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First audio book – The Bluestocking and the Rake

Mombo during audio recordingAfter more than a year of talking about it, checking out narrators, and then doing courses on narration and recording, I finally started recording my first audio book.

As I’d had a successful promotion for my Daughters of Sin series, I started with Book 1, Her Gilded Prison. However, this is one of my steamier books, and on playing back for the first eight chapters, there were too many scenes in which I sounded positively embarrassed, that I decided to put this one down to experience.

So, with another big promotion coming up on The Bluestocking and the Rake, I decided that this one – book 2 in my Hearts in Hiding series – would be the ideal start.

Above is a picture of my recording studio. As you can see, old faithful, my Rhodestian Ridgeback Mombo, had to be in on the action. He’s just loved the fact that we, in Melbourne, have had around six months of partial, followed by full, stringent lockdown, so he is always with his pack!

Generally the recording goes OK, though sometimes I have to pause when he starts to chase rabbits in his sleep, or to snore.

Here’s a Taster of The Bluestocking and the Rake!

This takes place after Jemima’s ‘husband’ has taken her out for an evening.

The Bluestocking and the Rake“How dare you insult me, so? You took me to a prostitute’s den,” she hissed when they were indoors, and the sleepy housemaid had put a final log on the fire and retired to bed.
Roderick had the grace to look ashamed as he flicked up his tailcoat to seat himself on a stool close to the warmth. “Perhaps it was not quite the place to take a—”
“A respectable wife! No!” she ground out, stepping back when he rose and held out his arms with an appeasing look.
The room was dim and smelled of wood smoke. Jemima hated every square inch of the floral wallpaper and stained rug, but it was the only home she had. She glared at him as he sat down, clearly deflated, while she counseled herself silently that she mustn’t complain when she was equally responsible for the decisions that had led to this disastrous marriage.
Unconsciously, she put her hand to her belly as she prayed, not for the first time, that there was no child within to bring into the world and share her misery. Yet perhaps that was all she had to look forward to now—children.
If she’d been in doubt before, this evening had helped her decide that she couldn’t—wouldn’t—reveal the truth about the clay tablet to a man she despised. Roderick, as her husband, would have the legal right to own every last gold coin of her discovery, should matters proceed to eventual success.
Roderick returned her look with a long, enigmatic look of his own, and Jemima sighed. It wasn’t that he was a bad man, just that he was weak, and he’d taken advantage of circumstances to benefit himself at her expense.
She rose, intending to go to bed, but at the doorway, she turned. She’d have expected him to resort to his usual self-justifying bluster but his mouth was set in a grim line.
“No, it’s not where I would take a respectable wife.”
Something in his tone sent a spear of foreboding through her. Was he telling her he didn’t consider her respectable? That there was some stain on her virtue for which he intended to punish her? Anger bubbled through her veins. How dare he, when marriage to him had been the only way to salvage her reputation and every woman knew that without that she was doomed to poverty and ignominy?
She took a step back into the room and put her hands on her hips. Her gown was secondhand and had belonged to Roderick’s aunt, she’d discovered after he’d gifted it to her not long ago. She hated its matronly cut and was conscious of the old-fashioned line of the skirt—when fashion wasn’t something she’d ever considered in the past. It helped stoke her anger. “Do not blame me for forcing your hand when you made me your wife,” she said softly. “I told you of my need to be in London, at St Paul’s churchyard on Epiphany when I very first met you, and you took advantage of that in a way no gentleman would have.”
“And who did you intend meeting?” He was sneering now, yet he had believed her when she’d explained at that time that it was a family matter of the utmost urgency. He pushed back his tight, ginger curls as he rose. “A lover? One who didn’t turn up, I might add. You used me to meet your lover; only he left you all alone and unprotected. What was I to do except take you to find lodging? I behaved like a gentleman.”
“And no damage might have been done to either my reputation or yours if your mother hadn’t tracked you down and thrown a fit of the vapors, believing we’d eloped. She decided then and there that I had set my cap at you when nothing could have been further from the truth.”
“You were looking for a protector! Admit it! I offered you the job of governess out of the goodness of my heart. My mother would never have offered the position to anyone who didn’t have a good character, but you had nothing. Nothing! No doubt you were cast out of your own home because you were discovered with this…this knave you intended to meet and run away with the moment you’d thrown yourself into his arms at St. Paul’s. That’s why you had no character when you came to me. Your reputation was already ruined, but I saved you from sleeping under any more haystacks. Admit there’s more than a grain of truth to what I say.”
Jemima advanced toward him with fire in her belly. It was rare she was pushed to anger, but the injustice of his speculations and the self-righteousness he paraded made the matter in her head close to bursting.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth! Is that what you truly believe? That I was running away from some sordid past? That I was already ruined? How dare you! I only married you because it was the only way I could retain my character, my reputation. Your mother was screeching the most vile things about me, threatening to see my name blackened throughout the entire country and yes, you nobly played the gentleman, but at the time you professed undying love. You said we could make marriage between us work. You begged me to marry you. As for me, I entered into a marriage contract because I thought that you believed in me, that you loved me and because if I didn’t, I would be ruined. Oh, but it’s my fault I was so easily cowed by your vengeful mother and your avowals of love and protection when I had nowhere else to go.”
She clenched her hands at her sides and drew in a deep breath, realizing the need for calm. Slowly common sense returned. She was bound to this man for life. She did not love him, but he’d behaved decently when called upon, and if there was any joy to be had she needed to try and mend the rift between them.
She turned and went up to him, placing her palms against his chest. She could do this. She would be the pliant, submissive, grateful wife. It was the only way she could manipulate a dreadful situation so they might negotiate a difficult peace.
“I’m sorry I spoke harshly. You were good to me, Roderick. I do thank you for giving me a position when perhaps no one else would have. And I’m sorry if you felt you had no choice but to wed a penniless runaway. But please remember that at the time it was what you wanted. And that I wasn’t already ruined. Our wedding night proved that. Please don’t cast aspersions on my good character.”
The flickering candle on the mantelpiece played across his features as, with head bent, he toyed with his wedding ring. She’d hoped to see his expression relax, but instead, she saw evasiveness when he glanced up at her.
“I was in no position to afford a wife,” he muttered. “I knew that.”
Jemima forced her smile to be bolstering. She put her hand on his shoulder. “But you were a gentleman who would not see me ruined. I’m sorry I’ve been a drain on your purse strings.” Should she hint that perhaps she had the means to provide them with a fortune beyond his wildest dreams? Could that save the situation? Make them happy?
She opened her mouth to say the words. Marriage was a lifelong contract, and she could make them rich. That would give them both freedom. And honesty was essential if they were to have any chance of navigating the morass of misery that threatened to engulf them both.
“Roderick, I must tell you something…”
Impatiently he turned away from her, raking his hands through his hair, his mouth set in a grim line. He squeezed his eyes shut briefly. “Jemima, the truth is, I can’t afford either you or this house.”
“This house?” She put her head on one side, trying to understand him. “So we’ll have to move somewhere…more affordable?” Already their abode was cramped, and in the most insalubrious of areas when she knew Roderick aspired to so much more.
He cleared his voice. “The bailiffs are coming tomorrow.” He removed her grasping hand from his shoulder and began to pace, hurrying his words as he went on, “Lord knows, I hate to say this, Jemima, but I’m going to have to give you up, too. I mean, I wanted to make it right in the end, truly I did. I loathe myself for actions that are against the code of a gentleman, and if things had gone as I’d hoped a week ago, we could right now be contemplating a grand move up in the world.”
“Give me up?” She shook her head, uncomprehending. It was one thing to have to give up a house one could no longer afford. One couldn’t dispense so easily with a wife, even if she’d love nothing more than to be free of him. “But we are legally bound,” she reminded him.
This time, it was he who shook his head, groaning as he dropped his face onto the crook of his arm, which rested along the edge of the mantelpiece. “Oh Jemina, did you really believe that piece of fiction?”

You can buy it or read it in Kindle Unlimited here.

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.

 

 

 

 

Three Generations of Khamas and Netteltons in Botswana

Three Generations of Khamas and Netteltons in Botswana

Written by Beverley Eikli [nee Nettelton] in discussion with her father Spencer [Ted] Nettelton

My sister and I are the fourth generation of Netteltons to have spent time living in the Okavango Delta (and the third generation to have fallen in love there).

In 1899, my great-grandfather Clement Nettelton left his home in Basutoland (now Lesotho) and arrived in Botswana (then the Bechuanaland Protectorate), at the behest of Chief Khama III.

Chief Khama had requested Bechuanaland’s Colonial Administration to appoint, as head of the embryonic Bechuanaland Police Force, someone fluent in Sesotho. Sesotho, the language of the Basotho, is similar to Sechuana, the main language spoken in Bechuanaland and there was a preference for appointing Basotho police due to their lack of family connections in Bechuanaland. An outsider was also preferred for the role of Head of the Police force and my grandfather Clement, who was fluent in Sesotho and the head telegraphist in Maseru—an important means of communication between Southern Africa and London—was chosen.

The Boer War was in progress so travel was difficult. Clement took up his post as head of the Bechuanaland Police Force in Gaberone, at that time a small village on the railway line. My great-grandmother, Rose, (my dad’s grandmother) followed a few months later. With four children aged under ten, the three-day train journey was arduous and dangerous. There was no dining car and several bridges had recently been blown up by Boer commandos.

As Rose and Clement’s house was not yet ready, my great-grandparents took up residence with Colonel Ellenberger who later became Bechuanaland Resident Commissioner and whose son, Vivian, married one of their four children, my Great-Aunt Bimbi. I remember her as a very formidable old lady when I met her in London in the 1980s.

Another of their four children was, obviously, my grandfather, Gerald Nettelton, who became a District Officer (and, later, Serowe District Commissioner, then Bechuanaland Resident Commissioner).

As a young man, Grandpa Gerald went on many long and lonely treks of up to three months into the interior, mapping the tsetse fly belt, collecting hut tax and, on one occasion in 1917 while WWI was in progress, hunting suspected German dissidents who were believed to have crossed from North West Africa (now Namibia) into Botswana.

Usually he travelled with a dozen or so carriers and a Scotch Cart, or rode his detested mule since horses were susceptible to being bitten by the tsetse fly and therefore succumbing to sleeping sickness. Gerald travelled by night through tsetse fly country as the flies were not active then, and slept during the day.

He shot for the pot, the game being a welcome supplement to the meat supplies of his carriers and the villagers along his route.
My grandfather kept a pictorial diary between 1916 and 1922 (detailed in Volume V which is due to be published in 2021). It’s a rambunctious account by a very young man pouring out his loneliness and frustration but also his jubilation at his hunting exploits. It’s this diary, which I discovered in my early 20s, that inspired me to make my first trip from my home in Australia to the country where Grandpa spent his life and where my dad was born and brought up in the 1930s and 40s.

And it was in Botswana that I met my husband-to-be in the 1992, a handsome Norwegian bush pilot, while I was managing Mombo Safari Lodge, on the northern tip of Chief’s Island, in the beautiful Okavango.

But back to the Nettelton and Khama families three generations earlier.

My great-grandfather was a great friend of Chief Khama III and in the last three years that Great-Grandpa Nettelton was working for the government at the request of Chief Khama, he was promoted to District Commissioner in Serowe (he was still a police officer at the time), serving in this position until he died.

Dad remembers his grandmother telling him how Chief Khama would arrive in his horse-drawn buggy and lock himself in Great-grampa's study for hours. In those days the London Missionary Society was very strong in Bechuanaland and had strict rules about drinking, as did Chief Khama who didn't drink and who’d abolished Lebola (bride price) and banned alcohol.

On the basis of what his Granny Rose used to say, dad wondered if Chief Khama and grandpa enjoyed a little nip of the brandy bottle when they locked themselves away.

Anyway, the relationship between my great-grandfather, Clement Nettelton, and Chief Khama III, was an amicable one.

The Banishment of Seretse Khama

However, there would be constitutional upheaval when Clement’s son, my grandfather Gerald Nettelton, was one of three men appointed to the Harrigan Inquiry that ultimately recommended the banishment of Chief Khama’s grandson, Seretse Khama.

That’s all documented in my dad’s diaries, The Memoirs of Spencer “Ted” Nettelton.

Available here: https://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=spencer+nettelton&search=Find+book

Lesotho’s Food for Work programme in the 1960s.

Lesotho’s Food for Work programme in the 1960s.

…in conversation with my father, Ted Nettelton, former District Commissioner, Mokhotlong, Lesotho.

I’ve seen the photos of literally hundreds of women wielding picks on rocky mountains passes, so I asked my father to tell me more about Lesotho’s Food for Work programme of the 1960s.

Here’s what he said:

The work gangs were made up of about 70% women and 30%men and we always started these projects in close proximity of the villages. While that entailed a lot of extra expense in getting bags of mealie meal, oil, etc, to often remote areas, it was very worthwhile as it enabled these women to achieve work for the five hours in the morning then go home and prepare the evening meal. They would get their food payment after three weeks and the food was delivered either to their village or within easy reach.

The plan was developed after I requested a meeting with the Director of the World Food program who came to talk at an Oxfam conference, and he enthusiastically supported the concept.

We spread the word about the scheme and there was no shortage of takers from the local community. We said we could work on a road or work or a dam to water stock, and it was the villagers who decided what they wanted to do. Usually there was no problem getting consensus and I believe the villagers felt great enthusiasm at the fact they were involved in making those decisions.

The implements were basic: wheelbarrows, picks, shovels. There was no machinery and the government gave us no help to buy the picks and shovels. It all came from Oxfam.

The programme started in the Mokhotlong district while I was DC. It continued during the time I was in Maseru working as Independence Officer and later, when I was secretary to Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan. The PM and I were really good friends and when I said I thought my role in a senior position government should go to a Masotho, he gave me the role of Director of the Food Programme. For the next two years we worked closely together so that when I left the country in 1969, 14,000 people were working in Food Programme every day and 10,000 kids were getting lunch every day.

I was responsible for the programme getting the food that it needed. I travelled a lot throughout the country dealing with these schemes right throughout Lesotho and I didn’t depend on District Commissioners any more.

One of the problems was that due to difficult weather conditions, was that the roads got washed away very easily. There just wasn’t the infrastructure to maintain those roads. Some lasted. For example the road from Tlokeng to Letseng la Terai – that we began entirely with food aid - enabled us to get a road 22 miles long that connected those 200-400 miners to the roadhead.

During my first winter in Mokhotlong, I’d got a message that the people in Letseng la Terai were starving and I appealed to Oxfam who financed buying the food. I got all the government mules I could find and with a couple of people from my office, we struggled to get the food up to Letseng la Terai. The snow was so deep we had to go to the edge of the ridges to get up. But we got that food through and got home very late. We didn’t have to do that the next year because the road was there.

In time, the scheme was quite well provisioned so when one gang had completed its three weeks – whereupon it would be paid in food - the next gang would take over the picks and shovels. By the time the PM came on board, we had by then built up a reasonable stock of picks and shovels.

Another initiative was improving prenatal and antenatal care with more clinics. I remember there was one very remote section: Beverley Boulevard I called it – which went to hell and gone. Right out there! I had been able to rope in the guy who was director of the Red Cross and was head of the Native Recruitment Corporation in Lesotho and he was very helpful and able to get funds from outside. For many women who wanted pre-natal care it was a 4-hour walk to the nearest point where they could get medical assistance, so we built clinics. How on earth we managed to get a midwife to stay in some of these remote outposts, I don’t know. But we did and the nurses’ salaries were paid for by the Red Cross. We had quite a reservoir of trained Basotho nurses in Lesotho we could recruit and while I was in Mokhotlong we were never without a nurse in each of these outposts.

You can read more in The Memoirs of Spencer “Ted” Nettelton
https://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=spencer+nettelton&search=Find+book

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!

Excerpt from The Honourable Fortune Hunter

The Honourable Fortune HunterThe next book in the Scandalous Miss Brightwells series is only a few weeks away.
It’s called The Honourable Fortune Hunter and here’s a teaser.

Lizzy, my heroine, has just been rescued by the hero who pulled her out of a sinking carriage. After reluctantly putting her up for the night, he’s now delivering her to the Brightwells so she can take part in their 5-day house party to which she was invited.
But to which Theo was explicity excluded – for very mysterious reasons.

Excerpt

“You didn’t attend to a word I said and it really was a most thrilling part,” Lizzy complained.

“I attended to every word,” Theo protested, opening his eyes.

“Then what did Louis say to Adeline after realising he’d fallen in love with her?”

Theo opened his mouth but no sound came out.

“I knew it!” Lizzy sounded triumphant. “You haven’t attended to a word and yet Romance of the Forest is the most thrilling and exciting of all Mrs Radcliffe’s novels.” She exhaled in frustration, then focussed on the page in front of her and quoted: ‘I should esteem myself most happy, if I could be of service to you.’ ” Raising her head, she looked over the top of the book and narrowed her eyes. “That’s what Louis – who is Madame and Pierre’s son whom Adeline met in the forest after he comes searching for his parents – says to Adeline. And it’s a very apt sentence, too, because those are my own sentiments, Mr McAlister. Only, I wish you’d invite me to call you by your Christian name. I wouldn’t dream of doing so, otherwise, but in view of all we’ve been through together—”

“Don’t say anything of that!” He dropped his hand, which he’d raised, like his voice, in sudden alarm, immediately adding, “I’m sorry, Lizzy, I didn’t mean to shout. I just…” He sighed again. “I don’t want you to be harmed by your association with me. People will talk. I’ve been considering whether we should part company in the village so that you arrive at Quamby house, alone.”

“And you’d follow, later?”

“No, I’d make my own way home.”

“But…that wasn’t at all the plan we discussed this morning.” She sounded distressed. “Why, this morning, I was going to be your salvation. I was going to be the means by which you’d be once again embraced by society for they’d have no choice but to offer you to stay once they heard about how heroic you’d been.”

“I wasn’t heroic in the slightest, and you know it.” Despite himself, Theo smiled. “I simply did what any bystander would do and extended you an arm to drag you out of the water.”

“No, you did so much more—!”

“Look, Lizzy,” he cut her off, “I know it fits in with your notions of romance to be the heroine who ensures I’m redeemed. But you don’t know all the sordid facts. You don’t know what occurred all those months ago that had people pegging me as the most unconscionable of villains. I’m just surprised you haven’t heard of me.” He rolled his eyes and studied the faded leatherwork of the carriage ceiling, adding, “But you’ll have no shortage of offers from the guests at Quamby House telling you of my supposed crimes.”

“Then why don’t you tell me of them, in your own words? You seem such a … placid fellow… they can’t be that bad.”

“Placid fellow!” If she’d called him a dangerous rakehell or a villainous ruffian she couldn’t have offended him more. “Placid fellow? You think I’m a placid fellow?” Theo was leaning forward now, realising his tone had been much too harsh, and that he was much too close as his eyes bored into hers and he saw the dark pupils of her lovely eyes widen just a few inches from his.

He threw himself back against the squabs as she defended her opinion, saying with a frown, “Well, you have a rather defeated air about you, if you want the truth. When you ran down the river bank and pulled me out of the water, I was very impressed, for you were very energetic and heroic. But then—” She put her head on one side as if to contemplate the matter, adding – “it was as if everything was too much trouble, after that. And now it seems as if it’s too much trouble to even try to get yourself an invitation and therefore a chance to set the record straight so that people will be forced to know the truth, and not what the rumours would have you guilty of.”

Theodore took a moment to formulate a response. He certainly didn’t want to admit that her words couldn’t be more on the money; that he was so afraid of being publicly shamed – again – that he’d rather not take the chance of trying to clear his name.

Lizzy continued to stare at him, waiting patiently, not smiling; just curious. He’d told her nothing and yet she seemed to have formulated a quiet confidence that he could not possibly be guilty of the crimes others would lay at his door.

Carefully, he asked, “Have you ever done something to help someone … but the evidence paints you as a wrongdoer… and there’s not a thing you can do about it?”

“I’d have to think about that, Mr McAlister—”

“You can call me Theo.”

“Oh, thank you!” Her smile lit up her whole face. “Now I feel like you’re at last letting your guard down and I promise you I shall repay the compliment – and your bravery – and do what I can to rectify this terrible situation that’s obviously giving you sleepless nights.”

“They’ll tell you I’m a philanderer who kidnapped a young lady on her way to her wedding.” Theo had his head sunk in his hands so he couldn’t see the horror in her eyes.

He glanced up when he heard her gasp but to his surprise her expression was rapt with wonder. “How romantic!”

“No!” He shook his head. “It wasn’t romantic at all! It was terrible. What I mean to say is… it all went so terribly wrong!”

Discounted for a short time, on all platforms here.

 

The next book in the Scandalous Miss Brightwells is here!

The Honourable Fortune HunterI’m very excited to tell you about The Honourable Fortune Hunter which I’ve been feverishly writing during this lockdown.

It actually started out as quite another book – Five Golden Flings – which is my inclusion in our fabulous Christmas Box Set I’m doing with 11 other well-known historical romance authors.

However, I just couldn’t get the ‘five flings’ thing to work. My heroine Lizzy was having none of it. No, she had two fortune hunters dangling after her; so I just decided to keep writing to see where the story went.

When I reached the second to last chapter, I still couldn’t decide how this story was going to resolve itself. If you’ve read my other work, I like to have an unexpected twist at the end, and I’ve discovered that the best way to make this work so as not to appear contrived, is to go back to the beginning of my story, and edit.

This enables me to get to know my characters better. For example, in this story, Lizzy’s awful benefactress, Mrs Hodge, is selling Lizzy off to a fortune Hunter in exchange for some of Lizzy’s fortune. But why would she do this?

And my lovely hero could marry Lizzy. Except, if he’s to retain the ‘honourable’ moniker, he can’t.

I just didn’t know why not, though, because Theo wasn’t revealing his secrets.

Now I’m a third of the way through editing and very confident I can pull off an ending that works.

Ah, but it’s the unexpected plot twists and surprise in an intrigue-filled, humorous Regency romance like this one that really makes me a happy writer.

And who cares that I’m not allowed to leave my house and see other people during this lock-down?

I have my wonderful Theor McAlister and vibrant Lizzy Scott to lead me down rabbit holes and keep me entertained!

I hope you are all staying well and not suffering too much during these strange and difficult times.

And if you want to check out the blurb or get pre-order The Honourable Fortune Hunter, which will be released on July 7, you can do here at a discount, since the price will go up after July 7.

Get it here!

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