When a Duke Loves a Woman by Lorraine Heath
Series Sins For All Seasons
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date August 21, 2018
A NEW STANDALONE HISTORICAL ROMANCE IN THE SINS FOR ALL SEASONS SERIES.
Gillie Trewlove knows what a stranger’s kindness can mean, having been abandoned on a doorstep as a baby and raised by the woman who found her there. So, when suddenly faced with a soul in need at her door—or the alleyway by her tavern—Gillie doesn’t hesitate. But he’s no infant. He’s a grievously injured, distractingly handsome gentleman who doesn’t belong in Whitechapel, much less recuperating in Gillie’s bed . . .
Being left at the altar is humiliating; being rescued from thugs by a woman—albeit a brave and beautiful one—is the pièce de résistance to the Duke of Thornley’s extraordinarily bad day. After nursing him back from the brink, Gillie agrees to help him comb London’s darker corners for his wayward bride. But every moment together is edged with desire and has Thorne rethinking his choice of wife. Yet Gillie knows the aristocracy would never accept a duchess born in sin. Thorne, however, is determined to prove to her that no obstacle is insurmountable when a duke loves a woman.
“What are you doing?”
“As I intend to be here through the night, I decided to get comfortable.”
The slow unknotting and unwinding of his neck cloth was next. Then he began rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. She’d seen him naked. Why was it the baring of only his forearms was so much more provocative?
Loosening the top two buttons of his shirt, he returned to the bed, sat on its edge, and reached for the tray, picking up a cloth she hadn’t noticed.
“You’re not going to wash me.”
He arched a brow at her. “Do you really want to engage in a battle you can’t possibly win?”
“You shouldn’t assume just because I’m a woman that I would lose.”
“I’m not assuming that at all,” he said, his voice low and raspy, sending warm tingles along her spine even as she recognized the threat of a challenge when it was being delivered. He leaned in until she could almost see her reflection in his dark eyes. “But I am assuming, as much as you pretend otherwise, that there is a measure of feminine vanity in you and you will be in want of a clean face when I kiss you.”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of WHEN A DUKE LOVES A WOMAN by Lorraine Heath, we’re giving away three paperbacks copies of Beyond Scandal and Desire!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. Three winners will each receive a paperback copy of Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 8/31/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Lorraine Heath
LORRAINE HEATH always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals, press releases, articles, and computer code, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA’s prestigious RITA. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.
An agent will do anything to take down a terrorist.
Even if that means using a woman as his weapon.
To locate a terrorist, Ren McClement must find the criminal’s “dead” wife Natalie. His plan: use the innocent beauty as bait.
But when his duplicity leads them into grave danger, Ren reveals his secret to Natalie...and his passion for her.
Will furious Natalie be able to forgive his lie? And will they get to the mastermind before he unleashes mass destruction?
An ardent love story and an explosive finale to the riveting romantic suspense series that has kept the readers on the edge fearing for the protagonists' lives, while swooning over the ardent romance.
Natalie's survival instinct and strength to withstand the horrible abuse her ex-husband Freihoff, the searched after killer and domestic terrorist, done on her made me admire her while her destiny broke my heart. To think that she was so whole, so strong, still standing and taking care of herself after everything she went through is nothing sort of amazing. One of the things that I truly admire about Janie Crouch's writing is the way she builds her heroines to be tough, capable, smart, independent women, with an inner strength that carries them through the worst possible scenarios life can put them in.
Ren had a bit worried at the beginning, I admit, but I warmed up to him soon, when I witnessed his kindness, his good heart, his struggles with honesty while working undercover, and his aim to protect and guard Natalie with everything in him. The sweet and luscious love story developing between Ren and Natalie is the center of the story, capturing my heart, making me sigh because of the tangible, strong connection between them, the way they get each other, and oddly enough, the trust that was building between despite the circumstances.
The secrets Ren had to keep to accomplish his mission, to stop the terrorist attack yet keep Natalie safe while getting her co-operation gave the story intensity and put the whole situation on a frail edge that could crumble at any moment. The wild nature surrounding them while on hiding put their endurance on a test, yet it is the threat from the fellow humans that can end their lives before they have a chance to explore the passion and feelings flaming between them.
The smoothly flowing and well-written story pulls you in, brings all the feels into the surface, and makes you fall in love with the characters. I loved how the whole Omega team was present in the tale while the suspense was fierce, each doing what they are the best at. They pulled Natalie into their fold and brought me in tears with the support and kindness they showed her.
With the delightfully tender and gentle love story for the founder of the Omega sector, the agency bit farewell to the readers, with the final showdown to capture the terrorist that has plagued them for so long, tortured themselves and their loved ones and even killed their own.
Now I want to go and binge-read the whole series again...
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
She’s fighting for her life.
He’ll risk everything to keep her safe.
When Rachel Roberts is nearly abducted, she makes a panicked call to the one man she can trust.
Lawman Dane Jones will do anything to protect his best friend’s widow.
Plagued by the guilt he bears over the man’s tragic death and his undeclared love for Rachel, Dane must confront his past in order to stop a madman.
Their lives—and their futures—depend on it.
An emotional, action-packed ending to the exhilarating series with riveting suspense and passionate second chance romance.
The Riker County has come to be near and dear to the reader's hearts over the series. Not only has the author entertained us with gripping stories, but she has brought insights to her home state Alabama with endearing tidbits of life down south.
In The Negotiation, all the loose ends are tidied up, explanations and reasons are given, and the motives behind the mayhem the county is facing are revealed.
The story starts with suspenseful chaos when Rachel Roberts and one of her students falls victims of a kidnapping attempt. The events start to roll from there with an escalating speed until everything comes to an explosively intense ending. The present trouble is connected to the past murders, the ones that changed both Rachel and Dane Jones' lives forever.
The awkward tension between the former friends, Dane and Rachel, is palpable. There are things that have been left unresolved, conversations that should have been had years ago, and forgiveness that requires facing the truth and mercy towards oneself.
Mix into the past hurt the current threats and deadly attacks towards both of them, a little kid needing protection and shelter, and the deeper romantic attraction and feels festering inside of Dane and Rachel, and you have a poignant tale of action and love, with a generously sentimental and loving wrap up to the tales from Riker County, Alabama.
The bones and foundation of the story are solid and strong, the twists of the plot are well thought out. There are just a couple of mundane editorial mistakes that took my attention momentarily away from the intensity of the tale, but regardless, the book was thrilling and entertaining.
~ Four Spoons
She was this Montana Man’s greatest temptation . . .
Alina Cooke—little sister of his two best friends—is the last woman DEA agent Jay Bennett should be waking up next to on the day of her brother’s wedding. But their powerful attraction ignited a powder keg of desire, and their once simple friendship has just become impossibly complicated.
Alina’s always been steady, focused, and lived on the safe side of life. Jay is totally devoted to his dangerous job. She knows a future with him will be filled with worry that one day he won’t come home. She’s done it with her brothers. She’s not sure she can face that uncertainty with the man she loves. Yet being in his arms is a bad idea they keep repeating, again and again.
When Alina is run off the road, Jay fears his job has made her a target. But the threat in Alina’s life is closer than they think. As the enemy gets more ruthless, Alina proves she’s no easy target and Jay will do anything to bring them down. Because surviving and being together is the only thing that matters.
Montana Heat series is one of my favorite romantic suspense series I have read in the past year or so. Jennifer Ryan's writing is sharp, bright, and passionate. It brings out the intensity of the action and suspense and the enormity of the emotions whirling in the minds and hearts of the protagonists. Starting one of her books puts an automatic 'do not disturb' sign surrounding me because I will be immersed into the tale, and not coming out for anything until I get to the end of the exciting book.
Tempted by Love tells the story of Alina Cooke and Jay Bennett, a love story of a best friend's little sister tempting the seasoned agent.
Alina is a smart, professional, goal-oriented, accomplished woman. She grew up with two older brothers who work for the law enforcement and knows the dangers and threats it involves. To fall for a man who puts his life in danger daily is not the ideal situation in Alina's mind, yet the temptation is burning hot every time she looks into Jay's eyes, the feelings churning and growing in her heart taking over the rational thinking.
Jay Bennett is a sensible, wise man with a quick, brilliant tactical mind. He is a dedicated man of the law who has put the job first for most of his career. Now his priorities are challenged as he realizes his attraction to Alina is much more than a physical fling.
I loved the chemistry between Jay and Alina. There's unique honesty, straight talking, and true feels and connection happening between them. They have known each other for some time, yet when they finally have a chance to spend time with just the two of them, the romantic feelings start to bloom.
And when their lives are in danger, they have to face and accept some realities of life faster than they expected.
There is a twofold suspense building up in the tale. Alina's pharmacy is facing unexpected turbulence and is connected to the recent crimes in the neighborhood. The opioid crisis in the States is in the front and center of the tale, giving perspective and even information on the dangers and depth of the issue.
The second fold of the suspense is the action from Jay's point of view from True To You, book two in the series, where King and Cara Potter are battling against the druglord and their feelings towards each other. That deadly war ends up putting King and Jay's lives into dire straits, and Alina's feelings towards Jay are challenged.
The escalating tension of the threats and danger surrounding Jay and Alina, the growing feelings between them, and all the challenges they have to face regarding their families, the drama from the past, present, and the possibilities of the future together, it all is twined into an exhilarating, riveting, and entertaining tale.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
One moment will change their lives forever…
Competitive skier Mindy Wright is a superstar in the making until a spectacular downhill crash threatens not just her racing career but her life. During surgery, doctors discover she’s suffering from a severe form of leukemia, and a stem cell transplant is her only hope. But when her parents are tested, a frightening truth emerges. Mindy is not their daughter.
Who knows the answers?
The race to save Mindy’s life means unraveling years of lies. Was she accidentally switched at birth or is there something more sinister at play? The search for the truth will tear a family apart…and someone is going to deadly extremes to protect the family’s deepest secrets.
With vivid movement through time, Tear Me Apart examines the impact layer after layer of lies and betrayal has on two families, the secrets they guard, and the desperate fight to hide the darkness within.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to diagnose her silence and lack of movement. She’s riding with King Thor. Thorazine for the uninitiated. A strong antipsychotic agent overused in mental facilities to keep rowdy, disturbed, or otherwise uncooperative patients calm.
I like riding with the King even less than having Ratchet snip my nails, so I cut the stranger some slack. I rifle through her things. Her few clothes are wadded in the bottom of the laundry bag, and she wears the same baggy sweats and sweatshirt I currently model because my civvies are in the laundry. The rest of the bag has small toiletries, a hospital-issued toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb. She isn’t a voluntary.
Voluntary commitment, when the patient agrees to come in for a certain amount of time to get their head shrunk. Technically, I am a voluntary, which is why I have a few more privileges than most. I’ve also been here for a little over two months, and I am ready as fuck to get out of here. What they don’t like to tell you is when you go in voluntarily, you don’t get the choice to voluntarily leave. No, that’s up to them, to Dr. Freakazoid and Ratchet and the “treatment team.”
I quickly search the rest of the room and see she only has the clothes on her back and in her bag. Interesting. A non-voluntary could be a nice diversion. When she comes back from her ride, I might find she’s a mumbling, drooling idiot, or a tinfoil baby, or a suicide, or even a criminal. We’re all mixed in, the permanent residents and the temporary, the clinically insane and the criminally. The latter makes for fascinating conversation. The bandage on her arm tells me the rest of the story. Someone was a bad girl. I like her already.
I pick up her comb. Mine is missing several teeth. I need a brush—my hair is too thick for this tiny piece of plastic crap—but a fresh comb is better than what I have. I switch them out, then get to work on my hair.
Without moving, in a voice low and melodious and laden with the sharpness of a thousand razors, she says, “Touch my things again, and I’ll kill you.”
I continue with the comb. She turns, and when I look up, I am startled. The hatred in her eyes is so intense it’s like a demon from hell is suddenly perched on the bed. Her hair floats around her head like a dark storm cloud, and I can practically smell the thunder coming off her. I take a step back and toss the comb on her bed.
At this movement, she smiles and turns back toward the window.
FIS Alpine World Cup
January 4, 2018
“Now coming to the gates, last year’s junior Alpine Downhill champion, Mindy Wright.”
Mindy hears her name called, and her heart pounds in her throat. She knows what they are saying in the booth. They are discussing her leap into the majors. A year ago she was the Junior World Champion in three disciplines and the overall. She is special. Unique. Now, barely one year into her adult career, she is killing it. They are comparing her to her heroes, Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, speculating that with this final run, she can overtake their records and become the new youngest Alpine Downhill champion. They are talking about her parents, their sacrifices, and Mindy’s grueling training, the intense life she’s led, uncomplaining, with a smile on her face all the time. Sunny. They call her the girl with the sunny disposition.
This sunny girl is going to become the world’s fastest female downhill skier in less than two minutes, and then what will they call her?
Mindy can feel the energy in the air; the tension is palpable. She has a good chance, she knows it. Her practice run was at a record-breaking pace. She is going to blow this run away. The mountain is hers for the taking.
Everyone wants her to win this race and take the trophy. Trophy be damned, if she hits her points, she will automatically qualify for the US Olympic team. No pressure or anything.
She takes the little burst of adrenaline from that thought, lets it get her moving. The snow started falling intensely about ten minutes earlier. She’d heard the officials discussing whether to hold the skiers on the hill until it passed, but now their radios crackle with assurances that the blizzard is only at the very top and the course clears after the first turn.
Mindy readies herself, visualizes the course, her body bending and weaving as her mind takes her through every turn one last time.
A buzzer pulls her to the surface. There are no shouts and screams as Mindy slides into place in the starting house; the crowds are at the bottom of the mountain, less than ninety seconds away. It’s snowing hard up top, not gentle whispers of white drifting down, but tiny flakes wedged together in the sky creating a perpetual wall of white. The eerie silence, the loneliness of it, makes her heart pump harder. She often feels like this when she takes her place at the gate. Beat, alone. Beat, alone. Beat, alone. It feels good. It feels right.
She adjusts her goggles against the blinding white and slaps her skis against the icy snow, digging in her poles, making sure her ankles are seated and her boots tightly clipped. In response, the snow seems to come down even faster; the first section of the course is completely obscured from her vantage point above the gates. She has to have faith that they won’t send her down if it is too dangerous, that the reports saying it clears after the first turn hold true. Anyway, Mindy knows this course like the back of her hand. She has raced here many times. Considering the awful weather, it is a blessing that the championships are being held in Vail. She has the home field advantage.
Kill it, Mindy!
It is her mom’s voice, spectral and distant. It happens every race, and it’s strange because she knows her mom and dad are at the bottom of the mountain, waiting for her to slide to a stop in front of them, her skis shuddering on the snow, her fist in the air, pumping hard because she’s won.
Once, she’d told her mom how cool it was, standing up there alone, hearing her voice cheer her on. It had become the talisman, the good luck charm. Her mom smoothed down her hair with a quizzical smile and said, “I’m always with you, Mindy. No matter what.”
The Protector by HeleKayDimon
Series Games People Play Series
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date July 31, 2018
Salvation, Pennsylvania. The commune located in the small town was advertised as a modern Utopia: a place to live, share, and learn with other like-minded young people. Cate Pendleton’s sister was one of them. Now she’s dead—and Cate won’t rest until she finds out who killed her. Stonewalled at every turn, she approaches a DC Fixer for help and ends up with Damon Knox, a mysterious man with a secretive past. But Cate soon discovers that she not only needs Damon, she wants him, which isn’t good—for the attraction brewing between them will only lead to complications that can turn into danger . . .
Damon has tried to erase the hellish memories and the evil that happened in Salvation ever since he left a long time ago. Still, he can’t turn his back on Cate. As Damon works with Cate to uncover her sister’s killer, he finds himself drawn to her more and more. But how will she feel about him when she learns about his connection to the place?
Joining forces to uncover the truth, they must stay one step ahead of a cunning killer who’s bent on not being exposed.
I am not a hero, Cate.” He tried to pull away.
She held on, resting their joined hands against her chest. “Never said you were. You’re a flesh and blood man.”
And this close, she could smell the soap on his skin and see the darker streaks in his green eyes.
“Very much so.” His breath seemed to hiccup.
“So . . .”
When his voice trailed off she got a taste of what it felt like to have someone drop the end of important sentences like she often did. But she didn’t think he tried it or that he was playing games.
“Now you’re the one who should finish the sentence.” Her voice came out in a breathy whisper.
“We’re in a tense situation. Stress sometimes disguises itself as something else.”
The words crashed into her brain, wiping out every other thought. She pulled back a bit, but kept holding his hand.
“What are you talking about?”
His gaze traveled over her face now, landing on her mouth. “How much I want to kiss you.”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of THE PROTECTOR, we’re giving away one paperback copy of the book!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of the The Protector by HelenKay Dimon. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 8/14/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About HelenKay Dimon
Award-winning author HELEKAY DIMON spent twelve years in the most unromantic career ever – divorce lawyer. After dedicating all of that effort to helping people terminate relationships, she is thrilled to deal in happy endings and write romance novels for a living. Her books have been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine and E! Online. HelenKay loves hearing from readers, so stop by her website at http://www.helenkaydimon.com and say hello.
Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is right at home among cops, criminals, and tough-as-nails prosecutors. With her sharp wit and pointed words, she has a tendency to intimidate, and she likes it that way. She’s a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, but in her personal life, she’s a mess.
When a vicious murderer she once helped prosecute resurfaces and starts a killing spree to wipeout those who put him behind bars, one thing becomes clear: Brynn needs to run for her life.
With no help from the police, Brynn is forced to take matters into her own hands, turning to a private security firm for protection. But when Brynn defies advice and gets involved in the investigation, even the former Secret Service agent assigned to protect her may not be able to keep her safe. With every new clue she discovers, Brynn is pulled back into the vortex of a disturbing case from her past.
As the clock ticks down on a manhunt, Brynn’s desperate search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets and reignites a killer’s fury.
A gripping, breathtaking, increasing tension in a story that blew me away with the brilliant twists in the plot, where no one is safe, with memorable characters who make an impression, as they are fighting for truth, justice, happiness, and love.
Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is a woman easy to admire. She is smart, capable, and bright. She knows what she wants and she is not afraid to go after it. She has guts and she is brave, but she does recognize that she needs help, that she needs protection, and that the team handling it knows more about their expertise than she does. She is no doormat and giving up control is not easy for her, but sometimes it is necessary.
I loved the chemistry between Eric and Brynn. Eric is protective, professional, smart, commanding, even intimidating, and more than capable to handle the demanding job. I loved the mutual respect and admiration Eric and Brynn have for each other, they are equal in the other’s eyes, and so well suited for each other.
The story has three major components that are cleverly twined together, each component bringing its own intensity to the tale. There is the case Brynn is defending in the courtroom where a young man’s life is on line. There is the mad killer on the lose who escaped from the prison and is hunting for his own kind of justice, the burning need to find the killer, and to learn the truth of what happened during his trial. And then there is the love story developing between Eric and Brynn, a romance that is ardent, tender, and adorable at the same time, bringing in the swoon factor on a high level, with the hero who lives to protect, and with the heroine who is not afraid to ask what she wants.
Laura Griffin writes stories that capture my mind and heart while I’m completely immersed in the destinies of the characters. The images are vivid and sharp, the cases twisted and complicated, the emotions deep and wide, and the fear, tension, and suspense as palpable as the tangible passion sizzling between the protagonists. Desperate Girls was an absolutely riveting story, and I can’t wait to read more about the intriguing and powerful men and women working at the Wolf Security.
~ Five Spoons
A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole
Series Reluctant Royals
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date July 31, 2018
Award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series continues with a woman on a quest to be the heroine of her own story and the duke in shining armor she rescues along the way…
New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss…when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr.
Tavish McKenzie doesn’t need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory…even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice—and his attraction to her—but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project.
Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?
What was he doing? With his apprentice? In the courtyard?
She was right to pull away from him.
“I’m sorry,” he said, yanking his hand back.
“You should be,” she said. “I have very sensitive skin.” Then she pressed up on her toes and kissed him.
The kiss was not what he’d imagined. Because, of course, he’d imagined kissing her, and in his mind she had been aggressive and take charge, pulling him down and wrapping her legs around him. But this kiss was hesitant, though she’d initiated it, soft and just a whisper of sensitive skin rubbing over sensitive skin, as if she was prepared to pull away and run off at any second.
Can’t be having that, can we?
Tav’s arms slipped around her waist and pulled her up flush against him.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of A DUKE BY DEFAULT by Alyssa Cole, we’re giving away three paperback copies of A PRINCESS IN THEORY!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. Three winners will each receive a paperback copy of A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 8/10/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Alyssa Cole
ALYSSA COLE is a science editor, pop culture nerd, and romance junkie who lives in the Caribbean and occasionally returns to her fast-paced NYC life. In addition to writing, she founded and hosted the Jefferson Market Library Romance Book Club and taught Romance Writing for Beginners. She speaks on topics such as writing erotic romance, writing multicultural romance, and self-editing. She has contributed romance-related articles to publications including RT Book Reviews, Heroes and Heartbreakers, Romance at Random, and The Toast. She has also started a bi-monthly column in the Romance Writer’s Report, Romancing the Globe, in which she chats with romance writers from around the world. When she’s not busy writing, traveling, and learning French, she can be found watching anime with her husband or tending to her herd of animals.
Love takes a special kind of courage . . .
Captain Sterling Garlington has faced down enemy fire without losing his nerve. But after a life-altering injury derails his military career, the former US marine is suddenly taking his marching orders from a sexy, edgy beauty at the Elk Heights Ranch. Even more amazing, equine therapist Harper Matthews makes him want to not only embrace life again—but give in to the attraction simmering between them.
Her love of horses is Harper’s magic bullet—her way of healing the painful past. And in the wounded soldier she recognizes a kindred spirit. Part of her wants to bolt, yet at the same time Sterling is drawing her closer. Maybe it’s his courage. Or his mega-watt smile. Or both. Either way, she’ll make a cowboy out of the wary war hero yet. It’s like getting back on a horse. They’ll just have to learn to trust each other—and be willing to open their hearts . . .
A sweet and tender love story, the third installment in a series that has won my heart over with the charming, complex characters and their lives and destinies that are relatable while intricate, tangled, and even messy at times.
Captain Sterling Garlington, the wounded Marine, had to deliver some serious goods to the table on The Cowgirl Meets Her Match, because of his actions in the previous books of the series. Was I nervous that he could not live up to the challenge? Not really, but the thought was there, regardless. Sterling turns out to be a good, solid man, with a strong need to protect and to be in control. He demonstrates a surprising amount of sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and emotional insights. He knows how to listen to understand, not just to respond. He is not perfect, he has his flaws, weaknesses, and challenges, yet he is honest, straightforward, and I claim trustworthy as well, even though that is challenged in the story. I liked him, I cared for him, and I rooted for him, even when he messed up, even when he hit the rock bottom, and especially as he stood by the equine therapist Harper Matthews and helped her wounds to heal.
Harper and Sterling have a lot in common, even though they seem to be the opposite at the first glance. Harper carries her wounds inside, her spirit was broken, her will to survive damaged for a moment. But she has champion through the horrors of her past, and she is stronger because of them, even if more careful now with whom she trusts, and whom she lets into her heart.
The attraction between Harper and Sterling is tangible, there is no doubt in my mind that they desire each other and long to be in the other's presence. The conclusion came faster and went further than I expected, I wish there would have been shown more of the hard work Harper and Sterling had to put into the relationship.
The conflict in the story came from an unexpected source. I didn't expect the story to take that route while it seemed that some things from Harper's past were left hanging. I don't say that was a bad turn, it is very topical right now in the States, and it does show the intensity of the dangers of opioid addiction, and how easy it is to get hooked on the medication, and how severe the detox can be.
A delightfully pleasing, luscious, and precious love story, truthful and lifelike, yet ardent and adorable. A story that brought me to tears, to smile, to laugh, and sigh with the happy ending. A great addition to the compelling series.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
To Love a Duchess by Karen Ranney
Series All For Love Series
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date July 30, 2018
From New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Ranney comes the first book in a royally romantic and deeply emotional new series about taking risks and allowing the power to love satisfy the questions of the heart . . .
Undercover as a majordomo, spy Adam Drummond has infiltrated Marsley House with one purpose only—to plunder its mysteries and gather proof that the late Duke of Marsley was an unforgivable traitor to his country. At the same time, Adam is drawn to a more beguiling puzzle: the young and still-grieving duchess—a beauty with impenetrable secrets of her own. For Drummond, uncovering them without exposing his masquerade will require the most challenging and tender moves of his career.
That a servant can arouse such passion in her is too shocking for Suzanne Whitcomb, Duchess of Marsley, to consider. Yet nothing quickens her pulse like Drummond’s touch. It’s been two years since the duke lost his life in a tragic accident—and even longer since she’s been treated like a woman. But when Drummond’s real mission is revealed, and the truth behind Suzanne’s grief comes to light, every secret conspired to tear them apart is nothing compared to the love that can hold them together.
He felt the duke’s stare on him the minute he walked into the room. Adam Drummond closed the double doors behind him quietly so as not to alert the men at the front door. Tonight Thomas was training one of the young lads new to the house. If they were alerted to his presence in the library they would investigate. He had a story prepared for that eventuality. He couldn’t sleep, which wasn’t far from the truth. Nightmares often kept him from resting more than a few hours at a time. A good thing he had years of practice getting by with little sleep. He’d left his suite attired only in a collarless white shirt and black trousers. Another fact for which he’d have to find an explanation. As the majordomo of Marsley House he was expected to wear the full uniform of his position at all times, even in the middle of the night. Perhaps not donning the white waistcoat, cravat, and coat was an act of rebellion. Strange, since he’d never been a rebel before. It was this place, this house, this assignment that was affecting him. For the first time in seven years he hadn’t borrowed a name or a history carefully concocted by the War Office. He’d taken the position as himself, Adam Drummond, Scot and former soldier with Her Majesty’s army. The staff knew his real name. Some even knew parts of his true history. The housekeeper called him Adam, knew he was a widower, was even aware of his birthdate. He felt exposed, an uncomfortable position for a man who’d worked in the shadows for years. He lit one of the lamps hanging from a chain fixed to the ceiling. The oil was perfumed, the scent reminiscent of jasmine. The world of the Whitcombs was unique, separated from the proletariat by two things: the peerage and wealth. The pale yellow light revealed only the area near the desk. The rest of the huge room was in shadow.
The library was ostentatious, a word he’d heard one of the maids try to pronounce. “And what does it mean, I’m asking you?” She’d been talking to one of the cook’s helpers, but he’d interjected. “It means fancy.” She’d made a face before saying, “Well, why couldn’t they just say fancy, then?”
Because everything about Marsley House was ostentatious. This library certainly qualified. The room had
three floors connected by a circular black iron staircase. The third floor was slightly larger than the second,
making it possible for a dozen lamps to hang from chains affixed to each level at different heights.
If he’d lit them all it would have been bright as day in here, illuminating thousands of books.
He didn’t think the Whitcomb family had read every one of the volumes. Some of them looked as
if they were new, the dark green leather and gold spines no doubt as shiny as when they’d arrived
from the booksellers. Others were so well worn that he couldn’t tell what the titles were until he pulled
them from the shelves and opened them. There were a great many books on military history and he suspected that was the late duke’s doing. He turned to look at the portrait over the mantel. George Whitcomb, Tenth Duke of Marsley, was wearing his full military uniform, the scarlet jacket so bright a shade that Adam’s eyes almost watered. The duke’s medals gleamed as if the sun had come out from behind the artist’s window to shine directly on such an exalted personage. He wore a sword tied at his waist and his head was turned slightly to the right, his gaze one that Adam remembered. Contempt shone in his eyes, as if everything the duke witnessed was beneath him, be it people, circumstances, or the scenery of India. Adam was surprised that the man had allowed himself to be painted with graying hair. Even his mutton chop whiskers were gray and brown. In India, Whitcomb had three native servants whose sole duties were to ensure the duke’s sartorial perfection at all times. He was clipped and coiffed and brushed and shined so that he could parade before his men as the ultimate authority of British might.
His eyes burned out from the portrait, so dark brown that they appeared almost black, narrowed
and penetrating. “Damn fine soldiers, every single one of them. All mongrels, of course, but fighting men.”
At least the voice—surprisingly higher in pitch than Adam had expected—was silent now. He didn’t
have to hear himself being called a mongrel again. Whitcomb had been talking about the British regiments
assigned to guard the East India Company settlements. He could well imagine the man’s comments about native soldiers. What a damned shame Whitcomb had been killed in a carriage accident. He deserved a firing squad at the very least. He wished the duke to Hell as he had ever since learning of the man’s death. The approaching storm with its growling thunder seemed to approve of the sentiment. As if to further remind him of India, his shoulder began to throb. Every time it rained the scar announced its presence, the bullet wound just one more memory to be expunged. It was this house. It brought to mind everything he’d tried to forget for years. Adam turned away from the portrait, his attention on the massive, heavily tooled mahogany desk. This, too, was larger than it needed to be, raised on a dais, more a throne than a place a man might work. A perfect reflection of the Duke of Marsley’s arrogance. The maids assigned this room had left the curtains open. If he had been a proper majordomo he would no doubt chastise them for their oversight. But because he’d been a leader of men, not of maids, he decided not to mention it.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of TO LOVE A DUCHESS by Karen Ranney, we’re giving away two paperback copies of THE TEXAN DUKE!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. Two winners will each receive a paperback copy of the The Texan Duke by Karen Ranney. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 8/11/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Karen Ranney
KAREN RANNEY began writing when she was five. Her first published work was The Maple Leaf, read over the school intercom when she was in the first grade. In addition to wanting to be a violinist (her parents had a special violin crafted for her when she was seven), she wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher, and most of all, a writer. Though the violin was discarded early, she still admits to a fascination with the law, and she volunteers as a teacher whenever needed. Writing, however, has remained an overwhelming love of her life.
NYT bestselling author, M. J. Rose crafts a dazzling Jazz Age jewel--a novel of ambition, betrayal, and passion with TIFFANY BLUES. TIFFANY BLUES is now available!
New York, 1924. Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.
But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.
As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.
Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.
March 13, 1957
Laurelton Hall, Laurel Hollow
Oyster Bay, New York
I lost my heart long before this fire darkened its edges. I was twenty-four years old that once-upon-a-time summer when I fell in love. A love that opened a door into a new world. A profusion of greens, shades of purples, spectrums of yellows, oranges, reds, and blues—oh, so many variations of blues.
I never dreamed I’d come back to Laurelton Hall, but I always trusted it would be there if I ever could visit. Now that will be impossible. For all that is left of that arcadia is this smoldering, stinking mess.
Somewhere in this rubble of charred trees, smashed tiles, and broken glass is my bracelet with its heart-shaped diamond and benitoite charm. Did my heart burn along with the magical house, the primeval forest, the lush bushes, and the glorious flowers? I’m not sure. Platinum is a hard metal. Diamonds are harder still. Or did just the engraving melt? And what of the man whose hand had grabbed at the bracelet? His muscle and flesh would have rotted by now. But what of the bones? Do bones burn? Back when it all happened, no report about a missing artist was ever made.
I take a few tentative steps closer to the rubble of the house. Bits of glass glint in the sun. A shard of ruby flashes, another of deep amethyst. I bend and pick up a fragment the size of my hand and wipe the soot off its surface. With a start, I recognize this pattern.
Patterns, Mr. Tiffany once said, be they found in events, in nature, even in the stars in the firmament, are proof of history repeating itself. If we see randomness, it is only because we don’t yet recognize the pattern.
So it shouldn’t surprise me that of all the possible patterns, this is the one I’ve found. This remnant of the stained-glass clematis windows from Oliver’s room. I remember how the light filtered through those windows, radiating color like the gems Mr. Tiffany used in his jewelry. How we stood int hat living light and kissed, and the world opened up for me like an oyster, offering one perfect, luminous pearl. How that kiss became one more, then a hundred more. How we discovered each other’s tastes and scents. How we shared that alchemical reaction when our passions ignited, combusted, and exploded, changing both of us forever.
Clutching the precious memory, I continue walking through the hulking mass of wreckage, treading carefully on the broken treasures. I listen for the familiar sounds—birds chirping, water splashing in the many fountains and the endless rushing of the man-made waterfall that I always went out of my way to avoid.
But everything here is silent. Not even the birds have returned yet.
MIXED UP LOVE
By Natasha Madison
Release Day: August 7th
When my business partner asked me to do him a favor, I had no idea he was sending me on a blind date his mother arranged for him. I walked in the bar, saw the woman drinking her third martini, and knew I was in for an eventful night.
After the unexpected second date, she didn't know my real name or who I really was. By that time, the lie was too far gone, and I wanted her too much to admit the truth.
It's not every day you find out your ex-boyfriend is engaged.
I shouldn't have agreed to the blind date. My mother insisted, and I wasn’t in any position to turn down a night out.
I will admit, I definitely shouldn't have ordered that fourth martini before said blind date even arrived.
The man turned out to be swoon worthy, handsome, condescending—a perfect distraction. Then I found out he was a liar.
I've never been in over my head to this degree.
Then again, I've never been in love.
I pull up to the front door, and the valet meets me at my door once I stop. “Good evening, sir,” he says once I open my door.
“Yeah, I won’t be here long,” I tell him as I get out, not bothering to take off my sunglasses when I hand him the keys.
“No worries, sir. It will be here when you are ready,” he says, handing me the ticket for later. I put it in the inside pocket of my suit jacket. I walk inside to the hostess table, where a woman who looks like she is eighteen stands smiling.
“How may I help you?” she asks sweetly. I stop and look around to see if I might recognize the woman I’m here to meet, even though I’ve never met her. I spot a couple of women at the bar, but I instinctively know they aren’t her. I also check for exits. It’s not my fault; it’s just instilled in me.
Looking to the left, I don’t see anyone sitting alone, but then I look to the right, and I see her. I don’t know why I know it’s her, but I just do. With curly long blond hair, she downs a martini, then picks up another one and brings it to her mouth. I spot a waiter walking with two more martinis on his tray, and I’m not surprised when I see him approaching her table. “Great,” I say under my breath. “I found her,” I tell the hostess and start walking toward the table. She spots me and watches my every move. Luckily, the glasses I’m wearing stop her from seeing my eyes.
The closer I get to her, the more my pulse speeds up. What the fuck? This is weird. I look around maybe to see if something else is piquing my interest or maybe I spotted something to elevate my pulse, but no, it’s her. The fact that a gorgeous woman is sitting by herself and drinking like a fish is enough to get any man’s adrenaline pumping. Isn’t it?
“Are you Laney?” I ask, taking off my glasses, and my gray eyes finally meet her blue ones. She opens her mouth, expecting, I think, something to come out, but nothing does. I continue looking around to see if anyone is watching her, and it’s no surprise that I spot two guys at the bar sizing her up.
“Here are two more.” The waiter smiles at her, putting two more glasses down on the table and taking the two now empty ones away. She laughs nervously, and I want to reach out and trip him when he walks away.
“It isn’t what it looks like.” Her soft voice breaks me out of my plan, and I turn back to her as she smiles at me, causing my heartbeat to skyrocket. The collar of my shirt suddenly feels tight, but it’s not even buttoned.
“Really? I find it hard to believe,” I finally say. Looking around again, I spot the same two guys in suits sitting at the bar watching her. This time, one of them spots me and looks back down at his drink. “It looks like you’re sitting here waiting for something bad to happen.” I pull out the chair and sit in front of her.
“Um.” She still doesn’t say anything.
When her nose isn't buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she's in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It's a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn't listen to her...
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She’s a warrior at heart.
Briar’s life was changed forever by a childhood marked by loss and trauma. When she was an orphan the government recruited her into a secret program and turned her into a contract killer. No matter how hard she tries to leave that life behind her, it’s still a part of who she is. She loves and trusts her husband deeply, but old habits die hard. Now everything is about to change for them. When things take a life-threatening turn, Briar is forced to confront her most deeply buried insecurities and find the courage to lay herself bare to the man who has promised to stand by her always.
But this is one battle she can’t win alone.
Matt loves his independent, badass wife more than anything, but she’s also the most stubborn and frustrating woman he’s ever known. Haunted by a loss that shook him to his core, he’s even more determined to protect Briar now that their lives are about to be altered forever. He’ll do anything for her, but if they’re going to have a shot at a happily ever after as a family, his fierce Valkyrie must first learn to lower her guard and let him in completely.
Disavowed by Kaylea Cross blew me away with its intensity, and when I saw there was a chance to visit with Matt and Briar again at the time when their lives are changing forever, I might have squealed a bit. And Ms. Cross does manage put a wallop of emotions into this novella, get your tissues ready, you might just need them.
Briar had been, from a very young age, trained to be a killer, to avoid emotions, and focus on the task. Her struggles to hold her independence and to stay strong, to convince herself that she can be a good mom despite the way she was brought up, to reassure herself that she can take care and nurture her child is heart-wrenching.
Matt loves Briar more than anything and is willing to make any sacrifices for her happiness and safety. I love how he reacted when he saw the struggle Briar was facing, how he stood up, and what lengths he was willing to go to be there for her and for his little family.
The suspense in the story comes from the intense and danger-filled jobs both Briar and Matt have. The drama is poignant, yet compassionate and even informative. The warm, loving, tangible adoration between Matt and Briar is uplifting, the brotherhood and closeness between the members of the Hostage Rescue team are as palpable as it always has been.
A touching and moving tale, an emotional and intense continues to the devoted and passionate love story growing, developing, and maturing between Matt and Briar.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
A Masters and Mercenaries Novella
By Lexi Blake
July 31, 2018
Their first chance at love ended in heartbreak
Wade Rycroft fell in love with Geneva Harris when she was the smartest girl in his class. The rodeo star and the shy academic made for an odd pair, but their chemistry was undeniable. They made plans to get married after high school. Those plans changed when Genny broke his heart. Joining the Army gave him a chance to leave that life behind. News that Genny married the town’s golden boy let Wade know that he could never go home again.
A chance encounter rekindles an old flame
Fifteen years later, he’s found his place in the world and tried to forget the woman who left him standing in the rain. After leaving the Army he forged a new life as a bodyguard at McKay-Taggart, but he still feels incomplete. When his brother’s wedding brings him home to Broken Bend, Texas, he walks into a storm of scandal. Genny’s marriage has dissolved, the town has turned against her, and someone is making threats. Seeing her again reawakens feelings he thought were long gone, and he worries that staying close enough to help her could be too much to bear.
Their reunion just might kill them both
After an attempt is made on Genny’s life, Wade can’t refuse to help her. Watching over her day and night, it’s clear that having her back in his life could be the thing to finally make him whole. When the danger follows them back to Dallas, their second chance at love could be over before it even begins.
“Don’t. Don’t tell me how to feel. I know you’ve worked through this, but I don’t know how to.”
“It helps to admit that we were all children back then.”
“My mother wasn’t.” He needed to talk about this with her.
“No, but she wasn’t the same after your dad died. She was lost and I’ve forgiven her,” she replied quietly. “You can’t spend your life being angry.”
“You’re angry with me.”
For a moment he thought she would ignore him. Then she turned to him, her eyes shining in the moonlight. “Maybe. It’s hard to figure out how I feel about you. For a long time, I dreamed about you at night. You were the only man I ever loved. Brock killed that. I think he might have killed the part of me that can love someone other than my son. I didn’t feel a lot when my father passed. But then he was the one who told me to suck it up. I went to him after Brock hit me the first time. He told me to not make my husband mad.”
“Genny, he should have killed him. I would have. God, I should have.” That sorrow that had been building inside him threatened to spill over. Anger was there, but it was overshadowed by the terrible pain he felt at the thought of her being alone and afraid.
“It’s funny,” she said, studying him in the silvery light. “I went over pretty much every possible scenario I could, and this wasn’t the way I thought you would handle it. It’s why it took forever for me to talk to you. I thought you would either not care at all or that you would be so angry you went after everyone. I hesitated because I thought I might unleash a beast.”
He could give her this. Since the moment he’d learned the truth, he’d genuinely forced himself to think about how he reacted. It would be selfish to act out in anger when she needed him to be calm, to think about what was best for her. The drive from Broken Bend to Dallas with Ash had made that clear to him. They needed someone who would thoughtfully protect them, not a raging animal who fed his own needs. “You’ve had enough anger in your life. It’s there. God, it’s there, but I swear I won’t act on it because I won’t do anything that could hurt you. I’ll try to handle him in every legal way I can and if I have to take him out, I’ll do it in a way that can never come back on any of us. You don’t need my rage. You do need me though.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Because you think I’ll let you down again.” It wasn’t a question.
“Because I don’t want to love anyone again,” she admitted.
Coming to other retailers October 29, 2018
FREE Kindle app https://amzn.to/2AmPtKM to read now on Kindle
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.
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The Duke Buys a Bride by Sophie Jordan
Series The Rogue Files Series
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date July 24, 2018
A bride wasn’t in his plans . . .
The last thing Marcus, the Duke of Autenberry, expects to see after sleeping off a night’s drunken shenanigans is a woman being auctioned in the village square. Before he can think about the ramifications, he buys her, thinking he’s winning the girl her freedom. Instead, he discovers he’s bought a wife.
A duke wasn’t in hers . . .
Alyse Bell is almost rid of the shackles that bound her in a name-only marriage, but the day her friend promised to purchase her in a wife auction, he vanishes, leaving her to face a mob of unsavory bachelors intent on owning her body and soul. But the appearance of a wicked, wealthy stranger changes her path forever.
The road to ruin . . .
Marcus doesn’t know what to do with the impertinent chit who clearly isn’t duchess material! Insisting their marriage isn’t legitimate, they leave for his estate in Scotland, hoping to devise a plan to get rid of each other. However, on a journey fraught with misadventure, their attraction grows and Marcus realizes he’ll do anything to keep this fiery woman for his own.
Marcus looked down at the man, unable to help himself from asking, “Is this normal practice?”
The father looked up at him. His nose wrinkled, confirming Marcus did, indeed, reek of a dung heap. Even so, the cut of his clothing and the fine horse he sat upon had the man doffing his hat. “A wife auction, ye mean?”
“I never heard of such a thing.”
“Oh, aye. Not verra commonplace but tis a way for a ’usband tae rid ’imself a wife. I seen it a time before many years ago. An older woman then.” He nodded at the slight figure on the platform. “No’ so young as this. She’ll fetch a fine price.” The man glanced at the girl wistfully. Marcus turned his attention back to the hapless girl. The bidding had reached nine pounds now. An old man stood beside the auctioneer. Her husband? Why would he wish to rid himself of a young wife?
The auctioneer’s voice boomed over the crowd, cajoling the men to dig deeper into their pockets. The onlookers chimed in, hooting and shouting encouragement as well.
“Gentlemen! Wot ye thinking to let this one slip from yer grasp?” He stood behind her and gripped her by the shoulders, forcing her to step forward as though they all needed a better view of her.
Something stirred in Marcus’s stomach at the man’s thick hands on the girl. Despite all his extolling of her hardiness, she was thin. She could easily break beneath someone bigger and ruthlessly inclined. A description that fit a fair number of men in this crowd.
The auctioneer snapped back her cloak, parting it to reveal her body, still mostly hidden within a sack-like wool gown. She snatched at the edges of her cloak and covered herself again, glaring at the auctioneer.
He felt himself smile. There was fire in her. His smile slipped. How long would it last after this day’s unpleasant business? After she was crushed beneath the boot of a man who bought her as though she were a broodmare? How long until the fire was snuffed out completely?
“ ’Tis a fine body! She’ll give ye countless sons tae work in yer trade. At two and twenty she ’as many a year left tae breed. No green girl ’ere, nay! She can work yer farm, run a ’ouse and care fer bairns.” He forced her to turn in a circle. She stumbled slightly as though her shoes were too big.
“But can she work a cock?” an anonymous voice cried out.
The crowd erupted into laughter. The auctioneer stomped his boot on the platform. “Wot scoundrel said that?”
A bent-backed old man in a vicar’s collar rebuked the crowd. “Mind yer tongues! I’ll not stand fer it!”
Marcus shook his head. But the vicar would stand for such an exhibition as this? As long as there were no obscenities?
The girl’s face was fiery red as she faced front again.
Marcus stared at that face, thinking of his sisters, Clara and Enid. Safe back in Town. Pampered and genteel, shopping and taking tea in the parlor and rides in the park. He hoped that would always be so. That this side of life would never touch them as it touched this wretched creature.
The bidding stalled and the auctioneer looked displeased. “Come, men! Ye would let such a fine lass go fer so paltry a sum as thirteen pounds!”
“Why didna ye plow ’er, Beard?” a man heckled. “Ye weren’t man enough fer the task or the lass be squeamish?”
The old man turned red-faced.
The auctioneer shouted, “Enough of that!”
“Bite yer tongue, MacDunn, or I’ll ’ave a word wi’ yer mam!” A heavy matron called out.
MacDunn wasn’t to be fazed. He hollered back. “Untried as she is, we’ve a right tae ken if the lass can perform ’er duties!”
“Aye, thirteen pounds should get us a sampling, Hines!”
Hoots of approval followed this. The girl actually looked alarmed, her gaze flitting over the surging crowd as though Hines might agree to such a thing.
Frustration flashed across the auctioneer’s face. He was losing control over the horde and he knew it.
In an impulsive move, he grabbed her by the chin and forced her face higher. “She be fair enough.” He peeled back her lips. “And a fine set of teeth. A proper sign of ’ealth!”
Marcus’s stomach squeezed anew and he had the urge to vault onto that platform and give the man a good thrashing. He never could stomach the sight of a woman being manhandled. No matter her rank. Farm girl or lady. He supposed his stepmother had something to do with that. She’d raised him to be a gentleman—more than his father ever had. His father always accused him of being weak. Too soft.
He pushed thoughts of Graciela and his father aside. His stepmother was part of the reason he was out here in this godforsaken little backwater. He would not think of her now.
The girl’s head sprang forward at Hines. The auctioneer lurched away suddenly, yanking his hands from her as though she were afire. “Ouch! The little ’ellion bit me!”
The crowd laughed in approval.
“Och! There be some spirit in ’er!”
Marcus grinned. Served him right.
The auctioneer glared down at her crossly, nursing his wounded hand.
A man suddenly cried out, “Take off ’er dress!”
The auctioneer flipped her cloak back off her shoulders, revealing her in her ill-fitting brown wool gown.
Despite his disgust at the sordid scene, Marcus couldn’t look away. He should turn and leave. One voice commanded that, but another part of himself was rooted in place, taking it all in . . . taking in her, this proud girl with fire in her eyes.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of THE DUKE BUYS A BRIDE by Sophie Jordan, we’re giving away a paperback set of the Rogue Files series by Sohpie Jordan and a $25 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a one paperback set of the Rogue Files series by Sophie Jordan and a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 8/6/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Sophie Jordan
SOPHIE JORDAN grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she’s the New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of more than twenty novels. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with anything that has a happily ever after. You can visit her online at http://www.sophiejordan.net.