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Have Yourself A Merry Little Scandal!

The Big Day has Arrived … and Our Gorgeous Christmas Box Set is Now Available!

What’s a London Regency Season without a scandal?

Readers of my Scandalous Miss Brightwells series will know there are plenty of those…and even more in my novella The Courtship Caper which is amongst the twelve gorgeous, heartwarming historical romances in our newly released set.

Here’s a bit about it…

Have Yourself a Merry Little… Scandal!

From the snowbound Scottish Highlands to the glittering ballrooms of London, our fearless heroines enter the Christmas season in pursuit of their heart’s desire.

But, the course of true love never did run smooth… especially when SCANDAL is afoot.
Tales of romantic adventure, sizzling passion, and heartwarming holiday romance.Unwrap the pleasure…

You can read these twelve gorgeous Christmas novellas for FREE in Kindle Unlimited, or get them here:

http://viewbook.at/MerryLittleScandal

And here is a taster of each story…

Rogue for Hire – by Sasha Cottman
When heiress Alice North engages the scandal managing services of Lord Harry Steele, she gets a first-hand lesson in steamy, wicked behaviour.

The Highlander’s Christmas Lassie – by Anna Campbell
A chance to mend two shattered lives. After years of searching, the Laird of Dun Carron finds his lost beloved and their son, but the reunion doesn’t go as expected.

The Christmas Rose – by Emma V. Leech
Darkly handsome Ludo—universally known as Lascivious Lord Courtney – is the wickedest rake in Christendom, and unwitting wallflower Felicity Bunting just accidentally trapped him into marriage.

The Lady’s Guide to Scandal – by Emmanuelle de Maupassant
With her name already mired in scandal, posing as the fiancée of reckless explorer Ethan Burnell can only spell trouble–or make Cornelia Mortmain so notorious she’ll become irresistible. The game is on!

The Courtship Caper – by Beverley Oakley
When the scandalous Brightwell sisters wave their matchmaking wands, Christmas becomes a comedy of errors for two hapless couples who find themselves paired with their imperfect match.

A Scandalous Secret – by Laura Trentham
A secret passion is revealed when a spymaster’s daughter and the man pledged to protect her are forced to shelter for the night in a cottage—with only one bed.

Fate Gave Me a Duke – by Amanda Mariel
Christmas brings unforeseen complications for the Duke of Cleburne and Lady Juliet Gale. Will they give into fate, or fight against it?

Duncan’s Christmas – by Ellie St. Clair
Though the woman he captures one freezing winter night is not the woman he intended to nab, she just may be the one intended for him walked out on, truly is.

Bedeviled: A Russian Pursuit – by Elsa Holland
Prince Ilya Petroski is honor-bound to play the rake and dominate London’s gossip columns; cruel are the fates to introduce him to the love of his life, the gentle-hearted Seraphina Seymour.

At the Mistletoe Masquerade – by Dayna Quince
Lady Cassandra’s plans go amiss when a kiss gone too far turns into the scandal of the season.

The Christmas Courtesan – by Victoria Vale
Moonlighting as a Gentleman Courtesan seems like the best way to earn a dowry for his sister—until a scandal during a Christmas house party leads Roger Thornton toward a fiery and unexpected love.

A Scandal Before Christmas – by April Moran
He’s determined to win her back; she’s determined to resist. Will the night before Christmas bring scandal or the renewed promise of a wedding?

Her Virgin Duke – by Nicola Davidson
A lost wager sparks an unlikely alliance and a wicked affair between England’s stuffiest duke and London’s Mistress of Sin.

 

 

 

 

Extract from The Countess and the Cavalier

The countess and the cavalierI hope everyone is doing OK wherever they are in the world.

Here in Victoria, Australia, we’re one week into another six weeks of lockdown and, as of Thursday, masks are mandated. ($200 on-the-spot fines if you’re not wearing a mask outside your house.)

Of course, it’s wearisome and worrying but there’s general acceptance that this is the only way to eradicate this virus so we can get back to business – without more deaths and without our hospitals being overwhelmed. And, of course, it’s not just deaths but the ongoing complications for those who do contract it. But that’s a whole, horrible topic on its own, that I could talk about with some authority (though it’s someone close to me, not me who fell ill).

Rather, this is my grand hurrah for the release on July 25th of The Countess and the Cavalier.

So, if you are interested in a bit of a teaser, here is the blurb, followed by an extract.

Happy Reading!

Blurb:

The Countess and the Cavalier

Forced to wed against her will at seventeen, beautiful Elizabeth Drummond’s loyalties are tested eight years later when her husband is imprisoned by the Royalist lover she was forced to surrender through duty.

Drummond Castle, home of staunch Puritan Silas Drummond and his beautiful wife Elizabeth, has been besieged by Royalist forces.

When the Commander of the hated King’s Men agrees to spare Silas’s life in return for a night with Elizabeth, she agrees.

Elizabeth may have been forced by her father to wed the cold-hearted Puritan, but an honourable wife will do whatever is within her power to save her husband.

But second-in-command Charles Trethveyan has other ideas. Eight years before, he and Elizabeth had been deeply in love. He’s not forgotten Elizabeth’s betrayal in relinquishing him to marry Silas.

When Elizabeth discovers that her former Cavalier lover has taken the place of his superior, and that she will spend the night with the man she’s never stopped loving, she realises she is treading a delicate tightrope.

Is Charles motivated by love or revenge? How much does Silas know and guess?

Whichever way she responds to Charles, her actions will have devastating consequences.

The Countess and the Cavalier is the fourth book in the Hearts in Hiding series but can be read on its own.

♥♥♥ WarningThis steamy, passionate romance about revenge and forgiveness will have you on the edge of your seat and reaching for the tissue box. ♥♥♥

Read for Free in KU or Buy here.

 

 

Drummond Castle has just been overrun by the ‘enemy’ and my heroine makes a bargain with the Commander of the King’s Men:

“You promise to guarantee my husband’s life?” she whispered. “In writing?”
Reynolds nodded, his pen still poised above the paper. “In writing. With all my men as witnesses. Tomorrow your husband will walk out of Drummond Castle, with this paper guaranteeing his free passage, if you agree to my proposition. And so will you, depending on your willingness, Lady Drummond.”
Elizabeth was conscious of Silas’ pent-up hatred. Reynolds’ supercilious smile filled her with a similar emotion. She dared not trust him but they were helpless. Icily, she said, “Allow me five minutes alone with my dear husband so I can persuade him of the merits of this bargain.”
“A final tender moment between the two of you seems fitting.”
Above her husband’s roared objection, Elizabeth inclined her head. “You are accountable to a great many men, Captain Reynolds.”
She caught Silas’ look, mad with rage. “Do not do this to save me, wife, for I’d rather be dead than the husband of a whore to this…”
Nettled, she managed coolly, “And I’d rather see you walk free tonight so you can fight another day and our children will still have a father when this war is over.”
“The agreement is between your wife and myself.” Reynolds looked at Silas with contempt. “I’d throw you to the wolves if I could.”
They all turned at the sound of desultory clapping.
A man appeared from the darkened outer reaches of the room, raising his head, which caught the light from beneath the shadow of his broad-brimmed hat. Like Reynolds’, his hair was light and curling, but it was his own rather than a wig and he was a little younger. Judging by the fine silk and leather of his clothes, he was clearly of similar rank.
“If now is the time for bargains,” he said, crisply, “let me propose one of my own.”
The look in Reynolds’ eye made plain that he half expected what it might be, and that he was not pleased.
“Captain Charles Trethveyan at your service.” The newcomer rose from his bow with a flourish, his smile trained on Elizabeth, who lowered her head, more terrified than she had been hitherto of anything else that the fierce pounding of her heart and the fire in her cheeks would betray her. To her husband, most of all.
She could not look at Charles, though her initial glimpse of him showed him to be as handsome as she remembered. His physique was stronger now that he was a man, and his jaw had firmed, but his mouth was curved in just that half ironic way she remembered so well. Her heart thudded to the pit of her stomach. Had he just arrived? Did he know he’d find her here? A million unanswered questions crowded her brain, pushing aside her concern for her husband’s fate and the implications of the bargain she’d just made with Reynolds.
The two Cavaliers were engaged in low dialogue. Silas’ shoulders heaved beneath his suppressed emotion. He knew exactly who Charles Trethveyan was. That he was the suitor over whom Elizabeth had waged a long and protracted battle with her father.
He wouldn’t know that it was his image Elizabeth conjured up every night to block out the unpleasant reality of her husband. The cold hard truth was, however, that Charles had not been there when she’d needed him.
The reflection enabled her to finally look at him as he and Reynolds continued their discussion, terminated abruptly by Reynolds’ harsh tones.
“Another time, Trethveyan!” Reynolds rose swiftly, closing the distance between him and Elizabeth as he thrust the signed parchment at her. “Our agreement in writing. Now, I’m tired and hungry and I have no wish to entertain company.” His tone was churlish though he darted a calculated glance in Silas’ direction as he added, “I wish to rest as I’ll need all my energy for tonight.” He clapped his hands. “Take them away. Separate quarters for both of them.”
“You granted my request for five minutes with my husband,” Elizabeth reminded him, stepping forward.
He waved at one of the guards. “Five minutes—that’s all.”

Buy here.

 

See me over at Historical Harlots for some Matchmaking Fun

Historical harlotsI’d love you to visit Historical Harlots on July 6 for some fun and games … and prizes to win. Yes, it’ll be party-time for the release of The Honourable Fortune Hunter!

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from when my lovely Lizzy is rescued from a carriage accident that plunged her into the river, by my honourable hero, Theo, who now doesn’t know what to do with her. In this scene, they’re in a donkey cart and Theo has just learned there are no rooms available at the local inn. Now he’s trying to find out where else he can deposit her.

EXCERPT FROM THE HONOURABLE FORTUNE HUNTER


Lizzy sighed. “I wish I’d not told you my real name. At the third Ladies Seminary I was sent to, I started to call myself Miss Marzipan, that being something that I’m quite partial to, but was never allowed because Mrs Hodge refused me anything beyond porridge. I could only imagine what most sweetmeats tasted like since Mrs Hodge, who looks after me, refused me every pleasure in life.”


“Indeed?” Theo said, unmoved. “And did she lock you up in the attic, tied to a chair, and feed you only bread and water every three days, too?”
“Near enough. But Mabel risked her life to smuggle in the victuals necessary to sustain mine, didn’t you, Mabel?” Miss Scott turned her head to address Mabel cheerfully.


“Now, miss, I didn’t quite risk me life, but—” the maid began doubtfully, earning a grumble from her mistress as the girl turned back to Theo.
“Mabel has loyalty and good sense in abundance, but she has no sense of occasion.”


“But a proper sense of occasion is rather necessary, given the seriousness of this one, don’t you think?” Theo enquired. While he found her chatter momentarily diverting, his concerns over the next few hours prevented him from entering into conversation that was a little more lighthearted. “We need to get you somewhere safe and respectable.”


“But you have already decided you can’t do that tonight, surely? It’s too dark to go anywhere,” she pointed out. She clutched the blanket to her and shivered theatrically. “Unless I am warmed in front of a blazing fire very soon, I shall catch my death of cold—and it will be at your door, Mr McAlister.”

She could have no idea of the chill her supposedly lighthearted words sent through him. Theo stared woodenly ahead and tried to ignore the cacophony of images—newsprint pages and parodies involving him and a young woman, now dead—that had all but destroyed his life.
“What would Mrs Hodge say?” he managed, instead. Lame words but the only safe, innocuous words he could manage.


“She won’t know, and we don’t need to tell her. She’s a bitter, sour old puss, and I’m the opposite of her; as sweet as marzipan. Surely I’d be a nice addition to your evening?” She stretched her arms, adding, “You can send me on my way tomorrow. But for now, I shan’t be any bother, I promise.” The way her mouth turned up did nothing to improve his humour.


The book is available at a discount right now: mybook.to/FortuneHunter

 

Fair Cyprians – The Complete Boxset is now available!

Fair Cyprians Boxset 1-5Yesterday was a day of portentous endings for our family. Virgin Australia’s new owner was announced and so was the cessation of its international fleet of Airbuses and Boeing 777s – and I finished The Honourable Fortune Hunter and sent it to my editor.

We can’t do anything about the former but I’ve done my best with the latter. The Honourable Fortune Hunter is a humorous, fast-paced Regency romance about two people who must make the best of a bad situation – but when all is said and done, their love for one another is too strong and compromise is no longer an option.

Immediately after sending Fortune Hunger away for the final line-check, I put together the complete box set for the 5 books in my Fair Cyprians of London series.

Read for free or buy on Amazon

 

Love, passion, honour and redemption. 5 full-length Victorian romances filled with mystery and intrigue.

Meet the women who work at Madame Chambon’s notorious high-class London House of Assignation.

 The ruined governess, the ambitious artist’s muse, the betrayed housemaid and the abandoned vicar’s daughter all have one thing in common: the determination to triumph over misfortune and to find love and their heart’s desire.

SAVING GRACE

Grace Fortune trusts no one after she was betrayed by the man she once loved.

Now, she’s the most popular ‘Cyprian’ at Madame Chambon’s high-class London House of Assignation, consort of aristocrats and princes.

As grace prepares for her next job as the special initiation ‘gift’ procured by a mother in fashionable Mayfair for her son’s twenty-first birthday, she plans her revenge.

But revenge delivers the last thing she expected.

FORSAKING HOPE

Honour? Or her heart’s desire?

Two years ago, Felix Lord Durham believed that Hope, the vicar’s beautiful daughter, had chosen to live in Germany as a governess rather than accept the marriage proposal he’d hinted at.

Why else would she have failed to appear for their final secret assignation? Why else would Felix be given snippets about her new life on the Continent from various sources?

Now the divine “Miss Hope” is in Felix’s bed – a surprise gift from his friends designed to lift his spirits and sourced from London’s most exclusive brothel, Madame Chambon’s.

Despite feeling betrayed, Felix can’t bear to lose her again, but Hope Merriweather is bound to her new life by a dark secret. Having sacrificed the man she loves once already, she must choose again: Honour or her heart’s desire?

KEEPING FAITH

Revenge is sweet until it breaks your heart.

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 fulfil 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?

 

WEDDING VIOLET

 

Abandoned at the altar, Max, Lord Belvedere believes he’s evaded family obligation in favour of a life of adventuring in Africa. But his ailing Aunt Euphemia has other ideas.

When Max finds himself in the delightfully diverting arms of Violet Lilywhite while visiting London’s most prestigious House of Assignation, he happens upon the perfect plan. A sham wedding to a ‘penniless shop girl’ should fulfil Aunt Euphemia’s romantic dreams without losing him his newfound liberty.

Violet agrees to the deception with no hesitation. Lord Belvedere is certainly the most charming and surprising of all her male consorts but she has no illusions about a shared future. She wants only to escape the clutches of infamous Madame Chambon.

The plan appears perfect until Max and Violet find themselves falling in love.

Can Max give up his plans for freedom in an exciting new land? Or is freedom to be found in the arms of the woman he loves?

 

CHRISTMAS CHARITY

 

Reluctant courtesan, Charity, has found true love with Hugo, her first and only client.

 

But when poet and artist, Hugo, is tricked into gambling away his impending inheritance, Charity finds herself at the mercy of Madam Chambon and her infamous house of ill-repute.

Can the two young lovers thwart the conspiracy between Hugo’s social-climbing father, and slippery cousin Cyril, so Hugo can make Charity his Christmas bride?

 

 

Filled with mystery and intrigue, these passionate Victorian romances with a twist will have you on the edge of your chair until the very last page.

 

Get this steamy 5-book series now!

Once Upon a Christmas Wedding Box set is Live!

Once Upon a Christmas Wedding Box Set FREE in Kindle Unlimited – viewbook.at/ChristmasWedding

 

Do you love a Christmas romance? And weddings?

Grab the mistletoe and the confetti! You’re in for such a treat.

Twenty-seven lovely historical romance authors have come together to create a collection you won’t want to miss.

And… to celebrate the launch of our gorgeous festive collection of historical romances, we have $25 of book money to whizz out to one lucky reader. Just click through to enter => http://www.lovebooksdaily.com/featured-read

 

Price – FREE with Kindle Unlimited

or $2.99 (rising to $4.99 from 1st November) – yes that’s less than $0.11 per story!

The authors will be releasing their romances at $2.99+ each when the set retires in mid-January, so this is a HUGE bargain.

‘Tis the season… for wedding bells!

But, the path of true love never did run smooth… as our brides and grooms soon discover.

From the snowbound Highlands to candlelit ballrooms, follow our fearless heroines as they scorn etiquette and defy danger in pursuit of their heart’s desire.

Twenty-seven heart-warming historical romances, all set during the festive season.

HELL’S WEDDING BELLS
by Annabelle Anders

TWO LADY SCOUNDRELS AND A DUKE
by Tessa Candle

A WICKED WEDDING
by Laura Trentham

THE RUSSIAN BETROTHAL
by Elsa Holland

THE MISTLETOE MISTRESS
by Maddison Michaels

DEEDS NOT WORDS
by Ashe Barker

HOLLY AND THE BEAST
by Annabel Joseph

THE WINTER BRIDE
by Emma V Leech

MISTLETOE KISSES
by Elise Marion

THE CHRISTMAS COUNTESS
by K.J. Jackson

MISCHIEF AND MISTLETOE
by Stacy Reid

KIDNAPPED WITH THE KNIGHT
by Emily Murdoch

THE RUSSIAN PRINCE’S BRIDE
by Mariah Stone

CHRISTMAS CHARITY
by Beverley Oakley

THE ANGEL OF AN ASTRONOMER
by Linda Rae Sande

WASSAIL, WAGERS AND WEDDINGS
by S. Cinders

HIGHLAND YULE
by Sky Purington

MARRYING MISS BRIGHT
by Dayna Quince

THE LADY’S GUIDE TO MISTLETOE AND MAYHEM
by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

BEAUTIFULLY RECKLESS
by Virginia Taylor

KISS ME, MACRAE
by Amy Sandas

HOLLY AND OLD LACE
by Vanessa Brooks

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
by Celeste Jones

A SPINSTER AT THE HIGHLAND COURT
by Celeste Barclay

THE HOLIDAY HUSSY
by Merry Farmer

DECEMBER DEBAUCHERY
by Em Brown

WEDDED IN WINTER
by Scarlett Scott

Historical costumes

1912 Titanic dressAs you might know – or have guessed if you’ve read any of my FB posts or guest blogs – I love historical costuming.

So this is a short post with a few pictures of my projects – completed and future – and my ideas around them.

On Friday afternoon, the house experienced the chaos before the calm as we prepared for our daughter’s 18th birthday party, which was Titanic-themed.

So, of course, she needed a dress and I made her this 1912 recreation. She also needed a corset, so I drafted this from an earlier era – the 1880s, actually, but that’s what she thought she’d get most use out of as she wanted something to draw in her waist rather than the more elongated corset of the 1912 era.

 

Here’s the dress that was the initial inspiration (with its tiny waist), but of course finding the right quality fabric when one doesn’t live in the city and has time constraints presents certain challenges. And I really like to feel the texture of the fabric before I buy.

 Although clothing looked far less structured, there is still boning in the bodice and it does require a corset. However, the gauzy fabric gives a more floaty impression while the decoration of beads and metallic trimmings weighted the fabric so it didn’t fly away.

Next post I’ll show you the two 1880s original dress patterns I’ve bought as well as the original fashion plates from one of my favourite eras.

Rafflecopter Contest

CONGRATULATIONS, JOY!

I’ve just emailed to ask you where I should send your copy of Wicked Wager. Thank you so much for entering the Rafflecopter contest!

Win a Paperback or Large Print copy of Wicked Wager Plus a bag of Caramello Koalas

Wicked Wager

“It wasn’t what I expected in a romance, but then sometimes the unexpected is the best experience. Definitely worth reading! The author is a new favorite for me.” ~ Amazon Reader

“At first the book reminded me of Dangerous Liaisons because of Xenia, the creepy, bored, and meddling seductress, the wager, and the rake, Perry, preying on the innocent Celeste. It was sort of like Deja Vue all over again, but it’s actually quite different! There is much much more story to this fascinating book!” ~ Amazon Reader

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wedding Violet Extract (New pre-order)

Wedding VioletA few days ago I returned from South Australia after a week of painting and plastering our three cottages there. I’m about to post some pictures on Facebook but suffice to say it was great fun, though tiring! Especially the ten-hour drive home which I did on my own as my husband had to fly to Hong Kong.

So, now I’m back into the thick of work and writing my next story – Wedding Violet. Here’s a taster with the first chapter for you to read. I’m crazily getting it finished during the next few days so my editor can read it before she goes on her cruise.

I hope you enjoy it!

Wedding Violet

Abandoned at the altar, Max, Lord Belvedere believes he’s evaded family obligation in favour of a life of adventuring in Africa. But his ailing Aunt Euphemia has other ideas.

When Max finds himself in the delightfully diverting arms of Violet Lilywhite while visiting London’s most prestigious House of Assignation, he happens upon the perfect plan. A sham wedding to a ‘penniless shop girl’ should fulfil Aunt Euphemia’s romantic dreams without losing him his newfound liberty.

Violet agrees to the deception with no hesitation. Lord Belvedere is certainly the most charming and surprising of all her male consorts but she has no illusions about a shared future. She wants only to escape the clutches of infamous Madame Chambon.

The plan appears perfect until Max and Violet find themselves falling in love.

Just as it seems Aunt Euphemia will have her romantic finale, a shock discovery threatens the foundation of Max and Violet’s relationship, challenging their belief in love, their trust and their hopes for a future together.

What Readers Say About the Series:

“Writer was able to get a 7-course meal into a sandwich sized novel. It was exciting and emotional. Sexy and romantic.”

“This is one of the most interesting stories on why a girl might become an escort.. The twists and turns are breathtaking…I couldn’t put this down.”

“Oh my! This story just makes you fall in love! It’s exciting. It never lags. And what a most satisfying ending!”

Heat Level: Hot (though certainly not at the expense of the story)!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS

All other retailers here.

Read an Extract

 

What’s in a Name – Solomon Islands Reflections

Today I was telling my daughter I was in the midst of a naming crisis. I didn’t know what I call Book 5 of my Fair Cyprians of London series when, so far, I have the following:

Saving Grace

Forsaking Hope

Keeping Faith

Picking Violet

She didn’t give me any suggestions however she told me she’d recently stumbled upon an old blog I’d written in June 2011 in which I’d talked about that very thing.

“What’s in a Name?” I’d called it.

It was like reading my diary from an interesting and somewhat turbulent time in my life. So, for fun, I’ll reblog it here.

What’s in a Name?

Rose, Mauwisa, Sophie and Bevie
Rose, Mauwisa, Sophie and Bevie

Choosing a heroine’s name is a tricky business. It must reflect her personality but as you and she will be spending a lot of time together, you want to love it, too.

I named my eldest daughter Sophie after the heroine of my first unpublished manuscript, written when I was seventeen. The book languished, unforgotten in a drawer but twenty years later Sophie got a new lease of life when my Norwegian husband and I chose it as a name that would work in both our homelands.

Names can sometimes appear like omens or talismans – or pegs on which to hang seemingly arbitrary life decisions.

When Sophie was two and we decamped to the Pacific where my husband Eivind was the new Chief Pilot of Solomon Airlines, many local girls turned up applying for the job of nanny and house girl. I’d recently started a new Regency Historical Romance featuring the lovely Rose Chesterfield so when one of the applicants told me her name was Rose it seemed a good omen. I hired her on the spot.
Me and Sophie on the Solomons
Me and Sophie on the Solomons

Rose was my heroine, both on paper and in real life. My earnest, hardworking Solomon Islands Rose from the island of Malaita took charge of the needs of house, husband and high octane toddler, enabling me to give my fictional Rose a life in the third dimension.

Nearly eight years later and with two books completed in the interim Rose Chesterfield in A Little Deception has had as many ups and downs as we’ve had in our married lives living in ten different countries. Barely recognisable as the original, A Little Deception tells the story of grand deceiver Rose Chesterfield who risks her reputation to save the family sugar plantation and winds up married to the deliciously notorious rake Viscount Rampton. Unfortunately what appears to be a happy ending is only the beginning of many trials and tribulations as a jealous adversary implicates Rose in a series of high profile jewel heists. When past secrets rear their ugly heads Rose must prove more than her innocence to regain the love of her once-smitten husband.
It was a lively, exhausting story which certainly underwent its own trials and tribulations. After winning the Strictly Single competition in was requested and ultimately rejected by Avon Senior Editor Erika Tsang, rewritten and finally sold to Robert Hale after I cut a further 15000 words from it.
Like my previous two books – Lady Sarah’s Redemption and Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly – the cover art was done by talented artist David Young. However when I look at the cover of A Little Deception I see more than just the beautiful ballroom scene. Instead I recall the sparkling vista of azure seas dotted with islands which I gazed upon from my verandah as I typed, sometimes in high spirits after a liquid lunch at the Honiara Hotel with friends from my multicultural mother’s group.
The expat community was small and vibrant. Barely a year had passed since the violent coup which brought down the government in 2000 and bullet holes still peppered some of the public buildings. RAMSI (Royal Australian Mission to Solomon Islands) was an initiative of the future, the roads were filled with potholes the size of craters and the evidence of a crumbling infrastructure was all around us. As we involved ourselves in volunteer work from providing water tanks and generators for the hospital to beautifying the capital to encourage business investment and tourism, we partied enthusiastically.
One of our favourite pastimes was descending into the unpleasant smelling basement of ‘XJ6’ every second Wednesday for the ‘ripping’ of the newly arrived bale of second hand clothing from Australia and New Zealand and to rummage through the flotsam and jetsam in search of the beautiful ‘seconds’ where everything cost the equivalent of one Australian dollar.
It was a competitive pastime and lots of fun appearing at the next embassy function kitted out in such affordable Lisa Ho, Perri Cutten or Alanah Hill designer wear. The foraging of two years in the Solomons has provided my attire for the Romance Writers of Australia’s conference dinners for the past eight years.
A Little Deception is due out in hardcover at the end of June and I have a number of library talks lined up throughout Melbourne. I like to think of my two heroines, deceiving debutante Rose Chesterfield and my own loyal Rose, enjoying a rosy future beyond the launch.

We were all casualties of a strife-torn political system. When our tenure on the island we considered our new home was cut unexpectedly short we could no longer provide Rose with a job as we no longer had one, ourselves. Rose went back to her subsistence existence on her island while we drifted, without a home base for many months, until a job came up and we established our footing on the next rung of the shaky ladder of life.

Rose Chesterfield was the panacea to my once nomadic existence while Malaitan Rose was my friend who learned English through our many conversations over the jugs of ‘bush lime’ for which she was famous.

A name is so much more than just a name and I miss both my Roses who are no longer such a large part of my life.

End of Blog 

 

Wicked Wager Extract #3

Wicked Wager book back and front

 

Here is the third extract from Wicked Wager in which my heroine, Celeste, discovers the true identity of the man she kissed unexpectedly at Vauxhall Gardens.

Wicked Wager (A Georgian Romance)

 By Beverley Oakley

Lord Cowdril’s family seat dated back to Elizabethan times, with neat gravelled paths and formal gardens providing a charming venue for gentle exercise.

Lady Cowdril, who was easily exerted, never went beyond the second tier of rose bushes, she declared, due to her palpitating heart. However, the opening lines of her sentence, suggesting a return to the house, was truncated by a start of clear delight and rapid volte face.

‘Perry will give me his arm,’ she declared in robust tones, and they all turned to observe a figure issue from the front portico and down the steps, advancing towards them.

Perry? Celeste raised her eyebrows in a silent question regarding the identity of their new visitor, but as he was nearly upon them she followed the cue of the rest of her party: curtseying as she inclined her head in greeting of the arrival whose tall frame was coming into focus. Though to be sure, no one’s heart could be pounding as fiercely as hers, even Lady Cowdril’s in the midst of one of her palpitations.

She ventured a glance from beneath lowered lashes. He was impressive, even from a distance. Unusually, he wore his dark hair naturally, tied in a queue at the back, with informal country attire: knee breeches and knee boots with a dark wool coat. Yes, even from a distance she saw his eyes were very piercing.

Swallowing with difficulty, she was alarmed to observe, as he approached, that they were focused on her. Could it be that this gentleman, whose features were gaining greater distinction with every step, did indeed know her for her role in his sister’s distress?

She frowned as she noticed his full lips were curved in a smile; a smile that seemed only for her; and her heart did a skittering dance at the clear interest of this inimitable Viscount Peregrine as he rounded the rose bushes and finally came to stand in full view before them.

Dear Lord. Cognisance was like a stone dropping to the pit of her stomach. Those lips had covered hers not two nights before in a secluded arbour at Vauxhall Gardens. Those arms had held her against him in a lust-filled moment of abandonment. Sweet Mercy, but Perry—whoever he really was to Lady Cowdril—was Celeste’s handsome stranger.

She stood aside in rigid panic as the formalities were conducted. It only grew worse. This was Viscount Peregrine? Her heart rate ratcheted up several more notches. What would he say? How would he respond? Would he reveal her for the bold strumpet he no doubt thought her? Would she still be able to hold her head high by the end of the house party?

When, by some strange rearrangement of pairings, she found herself walking by his side, having no choice but to rest her hand on the forearm he offered her, she had completely lost the power of speech.

Lady Cowdril had managed one more turn around the rose bushes before seating herself with Celeste’s Aunt Branwell. However, the viscount, or Perry as everyone called him, had evinced a strong desire to admire the roses, calling upon Celeste’s recently lauded expertise.

The kindling look he sent her as they paused by the blooming bushes brought a surely far more vibrant bloom to her cheeks.

Lowering his head, as if to elicit some opinion on a deep red, velvet rose, he murmured, ‘Ah, the Apothecary’s Rose.’ He raised an eyebrow. ‘Now I have you all to myself.’

She wasn’t sure what to make of his words. Should she start with an abject apology for her behavior? A declaration she was not in the habit of consorting with strange men? Neither seemed appropriate when his eyes were twinkling with suppressed humour. Bending to smell the rose, she managed, ‘I prefer to call it by its less pedestrian name, the Red Rose of Lancaster.’ Self-consciously, she brushed an escaped strand of hair from her cheek. Then, summoning up all her courage, she whispered as she cast him an appealing look, ‘Should I be afraid?’

The look he levelled upon her was one of singular calculation. He chuckled. ‘Woe betide The House of Lancaster, for they did not prevail, did they? Hmm, Miss Rosington, your question depends on your assessment of our unexpected little encounter the other night. Was it pleasing, or were you never more relieved than when I melted into the dark? I must say, it really is the most extraordinary coincidence to find you here, when I’d thought never to lay eyes on you again.’ Plucking the rose, he handed it to her with a bow. ‘Perhaps the Rose of Lancaster will one day be an emblem of victory, but for my purposes right now, please accept it as a token of peace.’ He straightened, that wicked, difficult-to-interpret smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. ‘Nevertheless, to return to the subject of our little encounter … As I’d planned to rectify that little matter and ensure I was in a position to lay more than my eyes upon you again, Miss Rosington, perhaps you could say that fate has played into my hands most unexpectedly. You are even more ravishing in the harsh light of day than you were when last we met.’

Celeste shot him a startled look, mixed emotions roiling within her as she found him smiling down at her with both amusement and calculation.

‘You are too kind, my lord,’ she murmured, dropping her eyes as she took the rose, stepping forward to resume their walk. His words were both shocking but curiously exciting. She glanced at the ladies to ensure she was not likely to become the latest subject of their gossip, but they were well occupied with their own gossiping, and half obscured by the rose bushes.

‘A very pretty blush for a maiden who must be accustomed to having praise lavished upon her. So you are a friend of Lady Cowdril? Or your aunt is?’

‘I’ve known Lady Cowdril since I was a child. I did not know who you were, my lord. I don’t know what you must think of my—’

He stayed her rush to lay bare her shame with a finger upon her lips. His lips quirked and his dark eyes seemed to smoulder with everything that swirled between them. Again she felt the sharp rush of sensation spear her belly; the sensation that was familiar to her only in the presence of this gentleman.

‘Your behaviour came from the heart, Miss Rosington, for if you did not know who I was, then I can only be delighted that you found my attentions so pleasing based purely on your honest reaction to me as an ordinary man. You have no idea how delightful that is to a gentleman such as myself, who is constantly fielding off advances.’

His smile, warmer now, more sincere, made Celeste’s heart hammer even harder. So he didn’t condemn her? Nor, it seemed, had he drawn any association between her and his sister.

Thank the good Lord.

***

 

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