Incomparables Collection – a giveaway

You still have two weeks to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway that was set up to celebrate the release of The Incomparables box set. If you’re a fan of my Facebook author page (link in the header at the top right of this blog!) you can enter there under the giveaway tab. If not, you can enter using the widget below.

Among other things, we’ll be giving away a tiara, a Paris bag, and a feather quill pen.

I have one of these pens myself (it’s labelled a quill pen, but in actuality it’s a fountain pen) and I love it! This is what it looks like:

quill pen for giveaway

 

Good luck!

Suzanna

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The Incomparables – an excerpt by Sabrina York

Today’s excerpt is from Sabrina York’s story, Tarnished Honor. Enjoy!

waterloo-authorTarnished Honor, by Sabrina York

Daniel Sinclair is a broken man with wounds that are physical and spiritual. He’s weighed down by grief and guilt that he could not save his friend, Graeme Lennox, and is convinced that a French lance left him less than a man. He has no prospects. Nothing left but his tarnished honor. But then he meets a vexing boy who makes him question even that.

Fia Lennox’s world turned on its end with her brother’s death. She’s gone in one fell swoop from lady to servant…to a woman on the run. The world is a dangerous place for a woman alone—even when she is masquerading as a boy—so when she meets up with a strong, valiant ex-cavalryman, she decides to become his traveling companion. Whether he likes it or not.

Battling villains, would-be-friends and their own finely-forged battlements, Fia and Daniel rush toward their destiny, a scorching passion and, hopefully, redemption. Can love conquer all? Even the ghosts of the past?

Excerpt (Copyright 2015 Sabrina York, all rights reserved)

Glorious.

There was no other word for it. Simply glorious.

Daniel tipped his face up to the sky and grinned. The sun was shining and the breeze was mild. The sky was blue and tufted with fat white clouds. It was a lovely day to travel—it could have been raining, could have been cold. But since he’d set out from London, on this lengthy journey to Inverness, each day had been prettier than the last.

His mood had improved too. He was swamped with the conviction that he’d done the right thing, leaving his haven. As much as he appreciated his position at the club, he’d allowed himself to sink into it, into the rut of it. He’d allowed himself to wallow in his woes.

There was no wallowing on the road; there simply wasn’t time for it.

It was energizing to be traveling again, invigorating to be out in the world, breathing fresh air and going somewhere. He enjoyed the solitude, the quiet, the absence of need to make conversation.

That left him alone with his thoughts, his regrets, his guilt, but such specters had haunted him for so long, they were like old companions. He wouldn’t know who he was without them.

Aye. This was far more healing than any medicine—the power of his mount between his thighs, the kiss of warmth on his face, the movement. Surprisingly, his leg hardly pained him at all, except when he moved suddenly. In fact, it even felt better after several days of riding. He hadn’t fallen off his horse once.

Hunnam was in good form as well. No doubt he’d enjoyed the fresh air and the chance to prance once again. An hour’s exercise a day was one thing, but for a Scots Grey, the chance to run and run wild spoke to his soul.

It spoke to Daniel’s too, so he put his heels to his mount’s sides and gave him his head.

And it was glorious.

He hadn’t realized how closed up he’d allowed himself to become. How isolated. He hadn’t realized how much he’d allowed his injury—and his guilt—to shrink his horizons.

Well, his horizons weren’t limited now. They spread before him in a verdant green wash that stretched as far as the eye could see. He passed a loch and paused to admire the sparkling waters, to watch an osprey swoop down to snatch a hapless fish.

And damn, but it was a fine thing to be back in Scotland. Daniel hadn’t realized just how much he’d missed hearing the lilt of his own brogue, or tasting a well-made haggis. The Brits didn’t care for haggis, a fact he’d never quite understood. When created by someone who knew what they were doing, it was delicious. And Scottish innkeepers, apparently, knew what they were doing. Or their wives did.

There was no doubt about it, he’d probably gained a stone since crossing the border to his homeland. He’d never felt so vibrant and alive. And while he had enjoyed the occasional chat with a fellow countryman, he had never enjoyed his own company more. There was something about being alone with one’s thoughts that was very peaceful. It allowed a man to explore his soul at leisure without interruptions. It allowed a man to process all that had happened in his life. To put everything in the place it belonged. Though he still had several days of travel, at most a week, he was already lamenting the journey’s end.

After he passed the Kinclaven Crossroads, the landscape changed from fields and farms to orchards. The looming trees shaded the road in a lacy pattern; the scent of crisp apples filled the air, tempting Daniel to reach up and pluck one for a taste.

He did not. That would be stealing and he was a man of honor.

He pulled back on Hunnam’s reins when he spotted a white mare standing in the road. She was difficult to miss. Her lines were exquisite, her saddle and tack were the finest…but she had no rider. His brow wrinkled as he rode closer. No one would ever abandon such a fine horse. It was—

“Blast.”

The imprecation came from the leafy tree next to which the mare stood.

Daniel glanced up; the boughs riffled. An apple fell to the ground.

The mare whinnied and walked over to it, lipping up the treat.

Another apple fell and the horse made short work of that one was well.

“Stop eating them all,” the tree said. “Save some for me.”

Daniel cleared his throat. It seemed prudent to make himself known. “Hullo?”

The leaves rustled and a face peered out. Enormous blue-green eyes stared at him. Something flickered through them. Something that could have been construed as…guilt.

Daniel frowned. “What are you doing up there?” he asked.

The eyes blinked. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” He drummed his fingers on his saddle. “Are you stealing apples?”

The chagrined expression on that elfin face was nearly whimsical. “Is this your orchard?”

“Indeed it is not.”

An entrancing, mischievous smile blossomed and the thief tossed him a fat red apple. “Then catch.”

He did not. He did not catch. The apple bounced off his pate.

“Oh really,” an amused voice echoed from above. “Let’s try again.”

“Let’s not.”

Too late. Another apple flew in his direction. He missed it again. It fell to the ground and Hunnam gobbled it up.

“Sir, you are supposed to catch them.”

“I doona care to abet you in your thievery—” Another missile flew. By the grace of God, he caught this one. “Please stop throwing stolen apples at me.” It was large and red and shiny and looked delicious. Aside from that, it smelled quite tantalizing. As he felt he had earned it, he polished it on his lapel and took a bite. Flavor exploded in his mouth and juice dribbled down his chin. They were excellent apples.

The face disappeared, followed by more rustling. A satchel fell to the loam with a soft thud. Then a pair of feet appeared. Legs. Slim hips. Slender shoulders and then a mop of tousled black curls.

A boy dropped to the ground with an oof. He looked up at Daniel, his head tipped saucily to the side, and then he grinned. It was a rakish grin. “Not stealing,” he said. “Borrowing.”

This he said with such conviction, Daniel had to struggle not to laugh. This was no laughing matter. Thieves ended up in the gaol. “Ah. Borrowing. Surely you won’t mind explaining that to him.” Daniel nodded to the distance, where a farmer was running through the trees toward them, arms flailing.

The boy’s eyes widened. He picked up the satchel and hefted it over his shoulder. Then he bounded into the saddle and shot a glance back at Daniel. His grin was wicked as he urged his mount forward…leaving Daniel behind to explain to the farmer why his apples were missing.

And why apple juice dribbled from his chin.

*****

About Sabrina York

Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. With over 25 titles her books range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests.

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The Incomparables – an excerpt from Suzi Love

Today we have an excerpt from Love After Waterloo by Suzi Love. Enjoy!

waterloo-authorLove After Waterloo, by Suzi Love

Lady Anne Melton joins her brothers on the continent after the death of her soldier husband, hoping to keep her unborn baby from the clutches of his strict relations. With one brother an army physician and the other on Wellington’s staff, Anne uses her nursing skills at the battlefields and feels safer with them than in London. Captain Gabriel Belling deems ladies near the army an unnecessary distraction for soldiers and makes his feelings known to Anne when they meet in Brussels.

But when Gabe, Anne, and her son travel with the last group of wounded to leave Waterloo, they learn to depend on each other’s skills, Gabe as a soldier and leader and Anne as a compassionate nurse, during their skirmishes with crazed deserters from both armies. In London, social restrictions force them apart, with Gabe opening his club for returning soldiers while Anne battles her son’s grandparents.

When Anne begs for Gabe’s protection, will their love be enough to overcome their troubles and form a family?

Excerpt (Copyright 2015 Suzi Love, all rights reserved)

“Mama, why doesn’t that man like me?” Daniel asked, his singsong voice echoing loudly around the walled chamber.

Slowly, the Captain turned to face them. He took two steps closer to Daniel and squatted as low as he could manage on one leg, while keeping his bandaged leg straight and using it for balance. “I apologize, your lordship.” He spoke directly to Daniel. “My name is Gabe, and I don’t dislike you. In fact, you remind me of my three nephews and I like them. A lot.” He sighed. “I have several decisions to make, difficult decisions, but that isn’t an excuse for bad manners.” He glanced up at Anne. “As I’m certain your mother has told you.”

Daniel nodded. “Uncle Bren told me to be good for Mama, and you, ‘cause you’re the Captain and you’re taking me and Mama to En…En…” He tugged on her hand. “Where we going, Mama?”

Lady Melton smiled at her son. “England, darling. We’re going to England.”

Daniel pulled his hand from hers and stepped up to the Captain, careful to avoid his bandaged leg. His tiny hand rested on Gabe’s shoulder and he patted him. “My mama will help. Mama knows ‘bout Englin, and she makes sores better.” He pointed at Gabe’s outstretched leg. “Kisses make it better.”

Anne gasped, while Gabe chuckled. His amber eyes held a twinkle as he spoke to Daniel. “I’m sure your mama’s kisses would make any man feel better.” He looked up at her and smirked. “Will you kiss me, Lady Melton?”

Anne groaned and put her hands to her burning cheeks, thankful that Daniel’s focus was on his new friend and not her red face. When Gabe stood and slowly drew his bandaged leg under him, Anne realized that he didn’t have his crutch.

“Captain, please, lean on me.” She moved closer and was relieved when, with a muffled groan, he slid his arm around her shoulder and settled a little of his weight on her.

His eyes closed momentarily and he shuddered. Daniel reached up and again patted Gabe’s hand, before turning begging eyes towards her. “Mama, make man’s sore better?”

She’d planned to evaluate the Captain’s capabilities from a distance, thereby avoiding another discussion about scandalous ladies who assisted surgeons, but between her son’s pleading and the Captain’s obvious pain, she had no choice. Years of caring for the sick meant she could no more turn her back on a person in pain than she could feign interest in endless drawing room discussions on the weather. Treating the Captain’s wound, and reducing his pain, might also lead to a shorter journey, because his focus would be on maps and roads rather than his leg.

“Captain Belling−”

“Please, as we’re to live in close quarters for a time, let’s dispense with formality.” He gave her the sort of winsome smile that would cause many women to swoon. “My name is Gabriel, or Gabe if you wish.”

She hesitated. A week ago, she’d thought the man insufferable, so suddenly becoming the recipient of his debonair charm made her squirm. The first lesson she’d learned when making her social debut was that rogues and rakes should never be trusted. Still, if a temporary truce ensured an easier journey for Daniel, she’d disregard her previous impressions of him as narrow-minded and condescending, and treat him as a friend.

She nodded. “Gabe, will you allow me to inspect your wound? I’ve had considerable experience with slashes from swords, and I know several methods to increase blood flow, reduce the swelling, and lessen the pain.”

He stiffened, stood to his full height, and removed his arm. “Thank you for the offer, Lady Melton, but a surgeon will treat my laceration when we reach London.”

“But that could be a week. Ten days.” She glowered at the obstinate man.
“And my name is Anne.”

“I’m hoping for a quicker trip than that, Anne, depending on how many problems we encounter.”

“You mean, how many deserters.”

She glanced down at Daniel who had returned to lean heavily against her side, a sign he was ready for a meal and bed. After picking up her son, she followed Gabe as he hobbled back to the table, took up his crutch, and used it instead of her shoulder. Not that she’d tell him, but she often missed the feel of a strong male arm enclosing her. Missed a man’s body touching hers, even if that heavy maleness meant extra weight to support.

Gabe watched Daniel carefully and took his time replying. “We’re planning on a straightforward journey directly to the coast, and then a smooth sail across the Channel. So let’s not dwell on what may or may not happen along the way. Every soldier in our group suffers from some sort of injury, but we’re well trained and will keep you safe.” He smiled at Daniel and reached out his hand. “You’ll soon be in England, young sir.”

*****

About Suzi Love

Tag Line- Making history fun, one year at a time

I’m Suzi Love, an Australian author of historical romances from the late Regency to early Victorian years, with a little bit of the Australian outback thrown in.

I’ve had a lifetime fascination with all things old, weird, and exotic. I love to travel, visit historic places, and talk to crazy characters. I also adore history, especially the grittier and seamier side, so I write about heroes and heroines who challenge traditional manners, morals, and occupations, either through necessity or desire. I hope you’ll travel with me again.

Reviews are like gold to authors, so I’d really appreciate a short review.
And/ or a rating for this book.

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Suzi Love
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The Incomparables – an excerpt by Dominique Eastwick

I hope you enjoy today’s excerpt from Dominique Eastwick’s story entitled For Love or Revenge.

waterloo-authorFor Love or Revenge, by Dominique Eastwick

Captain Roarke Wooldridge returned from Waterloo a different man than the one who left. Captured and detained as a prisoner of war, he endured both torture and betrayal at the hands of his captures and a single traitorous turncoat. Now those who survived the nightmare of that cellar in France are determined to get revenge.

The widow Lady Alexandra Grafton is quite content to live out her life in the country cottage her husband left to her in his will. Having been married to a man with one foot in the grave, Alex has no desire to enter the confines of marriage or its bed again. But when a handsome, haunted captain crosses her path, will she take a chance on love?

Can two people scarred by their past experiences find in each other the solace they so desperately crave? Can the power of love outweigh the desire for revenge or are their wounds too deep to be healed?

Excerpt (Copyright 2015 Dominique Eastwick, all rights reserved)

“She is utterly—amazing.” His face lit with genuine love as he spoke of her. Getting back to his feet, he moved to his chair on the other side of the hearth. “Perhaps when you are in town for the season, I can introduce you to her. I think she would enjoy your friendship. She complains about the lack of honorable people within the ton.”

“One of the many reasons I stay away. It took very little time for the shine to dull on ton life. But I think I would very much like to meet her.”

If he felt Alex and he would run into one another out in society, his family must be part of the ton. His manners and speech spoke to a man who had been well-educated. “I would like that, as well.”

She couldn’t remember the last time she had looked forward to parties or balls. Unfortunately, shortly after her marriage, her husband had placed her in his country estate, fearing she would take a lover and try to hoist her bastard off as the earl’s. But, she would never have cuckolded him or caused him embarrassment. Life in the country fit her best. And he had treated her far better when they were away from the expectations of society. The few times they’d been required in London had been the most miserable of her married life.

Alexandra hadn’t attended a season in nearly ten years. And that had been for her own. Bad memories had a way of keeping a person from returning. During her marriage, she hadn’t wanted to be paraded out as the young countess, a title she never quite felt comfortable with. And after the earl passed, she saw no reason to head into town for the season when everything she wanted lay within these walls. She had no desire to remarry, and, as children required the act of copulating, she had long ago resigned herself to a life without them. Although she had desired children, she was long past hoping for them. Until now, that is, when this handsome captain had come into her life, weakening her knees and causing a pool of desire to form in her belly.

Picking up a fan from the side table, she waved it near her overheated face and neck, the temperature of the room having suddenly risen.

“What about you, Captain? Are you married?”

*****

Award winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab, and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that traveling is one of her favorite pastimes. When she’s not writing, you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

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The Incomparables – an excerpt of Lynne Connolly’s story

Lynne Connolly’s story in The Incomparables box set is called Dreaming of Waterloo. Enjoy!

Dreaming of Waterloo, by Lynne Connolly

waterloo-authorThey called him “Lucky,” but not all injuries are physical ones. Plagued by headaches and living nightmares, Paul, Lord Sherstone returns to London to a wife he doesn’t know and an estate he has to manage. He daren’t let her close, even though he is falling in love with her all over again.

Married and abandoned in a month, Hetty learned to manage a large estate and fend off would-be lovers, but a threat emerges much closer to home and from an unexpected place. In need of help she turns to Paul but since his return he has only shut her out. Refusing to give up on the man she fell in love with five years ago, Hetty has to persuade her husband to let her into his bed—and his heart.

Excerpt (Copyright 2015 Lynne Connolly, all rights reserved)

The crowd parted.

They were not dancing, having left off in favor of supper, so Paul walked straight across the room to face Hetty. His gait was loose and easy, but he ate up the ground with no regard to the careful, mincing steps of the fashionable gentleman. His Hussar uniform, one of the most flamboyant in the army, looked as good as any ever did on his broad shoulders, and tall, muscular form. Gold was so heavily laced across the front that the red cloth beneath could hardly be seen. The pelisse that hung from one shoulder, red lined with blue, was equally fine.

Despite the magnificence, the man outshone the uniform, his carefully brushed dark hair and square jaw more than adequate to the task. The grim purpose delineated in every spare line of his form embellished the uniform rather than the other way about.

Hetty drew her hand away from Lewis’s arm, and stood clear of him. Paul bowed to her. “My lady.”

“My lord.”

Thus, a year of silence was broken.

She held out her gloved hand, proud that it did not waver, even though her pulses throbbed and her throat had tightened so she could scarcely breathe.

He took it and bowed over it in the approved manner. Then he glanced at his cousin. “Lewis.”

“Welcome home, Sherstone,” Lewis said, his voice slightly higher than usual.

“Thank you.” Straightening, his eyes met hers again, and once more he transfixed her.

Her mind flashed back to the first time they had met. Like this, in a ballroom, before she knew he was to be her husband.

But of course, this was nothing like that time. He was a soldier, but not a major, as he was now. He didn’t have that hard expression in his eyes then, either.

Five years had passed between that day and this, and a wealth of experience. Not to mention heartbreak, on her side at least.

Because of the woman she was now, not the one she had been once, Hetty put on her practiced society face of mild interest, allowing her lips to tilt upwards very slightly. “I had not known you were coming.”

“My arrival was somewhat confused, my lady. I was prepared to accompany Wellington to Vienna, but he had other plans. So I climbed on to one of the many ships transporting the wounded to England instead.” His lip curled in a self-deprecating sneer. “I was assured I was not taking the place of someone who needed it more than I did.”

For this was the hero, the talisman of the army. “I see you are not hurt, sir. Or is some part of you damaged beyond repair?”

The sneer turned to a smile and his dark eyes lit with amusement. Eyes that dark caught every spark of light that passed by, reflecting it with an adamantine glitter. Hetty had never been sure if she imagined the volatile moods that shaded them, or whether it was the light affecting them. But this was unmistakable. “I am never wounded. I thought you knew that.”

“Yes.” She wet her lips and watched his gaze settle there before lifting once more to encompass her face. “You have that reputation.”

“I do seem to, do I not?” His nickname of ‘Lucky’ had never been bestowed on a worthier candidate. He had been at the heart of every battle Wellington had sent him into. Men fell around him, but Major Lord Paul Sherstone remained upright and unscathed. Men strove to join his company, which had fewer casualties than others. Prints were made of him standing in bloody battlefields, staring at the carnage going on around him. Handsome and tall, the picture of a perfect officer, Paul had captivated the popular imagination.

He was doing the same now. Around them, a hush was barely broken. People watched him, most of them with awe or smiling. He ignored them all in favor of his wife and cousin, but Hetty was painfully aware of all of them. Usually she moved around society as one of many, as part of it, but not standing out. Just the way she liked it. Suddenly she was the center of attention. “I—I went to Horse Guards. They wouldn’t tell me where you were.”

He shrugged. “They probably had no idea. I told them I was selling out. My superior officer should have told the authorities.” He frowned. “You mean you did not know if I was alive or dead?”

“Exactly.” Good of him to put it so succinctly.

Fire sparked in the depths of his eyes. “That is not acceptable. It’s been ten days since the battle. I wrote to you. Did you not receive my letter?”

She shook her head. “But you are here now, my lord.” His words eased her somewhat. Before, she had imagined that she was of little importance in his scheme of things, but it appeared he had made efforts to contact her.

“And you are not one to sit before the fire, wringing your hands, are you?” A steely tone had entered his voice.

Did he expect as much? Once she might have done just that, but these days Hetty was more inclined to take her fate into her own hands. “I will find out more here than at home, waiting for something to happen.”

He gave a brief, terse nod. “True enough.”

He glanced around. “You were heading for the supper room? Allow me to escort you.”

After a nod to his cousin, Paul took Lewis’s place. He offered her his arm and she laid her hand on it. Now she trembled. Heat rose from his body through the unblemished cloth to her hand. Like this, Paul appeared as nothing more than a dandy, dressed more flamboyantly than anyone with a dozen fobs to his waistcoat. Underneath, his body was honed and sharpened to a killing edge.

As they moved away, leaving Lewis behind, chatter rose up once more.

Paul let out a long breath. “Well that was difficult.”

She felt cold, numb with shock.

“I had no idea you didn’t know I was alive.” He cast a glance over his shoulder to where Lewis was standing. “I regret you had to discover it in such a way. I suggest I find you something to drink, and then we may sit and try to appear unobtrusive.”

There was an edge of wildness to her laughter. “You? Unobtrusive?”

His mouth tightened in a mirthless grin. “I try. I should have more success soon.”

He said no more until he had procured wine for them both. After she refused food, he took her to a seat by the side of the room. “Let us hope that our reunion deters people from approaching us.”

But that was not to be. First one person then another offered him their felicitations and expressed their admiration of his prowess. Paul greeted them all with a smile, reminded them that his wife was with him, so they had to get to their feet and bow and curtsey.

“This will not do,” Paul said. “I wish to speak to you privately. We have much to discuss, my lady.”

She wished he wouldn’t call her that. She was Hetty. Henrietta if he had to, but not “my lady.”

“May I call on you tomorrow?” he asked her.

Startled, all she could do was blink at him. “I had thought—”

“I arrived far too late last night to disturb you, so I went to the club.”

“You’re staying at White’s?”

“No, at the Incomparable, farther along St. James’s Street.”

She frowned. “I don’t recall the name.”

He nodded. “It used to be the Classical. We’ve revived it. It’s now a club for people who fought at Waterloo.”

If she was not on her best behavior, she might have whistled. “So fast?”

“We had to move quickly, or the building would have sold elsewhere.”

“We?”

“We formed a committee. We have yet to meet and discuss the details of the club, but we felt the need to ensure we remembered the battle.”

“I see,” she said. She did indeed. Battle was an essentially masculine affair, and like turkey-cocks, they would want to strut their achievements. “To relive its glories.”

His lips twisted and he shook his head. “Not in that way. We need somewhere we feel safe.” Abruptly, he stopped looked away. He finished his wine before putting it aside on a table next to the sofa they shared. “We have bedrooms, so I used one last night. I will stay there tonight, and come to you in the morning.”

“At what time?”

“Does a man need permission to enter his own house?”

That made Hetty guilty. She was so used to having the house to herself but of course, that was at an end now. “Of course not. I merely wanted to ensure everything was ready.”

He lowered his voice and leaned closer. “That phrase could mean something entirely different in certain quarters.” Leaning back, he observed her discomfiture.

A flush rose to her cheeks. “Then I apologize.” She would be up with the dawn tomorrow. She had no desire for him to find her still abed.

He still disturbed her, still made her want—things. Their marriage had not been marked with passion, except right at the beginning. Sometimes she considered those heady days as the only truly happy ones of her life. That was foolish, of course it was, but in her more melancholy moments, she remembered them.

She would never get them back. They had gone on and their union had become something completely different.

“My cousin seemed very thick with you,” he said, leaning back.

She breathed in relief, as if he’d taken all the air when he’d moved closer to her. “He’s been of great help with the estate. It is in good heart.”

He frowned. “But you take the decisions, do you not?”

“Yes.” She had ensured that. Working with the men of business, the estate managers, the lawyers and other professional people she had managed to keep her finger on the pulse of his estate. Not that Paul had cared much, or so it seemed. He was not the first son of his parents, but had inherited the earldom when his brother had died unexpectedly shortly after Paul had joined the army. He could not be reached for some time, and when he finally returned home, he was an earl. Wellington had demanded his return. The earldom could wait, Wellington had said, and so it had.

Now it would not. “Your men of business will be anxious to talk to you,” she said.

“It appears that they talk to Lewis far more than to me.” He shrugged, his shoulders moving powerfully under the fabric of his uniform. “I have a new skill to learn.” He got to his feet and held out his hand.

After only a moment’s hesitation, she took it and let him help her to her feet. “You look weary,” he said softly. “I won’t tax you with my presence tonight. Go home and get some sleep.”

“Yes, I believe I shall.” She smiled brightly, forcing back the shadows.

Perhaps they would do better this time, after all. This time as friends and colleagues, not passionate lovers. That chapter had ended a long time ago, and she should not regret it.

And yet she did.

*****

About Lynne Connolly

Lynne grew up in a haunted house in Leicester, England, and got used to telling the ghosts to shut up! She has lived a variety of lives, moving from the rock music world to the business world, and then to writing.

She has won awards and written best-selling books, although the writing is always her greatest reward. As Lynne Connolly she writes historical romance, and as L.M. Connolly spicy contemporary and paranormal romance.

Reviews are like gold to authors, so I’d really appreciate a short review.
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The Incomparables – an excerpt by Cerise DeLand

Today I’d like to share the blurb and an excerpt from Cerise DeLand’s story Interlude with a Baron. The Incomparables box set is currently available for pre-order (more information here) and releases on June 18, 2015.

waterloo-authorInterlude with a Baron, by Cerise DeLand

After Waterloo, Drayton Worth watched the woman he loved suffer because of his failures.

Riddled with guilt he strives to improve Emma Bedlow’s dreadful existence, while cursing his never-ending desire for her. When he finally has the chance to convince her to share his life, she refuses. No man will control her ever again. She desires only an interlude with the charming baron. But Dray is determined to have much more.

Excerpt (Copyright 2015 Cerise DeLand, all rights reserved)

“You’re here at last.” Dexter Elgin hailed him with a wave of his hand above the crowd. His former colleague in Wellington’s army in Spain wore his artillery uniform, though neither of them still served in ranks. “Spotted you by that mop of hair, Ginger.”

Dray winced at the boyish reference to his red curls. “I’m glad to offer you speed and accuracy. Where’s Wellington?”

“In a meeting with the Dutch. You have news of your quarry?”

“Some.” Dray needed more absolute proof that Montroy was betraying them to the French. “I won’t ask for an audience until I learn more. I would say though that he’s here.”

Dex raised his dark brown brows. “What gall.”

“Indeed.” To spy on the British General Staff at their leisure was dastardly. But then, what else should they expect from a man who had turned coats so many times?

“I should not be shocked.”

“No,” Dray agreed. Dex knew of his mission. He’d been in the meeting with Wellington when the commander had ordered Dray to find proof of Montroy’s treachery or end the chase once and for all. “Where else would he prosper this evening?”

“Precisely. In the meantime, let’s get you a drink. You might even take up a set with a lady on the floor.”

Dray followed his friend through the crowd. He did love to dance. “Not tonight, I’m afraid.”

“What better way to get a full view of those present?”

Dray smirked. “You have a point. But I’ll have that drink first.”

The room was so crowded that working his way through the masses was a challenge. Worse, he covered his mouth as he coughed at the nauseating mix of tobacco and sweat, brandy and bad cologne.

“Lord Lansdowne! Oh, we are honored, sir.” The companion to the elderly countess of Penn appeared at his side, looping her arm through his. In her cups as usual, Janet Berwyn tried to train her eyes in his and failed. “My Lady Penn has anticipated your arrival. So has the Duchess.”

By this she meant the hostess of this ball, the illustrious Duchess of Richmond. But Dray knew this woman’s real purpose was to waylay him and lure him to a corner if she could. She’d tried that before. Often.

Dray gave her a polite smile, the better to get away from her and on to his purpose. “Good evening, Lady Berwyn. You look lovely and so far from home, too.”

“Thank you, good sir. Always a gentleman.” She tightened her fingers around his forearm.

Damn, she was a grasping creature. But then her actions were his fault. She had once been in his bed and wished never to leave it, but to tie him to her with vows and rings and her fortune in the bargain. Truth be told, he liked her enthusiasm in bed, but sadly, nowhere else. He patted her hand, then extricated her fingers from him. “I have business here, my lady. I must see the Duke.”

She sighed, intemperate when she wanted attention from him. “Do you promise to attend me after you’ve done your duty?”

“I cannot promise, but I will try.” She deserved that from him. After all, she had taught him much about the needs and joys of a woman in the throes of passion.

“Very well,” she said with a pretty pout. “Go if you must.”

“Come, my lady,” Dex coaxed her. “You know the value of our worth!”

Long an old joke among his friends in the Royal Artillery, Dray’s last name lent power to his reputation as a man who had been decorated often for his bravery on the field and off. That he was effective in military maneuvers and business, he would have liked to have attributed to his doggedness and his analytical skills. He measured his own worth by his profits in chemicals and spices and by the good health and rising prosperity of the tenants on his estates.

His value in the Royal Artillery, however, was measured by his commanding officer, the newly minted Duke of Wellington. And that man would ask him tonight if he had caught the traitor in their midst. And if not, when would he?

“We have the little Corsican to defeat, Colonel.” Wellington had said to him two days ago, his impatience with the chase doubled. “Get on with it before our good Englishmen turn the dust of Belgium blood red.”

Now Dray had to prove his worth quickly—or return home with his comrades in arms, defeated by the French and despised ever more.

Dex handed him a glass of red wine and he took it, parched from riding north for the past two hours and attempting to stay well out of sight of Montroy.

“How many are here?” he asked Dex. “It is a crush.”

“The Dutch general staff. Twenty or so. The Prussians, too. Another thirty.”

“The orchestra sounds good.” Too bad tonight he was not in the mood to avail himself of the music. Dancing seemed too light-hearted for the dreariness of the task at hand. The irony, too. How many men had the duty to prove a man a traitor—and ruin the man’s innocent wife in the process?

“Supper will be served soon. I hear there’s beef and fowl.”

“I’m ready.” Dray’s stomach rumbled. When had he eaten last? Breakfast was nothing but weak tea and an old army biscuit. “Where does the Duchess get her purveyors? Hell, we are scrambling to supply our troops. Many men are killing the local farmers’ cows and pigs.”

“They are objecting, too. Two dozen farmers came up from the south of the city today to complain to the old man about how the English and Scots requisition their animals.”

Dray sighed. “The price of ousting Napoleon from their land is their animals to our service. Someday we’ll supply an army with their own food, but for now living off the land is our only means. Better yet, we’ll decide to fight no more wars.”

Dex nodded. “May we see that day soon.”

Dray smiled at Dexter but froze at the vision in the far corner.

“What’s wrong?”

Dray’s stomach turned, angry at what he saw. Anxious, he grew dismayed that the one woman he had ever cared for would be here in the midst of preparations for the biggest battle Europe had yet seen in thirty years. “Women. Does it not seem obscene that we have so many women here nights before we plan a slaughter?”

“I agree,” Dex said, downing another swig of his wine. “But you know we may need them to nurse the wounded. Others argue it improves morale.”

“Does it? I doubt it.” The dark-haired beauty he was focused on did not appear to be enjoying herself. In fact, she looked dismayed. Her unusual aquamarine eyes, so large, so expressive scanned the room and came to land on the empty wine glass in her hands. Her gown, a lustrous white column, swept down her slight form. She was a sad angel amid this sea of brightly colored magpies chattering to men in brassy regalia. Em, dear woman, why the hell are you a hundred miles from London? You should be by a fireside where it’s warm and safe.

He stifled his urge to go to her. He had business. And she was too much a distraction. A young woman Emma’s age joined her and both smiled. Enjoying herself, she talked with her friend and leaned back to chuckle. He rejoiced with her. She’d known little laughter in her life. An only child, she’d grown up with a doting mother until the woman died when Emma was twelve. Her father had been a tyrant of the first order. Dray had the villainous evidence of that the day that man had refused Dray’s suit and ensured in a most heinous way that she marry a man with greater title and supposedly huge wealth.

“I say, Dray, it’s not good for you to wish for what you cannot have.” Dex frowned, well aware of the sad history between Dray and Miss Emma Bedlow.

Dray drained his glass and set it on a nearby tray. “Wellington. Lead me to him.”

Dray focused on his mission. Better to forget her, his step-brother Victor Cameron urged him often. “Lose yourself in other females. You’ll find one you can adore. I promise you.” The paradox there was that Victor himself had never fallen in love with any woman, though one couldn’t predict that from the vast numbers who had graced the Marquess Cameron’s bed.

Dray felt a tug at his sleeve. As he turned, he heard Dex warn him not to stop and talk.

But there stood Emma before him. Her wide-set eyes pleading, her mouth so sensual that young bucks in London clubs had bet on how well she kissed. None of them knew. But Dray did—and she had responded to him like a woman in love.

Dex sighed. “I leave you alone.”

Emma drank him in with limpid eyes. “Good evening, Lord Lansdowne. Or should I address you as Colonel?”

He’d not seen her since last August in Paris after her marriage. Then she appeared at a court reception with her new bridegroom for the new Bourbon king. She was still the ebony-haired siren whose ripe red lips and rare blue eyes made every man stop dead in his tracks with lust. But she’d taken one look at Dray and become subdued, teary-eyed, a gorgeous creature laid low by her father’s shameful sale of her virtue and good name.

“Madame le Comtesse.” Dray bowed as much for etiquette as to hide his surprise and delight that she’d taken the risk to address him. He rose and dare not kiss her hand. To hold it was more than temptation to crush her close and run away with her. “You are ravishing this evening.”

“Am I?” she asked barely above a whisper.

“Always.”

“I do not feel lovely.”

“You shine above all others in the room, my dear lady.”

Her plush lips turned downward. “I live for your praise.”

Christ, if only I could give it to you every day. “You should have it often from your husband.”

“I’ll savor what I gain from you.”

Complimented, anguished, Dray dropped her hand.

She put it to her bosom. Her eyes danced over every detail of his face. “How are you?”

“Well.” Broken. Lonely. “Busy.”

“I came tonight hoping to see you.”

His breath died in his chest. Jesus. “Em, you must not say such things.”

“I must.” She took a step toward him and the distance between them was much too close to be proper.

A purple blotch above the line of her bodice distracted him. What was that?

She leaned closer. “Dray, listen to me. I have to tell you that I wish you to live. To live well. To please take care the next few days. If anything were to happen to you, I would—”

“Please, Madame.” He stepped backward. Propriety might foster some sanity. His mind awhirl with her sentiments, he focused on the bruise at the top of her breast. He would kill the man who’d done that. Rip him apart in tiny pieces for it.

“Dray, please.” She put her gloved hand atop his and squeezed. “You must live well and laugh and love. Do it, Dray. Do it for me.”

“Em, do not say this.”

“Why are you talking with this man?” A tall grey-haired man stepped to Emma’s side and wrenched her hand from Dray’s.

Dray’s gaze bored into the crystal blue glass of his adversary’s eyes. “Take your hand from her wrist.”

The man snorted. “As if you have the right to tell me how to treat my wife.”

Dray seethed. “A gentleman always has a right to protect a lady from brutality.”

“She is mine, Lansdowne. I do with her as I wish.”

Dray checked Em’s expression. She glared at her husband and Dray rejoiced. She had gained courage in the past months since her father had let this creature abduct her and ravish her, then force her to speak vows before a minister. “She is to be treasured.”

“I treasure her, don’t I, ma petite?” The man said with a flare of his large nostrils.

She wrenched her hand from her spouse’s grasp. “I’m going to our lodgings.”

Dray said farewell to her with his heart in his eyes.

Fortunately, her husband did not make a scene and recapture her. He shot his cuffs instead. “Do that.”

Two tears dribbled past her lashes to her flushed cheeks. Catching up her skirts, Emma swallowed hard.

“She should not be here,” Dray told her husband and she shook her head at Dray in warning.

“She is my loyal wife. Are you not, ma chérie? She does as I say. And I want her here. She will be a good nurse, won’t you?” The man gave Dray a salacious wink. “Wouldn’t you like her tending your wounds, hmm? Bathing your…brow? Your aching—”

Filthy roué.

“Enough!” she spat at her husband.

The man cursed in French and caught her upper arm. “Come, come. Show us your finest manners, wife.”

“You show us none,” she replied.

“You’re a little—”

Dray seized the Comte de Rambouillet by the neck of his dusty Royal Foot Guard uniform. Raise him another iota and Dray would have him on his tiptoes. “Shall I dismember you here or in the street?”

With one hand, the man caught up Emma.

She yelped.

Grabbing the man’s other lapel, Dray shook him. “Unhand her.”

The man peered up at him. Since Dray had more than four inches in height and two stone in weight on him, the bastard demurred. He released her.

With a small cry, Emma hastened away.

Dray peered down at her husband, the animal whom he would gladly murder with his bare hands. “Cease your abuse of her, Montroy.”

“I may do as I wish with my wife. No man would stop me.”

“I will.” From hurting her or our cause here, I vow I will stop you.

“Ah, Monsieur le Baron, but then I would counter you because your pitiful heart is broken. Touch a hair on my head and I will put it abroad that you do it to gain her in your bed. That it was you who absconded with her and it was I who saved her reputation and saved her from ruin.”

“As if I would care what you say of me.”

Certainement. You have no regard for the ton. You are a petit bourgeoisie who makes his living by trade.”

“Better than to make it by cheating at cards.” And by treachery.

“I have taken what was available from men of little intelligence.”

“To steal what is not yours and call it acceptable because it was possible is to live a lie.”

“I have no fears.”

Dray thought of the firing squad that awaited Montroy when Dray finally proved the man had betrayed not only his native country but also his adopted one. “Isn’t that a bit short-sighted on your part?”

Henri Montroy, the eleventh Comte de Ramboulliet, great-grandson of the Sun King, scoffed. “Never.”

Dex appeared at Dray’s side. “Wellington asks for you. He’s received a message of troop movements.”

Montroy shot Dex a look of alarm. “I must see the Duke myself.”

Dray stared the man down. “He asks for me. But do remember, Montroy, that never is like most absolutes, it does not exist.”

Dray would ask Montroy how much he feared again one day soon when the skinny bastard stood before a gallows or a firing squad.

*****

Find Cerise:

Cerise DeLand’s Website

Cerise DeLand’s Delicious Doings Blog

Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cerisedelandauthor

Follow her on Twitter: @cerisedeland

Goodreads: Cerise DeLand

Cerise’s Treasures on Pinterest!

Cerise DeLand’s Delicious Newsletter!

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Happenings

I’ve fallen out of the habit of updating my blog because I know that blog readership across the internet, in general, is down. I’m still posting updates to Facebook, though (link in my header above) and to my newsletter list (you can sign up on the sidebar of my blog), but thought I’d also post here for those of you who might be subscribed to my blog.

My biggest news is that I have a new release coming out next week. The Captain’s Heart is a Hathaway Heirs novella and is part of The Incomparables box set, which is available now for pre-order. I have more information about the box set below, but if you want to read a blurb and excerpt from my story, or see where it is available for preorder, just click on the image below to be taken to the book’s page on my site.

The Incomparables cover

The Incomparables: 6 Heroes of Waterloo and the 6 Ladies They Adore

This limited edition box set includes 6 scorching romances that commemorate the 200th anniversary of the June 18, 1815 Battle of Waterloo.

From the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels to the Battle of Waterloo and beyond, join these six unforgettable heroes as they journey back from the physical and emotional trials of war and discover the passion that thrills the body can also heal the heart.

Coming June 18th from bestselling and award winning historical romance authors Cerise DeLand, Sabrina York, Suzi Love, Lynne Connolly, Suzanna Medeiros and Dominique Eastwick.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be posting an excerpt from each of the stories in the collection!

ooOOoo

What else is new? Well, if you’re reading this on your phone or tablet, or reading this post with a newsreader, you may not be aware that my site has a new design. Let me know what you think!

ooOOoo

And finally, I’ve mentioned this on my Facebook page but haven’t announced it here yet, so if you haven’t already seen it, check out the image below.

2015-05-06 17.08.52That’s a photo of the first two installments of Loving the Marquess, which has been translated into Icelandic and is being serialized in the magazine Heima er bezt … how cool is that!

Until next time, happy reading!

Suzanna

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Cover reveal – Lord Hathaway’s New Bride

I am so happy to finally be able to share this cover with you. I’ve had it for at least a year, but delays in finishing and releasing Beguiling the Earl meant that I had to hold back on sharing it until I was actually writing the book.

The Hathaway Heirs series was always conceived as a two-book series. The first was about Miranda Hathaway, the widow of the former Viscount Hathaway.

This second book in the series is about her nephew, the new Viscount. I’m having a ball writing it and can’t wait to release it. Until then, I give you the cover for Lord Hathaway’s New Bride. (Just click on the cover if you want to see a larger version!)

Cover for Lord Hathaway's New Bride

 

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Dear Stranger re-released

The rights to Dear Stranger have recently reverted back to me from the publisher and I have decided to re-release the book. If you’ve already purchased this novella, the story hasn’t changed. But if you haven’t, it has a new cover and a new lower price of $0.99.

Dear Stranger Rebranded.final.200x300A case of mistaken identity…

During a masked ball, Sophie Crandle’s mask gives her the courage she needs to follow the man she expects will propose to her into the gardens, where she brazenly asks him for the one thing that will tell her if she can accept him—a kiss. And what a kiss it is! Her elation turns to horror, however, when she realizes she is kissing the wrong man. The man who has awakened her desire is not the man who is courting her, but his brother, the Earl of Dearbourne. A notorious rake, he is more likely to ruin Sophie than provide her with the social acceptance she needs.

A woman he should not pursue…

Richard Hearst, the Earl of Dearbourne, receives the shock of his life when he discovers the beautiful woman falling apart in his arms thinks she is kissing someone else. He is determined to claim her for himself…even if the man she is meant for is his brother.

You can read an excerpt from Dear Stranger here and you can now buy it from:
All Romance eBooks, Amazon (US, UK, Canada), B&N, Google Play,
iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords

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Dear Stranger to be rereleased

I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from someone asking if Dear Stranger was available on Amazon because they’d looked for the book and couldn’t find it. I wasn’t sure anyone would notice that the book had been taken down this past week.

Here’s what’s going on. This month marks the second anniversary of when the book was published through Totally Bound and my contract was up for renewal. I had a lovely experience working with this publisher … I learned a lot about preparing a book for release and they were everything one could have hoped for with a digital-first publisher. However, I’ve since been spoiled by the control that comes with publishing independently – having complete control of your covers, blurbs, pricing, keywords, etc., and being able to change these things if something isn’t working. So instead of renewing the contract, I asked for all rights to be reverted to me.

I have a new cover for the book (which I will be showing off soon!) and will be rereleasing it with a lower price (one more in line with prices of historical romance novellas today) once it has come down from all ebook retailers. I really love the new cover and hope you will, too!

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