Win a kitten in the Holly and Hopeful Hearts kitten tour

A kitten from the Bluestocking Belle’s box set Holly and Hopeful Hearts needs a home.

Meet Snowball, the kitten who captured the heart of the Earl of Hythe

Meet Snowball, the kitten who captured the heart of the Earl of Hythe

In my story, The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, Snowball is tempted from hiding by dangling gold tassels on James’ boots.

“I reckon gold tassels on the boots would be right proper, my lord,” the footman ventured.

He was right, too. Gold tassels that swung as James walked, catching and then losing the light. Not that gold tassels were going to make up the ground he’d lost with Sophia, but still…

“See what you can find,” he told the servant. “Adam, go on ahead and find your lady. I’ll be down in a minute.”

So it was that when he left his chamber, three gold tassels dangled from the front of each boot and proved a tempting target. A white kitten darted out from under an occasional table when James stopped to close the door behind him and took a flying leap at the tassels, as James discovered when he felt the sudden weight.

He took a careful step, expecting the small passenger to drop away, but it buried its claws and its teeth into its golden prey and glared up at him.

“Foolish creature,” he told it, going down onto the knee of the other leg so he could remove it, carefully lifting each paw to detach the tangled claws. “These gaudy baubles are to attract my lady, not a fierce little furry warrior.” He lifted the kitten in one hand and held it up to continue his lecture face to face. “Now where do you belong, hmmnhmmn? Have you wandered off from your mama? Do you belong to this house, I wonder, or did you come with a guest?”

The kitten squeaked a tiny meow.

“No, little one. I will not put you down to chew my tassels, or to trip one of the great ladies or to be trodden on by one of the gentlemen. You are a pretty little fellow, are you not?” He tucked the cat against his chest and rubbed behind its ears, prompting a loud rusty purr incongruously large for the small frame of the kitten.

Although focused on the kitten, he was aware of footsteps approaching. It was Hythe, who looked uncomfortable in a tight-fitting jerkin over short ballooning breeches that allowed several inches of clocked stocking to show between the hem of the breeches and the thigh-length fitted boots. The short robe, flat cap, and heavy flat chain gave a further clue, and Hythe had tried for authenticity by stuffing padding under the jerkin—a pillow, perhaps?

“Henry the Eighth?” James ventured, half-expecting Hythe to walk past without speaking or make another intemperate verbal attack.

Instead, the younger man nodded. “My sister Felicity picked it. Er… I wanted to speak with you… I owe you an apology, Winder… Er… Elfingham. My sister Felicity told me that… Well, the fact is I made an accusation without checking my facts.” Hythe nodded again, clearly feeling that he had said what he needed to say.

“Very handsome of you, Hythe,” James said.

Hythe ran a finger around inside his collar, flushing slightly. “Yes, well. The thing is… You will tell Sophia that I apologized, will you not?”

Ah. Clearly Sophia had expressed her discontent.

“Sisters can be a trial, can they not?” James said, and Hythe warmed to the sympathy.

“Just because she is older, she thinks she can…” He visibly remembered his audience. “Sophia is of age and will make her own decisions, but I think it only fair to tell you that I have advised her to wait until after the hearing at the Privileges Committee before she makes any decision.”

James inclined his head. “I understand your position.” Which would not prevent him from doing his best to persuade Sophia to ignore the advice.

Time to change the subject. He held up the little kitten. “Do you happen to know where this little chap belongs?”

Hythe flushed still deeper. “So that’s where he got to. He… ah… appears to be mine. In a way. The housekeeper’s cat had kittens, and this one seems to have adopted me. Little nuisance.”

But Hythe’s hands were gentle as he took the kitten from James, and he tucked it under his chin, his other hand coming up to fondle the furry head.

“I’ll just put him back in my room so he doesn’t get in anyone’s way. Foolish boy, Snowball. Do you wish to be lost? Was the fish not to your taste?”

Hythe retreated back down the hall. James could not hear individual words, but from the sound of his voice, he was continuing his loving scold. And James had managed to have what almost amounted to a conversation with his intended brother-in-law. He would count that as a win.

Follow the book links to learn more about the stories. Enter the rafflecopter below to be entered for the random draw to win the kitten.

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The winner will be announced at the Book Launch Party on November 13th. The other kittens in the novellas are also looking for new homes, so be sure to keep an eye out for them! Good luck!

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Secret Realm New Year’s blog hop

BookcoverCCC2The contest is over, but Hand-Turned Tales is still free. Read on to find out more.

Welcome to my blog.

Whether you are hopping through the blogs or are a regular visitor to these pages, today you can enter to win here, and click on through the blogs to enter for more great prizes. Or go to the event page, here.

Happy New Year. In 2016, I’m planning to publish at least three novels, plus at least two novellas and other shorter stories and vignettes. First up is a surprise with the Bluestocking Belles in March, to be announced in February (so watch for it. In May, I’m releasing Embracing Prudence, which tells the story of Prue and her colleague and lover David the thief taker—sorry: David prefers the term enquiry agent.

farewell to kindness RGB2I hope you’ll join me often in 2016 to talk about books, and writing, and historical research.

Would you like to win Candle’s Christmas Chair, Farewell to Kindness, or A Baron for Becky? I’m giving away twelve ebooks through a Rafflecopter. To enter, all you have to do is read the excerpt below and answer the question. You’ll get a bonus entry for subscribing to my newsletter, and another for following me on Amazon. When Rafflecopter chooses the 12 winners, I’ll send them a message asking which books they want.

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Here’s the excerpt, from A Baron for Becky.

A Baron for BeckyBecky and Sarah were waiting when Lord Overton arrived at two o’clock, just as he had promised. Becky paused on the doorstep. He had borrowed a curricle from Aldridge; she recognised the horses. It would be a tight fit for the three of them.

Sarah had no such qualms, and was already down in the street, renewing her acquaintance with Prince and Brown Beauty, chattering away to the groom Lord Overton had also borrowed, another old acquaintance.

“We’ll tuck Sarah between us where she will be warm, and out of the wind,” Lord Overton said, correctly interpreting her concern. “Neither of you are large. We will fit.”

It was a tight fit, and at first Sarah shrunk away from Lord Overton. Soon, though, she was telling him everything she knew about the horses, as they made their way through the streets to the park, the groom up behind.

With his focus divided between Sarah and the horses, Becky was free to watch him, and to wonder what life would be like as his wife. If he continued to be kind and respectful, if he were not putting on an act, if this plan of Aldridge’s worked…

By the end of the drive, Sarah and Lord Overton were friends, and he cemented the friendship by producing sugar cubes for her to feed the horses. She went to her governess and the schoolroom in full charity with him.

Lord Overton stood in the hall, smiling, watching her skip up the stairs.

“Do you intend to charm me by charming my daughter, Lord Overton?” Becky challenged.

He turned, laughing. “Is it working, Mrs Winstanley?” Then, serious again, “But no, I wanted to charm her, as you call it, for her own sake. Is she always so quiet and good?”

“She does not take easily to strangers,” Becky said. Sarah had reason to be wary, and Becky would do well to remember it. Still, Lord Overton’s attempt to win Sarah’s favour was more to his credit than not.

He returned for dinner that night, and it became the pattern for their days: an outing in the afternoon, dinner in the evening, and afterwards, cards, chess, or reading together. And they talked. Lord Overton had read many of the same books she enjoyed. He agreed with her views on enclosure. She did not share his confidence in the military genius of General Wellesley, but acknowledged that his own background as an army officer gave him the edge in judging such a thing.

She asked about his estate, and about his daughters, who would be her daughters, too. Perhaps. If she dared…

And at night in her bed, she wondered whether his shoulders were as broad, his hips as slender, as they looked.

Hand-Turned Tales2I also have a free book for you. Hand-Turned Tales contains three short stories and a novella. Just click on the link to find some of the eretailers where you can download it. And I’ll give away a print copy of Hand-Turned Tales to a random commenter.

But the hop isn’t over. There are more great prizes today, and even more in the days to come.

So thank you for visiting, and good luck at Lauren Royal’s website, on the next stop.

Or link back to the event page, here.

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Giveaway for A Baron for Becky launch

 

Prize packageTo celebrate my launch of A Baron for Becky, I’m giving away an eleven-book gift prize, made up of a book from each of my amazing guest authors. I’m also giving Meet the Cast an ebook collection of character interviews, to anyone who asks for it in the comments to this post, and When Fictional Worlds Collide, an ebook collection of co-authored stories, to anyone who is subscribed to my newsletter or who subscribes before midnight EDT on 5 August.

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