Spotlight on Mary Wine and ‘Highland Flame’

Highland Flame

9781492602538BOOK BLURB: Laird Diocail Gordon has just come into his title and inherited his father’s run down castle and rag-tag clan. He knows the sorry sight of the castle would send any woman running, but is determined to find a wife to help return his home to its former glory.

Widow Jane Stafford is on a mission—return to England even if it means trudging through the Scottish Highlands on foot. Her travels lead her straight to the path of danger until a mysterious, brawny man comes out of nowhere and saves her—and the spark between them is immediate. With a target on Jane’s back, she knows the only way to stay safe is to go with Diocail. But the real trouble will be guarding her heart from her newly ignited Highland flame…

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EXCERPT:

As in the Highland custom, Aiden wore the plaid belted at his waist, the length pulled from the lower right opening of his doublet, around his back and pinned at his left shoulder with a silver brooch bearing the Atholl arms. The valet had put forth a good effort ensuring there was neither wrinkle nor hair out of place.

He regarded himself in the looking glass above the mantle in the drawing room, sliding one foot forward as he would do for a portrait. Not liking the image, he puffed out his chest and moved a hand to his lapel.

God’s bones, take me to sea where I can cast aside these frills.

Tuning his back to the looking glass, Aiden resorted to pacing and pulling out his pocket watch. The coach would arrive in five minutes, and Maddie hadn’t yet made an appearance.

At least a light glowed from beneath her door indicating she was within. It cast a hazy glow in the otherwise dark passageway. After pacing around the chamber half-dozen times, he again eyed his timepiece. Another minute had passed. Perhaps he should knock on the door—perhaps Maddie’s mantle clock had stopped and she was unaware of the time. Just as he started off, her door opened. A burst of light flooded the passageway, and with the tap of dainty footsteps, an angel emerged.

Aiden knew she’d purchased a new gown, but he hadn’t expected this. His mouth went dry and he suddenly needed to take in two stuttered breaths to steady the thumping of his heart.

Christ, men aren’t supposed to experience such heart hammering. Especially men bred for the sea. Damnation.

She smiled, and his goddamned knees wobbled. He should have taken a healthy tot whilst he was pacing in the drawing room.

Her golden gown rustled as she walked forward, with a matching fan in her hand. She moved the fan to her waist…just below her breasts. Creamy skin Aiden knew to be softer than spun silk swelled above a dangerously plunging neckline. His mouth went completely dry. If Maddie’s serving maid had been anywhere but behind her lady, Aiden would have taken the lassie into his arms, pushed through his bedchamber door and damned the recital.

“I hope I haven’t made us late.” Maddie batted her eyelashes as if she had no idea of the effect she had on his aching cods. “Miss Agnes spent ever so long curling my hair.”

Aiden’s tongue slipped over his bottom lip. “Your curls are exquisite. You are exquisite, m’lady.”

Agnes cleared her throat, coming up behind with a cloak over her arm. “You’d best say so, m’lord. It took the greater part of the afternoon to make those ringlets.”

Nay, there’d be no slipping into the bedchamber for a hasty sampling of those pearl-tipped bosoms.

Aiden glanced to his pocket watch—they still had a few minutes—and now that he knew Maddie was ready, there’d be no harm in making the coach wait for a minute or two. “Fine job, Miss Agnes,” he said with more sobriety than he felt. “I think you deserve a healthy tot of fine spirit for taking such fine care of her ladyship.”

“Have we time?” asked Maddie.

Aiden led them into the drawing room and gestured to the settee. “A stolen moment will not set us behind overmuch.”

Agnes gave a firm shake of her head. “You needn’t make a fuss for the likes of me.”

“It is no fuss. You take good care of your lady, and for that I want to thank you.” Aiden poured three tots of sherry and offered each of the ladies a glass. “Shall we drink to Miss Agnes?”

Blinking, the woman drew a hand over her mouth, dipping her head and smiling broadly. “Heavens.”

“Aye, we should.” Maddie patted her chambermaid’s knee and raised her glass. “To the woman who has seen me through one and twenty years of happiness. I have no idea what would have become of me if you hadn’t been by my side. Sometimes I’ve felt as if you’re the only person in all of Christendom who cares.”

Aiden’s gut twisted. He cared a great deal, but it was inconceivable that Maddie had been made to feel like an outcast from such a young age. He drank thoughtfully, watching the two women as they sipped. Even their mannerisms had become similar. “Miss Agnes, how long have you been serving Lady Magdalen?”

The woman’s eyes glistened with pride. “Since the day she was born. The moment I held her in my arms I knew my purpose.”

Aiden glanced to Maddie and knitted his brows. “Did your mother pass in childbirth?”

Shaking her head, the lass bit her bottom lip. “Nay. My mother knew I would have a better life if she gave me to my father. Only…” Maddie looked away, and took another sip.

“What?”

“The one caveat was that she could never set eyes on me again.”

Grumbling under her breath, Agnes guzzled the remainder of her sherry. “We shan’t discuss the countess any longer. It sets both of our hackles to standing on end.”

“Agreed.” Aiden set his glass on the mantel and offered Maddie his hand. “Shall we be off, m’lady? We do not want to miss the opening. I hear it will be most spectacular.”

Maddie tapped the chambermaid’s shoulder before they strolled toward the door. “I want you to take some time for yourself this night. Do something that will make you happy. You have nothing to worry about, my pet. I’ll be in Lord Aiden’s capable hands.”

Mary WineAUTHOR BIO: Mary Wine has written over twenty novels that take her readers from the pages of history to the far reaches of space. Recent winner of a 2008 EPPIE Award for erotic western romance, her book LET ME LOVE YOU was quoted “Not to be missed…” by Lora Leigh, New York Times best-selling author.

When she’s not abusing a laptop, she spends time with her sewing machines…all of them! Making historical garments is her second passion. From corsets and knickers to court dresses of Elizabeth I, the most expensive clothes she owns are hundreds of years out of date. She’s also an active student of martial arts, having earned the rank of second degree black belt.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Blog / Facebook / Goodreads 

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Spotlight on Elizabeth Hoyt and ‘Duke of Desire’

DukeofDesire_teaserblitz[1]

Hoyt_DukeofDesire_MM_RGB300STORY: A Lady of Light

Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping.  Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos.  When one of the masked-and-nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him…only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

 A Duke in Deepest Darkness

Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them.  Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans.  But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

Caught in a Web of Danger…and Desire

Much to Raphael’s irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involes herself in his life—and bed.  Soon he’s drawn to both to her quick wit and her fiery passion.  But when Iris discovers that Raphael’s past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters.  Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael’s own demons?

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EXCERPT:

Iris tasted of red wine—the red wine she must have drunk at dinner—and all the reasons he shouldn’t do this fled his mind. A vital chain broke in his psyche and everything he’d held back, everything he’d restrained with all his might, was suddenly set free. He surged into her mouth, desperate for the feel, for the taste of her, his wife, his duchess, his Iris. She was soft and sweet and warm and he wanted to devour her. To seize her and hold her and never let her go. The deep unfathomable well of his urges toward her frightened him, and he knew that if she became aware of them, they would frighten her as well.

But that was the thing—she wasn’t aware of them. She thought she was simply consummating their marriage or some such rot, God help them both.

She gripped his naked arms and the beast within him shuddered and stretched, claws scraping against the ground.

Dear God, he wanted this woman.

But he had to remember—to keep that human part of his mind awake and alive—that he mustn’t seed her.

Must never do as his cursed father had done.

He broke from her mouth, feeling the pulse of his cock against his breeches, and trailed his lips across her cheek to her ear. “Come with me, sweet girl.”

She blinked up at him, wide blue-gray eyes a little dazed.

He covered her mouth again before she could speak—either to consent or decline—and drew her slowly backward, step by step, toward the bed, until he hit it with the backs of his legs. He broke the kiss, looking down at her, her wet ruby lips parted, her cheeks flushed pink.

She looked edible.

“Raphael,” she whispered, his name on her lips like a plea, and something within him broke.

This wasn’t what he wanted. This wasn’t right. But it was the only thing possible and it would have to suffice because it was all he could do.

And trying to resist was killing him.

He traced a hand up her arm, over her shoulder, to her neck, and from there touched her bound golden hair. “Will you take down your hair for me?”

She gasped—a small, quick inhalation—and nodded.

He watched as she raised her arms, her stormy eyes locked on his, and withdrew the pins from her hair one by one until the heavy mass fell like a curtain around her shoulders. He bent then and gathered the locks in his hands, burying his face in her neck, inhaling her.

His woman.

He felt her tremble against him and then her fingers speared through his hair. “Raphael.”

He lifted his head.

Her hands fell away and she began undressing, her head bent down as she unhooked her bodice. He saw that her fingers fumbled and he knew that a better man would turn aside. Would give her privacy to collect herself and disrobe with modesty.

But he wasn’t such a man. He wanted all of her—her mistakes and her private moments, her shame and her worries—everything she held back from the rest of the world. As he wanted this. This moment of fumbling.

This moment of intimacy.

She pulled the bodice from her arms. Untied her skirts and let them pool around her feet before kicking them aside. Glanced up at him and then worked at the laces to her stays.

Her unbound hair fell over her shoulders, nearly to her waist, thick and swaying gently as she moved.

Beautiful.

She was beautiful.

She pulled her loosened stays off over her head and stood in chemise, stockings, and shoes. The tips of her breasts peeked out from beneath the thin cloth.

She began to bend for her shoes, but he stopped her. “No. Let me.”

He grasped her by the waist and lifted her to the bed.

Carefully he drew off her slippers, letting them drop to the hardwood floor before running his hand up her left calf. The room was so quiet he could hear each breath she drew. She watched him as he reached under her chemise, into that warm spot behind her knee, tugging at the ribbon of her garter.

Her breath hitched.

He glanced up at her as he found bare skin. Hot, so hot under her skirt. He could almost imagine he smelled her, standing between her bent legs. He pulled the first stocking off and moved to her other foot, smoothing his thumb over her arch, over that high instep, that sweet, delicate ankle. The curve of her calf—one of the loveliest curves in nature—elegant and perfect. Someday he’d like to draw her nude.

The faint, almost inaudible whisper as he pulled the ribbon off raised the hairs on the back of his neck. His nostrils flared and he couldn’t wait any longer. He lifted her bodily, moving her farther up on the bed, placing her head and shoulders against the pillows, and then pushed up her chemise, crawling between her spread thighs and settling to enjoy what he’d found.

There. There she was, her pretty, pretty pink cunny, all coral lips and wispy dark-blond curls. He hiked her trembling legs over his arms, ignoring her gasp of shocked surprise. He glanced up once and saw wide, wondering eyes gazing back at him. Her gentlemanly first husband had evidently never done this to her.

More fool he.

ehAUTHOR BIO: Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.”

She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

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Spotlight on Jane Ashford and ‘Last Gentleman Standing’

Last Gentleman Standing coverBOOK BLURB: A fortune hunter’s dream…

Miss Elisabeth Elham is an unlikely heiress. She never knew the curmudgeonly uncle who died suddenly and left her a fortune. She’s proud, outspoken and independent—a definite challenge for London’s fortune hunting suitors.

As various determined gentlemen vie for her attention at balls, routs, picnics and parties, Elisabeth finds herself embroiled with a charming rake, a mysterious nabob, and an elegant neighbor. This would all be great fun, if only she wasn’t so fascinated by the one man in London who’s not trying to woo her…

Rediscover this classic Regency romance! Originally titled Bluestocking, this classic story has been unavailable for over 25 years and is now returning from the vault!

 BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

EXCERPT:

Last Gentleman Standing spotlight graphic

Elisabeth had recrossed a stile and was traversing an open field when she heard hoofbeats behind her. Turning, she was just in time to see the rider urge his magnificent chestnut up and over the fence she had just climbed. The form of both was flawless, and she forgot herself in her admiration of the jump, watching unself-consciously, as the horseman approached her.

The chestnut had white feet and was one of the most beautiful and spirited animals she’d ever seen. He moved with the ease and power of a true thoroughbred and might have made almost any rider appear insignificant, but the man on his back matched his quality. He looked to be tall, and his figure was well-molded and athletic. His buckskin breeches fitted him to perfection, and his coat fairly cried out its fashionable origin in the workrooms of a Weston or a Stultz. Elisabeth had seen a few gentlemen of the haut ton in Bath, and she knew enough to recognize that the deceptive simplicity of the folds of his cravat and the carefully casual arrangement of his hair were the signs of a veritable tulip, a top-of-the-trees corinthian. At that moment, she met his slightly mocking gaze and looked down in confusion, recalling herself with annoyance. She had been gaping like a schoolgirl, she thought.

The rider pulled up before her. “I almost feel I’ve been in a competition,” he said. His voice was deep and resonant. “I hope you gave me full points for that jump.”

Elisabeth looked up. His eyes were pale blue, she noted, in spite of his black hair and rather dark complexion. “I was staring quite rudely, I know,” she replied. “I beg your pardon. But I was transfixed by the way your horse took that fence.”

The man patted the chestnut’s neck, “He’s wonderful, is Tristram.”

“Tristram?” repeated Elisabeth, smiling. “That’s an uncommon name for a horse. Do you take it from Tristram Shandy?”

The rider looked at her with much more interest than he’d first shown. “Yes, I’m fond of Sterne.”

“Oh, it is my favorite of all books. I thought hardly anyone read it now.”

He smiled back at her somewhat quizzically. “And I should hardly have thought it fit reading for young ladies.” He surveyed her. He was the despair of his mother and several aunts, who had all at one time or another introduced to him dazzling debutantes calculated to urge him into marriage. But though he’d treated them politely, he’d been extremely bored in their company and really had very little notion of what to say to conventional young women. Seeing that Elisabeth was a bit uncomfortable under his gaze, he continued, “But then I rarely find young ladies wandering about my land unattended. So I can’t quite make you out. Are you someone’s governess, perhaps? Do you teach your pupils from Sterne?” His amused smile faded as he went on before she could answer. “No, that doesn’t seem right.”

Looking down at her drab garments, Elisabeth laughed. “I’m sure I don’t know why you say so. I do look very like a governess. In fact, until a few weeks ago, I was a teacher at a seminary for young ladies. Now that my uncle has obligingly left me his fortune, I shall have to change my style of dress.”

“Uncle?” he asked. His eyes narrowed. “You can’t mean old Anthony Elham? I heard of his death.”

“Yes. I am Elisabeth Elham. Though it is not at all the thing to go about introducing oneself to strange men,” she told herself reflectively.

The rider laughed. “I hope I’m not strange. But I beg pardon. I should have made myself known to you immediately. I am your neighbor, Derek Wincannon. Do you mean to say that old Elham has left you Willowmere?”

Elisabeth shrugged. “It is part of the estate. And a very ramshackle part, I must say. I have never seen so neglected a house.”

“It’s the scandal of the neighborhood,” said Mr. Wincannon. “Your uncle was a shocking landlord and a worse neighbor.”

“From what I heard of him,” answered Elisabeth, “he was uniformly shocking. I’m rather sorry I never met him.” The man laughed again. “But in any case, you may inform the neighborhood that I shall be putting the place to rights as soon as I may.”

“That’s good news. Will you be settling there?”

“No. At least, not immediately. I shall live in London for a time, at Elham House.”

“For the season, I assume.”

“Yes, I’ll be bringing out my cousin.”

You are bringing out someone? I’d have thought it would be the other way about.”

“Oh, no,” Elisabeth smiled. “I’m beyond that sort of thing. Quite on the shelf, in fact,” she added lightly.

“I see it now,” he responded dryly, “a veritable antique. How can I have mistaken you for girl in her twenties?”

She laughed. “Well, I daresay I shall attend a few parties also, if I’m asked.”

He smiled. “There can be little doubt of that, I should think. You’ll wish to sample the gaities of the season and attend the assemblies at Almack’s.”

“Almack’s? Oh, no, I shouldn’t think so.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“My father used to tell me stories about London, and he was most severe on Almack’s. He called it the Marriage Mart and painted such a vivid picture of the trials young girls undergo as they are catalogued and labeled according to their faces and fortunes that he gave me quite a horror of the place. I don’t at all wish to go there now.”

Mr. Wincannon’s interest was definitely caught. “Now?”

“Well, of course I might have done so some years ago had I been offered the opportunity,” Elisabeth explained obligingly. “When one is thrown penniless upon the world at the age of nineteen, one is willing to try any shift to come about again. I was very willing then to marry to make my fortune. But I wasn’t given the chance, and how fortunate that was, really. For now, you see, there is no need.”

Derek Wincannon laughed. “You are a most unusual girl,” he said.

“Because I prefer to order my own life now that I have the means to do so?” asked Elisabeth. “I’m persuaded you can’t really think so. Would you give up your independence without need? No indeed. When I was desperate and might have married, no one dared offer for me. I certainly won’t encourage anyone to do so now that I have an income.”

“Much good that will do you, I should say.”

jaAUTHOR BIO: Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England.That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S.

Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

If you would like to contact Jane, you can send a message to: readers@janeashford.com

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The #Droughtlander ends with a BANG!

outlander-season-3-episode-1-the-2-480x330

The #Droughtlander ended with a literal BANG!
*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD, so if you haven’t seen the episode, STOP reading NOW *

This episode gave all of us book fiends so much to fawn over, sigh and cry, as well as rejoice (BJR is no more). Major plot points and scenes from the book were well represented and done, as well as some added content (such as dragonfly in amber lost on the battlefield).

I loved the way that the battle was shown to us from Jamie’s POV. It was heartbreaking to watch our hero lingering between life and death, only to be spared death and sent home. That last scene with him with a barely visible smile asking his sister if he was dead, only to find out that he’s not. His smile disappears when he finds out that he’s back home. The pain of the knowledge that he’s alive is in his face and we all feel it. Sam Heughan is just amazing in this role. He GETS IT. He gets the character and the emotions he’s going through. I so hope that Emmy voters get to see his performance and award him that statue.

Much has been said about the “duel” between Jamie and BJR, from “Is he really dead?” to “Why is Jamie hugging him?!” For me, this sort of justified a long time held belief that in the end, BJR saved Jamie’s life on the battlefield. See, in the books, Jamie at first doesn’t remember the battle nor how BJR ended on top of him. Later on we are given the hints that Murtagh possible cut him down before he could kill Jamie. My theory was that BJR actually came between Jamie and whoever was about to kill him. I really hoped that DG would finally elaborate on that in her last book. Well, that won’t happen now, so in the end I was happy with what RDM did. Both man knew they were dying, and exhausted as they were, with blood in their eyes, they slowly gave up and fell down, proving my theory, somewhat as BJR’s body staved off the blood letting on Jamie’s thigh. I’ll take that!

I’ll take another gift that RDM has offered book fans and that is hope that Murtagh had somehow survived the battle. I know, I know! Many of you are saying that just wouldn’t be alright and it would mess with a lot that is to come, BUT! Just let me run this by you. First, if RDM wanted to kill this character, he would have made it a big deal of his death. He would have given us something to cry over and he did not. He deliberately left it vague. And that gives me hope that come 4th season, we’ll have a huge surprise and half the fandom will rejoice while the other half will fume. Guess you know which half I’ll belong to 😉

Scenes with Clare and Frank are just as heartbreaking. These two have accepted the situation they find each other in and are doing their best to abide by the strictures imposed to them by their own self. Frank loves this woman unconditionally (if we don’t count the condition that she forgets the Highlander who fathered her child), and will do anything to make her forget the past two tears spent away from him. He is committed to this relationship and is willing to accept her as she is and raise the child, she created with another man, as his own. Gotta give him credit for that. Claire on the other hand is trying, but her heart isn’t in it and she knows it. She is filled with a lot of conflicting emotions and trying very hard to stifle her natural instincts. She knows deep down that she’ll never forget the love of her life. It’s living with suppressed memories that she must reconcile and giving birth to this child gives her hope that she just might manage it somehow. Stellar performances from both Cait and Tobias and I hope those Emmy biddies see it and award these two for their hard work.

All in all, great start to the new season.

Melanie for b2b

When Art Imitates Life and that is a Wonder…Outlander 3.1

Outlander S3 is back and from the looks of it, it will be better than ever. Here is one of the best recaps/thoughts about it out there. This one made me cry as much as the episode did.

Melanie

My Outlander Blog!

S3-Jamie

There were a lot of good articles written this week by reviewers who have seen the first few episodes of Outlander.  There was a lot of great insight, but I keep going back to the article written by Maureen Ryan of Vanity Fair  .  The article on the surface seems to be a report of a conversation had between the actors about the show and their roles in it, but I believe her article, in truth, goes to the heart of what is making this show successful.  She speaks to the care and committment given to honoring the source material and its characters.  She speaks to the commitment to their craft of all involved and their desire  to get this thing right.

Heughan: What’s funny is Jamie actually never wanted to be involved in any of this. He never wanted to be part of the Jacobites, he just wanted…

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