the passionate woman hidden beneath her modest facade.

When the publicity draws the attention of a madman from Jane’s past and Finn is forced to enter London’s dangerous underworld in a heart-stopping race to save her.

REVIEW: here.

AMAR EPEvelyn Pryce and ‘A Man Above Reproach’

BOOK BLURB: In 1830s London, scandalized whispers surround the pub known as The Sleeping Dove. A hidden bordello, the rumors say, catering to straying nobles eager to shed the trappings of their stations.

Josephine Grant knows the rumors are true–she plays piano at the Dove, known only as “The Bawdy Bluestocking” to the pub’s faithful. Tales swirl as to her real origin: some patrons claim that she was an orphan prodigy, others go so far as to name her concubine to the King.

The society ladies call the reluctant Duke of Lennox “The Uncatchable,” not that he cares for them or their nicknames. Elias Addison’s estate was thrust upon him when his father died and it has been little else but a burden. He spends his days mired in responsibilities and his nights pursued at endless balls by fortune-hunting debutantes. He is morose, serious, and tense.

When a friend brings him to the Sleeping Dove in an attempt to lighten his mood, the consequences of those good intentions are far greater. When the Duke of Lennox finds himself at the Bawdy Bluestocking’s piano, they begin to play a dangerous melody. Though Elias cannot resist courting Josie, she has a past to protect, a shaky future, and no time for frivolous nobility with soft hands. When the Duke uncovers the truth, will he wish he had never begun the tune?

REVIEW: here.

U ACAnna Cowen and ‘Untamed’

BOOK BLURB: Outspoken and opinionated, Katherine Sutherland is ill at ease amongst the fine ladies of Regency London. She is more familiar with farmers and her blunt opinions and rough manners offend polite society. Yet when she hears the scandalous rumours involving her sister and the seductive Duke of Darlington, the fiercely loyal Katherine vows to save her sister’s marriage – whatever the cost.

Intrigued by Katherine’s interference in his affairs, the manipulative Duke is soon fascinated. He engages in a daring deception and follows her back to her country home. Here, their intense connection shocks them both. But the Duke’s games have dangerous consequences, and the potential to throw both their lives into chaos…

REVIEW: here.

perf5.000x8.000.inddSandra Owens and ‘The Letter’

BOOK BLURB: THE LETTER is a story of a betrayal that wasn’t. Even so, it still tore two lovers apart for eleven years. Michael Jeffres, Earl of Daventry, found his betrothed, the woman who meant as much to him as the air he breathed, in bed with his cousin on the eve of their wedding.

Diana, the daughter of a marquess, remembers nothing of that night. All she knows is she was forced to marry Michael’s cousin, Leo, and then spent the next eleven years in hell.
When the two lovers are brought back together by a letter from Leo a year after his death, they must struggle through all the lies and secrets before they can find a love that far surpasses that of their youth.

REVIEW: here.

TSOLP EQElla Quinn and ‘The Seduction of Lady Phoebe’

BOOK BLURB: Polite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn’s eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the weak of heart…

Phoebe Stanhope is not a typical Lady. As feisty as she is quick witted, no one can catch her, especially when she is driving her dashing phaeton with its perfectly matched horses. And unlike her peers, experience has guarded her against a growing list of would-be suitors. But when she encounters Marcus Finley, what she fears most burns deep within his blue-eyed gaze…

For Lord Marcus, the spark of recognition is but a moment in the love he has held these many years. Now that he’s returned to England, all the happiness he desires rests on Lady Phoebe never finding out that he was the one who turned her heart so cold and distant. He must work fast to gain the advantage—to convince her what she wants is exactly what she denies—but in order to seduce her into his arms, he must be willing to give up more than he can control…

REVIEW: here.

TDL MCMáire Claremont and ‘The Dark Lady’

BOOK BLURB: 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: here.

The Illicit Love of a CourtesanJane Lark and ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’

BOOK BLURB: Trapped under the reign of a cruel keeper, Ellen Harding longs to be free. Under his oppression, her soul and conscience have died while her body lives on, fulfilling his dissolute desires. She is empty––a vessel––deaf to the voice of morality and blind to shame.

When her eyes are drawn to a beautiful man for no other reason than his looks, she imagines what it would be like to escape her chains for a night by giving her body to him.

But Edward Marlow is kind and gentle when he touches her, and her subconscious whispers, this man could be her salvation. Yet how can he help her when she has secrets which prevent her freedom?

Edward is restless, lonely, and a little angry with his lot in life—it is his only excuse for being drawn to another man’s mistress.  The woman’s dark hair and pale eyes are striking, and he cannot take his gaze off her while she watches him over the top of a fan with an illicit intent in her eyes.

Once he’s known her, he cannot forget her, and once he’s seen the evidence of her supposed benefactor’s brutality, he wants to help her. But how can he when she will not run any more than she will speak of her past?

When a desperate Ellen finally relents and shocks Edward from his sleep, he doesn’t hesitate, he helps her flee He just doesn’t know he’s running headlong into the secrets of her past.

REVIEW: here.

ADI EMErica Monroe  and ‘A Dangerous Invitation’

BOOK BLURB: One fatal mistake cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved, spiraling him toward drunken self-destruction. Now sober, he’ll have to prove he’s innocent of the murder he was accused of two years ago. But pistol-wielding Kate Morgan hasn’t forgiven his sins.

Torn from her privileged existence by her father’s death, Kate Morgan has carved out a new independent life in the Ratcliffe rookery as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel’s invitation to assist him jeopardizes her structured existence. Yet Kate can’t resist his touch, or the wicked desires he stirs within her.

As their renewed passions grow reckless, their investigation takes them through the darkest and most depraved areas of the City. To catch a killer, they’ll have to put secrets behind them and trust only their hearts.

REVIEW: here.

Those are some of the authors that have debuted this year, but I’ve discovered this year ‘new to me’ authors that have been around and they are: Victoria Vane; Sherry Thomas; Julianne Lee, Tracy Grant, Susan King, Elizabeth Chadwick…

There are so many more on my Kindle and still on my TBR so I need to get to them all…eventually.

How was your reading year and have you any recommendations for me?

Melanie

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?

***   ***   ***

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.”

***   ***   ***

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.

***   ***   ***

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.”

 ***   ***   ***

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!

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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.

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MClaremont-LadyinRedtour

‘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 

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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