The Laird of Blackloch Cover Reveal!

Amy Rose Uncategorized

My Scottish historical romance The Laird of Blackloch will be released with Escape Publishing on 12th March! I’m totally in love with the cover and can’t wait for Alexander and Sarah’s story to hit the ebook retailer shelves! Stay tuned for all the pre-order buy links in February …

Following the Battle of Culloden, Alexander MacIvor returns to his ancestral home, Blackloch Castle, only to find the Earl of Tay, chief of the rival Clan Campbell, has laid waste to everything he holds dear. In the face of such devastation, Alex seems doomed to live the life of a fugitive Jacobite … until a stroke of good luck allows him to escape the Highlands and begin again.

Years later, styling himself as a wealthy Englishman, Alexander reclaims his forfeited estate, becoming the new Laird of Blackloch. But it’s not nearly enough to quench his thirst for vengeance. Hell-bent on destroying Lord Tay, he single-mindedly sets about driving his nemesis to bankruptcy. When he learns the earl intends to marry the very beautiful English heiress, Miss Sarah Lambert, thus escaping penury, he devises a devious plan: kidnap Miss Lambert and ransom her to hasten Tay’s ruin.

When Sarah Lambert learns Lord Tay is not the man she thought he was during a masquerade ball in Edinburgh, she is devastated. Reeling from her discovery, things go from bad to worse when a mysterious yet charming guest by the name of Alexander Black turns out to be a true devil in disguise. Abducted and whisked way into the wild Highlands by Black, Sarah is imprisoned in a remote, island-bound tower. Refusing to be a pawn in Black’s diabolical plan for revenge, she determines that somehow, some way, she will regain her freedom. If only she could unlock Black’s secrets …

Living in such close quarters, Alexander quickly discovers the spirited Sarah is more than a match for him, and even the best laid plans can go awry when passion flares and the spark of love threatens to revive his long-dead heart. When the shadows of the past begin to gather, will Alexander and Sarah find their way forward … or will the threatening darkness destroy them both?

Welcome to Amy Rose’s Parlour … Regina Jeffers! New Release & Giveaway!

Amy Rose Uncategorized

Regina Jeffers has dropped by my parlour to talk about her latest release, a Regency romantic suspense novel, The Earl Claims His Comfort. She also shares some fascinating history related to the rights and privileges of the peerage during the Regency era, and there’s a wonderful excerpt and a GIVEAWAY on offer! Take it away Regina …

Privileges of a Peer During the Regency

In my latest Regency romantic suspense, The Earl Claims His Comfort, there are multiple questions regarding the peeragebelonging to the book’s hero. For example, can a usurper force Levison Davids, 17th Earl of Remmington, from his seat in the House of Lords and the earldom? Rem is the second son of Morland Davids, 15th Earl of Remmington. Or is he? Both Morland Davids and Rem’s older brother Robinson have died mysteriously. Moreover, can Remmington consider an alliance with Miss Comfort Neville, whose father is a minor son of an Irish baron and socially well below the new earl? What rules governed such decisions? What were some of the advantages of being a peer? Some disadvantages?

The Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament

To answer those questions, we first require a primer of sorts on the parameters set upon a man accepting a peerage. Before 1963, an English peer sat is the upper house of Parliament. (In present time, the House of Lords, because the Lords are not elected by the populace, are considered the second house, and the House of Commons is the upper house.) As a member of the House of Lords during the Regency, each English peer had to be a male, had to have reached a legal age (21), and had to have openly acknowledged his acceptance of the thirty-nine articles of the Anglican church (see Church of England for more information on the Articles). You notice above that I said “English peer.” What of those from Scotland or Ireland?

Not all the Irish and Scottish peers were given seats in the House of Lords. Some were presented with an English peerage, which meant they would enter the HOL as an English peer, but not necessarily with the same rank as they held in their home countries. For example, The Duke of Leinster of Ireland was given the English title of Viscount Leinster and later as Lord Kildare (a barony). The viscounty of Leinster is the Peerage of Great Britain, while the barony of Kildare is the Peerage of the United Kingdom. However, some did not receive such peerages and were selected to represent their country in the House of Lords. Only a representative number of each were elected by other peers to attend the HOL. The Irish peers were elected for life, while the Scottish peers were elected for the parliament (from one general election to the next).

Scottish peerages (those created before the Act of Union in 1707) did not automatically entitle a peer a seat in the HOL. Instead, a representative body of sixteen Scottish peers of this group sat in the House of Lords. Scottish peerages created after the Act of Union entitled the peer to sit in the HOL, for they were considered peers of the United Kingdom. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, many Scottish peers who had been previously excluded because of the restriction of those created before the Act of Union were granted English peerages, which permitted them to sit in the House of Lords.

The Irish peers chose a group of 28 representatives to the House of Lords. This practice ceased in 1921 with the Irish Free State declaration of independence from Britain. [The HOL permitted those Irish peers who were sitting in the House of Lords at the cessation of the privileges in 1921 to continue to do so for life, but no further elections occurred. The Irish peers were no longer replaced when one of them died.

During the Regency, the Irish peers who were not elected as representative peers for the House of Lords could run for election and sit in the House of Commons. However, Scottish peers could not. Naturally, these were peers without English titles. By the Regency period, those with English titles were entitled to a seat in the House of Lords. Those Irish peers who did sit in the House of Commons lost privileges of Peerage, but did have privilege of Parliament.

Before 1832, the legislative power of the United Kingdom was held with a strong grip by a small group of aristocratic landowners. More than the simple control of the House of Lords, many peers also exercised control of the those in the House of Commons. One way to accomplish this was to have the peer’s heir and his minor sons and his nephews and his brothers stand for a seat in the House of Commons. This was an expensive undertaking—for the peer often paid for votes to the House of Commons, but doing so was considered money well spent for the control of key issues upon the legislative agenda.

Some viscounts, those with courtesy titles and not peerages, being the son/heir to an earl, for example, stood for a seat in the HOC, as did non-representative Irish peers.

One of the rights presented to a peer during the Regency period dealt with crimes such as treason or a felony. If a peer was accused of either, he would be tried before the House of Lords, not in an ordinary court, for those in the House were considered his peers, not the ordinary populace. This proves true only for the peer and his wife. All others in the family would face a criminal court. [I used this specific plot point in The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin. Although Colonel Fitzwilliam is the second son of an earl, he is still considered a commoner. Only the earl and his countess could exercise the privilege of a trial in the House of Lords.] This privilege remained upon the law books until 1948.

If a crime was committed by a peer, he could not be arrested during the 40 days before or the 40 days after a parliamentary session. He could not be expected to serve jury duty for an ordinary crime. He could not vote in a parliamentary election, nor could he stand for a seat in the House of Commons.

When a peer died, as long as the peerage was not bankrupt and it had been granted in England, Scotland or Ireland, the peer’s first born son would inherit the title. If the heir already sat in the House of Commons, he would resign his seat. The heir must have reached his majority, meaning twenty-one years of age. He also could not be considered a “candidate for Bedlam,” meaning a lunatic. After receiving a Writ of Summons from his king/queen, and not before, he took his seat in the House of Lords. He would be introduced to the other Lords, he shook the hand of the Lord Chancellor, and he quite literally took a seat on the designated bench.

Nancy Regency Researcher provides us another tidbit many of us had not considered. “When does a man have to pay for an honour or a promotion? The answer is when he gains a peerage, is made bishop, or is introduced to the House of Peers. We think of a man being created a peer as having received an honor, and seldom think of his having to pay for it. However, whether a man was created a peer for merit or succeeded to a peerage of his father or other relative, he had to pay a fee. He also had to pay a fee if he were made a bishop and an additional one if he was translated from one seat to a better one.

“These fees are called homage fees, and some sources think the fees were a substitute for knight’s service. There are also fees to have the creation or the succession published in the Gazette.

“When the peer makes his first appearance at the House of Lords, he participates in an old age ceremony for which a fee also must be paid.

“These fees were paid to the Receiver of Fees, who was a clerk in the House of Peers. In 1812 this was a Mr. Charles Sutherland.

Prince of Wales: upon creation – £703 6 8 Upon his first introduction to the House he paid £30.

A Duke paid £350 3 4 upon creation and £27 on first introduction.

A Marquis paid £272 10 8, then £19 6 8 upon introduction.

An Earl paid £203 3 4 upon creation, and £14 on first introduction.

A Viscount paid £159 7 4 upon creation, then £12 upon introduction.

A baron paid £150 upon creation and £ 9 upon introduction.

If a peer advanced in title, (If a baron was made a viscount or an earl) he was required to pay the appropriate fee.

Every bishop was required to pay upon his first Consecration and upon future promotions.

Promotion £14. The Archbishop paid £27 upon introduction.

This information is from the Royal Kalendar and the annual Register for 1812.”

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Introducing The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 in the Twins’ Trilogy, releasing September 16, 2017, from Black Opal Books

~ a 2016 Hot Prospects finalist in Romantic Suspense ~

Earl6x9Hurrying home to Tegen Castle from the Continent to assume guardianship of a child not his, but one who holds his countenance, Levison Davids, Earl of Remmington, is shot and left to die upon the road leading to his manor house. The incident has Remmington chasing after a man who remains one step ahead and who claims a distinct similarity—a man who wishes to replace Remmington as the rightful earl. Rem must solve the mystery of how a stranger’s life parallels his, while protecting his title, the child, and the woman he loves.

Comfort Neville has escorted Deirdre Kavanaugh from Ireland to England, in hopes that the Earl of Remmington will prove a better guardian for the girl than did the child’s father. When she discovers the earl’s body upon a road backing the castle, it is she who nurses him to health. As the daughter of a minor son of an Irish baron, Comfort is impossibly removed from the earl’s sphere, but the man claims her affections. She will do anything for him, including confronting his enemies. When she is kidnapped as part of a plot for revenge against the earl, she must protect Rem’s life, while guarding her heart.

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Read an excerpt from The Earl Claims His Comfort

“Here be his lordship’s discarded newsprints, Miss Neville,” Lally said as she entered Comfort’s quarters.

“Place them with the others,” Comfort instructed. “We should have enough soon to clean the windows in Lord Swenton’s library, and then we can present what remains to several of his lordship’s tenants to use in blocking out drafts for the winter months. It shan’t be long until winter pays us a call in Yorkshire.”

“You always be most practical,” Lally remarked.

In the month that she resided with the Swentons, Comfort had made herself useful in an effort to stay busy. Only when she fell into her bed at night in exhaustion did she dream of the Earl of Remmington.

“It is the least I can do,” she said dutifully. “Lady Swenton requires her rest, and my cousin is not easily persuaded to ignore her duties.”

“Ye do more than oversee the cleanin,’” the girl protested.

Comfort smiled knowingly at the maid. “Like my cousin, I simply permit those employed by his lordship to execute the work. Doing so provides the village with required income.” She appreciated the loyalty of the baron’s staff, but Comfort did not wish to undermine Isolde’s position in the household. “I insist upon participating in the household chores, so I can honestly report back to Lady Swenton.”

“Never thought of yer doin’ so as such,” the young maid admitted.

Comfort would add no more chastisements. It was not her place. “Would you add these stockings to the laundry?” she asked instead. “I fear the path to Mr. Sevan’s house was muddier than I expected.”

“Certainly, miss. Would ye be requirin’ anything more?”

“No. I am thinking of reading some of the newsprints before we present them to the others. I hold no knowledge of the comings and goings of those mentioned, but I assume if I am to live in England, I should become aware of what is considered important. Afterwards, I shall sleep. Tomorrow will be a busy day.”

“Then good evenin’, Miss Neville. If’n ye require me, just ring.”

With that, the girl was gone. Comfort sat upon the vanity bench to release her hair from its coiled braid. Taking up the brush, she slowly groomed each strand into place.

“Little good does it do me to tend my hair so,” she sighed. “No one will ever see it down.” She was not customarily of a sour nature, but Comfort could not shake the maudlin that had plagued her of late. “What did you expect?” she asked the reflection staring back at her from the cheval mirror. She swallowed hard to stall the tears rushing to her eyes, and tentatively her fingers touched her mouth. Was her bottom lip truly trembling? “He cannot marry you, and you will not accept the role of the earl’s mistress,” she insisted as the first tear escaped. “The Earl of Remmington must look above you for a wife.”

With a sigh of resignation, Comfort stood to remove her day dress, stays, and chemise before donning her nightrail. In distraction, she paused to organize the drawer where she kept her intimate wear. “Something else the earl will never know of me,” she whispered as the clothes were refolded. At length, she carried a candle to the bedside table. Catching several of the folded over newsprints in hand, she crawled into the bed.

“Nothing can be done for your regrets but to carry on,” she said as she propped the pillows behind her and took up the first print. “Keep your mind on what can be controlled. The loss of his lordship will lessen with each day.”

Although tears still stung her eyes, Comfort studiously read each of the articles upon the various pages. Some of what transpired as newsworthy was as foreign to her as if she attempted to read Chinese. It always surprised her that two countries so connected in history could be so distant in politics. Other papers, those less weighty than those that dealt with the business of Parliament, held more of her interest. Although Comfort bemoaned the lack of style within her wardrobe, she enjoyed the few adverts that spoke of the current fashions.

In time, her eyes fell upon a list of those who attended one of London’s parties thought appropriate in keeping with the mourning for the English king. A sob of anguish caught her by surprise, as she shoved her fist into her mouth to catch the sorrow choking her.

“He is in London,” she rasped. “It did not take Lord Remmington long to abandon Miss Deirdre to his mother’s care in order to join Sir Alexander in the Capital.”

Without considering her actions, Comfort slowly swiped her fingertip across the earl’s name. “I meant nothing to him,” she chastised, even as she ran her finger over the print a second time. “Lord Remmington will claim an English wife, and you will—”

Comfort could not say the words. Instead, she rolled to her side to pull her knees up to lessen the pain filling her empty heart. She shoved the newsprint from her way. “What did you expect? It was nothing more than a kiss. Your nature is not one an English man would wish to find in his children. You were correct. Lord Swenton is the aberration.” She permitted the tears their due. “You must return to Ireland as soon as Isolde is settled. You cannot remain in Yorkshire if Lord Remmington means to bring home a countess for his title.”

She caught a pillow to drape it across her face. For a brief instant, she wondered what it would be to press the pillow hard against her mouth and stop the breaths ripped from her throat—to deny the devastation pressing down upon her. Yet, as a Catholic, she could not take her own life. Such would be a passage to damnation.

Tossing the pillow aside, she accepted the fate God presented her. “You are already in a personal purgatory,” Comfort grated. “No reason for your remorse to last an eternity. Have your cry, my girl. Tomorrow you must pretend your heart is not rendered in two.”

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Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy

~ a 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense finalist ~

~ a SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Award finalist for Historical Romance ~

AngelComes...Huntington 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?

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Now for the GIVEAWAY. Regina has two eBook copies of The Earl Claims His Comfort available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Saturday, September 23.

Meet Regina JeffersRegina-Jeffers-240x380

With 30+ books to her credit, Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era-based romantic suspense. A teacher for 40 years, Jeffers often serves as a consultant for Language Arts and Media Literacy programs. With multiple degrees, Regina has been a Time Warner Star Teacher, Columbus (OH) Teacher of the Year, and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar and a Smithsonian presenter.

Regina Jeffers’s Blog ~ Every Woman Dreams

Website

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Also on Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.

A Cover Reveal from Caroline Warfield!

Amy Rose Uncategorized

Caroline Warfield’s 2017 Christmas Novella is now available for pre-order from various retailers. It’s due out October 20. Isn’t the cover beautiful?

Lady Charlotte Cover front 500x750 web

Love is the best medicine and the sweetest things in life are worth the wait, especially at Christmastime in Venice for a stranded English Lady and a dedicated doctor.

About the Book

Lady Charlotte Tyree clings to one dream—to see the splendor of Rome before settling for life as the spinster sister of an earl. But now her feckless brother forces her to wait again, stranded in Venice when he falls ill, halfway to the place of her dreams. She finds the city damp, moldy, and riddled with disease.

As a physician, Salvatore Caresini well knows the danger of putrid fever. He lost his young wife to it, leaving him alone to care for their rambunctious children. He isn’t about to let the lovely English lady risk her life nursing her brother.

But Christmas is coming, that season of miracles, and with it, perhaps, lessons for two lonely people: that love heals the deepest wounds and sometimes the deepest dreams aren’t what we expect.

Pre-order Buy Links

Amazon * Smashwords

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About the Author

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award winning and Amazon best-selling author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures while she nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart. She is enamored of history, owls, and gardens (but not the actual act of gardening). She is also a regular contributor to History Imagined, a blog at the intersection of history and fiction, and (on a much lighter note) The Teatime Tattler, a blog in the shape of a fictional nineteenth century gossip rag.

Her current series, Children of Empire, set in the late Georgian/early Victorian period, focuses on three cousins, driven apart by lies and deceit, who must find their way back from the distant reaches of the empire.

Click here to find out more here.

Welcome to Amy Rose’s Parlour … Jude Knight

Amy Rose Uncategorized

a raging madness new style smallThe lovely Jude Knight has stopped by my parlour today for an interview and to chat about her upcoming release, a Regency noir style novel, A Raging Madness, the second title in her Golden Redepennings Series. It’s due out on May 9! make sure you check out a wonderful excerpt from A Raging Madness and Jude’s fabulous giveaway offers at the end of the interview.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My perfect day would be spent with family and friends: the adults talking, the children playing, good food on the barbecue, jokes and stories, memories of those who have left us, ball and board games, a glass of white wine or my home-made cider, maybe a movie in the evening. Perfect happiness? For me, that comes in fleeting moments when you look at a difficult task successfully accomplished. When I see my children and soon my grandchildren at their graduation, that’s a moment of perfect happiness. When a book I’ve given my heart and soul to for months on end goes to a difficult reviewer and comes back with five stars, that works too.

  1. Which living person do you most admire?

Pope Francis. His is the perfect balance of fidelity to tradition and pastoral care, with pastoral care winning every time there’s a conflict. I try to live like that.

  1. What is your greatest extravagance?

My grandchildren. But they’re worth it.

  1. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

I don’t think any of the seven cardinal virtues are overrated, though they get a bad name from those who claim them without practicing them, or who follow the letter but not the spirit of the virtue. All things in moderation doesn’t apply to virtue itself, but it certainly applies to feeling good about being prudent or faithful or charitable.

The greatest virtue is love, and none of the rest remain virtues if practiced without love.

  1. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I am trying to train myself out of using filter words—those unnecessary extra bits that remove the reader one more step from the action. Not ‘He looked up and saw her entering the room, and suddenly felt energised’, but ‘When she swept into the room, her bright eyes searching until they found him, he surged to his feet, ready to fight dragons or climb mountains at her word.” When I searched on filter words in A Raging Madness, I found 363 instances of the verb ‘look’. He looked, she looked, they looked. Boring!

  1. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My personal romantic hero and I fell in love when he was 21 and I was 19. That’s 48 years ago. I love him more each year. He is my partner, my friend, the father of my children, and the love of my life.

  1. When and where were you happiest?

See above. Accomplishing things makes me happy. Being with family and friends makes me happy.

  1. Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to play a musical instrument. Not enough to actually practise, though.

  1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My children, who are all fine people: kind to others, honourable, and decent.

  1. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I’d enjoy being a treasured house cat. 20 hours sleep a day? Bring it on.

  1. Where would you most like to live?

I live in my ideal place—small town New Zealand on a two acre block full of fruit trees.

  1. What is your most treasured possession?

That’s hard. I’m just not that fussed about possessions. I love my jewellery, mostly costume jewellery though it is, because each piece reminds me of the person who gave it to me, and I have other precious things given by family or friends. I’d say my iPad but it is more what is on it and what I can do with it than the actual physical object.

  1. What is your favorite occupation?

Writing, or rather story-telling. It’s the most fun you can have when you’re not lying down.

  1. Who are your favorite writers?

So many. It’s hard to pick, but here are a few from the top of my head. Asimov, Le Guin, Tolkein, Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Patricia Wentworth, Terry Pratchett, Elizabeth Hoyt, Georgette Heyer, Grace Burrows, Shakespeare, Dickens. And many more, from whom I’ve learnt and in whose pioneering feet I aspire to tread. The writers of the Psalms and the translators of the Bible are right up there, too.

  1. Who is your hero/heroine of fiction?

I’m currently in love with the Duke of Murnane, who appears in Caroline Warfield’s Children of Empire series. In the first two books in the series, he’s a supporting actor to his cousins, Fred and Rand. I can’t wait for the third book, in which he stars.

  1. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

‘Identify with’? Not really. I have some historical heroes, or rather heroines. But their lives were very different to mine. Kate Sheppard, a pioneer suffragette in New Zealand. St Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped from her family in South Sudan and survived torture, rape, and slavery to become a religious sister in Italy. Isabella Beeton and other women writers who turned domestic duties into a cottage industry by writing about them. Rosa Parks who changed the shape of American society because she was tired of being moved at someone else’s whim.

I hope that, if I were in their shoes, I too would stand up to prejudice and stupidity, and make the most of narrow choices.

  1. Who are your heroes in real life?

Living heroes? Today? My daughters, who are the kind of strong, confident women I would have liked to be when I was their age. My PRH, who has lived his life in service to his family.

  1. If you had a day all to yourself and your only mission was to enjoy it, what would you do?

I would read, write, and eat chocolate. And drink cider, most likely, or a glass of white wine.

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Their marriage is a fiction. Their enemies are all too real.a raging madness new style small

Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.

Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.

In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.

Jude Knight’s Shop

Smashwords • iBooks • Barnes & Noble • Amazon US

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Giveaways!

Jude is offering a wonderful prize – a free ecopy of each of the other Redepenning stories to a random commenter: Candle’s Christmas Chair and Gingerbread Bride (novellas) and Farewell to Kindness (Golden Redepennings, Book 1).

Plus there’s a chance to enter a Rafflecopter for a wonderful made-to-order story by Jude Knight (till 13 May). Click here for the Rafflecopter. 

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Excerpt

The operation would be performed in the outdoors, where the light was better. They were only a few yards from where the Maggie Belle was moored, and all going well, they would return there after the operation. Big Dan had agreed that they could travel on with the narrowboat if Ella was prepared to guarantee Alex was on the mend.

“I don’t wish to disoblige, Mrs Sedgewick, especially when you and himself have been so good to my Pat, but I don’t want a gentleman dying on my boat, and that’s a fact.”

Eleanor Melville

Eleanor Melville

The canal was the gentlest way to transport Alex to London, and Ella trusted Big Dan and didn’t want to start again with another boat. She paid his costs to stable Bess for another day, and a bit over for his trouble. If she was able to save Alex’s leg, they would be ready to travel on tomorrow. Not saving Alex was an intolerable thought, and she would not entertain it for a moment.

It was a cool day in late autumn, but fine and still. Alex was carried from the boat across the bridle path to the field where they had set up trestles on a borrowed door they had pressed into service to act as stretcher and operating table.

Barlow and Whitlock had returned to watch, and Mrs Manning had bullied them into washing so they could help hold Alex during the operation. Mrs Manning’s husband had also been an advocate of Alexander Gordon’s theories that contagion was minimised by cleanliness, something Ella’s father had taught her. She had seen the benefit many times when his patients and hers survived in greater numbers than those of other doctors.

With that in mind, she had boiled the lancets and probes Mrs Manning provided. The cloths they would use, too, had been freshly laundered in boiling water, and the door had been scoured with strong soap and then draped with a clean sheet.

They strapped Alex to the door to stop him moving, gave him a wooden block to bite on, washed his naked thigh and draped

Alex Redepenning

Alex Redepenning

cloths around it to catch the fluids that would spill.

“I will be as quick as I can, Alex,” Ella said, and Alex smiled and told her, “I trust you, Ella.”

She could not think of that: could not consider she was about to cut into her nemesis, her saviour, her dear friend; could not remember the consequences if she failed. She said a quick prayer, and then, as her father had taught her, she took a deep breath and let it go, releasing with it all consciousness of the small crowd of watchers, of the still smaller crowd of helpers, of Alex as a person.

Before her was a leg. A thing of meat and bone and blood, and within it the enemy, the death-bringer. Finding the abscess, releasing the poison, that was her entire focus. The muscle of the thigh was simply something to be damaged as little as possible as she sliced into it to reach the poison beneath.

She had chosen the sharpest and most slender of the lancets, and with it she cut quickly and deeply. On another plane, someone gave a smothered, strangled scream and the thigh twitched, but not enough to deflect her blade from its path. There. Pus, a thick yellowy cream springing up the channel she had made mixed with the blood that tried to drown her view.

Of a sudden, her detachment deserted her, and she braced herself against the table, tightening her suddenly weak knees so she didn’t fall. Rotting flesh had an odour all its own; once smelled never forgotten. This was infection, but not rot. She was in time.

And time was of the essence. No indulging in vapours.

 

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Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and Jude Knight-2romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.

She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19th Century. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

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Welcome to Amy Rose’s Parlour … Caroline Warfield

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The delightful Caroline Warfield has dropped by my parlour today for an interview and to talk about her latest release, The Reluctant Wife, the second title in her wonderful Children of the Empire Series! Don’t miss the excerpt or Caroline’s new release contests at the end of the interview!

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  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? I don’t believe in perfection. I think we choose happiness. It is the attitude with which we approach life. What is bliss to me? A day at the seashore with someone I love. Cares fall away and I’m reminded of the heart of what it is to be human.
  2. Which living person do you most admire? Melinda Gates. She uses her wealth and position to seek solutions to underlying problems behind human misery such as water supplies or access to technology.
  3. What is your greatest extravagance? Travel, always travel
  4. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience. Life is too short for it.
  5. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband. He is my love, my calling, my support, my other half.
  6. When and where were you happiest? My wedding day in 1969.
  7. Which talent would you most like to have? There are so many… the ability to focus on detail whether in proofreading or project planning would be very useful, but dancing would be a lot more fun.
  8. Where would you most like to live? If I couldn’t live near family I would choose to live in an apartment in a major city like Chicago, San Francisco, London, Rome, Paris… definitely Paris20170418_142442
  9. What is your most treasured possession? Aside from my wedding rings, my mother’s locket and the portrait painted of me when I was six.
  10. What is your favorite occupation? Writing is way more fun than anything I’ve done before, but I liked being involved in public information access policy very much also.
  11. Who are your favorite writers? Thomas Merton, Gregory of Nyssa, Mark Twain, Harper Lee. Of romance/ficiton? Dorothy Dunnett, Carla Kelly, C.S. Harris and Grace Burrowes. I have many friends whose books I enjoy, but I can’t play favorites.
  12. Who is your hero/heroine of fiction? Atticus Finch first and foremost. Others woujld be Crawford of Lymond, Sebastian St.Cyr, Amelia Peabody.
  13. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Thomas More
  14. Who are your heroes in real life? People who are faithful in service year in year out whether priests, homeless advocates, military professionals, nurses or firefighters. Folks that just get up every day, year after year and go serve the community.20160402_153155
  15. If you had a day all to yourself and your only mission was to enjoy it, what would you do? I would be hard pressed to choose between heading up to the mountains or down to the seashore, but I would go where the was solitude and quiet in nature, where I could simply walk and breathe it in.

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Caroline Warfield is over the moon to finally be able to release The Reluctant Wife into the wild.

This sweeping story carries readers from the edge of Bengal to Calcutta to the Suez and across the desert, to rural England while two people stumble into love in spite of themselves. The hero, a clueless male with more honor than sense, never stops trying to do the right thing. Imagine his shock when he realizes people actually depend on him! The heroine is a courageous wounded duck with more love bottled up than she finds comfortable. Along the way it features a meteor shower, a tragic asassination, colonial officials, steamboats, narrow minded officers’ wives, herbal remedies, a desert bivouac, a court martial, interfering relatives, a horrific fire, and camels. The self important villain, rotten to the core, makes the hero miserable in both India and England, until the hero brings him down—with a little help from family—in the end. And last but not least, it features two charming children, one a precocius little girl who pushes the hero to do what is right even when he is confused about what that is.

The author dedicts this one to her father, the constant soldier, who understood duty and loyalty as few people do.

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GIVEAWAYS!

Thank you for joining the celebration! If you tell us about your favorite story elements, Caroline will give a kindle copy of The Renegade Wife, Book 1 in the series, to one person who comments below.

Caroline is also sponsoring a grand prize in celebration of her release. You can enter it here!  The prequel to this series, A Dangerous Nativity, is always **FREE**. You can get a copy here.

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TheReluctantWife_850The Reluctant Wife, Children of Empire, Book 2

When all else fails, love succeeds…

When Captain Fred Wheatly, a soldier with more honor than sense, is forced to resign from the Bengal army, and his mistress dies leaving him with two half-caste daughters to raise, he reluctantly turns to Clare Armbruster for help. But the interfering widow has her own problems, and a past she would rather forget. With no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must return to England and turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above the past to forge a future together?

Available on Amazon here!

Enjoy an excerpt …

The ballroom at Government House, Calcutta, 1835

Clare had stopped listening. A prickle of awareness drew her gaze to the entrance where another man entered. He stood well above average height, he radiated coiled strength, and her eyes found his auburn hair unerringly. Captain Wheatly had come. The rapid acceleration of her heart took her off guard. Why should I care that he’s here?

“Clare? The lieutenant asked you a question.”

Lieutenant? Clare blinked to clear her head, only to see Mrs. Davis’s icy glare turned on Captain Wheatly. “Is that your strange captain from the black neighborhood?” she demanded in a faux whisper.

The lieutenant’s avid curiosity added to Clare’s discomfort. “Is that Wheatly in a captain’s uniform? I thought they might demote him after the business with Cornell,” he volunteered.

Clare forced herself to turn to the lieutenant. “Cornell?” she asked to deflect Mrs. Davis’s questions.

“Collector at Dehrapur. Wheatly assaulted the man. Unprovoked, I heard,” the lieutenant answered.

She looked back, unable to stop herself. Merciful angels, he’s seen me. She watched the captain start toward them. At least Gleason could make introductions.

The lieutenant went on as though he had her full attention. “He was in line for promotion, the one that went to your brother instead. Philip posted over there right after it happened.”

Clare found it impossible to look away. The captain gave an ironic smile when he saw her watching. Mrs. Davis gave a sharp intake of breath when she realized Wheatly’s intent. “He’s coming here? Clare, I think I should warn you that a man who has been passed over as this one was—”

Before she could finish, Colonel Davis, who had been coming from the other direction, met the captain and greeted him with a smile. Clare couldn’t hear the words, but Captain Wheatly’s self-deprecating grin seemed to indicate at least a modicum of respect. The two men approached together.

“Captain Frederick Wheatly, may I present my wife, Mrs. Davis.” The captain bowed properly, and the colonel went on, “And our house guest, Miss Armbruster.”

This time the captain’s eyes held a distinct twinkle. “Miss Armbruster and I are acquainted. I met her when she visited her brother in Dehrapur.”

“Of course, of course! I should have remembered,” the colonel said jovially. He leaned toward Clare and winked. “He’s a catch, this one. Doesn’t like to boast of his connections, but earls and dukes lurk in his pedigree. His cousin stepped down from Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies just last year!”

Captain Wheatly looked discomfited by that revelation.

Gleason looked skeptical. “The Duke of Murnane?” he gasped.

Before anyone could answer, the small orchestra hired for the occasion began to play, and the captain cocked an eyebrow as if to ask a question.

“I think the captain wants a dance, Miss Armbruster. It’s your patriotic duty to see to the morale of the troops,” the colonel said coyly.

Captain Wheatly put out a gloved hand, and she put her equally gloved hand in his. Walking away from Gleason and the Davises, she admitted two things to herself. She was glad he came, and she planned to enjoy the dance.

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About Caroline Warfield

Carol Roddy - Author

Carol Roddy – Author

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Caroline is a RONE award winner with five star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, Night Owl Reviews, and InD’Tale and an Amazon best-seller. She is also a member of the writers’ co-operative, the Bluestocking Belles. With partners she manages and regularly writes for both The Teatime Tattler and History Imagined.

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Email: warfieldcaro@gmail.com

Welcome to Amy Rose’s Parlour… Alison Stuart, Author of ‘And Then Mine Enemy’

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Alison Stuart has dropped by my parlour today to chat about her latest historical romance release, a swashbuckling tale from the 17th century, AND THEN MINE ENEMY. Read on for an exclusive excerpt and the link to a wonderful Rafflecopter giveaway! A $20 Amazon gift card is up for grabs!

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AND THEN MINE ENEMY is the first book in a two book series (FEATHERS IN THE WIND) spanning the years of the English Civil War from 1642- 1645.

A family ripped apart in a country divided by war . . .FeathersInTheWindFinal

England 1642: Hardened mercenary, Adam Coulter returns to England sickened by violence, seeking only peace, but he finds England on the brink of civil war. He has seen first-hand what that will mean for every man, woman and child and wants no part of it.

King or Parliament? Neutrality is not an option and Adam can only be true to his conscience, not the dictates of his family.

Having escaped a loveless marriage, Perdita Gray has found much needed sanctuary and the love of a good man, but her fragile world begins to crumble as Adam Coulter bursts into her life. This stranger brings not only the reality of war to her doorstep but reignites an old family feud, threatening everything and everyone she holds dear.

As the war and family tensions collide around them, Adam and Perdita are torn between old loyalties and a growing attraction that must be resisted.

Excerpt …

As the first streaks of light illuminated the cold, grey, colourless morning, the wounded came. The echo of horses’ hooves and the creak of wagon wheels, sent Perdita hurrying downstairs. As she stepped outside, her breath frosted in the cold air and she shivered, thinking of the battle that had been fought the previous day and the wounded men who lay on the hard, frosted ground.

In the forecourt a troop of horse, or what was left of a troop of horse, sat their weary mounts as their commander, a tall man on a bay horse leaned down talking to Ludovic. Even in the grey light she could see from his build that it was not Simon and she slowed her steps.

As she approached him, the man raised his head, his fingers going to the brim of his heavy, iron helmet. She stopped, her breath catching. Adam Coulter.

She wanted to run to him, satisfy herself that he wasn’t hurt but even in the circumstances, any undue haste could be construed as unseemly. Instead she raised her chin and walked purposefully across to him.

‘Adam Coulter? What brings you here?

The answer was obvious and his red-rimmed eyes narrowed. ‘I’ve wounded with me and I can take them no further.’

Perdita moved her gaze to the tired, dispirited faces behind him. Dreading what she might see she turned to the wagons, recoiling momentarily from the stench of blood and worse, and the piteous cries

Adam swung himself down from his horse, wincing as he straightened his back.

Perdita caught the grimace of pain. ‘Are you hurt?’

He shook his head. Beneath the shadow of the helm’s brim, he looked exhausted, his face unshaven and grimy. ‘Thank you for your concern, Mistress Gray, but no I’m not hurt. Just stiff. My men . . .’

‘Take the wounded into the barn.’ Perdita addressed an older man with a greying beard who seemed to carry some authority. She turned to Ludovic. ‘See that there is food and drink for the men. I’ll see to the wounded.’

She supervised the unloading of the wagons, indicating the grey stone solidity of the barn, hurrying ahead as the able-bodied men carried their injured companions into the grey stone solidity of the barn. ‘We heard the sounds of the battle. Where was it?’ Perdita threw the question to Adam, as he helped one of the more lightly injured soldiers off his horse.

‘Kineton village. A place they call Edgehill.’

BUY LINKS

Amazon * Kobo * iBooks * Nook * Smashwords

To celebrate the release of AND THEN MINE ENEMYAlison is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

Enter here: Rafflecopter

ABOUT ALISON STUARTVIC_6547-8_0x10_0-09 LR

Award winning Australian author, Alison Stuart learned her passion for history from her father. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full length novel was published. Alison has now published seven full length historical romances and a collection of her short stories. Her disposition for writing about soldier heroes may come from her varied career as a lawyer in the military and fire services. These days when she is not writing she is travelling and routinely drags her long suffering husband around battlefields and castles.

Connect with Alison at her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or subscribe to her newsletter for exclusive free reads, contests and more…

The Master of Strathburn is a finalist in the 2016 ARR Awards!

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A sweeping, sexy Highland romance about a wanted Jacobite with a wounded soul, and a spirited Scottish lass on the run.-2

I’m absolutely thrilled that my Scottish historical romance with Escape Publishing, THE MASTER OF STRATHBURN, is a finalist in the Favourite Historical Romance category of the 2016 Australian Romance Readers Awards! What a wonderful honour! I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to ARRA and all of the members who nominated and voted for my book.

Here’s the list of all the ARRA finalists. The winners of the 2016 ARR Awards will be announced at the 2017 ARRA Convention in Melbourne at the awards dinner on Saturday the 25th February. You can find out more about the convention here. It runs from Friday 24th – Sunday 26th February.

And here are all the buy links for THE MASTER OF STRATHBURN  if you’d like to check it out…

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * iBooks * Google Play

Help this kitten find a home! Holly and Hopeful Hearts Giveaway!

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This cute little kitten, Pearl, from the Bluestocking Belles’ Holly and Hopeful Hearts, needs a home. Read on to found out how to enter the Bluestocking Belles’ giveaway…pearl2

Hollystone Hall, the country home of the Duchess of Haverford, is packed to the rafters with guests attending her Yuletide house party as well as a litter of mischievous kittens who have the knack of turning up in all kinds of places.

In my novella, Dashing Through the Snow, the heroine, Miss Kate Woodville is introduced to Pearl when she finally arrives at Hollystone Hall for the New Year’s Eve charity subscription ball. But Kate also has other things on her mind… namely a rather enigmatic viscount…

Hollystone Hall, Buckinghamshire, New Year’s Eveshutterstock_241263874

“I hope this bedroom meets with your approval Miss Woodville.” Cedrica Grenford, the Duchess of Haverford’s niece and personal secretary pushed her spectacles up her nose as she regarded Kate expectantly. “And I must say, the duchess is very pleased that you could attend her house party even though it is nearing the end.”

“I’m delighted to hear that, Miss Grenford,” replied Kate as she glanced about the small but comfortable looking room with its floral chintz curtains, delicate cherrywood furniture and cheerful fire. There was even a small gray kitten purring contentedly on the shepherdess chair by the hearth; Miss Grenford had already introduced her as Pearl. “This will do just nicely.”

“Excellent. It is actually most fortunate that you have arrived only today. Until recently, Hollystone Hall was full to overflowing, but with the departure of a few of the duchess’s guests, we have been able to accommodate you, your brother, and sister-in-law quite easily.” She gave a shy smile. “If you don’t mind my saying so, I think they are rather pleased to have one of the estate cottages all to themselves. How romantic to think they had a Yuletide wedding in the Lake District. It seems to be the season for proposals and weddings.”

“Yes, it was very romantic,” agreed Kate; thank heavens the story they’d all agreed upon—that Freddie had proposed to Violet in London on the eve of the journey to Hollystone and that Kate had gone with them to Cumbria so that they might wed by special license in Fenwick House’s small private chapel—was being taken at face value. So far. Hopefully no one had asked why Lady Stanton had not accompanied them. Or where Lord Stanton had been…

Miss Grenford was looking at her expectantly so Kate continued, “And we are most grateful that the duchess has been so accommodating at the last minute. Now, about payment for the tickets to the ball for myself, my brother and his new wife—”

Miss Grenford beamed. “Oh, it has all been taken care of.”

“It has?” Kate frowned. How odd.

“Yes. Lord Stanton paid for them. He arrived yesterday and settled everything.”

hhh-dashing-snow-fb-memeDashing Through the Snow by Amy Rose Bennett

Miss Kate Woodville, teacher and bluestocking, enjoys her independence, thank you very much. But when a very determined viscount insists she accompany him on a mad dash through the snow to Gretna Green to stop his younger sister, Violet, eloping with Kate’s own brother, she has little choice but to go. She’ll risk the ruin of her own pristine reputation if it means she can save Freddie from Lord Stanton’s wrath.

As they race along the road north and then back to Hollystone Hall in Buckinghamshire for a New Year’s Eve charity ball, hearts and wills are certain to collide. But will anyone—Freddie and Violet, or Kate and Lord Stanton—find the path to everlasting love?

 

Dashing Through the Snow is one of the eight novellas contained in the soon-to-be-released Bluestocking Belles’ holiday box set, Holly and Hopeful Hearts. It is available for pre-order right now and releases on November 8th.

25% of the proceeds will be donated to the Bluestocking Belles’ chosen charity, The Malala Fund.

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Buy Links

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Kitten Giveaway
Little Pearl needs a home. Enter our Rafflecopter giveaway here to win a stuffed grey kitten of your own (as pictured above). The winner of Pearl will be announced at the Belles’ Facebook event on November 13th.

Welcome to Amy Rose’s Parlour… Elizabeth Ellen Carter, author of The Thief of Hearts

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Fellow Australian historical romance author, the lovely Elizabeth Ellen Carter, has dropped by my parlour today to share some interesting details about her upcoming release on November 4th, a Victorian set Christmas novella with a sprinkling of mystery, The Thief of Hearts. Take it away, Elizabeth…

About The Thief of Hearts

Australians suffer a little bit of cognitive dissonance when it comes to celebrating Christmas. First of all, being in the southern hemisphere, we celebrating in the middle of our summer but happily sing about ‘dashing through the snow’, Frosty the Snowman and that the ‘snow lay all about, deep and crisp and even’.

Another thing we missed in our local customs was being outside of the TV ratings periods. Conventional wisdom had it that in the depths of bitter winters, people would gather around the electronic hearth and watch television. And since Christmas fell right in the middle of the northern hemisphere’s TV ratings period, all the best TV shows had a Christmas episode.

They were fun and whimsical, often suspending current storylines for something a little bit light-hearted and fun.

So, in that Christmas spirit, I wrote The Thief of Hearts, a veritable Christmas punch of few Hercule Poirots, Girl’s Own Adventures stories, a dash of While You Were Sleeping and other Christmas-themed rom-coms.

Why Did You Set It in Victorian England?

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-3-53-23-pmMany of our Christmas customs started with the Victorians, including our beloved Christmas tree and the fun Christmas crackers.

Victorian England was a fascinating era.

They were very mindful of their past and had built up quite a romantic imagery of its chivalry – just look at the pre-Raphaelite works as examples of high Victorian romanticism and yet they were very technologically advanced and sophisticated.

Many of the things we take for granted today, inexpensive mass-produced consumer goods, electricity, telephony, stored music, motorised transport, photography and film, even the concept of television had their origins in the 19th century – no wonder Steampunk has become such a popular sub-genre of sci-fi!

There were high hopes for the upcoming 20th century as being the most accomplished century yet. The groundswell for true equality for men and women was beginning and within a relatively short space of time, women were fully enfranchised and were open to the same job opportunities.

Late Victorian England was time of man-made wonders and magic falls into that neatly.

Why write a mystery?

One of my favourite authors is Agatha Christie. I love the way she blended mystery and romance in many of her stories. If you look at Poirot and Miss Marple, there are often secondary characters who begin or advance a romance through the story and, with the solving of the mystery have their happily ever after.

I thought it would be fun to do something like that for The Thief of Hearts, so the mystery is very much front-and-centre but there is a definite romance between Caro Addison, an aspiring lawyer and Tobias Black, a magician and former solider whose paths are destined to cross.

There is more than one mystery in The Thief of Hearts. There is the obvious one in the mysterious diamond heists where the thief as apparently left no clue, but there is also one a little closer to home and that is what are Bertie’s real intentions towards Caro?

She is positive that he is planning to propose. While her mother would be delighted by the news, Caro herself is having second thoughts. She loves Bertie, but she’s not ‘in love’ with him – so to avoid an unpleasant scene with someone she likes, Caro invents reasons not to be alone with him.

The Thief of Hearts is full of misdirection.

What did you enjoy researching?

cslewisI had a lot of fun with the research for The Thief of Hearts.

Victorian England was full of innovation and invention – so discovering the polyphon which was a precursor to the record player, simply had to be included. So too the passenger lift, the glorious elevators found in the most luxurious hotels and as a necessity in the growing high rise buildings that is emblematic of New York.

The rise of literacy in the Victorian England which came as a result of pressure from the church welfare reformers, gave birth to a large number of newspapers to cater for interests and tastes of a wider group of readers. In fact it could be argued that modern journalism as we know it today, started in the Victorian era.

The Victorian period also gave rise to the mystery and detective story. The origin of this was also interesting. The 19th century saw the rise of the middle class who were at removed a lot of direct contact with crime – particularly street crime. In addition, criminal executions which were once public affairs, were now performed behind prison gates.

What didn’t change was the public’s appetite for the gruesome details and, indeed some broadsheets specialised in it thus beginning the still popular genre of True Crime and the origins of the crime and detective novel where real crime wasn’t enough.

What are you working on at the moment?

There’s so much! I’m working hard on another 19th century title called Captive of the Corsairs. Although it is set in the Regency era, it is not a typical Regency at all. It’s set in Sicily and Turkey and centres on the pirates of the Barbary Coast – north Africa who conducting slaving raids into Europe.

It’s intended to be a stand alone, but some of the characters are calling for their own stories, so I think this may turn into a three book series.

I’m also keen to set started on another mystery romance series! This will be a six book series set in Medieval England. The hero and heroine are more mature, they will be in their mid-to-late 30s and there are some younger characters too who are terrific.

Hopefully my Roman era historical romantic suspense will have found a publisher.

Thanks so much, Elizabeth, and I wish you all the best with your release! Now read on for a sneak peek of an excerpt from The Thief of Hearts…

He turned the card over and with a thumbnail flicked a tab made of the same backing as the playing card. Even up close the addition was difficult to see. Tobias placed the card on his lap and pulled out a deck of cards. He flicked the edge of the deck of cards towards them. Each time the Queen of Hearts stood out.

“I want you to think I can read your mind, but in reality…”

Tobias split the deck and showed them the Queen of Hearts and then the other half of the deck. The card that had been just before the Queen of Hearts was fully a third shorter than the rest of the cards. He put the pack together and flicked through the deck once more.

“I make you see what you want to see. I suspect The Phantom does the same.”

“You mean his crime scenes are illusions?” Margaret asked. Tobias gave her a smile and Caro wished oddly that its brightness shone on her too.

“I think so. From what I read in the newspapers… no sign of entry or departure?” he asked. Caro confirmed it with a nod. “That tells me he’s creating an illusion of invulnerability. But it is an illusion. A trick. He wants to force the attention of the police away from something else – in the same way a magician will use a gesture or an action to distract you.

“Find out what that is then you will find his sleight of hand and that will be his vulnerability.”

Tobias stood.

“Now, if I’ve sated your curiosity, I’ll take my leave of you. My crew and I have our last show this evening.”

Caro rose and Margaret did also. Tobias took Margaret’s hand and bowed over it then released it. Then he took Caro’s and held it. Then his eyes held hers for a moment and he dropped a kiss on the back of her hand.

“I’m so glad it was you who paid me a visit… instead of a representative of Scotland Yard.”

“Not at all, Mr Black,” she replied, her voice a little huskier than usual, “you have been more than gracious with your time.

“Call me Tobias.”

He was flirting with her! Caro kept the smile to herself as he escorted them both to the entrance of the theatre.

“Just one more question, Mr Black,” Caro asked. “You wouldn’t happen to know how someone might dispose of a suite of diamonds would you?”

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December 1890
London, England

Some seriously clever sleight of hand is needed if aspiring lawyer Caro Addison is ever going to enjoy this Christmas.

To avoid an unwanted marriage proposal, she needs a distraction as neat as the tricks used by The Phantom, the audacious diamond thief who has left Scotland Yard clueless.

While her detective inspector uncle methodically hunts the villain, Caro decides to investigate a suspect of her own – the handsome Tobias Black, a magician extraordinaire, known as The Dark Duke.

He’s the only one with the means, motive and opportunity but the art of illusion means not everything is as it seems, in both crime and affairs of the heart.

As Christmas Day draws near, Caro must decide whether it is worth risking reputations and friendships in order to follow her desires.

The Thief of Hearts release on November 4th! Here are all the buy links…

 Amazon.com * Amazon.com.au * Amazon.co.uk

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Find Elizabeth Ellen Carter online… eecarter400h-203x300

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Welcome to Amy Rose’s Parlour… Cerise Deland

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Regency romance author, Cerise Deland has dropped by my parlour today to talk about her recent release, a box set of 3regency-romps-box-set-i-by-cerise-deland-2800x4200 novels in her Regency Romps series which is available for 99 Cents on Kindle Unlimited for a very limited time! It looks wonderful and sounds very hot – my favourite type of historical read.

Take it away, Cerise!

The Regency Romps Box Set stars a group of men who have worked together, fought together and now, they band together to ensure every man attains the love of the woman he adores.

Lady Varney’s Risqué Business, Book 1

When a proper lady of the ton takes on a new client in her matchmaking business, she discovers he has one risqué demand. Spend the night with him!

Rendezvous with a Duke, Book 2

Anna Fournier secludes herself, scandal staining her family name and all her prospects for anonymity, employment and even love. But one afternoon she plays her newest composition in a piano shop—and one man who cannot forget her decides to right the wrong done her years ago.

Masquerade with a Marquess, Book 3

She wanted to find her family’s stolen treasures. He wanted to avoid caring for her again. But together, they found more than treasure. They discovered love that had endured decades of war and loss.

Read on for an excerpt from LADY VARNEY’s RISQUE BUSINESS: Copyright 2016, Cerise DeLand. All rights reserved.

Kitty glanced toward her friend Lucy and the smile wreathing the bride’s face made Kitty understand the full meaning of the word envy. “You’ve seen the scandal sheets? How someone found my fan in the pantry?”

Justin nodded, looked horrid. “The gossip du jour.”

She clutched her stomach. “Do not make light of this.”

“Sorry, darling. I should have seen it there before I left, but I was in such a rush, I didn’t.”

She reached out and squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry, too. I should have had my wits about me. But I—”

“I was the same.” His gaze was consoling and incredibly sympathetic. “Undone. Wanting you.”

She inhaled, sat back. He was so kind, so sweet, so unlike Henry. “Tell me what happened after I left the pantry.”

“I cleaned up the glass. Found a kitchen maid who hailed the butler. Then I apologized and offered to purchase new glassware.”

“But how did you explain why we—you were there?”

Justin shrugged. “I lost my way in the house.”

“He believed you?”

“I thought so.”

They stared at each other for a long moment in which she expressed more gratitude with her eyes than with her words. “As soon as someone connects the broken glassware to my fan, we will be done for.”

“Not if you marry me, we won’t.”

“Do not begin that again.” She warned beneath her breath.

“I must.”

Why?” she asked him, stood and said, “I must find the ladies’ retiring room. Excuse me.”

She made her way out of the dining room, but Justin was hard on her heels.

In the hall, she spun on him and stamped her foot. “Following me is so obvious. Go away.”

“No. You must listen to me. About the roses.”

She put her hands to her ears and strode down the hall.

In two steps, he pulled her from her chosen path and swung her into the family library. Pressing her against a stack of books, he braced his hands on either side of her head.

Blocked, she fumed and fussed. “Say what you will and let me go.”

He arched his brows. “I want to tell you about your roses.”

“What?”

“Your roses.”

“Not mine. Yours.”

“They have sprung their first blooms now,” he said, undeterred by her testiness. “Rich reds and creamy whites. They have grown, changed. They need more space to mature. Some must be transplanted soon.”

His declaration melted a cold, hard part of her resistance. She wanted to sob, run, be done here. “They must be lovely.”

“They won’t be for long.” He caught a teardrop from her cheekbone.

“No?”

“They need someone to tend them properly.”

“You have a gardener.” She sniffed.

“I have no wife. And I need one, my darling. I need you.” He wrapped his hand around her nape and sank his fingers up against her scalp. His lips brushed hers.

“I’m not a good bet, you know I’m not.” And there is your uncle’s demand for a rich heiress.

“You married an old man and endured him. Marry a young man and enjoy him.” He kissed her then, his tongue darting inside to tantalize her with the promise of a different life.

“I want you. I do,” she told him. “But I cannot take the chance.”

“That I’d berate you. Badger you. Insult you? That’s what he did, isn’t it?”

Daily. Hourly.

Justin kissed her again, sweetly, desperately, lovingly. “Am I like him?”

“No. Never.” She put her palm to his flies and beneath the superfine wool, she felt one piece of hard evidence that he resembled Henry Varney in no way.

He crushed her hand to his firm body. “I mean to have you.”

She fought to undo his buttons. “Do it then.”

He glanced around the dim wood lined walls. “Here.”

Following his line of sight, she saw the map table. “You wouldn’t.”

“I will,” he told her and tugged her to the center of the room where a large table held maps. He lifted her and put her on it, her knees bent over the edge. “Let me raise your skirt, madam. I need to kiss you there.”

Someone gasped.

Kitty halted. Her gaze met Justin’s.

Something plunked to the floor. A book? A shoe?

She gulped.

He seized her hand. As he pulled open the door, he whispered, “Wait. Have you left anything?”

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Who is Cerise?cerise-delands-cherry

Cerise DeLand loves to travel, hates to dust, adores cooking…and lives to write!

She is #1 Bestselling Regency Author of spicy romances starring dashing heroes and sassy women.

 

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