AuThursday – Dana Ross

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DR author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Like many writers, I was born into a family of bookworms. My maternal grandmother was a librarian for seventy-five years and she was a heavy influence on everything I read growing up. My father was a jeweler, and I grew up in the industry and was groomed to take over my family’s store. I worked under his wing for almost a decade, but after I left Maryland to attend the Gemological Institute of America and earn my Graduate Gemologist degree, I was encouraged to apply for a teaching position at the school. I relocated to California and worked as an instructor at G.I.A.’s Santa Monica campus.

Later, after marriage and kids and moving to Florida, I decided to try writing. After a few poor unstructured attempts, I joined a few critique groups, switched careers, attended grad school. There, I earned my MFA in creative writing. I still have a passion for gems and I try to infuse my writing with gemological factoids whenever possible.

How do you make time to write?

When my children were young, I wrote when they napped or attended school. I knew I had only a few precious hours to get words onto paper, so I made writing part of my daily routine—as much as brushing my teeth and flossing. My kids are almost grown now, but I still adhere to my writing schedule: Coffee first. Then treadmill (to fill my head with ideas/mentally flush out stories). Then I plant myself in my writing chair and work until my son comes home, hunger pangs beckon, or the dog whimpers for attention.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

“Ugh.” Unfortunately, yes. I’ve heard people say they don’t believe such a thing exists, but I suffer from it on occasion. Recently, I started working on two novels, one story I began while participating in NaNoWriMo, and one story that “came to me” out of the blue. I love both ideas, but I haven’t been able to commit fully to either, and until the “Eureka!” or “Aha!” moment comes to me, I can’t find the momentum to write. To help speed along the process, I play songs that remind me of my imagined chapters or work on character profile worksheets or try to write the synopsis of each book until the proverbial “block” has been lifted.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

Great question. My true love is YA because I love teen angst and quirky characters. The first manuscripts I wrote were YA stories, because writing is cathartic and through YA, I could deal with teen issues I, myself, went through, and issues my daughter experienced. That being said, my first published book is a contemporary romance with elements of suspense. It was a lot of fun to write outside my “regular” genre.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both.)

My recent book was published traditionally through The Wild Rose Press. I’d learned they had earned an award through Predators & Editors and heard great things about the company, so I queried them and they accepted my “baby.” TWRP really love their authors and go out of their way to teach us about the writing industry, which can be overwhelming at times.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

I’m an intro/extrovert if there were such a thing. I love working and hanging out with fellow writers, but I’m also introverted at times. While crafting a novel, I’ll retreat into my writing cave and shun friends/society, and I can go days without contact from the outside world. Fortunately, I’m also a mom and the host of a local writers’ critique group, so I get pulled out of the proverbial cave and pushed back into society when my son is with me or when it’s time to moderate the writing group.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

That’s an easy answer. I stumbled upon this quote by Gloria Steinem and for years it has been my mantra: “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

First, the obvious: write and read every day, even if it’s only a paragraph or a page. Second, read and write outside your comfort zone; our writer minds can get stagnant if we do the same thing every day. Third, read the craft books written by the masters. There are many but my favorites are Stephen King’s “On Writing,” Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style,” and Browne & King’s “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.” Last, but not least, don’t give up. Your writing might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and writing is a glacial process, but if you write because you love what you do, stick to it, toughen your skin, and be patient. Your day will come, and there’s no greater feeling than having a complete stranger love your prose.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Thanks for asking, Tina. I’m constantly on social media, and I love to connect with readers and fellow writers. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and my (under construction) web page:

Website: https://danarossauthor.com

Twitter: @danarossauthor

Instagram: mommawriter (Dana Ross Author)

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

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

Yes, thank you for offering. This excerpt comes from chapter two—a scene where my protagonist meets face-to-face with the story’s antagonist.

FullGirlfriendExperience_w11805_750

There were three things I could not stand—cheap shoes, bad wine, and the man seated across the table from me. William Drummond was staring at me like a half-starved animal. Maybe his greedy gaze was due to my dress’s plunging neckline, but the man obviously had other things on his mind—complications that involved me. And like the pan-fried calamari appetizer slowly digesting in my belly, sharing company with the man who almost killed one of my girls did not sit well.

Nonetheless, I had problems. I had to at least hear him out.

I lifted my empty champagne flute and motioned for a refill.

Drummond obliged.

The bubbly was good and dry, one that cost a pretty penny, which the sockmuppet would probably write off and charge taxpayers. It was tempting to slug my drink down and ask for a third glass, but I refrained since I was dealing with someone less trustworthy than my dry cleaners. As Drummond refilled his glass, I remembered how easily he polished off drinks without showing a hint of an altered mind. In addition to the champagne, there was a glass of whiskey with melting ice cubes by his plate.

Bells in my head rang a warning.

He was slick. Just like that suit. Which was decent, though, probably an Italian label that cost more than my rent. He also sported a rose-gold designer watch—last year’s model—and diamond pavé cufflinks that practically blinded me with their shine. His nails were trimmed and glossy, like he’d had a recent manicure, and his jet-black hair shined like an asphalt lake.

His eyes were a forgettable brown, but they revealed intellect—correction, cunning intellect.

Drummond lifted his champagne glass and aimed the rim in my direction. “Let’s make a toast. To old times.”

I leaned forward and clinked his glass. “Old times.”

 

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Saturday Spotlight – An Earl of Her own by Heather Boyd

AEOHO HB BannerAn Earl Of Her Own

Saints and Sinners series (Book 3)

By Heather Boyd

Heather is giving away a print edition of The Duke and I and A Gentleman’s Vow during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember there is a chance to enter everyday so be sure to follow the Blog Tour. You may find the tour schedule and locations here https://goo.gl/qw8v5J

About An Earl Of Her Own:

Marriage is about finding that special someone you want to annoy for the rest of your life!

Rebecca Warner’s devotion to her family is the perfect distraction from the loneliness of widowhood. Not that she’d ever admit a need for someone special in her life after her husband’s betrayal. With the responsibility of arranging her sister’s wedding falling into her lap, Rebecca has no time for a certain maddening earl bent on seducing her—until he proves her most ardent ally.

For Adam Croft, Earl of Rafferty, what began as an amusing pursuit—shocking Rebecca Warner—becomes something deeper when he recognizes how perfect a wife and mother she would make. Adam’s keenly aware of his loneliness…and that his habit to curb it with drink lost him Becca’s respect. He’ll happily change his ways to win her approval, but what more can he do to win her love?

Release Date: February 12, 2019

Length: approx. 300 pages

Heat: steamy regency romance

Digital ISBN: 978-1-925239-51-5

Print ISBN: 978-1-925239-52-2

ASIN: B07KGLD7RB

AppleBooks ID: 1437218392

Book Links:

~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~

AEOHO_DC 200Excerpt:

“You are hurt, worse than you want to say,” Rebecca Warner whispered.

Her soft green eyes were filled with real concern, something Adam had never expected to see on her face. “Well, that is disappointing.”

“Disappointing?” Rebecca immediately began searching through his hair for the wound, and he chose to imagine it a sensual caress until she spoke again. “You have a gash to your head that has bled. Dear God, you could have died.”

“Always looking on the bright side,” he murmured, and then noticed how close the lady was to his body. He inhaled slowly, delighted in this unexpectedly rare treat. Mrs. Warner had never been the friendliest sort. “You smell nice.”

“Really, Rafferty,” she chided. She suddenly slipped her hand inside his coat, rummaged in his pockets and began to dab at his head with the handkerchief she found there. “This is hardly the time to worry about my perfume.”

“As you say, I could have been killed. Seems like an appropriate time for noticing the little things in life that please me.” He felt pain and hissed. Eager for a distraction, he dropped his gaze to her shoulder—now bare of the shawl, which had fallen away unnoticed by the lady. The respectable garment Rebecca had worn to church, so stylish and modest, was less so now thanks to the accident. The struggle out of the carriage seemed to have ripped the seam apart, and her pale skin looked very soft and inviting. He curled his fingers into the skirt of her gown and held it. “Lovely.”

She drew back to peer into his eyes again, and then she glanced down at his fist. “What are you doing?”

What was he doing? Adam had no idea, but he wasn’t of a mind to stop.
Saints and Sinners series:

SaintsandSinners_seriesBook 1: The Duke and I (Nicolas and Gillian) – https://amzn.to/2Thss0C

Book 2: A Gentleman’s Vow (Gideon and Jessica) – https://amzn.to/2Tc3kso

Book 3: An Earl of Her Own (Adam and Rebecca) – https://amzn.to/2G2HCmT

~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~♥~

HeatherBoyd author photoAbout the Author:

Determined to escape the Aussie sun on a scorching camping holiday, Heather picked up a pen and notebook from a corner store and started writing her very first novel—Chills. Eight years later, she is the author of over thirty romances and publisher of several anthologies too. Addicted to all things tech (never again will Heather write a novel longhand) and fascinated by English society of the early 1800s, Heather spends her days getting her characters in and out of trouble and into bed together (if they make it that far). She lives on the edge of beautiful Lake Macquarie, Australia with her trio of mischievous rogues (husband and two sons) along with one rescued cat whose only interest in her career is that it provides him with food on demand. You can find details of Heather’s work at http://www.heather-boyd.com

Heather Boyd’s Social Links:

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AuThursday – Tabetha Waite

img_6440Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a small town Missouri girl born and bred! I’ve wanted to write since the fourth grade after my teacher encouraged me. She said she liked reading my stories, so for a girl who was shy and bullied it was wonderful to have someone believe that I had a talent. Years passed and I have a family, my husband Doug and two great daughters, but I always kept writing in the back of my mind. It took me 30 years to accomplish, but my first book was published in July of 2016.

How do you make time to write?

I honestly feel lost, like I’m doing something wrong if I don’t have my computer open. Even if I’m just staring at the cursor waiting for inspiration to strike, I try to write a little each day. I usually get a lot done in the summer and on Christmas and spring breaks when I don’t have to work at my ‘day job’ as a lunch lady at the local community college. I look forward to the day when I can write full time!

I see you write Historical Romance, what draws you to this genre?

Easy! I love a good HEA! When I was younger, I used to read lots of different genres, but I didn’t like investing so much time in a book when I was in tears at the end. Granted, these books weren’t awful, just not what I wanted to read. So when I found the romance genre, I was instantly hooked! As far as historicals, I’ve always loved learning about history, so when the thought of a hero and heroine meeting at a ball, arriving in their carriages and dressed in their finery, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to immerse myself in this world.

How much research do you do?

As much as I try to be as accurate as possible, I’m not an author that wants to feel as if I’m giving my reader a history lesson. I know some people prefer exact facts, but when it comes to fiction, I prefer to add my own spin on things. The purpose of a romance is to feel the emotion between the characters, to lose yourself in their romantic turmoil, so that is what I try to achieve more than anything. I want my readers to close my book with a happy sigh at the end.

How did you come up with the idea for your “Ways of Love” series?

That happened by accident really. I was trying to come up with a catchy title for my first book. When I thought of “Why the Earl is After the Girl,” I thought it was cute because it rhymed. As I was writing the story, I added a character that I absolutely adored, Orion’s best friend, Roarke. I knew that he would have to have his own book, so I started to wonder how I could tie them together. Thus, Who, What, When, Where & Why was born!

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

Yes! So far there have been five, with three more currently on the way! It’s been FABULOUS working on these projects. We’ve had a great time!

Why did you do decide to collaborate and did that affect your sales?

The first anthology I was a part of was called, ‘Yuletide Happily Ever Afters – A Merry Little Set of Regency Romances.’ Initially, Annabelle Anders approached me on social media. We had already been chatting and seemed to have a connection, so we came up with an idea to write a Christmas set together. After asking a few other ladies to join, we released the set on October 1, 2018. It went over VERY well, much better than we all expected! It was also great for my other book sales, for it opened up the door to more readers.  

What are your current projects?

Other than the three collaborations that will be coming out this year, two in April, and one in September, I am also preparing to release the fourth book in my Ways of Love Series entitled, “Who the Marquess Dares to Desire.” I am SO excited to finally be able to share Drayven and Clara’s story with my readers. After a rather lengthy delay, it’s almost here! I hope to have book 5 out later this year as well, which will tie up the series with five books and a prequel novella. It’s been a labor of love, but I’m ready to move on and try my hand at a bit of fantasy romance! But never fear! I will always W back to my historicals.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website is authortabethawaite.wix.com/romance and there you can join my mailing list for a free monthly newsletter, plus find ALL my social media links!

img_0236Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

Standing, she began to gather her things.

“Where are you going?”

She kept her face carefully averted. “I told you what you wanted to know, Lord Sussex. There’s nothing more to say.”

Clara gasped when she felt a gentle hand under her chin. She hadn’t even heard him cross the room. He lifted her face to him and his focus fell to her mouth. “Maybe I don’t want you to go just yet.” His breath fanned her forehead and she shivered.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, my lord. It won’t accomplish anything if I stay.”

“Then don’t think.” His eyes smoldered like dark coals. “Take a risk, Miss Upton. With me.”  

Clara’s pulse fluttered rapidly. This man’s kisses breathed fire into her very soul, but they also threatened to scorch her heart. She knew she should go, yet how could she leave? “You frighten me,” she admitted, although she could feel herself giving in to the temptation.

“Then we are evenly matched, for you scare the hell out of me.”

 

AuThursday – Anna Hague

annahagueTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well, in my other life, I’m a freelance sports journalist, and I’ve done that job for years. I’m a big fan of auto racing, and I’ve had the privilege of covering the Indianapolis 500 for nearly 20 years. Right now, because I’m spending more time as an author, I cover a lot of high school sports, and I love it. To me, high school sports are the purest form of athletics. My husband and I live in central Indiana. We were both born there, but have moved around the country several times and landed back here. We don’t have kids, but have three parrots and a puppy, but we’ve hosted eleven foreign exchange students which has been one of the most rewarding things we’ve ever done.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I try to keep a structure, but with the animals in the house, there are a lot distractions. I usually write three or four hours in the morning, be it my current WIP or my stories for the paper. I’ll take a lunch break and then either go to the gym or get some chores accomplished. I’ll write again until around 4 p.m. I don’t write a lot in the evening. I prefer to spend the time with my husband having dinner or watching a little TV. Sometimes I think I’ll write into the night, but honestly because I’m up in the morning around 5:30-6, by 8:30 or 9, I’m ready for bed.

Where do your ideas come from?

Everywhere. The song Counting Stars by One Republic was a real catalyst for me when I was toying with the idea for Captured Hearts. Things from the news, or an interaction I’ve had with someone. I’ve seen a car drive by me on the interstate and my curiosity of where they might be going popped an idea into my heard. My hometown, Indianapolis was a setting I wanted to use. I finally had to start keeping a file with my ideas because they just keep coming. I wish I could write as fast.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I’m such a pantser. I have a general idea where I want things to go, but as I write, sometimes the story takes a big turn. Although taking notes is important in being a reporter, I rarely make too many notes about stories other than the main plot.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block?

Yes. Just recently. I was working on the third book of Love Strictly Tested trilogy which deals with a murder trial, and we had a family tragedy involving a murder. I had been doing research about what happens during a murder investigation and trial, the whole thing became way too real, and I couldn’t write a word for about three months. Luckily, the publisher of this book was not quite ready for it to be finished, and I was able to get back into the story. I’m still a little freaked out by what happened.

You run your own publication company, what would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I’ve lucky to have been both self-published and through a publisher. There are definite pluses and minuses to both. In self-pubbing, you have total control over everything, the story, the covers release dates, and royalties. The downside is you have to pay for all of the services like editing, cover design, formatting and most of your marketing.

With a publisher, they incur all the initial costs which is great, but your royalties aren’t as high. You can’t control the release date, and you don’t have a whole lot of input on the covers. I get to describe what I think I’d like on the cover, but I don’t get a lot of say so. And while they market the book, I’m still responsible for a fair amount of marketing. I really like this publisher, so it’s not anything against them. It’s pretty much the industry standard. I’ve learned a lot from both, and I think I’ll continue to do both if the opportunity is there.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

For Captured Hearts, I gave the designer, Kellie Dennis, some stock photos that I thought conveyed some of my vision. She sent me back two designs, and they were both phenomenal, and I had a hard time choosing, but I love what she did. For the second book, Stolen Hearts, I sent her the cover she had done and then gave her a brief synopsis of the story and characters. She came back with another amazing cover. For Angel’s Collar, I gave my input about the characters and that I thought black and white was sort of my vision, and that’s what the designer did. I like it, an am anxious to see the one for the second book in the series.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.annahague.com

triocoversDo you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

This is from Captured Hearts, the first book in the Heart series.

Even though blasts of icy February wind bulldozed through Louisville, Jamey wiped the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve.

Cigarette smoke and stale bourbon permeated the worn leather jacket, making him recoil at the smell. His rapid breathing and tense muscles made him second-guess himself. Something about this Allee Jones was not right. A week’s worth of surveillance had provided more questions than answers. Every day, he watched her apartment, and at nine thirty in the morning, she tentatively descended the three concrete steps to begin the walk to her job about fifteen minutes away. Her gaze, always focused on the sidewalk, only lifted to check her progress. She never spoke to anyone. She waited to cross the street until she was alone. Every time a group started to form at the crosswalk, she moved away so fast, he watched her stumble. Some days, she stood by the crosswalk for several minutes until the path was completely clear of people. Often she leaned against the wall of a business watching the people hustle by, never making eye contact with any of them. Women completely ignored her, but men would look at the attractive blonde-haired woman who tried to fade into the bricks. When a man would talk to her, she spoke a few words but never looked him in the eye. They all shrugged and walked away from the strange, but beautiful girl.

Jamey thought she was a stunner with waist-length honey-colored hair down to the middle of her back. Maybe she was about five foot seven, but he couldn’t tell since she hunched over most of the time. This girl’s mesmerizing actions forced Jamey to reconsider his own choices, but too much was at stake. Watching her every move, he tried to understand why someone so attractive would go out of her way not to interact with people. Those thoughts flooded his brain, and his real mission became cloudy. Something about her reached out to him, despite the fact he had never been closer than twenty yards.

He could not shake the attraction.

 

Saturday Spotlight – Heart and Hand by Rebel Carter

heart and hand tour bannerTitle: Heart and Hand

Author: Rebel Carter

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: January 22, 2019

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42983552-heart-and-hand

Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs

Blurb:

Anyone who was absolutely anyone knew the story of how Julie Anne Baptiste’s parents met: the blue-blood Union cavalry officer and the freedwoman on her way North fell madly in love at first sight, all in the midst of the Civil War. It was legendary within New York City’s Four Hundred, and from girlhood, Julie daydreamed of her finding own true love match. But now, as a well-seasoned debutante of twenty-one years, Julie only dreams of teaching and much prefers the vibrant world of her books over the company of society’s most eligible bachelors.

However, always the dutiful daughter, Julie performs the role of affluent debutante until she realizes all of her tomorrows have horrifyingly become occupied by a gamut of social engagements, and they will remain so until she marries. Desperate and knowing only a wedding will put a stop to the madness of living as a debutante, Julie does the unthinkable: she responds to a mail order advert in the Heart and Hand Matrimonial Times. No longer a girl fantasizing of love, Julie did not anticipate forming a genuine romantic connection with the man she corresponds with, but when ex-Union soldier Forrest Wickes proposes she readily accepts. All seems well until the society pages intercept one of her letters and within the hour all of New York knows of Julie’s decision to become a mail-order bride.

In fact, the New York City society pages don’t know they only reported half the truth about Julie Baptiste. The debutante intends to marry not only Forrest Wickes but also his best friend, William Barnes. Her secret of taking two husbands safe, Julie sets out for the Montana Territory before the papers can learn the truth. But how will a debutante-turned-teacher manage frontier life with two husbands? Doubts loom and Julie wrestles with how to tell her family the truth about her marriage. And then there’s the vivacious young widow who enjoys a close friendship with Will, who maliciously hints that all is not as it appears to be with Julie’s husbands.

Buy Links: Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2E5wxBh

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2MlRzgb

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2MnwqSI

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2MjgNMp

Author Bio:

Rebel Carter believes in magic and witty meet-cutes, and she hopes you do, too. Hailing from the South, Rebel has a deep affection for anything fried, battered, or smothered, and enjoys a mint julep or measure of whiskey when the occasion calls for it. She suffers from a severe case of wanderlust and has lived all over the world. Now she spends her days in the beautiful state of Colorado with the mountains serving as a daily inspiration to go after big dreams–her biggest of all is to write full-time.

Social Media Links:

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebelwrites/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rebelwrites_

heartandhand_v8Excerpt #1 (Julie)

Julie frowned. “Are the pair of you trying to get rid of me now? After all this time? All th-those letters?” She wrung her hands together, her mind already leaping to what the society pages would proclaim at her being rejected as a mail-order bride.

Forrest sat up straight when he heard her frustrated tone. “Now, Julie, we weren’t—”

“Because I’ll have you know that I very much have made up my mind to be married, gentlemen.” Julie crossed her arms over her chest in defiance, though it was hard for her to stay sitting upright given the swaying nature of the wagon, and she almost cursed when she fell sideways, prompting a quick hand from Will to catch her before she tumbled headfirst out of the wagon.

Will let out an exasperated grunt. “Life won’t be easy with us.”

“Yes, I know this. Forrest was perfectly clear in the year of letters we exchanged.” She gave Forrest a meaningful look that had the big man blushing.

“So I was.” He glanced over at Will and added, “So we were.”

Julie raised an eyebrow in surprise. “You wrote me?” she asked, looking at Will, who was leaning back in his saddle and looking like he wished to be anywhere but there.

“Sure did,” he answered, but said no more.

“You never…I didn’t know it wasn’t you.” She gave Forrest a look of reproach, but he only shrugged.

“Made sense for you two to talk beforehand if you were serious about having the both of us.”

“Well, I suppose so,” Julie sighed. If polite New York society thought it already had the juiciest drama from her little adventure, it would fly into a tizzy over what Julie had truly decided to do. Though the spy who had told the pages about her plan to go West had ruined her efforts at secrecy, they hadn’t discovered the whole of her plan. If they had, Julie wouldn’t have just made the society pages, she would have sustained them for society pages, she would have sustained them for months, possibly even years. And she might still if her secret ever came to light, which was that Julie Baptiste, heiress of the esteemed Baptiste family, hadn’t simply agreed to be a bride for the sake of a teaching position and the chance of adventure on the frontier to one man.

She’d agreed to do it with two.

Excerpt #2 (William)

God, woman, where are you in all this lace?” he huffed, making sure to get the entirety of her train safely up on the bench next to her.

“It’s the height of fashion,” she informed him primly.

Will snorted, still shoving swaths of silk satin up next to her. “Seems like a waste.”

Julie stiffened at his casual comment and looked down at her hands, even though she knew he couldn’t see the hurt in her eyes, not with the near darkness they were in, relieved only by the bright light of the moon.

Noticing that she’d gone still, Will sighed, “I didn’t mean—Julie, you looked beautiful today.”

“Thank you,” she said, her voice small. She kept her eyes on her lap and, working to keep her voice even, began to ask about Forrest when Will spoke.

“Darlin’,” he tried, one of his hands coming to rest over both of hers, which were tightly clasped in her lap. “I’m sorry. Sometimes I speak before I think. Y-you were the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life today.” He picked up a fistful of her skirt and gave it a gentle shake. “This wasn’t a waste. Not an inch of it.” He was whispering now, voice low and husky. She could hear the sincerity in his voice and she swallowed hard at the raw emotion she heard.

 

Keeping Faith by Beverley Oakley

KF BO BannerKeeping Faith

Fair Cyprians of London Series (Book 3)

By Beverley Oakley

Beverley has a print copy of Her Gilded Prison to giveaway during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win a print copy of Her Gilded Prison. You may find the tour locations here.

Keeping Faith bannerAbout Keeping Faith:

“My beautiful Revenge.”

Four years ago, Faith’s mysterious benefactress falsely accused her of stealing and deposited her in Madame Chambon’s exclusive brothel.

There, Faith was to learn how to entrance London’s noble gentlemen with her learning in philosophy, politics, and art.

Her body was to be saved for the greatest enticement of all: revenge.

Faith doesn’t care what she has to do. She lives only to fulfill a bargain that will set her free.

But when Faith is recruited as the muse of a talented, sensitive painter whose victory in a prestigious art competition turns them both into celebrities overnight, she discovers the reasons behind her mission are very different from what she’d been led to believe.

Now she is complicit in something dark and dangerous while riches, adulation, and freedom are hers for the taking.

But what value are these if her heart has become a slave to the man she is required to destroy?

keeping-faith-e-readerExcerpt: Chapter One

“What did you learn last night?”

“A gentleman must always believe he knows best.”

Confident that her answer was pleasing, Faith reached across the table to help herself to a macaroon but a sharp slap across the back of the hand stopped her progress by the silver teapot.

Her smile of feigned contrition was rewarded with a raised eyebrow from Madame Chambon. Not an invitation to partake of a macaroon, unfortunately. The table laden with eclairs and petit fours in Madame’s private sitting room was merely for show.

“Greedy girl, Faith! You can eat at the Dorchester tomorrow and I daresay you won’t even spare a thought for the other girls who are justified in being somewhat jealous of your cossetted life.” Madame sniffed as she patted one of the grizzled, orange curls of her elaborate coiffure. Faith suspected a squirrel’s pelt had made its contribution. “I’m sure they wonder every day why you never have to stir yourself – or anyone else, for that matter – to get your fine clothes or a roof over your head.” Madame Chambon piled three macaroons onto her already laden plate before making a sweeping gesture that encompassed the furnishings of her surprisingly decorous private sitting room with its gold tasseled green velvet curtains and flock wallpaper. “What have you told them, Faith? About why you are here, I mean?”

Faith’s stomach rumbled as she gazed from the prints of the famous artists that lined the walls to the fine fare in front of her, ordered from Fortnum and Mason. These monthly sessions in table manners were supposed to give Faith the practice she needed to deport herself like a lady when eating in public. However, under Madame’s guardianship, Faith never actually got to try the specialties.

“Answer me, Faith. In all the three years that you’ve been here, you’ve had to do precisely nothing to justify your existence. Surely the girls have questioned you? I have my own version of the truth for them, as you know, but I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.”

Faith didn’t answer. She already knew how lucky she was, but Madame was not ready to drop the subject, despite having just crammed an entire chocolate éclair into her mouth. Faith just managed to make out the muffled words, “Every night you lie peacefully in your bed while the other girls have to earn their livings.”

Lying peacefully in her bed was not how Faith would describe the restfulness of her slumber. She was kept awake every night by the grunts and cries of ecstasy that penetrated the thin walls of her attic chamber.

Still, she’d finally learned when it was wise to respond meekly, so she bowed her head and stared at her neat kid gloves while dreaming of the delicacies Mrs. Gedge would order for them when Faith really was dining with her at the Dorchester Hotel the following afternoon. The Sacher Torte Mrs. Gedge had ummed and aahed over before finally choosing the baked Alaska from the sweets trolley last month still haunted her. However, since part of Faith’s tutoring included how to win over reluctant gentleman ‘and make them wild with wanting’ which is how Madame phrased it, then surely Faith could persuade her American benefactress to order the Austrian chocolate specialty?

She was so busy rehearsing her words for tomorrow that she almost missed Madame’s prophetic and appalling statement.

“Well, Faith, the time has come for you to start earning your way, now.”

Faith brought her head up in shock. Was Madame teasing? When it appeared not, she gripped the table edge as she struggled for composure. For so long she’d known the reckoning would come. Yes, and with three years preparing for it, she’d believed she could meet it head-on with the necessary fortitude.

But there’d been no warning.

She began to shake, biting into her bottom lip and clasping her hands in her lap to try and keep secret the manifestations of her terror from Madame who’d only be spurred onto gloating and make her suffer even more.

“Mrs. Gedge reported last month that she wasn’t entirely happy you were ready for what she has in store for you when she took you to tea, Faith.” Madame chewed noisily, unperturbed, it seemed, by the crumbs that landed on her gaudy vermillion skirts.

Faith didn’t suggest that Mrs. Gedge’s dissatisfaction was perhaps the fault of Faith’s tutor – the one sitting in front of her – who knew nothing about deporting herself as a lady.

With a dainty gesture using only her forefingers, Madame Chambon raised her plate and licked at the crumbs that had not been dislodged before saying, “Fortunately, Lady Vernon is recovered at last from her long indisposition and has agreed to forget your rudeness to her from six months ago. In fact, she’ll be here shortly. Yes, she’ll soon have you passing the scrutiny of the most discerning duchess.” Madame gobbled down another macaroon with as much finesse as the dogs Faith’s father used to goad into fighting each other after they’d fought over the scraps from the scrubbed wooden table at the farm. Not that there’d been many scraps with ten children to feed.

“Should we not have waited for Lady Vernon?” Faith suggested, daringly. But she had to say something to stop herself from launching into a volley of querulous questions about exactly what form this ‘having to earn her own way’ might take.

Madame Chambon pushed aside an untouched plate of bread and butter to reach for another chocolate éclair and sighed. “There was just so much food on the table it seemed unnecessary to wait if her ladyship was going to be late. Ah! And here she is.” Madame’s orange painted mouth turned up at a knock on the door. “Shoulders back, Faith! And make sure you don’t talk with your mouth full.”

Since this was not a danger, Faith supposed there might be some compensation in having to face her former nemesis who surely must subscribe to the belief that learning table manners required one having to eat.

Madame threw her arms wide in a welcome as the door opened to admit the new arrival. “Good evening, Lady Vernon. We’re so glad you’ve recovered from your chest ailment,” she gushed. “A good rest has done you the world of good. Why you look ten years younger. Just as you do every time I see you, in fact. And we’re indeed humbled that you’ve consented to return.” Madame simpered at the elderly woman, dressed all in black who looked, Faith thought, even more wraith-like than usual as she pinned up the veil of her bonnet and took the seat at the table proffered by Madame who went on, “I’m sure you’ll feel even better once you’ve heard Faith’s heartfelt apology.”

Faith blushed under the scrutiny of the two pairs of expectant, unforgiving eyes, and glanced longingly at the remaining macaroon.

Yes, there were times when it was worth being abject. She mightn’t mean what she said, but if the last three years under Madame Chambon’s roof had taught her one thing, it was how to sound heartfelt and sincere when she felt anything but.

“I’m sorry for my rude comments about…” Faith hesitated. Perhaps it was best not to stir up old memories. While it must be perfectly obvious to anyone who met Lady Vernon as to why an earl’s daughter could remain a spinster into her sixtieth year, it hadn’t been in anyone’s interest – Faith’s least of all, it turned out – for Faith to have gone into quite such specific and extensive detail regarding her thoughts on the likely reasons. “I behaved like a child, though it’s such a long time ago, now, I can barely remember what was going through my head at the time. I was only seventeen and, in those days, prone to losing my temper but now I’m eighteen and, thanks to all your efforts in teaching me how to act like a lady, Lady Vernon, I’m so far from the rude and impulsive young thing I was before, you’d not recognise me today. Thanks to your thorough tutelage, I am determined that I will never speak out of turn, to you, or anyone. Indeed, I have changed! I truly believe that confronted by a table of delicacies like this, for example, I would certainly not embarrass you or Mrs. Gedge or any lovely young man or his mother who might take me out to tea by any show of greediness or lack of restraint.”

Lady Vernon’s eyes remained fixed firmly on Faith for the duration of this speech with no indication of how forgiving or otherwise she might prove to be.

After a long silence, she spoke. “Restraint?” She sniffed. “Restraint is the most important requirement of any young lady, Faith. I’ve told you this many times, so I’m glad it’s a lesson you claim to have finally learned.”

With her eyes fixed on Faith, she reached towards the remaining macaroon that sat lonely on its plate just in front of them both, her long-fingered hand hovering just above. “Please pass that to me, Faith. I can’t seem to reach it.”

Wordlessly, Faith complied, schooling her features into impassivity while she railed inside, I hate you! I hate you! as she watched Lady Vernon transport the coconut confection to her thin, bloodless lips.

“Delicious,” Lady Vernon murmured. “In fact, I believe it is the best macaroon I have ever tasted? You must surely agree, Faith, since the plate is now empty.”

She looked pointedly at the two remaining crumbs that clung to the edge of the fine china as if to imply that Faith had eaten the rest. Then she indicated the plate of bread and butter near Madame Chambon. “Please eat, Faith. Madame Chambon and I have a leisurely afternoon at our disposal. She and I will partake of the remaining chocolate eclairs –” Her pointed chin wobbled slightly, whether from the suppression of mirth or the swallowing of bile, Faith could only guess, “while you make good work of the bread and butter with all the ladylike restraint you’re so anxious to prove.”

beverley-eikli-author-pic-copyBeverley Oakley’s Bio:

Debutantes, widows and the occasional courtesan test society’s boundaries in Beverley Oakley’s wicked, passionate historical romances dripping with scandal, intrigue, and suspense.

 

Her Fair Cyprians of London series is about a group of determined and clever courtesans at a high-class Soho brothel who use their wit and beauty to avenge past betrayals – and who find lasting love along the way.

 

How can there be a happily ever after? is a question many a reviewer has asked before admitting to being delighted and satisfied by the unexpected plot twists and surprise endings – just like in Beverley’s own life. You can read more on her website.

 

Beverley’s Social Links:

 

Website: http://www.beverleyoakley.com/

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

Pinterest: https://au.pinterest.com/beverleyeikli/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeverleyOakley

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/5989577.Beverley_Oakley

 

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AuThursday – Seelie Kay

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Seeliekay author photo (1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a former attorney and journalist who turned to writing after I found myself a single mom with a toddler. Opening my own marketing/pr consultancy turned out to be the perfect choice. After I was diagnosed with MS, I cut back to freelance writing. I began writing romance about two years ago literally on a whim. My son had graduated from high school and was learning how to fly from the nest, so it was time to do something I had longed to do, write books.

How do you make time to write?

I balance my time between making money and writing books! Seriously, I need to eat and I barely make enough money as an author to keep me in Cheetos!  So much of what I do earn goes into promotion because I am so new to the book world. When I am not writing romance, I ghostwrite and edit books for others, mostly other lawyers. As for making time, writing is just something I do. I don’t really think about it, it has always been part of me,

What genre are your books?

I write a broad range of romance, from the erotic to the sweet. However, Snatching Dianna is my first foray into romantic suspense. And yes, it does have just a touch of erotic romance, primarily because the main characters are ones I had written about in my series, Kinky Briefs.

What draws you to this genre?

I am drawn to romance because I believe love is there for anyone who wants, even someone like me. Everyone in search of love has bought into the fantasy and that is not always a bad thing. I am drawn to romantic suspense simply because I am fascinated by mysteries and puzzles. I like to take complicated situations and discover the way out. I have identified with Emma Peel (The Avengers) since I was a kid and you will find part of her in each of my female leads.

What are your current projects?

The second book in the Feisty Lawyers series, Infamy, is due out on my birthday, January 4. I also have a stocking stuffer set for release in December called The President’s Daughter. In addition, I am working on the third book in the Feist Lawyers series called, Cult.

Here’s the blurb for Infamy:

Infamy. An evil or wicked act. Terrorists bent on revenge have found a way to make planes disappear from the sky, without a trace. And when one winds up buried in a Wisconsin cornfield, it’s a race against time to rescue the passengers from certain death.

International law attorneys Sheikh Harun Ali and Marianne Benson Ali are united not only in their love for each other but also by their commitment to fight for the victims of terrorism. Together, they sue terrorist groups to compensate the victims of their violence, raiding terrorists’ coffers and destroying their ability to fund evil acts. Now, the terrorists are targeting them. A mysterious missive draws Harun to the Amazon, where a man claiming to be his brother warns him of a plot against the United States. The Alis enlist the assistance of their neighbors, agent Cade Matthews, who works in black ops, and his wife, former agent and Constitutional Law Professor Janet MacLaughlin, as well as two recent law school graduates, to discover the truth. After two planes disappear and an attempted school shooting is aborted, these feisty lawyers are pushed to the wall, desperate to find a plane that has been buried in an unknown corn field, the passengers still on board. The terrorists’ hatred for the Alis is absolute—they are the people who once left their organization bankrupt and broken—but they hate America more.  However, their fiendish games are only a beginning. They are seeking a much bigger prize. One that could destroy a nation, and possibly, the world. An act that will live in infamy.

Here’s the blurb for The President’s Daughter:

Be careful what you wish for because it just might send your life into a tailspin from which you may not recover.

When presidential candidate Jamisen Powell meets volunteer Sarah Lee Pearson, he is shocked to discover her eyes mirror his own. But Sarah was raised by two loving parents and has no questions about her heritage. Instead, after their death, she merely longs to find an extended family. She becomes convinced that Powell could be a distant relative. Powell, on the other hand, has spent twenty-five long years haunted by the memory of a daughter kidnapped from her bed. He suspects Sarah could be his long-lost daughter. As both launch separate covert searches for the truth, Sarah is found by the estranged parents of the man who raised her. Suddenly, the truth will no longer set her free. It could destroy the happy memories of her childhood. Hang on to your seat, and more importantly, hang on to your heart, as one woman discovers the true meaning of family.

Are you an Introvert or Extravert? How does this affect your work?

I am naturally shy, but once I start talking, I do not shut up! I literally shut off my phone when I write, because I could talk on the phone all day.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

When I am in the zone, nothing else exists for me. I write until I get everything out of my head. Sometimes I write for 10 hours without eating, drinking, speaking, or moving from the computer.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

If you believe you can write and you have a story to tell, just do it. It’s doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. All that matters is what you believe.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Author links:

www.seeliekay.com

www.seeliekay.blogspot.com

Twitter: @SeelieKay https://twitter.com/SeelieKay

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/seelie.kay.77

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Seelie-Kay/e/B074RDRWNZ/

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

download (2)From Snatching Dianna:

“After what seemed like hours in the sweltering van, it lurched to a stop.

Dianna heard a man bark orders. A door to the van opened and someone pulled the rope from her feet, then removed her hood. She took a deep breath.  A man grabbed her by the arm, forced to her feet, and pulled her from the van. Dianna stumbled when she hit the ground. The stones were hot and her feet were covered by athletic socks, no shoes. Show no weakness.

Dianna immediately surveyed her surroundings. It was still night, but she was in a well-lit courtyard. A large stone mansion stood in front of her. She looked to her right, then her left. The courtyard was enclosed by a large stone fence, at least eight feet high. A fortress. Fortunately, Dianna was a rock-climber. She could rappel over the fence with the right equipment. All she would need was something to serve as a pick, maybe a rope. A knife, a screwdriver, even a fork. Keep your eyes and ears open. Be ready.

A large black man, dressed in a white suit and a maroon turban, walked out of the front door and down the stairs. He stopped and flashed a malevolent smile. He flung his arms wide and in a cultured baritone boomed, “Welcome to paradise, ladies. I hope you enjoy your stay.”

Some of the guards laughed.

“Crikey,” Tillie muttered. “Sounds like a blasted genie.”

Dianna glanced sideways and for the first time, got a look at her new friend. She was tall and thin, her body well defined. She looked strong and aware, almost fierce. Her eyes seemed to be studying the place, taking everything in. She showed no fear. Instead, she seemed interested. Something was off. Tillie did not act like a victim as the others did. She was not cowed. Was she a cop? Or like Dianna, someone who would not permit themselves to be broken?

There was only one thing of which Dianna was certain. She had found a friend. A useful one.”