Spotlight on Grace Burrowes and ‘The Duke’s Disaster’!

The Duke's DisasterBOOK BLURB: Noah Winters, Duke of Anselm, exercises the pragmatism for which he’s infamous when his preferred choice of bride cries off, and her companion, Lady Thea Collins, becomes his next choice for his duchess. Lady Thea’s mature, sensible and even rather attractive-what could possibly go wrong?

As a lady fallen on hard times, Thea doesn’t expect tender sentiments from His Grace, but she does wish Noah had courted her trust, lest her past turn their hastily arranged marriage into a life of shared regrets. Is His Grace courting a convenient wife, or a beautiful disaster?

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iTunes

EXCERPT:

The Duke and Duchess are having a rocky start to their marriage, also to their day…

“Your tea, Duchess.”

Noah had woken up beside his wife—again, despite all plans to the contrary—creating another first for him. Thea had risen several times during the night to tend to herself. He hadn’t realized that monthly courses caused a woman’s rest to be interrupted.

Crashingly bad planning, for a lady’s sleep to be disturbed when she most needed rest.

“You’re not about to steal my tea?” Thea held out the cup, her gaze shy as she sat propped against the headboard.

“Where’s the fun in stealing what’s freely offered?” Noah settled in beside her and filched a bite of her cinnamon toast. “Would you rather have chocolate this morning?”

“Because?”

“You’re”— Noah waved a hand in the direction of her middle—“indisposed.”

“I am not indisposed.” Thea set her teacup down with a little clink. “The discomfort has passed, as it always does. You needn’t be concerned.”

“I am not concerned, Thea.” Not greatly concerned, now that she’d stopped ordering him to go away and was ready for a proper spat. “I am attempting in my bumbling way to dote. You will allow it.”

Drat. He’d given another order.

“You couldn’t bumble if one gave you written instructions, Anselm,” Thea said, looking a little less peaked for having run up her flags. “That was my toast you appropriated.”

“Appropriation is what happens when one’s wife can’t appreciate a little doting. You’re being stingy with the tea, just as you were stingy with the covers. How long does this indisposition last?”

Her chin came up. “I am the Duchess of Anselm. I am not stingy with anything, but you are a very presuming husband.”

“Doting.” Noah took Thea’s free hand to kiss her knuckles— lest she mistake his point. “Also in need of my duchess’s guidance on this one marital matter.”

TheDukesDisasterGraphic

Click on the pic to read chapter One!

“This is so personal.” Thea’s gaze was on their joined hands— for Noah would not have her haring off in a fit of mortification. “I didn’t think you’d be a personal sort of husband. You were supposed to appear in my dressing-room doorway a few nights a month, silently take a few marital liberties, and then leave me in peace. We’d trade sections of the Times over breakfast the next morning.”

“Prosaic.” Boring and exactly what Noah himself had envisioned. “Hard to see any doting going on, though.”

“Husband?” Thea’s tone was hesitant. “Thank you, for keeping me company last night. I would not have known how to ask.”

“I suppose that’s the definition of doting.” Noah lingered at the cart to assemble a plate. “It’s the little things you can’t bring yourself to ask for, that an attentive spouse will enjoy providing to you. Bacon or ham?”

“A little of both, please.”

“Feeling carnivorous?”

“I’m a trifle indisposed. I need the sustenance.”

Noah piled both ham and bacon on Thea’s plate, and stole better than half of it, because he needed the sustenance too.

GraceBurrowesAUTHOR BIO: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes’ bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish and Lady Eve’s Indiscretion.

The Heir was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010, The Soldier was a PW Best Spring Romance of 2011, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish won Best Historical Romance of the Year in 2011 from RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight was a Library Journal Best Book of 2012, and The Bridegroom Wore Plaid was a PW Best Book of 2012.

Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Spotlight on Sally Orr and ‘When a Rake Falls’!

When-A-Rake-Falls-Blog-Tour

Please help me welcome an author that is quickly becoming my favorite. Her début book had me grinning and laughing from page one. If you’re like me and need from time to time to switch from heavy, heart wrenching tropes, to light-hearted, highly entertaining and fast paced romance, this is an author you should check out.

Sally Orr is here today with a special excerpt for us. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

EXCERPT:

Traits of a gentleman: Intelligence

The traits of a true gentleman include: courage, intelligence, sportsmanship, service to the king or service to a lady. Some even believe the traits of a gentleman also include wit and compassion for the young, elderly, and animals.

My name is Lord Boyce Parker, and I was present when the Earl of Stainthorpe challenged London’s finest bachelors to a race to Paris.

On a beautiful morning, the earl addressed the crowd of eligible gentlemen.

“The fourth cup will be given to the man whose journey provides the best example of our English intelligence. We are the land of Newton and Davy, so the greatest brains of civilization are English. Except for that da Vinci fellow and one or two Greeks, but we can afford to be generous and let the rest of the world have a little luck now and then.”

Spurred on by the opportunity to prove myself one of England’s greatest gentlemen, I plan to hire a balloon to journey to Paris. But not any old balloon flying about only for ascensions. No, I hired a spot as a guest on a balloon already planned for flight. The balloon is piloted by the famous man of science, Mr. Thomas Mountfloy. This aeronaut has assured me that I will be able to assist him with his scientific investigations during our flight. I’m sure that as we fly to Paris, we will discover some great new scientific fact. So it’s obvious that I am the favorite to win two of the earl’s challenges, both the courage and intelligence challenges. If you’re a betting type, place your bets on me.

*** *** ***

London, 1825

Lord Boyce Parker felt a sudden urge to sing. The brisk morning air, the glorious sunshine, and the presence of a hundred or so excited gentlemen milling around him could only mean a remarkable day ahead. Boyce knew he’d be mocked if he broke out in song, but sometimes happiness just bubbled up from somewhere down in your toes and overwhelmed a fellow. “My candle burns bright—-”

“Goes without saying you learned to sing by reading a book,” said George Drexel, one of Boyce’s oldest friends. “Right now I could be in bed with the lovely Widow Donhurst. Instead, I’m standing here amongst the rabble of London, far too early for any sane man, following another one of your bacon–brained schemes.”

Boyce ignored him and kept his gaze fixed on the balcony of Stainthorpe House. Yesterday, the Earl of Stainthorpe had placed an advertisement in all of the newspapers inviting London’s finest bachelors to gather in Royston Square. Although the details in the advertisement were few, it hinted fame and five thousand pounds might be gained by winning one of several “challenges.” As the son of a wealthy marquess, Boyce had no need for the money, but he longed for a chance to impress his father. “It’s not my bacon–brained scheme; it’s the earl’s. Cheer up. You will be the friend of the victorious Lord Boyce Parker.”

Drexel turned to glare at the pressing horde of eager young gentlemen behind them. “You don’t even know what the old man’s challenges are. They could all be a hum, like a scavenger hunt to find his great–uncle’s tricorne hat or his aunt’s lost poodle.” Drexel dressed in somber colors without fancy cravats or fobs, so his words had the gravity of a humorless man no one would willfully cross. This morning, his rumpled clothes, dark whiskers, and obvious lack of sleep—-no doubt due to a long night of amorous adventure—-made him appear grumpier than normal. “I hardly think the earl’s tomfool challenges will make you famous.”

“You don’t sound cheerful.” Boyce grinned at his old school friend. “I’m confident the earl’s challenges will be significant and my assured victory will pave the way to restoring my father’s esteem.”

Drexel spat on the ground. “Chasing your brother’s fame? Richard is a glorious war hero. I’m sure winning some silly challenge won’t compete with his elevated consequence.”

“You’re wrong. When my name is printed in the newspapers, my father will have to speak of me with the same admiration he gives Richard.”

“I don’t think winning a challenge will change the marquess’s opinion of you—-”

“Look.” Boyce pointed upward.

The Earl of Stainthorpe stepped to the edge of his balcony overlooking Royston Square. “My friends, I understand there are no great men left in England.” Silver wisps of hair escaped the earl’s old–fashioned queue and blew over his forehead, but he ignored them as he squarely confronted the men below.

The audience surged forward and yelled retorts to the earl’s audacious remark.

Boyce had arrived an hour early so he would be close enough to hear his lordship’s every word. But if this hubbub continued, he might not catch what the earl had to say. He turned to the man yelling behind him. “I’ll give you a pound, my good fellow, if you can shout louder.”

The man smiled and shouted.

“Definitely not louder, unfortunate loss indeed,” Boyce said. “Now I suggest you hush and let his lordship speak.”

Standing two steps behind his master, the earl’s butler vigorously rang a handbell to gain the attention of the boisterous crowd.

“The earldom of Stainthorpe owns numerous and diverse holdings,” the earl bellowed. “Therefore, upon my death, my daughter will be the richest woman in England.”

The crowd cheered.

The earl waited for them to settle down. “What I’m trying to say is, Lady Sarah Stainthorpe needs a husband. But so far, none of the Eligibles paraded before her will do. She refuses to marry and claims all the gentlemen in London are rogues, dandies, or worse. The point is, she’s a bluestocking and might fall in love with some bloody…a poet. I tell you, my friends, that Byron fellow has a lot to answer for.”

As the youngest son of a marquess, Boyce was considered an Eligible. Only, Lady Sarah had rejected him, and all the other Eligibles, seconds after they had presented themselves at Royston House—-an unfortunate circumstance, since he believed Lady Sarah would make an excellent wife and a very pretty one too. After a moment of reflection, he realized every lady of his acquaintance would make a pretty wife. One or two may have a feature some might call “unfortunate.” Nevertheless, he always found something pretty in every female countenance.

“Are all the gentlemen I see before me rogues or dandies?” the earl shouted. “Of course not. One or two maybe, and several of you are shockingly loose in the haft.” His lordship pointed to a young man wearing a violet greatcoat, hanging by one arm on a streetlight. “Especially you, sir.”

With his free hand, the man doffed his top hat.

“Yes, I mean you,” the earl said. “My condolences to your poor father.”

All of the Parker men possessed a fine figure, so he knew even a poorly tailored coat hung well upon his shoulders. The many compliments he received had gained him a reputation as an expert in masculine fashion. Therefore, Boyce felt his lordship should show more sympathy to a man wearing a lamentable violet greatcoat, since the earl wore an old square coat and baggy breeches.

“Where was I?” The earl paused to scan the crowd. “Besides an obvious bone–breaker or two, you gentlemen are the embodiment of the character traits that make Englishmen the greatest people on earth. So I am challenging you—-the finest Englishmen alive—-to a race. A race to Paris!”

The crowd cheered.

“This is not a race where the winner arrives first,” the earl said. “No, it is a test to discover the gentlemen who possess England’s greatest traits.”

“Gin drinking, gov?” someone shouted.

The crowd laughed and called out a few additional “traits.”

The earl ignored their comments. “And I mean English character traits—-not British. That country was some tomfoolery created by meddlesome politicians. This is a race for Englishmen only. Now, my race will have five challenges and five winners. Each winner will win a prize of a gold cup and five thousand pounds.”

The mob erupted in huzzahs; top hats flew into the air.

Under his sky–blue waistcoat, Boyce’s heartbeat escalated. This race presented him with his best opportunity to distinguish himself. He would win at least two of the earl’s challenges and earn a reputation as a prime example of English manhood. “Huzzah!” He too threw his beaver hat in the air.

The butler rang the handbell for a full minute before the crowd settled down.

The earl held up his hands. “Here are the details of the five—-count them—-five challenges. You have one month to reach Stainthorpe House in Paris. Each gentleman will write about his journey and provide the name of a witness. The man whose travels provide the best example of an English trait wins a challenge. Once the winners promise to spend the remainder of the summer in our company, they will be rewarded with a gold cup and five thousand pounds. With such excellent examples of true English manhood escorting Lady Sarah around Paris, she must certainly fall in love with one of you unlicked cubs.”

The assembled men danced in circles. Each one of them was probably dreaming about how he would spend his winnings.

Eager to hear the details, Boyce frowned at the clamorous riffraff behind him. The earl was right; they all appeared to be a lot of rag–mannered coves, so he gained complete confidence that he could best any of their English traits—-whatever those traits may be. Once he reached Paris, Lady Sarah would discover he was the finest of fellows and they would fall in love. Women seemed naturally to favor him over other gentlemen—-wonderful creatures, women.

The earl’s voice boomed across the square. “What are the character traits that make Englishmen so great, you ask?”

The young men below the balcony tendered several improper suggestions.

“No.” The earl waved his hand. “Not physical features. Traits like courage and intelligence. So the challenges are thus: The first gold cup will be given to the gentleman who represents English courage. We are the country of Nelson, so bravery and courage course through every one of our veins.”

Someone shouted the nature of what was coursing through his veins.

The earl continued without hesitation. “The second gold cup will be given to the gentleman whose journey represents classic English sportsmanship. Any Englishman alive can out hunt, out fish, and out ride all other races of men. So to win the second cup, some outstanding feat of sportsmanship will rule the day. Extra consideration will be given to the best example of a journey completed under difficult circumstances.”

Boyce huffed. “Well, his lordship is wrong. The true nature of English sportsmanship is not victory over adversity, but our support for the dark horse and sense of fair play. We are, by nature, a generous people.”

Drexel slapped him on the back. “For once I agree with you. But considering your history in the field, I suggest you don’t try for the sportsmanship cup.”

“Sportsmanship can be demonstrated by means other than fishing or shooting every magnificent creature—-for example, by boxing or gaming. I practice my pugilistic skills at Jackson’s twice a week now. You cannot tell me his place is not full of sportsmen. Or how about when a fellow loses a fortune gaming at White’s and faces his loss with the grace and good humor of a gentleman? That’s sportsmanship under pressure, if you ask me.”

“Yes, but the earl believes boxing is for professionals and only women play cards.”

Boyce widened his eyes. “In my opinion, his lordship’s definition of sportsmanship is rather limited.”

The handbell sounded again before the earl continued his speech. “The third gold cup will be given to the gentleman whose journey best exhibits loyalty to the king or service to a lady.”

One man yelled, “I’d be delighted to service all the ladies on my way to Paris.”

Others in the crowd shouted similar generous offers.

“If you do so, sir,” the earl replied, “you will be shown the door. Loyalty means old–fashioned manners, being polite, and keeping your distance from your betters. Of all the challenges, I believe service to the Crown is the greatest honor any man could desire. And considering the manners I’ve witnessed here today, I’d say the challenge of this cup will remain unmet.”

Jeers filled the air.

Boyce wondered how a fellow could show loyalty to the king in a race. He supposed a gentleman might salute the king’s profile on a sovereign with every step of his journey, but dismissed it as an absurd notion. No, he’d be better off trying to provide a service to some lady.

His lordship nodded, and the handbell rang again. “Now quiet down. The fourth cup will be given to the man whose journey provides the best example of our English intelligence. We are the land of Newton and Davy, so the greatest brains of civilization are English. Except for that da Vinci fellow and one or two Greeks, but we can afford to be generous and let the rest of the world have a little luck now and then.”

Boyce elbowed his friend. “Yes, yes, that’s the cup for me. Bet I’ll win too. What do you say, fifty?”

“Agreed,” Drexel said. “I will also wager by the end of this whole flummery, Lady Sarah will reject all the winners out of spite. I would, if I were her.”

Boyce refused to believe Lady Sarah would object to any of the winners, once she knew them well. The lady wanted to be married, didn’t she? “No, no, young women are full of tender affection. I have never met one who did not want to fall in love and make her family happy.”

Drexel rolled his eyes. “I suspect that is because there are so many unmarried ladies dangling after you, you cannot imagine one refusing. And from the stories I heard yesterday, I’ll wager that if I throw a pebble into the crowd at the next assembly, it will hit a widow who has, or wants to be, in your bed. And believe me, those ladies are not expecting marriage.”

“You’re being vulgar in public,” Boyce said. “All of the widows I have ever…met were delightful. Deep in their hearts, they want to be married again, I’m sure.”

“So why haven’t you married one of these delightful ladies?”

“Never understood how fellows choose one to fall in love with.”

“If I know the marquess, the best way to impress him is to give him grandchildren. My father becomes unhinged with even the thought of grandchildren.”

“Grandchildren? Grandchildren are far in the future. A great public achievement is my best and only chance to regain my father’s respect. You’ll see. When I am crowned the victor of more than one challenge, my achievements will be the toast of London. Then all of England will think of me differently. I will no longer be just one of the seven anonymous brothers of the war hero Richard. Worse yet, if people do recognize me, they remember I’m the Parker son who published a scandalous book and then received the cut direct from his father—-his own father. After my victory in the challenges, everyone will have to refer to me as the intelligent, courageous Lord Boyce. Don’t you understand?”

Drexel winked at his friend. “Tell me, which of the great English traits do you represent best? Sounds like only Service to a Lady, and believe me, your service is the wrong type as far as the earl is concerned.”

“Ah, that’s my secret. But you will be a witness to my victory, won’t you?”

After pulling off his hat, Drexel took a full minute to smooth the beaver nap on the brim. “I’ll consider it.” A wide smirk broke across his dark, handsome face. “You’ve persuaded me to join the race too.”

“No!”

The handbell clanged, and everyone faced the balcony again. “Gentlemen, there is one last challenge, the fifth cup. Since this was my daughter’s idea, perhaps in jest, you never know with females, let us call it the Lady’s Favorite.”

Shouts and laughter rose from the rabble.

The earl leaned forward over the mob. “Perhaps there are no gentlemen in England, and my daughter is right?” His lordship waited until the crowd quieted. “Lady Sarah has a funny notion that the greatest achievements of the English race are their sense of humor, wit, and eccentricities. I mean, now really, she is fond of Sheridan’s plays.” The earl held up his right hand to quiet the laughing crowd. “For this cup, Lady Sarah will be the final judge.”

The mob tendered several humorous jests of questionable wit.

The earl coughed several times but remained unmoving. “So there you have it. The five greatest English traits are courage, sportsmanship, intelligence, wit, and service to a lady. Now to business. I expect all who plan to take up the challenges to gather in our vestibule below. There, we will compile a list of the participants. You do not have to choose which cup you aspire to, and you may switch to another challenge at the end of your journey. Finally, you may win more than one challenge. Oh, and you must provide an acceptable witness. Anyone who observes your achievement and can testify on your behalf may be an official witness. The only exclusions are people who cannot be trusted, like paid companions or dear old mums.”

Several groans were heard, and one person clapped.

The earl nodded in the direction of the man who clapped. “Good man. The race will officially start after I stop speaking and will end a month from now on the second of July. On that day, you will present your written story describing your journey to Stainthorpe House at Rue de la Chaussée-d’Antin. There, I will choose the five best stories for each challenge, and those finalists will be asked to recite their adventures aloud. Indeed, everyone here today will be invited to attend this party and hear my pick of the winners. Lastly, the five thousand pounds and gold cups will be presented at the end of the evening. It goes without saying that the victors will be appropriately recognized in all of the newspapers.”

Boyce elbowed Drexel. “Yes, yes, my father reads every paper.”

The crowd’s cheers erupted again after the mention of the winnings.

The earl held his arms out. “I tell you, my friends, I’m excited about this race. To help defray the cost of your journey, any man who takes up our challenges will receive a hundred pounds after reaching Paris.”

Shouts and applause echoed around the square.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen, Lady Sarah and I look forward to hearing the adventures of England’s finest men. I am positive that once my daughter is acquainted with you fine fellows, she will fall in love. With such excellent examples of the greatness inherent in the English, how could she not? We also anticipate the pleasure of your company during our summer in Paris. The only other thing I can say is…” The earl lifted his quizzing glass to his eye and scanned the crowd. “Ready, steady, go!”

warf soBOOK BLURB: He’s racing to win back his reputation

Having hired a balloon to get him to Paris in a daring race, Lord Boyce Parker is simultaneously exhilarated and unnerved by the wonders and dangers of flight, and most of all by the beautiful, stubborn, intelligent lady operating the balloon.

She’s curious about the science of love

Eve Mountfloy is in the process of conducting weather experiments when she finds herself spirited away to France by a notorious rake. She’s only slightly dismayed—the rake seems to respect her work—but she is frequently distracted by his windblown physical magnificence and buoyant spirits.

What happens when they descend from the clouds?

As risky as aeronautics may be, once their feet touch the ground, Eve and Boyce learn the real danger of a very different type of falling…

BUY LINKS: Amazon | Apple | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

AUTHOR BIO: Sally Orr worked for thirty years in medical research, specializing in the discovery of gene function. After joining an English history message board, she posted many, many examples of absolute tomfoolery.

As a result, a cyber-friend challenged her to write a novel. Since she is a hopeless Anglophile, it’s not surprising that her first book is a Regency romance. Sally lives with her husband in San Diego, surrounded by too many nerdy books and not enough old English cars.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Spotlight on Cheryl Bolen and ‘Duchess by Mistake’!

Title short

Help us welcome an author both Connie and I love to read! If you love marriage of convenience tropes, then she is your author. She’s already penned a second book in her brand new series which will be out in just couple of days, so we thought to shine a spotlight on her and her new book. Are you ready to welcome Cheryl and find out the answers to our five questions? Here she is!

Which scenes were easy/hard to write in this story?

My favorite scenes are those in which the heroine and/or hero realize they have fallen in love. My heroines usually know early on they’ve fallen in love, but it often takes the hero much longer to realize how completely besotted he is! I also love, love, love writing the first chapter of every book. The hardest scenes for me are those describing the passion of a kiss.

You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which ones do you choose?

EZ, PZ. I love English Home, British Heritage, and Traditional Home. I love houses, especially British manor houses and stately homes.

If your TV carried just three shows or networks, what would they be?

PBS first; Turner Classic Movies next; and one of the major networks to get local news and weather.

What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry? Fresh berries every day. I alternate between raspberries, blackberries and strawberries—whatever is on sale. I usually have celery and grapefruit in my fridge, too.

What’s a movie that you can watch over and over again?

I can always watch Charade. It’s got love, humor, great suspense, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn — and Paris!!

dbm cbBOOK BLURB: An innocent visit to the Duke of Aldridge’s to request a donation for her war widows puts Lady Elizabeth Upton in the midst of a most shocking scandal. . .

The Duke of Aldridge offers for his best friend’s sister, Lady Elizabeth Upton, after a mix-up sends her to his bedchamber—just as he’s emerging from his bath. She most certainly does not want to force the duke’s hand, but how can she bear the shame her scandalous behavior has cast upon her dear brother, the Marquess of Haverstock?

Once she agrees to marry her childhood heartthrob, Elizabeth realizes she wants nothing more than to win her husband’s love. But capturing his heart is no easy task when former loves threaten to destroy the fragile bonds of their marriage.

BUY LINKS:  / Amazon.com / B&N / iTunes / Kobo / Smashwords

EXCERPT:

Some time after donning a dress which matched the periwinkle colour of her eyes and topping it with matching pelisse suitable for calling at Aldridge House, Lady Elizabeth Upton found herself knocking upon the door of the Duke of Aldridge’s fine house on Berkeley Square. She wondered how many times Charles had passed through this door during his two and thirty years. Since she had only come out three years previously, she had never had the opportunity to pay a call upon the duke, owing to his long absence from England.

The white-haired butler who answered her knock looked as if he’d been in the employ of the Aldridges for at least two generations. He quickly offered her a tight smile and spoke before she had the chance to offer her card. “Please come in. His grace awaits. If you will just follow me up the stairs.”

She supposed with this being the duke’s first day back, he was entertaining callers in the drawing room. She had not considered that she would not have him all to herself. It would be difficult to beg him for the significant donation in a room full of people. Her brother had once said the duke did not like to have his charities acknowledged, preferring anonymity.

Her gaze lifted to the massive chandelier that glistened above, then she began to follow the stooped-over butler as he mounted the stairs, his movements slowed by age. All the way up the impressive, iron banistered staircase portraits of long-dead Aldridges stood almost one on top of the other and seemed to be staring at her.

To her surprise, when they reached the first floor he did not stop but continued mounting stairs to the next level. Though her experience with ducal residences was limited, she was unaccustomed to finding a drawing room so far removed from the home’s entrance. In most of the houses with which she was familiar, the third level was reserved for bedchambers.

They reached the third level. It was slightly less formal than the second level, actually looking remarkably like the third–bedchamber–level at Haverstock House. The butler turned to the right and shuffled along another corridor until he reached the first paneled and gilded door. It was closed. He teetered to a stop and turned to face her with a somber countenance. “You will find his grace in here.” Then he began to retrace his steps.

She drew in a breath, reached for the door handle, and opened it.

She heard a splashing sound before the door was fully open. How peculiar. When she had clear view of the room, she gasped. There in its center, framed by the fireplace behind him, the Duke of Aldridge was emerging from his bath. His long, glistening, gloriously formed body was completely naked.

To finish this excerpt, go here.

Cheryl-Bolen-1AUTHOR BIO: Cheryl Bolen is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen Regency-set historical romance novels. Her books have placed in several writing contests, including the Daphne du Maurier, and have been translated into 11 languages. She was named Notable New Author in 1999, and in 2006 she won the Holt Medallion (Honoring Outstanding Literary Talent) for Best Short Historical Novel. Her books have become Barnes & Noble and Amazon bestsellers.

Cheryl holds a dual degree in English and journalism from the University of Texas, and she earned a master’s degree from the University of Houston. She and her professor husband are the parents of two sons, one who is an attorney, and the other a journalist. Her favorite things to do are watching the Longhorns, reading letters and diaries of Georgian Englishmen, and traveling to England.

As former journalist who admits to a fascination with dead Englishwomen, Cheryl is a regular contributor to The Regency Plume, The Regency Reader, and The Quizzing Glass. Many of her articles can found on her website, and more recent ones on her blog. Readers are welcomed at both places.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Blog / Facebook

Spotlight on Paula Quinn and ‘The Scandalous Secret of Abigail MacGregor’!

pq

I’d like to welcome Paula Quinn and her brand new, book three book in her latest Highland Heirs series! She comes to us today to share her favorite book to film/series selection and here it is!

Top 5 book to film/series adaptations

1. The Count of Monte Cristo

2. The Help

3. Game of Thrones

4. Outlander

5. Downtown Abby

tssoamg pqBOOK BLURB: A Lady’s Mission . . . 

Known for her beauty and boldness, Abigail MacGregor must preserve her clan’s dangerous secret: that her mother is the true heir to the English Crown. If the wrong people find out, it will mean war for her beloved Scotland. To keep peace, she embarks for London, unprepared for the treachery that awaits-especially from her wickedly handsome escort. He is the enemy, but his slow, sensuous kisses entice her beyond reason . . .

A Warrior’s Temptation

General Daniel Marlow, loyal knight and the kingdom’s most desirable hero, would rather be on the battlefield than transporting a spoiled Highland lass. But Abby MacGregor is unlike any woman he’s ever met, in a ballroom or in his bedroom. Captivated by her daring spirit and seduced by her lovely innocence, Daniel must choose between betraying his queen or giving up the woman who would steal his country-and his traitorous heart.

 BUY LINKS: / Amazon / BAM / B&N / IndieBound / GooglePlay / iTunes / Kobo

TEASER: 

She braced her legs, setting her boots firmly on the ground, and lifted her chin. She knew her defiance was born mainly from the sheer strength and power coming toward her. These men were escorts, nothing more. She didn’t want their first impression of her to be that she was a sniveling woman afraid of them just because they were English. She was born of a long line of warriors. Her first instinct was to defend. She understood only too well that her country was being conquered slowly but surely by the English, perhaps even by the very men who trampled the delicate heather beneath the hooves of their stallions as they approached.

“The queen sends only four men to guard my daughter when she crosses the country,” her father muttered angrily moments before the riders reached them.

Each wore a common man’s dress of long coat and breeches, and a sheath dangling from his hip. Three of the riders held back, creating a line of brawn and steel as they drew their swords behind one whom Abby guessed was the leader. The four men were outnumbered at least five to one. If her kin attacked, the escorts’ meager swords would offer them little aid.

For a moment, no one spoke a word while Abby tilted her head up to have a view of the mounted men. She could sense the thick tension emanating from her kin and she prayed none of them, especially her brothers, did anything foolish. When she turned to the lead rider, she was amazed to find only cool arrogance in eyes the vivid green of a glade on a summer day staring back down at her. A shiver, neither hot nor cold, trickled down her spine and quickened her breath. He was terribly beautiful, arrayed in strength and deep confidence. In fact, he looked positively fearless on his snorting black destrier with sunlight radiating off his broad shoulders and setting fire to his clipped auburn locks. She squinted up at him and scowled at herself for being moved by his appearance. He was no boy, but five to ten years older than her cousins. Experience and mistrust hardened his features. Taller in the saddle than his comrades, he radiated an air of authority of one who demanded instant obedience. She looked away before he did, sensing a power in this man that challenged her. Perhaps another day, she thought, biting her tongue. She was used to intimidating warriors and she wasn’t afraid of him, but she wouldn’t foolishly provoke him in front of her kin and get him killed.

“I am General Daniel Marlow of Her Majesty the Queen’s Royal Army.” His voice fell in deep, rich tones around her ears.

“And knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.”

Her cousin Malcolm stepped forward. Malcolm had traveled to England on a number of occasions and must have heard of him.

“And also the Earl of Darlington, aye?” Adam added. Everyone there from her clan, including Abby, turned to offer Adam a surprised look that he would know such things.

So, her escort was a general, an earl, and a knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter? Abby gave him another looking over, deciding as her eyes lingered on his booted legs and muscular thighs, his rigid posture in the saddle, the sun gleaming off his head, and the long broadsword dangling from his hip that he indeed resembled a knight.

“That’s correct,” he answered, sounding bored before he set his eyes on her again. “Miss Abigail MacGregor?”

Her blood heated her veins and rushed to her heart. Her knees went weak beneath her and, not for the first time since Queen Anne’s letter had reached them, she wished her kinsmen were escorting her.

Her father stepped forward. “I am clan chief Robert MacGregor of the MacGregors of Skye. Her father.”

General Marlow turned his head and simply nodded at her father. Abby narrowed her eyes on him. She wasn’t used to seeing anyone show her father so little respect.

“Is this the girl?” he asked, turning back to her, his expression darkening on her Highland attire. His distaste was obvious. He didn’t like Highlanders, or mayhap it was Jacobites he had an aversion to. Either way, she didn’t like him either. Knight or not.

This trip wasn’t going to be pleasant.

To continue with full excerpt, go here.

AUTHOR’S BIO: Paula Quinn is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of paula quinnmedieval and Scottish historical romance. To date, four of her nine books have garnered a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

She lives in New York with her three beautiful children, three over-protective chihuahuas, and a loud umbrella cockatoo. She loves to read romance and science fiction and has been writing since she was eleven.  She loves all things medieval, but it is her love for Scotland that pulls at her heartstrings.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / GoodreadsPinterest

Spotlight on Amanda Scott and ‘Devil’s Moon’!

dw

Today we are spotlighting one of my favorite authors and asking her to tell us her Top 5 book to film/series adaptations.

I’m not a movie fan, so this one is hard, but I’m assuming that you’re asking what favorite books I have that have been made into great movies. I’ll give it a shot. 

1. Actually, the first movie that comes to mind is Into the Woods because I was utterly fascinated by the way all my favorite fairy tales were woven into the story.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird. I knew when the first scene of the movie opened which house belonged to Atticus Finch, and I thought the movie brought that so-excellent book alive.

3. American Sniper

4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

5. And I loved all the Sean Connery James Bond movies

dm asSTORY: A Warrior’s Promise

The last place Sir David “Devil” Ormiston expected his moonlight chase of a horse thief to end was in a lady’s bedchamber. He is shocked to find that the raider he has pursued is no man, but a defiant beauty in disguise-and the woman he’s vowed to protect at all costs. Face to face with a girl Dev thought he knew, the ever confident, marriage-resistant knight may learn that he is defenseless against the desirable woman she has become.

A Lady’s Secret

Lady Robina Gledstanes will do anything to keep her family’s land out of the hands of her greedy kinsmen-except willingly submit to the handsome, cocksure Devil Ormiston. Dev’s help may be just as dangerous as the threats lurking outside her castle. But when enemies scheme to steal the castle’s treasure, Robina must risk losing something even more precious-her heart.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / BAM / B&N / IndieBound / GooglePlay / iTunes / Kobo

TEASER:

Prologue

Coklaw Castle, the Scottish Borders, July 1403

The night was black. Not a star shone, and the damp, clinging mist was as cold as mid-November. The castle’s tall, square keep rose above its outer wall, although the two appeared as one solid density against the night sky.

Armed with a shovel and dirk, the thickset man known as Shetland Jamie felt his way to the crest of a low rise thirty yards southeast of the wall. He thanked God for the darkness and blessed the mist that hid him. He heard no sound from the wall walk above.

The siege laid by Henry Percy, the powerful English Earl of Northumberland, had been in effect for fifteen days, but his men had not attacked for a sennight, so the Scots inside the castle no longer feared an assault. Doubtless, the earl meant to starve them out.

Jamie had worried about his shovel making noise, but yesterday’s misery-making rain had softened the ground, so the rain had been good for something beyond easing the siege army’s stink. Moreover, the heavy mist had muffled the night bird’s call he’d heard a short while ago, so it would doubtless muffle any sounds he made.

Jamie had studied the rise from the day he’d first recognized the stunning opportunity that had presented itself to him. Now, following an image in his head of what he had seen earlier, he soon found the pile of rocks he’d left to mark his spot.

Cautiously resting his shovel on a shrub, he gently set down the crockery jar that held the most precious part of his burden, out of the way but where he could find it again.

Dawn remained distant, and the English tents and siege fires lay to the south, beyond the crest of a nearby hill. Northumberland’s tent was the finest, of course. The Percys were wealthier than God, and Shetland Jamie’s family was poorer than dust.

But God knew all and willed all, did He not?

Jamie believed that God had provided this chance and had willed the idea into his head. A wise man recognized opportunity when it came his way, and he knew that he’d have had to be blind not to see this one. The others had left him alone, guarding that fine tent for just a few minutes, but that had been enough.

It would mean hanging if they caught him, but if they didn’t, he’d be far better off than he was now. God had paved the way for him tonight, too, with the darkness and mist.

As he pictured numerous possibilities that the future might hold for him, he quietly shifted the pile of rocks out of his way. He would bury his treasure for the nonce and take good care that no one suspected what he’d done.

To continue reading more of Prologue & the entire Chapter 1, go here.

Amanda ScottAUTHOR BIO: Amanda Scott is the author of over 62 romance novels and the recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award.  She lives in Folsom, California, outside of Sacramento.

Amanda is a fourth-generation Californian, who was born and raised in Salinas and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in history from Mills College in Oakland. She did graduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in British History, before obtaining her Master’s in History from California State University at San Jose. She now lives with her husband and son in northern California.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook /Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest /

Spotlight on Shana Galen and ‘While You Were Spying’!

This is a special Birthday treat for me! Having Shana Galen stop by is always fun and today we have five questions I’m dying to hear the answers to, so…here we go…

Which scenes were easy/hard to write in this story?

The easiest (if any scenes are easy) were those with Francesca and her mother. Her mother was fun to write. The hardest scenes were those where Francesca has to talk about the abuse she suffered in the past.

You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which ones do you choose?

I rarely read magazines, but I’d probably get Writer’s Digest, Publisher’s Weekly, and Romantic Times Bookreviews. Then I’d know how to write better and what new books are out!

If your TV carried just three shows or networks, what would they be?

Outlander, Downton Abbey and Sprout (for my daughter)

What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?

11

Skinny Cow Chocolate filled with Caramel, Skinny Pop Popcorn and Emerald Cocoa Roasted Almonds

What’s a movie that you can watch over and over again?

Sliding Doors

How about you? Can you answer some of these?

Galen, Shana- While You Were Spying (final) 300 px @ 72   dpi low resBOOK BLURB: Francesca Dashing would like to forget that Ethan Caxton, the Marquess of Winterbourne, exists. He humiliated her in front of all of London Society—and he doesn’t even remember it! But when Ethan shows up in her sleepy Hampshire town, he’s hard to overlook, and his presence stirs up long-buried feelings. Francesca tries to keep her distance…until her life is threatened and the mysterious and handsome marquess comes to her rescue, in more ways than she ever thought possible.

Winterbourne has traveled to Hampshire on orders from the Foreign Office—he’s investigating an arms smuggling ring and is determined to find its leader. Miss Dashing stumbles into his way—literally—and derails both Ethan’s assignment and his ordered country life. Ethan knows he needs to ignore the distraction, but when Francesca is the victim of a vicious attack, he’s compelled to put aside his mission to protect her. Guarding the viscount’s daughter is work, nothing more, and Ethan has no plans to let down his guard…until Francesca’s chocolate-brown eyes and endless compassion melt the ice in his heart and lay siege to his defenses.

BUY LINKS: Kindle  / iTunes  / Kobo  / Nook  / Google Play 

EXCEPT:

Ethan never saw the web, didn’t even realize he’d been caught, held fast in its silky, glittering strands.

“Cara! My darling, darling Francesca! Mia figlia preziosa!” A tall, slim woman with a cap of short platinum curls seized upon the girl as soon as the majordomo shut the door behind them. It clanked like the door to a prison cell.

“Mamma,” the girl choked out. The force of the woman’s embrace was such that the girl stumbled backward, and Ethan barely had time to step aside in order to avoid a collision.

“Mia figlia!” Her mother, who from her horrendous accent was obviously not Italian, pulled back, grasping her daughter’s shoulders. The woman’s voice echoed through the gray-and-white marble entrance hall, bouncing off the busts and marble statues lining the walls.

“Impossible!” She bodily turned her small daughter by the shoulders. “Look at you. Dov’è stato? I have been so worried.”

“You have?” The girl blinked. “Why?”

But Ethan doubted the woman heard her daughter’s breathy reply. The lady’s dark blue eyes, sharp as fangs, sunk into him.

“And—mamma mia—can this be—? Is this gallant gentiluomo Lord Winterbourne?” She released her daughter and gave a deep curtsy. “An honor, your lordship.” She spread her dun-colored skirts, fluttering her eyelashes at him.

Over her mother’s bowed form, the girl struggled to refrain from rolling her eyes.

“Lord Winterbourne,” she continued, when her mother had risen. “Lady Brigham. My mother.” The last was said with a sigh. The woman offered her hand to Ethan.

He shook off his daze, took her hand, and kissed the woman’s gloved knuckles. “A pleasure to renew your acquaintance, Lady Brigham.”

“Non, Signore. The pleasure is all mine.”

Ethan stepped back, and Lady Brigham appeared to study him. The hair on the back of his neck prickled. She pressed one finger to her lip with slow, exaggerated taps then held it there and narrowed her eyes. “And what, pray tell, is your business in Hampshire, my lord?”

Ethan was only too familiar with the woman’s tone of voice. It oozed matrimonial insinuation. Lady Brigham raised her eyebrows and looked sidelong at her daughter. Miss Dashing appeared to have shrunk six inches.

“I’m visiting my brother at Grayson Park.”

“Ah, the earl.” Lady Brigham drew in a breath, her white gauzy fichu swelling like a sail.

“I see.” The finger tapped at her lips again as she exhaled. “But surely Francesca did not wander as far as the Park?” The unasked question hovered in the air, and he was thankful the girl snatched at it.

“No, Mamma. Lord Winterbourne was riding, and we met purely by chance. He offered to escort me home.” She spoke quickly, obviously hoping to move the conversation along.

Lady Brigham’s eyes widened. Ethan swore he saw them glitter.

“I see.”

Damn. This was why he avoided Society. Spend ten minutes with an unmarried miss, and you were suddenly betrothed. “Is Lord Brigham at home? I’d like to speak with him.”

The woman inhaled sharply, her eyes almost popping from their sockets. “Oh! I see!”

Ethan frowned. Beside him, the girl closed her eyes, looking mortified. The devil take him if he hadn’t inadvertently confirmed her mother’s matrimonial hopes. He had no patience for this. “If the viscount is not at home,” Ethan plowed on, “I’ll wait in the library—”

“You will do no such thing!” Lady Brigham clapped her hands three times in rapid suggestion. “You must join us in the drawing room.” She gestured to the dark, formidable doors at the end of the entrance hall.

“Thank you, Lady Brigham, but—”

“Call me Signora, per favore.”

Ethan took a deep breath. “Signora. When do you expect—”

She turned and walked away, shoes clicking loudly on the floor as she passed the numerous Roman statues adorning the niches in the echoing hall.

Ethan didn’t move for a long moment. Had the woman actually cut him off and walked away from him? Him? A marquess. Who the devil did she think—?

“I must warn you I am determined to at least offer you some refreshment.” Lady Brigham held up a hand, stopping in front of a bust of some Caesar or other. “There is no use arguing, I’m afraid.” She gave him a sly smile. “It’s the very least I can do for a gentiluomo who’s asked to see Francesca’s father.” She opened the door to the drawing room and glided inside.

Ethan ground his teeth, then watched as the girl plodded after her mother.

His every instinct told him entering that room would be a mistake. He’d be trapped, alone with the crazed, Italian-squawking woman. He looked back along the entryway toward the door.

The majordomo stepped behind him, cutting off his exit. “My lord.” The man indicated the drawing room with a graceful gesture.

Damn. Outmaneuvered, Ethan took a step forward. He could almost feel the invisible silk strands tighten around him.

shana-galenAUTHOR BIO: Shana Galen is the author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the Lord and Lady Spy Series, the Jewels of the Ton Series, as well as the Sons of the Revolution Trilogy. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time, and is working on more regency romance novels! She’s happily married to the Ultimate Sportsfan and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers so feel free to talk to her on any of her social media sites.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website  / Facebook  / Twitter  / Tsu  / Google +  / Pinterest 

Top 5 with Wendy LaCapra!

Lady Vice Blog Tour Banner

Hello Melanie, Connie, Leah and Bookworm2Bookworm readers! Thank you for inviting me to share my top 5 books to movie/series.

I had to think hard about my answers. I did not want to list a book-to-movie combination where I didn’t enjoy both. And somehow, for most of the recent books-to-movies, I’ve been acquainted with the story on one end and not the other. 50 Shades? Read the book, didn’t see the movie. Hunger Games? Saw the movies, didn’t read the books. Here’s the list I came up with:

jane-eyre-2011-movie-review-kiss

Jane Eyre, 2011
The cinematography was fantastic and the romance breathtaking. Truly, the movie did one of my favorite novels justice. And ooh, Michael Fassbender.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995

I dearly hope small-screen mini-series count, because this one brought Jane Austen to life like no other version. And then there is, of course, the invention of Colin Firth’s The Look.

moll fMoll Flanders, 1996
I probably never would have read Defoe’s classic Moll Flanders, but a professor assigned it as part of a class and it ended up becoming a favorite. Alex Kingston does a fantastic job of bringing the flawed and wonderful Moll to life. And Daniel Craig looks quite dashing in 18th century garb.

Practical Magic, 1998
The movie may be a bubble gum version of pmthe Alice Hoffman book, but I love the portrayal of sister-love between Sally & Gillian Owens. And Aidan Quinn? Le grand sigh. (I am sensing a pattern here…)

The Joy Luck Club, 1993
I’ve read Amy Tan’s book about 5 times and own the movie. I love this story linking mothers to daughters and beautifully rendering the threads that jlccontinue make patterns from one lifetime into the next. And, to continue my alternate theme, Andrew McCarthy cuts a fine figure in his small part.

Looking over my 5, I see another pattern—stories that have strong female friendships/ and or sisters. Even lonely Jane had Diana and Mary Rivers (who help her recover and turn out to be her cousins). Three strong, female friends form the basis of The Furies trilogy, and so I’m not surprised I’m drawn to strong friendships in movies and fiction.

I’d love to hear some book-to-movie favorites from bookworm2bookworm readers!

lv wlcBOOK BLURB: Not every lady plays by the rules.

Lady Lavinia Vaile knows what happens to a woman who puts her faith in society. For her, it was a disastrous marriage to a depraved man-one she threatened to shoot when she left him. Now Lavinia lives outside of society’s strict conventions, hosting private gambling parties. It’s only when her husband is shot dead that Lavinia finds herself in terrible danger…

A former judge in India’s high court, Maximilian Harrison will do anything he can to help Lavinia. In the darkest of times, he held on to thoughts of her and the love they once shared. Now he risks his own position in society―along with his ambitions―in order to clear her name. Yet as desire reignites between them, Lavinia remains caught up in secrets and shame. Her only salvation is to do the unthinkable…and trust in both Maximilian and love.

EXCERPT:

Max sounded urgent. He crouched and reached out. His touch was gentle and his hands were warm. Skin against skin. He must have removed his gloves. His palm’s heat warmed her chilled cheek.

He was real. This warm, vital man caressing her face was the reason she had survived the dark days of her marriage. Whenever the night had seemed frightening or endlessly lonely, she had lulled herself to sleep by silently repeating his name. She’d used him like a blanket, curling his image close and tucking herself into remnants of remembered love.

The memory caused another searing pain, and she pulled her legs into her chest.

“Hush, love, hush,” he whispered.

His breath tickled her face, contrasting the cool breeze blowing across the water.

Strange. Breathing was so much easier with him close. But everything was wrong. She was angry at him. Why?

Because he left me to find his fortune. Because he left me alone and vulnerable to men like Vaile. She waited for her anger to pulse to life. Instead her heart said, he is here now.

She made no move to push him back and may have even leaned toward him.

His lips touched—softly—against her forehead. He spoke, but she could not understand his words. He was saying something about protection and safety…

Yes, safety.

What an inviting thought.

How long had it been since love surrounded her? Since she had been warmed by place and family and home? After she had left Vaile, every letter she’d sent home had been returned to her as if home had never existed, as if she had never existed. But she’d been loved once, hadn’t she? Max was living proof.

She raised her eyes to his. Past and present, fantasy and reality, they all swirled together.

“Oh, Vinia.”

She parted her lips as he spoke the affectionate name she had not heard for an eternity. He brushed his mouth against hers. His kiss’s warmth was soothing and tender.

Yes, tenderness.

Need uncoiled in her belly, and her knotted shoulders miraculously loosened. She floated—soft and sentient.

Yes. Please. More.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iTunes / Kobo / All Romance

Wendy LaCapraAUTHOR BIO: Wendy LaCapra has been reading romance since she sneaked into the adult section at the library and discovered Victoria Holt & Jane Aiken Hodge.

From that point on, she dreamed of creating fictional worlds with as much richness, intrigue and passion as she found within those books. Her stories have placed in several contests, including the 2012 Golden Heart®. She lives in NYC with her husband and loves to hear from readers.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Goodreads