She was a fallen woman. Could they help her land on her feet?

A Baron for Becky is up for reader voting in the RONE Awards

A Baron for Becky has been nominated for a RONE Award in the Historical Post-Medieval category, but it needs reader votes to get to the final round. Please go to http://www.indtale.com/2016-rone-awards-week-six to vote. If you’re not a subscriber, you’ll need to sign up to vote, but it’s free, and you’ll get a monthly ezine packed full of articles and reviews.

The book has a 4.47 star average rating on Goodreads; 4.5 on Amazon

InD’Tale review said: “A Baron for Becky” is a fascinating look at ownership of all kinds. It does not seek to rewrite history when it comes to women owning anything. Titles and entailed ownership could indeed be held by women, but only at great cost, a vote, and Royal decree… All the characters are delightful, real, and three-dimensional, and the story is a scandalous romp into the past!

Sale ENDS this week

If you don’t yet have it, I’ve reduced the price to 99c until the end of voting, so buy now.

EXCERPTS

NAKED AND ASLEEP IN A GARDEN

Jacques-Dumont-le-Romain--007 Naked man sleeping

Aldridge never did find out how he came to be naked, alone, and sleeping in the small summerhouse in the garden of a country cottage. His last memory of the night before had him twenty miles away, and—although not dressed—in a comfortable bed, and in company.

The first time he woke, he had no idea how far he’d come, but the moonlight was bright enough to show him half-trellised window openings, and an archway leading down a short flight of steps into a garden. A house loomed a few hundred feet distant, a dark shape against the star-bright sky. But getting up was too much trouble, particularly with a headache that hung inches above him, threatening to split his head if he moved. The cushioned bench on which he lay invited him to shut his eyes and go back to sleep. Time enough to find out where he was in the morning.

WHAT’S IN A KISS?

The Kiss

She thought she knew kisses.  Rough and clumsy connections, rude invasions of her mouth, as the man who had purchased the right violently mauled her breasts and buttocks. Those weren’t kisses.

This; this was a kiss. A firm, but gentle, invitation to a duet, patiently coaxing a response and then turning to a dance, a partnership of giving and taking that spun music through every vein in her body. Becky forgot where she was, almost who she was, as she melted against him, lost in a world of sensation.

WHO’S THAT SLEEPING IN MY BED?

jules-batien-lepage-jeune-femme-endormie-1880-1351968264_orgAt one hour to the minute, he returned up the stairs. The suite was silent and dark. He lit a candle from one in the hall sconce, and let himself into the bedchamber he’d reserved for them. “Becky, I am here,” he said.

No reply. She must be tired, after spending the day keeping little Sarah amused. He put the candle down on the bedside table and stripped naked, muttering to himself as his fingers fumbled over buttons and laces.

He’d wake her with kisses, then… his mind full of images of what came next, he had one knee on the bed and one hand already reaching for the blanket when a tousled dark head emerged, confused cornflower blue eyes blinking at him. “What are you doing in my Mama’s bed?” asked little Sarah.

WHAT WILL HE DO WHEN HE HEARS HER SECRET?

Flirtation *oil on canvas *65 x 85.7 cm *signed ab.r.: F. Soulacroix

She enjoyed his company, and missed him when he was off on duchy business, or out making mayhem in the ton. She’d learned more about sex in three years with Aldridge, than in three years in a brothel and six with other men. But he was also good company out of bed, an entertaining conversationalist, happiest when his mistress had opinions and made him work hard to defend his.

The deep melancholy he kept so well disguised called to the mother in her, and she would trust him with most things in her life. Though not with a sister, if she had one, and not with her daughter, if Sarah were a few years older.

She wasn’t at all sure she could trust him with the news she was going to have to tell him soon.

A COURTESAN’S LOVE FOR HER CHILD

madame-vigee-lebrun-and-her-daughter-jeanne-lucie-louise-1789

The child’s calm self-possession fractured in the face of the doll and her wardrobe.

“Oh, I love her! Look, Mama! Look how beautiful she is. Look at all her clothes!”

Hugh looked. The mother, bending over her daughter, exclaiming over the doll’s articulated arms and legs, and its wardrobe. And the child, her mother in miniature. Identical heart-shaped faces; identical dark hair, tied back but with tiny curls left loose around their foreheads; identical porcelain skin and cornflower blue eyes fringed with dark lashes.

So beautiful.

So intent, eyes full of love for her daughter, like statues of the Madonna he had seen in Catholic Italy, before he sold out.

God, he needed a drink.

THIS MARRIAGE COULD NEVER WORK. COULD IT?

george-goldwin-kilburne-the-new-spinet

She took a turn around the room. This would be much easier if he had remained the disdainful, half-drunk, leering buffoon of a few weeks ago. Sober and respectful, he was temptation personified. But it would never work. “I would expect fidelity, my lord. And sobriety.”

“So would I,” he responded.

Fair enough. Most of the barques of frailty she knew lightened the gloom of their lives with drink or opium. Or laudanum, which combined the two. She had started down that track in the brothel; had nearly died of an overdose. She still shuddered at the memories of the withdrawal, and the cravings she fought afterward. “I do not drink, my lord, and I keep my promises. If ever I marry, I will be true to my vows.” She could not resist emphasising the final ‘I’.

“So will I,” said the baron.

GRIEF LURKS BEYOND THE FOG

Venetia-Lady-Digby-on-her-deathbed

There was a fog. No. Heavier than a fog. A bank of clouds. A blanket, almost, covering everything. Sometimes, she could see through it a little, or hear a few words, or feel a touch. Sarah came to visit. She was sure of that. Her belly hurt. Was it the baby? No. The baby was gone. There was a grief there, somewhere just out of reach, waiting to consume her, but she wouldn’t think of it. She was so hot. No, she was cold. So cold, she was sweating.

Voices. Hands washing her, changing her. Hands touching her intimately. No! She wasn’t going back there!

“Hush, Becky. Hush. Don’t struggle, my love.” Hugh’s voice. She must be dreaming, then. Hugh didn’t love her. She leant into the arms that restrained her anyway.

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