Top 5 Movies/Books/Series That Made Me Cry Ugly Tears by Shana Galen

RogueYouKnowReleaseGraphic

For me, writing is very much an escape. I tend to enjoy writing stories that make me smile or laugh or get my heart pumping with excitement. But there can’t be a silver lining or a rainbow without a few clouds, and sometimes those dark moments can be emotional to write. In ‘The Rogue You Know’, Gideon is a thief from London’s worst slums. Susanna is the daughter of an earl who lives in luxury. Even though they fall in love, they know they have no future together. Writing the scene where Gideon has to say goodbye to Susanna had me crying and blubbering and shedding big, fat tears. I don’t always cry at my own books, but I have been known to cry at others’. If you’re looking for a tear-jerker, give these recommendations a try.

tdatlir lh1)       ‘The Duke and The Lady in Red’ by Lorraine Heath

Pretty much every Lorraine Heath book has me crying ugly tears, but this last one I read was the best (or should I say the worst?). I still get emotional thinking about it. Heath is wonderful at creating characters that are so real and vivid their tragedies become ours.

2)       ‘Just One of the Guys’ by Kristan Higginsjootg kh

I’ve read a lot of books by Kristan Higgins, but this one sticks with me. Higgins is such an amusing writer that you never even see the emotional punch coming. This is one of those books I was happily reading while my husband was watching TV next to me. The next thing he knew, I was sobbing. Of course, he wanted to know what was wrong. I had to explain these were the good kind of tears!

3)       P.S. I Love You

I read both the book by Cecelia Ahearn and saw the movie with Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank. The one that made me cry the ugly tears was the movie. The book was poignant too, but I cried for all two hours of the movie. It was probably the saddest non-Holocaust movie I’ve ever seen. So fire up Netflix, grab your tissue and cookie dough ice cream, and enjoy the cathartic release!

cnv ew4)       ‘Code Name Verity’ by Elizabeth Wein

This is a YA novel, but if your fifteen-year-old is the sensitive type, I wouldn’t give this one to her. The story of two women, one British and one Scottish, during World War Two, this book was rife with teary moments. It’s definitely worth the read, but you might not want to read it in public unless you have your dark glasses.

5)       Les Miserables

I’ve seen the musical, which is wonderfully emotional and always leaves me dabbing my eyes, but the movie ripped my heart out. It’s one of those where I needed my sunglasses for the long walk out of the theater so everyone wouldn’t see my bleary eyes and red nose. It’s a fabulous movie that everyone should see, but don’t forget the movie star shades.

Are you like me? Do you enjoy a book or movie that gives you all the feels? What’s your favorite (or least favorite) tear-jerker?

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RogueYouKnowBOOK BLURB: She’s beyond his reach…

Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London’s dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society’s most untouchable women-Lady Susanna Derring.

…and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London’s glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother-and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it’s too late. But as she descends into London’s underworld, she finds that nothing- not even Gideon-is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she’s willing to pay…for the love of a reformed thief.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / IndieBound

TEASER:

Susanna jerked back, hidden on the far side of the desk again. Everyone knew London was rife with housebreakers, but would the thieves be so bold as to try and enter a house when the family was home? She heard a thump and trembled.

Apparently, the rogues were so bold. What would they do to her if they found her? Kill her? Rape her? Kidnap her for ransom?

She must escape, but how?

She peered around the desk again and saw two legs standing in front of the window. It was too late to run. The thief was already inside. She did a quick inventory of herself. She had nothing, absolutely nothing that would protect her from a ruffian.

She could hear the thief breathing now. He was breathing hard, as though he’d been running. She pressed her back against the oak of the desk and craned her neck. She spotted the shadow of a candlestick on the edge of the desk. She hadn’t lit the candle in it. If she could pull it off the edge without the thief noticing, she could use it to protect herself.

She felt the edge of the desk with her fingertips. Closing her eyes, she stretched her fingers until she touched the cool silver of the candlestick. She eased her fingers around it and tugged it soundlessly over the edge of the desk.

***

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 

Spotlight on Grace Burrowes and The Duke and His Duchess / The Courtship!

TheDukeandHisDutchessGraphic

My parents recently celebrated their seventieth wedding anniversary—you read that correctly, 7-0. I’m the sixth of their seven children, so I missed a lot of the opening rounds of the Burrowes family story. To make up for that great unfairness, I ask my parents and my older siblings to fill in blanks for me. What was it like for my mom, starting out with twin boys, when the nice obstetrician—who didn’t want to upset her—failed to inform her she was carrying twins?

Mom learned she was to embark on double motherhood in the delivery room, when the nurse said, “Keep pushing, Mrs. Burrowes. You’re still in labor.”

She kept pushing. My brother Dick is particularly grateful she did, too.

What was it like for my father, to be the sole support of nine people, various shirt-tail cousins, and extended family members, on just a professor’s salary?

We never did without the essentials. How did he DOOOOO that?

These stories are the stuff of family legends, and every family has them. When I’d written stories for all of the Windham siblings, I still had a sense that the family tale wasn’t complete. How did Maggie and Devlin join the family? How did Percival, occasionally more stubborn than insightful, have the great sense to marry Esther? Why has Esther remained his champion, conscience, and confidante despite all the trying moments?

To find those answers, I had to write two novellas. First, came “The Courtship”, wherein Their Graces fall madly in love, despite—what a surprise!—meddling parents. Second, came “The Duke and His Duchess”. We know Percy and Esther’s household was in some regards unconventional, but they chose love over appearances from the start of their relationship. I wanted to know how they got through the challenges created by Percy’s behavior prior to the marriage, and emerged a stronger couple and a happier family for their choices.

The Duke’s Courtship duology is the result of my curiosity about the ongoing magic of a loving family, and also a tribute to my parents, whose happily ever after continues, even as a I write this.

EXCERPT:

Miss Esther Himmelfarb has been dragooned into attending a house party to make up the numbers, and to keep an eye on a cousin with a penchant for gambling. Little does Esther know Lord Percival Windham will risk all to win her heart.

“Miss Himmelfarb, I believe?” Lord Percival winged an arm and smiled at Esther graciously. “Shall I have us introduced, or in the informality of the occasion, will you allow me to join you at supper?”

A more calculating man would have offered to escort her to whoever had the honor of dining with her, but then, Lord Percival likely did not have to be calculating.

“I will happily accept your escort to the buffet, my lord.” Esther laced her gloved hand around Lord Percival’s arm, only to encounter a small surprise.

Or not so small.

Gossip had not lied. The man was muscular in the extreme, and this close, he was also of sufficient height to uphold the fiction that he’d protect Esther from any brigands or wolves wandering about Lady Morrisette’s parlor.

“Does your family hail from Kent, Miss Himmelfarb? I know most of the local families and cannot recall Himmelfarbs among them.”

The question was perfectly pleasant, and so too was his lordship’s scent. Not the scent of exertion or the standard rose-scented rice powder—he wasn’t wearing a wig—but something elusive…

“You’re twitching your nose like a thoughtful bunny, Miss Himmelfarb. Are you in anticipation of something particularly succulent among the supper offerings?”

He smiled down at her as he spoke, and for moment, Esther could not fashion a reply. Of all the times for Charlotte Pankhurst to be right about a man’s blue, blue eyes…

“I’m trying to fathom the fragrance you’re wearing, my lord. It’s pleasant.”

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think from your expression that you do not approve of men wearing pleasant scents.” His tone, amused, teasing, suggested that sometimes, all he wore was a pleasant scent—and that just-for-you smile.

Lord Percival leaned nearer, as if sharing a confidence amid the noise and bustle of the first night of a lively, extended social gathering.

“Bay rum lacks imagination, don’t you think? I shall wear it when I’m a settled fellow with children in my nursery. There’s cedar in the scent I wear, reminds me of Canada. You’re partial to spicy scents yourself.”

He was inviting a reciprocal confidence from her with that observation. The notion of trading secrets with Percival Windham made something beneath Esther’s heart twang—disagreeably, of course.

“Lavender with a few other things.”

“My dear”—his lordship had straightened only a bit—“why is My Lady Hair Bows staring daggers in this direction?”

My lady…? Then… my dear?!

“I’m not sure what you mean, my lord.”

“You know exactly what I mean, Miss Himmelfarb.” Lord Percival picked up a plate, though they were still some distance from any sustenance. “Now the Needy girl is at her elbow, pouring brandy on the flames of gossip. You and I will be engaged by this time tomorrow, I don’t doubt.”

Did one correct a duke’s spare when he made light of marriage to a woman within staring distance of professional spinsterhood?

Yes, one did.

“Her name is Needham, my lord. And I should think an engagement unlikely when you have yet to ask for my hand and I have given no indication I would accept your suit.”

The light in his eyes changed, going from friendly—yes, that was the word—to something more intent.

“You are an impertinent woman. We shall get on famously, Miss Himmelfarb. I adore impertinent women.”

***

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TheDukeHisDuchessTheCourtshipBOOK BLURB:

THE COURTSHIP

The first novella to be published by New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes features the foundation story for her bestselling Windham series. This is the tender story of love tested and won, and how Percy Windham, the dashing and brilliant man who was never supposed to become the Duke of Moreland, wooed Esther Himmelfarb, the amazing lady who became his beloved Duchess.

THE DUKE AND HIS DUCHESS

In this second prequel novella to the popular Windham series, Grace Burrowes continues the story of the Duke and Duchess of Moreland through the tumultuous and bittersweet first years of marriage and parenthood. Percival Windham is a second son and cavalry officer when he weds the beautiful Esther Himmelfarb. Percy and Esther must grow into the nobility they’ve been resisting and stand together, or face the threat of destroying their young family and the beautiful love that started out with such promise…

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / Books A Million

REVIEW: I was one of those people who hadn’t jumped on the wagon of this new author that everyone was talking about. I resisted for almost a year to buy her début ‘The Heir’, but in the end I gave in. To this day I’m shaking my head when I think about it! I adored every word I read and from that point on, I was hooked on Grace Burrowes. I also wondered about the secondary/supportive character of the Duke of Morland, the man that started it all. Who is this man?! Why would his Duchess even consider, let alone agree to raise his bastard children?

I really wondered after a few books that followed in this series, if Madam Author would ever answer those burning questions for me.

I can’t tell you how happy I was when she released the two novellas that explained this to me.

The love story of Esther and Percival is truly one for the ages and I highly recommend it to all of my bookworms, especially to those that have never read this author. This is a great way for you to be introduced to this series and to a wonderful writing voice of an author that has become one of my all time favorites in a blink of an eye.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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 fromPublishers 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

Launch Day Blitz with Sue-Ellen Welfonder!

To-Desire-a-Highlander-Launch-Day-Blitz

 

TEASER:

The glint in his eye, the hard set of his jaw, made her forget every word he and her father had just exchanged.  Indeed, even her reason for standing here almost slipped from her mind.

She saw only Donell, the slight narrowing of his dark, intense eyes.

She held up a hand, hoping to halt him.

He kept on, ignoring her objection.  “You needn’t assure me of her talents.”  He tossed the quip to her father, not breaking stride.  “Lady Gillian’s skills are renown, as is her beauty.”

“See here….” Gillian couldn’t finish, needing a steadying breath more than arguments.  Sparks leapt between them, the very air shifting.  Heat rose around her, warming her skin despite the racing wind, the day’s bitter cold.

He was almost upon her and she felt more than saw his displeasure.  He’d caught himself quickly, even before her father finished speaking.  If he’d been shocked by the implications behind praise of her housekeeping talent, he’d again seized the advantage.  He wore a wickedly devilish look that jellied her knees.

She also bristled.

He might be roguish, even wildly attractive, but she wouldn’t bat her eyelashes, allow him to fluster her.  There were surely enough women who did.  And she wasn’t about to join their ranks.

She wasn’t so easily charmed.

So she lifted her chin, willing a steely glint into her eyes.  She knew with feminine instinct that he wasn’t pleased by her father’s reminder of their betrothal.

Perhaps he’d met another woman during his years away, wished to marry her?

One could hope.

She wouldn’t mind releasing him from their ties, freeing him to claim another.

Unfortunately, the closer he came, the more she discerned an entirely different intent.  As he loomed before her, his towering presence blocking her family and even her view of the landing beach, she knew she wasn’t mistaken.  Especially when he set his hands on her shoulders, a slow smile spreading across his strong, bearded face.

He meant to kiss her.

She frowned, hoping to dissuade him.

“It’s too late for posturing, sweetness.”  He shook his head, the thick raven silk of his hair teasing his broad, plaid-draped shoulders.

“I did not expect to see you again.”  Gillian straightened, flicked at her sleeve.  “Not this day, not ever.  In truth, I scarce recognize you.”

“Then I was gone too long, I’m thinking.”  He caught her hand, linking their fingers, bringing her wrist to his lips.  The warmth of his mouth against her skin and the light brush of his wind-chilled beard sent a rush of tingly sensation along her nerves.

###

tdah sewBOOK BLURB: An Unwilling Bride
Proud, passionate Lady Gillian MacGuire is known as the Spitfire of the Isles. She can take care of herself and hasn’t yet met a man who could impress her . . . especially not Donell MacDonnell, the man she was promised to five years ago. She’s been dreading his return, but when her intended comes back to claim her, she’s stunned at how different he seems. The man she swore she would spurn forever now invades her thoughts, her dreams, and her heart.

An Unexpected Desire
When Roag agrees to assume the identity of the recently deceased MacDonnell chieftain, no one warns him that the man was betrothed. As a member of the King’s Fenris Guard, he is oath-bound to embark on whatever mission the crown gives him. Of course, he was expecting a battle-not a bride. Yet after sharing one kiss with Lady Gillian, the powerful Highlander becomes the one seduced and captivated. Now giving in to temptation could ruin them both

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / Kobo

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Sue-Ellen_WelfonderAUTHOR BIO: Sue-Ellen Welfonder is a Scotophile whose burning wish to make frequent trips to the land of her dreams led her to a twenty-year career with the airlines.

Now a full-time writer, she’s quick to admit that she much prefers wielding a pen to pushing tea and coffee. She makes annual visits to  Scotland, insisting they are a necessity, as each trip gives her inspiration for new books.

Proud of her own Hebridean ancestry, she belongs to two clan societies: the MacFie Clan Society and the Clan MacAlpine Society. In addition to  Scotland, her greatest passions are medieval history, the paranormal, and dogs. She never watches television, loves haggis, and writes at a 450-year-old desk that once stood in a Bavarian castle.

Sue-Ellen is married and currently resides with her husband and Jack Russell terrier in  Florida.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Spotlight on Sabrina York and ‘Hannah and the Highlander’!

hath syBOOK BLURB: Highlanders are her weakness.

Hannah Dounreay has no time for suitors who only seem interested in her family’s land, which she manages as well as any man. If she marries, she wants to be loved for the educated, independent woman she is. But when a strong, silent—and spectacularly handsome—Highlander saves her from a violent attack, her heart is stirred. Who is this man? And if he asks for Hannah’s hand, will she be able to resist him?

Love is the most powerful weapon of all.

Alexander Lochlannach, Laird of Dunnet, has no time to lose. The Highlands are in an uproar as clans battle for land—without mercy—and Alexander can’t afford to fall for the wildly attractive, strong-willed Hannah. What’s more, he has a desperate secret, one that could destroy them both. But as their attraction turns into an all-consuming passion, Alexander has no choice but to prove to Hannah that he’s the only man for her—body and soul…

BUY LINKS: Amazon

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE

May 1813

Barrogill, Caithness County, Scotland

She should look away. Really, she should. But Hannah Dounreay could not tear her gaze from the sight of the enormous man striding onto the field of combat like a war- rior of old. It could have been the glorious fall of inky black curls riffling in the breeze, or the breadth of his shoulders, or the sharp cut of his chin . . . or the rippling muscles of his bare chest, swathed only with the Sinclair plaid. But something had captivated her attention.

He stood, tall and proud, bare legged in the traditional kilt, head and shoulders above the other men. He was even taller than her father and Papa was not a small man.

Hoots and hollers rose from the throng as he surveyed the pile of logs—taunts from his competitors, who, one and all, wanted to break his concentration. They did not. His biceps bunched as he braced his thick legs and hefted a caber. Hannah sucked in a breath at the undeniable evi- dence of the sheer power of this man. An unfamiliar flut- ter danced deep in her core.

It was a shame he was too far away for her to make out the details of his face.

His body stilled, his energy hummed, as he studied the clutter of tossed cabers and took his aim. The catcalls rose. He ignored them and heaved back. With a great growl, he let fly. The log wheeled through the air like an arrow, arcing past all the others to fall with an enormous thud that shook the earth. A plume of dust rose, along with the cheers of the crowd.

Though she wasn’t a fan of male posturing and ridicu- lous, archaic games such as this, Hannah couldn’t deny she was impressed. This man had easily trounced all the others.

Her father approached him and clapped him on the back in congratulations. Papa said something and the tall, strik- ing man threw back his head and laughed.

Hannah’s heart hitched. The sound was like music, rising above the cacophony of the fair-like atmosphere, dancing on the wind to her ears. He turned then, and she caught a glimpse of his face. Hard. Harsh. As craggy as the moors. But, lit with his grin, striking.

Ach. She really should look away. But she couldn’t. “Husband shopping?”

Hannah whirled to frown at Susana. Heat prickled at her nape. First of all, because she’d been caught ogling. And second of all, she was tired of her sister’s teasing about her reluctance to settle on a suitor.

Susana excelled at teasing.

And on the topic of suitors, there was much fodder.

“I have no idea what you mean.” Hannah tried not to speak in a defensive tone but failed.

Susana smirked. “He’s a fine bonny lad. I couldna blame you for drooling.”

“I wasna drooling.” And he wasn’t a lad. He was a man. “Although he’s hardly your . . . type.”

Hannah snorted. She had no “type.”

“I mean, look at him.” Too late. She already was. Again. That Susana was now ogling him as well sent an odd ripple of annoyance through her. “Tall. Powerful. Domineering. It’s written on every line of his face. That is a man you could never control.”

“I doona need to control everything.” A mutter.

There was no call for Susana to laugh as she did. Up- roariously. The sound captured the attention of every male on the field. But then, it would. Of the three Dounreay sisters, Susana was by far the prettiest, statuesque and curvy. Her hair, a riotous fall of red, was her crowning glory. Lana, the youngest, was very pretty too, with honey- blond curls and sweet, delicate features. They each took after their father, but as they had had different mothers, they were very unalike in looks and temperament.

Beside them, Hannah felt like the cuckoo in the nest. She’d inherited her mother’s coloring of dark, black tresses and pale white skin. Her eyes were too large and her mouth had a crooked slant. She was hardly stunning. Plain was a better word for it. Aside from all that she was, well, plumpish. Perhaps it was a blessing that, as the eldest, she also came with the fertile strip of land and bustling fish- ing village.

Likely, without that she couldn’t catch a husband at all. Certainly not the kind of husband she would want.

It was quite lowering to be desired only for one’s or- chards. Well, there was the castle too. And the loch. And the lucrative salt mining.

Though it was naïve in this day and age, and probably ludicrous given what she saw in the mirror, Hannah reviled the prospect of marrying a man who only wanted her land. Deep in her heart she longed for a man who might want her for herself.

And, if she had to marry, she wanted what Susana had had with Gilley.

But she was not Susana. She was naught but a pale shadow in comparison. She was hardly a woman to engen- der blind devotion. When she married, her husband would, no doubt, see her as chattel, as a broodmare. He would ex- pect her to follow his orders rather than issuing her own.

She’d never been adept at following orders and she’d certainly never met a man to whom she would willingly surrender her freedoms. And a husband would expect that, she supposed. The thought made her shudder.

Hannah frowned and turned her attention back at the field, where other men were now stepping up to try their luck. She winced as her gaze tangled with his. Indeed, he’d been watching her with a scorching stare that was fierce and assessing, almost hungry. And Susana was right. As attractive as he was, he was not what Hannah was look- ing for in a husband. Not that she wanted a man she could control. Above all things, she craved a sweet and roman- tic man, one with whom she could share confidences, laughter, and late-night chats. A man with whom she could have a connection.

This man was a warrior. There was probably not a ro- mantic bone in his body.

Still . . . that body. Heat blossomed on her cheeks at his frank survey and she yanked her attention to something else. Anything else.

Unfortunately, it landed on Niall Leveson-Gower, who was also staring at her. His attention made her uneasy. Then again, Niall always made her uneasy. He offered a toothy smile and she nodded in response but quickly looked away. She didn’t want to encourage him. Niall was one of her suit- ors. His father, the Marquess of Stafford, had made no se- cret of the fact that he wanted to acquire Reay, a feat that could only be accomplished through marriage. To her.

Aside from the fact that she found Niall physically re- volting, there was a greater peril to consider. The marquess had followed the example of the southern lairds and cleared his land, evicting his tenants to import sheep; should Reay fall into his hands, he would, no doubt, do the same there, destroying everything her family had built for generations.

 

Sabrina_head_logoAUTHOR BIO: Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. With over 25 titles her books range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance. Visit her webpage to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Represented by Lane Heymont with the Seymour Agency.

Download a free teaser book filled with excerpts and reviews for her work.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Spotlight on Jane Ashford and ‘A Radical Arrangement’!

ara rb bt

ara jaBOOK BLURB: Brash and Handsome

Sir Justin Keighley is all wrong for a proper young lady like Margaret Mayfield. Everyone knows he is shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society. Margaret absolutely will not marry him—no matter what her parents say.

Beautiful and Shy

Margaret was everything Sir Justin detested in a woman—timid, sheltered, and obedient to a fault. It’s not until she runs away from him that he finds he must give chase. Margaret is discovering she can be bold and rebellious—intrepid enough to do what she must, and more exciting than Justin ever imagined possible. She’s the last woman he would have expected to lead them both into uncharted territory…

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Apple / BAM / B&N / Chapters / Indiebound

>>>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<<

EXCERPT:

Sir Justin Keighley stood in the doorway, looking them over with a slight, satirical curve of his lips. He wore, like the other gentlemen, conventional evening dress, but this superficial similarity was their only common ground. Ralph Mayfìeld, Philip Manningham, the squire, and John Twitchel were none of them unattractive men or negligible personalities. Each, in his own sphere, had a certain dignity and authority, and all had the confidence that respect engendered. Yet somehow, the moment he entered the room and before he spoke a word, Justin Keighley eclipsed them. It was not charm. Indeed, the newcomer did not look at all pleasant or ingratiating. And it was not mere social position. Keighley held an ancient baronetcy and a substantial fortune, but any of twenty men his hosts were accustomed to meeting ranked above him. Ralph Mayfield could not have said why he felt subdued as he came forward to greet his final guest.

The squire’s wife might have enlightened him. As she had told a friend at a Bath assembly two years ago, “Justin Keighley is a vastly attractive man, my dear. And not just to women. All the young men ape him, my son among them. I don’t know just how it is, but he has a great influence without appearing to seek it in the least. Indeed, sometimes I think he dislikes the idea. But it goes on. It’s something in his manner. No doubt you’ve noticed it yourself. He makes you look at him.” Mrs. Camden had been embarrassed by this speech, but it was quite true. And Keighley’s attraction was the more mysterious because he was not conventionally handsome. Though tall and well made, with broad shoulders and a good leg, his features were rough—a jutting nose and heavy black brows that nearly obscured expressive hazel eyes. And he took no care with his dress, a rarity in an elegant age. His coats were made so that he could shrug himself into them without help; his collars did not even approach his jaw; and he had once been observed in White’s with a distinct thumb mark on his Hessian boots, giving one of the dandy set what he described as “a shuddering palpitation.”

But these sartorial eccentricities were outweighed by Sir Justin’s political influence and sagacity. He was an intimate of the Prince Regent and Lord Holland, and important in the Whig Party. These facts did not explain his fascination for a great number of people, chiefly women, who hadn’t the slightest interest in politics, but they amply justified the Mayfìelds’ attention and suppressed antipathy.

“Good evening,” Keighley said to Mr. Mayfield in a deep, resonant voice. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.”

“Not at all, not at all. Come in. You know everyone, I think.”

Sir Justin bowed his head with a sardonic smile. He always met precisely the same people at his yearly dinner with the Mayfields, presumably those they were certain he could not “corrupt” with his aberrant opinions, and he always felt the same infuriated boredom. For the fiftieth time he wondered why he came. There was no hope of amusement or chance of advantage here. The Mayfields and their friends were just the sort of smug, resolutely conventional people he despised. They held to the views their fathers had bequeathed them and attacked all others. If one tried to make them change even a fraction, they shook their heads and muttered of treason.

He looked around the room. The only addition this year was the Mayfìelds’ daughter. He had forgotten her name, but he remembered that she had come out last season. She looked as one would have expected: a pallid, simpering creature. Keighley shrugged. Politics forced him to endure fools occasionally. The Prince would want to know the climate of opinion here in Devon. He supposed he could get through this evening as he had previous ones, through a combination of stoicism and bitter inner laughter.

Margaret watched him with awed apprehension as he settled beside Mrs. Camden and began to chat with her about London. She had never actually spoken to Sir Justin; her mother had seen to that. But she had heard him talked of so many times that she felt she knew what he would say in response to a wide variety of remarks. It would always be shocking. She gazed at him in an effort to understand how any man could be so utterly depraved in thought and action, almost expecting his rugged face to contort in a grimace of malevolence and his chiseled lips to emit some horrifying revelation.

Suddenly Sir Justin looked up and met her eyes from across the room. He seemed at first startled to find her staring, then his mocking smile appeared again, and he raised one black brow, holding her gaze. Embarrassed, Margaret tried to look away, but something in his hazel eyes prevented it. A spark glinted there, and she felt a kind of tremor along her nerves. It was utterly unfamiliar and unsettling, like a violent thrill of feeling. How could a stranger affect her so? This must be fear, she thought; I am afraid of him. She began to tremble, but still she could not turn her head away. He seemed to understand her reaction and, amused, to prolong the contact on purpose.

Finally Keighley laughed and bent to answer some question of Mrs. Camden’s. Margaret jerked back in her chair and clasped her shaking hands so tightly that the knuckles whitened. He was a dreadful man. She would not speak to him, and if she ever saw him again, she would run away.

###

jane ashfordAUTHOR BIO: Jane Ashford, a retired teacher and editor, is now a beloved author of historical and contemporary romances. She has been published in various parts of the world, including Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Spain, and of course the U.S.

Jane is also a two-time RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award nominee. Born in Ohio, Jane now divides her time between Boston and Los Angeles.

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

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Spotlight on Grace Burrowes and ‘Tremaine’s True Love’!

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What makes a man a gentleman?

For a romance writer, this question has to be answered in every book, because implicit in the term “hero” is something of the gentleman. Heroes need not be charming, handsome or wealthy, and they might not even be obviously heroic, at least at the start of the book, but they have to be worthy of our loyalty for the duration of an entire book. 

In the True Gentlemen series, I took three men who’d wandered across my pages in previous stories—Tremaine St. Michael, Daniel Banks, and Willow Dorning—and found them each a happily ever after. Tremaine is a flinty business man, Daniel is poor and pious, Willow finds polite society an enormous trial and would far rather be with his dogs. These fellows were not obvious choices as romance heroes, but they each had something that tempted me to write stories for them.

When we met Tremaine in an earlier book (Gabriel: Lord of Regrets), Tremaine was convinced that he’d found a good candidate for the position of wife. He offered marriage, listing all the practical advantages to both parties, and he congratulated himself on how much sense his proposed union would make.

The lady turned him down flat, and as a gentleman is bound to do, he graciously ceded the field. He didn’t like it, he didn’t entirely understand how or what he’d lost, but he wished the happy couple well.

Daniel’s role in David: Lord of Honor was to charge to London with sermons at the ready in an attempt to restore his sister’s honor. The very man Daniel accused of wronging that sister had already set her back on the path to respectability.

Oops. But again, being a gentleman, Daniel wishes the couple every happiness, even if doing so costs him the future he’d envisioned for himself and his loved ones. Like Tremaine, he’s a gracious and even dignified loser.

Willow’s appearance in Worth: Lord of Reckoning is brief, but he too is determined to see a sister rescued from a possibly compromising position, and again, rescue is simply not on the heroine’s agenda.

In all three cases, the true gentleman acts in the best interests of those he loves and is responsible for, regardless of the inconvenience or cost to himself. Because Tremaine, Daniel, and Willow were honorable, I liked them. I trusted them, I wanted them to have the happiness they clearly already deserved.

In the Nicholas Haddonfield’s sisters—Nita, Kirsten, and Susannah—I found ladies willing to oblige my ambitions for these men. In each case, our hero has lessons yet to learn, and in each case, his inherent honor wins the day. He might not be handsome, wealthy, or charming in the eyes of the world, but because he’s a true gentleman in the eyes of his lady, he wins her true love.

I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them!

ttl gbSTORY: He’s had everything he could ever want…until now

Wealthy wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael is half French, half Scottish, and all business. He prowls the world in search of more profits, rarely settling in one place for long. When he meets practical, reserved Lady Nita Haddonfield, he sees an opportunity to mix business with pleasure by making the lady his own.

Nita Haddonfield has a meaningful life tending to others, though nobody is dedicated to caring for Nita. She insists the limitations of marriage aren’t for her, then Tremaine St. Michael arrives-protective, passionate, and very, very determined to win Nita’s heart.

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EXCERPT: Wealthy businessman Tremaine St. Michael has concluded that marriage to Lady Nita Haddonfield would be a prudent merger of complimentary interests for the mutual benefit and enjoyment of both parties… or some such blather.

Tremaine rapped on Lady Nita’s door, quietly, despite a light shining from beneath it. Somebody murmured something which he took for permission to enter.

“Mr. St. Michael?”

Tremaine stepped into her ladyship’s room, closed the door behind him and locked it, which brought the total of his impossibly forward behaviors to several thousand.

“Your ladyship expected a sister, or a maid with a pail of coal?”

“I wasn’t expecting you.” Lady Nita sat near the hearth in a blue velvet dressing gown. The wool stockings on her feet were thick enough to make a drover covetous. “Are you unwell, Mr. St. Michael?”

“You are not pleased to see me.” Did she think illness the only reason somebody would seek her out?

She set aside some pamphlet, a medical treatise, no doubt. No vapid novels for Lady Nita.

“I was not expecting you, sir.”

“You were not expecting me to discuss marriage with you earlier. I wasn’t expecting the topic to come up in a casual fashion either. May I sit?”

She waved an elegant hand at the other chair flanking the hearth. Tremaine settled in, trying to gather his thoughts while the firelight turned Lady Nita’s braid into a rope of burnished gold.

“You are pretty.” Brilliant place to start. The words had come out, heavily burred, something of an ongoing revelation.

“I am tall and blond,” she retorted, twitching the folds her of her robe. “I have the usual assortment of parts. What did you come here to discuss?”

Lady Nita was right, in a sense. Her beauty was not of the ballroom variety, but rather, an illumination of her features by characteristics unseen. She fretted over new babies, cut up potatoes like any crofter’s wife, and worried for her sisters. These attributes interested Tremaine. Her madonna-with-a-secret smile, keen intellect, and longing for laughter attracted him.

Even her medical pre-occupation, in its place, had some utility as well.

“Will you marry me, my lady?”

More brilliance. Where had his wits gone? George Haddonfield had graciously pointed out that Nita needed repose and laughter, and Tremaine was offering her the hand of the most restless and un-silly man in the realm.

The lady somehow contained her incredulity, staring at her hands. “You want to discuss marriage?”

“I believe I did just open that topic. Allow me to elaborate on my thesis: Lady Bernita Haddonfield, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? I think we would suit, and I can promise you would know no want in my care.”

A proper swain would have been on his damn bended knee, the lady’s hand in his. Lady Nita would probably laugh herself to tears if Tremaine attempted that nonsense. Lady Nita picked up her pamphlet, which Tremaine could now see was written in German.

“Why, Mr. St. Michael?”

“I beg your pardon?” Tremaine was about to pitch the damned pamphlet in the fire, until he recalled that Nita Haddonfield excelled at obscuring her stronger emotions.

“Why should you marry me, Tremaine St. Michael? Why should I marry you? I’ve had other offers, you’ve made other offers. You haven’t known me long enough to form an opinion of my character beyond the superficial.”

This ability to take a situation apart, into causes, effects, symptoms, and prognosis was part of the reason she was successful as a healer. Tremaine applied the same tendencies to commercial situations, so he didn’t dismiss her questions as coyness or manipulation.

She wasn’t rejecting him either. She most assuredly was not rejecting him.

***

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 fromPublishers 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.

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Spotlight on Samantha Grace and ‘Best of Both Rogues’!

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Hi, everyone. I’m Samantha Grace, RITA-nominated author of the historical romance series, Rival Rogues. Today I’m very happy to be joined by Benjamin Hillary, the hero of my latest novel,The Best of Both Rogues, and his good friend Crispin Locke, Viscount Margrave. Ben’s younger sister, Lady Lana Forest, has graciously agreed to act as the interviewer.

Lana shakes her finger at the men: I don’t want any trouble today. Simply answer my questions and give me no grief. Are we clear on the expectations?

Viscount Margrave: Is she always this demanding?

Ben: If you think this is demanding, you have very little experience with younger sisters.

Viscount Margrave: I have none—no brothers or sisters.

Lana: You poor man. Would you like me to be your honorary sister?

Ben: Margrave doesn’t need a keeper. Could we please proceed with the interview now?

Lana flashes a gloating smile at her brother: Admit it, Ben. You just don’t want to share me.

Ben: I share you with three other brothers. What do you mean, I don’t want to share you?

Lana to Margrave: Ignore him. Ben has been in a temper ever since he heard about Miss Thorne’s engagement to Sir Jonathan Hackberry. He does not like to share, regardless of what he says.

Ben: I don’t like to share my betrothed.

Viscount Margrave whispers to Lana: But if Miss Thorne is engaged to Sir Jonathan, wouldn’t that make her his fiancée?

Ben: Their betrothal is a temporary dilemma.

Viscount Margrave: True, since most betrothals end when the couple marries.

Ben: I remember you being more supportive. What happened during the two years I was in India?

Viscount Margrave: Your lady grew tired of waiting for your return, so she accepted another man’s proposal.

Ben throws his hands in the air: I give up. You’ll never tell me what you were into while I was gone, will you?

Viscount Margrave: There is nothing to tell.

Lana shakes out a sheet of foolscap: We should get on with the interview. Who is your favorite mythological god or goddess?

Viscount Margrave: Dolos.

Ben’s gaze narrows on his friend: The god of trickery and deception. Imagine that.

Viscount Margrave smirks: Or I could be lying about my favorite god.

Ben: You’re enjoying yourself, aren’t you?

Goodreads Giveaway

3 Signed IN BED WITH A ROGUE copies – open 6/24/2015 – 7/31/2015

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sg tbobrBOOK BLURB: The worst thing Mr. Benjamin Hillary ever did was abandon his bride-to-be on their wedding day.

The hardest thing he will ever have to do is watch her marry another man.

After two long years abroad, Ben finds Eve every bit as captivating as she was the first time he saw her, and he vows to set things right.

Lady Eve Thorne has a new man in her life, and Ben is nothing but trouble. She is no longer a starry-eyed young woman, and now that he’s back, he can go hang for all she cares. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself…

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EXCERPT:

Ben made a slow circle of the brightly lit ballroom, stopping occasionally to study the couples as they sashayed past, their cheeks pink from exertion. After several moments, he was satisfied Lord Wellham wasn’t among the dancers, not that Ben was surprised. If his memory served, the earl favored gambling over gamboling.

Reaching a secluded corner near a dark alcove, he paused to check once more for his quarry before he sought out the card room.

“What are you doing here?” a voice hissed. “You are not on the guest list.”

“Pardon?” Ben spun toward the speaker and came up short. His eyebrows veered toward each other. “How do you know?” he whispered back to the mass of green palm fronds.

“Because I helped make the list.” The plant’s fronds parted, and Eve Thorne’s stern glare greeted him. What the devil was she doing?

Her frown deepened when he simply stared, at a loss for words. “Do you have a death wish, Mr. Hillary?”

The corners of his mouth twitched. “Let me guess, you’ve been attacked by a man-eating plant. Are you in need of rescue, Kitten?”

She growled softly and the fronds snapped back into place. Ben checked the surrounding area to be certain they hadn’t earned any unwanted attention, then peered around the massive greenery. Eve was wedged against the wall, her yellow chiffon skirts crushed against the large pot. Her chest rose and fell in rapid movements, drawing his attention to the modest swell of her breasts peeking above her lacy neckline. A rosy glow infused her ivory skin, making the sprinkling of freckles across her cheeks almost unnoticeable.

God, he had missed her – her freckles, her pouty lips, her soulful brown eyes. He had been smitten from the moment he had spied her at the theater during the little Season, and two years on a faraway continent had done nothing to cool his ardor.

“What are you doing back there, Miss Thorne, and shouldn’t you have a chaperone?”

She crossed her arms as if erecting a wall between them. “God only knows why, but I am trying to save your skin, Benjamin James Arran Hillary.”

Damnation. He had almost forgotten he’d been burdened with so many names, and that she had a habit of invoking every one when she was perturbed. His smile expanded. Despite her pretense of indifference, she was worried for him. “Am I to conclude your skulking about means you still care?”

“I care about Lady Eldridge, and I do not want to see her ball ruined by you and Sebastian coming to fisticuffs. You really must leave before he sees you and demands another meeting on the field.”

Crossing paths with Sebastian Thorne didn’t concern Ben. Her brother’s need to defend her reputation after Ben jilted her had been satisfied three weeks earlier in a duel, and Thorne would not issue a second challenge for fear of losing. Ben suspected neither of them wanted to risk looking like fools again either. Instead of dueling with pistols or swords as any other normal men would do, they had allowed Eve to choose the weapons. She had chosen gloves.

He scowled. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous it looked for two men to engage in a slapping match?” The gents at Brooks’s hadn’t stopped talking about the duel for days, and Ben had endured the brunt of the teasing since he’d followed his youngest brother’s advice and allowed Thorne to win.

Eve’s smile radiated with self-satisfaction. “Since no one died, I would say I made an excellent choice.”

He grudgingly admitted her cleverness had managed to resolve the conflict without bloodshed – or much, anyway. Ben had walked away with a cut on his cheek and a nasty bruise, thanks to her brother filling his glove with pebbles. But bruised pride and a bruised mug were small prices to pay to see Eve’s position in Society restored.

Samantha GraceAUTHOR BIO: Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals.

It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publishers Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever. 

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