Tea with Aleksandra

Aleksandra was surprised when she came out onto the wide verandah to see instead a stone-flagged terrace with steps down to formal gardens. She had stepped into another world

A small table was set for tea, and one of the two seats was already occupied by an older woman, richly dressed in a style long out of fashion. Mouth dropped open, Aleksandra approached the table.

“Good morning, I seem to have…ummm…where am I?”

The lady inclined her head, graciously. “This is Haverford Castle, in England. Allow me to introduce myself, my dear. I am Eleanor Haverford. Please, do take a seat and join me for tea?”

“Haverford? England?” Aleksandra stuttered. “Yes, thank you, I’d love that.”

She took the offered seat, looking around at the unfamiliar landscape. “I’m Aleksandra Lekarski. I’m from…California. From the Rancho de las Pulgas.” Behind her, grey stone walls loomed. When Xavier first took her to the rancho, the mansion, surrounded by its lush gardens and many smaller buildings, had impressed her with its size, and its sense of history and permanence. The castle before which they sat was ten times as large and many hundred years older.

“Haverford Castle,” the lady explained. “There has been a castle here since the Norman conquest, and when my husband’s ancestor was raised to a dukedom, he took his title from the castle. The lady was a duchess, then. Aleksandra tried to remember what her mother said about addressing a duchess.

The duchess offered several different types of tea, then milk and sugar, and passed the cup to Aleksandra with a small plate containing iced cakes, bringing a smile to Aleksandra’s face.

“OOooohh, my mother once made these!” Her brows drew together again. “But why am I here?”

The duchess tilted her head and gave a slight lift to one shoulder; not enough to be called a shrug. “It is most peculiar, is it not, Miss Lekarski? I do not know how it works, but every Monday afternoon I have a visitor, and I never know the place and time they will come from and return to. Please, do relax and tell me about yourself.”

Alexsandra began obediently. “I was born in Vienna, but my family ran to the United States when I was just an infant. We ended up trapping in the wilderness of Utah Territory, then after I met Xavier, I moved home to his family inheritance, the Rancho de las Pulgas!”

“Xavier is your husband? But no, the name you gave me is Polish. His name is surely Spanish.”

“Yes, he is.” Remembering her brother-in-law’s drunken ramblings, she frowned. “Or I I thought he was… until yesterday. We’re working on that. And, yes, it’s a Spanish name. He’s from an old Californio (yes, with a ‘o’ ) family, which has the Spanish Conquistadors as their origin, so he’s Latin.”

“That sounds like a story! You thought you were married and you found yesterday you were not?”

“Something my brother in law said…our marriage might not actually be valid…but as soon as he wakens from his drunken stupor, we’ll find out!

“How distressing for you. I hope it is just his drunkeness.  I can hear in your voice that you are happy with your Xavier. And what does Xavier think of you?”

“I really have to answer that?” Alexsandra gave a big sigh, but her eyes twinkled at the duchess. It was a pleasure talking to someone she would never meet again outside of a dream such as this. “He’d say (I’ve heard him say, anyway) I’m lovely (he can’t get enough of my golden curls that reach past my derrière), an unparalleled rider (I was trained by my father in dzhigitovka), smart (I speak five languages and do math in my head), sensitive, generous to a fault, and a lot of fun.”

She chuckled. “But…he’d also say I’m opinionated, bossy, inclined to always want to do things my own way, and difficult to get to know. But he loves me anyway. Dzhigitovka and horses are my greatest loves, other than Xavier, of course.”

The duchess had been listening intently. “Tell me, what is Dzhigitovka?”

“Oooohhh… Dzhigitovka originated with the Caucasians, long, long ago, and it was kept alive by the Cossacks, and now the Russians. It’s a form of riding we now call trick riding, but it evolved as a form of mounted warfare. Even the names are wonderful… the Cossack hang, the death drag, to name a few… My papa learned, back in Poland, from a Ukranian, Vladimir, who, incidentally, plays a large part in book One, A Long Trail Rolling!”

Alexsandra’s hostess opened her hazel eyes wide. “How exciting! You have led a very adventurous life, my dear.”

“It’s very adventurous. I’ve only just now begun wearing skirts. I had one muslin dress to my name, but several pairs of buckskins!”

“And your papa taught you. What does your Xavier think of your trick riding?”

“Xavier loves it,” Aleksandra said proudly. “I’ve taught him some, too! He a magnificent horseman, and rides a gorgeous gray Andalusian stallion. My mount of choice is Dzień, a mustang.”

“Then your man is a match for you, and Aleksandra (may I call you Aleksandra?) if you are not married yet, it will be simple enough to amend the situation will it not?”

“It should be a simple matter…if we’re not actually married, there should be no impediment. I’m sure my mother in law, Maria Arguëllo, will be ecstatic to not miss this wedding, and will go to great lengths to make it the most remembered ceremony of the year! The rancho is the biggest old Spanish land grant in the San Francisco Bay Area, after all! She will make sure it’s quite the fiesta!”

The duchess put down her cup and held out her hand, taking Aleksandra’s hand in a firm glass. “How I wish this afternoon tea portal worked both ways! I should love to see you as a bride, my dear. But I wish you all the very best, you and your Xavier both.”

“Thank you, I really enjoyed the cup of tea, haven’t had one like that since my mama died. I will try to write to you and let you know what happens. Thank you again, and…take good care!”

The Hills of Gold Unchanging

No one will stand in their way—

                                                and live.

As the Civil War rages, secessionists menace California.

Trying to get back home, Aleksandra and Xavier journey through the mining camps of 1860’s Nevada and California, the Sacramento floods and Old San Francisco to Xavier’s Californio Rancho de las Pulgas.

Embroiled in the Confederate’s fight to drag the new state from the Union and make it their own, can Aleks and Xavier survive? The secessionists mean business.

This is Book Two of The Long Trails Series of historical romantic thriller sagas, following Lizzi’s characters from the wilderness of 1860’s Utah to Colonial New Zealand

Meet Lizzi Tremayne

Lizzi grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods, became an equine veterinarian at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, practiced in the California Pony Express and Gold Country before emigrating to New Zealand. When not writing, she’s swinging a rapier or shooting a bow in medieval garb, riding, driving a carriage or playing on her farm, singing, or working as an equine veterinarian or science teacher. She is multiply published and awarded in special interest magazines and veterinary periodicalsPhotos

BUY LINKS : 

Buy A Long Trail Rolling, and The Hills of Gold Unchanging

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EXCERPT:

June 1860, Echo Canyon, Wasatch Mountains, Utah Territory

His blade glinted in the sunlight as he lunged toward her, but she ducked and spun, her own sword flashing in figure eights while she retreated, and his strike met with only air. He recovered and set himself up for the onslaught he knew would come, coughing as the dust kicked up by their boots thickened.

Blade up, he parried the blows she rained down upon him. He managed to get in one of his own, and retreated for a moment, breathing hard. She stepped back as well, her breasts heaving beneath the thin linen. Blue eyes glittered below brows narrowed with concentration, before her sword returned to action with a vengeance. They circled, dodging and striking in turn. Her skill was far greater, but the girl’s injuries from her last fight, combined with his greater reach and fitness were beginning to tell. A movement tugged at the edge of his vision—he glanced up from her sword to see her hat tumble off. Her hair cascaded down in a tangle to her thighs, and his heart surged.

She’s mine now.

He offered the ghost of a smile as he moved in to disarm her with a passing lunge and struck at her sword arm.

The air left his lungs and he tasted dirt in his mouth as he hit the unforgiving ground face-first. He groaned and rolled over, expecting the worst.

Above him, her laughing visage met his eyes. Her glorious curls, molten gold, fell around his face like a veil as she bent to wipe his face and kiss his lips. She slid the hilt of his sword from his hand.

“All right, halte, hold, you two,” their instructor said, in his heavy Russian accent. “There’s still work to be done, Xavier, but you’ve done well.”

Xavier Argüello took the hand his opponent offered, hopped to his feet and dusted off his clothes.

“Well done, Querido,” said his intended, Aleksandra Lekarski, as she returned his sword.

“Xavier, come here, please,” Vladimir Chabardine said, from the doorway of the cabin, where he was propped up in his sickbed. “You have worked hard. I am impressed, and it is rare that I am compelled to say that. That shashka now belongs to you. Use it in good health.”

Xavier stared at him, then at the Don Cossack saber in his hand, its leather grip smooth with years of use. He was silent for long moments.

“But it’s yours, Vladimir,” he finally said.

“It was one of mine, yes. Now it is yours. Tatiana brought my other two shashkas with her from Russia. One is for Nikolai, when he is ready, and this one is for you. It’s the least I can do, after my part in,” he looked at Aleksandra and grimaced, “your papa’s death.”

She nodded, her face grim, in acknowledgement.

“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart,” Xavier said, shaking his head at the Russian, as he ran a finger from the tooled embellishment on the pommel through to the rawhide bouton and strip they used for their practice sessions. He slid the protectors off and his new shashka whispered into its scabbard. He turned to face Aleksandra, and bowed to her. “Thank you,” he said, then turned to Vladimir, “and again, to you.”

She returned the bow and smiled at them both.

“You’re not quite done,” Vladimir said. “Xavier, replace the guard.”

“What would you like?” Aleksandra asked.

“One more bout. En garde,” he said, and they prepared.

Prêt.” They nodded.

Allez,” Vladimir snapped, and they began.

Aleksandra feinted, then moved to strike, but Xavier saw a hole in her defense and lunged. She twirled way, with a laugh, then drew back, looking frightened, her body twisted strangely to the right.

Was she injured?

His gaze lifted to her face, but no pain resided there, though her brow was furrowed. What a chance! Her whole left side was unguarded, and he went for the opening.

Before he could alter his course, she unwound and her shashka flashed toward him. For the second time in his life, he froze as he found her blade across his throat.

¿Recuerdas? Remember this?” she said, her eyes merry.

“How could I forget, Querida,” he spoke for her ears alone, “our first meeting?”

Hands clapped behind them and they spun as one, hands on their sword hilts.

“No need fer that, no need fer that,” said a man, mounted on a chestnut horse. Beside the horse walked a black man, tied by the wrists to the rope in the rider’s hands.

“What do you wan—” Xavier began, then clamped his jaw, as his breath came short. Blood pounded in his ears and his face heated. “What can I help you with,” he finally managed, past gritted teeth, as he walked away from the house door, toward their callers.

“Well, hello theah,” the rider said, his Southern accent heavy. “Good fightin’, and fer a girl, too.” He looked sideways at Aleksandra.

“Aleks,” Xavier hissed, as he felt, rather than saw, her bristle beside him. He glanced at her knuckles showing white on the pommel of her saber. He reached out and covered her sword hand with his own and she took a deep breath and stilled.

“We’re yer new neighbors down th’road. Y’all wanna buy a slave? We’ve jus’ done come West ‘n now we’ve done finished buildin’ the house, he’s,” he nodded at the man at the end of his tether, “jus’ ‘noth’r mouth t’feed. Ca’int use ‘im to grow nuthin’ in this rock y’call dirt around heah.” He stopped and looked at the yard and cabin. “Nice place y’all got here.”

Xavier nodded, silent.

The man’s brows narrowed, then he continued. “Well, ah wondered if y’all had a breedin—ah, a woman slave I could trade fer him. The missus wants help in t’house, an’ I could use a little…too.” The glint in his beady eyes turned his grin into a leer.

Xavier closed his eyes and clenched his fists. “This territory may allow slavery, but nobody holds with it around here.”

The Southerner was silent for a moment, then answered with a voice dripping with sarcasm. “Now that’s mahty neighborly of ya. Are y’all some o’them ab’litionists we come West to git away from?”

“As you wish.” Xavier raised a brow at him, then shifted his gaze to the man on foot, staring at the dirt. “I apologize to you, sir, but you’ll have to go home with him again. May you find yourself a better life soon.”

The corners of the slave’s mouth lifted briefly. His eyes flickered up to Xavier’s, brightened, then dulled again as he dropped them to the ground.

“C’mon Jordan,” the rider growled, “we’re not welc’m here, by all accounts.” He jerked his horse around and they retreated the way they’d come.

Xavier stood silent, watching them go, then began to shake. He closed his eyes, willing himself to control the anger, and the deepening darkness. He inhaled sharply. When he opened his eyes, Aleksandra was staring at him.

“Are you all right?” she said, her brow furrowed.

“Yes.” Xavier nodded.

“More Southerners,” Aleksandra scowled as she wiped sweat from her brow with the back of her sleeve, “running from home before the government takes their slaves away?”

“That’ll never happen,” Xavier said, from between clenched jaws. “Too strong, too wealthy—cotton—slaves. Poor beggars down South.” He peered around. “Even here. I can’t believe it.”

“Believe it,” she said. “They’re coming.”

He shook his head. “I just wish we could stop it—the abuse, the owning.”

Aleksandra wrapped her arms around him, held him close until the tremors quieted. She leaned back in his arms and studied his face, then seemed satisfied with what she saw.

“Having you here makes it bearable, I think,” he said, and kissed her.

“I’m so used to you being the strong one…sometimes I forget the demons that still eat at you,” she said.

 

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Tea with Nicholas

monday-for-tea

Lord Nicholas Lacey hesitated at the threshold to Her Grace’s salon. The appointed hour had at last arrived when his hostess agreed to meet with him. However, Nicholas felt like a misbehaving school boy about to be reprimanded for some silly childhood prank. His cravat, of a sudden, seemed entirely too tight about his neck giving him reason to have a word later with his valet about learning the technique of tying a proper knot.

He gave the cloth a slight tug and raised his hand to the door before him, only for it to open as though the servant on the other side knew he was present.

“Lord Nicholas, you are right on time I see. I do so appreciate punctuality,” the Duchess of Haverford declared from her place before the fireplace.

lord-nicholasNicholas stepped into the room as the servant closed the door leaving him alone with his hostess. “You are kind to see me at such short notice, especially with your home full of other guests.”

“Do come in and join me for a cup of tea,” Her Grace bid with a wave of her hand to the empty seat across from her, “or will we need something stronger to fortify us for the conversation ahead?”

Nicholas might, indeed, need something stronger than tea but he refrained from her suggestion. He needed to keep his wits together. “I have a most unusual request that involves another here at Hollystone.”

The duchess perused him most thoroughly before a hint of a smile escaped her. “And which one of the lovely ladies present is this regarding, Lord Nicholas?” she asked pouring a cup of tea and handing it to him.

“Grace… Lady de Courtenay,” he answered taking a sip.

She watched him carefully over the rim of her own cup before she set the china back down upon the trolley. “Your intentions are honorable, are they not?” she inquired in a tone that implied much.

“Yes, of course, Your Grace. I have only the utmost respect for Lady de Courtenay.”

The duchess picked up her tea again and took another sip. “Good. Then tell me how you met your lady and why you have asked for this meeting. I do so enjoy a good love story.”

Nicholas relaxed into his chair as memories of Grace ran across his mind. “It all began with a kiss…”

snowflake-row

Lord Nicholas Lacey is the hero in Sherry Ewing’s novella, A Kiss for Charity from the Bluestocking Belles’ holiday box set Holly and Hopeful Hearts.

Young widow, Grace, Lady de Courtenay, is more concerned with improving her mind than finding another husband. But how was she to know that a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would spark her interest and make her yearn for love again?

Lord Nicholas Lacey has been on his own for far too long after losing his wife in a tragic accident. After a rare trip to a masquerade, his attention is captivated by a lovely young woman. Considering the dubious company she keeps, perhaps she might be interested in becoming his mistress…

From the darkened paths of Vauxhall Gardens to a countryside estate called Hollystone Hall, Nicholas and Grace must set aside their differences in order to let love into their hearts. It will take more than a dose of holiday cheer to see these two on the road to finding their happily-ever-after and a kiss for charity may just be what they both need.

About Sherry Ewing

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time.

Website and Blog: http://www.SherryEwing.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SherryEwingauthor

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sherry_Ewing

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/SherryLEwing

 

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Tea with Georgiana

monday-for-teaGeorgiana, the widowed Duchess of Darby, greets the Duchess of Haverford with a carefree smile even though her insides are fluttering about like the autumn leaves falling from the plane trees outside. The duchess has been her friend and mentor since the early days of Georgie’s marriage, proclaiming herself an honorary aunt, but she is far too perceptive and she is sure to notice Georgie’s unease even though this is just a morning call. But will she know why? Of course, Aunt Eleanor is much too dignified to pay any attention to salacious gossip… isn’t she?

However Aunt Eleanor doesn’t seem to notice that anything is amiss; she clasps Georgie’s hand warmly and places a gentle kiss upon her cheek before stepping back to study her face. “My dear,” she says gently, her soft blue eyes regarding her with genuine fondness. “It is wonderful to see you in Town again.”

“Thank you, Aunt Eleanor. It has been too long hasn’t it?”

“Quite understandable given the circumstances.” With an elegant wave of her hand, the Duchess of Haverford indicates they should both take a seat before the crackling fire in her sitting room where tea things and all manner of delightful morsels—tiny cakes, sandwiches and delicate biscuits—have been set out on a low mahogany table.

“Yes… indeed,” Georgie replies as she chooses a damask upholstered wingchair and then busies herself with smoothing the folds of her blue silk gown and removing her gloves. For all the heartfelt concern in Aunt Eleanor’s direct gaze, Georgie doesn’t wish to talk about the passing of her husband, Teddy, the Duke of Darby. He might have been a husband in name only but he was also her best friend. And my twin brother’s lover. Not that Aunt Eleanor knows any of that… She might a good friend to Georgie ever since her marriage, but it was but one of the many secrets Georgie vigilantly keeps under lock and key. Raising her own gaze to meet Aunt Eleanor’s again, she adds, “My brother, Sir Jonathon, and Helena, Lady Maxwell have been keeping me busy this past week.”

“Ah yes, the recent ball at Latimer House. How lovely it was for Lord and Lady Maxwell to welcome you back in such a fashion. I understand it was a lively occasion…”

Was that a twinkle of interest in Eleanor’s blue eyes? What if she had heard some of the on-dits floating around London this past week? On-dits involving Georgie and the mysterious Rafe, Lord Markham… Not only did he flirt outrageously with her during the ball, he’d also trounced her at piquet not once but twice. The indomitable Ice Duchess had been well and truly vanquished. Thank heavens Eleanor didn’t know the man had also kissed her… Even now the memory of that kiss made her stomach flip and her pulse skitter about. If only Lord Markham weren’t so attractive…

In an attempt to hide her blush, Georgie pretends to scrutinize the cakes before randomly choosing a pale pink petit-four.

But perhaps Aunt Eleanor does know something as she next remarks in an all too innocent tone as she adroitly dispenses tea and milk, “And I also heard that the company was most diverting.”

Georgie places her untasted cake on a fine bone china plate then sighs. “You know me too well, Aunt Eleanor. And if truth be told, ‘diverting’ is rather an understatement.”

Aunt Eleanor smiles conspiratorially as she hands her a cup of tea. “So, tell me all about Lord Markham.”

Excerpt

theiceduchess_med-copyGeorgie took her seat at one of the piquet tables in the card room and removed her gloves, hoping that Phillip, Lord Maxwell, wouldn’t notice her slightly trembling fingers when he joined her. It seemed absurd to be so nervous. Where was her famous sang-froid?

It probably didn’t help that a hush had descended over the card room as Jonathon had escorted her in, and at this very moment, she could feel at least a dozen pairs of eyes, if not more upon her. The unvanquished Ice Duchess—the woman who barely ever lost a game—was about to play cards again. Of course people were going to notice.

Curse her brother and Helena. She would have attracted much less notice if she had simply decided to dance after all. Lemonade in the ladies’ retiring room seemed more appealing by the second. And where in heaven’s name was Phillip? She glanced about the room but could not spy Helena’s husband anywhere.

Not only that, she could see Jonathon disappearing out of the card room, no doubt chasing the dapper young buck he’d been making calf’s eyes at earlier.

If Phillip didn’t appear within the next thirty seconds, she would cut and run.

“May I join you, Your Grace?” A soft baritone drew Georgie’s attention away from the ornately arched doorway of the card room and back to the table.

She glanced up. And it was all she could do not to gasp.

A dark-haired, lean-jawed rake was smiling down at her. Her dastardly brother and friends had set her up after all.
Blast them all to hell.

Drawing in a steadying breath she summoned a slight smile. Her well-practiced, cool duchess’s smile—a smile that had sustained her for almost a decade in the face of such obvious raw masculinity. Thank God she still had it.

“And you are?” she asked smoothly, arching an eyebrow. “I believe we’ve never been introduced.” She thought she knew most rakes of the ton and she had only been away from London for a year. But this tall, handsome man with smoke-gray eyes and a dark velvet voice, she didn’t know at all.

The corner of his wide, well-shaped mouth lifted into a smile. “Forgive my boldness, Your Grace. I am Rafe Landsbury, Lord Markham. Lord Maxwell has been… detained and offers his apologies. He asked me to stand in, in his stead.” His eyes held hers—a question or perhaps it was a spark of challenge flared in their gray depths. “If you don’t mind of course.”

As if she could refuse with everyone watching. She’d gleefully strangle Phillip, Helena and Jonathon later for putting Lord Markham up to this. They probably thought she’d build up a rapport with the man over cards. Then he’d suggest they dance or perhaps peruse the supper table together. His large hand would touch her elbow, the small of her back. His fingers would brush against hers as he passed her a glass of champagne… She knew all the ploys he would use to try and get her hot and bothered. But she wouldn’t fall for any of them. Never again. Just because she was a widow, it didn’t mean she was fair game.

Lord Markham was still watching her expectantly so she affected a small tinkling laugh and shrugged a shoulder. “Of course I don’t mind. Please, take a seat.”

“Thank you, Your Grace.”

Georgie tried not to stare as the nobleman folded his long, lean frame onto the damask covered Adams chair opposite her. Markham, Markham. No, not a memory of him stirred at all. Where had such a man been hiding for the last decade? He exuded such a quiet self-assurance as he watched her reach for the deck of cards, a completely unexpected and most disconcerting wave of heat swept over her face.

She hadn’t blushed in years. What is wrong with me?

The Ice Duchess (Scandalous Regency Widows, Book 2) by Amy Rose Bennett:

Georgiana Dudley, the ‘Ice Duchess’, has just emerged from mourning after a nine-year marriage of convenience to the Duke of Darby, her twin brother’s lover. Deeply hurt by a scoundrel a decade ago, Georgie swore she would never turn her head for any man, let alone another rakehell. But then she encounters the wickedly handsome and all too charming Rafe Landsbury, the Earl of Markham and against her better judgment, her interest is reluctantly aroused. An affair may be impossible to resist but dare she trust Lord Markham with her most intimate secrets… and her heart?

Society believes Rafe to be a diplomat but for many years he has been working on the Continent as a spy for the Crown. Leaving the shadowy world of espionage behind, he returns to London with the intention of finding a wife. When he is paired with the frosty yet fascinating Duchess of Darby at the piquet table during a ton ball, he is intrigued. Do-or-die man that he is, he’s certainly not going to let her cool demeanor dissuade him from pursuing her.

When Rafe’s dark past returns to endanger Georgie, he is determined to protect her at all costs, even if that means hiding who he once was. With the stakes so high, both Georgie and Rafe must decide if love is a risk worth taking…

Length: Novel (109,500 words)

Heat Level: Hot. This story is a Regency romance with open-door love-making scenes and frank language is used.

Amazon Buy Link

Meet the author

Amy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

Amy is happily married to her own Alpha male hero, has two beautiful daughters, and a rather loopy Rhodesian Ridgeback. She has been a speech pathologist for many years but is currently devoting her time to her one other true calling—writing romance.

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Release day for The Renegade Wife

Today is release day for the first book in Caroline Warfield’s new series, Children of Empire. I was privileged to be an early reader for The Renegade Wife, and if you don’t already have it, rush out and get it now! Amazon link at the bottom of the page after a word from Caroline, the blurbs, my review and an excerpt.

Caroline, you know I love the book, and now everyone else knows it too, because there’s a quote from me on the front cover. Congratulations, and I wish you every success.

A message from Caroline

Meggy visited the Duchess of Haverford last week on Monday for Tea. Check that post for more insight into this gripping book.

Meggy visited the Duchess of Haverstock last week on Monday for Tea.

Thank you, Jude, for hosting me on my book’s release day. I tend to almost hop up and down with excitement over a new release, and I’m delighted to have the chance to introduce it to your readers. Here are seven things they might like to know about The Renegade Wife.

1. The characters may be familiar. The elders who assemble to brainstorm ways to get Rand and Meggy out of trouble are the heroes of my Dangerous books. Rand himself appears in A Dangerous Nativity as a boy.

2. Meggy, as quickly becomes apparent, is an abused wife. Faced with such abuse, she stands up and takes control. You’ll like her.

3. Rand’s heart isn’t as hard as he likes to pretend.

4. There are children. Somehow my books always have children.

5. It’s the first of a new series, The Children of Empire. This one begins in His Majesty’s colony in Upper Canada. The empire spanned the globe. The next book begins in India.

6. The story is set in 1832, too late to be Georgian and too early to be Victorian. Let’s just call it “historical.”

7. I plan to celebrate the launch with a Facebook party on Sunday, October 16. You’re all welcome to join us. There will be prizes!
https://www.facebook.com/events/552255998312179/
A side note (Because Caroline can never resist a side note):
Why “Upper” Canada, you may ask? When the British took Quebec in 1760 the entire territory was called Canada. The Quebec Act made it French in law, language, and religion. The influx of loyalists in the 1780s prompted a need for a colony with English language and law with some religious tolerance, and so they divided into parts up river (Upper Canada, which we now call Ontario) from the parts down river (Lower Canada, or the current province of Quebec). As to the other provinces and eventual union, that’s probably a story for another novel.

meme4

The Renegade Wife

therenegadewifeBetrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, Rand Wheatly fled England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip to find a widow and two children squatting in his house, he flies into a rage. He wants her gone, but her children are sick and injured, and his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend.

Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She’d hopes to hide with her Ojibwa grandmother, if she can find the woman and her people. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, but time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return and face his demons.

Children of Empire

Raised with all the privilege of the English aristocracy, forged on the edges of the British Empire, men and woman of the early Victorian age seek their own destiny and make their mark on history. The heroes and heroines of Caroline’s Dangerous Series overcame challenges even after their happy ending. Their children seek their own happiness in distant lands in Children of Empire.

Jude Knight on The Renegade Bride

I love Caroline’s writing, and was not at all surprised when her Dangerous Secrets won a RONE in this year’s awards. I’ve read each of the Dangerous books, thrilled with their heroine, and fallen in love with their hero.

This is the best yet. Her writing is superb, and her characters are hugely likable (except for Blair and his offsider, who are not). I particularly enjoyed the double vision effect at the beginning: Rand as cat rescuer and altogether nice fellow vs Rand as scary monster.

No spoilers, but suffice to say that Meggy would do anything to protect her children. And with a husband like Blair, they need protection. And Rand is heart-sore and hiding out in the woods, avoiding all people. But the children and then the woman herself get under his defenses.

Can these two damaged souls heal one another? Not if Blair has anything to do with it.

And then there is Charles. Charles is Rand’s cousin; the one that Rand hates even as he loves him. To save Meggy, Charles and Rand have to work together. Charles is every kind of darling, and deserves the happiest of endings. I can barely wait for his book, which is the third of the new series.

I was privileged to receive a beta copy of this book, and am waiting breathlessly for my purchased copy to download so I can read it again.

An excerpt from the book

“Let go of her, Blair, or I’ll shoot you like the dog you are. God knows you deserve it.” For untold minutes all Rand heard was the wind in the trees, and Lena’s whimper behind Pratt’s back. Even Meggy seemed to hold her breath.
Blair let go of her arm so suddenly she stumbled before running back to her children. “The slut and her children are mine, Wheatly, and that makes you a thief.”

“Get on your horse, Blair, and get out of here before I change my mind and shoot you anyway. You too, Pratt.”

Rand kept his pistol aimed at Blair while the men mounted and turn their horses to the lane. Pratt and Martin galloped up the hill and into the woods, but Blair turned half way up and pointed back at Meggy hugging the children in Rand’s doorway.

“They’re mine, Wheatly. I have a writ. I’ll be back with the magistrate and the deputy to have you jailed for resisting. Won’t your fancy relatives like that?” He turned and galloped off.

Rand eased back the hammer of his pistol, when the men cleared the trees. He slid it into a holster, jumped down, and ran to Meggy and the children, pulling all of them into an embrace. Meggy began to weep almost as soon as his hand came around her back, pulling her close with Lena between them and Drew in the crook of his arm.

“You might have killed him, and then where would we be?” she sobbed.

“You would be safe from him.”

“And you would be in jail or worse.”

He didn’t deny it. He kissed the top of her head and down her cheek.

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Tea with Meggy

monday-for-tea

Meggy Campeau waits nervously to be ushered into the presence of the Duchess of Haverford. Since she arrived in London days ago, she has been overwhelmed by titled ladies.  She knows she belongs in a cabin along the lakes in Canada, not in this room full of priceless antiques. She fidgets with the dress she has borrowed from the Countess of Chadbourn. Rand’s sister. Who insists on being called Catherine. Meggy will never get used to it.

meggyCatherine herself smiles fondly. “Meggy, calm down. She isn’t a dragon, truly!”

The door opens on silent hinges and the duchess herself sweeps in. “Catherine! It is wonderful to see you as always. Miss Campeau, welcome. Or do you prefer to be called Mrs. Blair?”

Meggy feels her cheeks heat. She looks at the wall to the left of the duchess’s ear and tries to formulate an answer.

“Perhaps I should call you simply Meggy. Would that make you more comfortable?”

The duchess’s smile certainly helps Meggy calm down. She nods. “Thank you, Your Grace.”

The arrival of the teacart gives Meggy a brief moment to collect herself. All too soon the duchess looks at her over a dainty porcelain cup and asks, “How is that scamp Randy doing? I understand he has been somewhat overwrought.”

Catherine raises a brow at Meggy, urging her to answer.

“Rand worries for my children, Your Grace. I don’t mind admitting they are in danger at their father’s hands.”

The duchess nods, knowingly. “Well done of him. From what I’ve been able to ascertain, they need his protection. You do, too.”

Meggy stiffens her spine. “I can take care of myself, Your Grace.”

“But not your children?”

Meggy crumples. Tears threaten. The duchess is at her side in a moment, a reassuring arm on her shoulder. “My dear, we all need help eventually. There is no shame in taking it. You have Rand.”

Meggy’s head bobs up, but the duchess waves her protest away. “You do have him, if you want him, you know, but that is a matter for another time. First you must allow all of us help you deal with your vile husband and the criminals that surround him.”

“You too?”

The duchess smiles. “Well, perhaps not directly. Sudbury, Chadbourn, and Rand’s darling cousin Charles have things well in hand. Should you need us, however, the Grenford family stands ready to help. ” She pours another cup and her face takes on an impish expression. “After all, Rand is well on his way to enriching me even further with this timber enterprise. I’m grateful he let me invest.”

With that, the duchess and Catherine turn the conversation to mutual friends, the weather, and the theater season, leaving Meggy to contemplate what she just heard. She sits back and lets the feeling of security sink in. I’m not alone, and my children will be safe.

The Renegade Wife

renegade-wifeBetrayed by his cousin and the woman he loved, Rand Wheatly fled England, his dreams of a loving family shattered. He clings to his solitude in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. Returning from a business trip to find a widow and two children squatting in his house, he flies into a rage. He wants her gone, but her children are sick and injured, and his heart is not as hard as he likes to pretend.

Meggy Blair harbors a secret, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her children safe. She’d hopes to hide with her Ojibwa grandmother, if she can find the woman and her people. She doesn’t expect to find shelter with a quiet, solitary man, a man who lowers his defensive walls enough to let Meggy and her children in.

Their idyllic interlude is shattered when Meggy’s brutal husband appears to claim his children. She isn’t a widow, but a wife, a woman who betrayed the man she was supposed to love, just as Rand’s sweetheart betrayed him. He soon discovers why Meggy is on the run, but time is running out. To save them all, Rand must return and face his demons.

For purchase on Amazon.      

Giveaway

To celebrate the launch, Caroline will have a grand prize drawing for a kindle copy of the book, a $25 Amazon gift certificate, and a bundle of other prizes. To enter, click here:

Contests and Giveaways

First in a new series: Children of Empire

Raised with all the privilege of the English aristocracy, forged on the edges of the British Empire, men and woman of the early Victorian age seek their own destiny and make their mark on history. The heroes and heroines of Caroline’s Dangerous Series overcame challenges even after their happy ending. Their children seek their own happiness in distant lands in Children of Empire.

 

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Tea with Lady Anna

monday-for-tea

Lady Anna Wycliff follows the servant into the parlor. The lovely Duchess of Haverford is standing by a table, already laid out with tea and biscuits.

“Do come join me,” the duchess says warmly. “I am so glad you could join me for tea.”

“Of course.” Anna smiles.

“How is your mother?”

“Good. Good. She sends her regards.”

The duchess picks up her bluebell patterned teacup but did not drink. “She mentioned to me that you enjoy to write stories.”

Anna’s smile grows even wider until her cheeks almost pain her. “Oh, yes! There’re just silly little stories. I mostly write for myself and share some with the children at orphanages. It makes them happy, which makes me happy.”

The duchess leans forward. “I would love to hear more about your stories. Perhaps you could read me one some day.”

“Oh, I would like that very much!”

An excerpt from Christmas Kisses:

Throughout the meal, Anna found herself sneaking glances at the marchioness’s son, Lord Pershore. She had nearly tripped over her feet when she walked into the parlor to see a strapping young man there, gazing upon her portrait. He had shockingly black hair, his eyes gray and without much warmth. His words were polite but a little terse, and she could not help imagining him into a story. Not as a hero. More a villain. Yes. He had plans to spirit away the beautiful heroine, and the dashing duke…er…the dashing hero had to save her from his vile clutches. Now when would the villain kidnap her? From where?

She could make him a pirate. The last time she had visited the orphanage, she had regaled them with several already penned stories by other writers, but a few of the tales had been ones she had conjured in her own mind, and she had a feeling the boys might appreciate a tale told partially by sea. Yes. Anna could easily see Lord Pershore’s black hair fluttering about in a strong breeze as he stood on the deck of his ship.

Anna could feel her cheeks flush. She couldn’t tell the duchess about the pirate tale with the villainous Lord Pershore! But she had plenty of ideas for more stories, including a few romances. Maybe one day she would have a romance all of her own…

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Lady Anna Wycliff is the heroine of Nicole Zoltack’s story Christmas Kisses, which appears in the Bluestocking Belles’ holiday box set for 2016, Holly and Hopeful Hearts.

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The Birth Experience in the Regency Era

Today’s post is by special guest, Regina Jeffers. Welcome to the blog, Regina.

Charlotte_Augusta_of_WalesAngel Comes to the Devil’s Keep is the first book in a new romantic suspense trilogy: The Twins. It comes from Black Opal Books. In “Angel” there are several sets of twins. The hero, Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, is a twin. Malvern and his sister, Henrietta, Viscountess Stoke, are fraternal twins, as are Henrietta’s boys. She is in the family way a second time in the book and obviously expecting twins again. Her husband, Viscount Stoke, is also a twin. Malvern’s father, the Duke of Devilfoard, possesses a twin. The second book in the trilogy, which will be released soon, contains a set of identical twins. It is called The Earl Claims His Comfort, while the last book, Lady Chandler’s Sister, returns to the idea of fraternal twins.

So, what does all this have to do with the “birth experience” in the Regency Era? Did you realize that during this period a woman would experience pregnancy some ten times. The women gave birth an average of six times during their lifetimes. Edward Shorter in Women’s Bodies: A Social History of Women’s Encounter with Health, Ill-Health and Medicine says, “The indifference of men to the physical welfare of women is most striking in regard to childbirth. …child bearing was a woman’s event, occurring with the women’s culture; a man’s primary concern was to see a living heir brought forth. I am not [Shorter] trying to cast the husbands of traditional society as fiends but want merely to show what an unbridgeable sentimental distance separated them from their wives. Under these circumstances it is unrealistic to think that men would abstain from intercourse in order to save women from the physical consequences of repeated childbearing.”

In her book In the Family Way: Childbearing in the British Aristocracy, 1760-1860, Judith Schneid Lewis shares some interesting facts of the time period. Ms. Lewis studied 50 aristocratic women for the book. From these studies we learn that these 50 women averaged 8 children over an eighteen year period. The women in the group married typically at 21 and gave birth to her first child within 2.25 years. They continued to present their husbands with children until the age of 40.

Ms. Lewis tells us that 80% of the women gave birth within two years of marriage, with 50% presenting their husbands with a child within the first year of marriage. On my blog, I have been doing a series on the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It amazes me how many of these men were from large families. For example, Benjamin Franklin was the youngest of 17 (although there was more than one wife). But Franklin’s family could not hold a light to another of Lewis’s statistics. The Duchess of Leinster birthed 21 children over a 30 year span. She was 46 years of age when the last one was born.

Typical of the period, a male midwife would ask the woman if she were prepared to “take a pain,” meaning a vaginal examination. For this procedure, a pregnant woman would customarily lie on her left side upon a bed. She would be asked to draw her knees up to her abdomen. This was the position recommended by Doctor Thomas Denman, a prominent male midwife of the period. Denman also cautioned for discretion and tenderness during the examination.

From the examination, the midwife could determine how advanced was the pregnancy, whether the woman’s pelvis was deformed or not, and whether the baby had turned head down. If delivery occurred within 24 hours, it was considered natural. We see much of what happened to Princess Charlotte (daughter of the Prince Regent) as how it was for women during the Regency.

“About 7 o’clock on the evening of Monday, the 3rd of November, at 42 weeks and 3 days gestation, the membranes spontaneously ruptured and labor pains soon followed. The contractions were coming every 8 to 10 minutes and were very mild. Examination of the cervix at that time revealed the tip of the cervix to be about a half penny dilated. On Tuesday morning, around 3 a.m., the 4th of November, Princess Charlotte had a violent vomiting spell and Dr. Croft thinking that delivery was eminent, sent for the officers of the state and Dr. Matthew Baillie.

“The pains continued. They were weak and ineffectual but still sharp enough to be distressing, occurring about 8 minute intervals with little progress in the labor. Around 11:00 a.m. that morning after 16 hours of labor the cervix the size of a crown piece (probably 4 cm). At 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, she was noted to have just an anterior lip of cervix, and by 9:00 p.m., she was completely dilated. At this point, she had had about 26 hours of the first stage of labor.

“Labor advanced, but the progress was very slow. At noon, on Wednesday, the 5th of November after the second stage of labor had gone on for 15 hours, the uterine discharge became a dark green color, which made the medical attendants fear that the child might be dead. Between three and four p.m. after the second stage had gone on for 18 hours, the child’s head began to press on the external parts, and by 9:00 p.m., was born by the action of Charlotte’s pains only.

“The child, a 9 lb. boy, was dead and had evidently been dead for some hours. The umbilical cord was very small and was of a dark green or black color. About ten minutes after the delivery, Sir Richard Croft discovered that the uterus was contracted in the middle in an hourglass form. Approximately 20 minutes later, the princess began to hemorrhage. About 12:45 am. on the 6th of November she complained of great uneasiness in her chest and great difficulty in breathing. Her pulse became rapid, deep and irregular, and she extremely restless and was not able to remain still for a single moment.”(The Death of Princess Charlotte of Wales An Obstetric Tragedy, Charles R. Oberst, Spring 1984) Within hours, the Princess had passed. When we consider such, it is a wonder that any woman of the period would consider the “joys” of childbirth.

Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep

AngelCoverHuntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart–and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?

Early Review: The story is charming, with interesting and realistic characters, a complex plot with plenty of surprises, and a sweet romance woven through it all. The author has a good command of what it was like to be a woman in nineteenth-century England–almost as if she had been there. She really did her research for this one.

Nook * Kobo * Smashwords * Black Opal Books * Amazon

Giveaway: Leave a comment below to be eligible for a giveaway of an eBook of Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep. The giveaway ends at midnight EDST on August 18.

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Love is worth the risk…

The renegade wifeLove is worth the risk…

New cover, new release, new series! Coming in October

The heroes and heroines of Caroline Warfield’s DANGEROUS SERIES overcame challenges even after their happy ending. Their children seek their own happiness in distant lands in Warfield’s new CHILDREN OF EMPIRE SERIES. In THE RENEGADE WIFE, first of the new series, reclusive Rand Wheatly finds contentment in his remote cabin in Upper Canada, intent on making his fortune in timber, until his precious solitude is disrupted by a woman running from an ugly past. He quickly realizes she wasn’t what she claims, but now she’s on the run again and time is running out for him to save her.

Caroline is celebrating with a GIVEAWAY on her website.
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New release: Samantha Grace’s Resisting Romeo

OnceUponARegencyCover2Today, Samantha Grace has joined me to tell us about her story in the new book Once Upon a Regency, and to share an excerpt.

French actress and aspiring playwright Claudine Bellerose recently closed the curtains on a bad romance and has returned to center stage at a small London playhouse where she is about to premiere her first production. Enter Russell Hawke, the new owner of the Drayton Theatre, to deliver disturbing news. If Claudine’s play doesn’t turn a profit, he’ll have no choice except to close the theatre. To further complicate matters, her leading man just suffered an accident and can’t perform. Russell is confident he is capable of stepping in to star opposite the lovely Claudine, but she quickly realizes his horrible acting is threatening to turn her romantic play into a farce. Her only option is to tutor him in his role, and hope she can resist the charms of this handsome Romeo.

Excerpt from Resisting Romeo:

The women took turns showing her how to punch, block, and evade capture if a man leapt out of the shadows.

“Miss Darlington was a splendid teacher,” Rachel said, “but I don’t see how a woman is supposed to flip a man to the ground if he attacks from behind. Won’t he be too heavy?”

Claudine smiled, recalling she had asked a similar question of Regina. “You don’t actually lift him. You throw off his balance. Size can work in your favor. The bigger the man, the harder it will be for him to catch himself, especially if he doesn’t have use of his hands. Let me show you.”

She waved for Anastasia to come forward for a demonstration. Claudine chose her, because she was nearly twice Claudine’s height. Anastasia often stood in for one of the male parts in shows simply because she was tall. A bit of make-up, padding, and a hat could hide her beauty well enough to make it somewhat believable, if she didn’t have many lines.

“I want you to grab me from behind,” Claudine said. Anastasia’s blond eyebrows shot up on her forehead. “I promise not to take you to the ground. I only want to show everyone the steps again.”

“Would you like an actual man for the demonstration?” Mr. Hawke called from the floor.

A delicious shiver ran through her at the thought of him touching her. “That isn’t necessary, sir. Ana will work well enough for our purpose.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” the actress said.

Rachel raised her hand as if Claudine had asked to take a count. “I would like to see Mr. Hawke stand in. I would feel more confident if I can see it is possible with a real man.”

The others agreed.

He was already climbing the stage stairs, and she couldn’t think of a valid excuse to refuse his assistance. Her body tingled in places she really wished it wouldn’t, as his long legs carried him across the stage with a stride that was deliberate, yet unhurried. When he stopped in front of her, a broad smile spread across his face and revealed a dimple in his left cheek. “I am at your service.”

“You may take my place,” Anastasia said and rejoined the group.

Mr. Hawke claimed Anastasia’s spot on stage. “Did I hear correctly that I am to grab you from behind, Miss Bellerose?”

“Yes, Mr. Hawke,” she said, adding in French, “and you better not enjoy it.”

He laughed. “I promise to despise every moment.”

She flinched, having forgotten he could understand her.

“I told you I studied French,” he said. “I also know German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Can you speak with an American accent? I barely understand a word they say. That would be a safe bet if you want to insult me without me becoming the wiser.”

He winked and the other women giggled.

“I wasn’t insulting you,” she said for the benefit of her fellow actresses. If Mr. Hawke closed the theatre after all, she didn’t want to be blamed.

“No, you didn’t, Miss Bellerose. I simply was offering you options in case you want to abuse me in the future.”

She wrinkled her nose at him. “Merci.”

She only knew French and English, and a few German words Tilde had taught her. Growing up, her father had always spoken French to her. He’d never stopped missing his native land, but as he’d often reminded himself, there was nothing left for them in France. Claudine was an infant when her father fled their home with her. When she was old enough to understand, Papa told her about the unrest in France and the rumor that he was to be called before the Tribunal. He said Maximilien Robespierre used the trials as an excuse to execute his political opposition, and Papa had been vocal in his commendation of the violence.

She and her father had arrived safely in England, but a distant cousin turned them away. Papa had always said he left everything behind except his most precious treasure. Sometimes he would pretend he couldn’t remember what it was and ask her to guess. She knew he was teasing about having forgotten, because at night, he would tuck her in bed and whisper, “Mon trésor.” Claudine had always felt fortunate that he loved her as he did.

She took a cleansing breath to bring herself back to the present, and turned away from Mr. Hawke. “Whenever you are ready, I want you to pretend to attack me.”

It must be instinct–or perhaps boys were taught how to grab a woman as part of their education–but it seemed all men tried to hook a woman around the neck when he meant her harm. Mr. Hawke was the exception. He draped his arm across her body, cradling her against his firm chest. His gentleness caught her by surprise, and instead of trying to break free of his hold, she closed her eyes and sank against him.

“If you promise not to hurt me,” he whispered in her ear, “you may take me to the ground.”

Sacre bleu. He smelled magnificent, like a cozy wood fire on a cold night blended with a hint of spice. She swallowed hard and nodded. “W-when a man grabs you, try to get your hand between his arm and your neck, so you have a little room to breathe.” She demonstrated as she walked through the steps. “Now hug his arm to your chest and duck low, throwing your shoulder forward and thrusting out your leg.”

Mr. Hawke pitched forward, tripping over her leg, and landed on the stage with a thunderous bang. She gasped as he winced.

“Mr. Hawke!” Rachel rushed to kneel at his side. “Are you hurt?” She glared at Claudine. “Look what you did. What were you thinking?”

Claudine was frozen, unable to speak or move. He peered up at her. She braced herself for the insults and derogatory names that were sure to come. Any moment she expected Mr. Hawke to rail at her–to shout insults and call her names.

He laughed.

Meet Samantha Grace

71mlzTw1iTL__UX250_RITA-nominated historical romance author, Samantha Grace, discovered the appeal of a great love story at the age of four, 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 that Samantha is grown, she enjoys creating her own happy-endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publisher’s Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever. Part-time medical social worker, moonlighting author, and Pilates nut, she enjoys a happy and hectic life with her real life hero and two kids in the Midwest.

Samantha Grace Author Website  http://samanthagraceauthor.com

Newsletter http://samanthagraceauthor.com/contact.html

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Samantha-Grace-264436686918343/

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Cover reveal for Dangerous Weakness, by Caroline Warfield

CarolineToday, I welcome Caroline Warfield to the blog. Caroline is a fellow Bluestocking Belle, and author of Dangerous Works and Dangerous Secrets, both of which I love. And today, she is sharing with us the cover of her next book in the series. Caroline, the stage is yours.

I am delighted to reveal the cover of Dangerous Weakness from Soul Mate Publishing, which will be available for preorder in September. I hoped also to tell you more about the hero, Richard Hayden, the Marquess of Glenaire and heir to the Duke of Sudbury, but characters can be elusive. They often have depths they show only reluctantly, even to their authors. Richard is particularly private about his life. I had to enlist the help of the interview fairies.

We managed to corner him in a reflective mood one afternoon in Saint James Park. When we took a place next to him on the bench and assured him nothing he said would be published until the distant future, he opened up, at least a bit.

  1. What are you most proud of about your life?

Glenaire2“Pride?” he sputters. “I come from a family that has raised it to an art form. My father wraps himself in it like a coronation robe and my mother? My mother floats into any room she enters on a river of pride. No one in the kingdom, she believes, has more consequence than a Hayden, except perhaps the royal dukes, and she isn’t sure about them. Is that what you wanted to know?”

His tone is bitter, as if that kind of pride blights his life. When we suggest that is not precisely what we asked, he looks weary and appears to give the question more thought.

“A job well done gives me satisfaction,” he muses. “You might call that pride. I always put England first. I oversaw intelligence gathering during the Peninsular Campaign. I’ve managed the czar and his entourage, kept the Ottomans from provoking revolution, and helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris. I know my duty and I do it, even at personal cost.” A faraway look comes over him. “Even at cost,” he repeats.

He brightens somewhat. “I always do my best for my friends. I’m proud of that. I gathered information that brought Will, the Earl of Chadbourn, and the lady now his wife together. I managed to smooth my sister’s path to marriage with Andrew, though I may have erred earlier in their relationship. I am supporting Jamie, Baron Ross, who has inherited a tainted title and bankrupt estate, although Jamie has made himself scarce lately. The foolish man needs someone to keep him out of trouble. Is that what you had in mind?”
We nod and move on.

  1. What are you most ashamed of in your life?

“Sometimes duty to friends suffers when duty to country demands it. I sent my best friend, Andrew, the brother of my heart, on a dreadful mission knowing he might fall into French hands. He found the vital intelligence but was captured and tortured. By the time we got him out he bore horrific scars, some visible on his person, some deeper.”

We suggest that incident sounded like the cost of duty. Is there nothing else? He looks ashamed for a moment.

“I’ve always treated women with care—with discretion at least. I have never been tempted beyond control until lately. I ruined an innocent. I’m ashamed of that. When I attempted to make it right, the woman threw my proposal in my face. It leaves a scar on my honor.”

Assured this interview will not see the light of day until long into the future he added, “It leaves a scar on my heart as well. I don’t understand it.”

In response to a raised eyebrow he went on reluctantly, “I may have been a touch managing about the matter. I offered to make her a marchioness. Does she need romance too?”

  1. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

“They call me “the Marble Marquess,” in drawing rooms and gentlemen’s clubs. I must strike people as a cold fish. I can’t think why.”

  1. Do you think you have turned out the way your parents expected?

“I’ve given my parents no reason to criticize. I do my duty by the estate, meeting monthly with His Grace and his man of business to stay abreast of affairs. I create no scandal. I never challenge either of them overtly. When I disagree, I do it discretely and they pretend not to know.”

We suggest that is an odd answer and ask for an example.

My sister, Georgiana, defied them openly and created what they consider a scandal when she published Poetry by the Female Authors of Ancient Greece, and allowed her authorship to be made public. She compounded that by marrying beneath her in their opinion. She ceased to exist as far as Her Grace is concerned. They don’t acknowledge her.”

“I offered to support her, but she refused my help. She married my friend Andrew Mallet and the two of them do very well. I see them often. My parents pretend not to know.”

  1. What is the worst thing that has happened in your life? What did you learn from it?

“I might have said there was no such thing a year ago. Perhaps I would have believed it. Every privilege and deference has been given to me since birth. My family name smoothed the way for me in school, society, and even government. (Although I pride myself in having risen on my own merits.) In an odd way the lack of catastrophe is itself the worst thing. Rank can be a gilded cage. While my friends fought for king and country, I had to play my part behind a desk.”

“Worse, they all married for love, something I was raised to call maudlin. Seeing them now I’m not so certain. Women see me as a title to be coveted, wealth to be acquired, an ornament to be displayed. I can’t help what I am, but I can wish to be desired for myself rather than my prospects. Only one woman I ever met saw beyond those things, and she won’t have me. Lily Thorton’s rejection may be the worst thing. I’m still trying to learn what to do about it. Why can’t women be as easily managed as the affairs of state?”

  1. How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

In recent months I almost allowed myself to be drawn into my parents’ machinations regarding marriage. My mother wants a protégée and my father wants more land, more money, and more prestige—as if he didn’t already have more than he needs. They pressured me about it over dinner last night, each in their own way.”

“It came to me then: I don’t want a future duchess. I want a wife. I want family. I want what my friends have found. I have to try with Lily one more time. If she won’t have me, I have to find another woman who will see me for what I am. I refuse to live my parents’ life.”


 

Alas poor Richard was unaware at the time of this interview that his efforts to protect her had failed and Lily had already disappeared.  If he wants to try again, he will have to pursue her.

To find out what happens, you will have to wait for Dangerous Weakness.

For Georgiana and Andrew’s story, read Dangerous Works.

For Baron Ross’s story, read Dangerous Secrets.

The Earl of Chadbourn’s story will be in “A Dangerous Nativity,” in Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem available for preorder in October.

And here it is, folks: the cover!

Dangerous Weakness

If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was the creatures—one woman in particular—made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides.

Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.

Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? It might even have its own sweet reward.

Meet Caroline Warfield

Caroline Warfield has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, an Internet and Web services manager, a conference speaker, an indexer, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She has sailed through the English channel while it was still mined from WWII, stood on the walls of Troy, searched Scotland for the location of an entirely fictional castle (and found it), climbed the steps to the Parthenon, floated down the Thames from the Tower to Greenwich, shopped in the Ginza, lost herself in the Louvre, gone on a night safari at the Singapore zoo, walked in the Black Forest, and explored the underground cistern of Istanbul. By far the biggest adventure has been life-long marriage to a prince among men.

She sits in front of a keyboard at a desk surrounded by windows, looks out at the trees and imagines. Her greatest joy is when one of those imaginings comes to life on the page and in the imagination of her readers.

Caroline’s social media—use as it suits your purpose

Visit Caroline’s Website and Blog                http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Meet Caroline on Facebook                          https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7

Follow Caroline on Twitter                            @CaroWarfield

Email Caroline directly                                    warfieldcaro@gmail.com

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She can also be found on

LibraryThing                    http://www.librarything.com/profile/CaroWarfield

Amazon Author               http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads                      http://bit.ly/1C5blTm

Bluestocking Belles      http://bluestockingbelles.com/

 

Caroline’s Other Books (on Amazon)

Dangerous Works    http://amzn.to/1DJj0Hi

Dangerous Secrets   http://tinyurl.com/ph56vnb

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