Monday, February 9, 2015

BOOK SPOTLIGHT:@lyricalpress Four Historical Romances! #Western #Regency #Gothic #Fantasy



Fall In Love with Historical Romance from Lyrical Press
Releasing February 2015
Lyrical Press


Wagon Train Cinderella by Shirley Kennedy

Blurb
Love can lead you out of the wilderness…

1851, Overland Trail to California. As a baby, Callie was left on the doorstep of an isolated farmhouse in Tennessee. The Whitaker family took her in, but have always considered her more a servant than a daughter. Scorned by her two stepsisters, Callie is forced to work long hours and denied an education. But a new world opens to her when the Whitakers join a wagon train to California—guided by rugged Luke McGraw…

A loner, haunted by a painful past, Luke plans to return to the wilderness once his work is done. But he can’t help noticing how poorly Callie is treated—or how unaware she is of her beauty and intelligence. As the two become closer over the long trek west, Callie’s confidence grows. And when disaster strikes, Callie emerges as the strong one—and the woman Luke may find the courage to love at last…

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23411504-wagon-train-cinderella?from_search=true


Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info
Shirley Kennedy was born and raised in Fresno, California, where I graduated from Fresno High School. I lived in Canada for many years, enjoying skiing and riding horses, and am a graduate of the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada with a B.S. in Computer Science.

I've had many jobs in my lifetime, including working for several years as a computer programmer/analyst. However, my true passion has always been writing. Even as a little girl I could always be found in a corner reading a book. Finally I took a big risk and decided to devote myself to writing full time. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Now, after writing and publishing several traditional Regencies, published with Ballantine and Signet, I have switched genres and have just published my latest, Looking for Lucky, on Amazon. I'm hoping everyone who cares for animals will enjoy reading this book.

I have two daughters and am forever proud of their accomplishments--and grateful, too, that both are the kind of loving, supportive daughters every mother hopes she'll have. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada, where I belong to the Las Vegas chapter of Romance Writers of America. 

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Goodreads



Cinderella and the Ghost by Marina Myles

The Cursed Princes # 4

Blurb
A DANGEROUS ATTRACTION

When her demanding stepmother died, Ella Benoit knew just how far their fortunes had fallen, unlike her spoiled stepsisters. So she never expected the bequest from her late father. A chateau in France and the freedom to live her own life, all at once!

The chateau has seen better days, but Ella knows she can put the ruined house to rights. The life-size portrait of its first owner, Jean-Daniel Girard, seems to watch her work with approval, even pleasure. With bright blue eyes, strong features, and an athlete’s body, the viscount is a tempting sight even now, more than three hundred years after his tragic death. But the more she looks at the portrait, the more convinced Ella is that she’s met Jean-Daniel before. In another life, perhaps—or maybe, as the form who haunts the halls at night, invading Ella’s dreams…

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23278377-cinderella-and-the-ghost?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link:  
https://www.goodreads.com/series/104659-the-cursed-princes

Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher


Author Info
Although Marina Myles lives under the sunny skies of Arizona, she would reside in a historic manor house in foggy England if she had her way. Her love of books began as soon as she read her first fairy tale and eventually led to a degree in English Literature. Now, with her loyal Maltese close by, she relishes the hours she gets to escape into worlds filled with fiery—but not easily attained—love affairs. She’s busy being a wife, a mother, and a member of Romance Writers of America, but she is never too busy to hear from her amazing readers. Visit her at www.marinamyles.com.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook |Twitter | Goodreads



Temptation Has Green Eyes by Lynne Connolly

The Emperors of London # 2

Blurb

She holds the key to more than a fortune…
There’s more to love than meets the eye…

The daughter of a wealthy merchant, Sophia Russell has no interest in marriage, especially after a recent humiliation—and especially not to Maximilian, Marquess of Devereaux. But it’s the only way to save herself from fortune hunters—and those who wish to seize a powerful connection she prefers to keep secret—even from her future husband…

Marrying Sophia is the only way Max can regain the wealth his father squandered on an extravagant country palace. And while Max and his bride are civil, theirs is clearly a marriage of convenience—until a family enemy takes a questionable interest in Sophia—one that may lead all the way to the throne. Forced to become allies in a battle they hadn’t foreseen, the newlyweds soon grow closer—and discover a love, and a passion, they never expected…

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23412040-temptation-has-green-eyes?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/127811-the-emperors-of-london


Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info
Lynne Connolly was born in Leicester, England, and lived in our cobbler’s shop with my parents and sister. It was an old house and most definitely haunted, but I didn’t find out until I left that my great uncle had hung himself in the living room! But I think our ghost might have been older than that. It was built on the site of the old Roman cemetery, and the land had been constantly inhabited, being in the centre of town. Then, when the council bought the house from us to build a road, my grandfather retired and my father went and worked for the Post Office. My mother was a sample machinist; that is, she worked with designers on the prototypes (models or samples) of garments. So I was very well dressed! We bought a relatively modern house in the country, and my mother was blissfully happy. It’s all very well living in a large old house, but it’s a dreadful task to keep it clean and warm!
My mother's side of the family are Romany gypsies, although sadly we haven't any of the old trailers that are so astonishingly beautiful. I was taught to read the Tarot cards, and I usually use two packs; the Rider pack for simple readings and the Crowley Thoth pack for the complex stuff. I've always had an interest in the paranormal and it's been a delight to be able to put some of this into my novels

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter |Goodreads


The Spinster Bride by Jane Goodger

Blurb

Mr. Charles Norris needs help finding a wife…

For he has the unfortunate habit of falling for each Season's loveliest debutante, only to have his heart broken when she weds another. Surely Lady Marjorie Penwhistle can help him. She's sensible, clever, knows the ton, and must marry a peer, which he is not. Since she's decidedly out of his reach, Charles is free to enjoy her refreshing honesty—and her unexpectedly enticing kisses…

Lady Marjorie Penwhistle doesn't want a husband…

At least not the titled-but-unbearable suitors her mother is determined she wed. She'd rather stay unmarried and look after her eccentric brother. Still, advising Mr. Norris is a most exciting secret diversion. After all, how hard will it be to match-make someone so forthright, honorable, and downright handsome? It's not as if she's in danger of finding Charles all-too-irresistible herself…

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23278376-the-spinster-bride?from_search=true



Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher


Author Info

Jane Goodger
lives in Rhode Island with her husband and three children. Jane, a former journalist, has written seven historical romances. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, walking, playing with her kids, or anything else completely unrelated to cleaning a house.
Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads






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Excerpts

From CINDERELLA AND THE GHOST

Among the inky midnight shadows, Jean-Daniel Girard, formerly le vicomte de Maincy, stirred inside his portrait. It was stifling behind the two-dimensional canvas, but it wasn’t the stuffiness that made him want to escape it. Instead, the profound sense of change JeanDaniel felt inside his beloved home was prompting him to emerge tonight.

Peering through the darkness, he materialized from the life-sized painting as easily as water flows from a faucet.

Even though I’m dead, I sometimes come alive at night.

He would have laughed aloud at the joke—if he weren’t a ghost.

That was the kind of man he’d been over three hundred years ago.

Blithe sense of humor. Carefree demeanor. Lover of life and all it had to offer.

Now, of course, Girard was nothing more than a spirit doomed to haunt his former residence. Since 1703, he’d been floating around the sprawling grounds and vast rooms of Château de Maincy. Trapped inside the perimeter of the dilapidated estate, he was the specter of a man who’d suffered a tragic death. And as a phantom, Jean-Daniel could hardly believe he had been dead so long.

At least I’ve had plenty of time to play my favorite game: hide-n-shriek.

He laughed inwardly at that one. Who says you can’t take your sense of humor with you?

Mouth quirking, he turned and looked back at his painted image.

The so-called “masterpiece” showed him posed in front of Château de Maincy, garbed in early eighteenth-century attire. God, he hated the solemn expression plastered across his face.

In his defense, nobody smiled in portraits centuries ago.

As a strange ripple of energy filtered through the drawing room, he touched his wig. Damn ugly thing. It had itched immensely when he sat for the portrait. That painter had been an irritating fellow. Had to get every detail right.

Now Jean-Daniel was stuck with the unsightly head piece forever.

Since then, Jean-Daniel had winced at the comments people muttered when they passed Michél’s painting. “My goodness! What a dire looking fellow that vicomte was!” Or, “His portrait makes me so sad.” Truth be told, Jean-Daniel had been anything but solemn and morose during his time as one of France’s distant heirs to the throne. Instead, he’d been the epitome of a lighthearted bachelor, sweeping women off their feet, disappearing from the château for weeks at a time to indulge in wine, dancing, and pleasure.

Those were the days.

Grinning, his stare landed on the brown and white hound dog that sat at his feet in the portrait. Jean-Daniel gave a loud whistle. Rémy stirred, stretched, and then emerged in ghostly form outside the painting.

“Good boy!” He gave the dog an enthusiastic pat before he crouched and scratched the animal behind both ears. “Thank God I have you to keep me company.”

Rémy lifted a paw as if to say, “It’s just you and me, Master.”

Jean-Daniel frowned. “You seem anxious tonight, boy.” Rémy whimpered.

“I know,” Jean-Daniel said as he glanced around. “I feel it, too.

The lady from the management company set off a strange energy when she came here yesterday. She hasn’t been around in a while and I think she’s readying the house for a new owner. I sense it in my bones. If I had bones, that is.”

Rémy let his tongue hang out in an amused pant.

Jean-Daniel stood. “Do you think the new owner is her?” The dog let out a firm “yap.”

“If it is, my heart will finally mend.” He exhaled. “And maybe we’ll be released from this purgatory.”

Rémy barked louder.

Before Jean-Daniel died a tragic death, he hadn’t known much about ghosts. Now, unfortunately, he knew too much. Whenever someone died under heartrending circumstances, they manifested as a spirit at the scene of their passing. People asserted Jean-Daniel’s untimely death had been a result of murder or possibly suicide. Of course, he knew the truth about how he died. Well, she knew, too—the woman he’d loved beyond all reason.

With lapis-blue eyes, a stunning face, and gleaming ivory hair, Ella had come to Château de Maincy weeks before his death.

Now, if she resurfaced here in present day (in reincarnated form or whatever one calls it), Jean-Daniel would have to get her to enter his painting and travel back in time. Once she succeeded in returning to 1703, Jean-Daniel wanted her to alter the course of what happened to him.

A fate etched in blood.

He shuddered. Would he recognize Ella when they met for the first time in the eighteenth century? He feared he wouldn’t. Yet he held out hope that they’d gradually fall in love—as he remembered them doing all those years ago.

Only then could they rewrite the scene of their tragic parting.

--

“Has the time come?” Ella whispered.

“I’m afraid so,” the nurse replied softly. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing more I can do except refresh her morphine drip to make her comfortable.”

Ella nodded numbly.

After the middle-aged nurse replenished the plastic medicine bag, she studied the concern in Ella’s face. “I’ll leave you two alone.” The bedroom fell into silence. Forcing a dry lump down her throat, Ella leaned over and said, “I know I’m not the one you want to be with in these final hours, Adelaide, but I’m here for you.” She took her stepmother’s hand in hers.

Minutes passed. Ella watched the green line on the monitor rise and fall at slower and longer intervals. She squeezed Adelaide’s hand but Adelaide didn’t squeeze it back. Just before the monitor flatlined, the old woman turned her head away defiantly.

The day of the funeral arrived quickly. Right up until the moment Adelaide was buried, an emptiness filled Ella. She was having a hard time coming to terms with her stepmother’s death. Not because she felt an overwhelming sadness, of course. Adelaide Benoit had been a coldhearted, critical woman—and her poorly-attended memorial service proved just that.

Hiding behind a wave of shoulder-length blond hair, Ella stole a look at her stepsisters who stood across the gravesite from her. Hope and Charity. Never had two people been given more ironic names. Squalor and Misery were more like it. Or Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum—because one was never present without the other. Thus, both of them had left Ella behind to care for their sick mother.

“I understand you stayed with Mother till the end,” Hope said as her bright-red hair blew askew in the warm summer breeze.

“Yes,” Ella replied crisply. Who else did you think would be there for her? .

“We got your message that Mother was in hospice.” Charity headed for her car. “But we didn’t think she’d go that fast.”

“What do you think, Hope?” Charity panted. “When Mum’s will is read, do you think we’ll find that she left Ella something spectacular?” The sisters huddled together, twittering obnoxiously.

Twenty minutes later, Ella and her stepsisters found themselves gathered around the massive dining table inside the family mansion.

Walter Brimhall, Adelaide and Laurent Benoit’s attorney for decades, sat at its head. Thin and efficient, Walter sported a neatly-trimmed mustache and salt and pepper hair. From over his bifocals, he scrutinized the small assemblage. His compassionate wife, Mimi, sat next to him.

“Ladies,” Walter began, “I dare say we all knew Adelaide as a strong, ambitious woman who enjoyed spoiling her daughters.” He paused. “At least her biological daughters.”

Hope and Charity exchanged greedy grins.

“Adelaide did much in her sixty-five years,” he went on. “She was born in Paris where she met and married her second husband, Laurent Benoit. They settled here in California. After the unfortunate passing of Laurent, Adelaide bought and sold numerous properties. Unfortunately, most of those real estate dealings were not successful.”

Hope’s and Charity’s grins vanished.

“Adding to Adelaide’s financial misfortune was the way she spoiled you girls.” Walter shot the sisters a critical look. “In the end,” Walter said grimly, “Adelaide squandered all of her personal assets—as well as the enormous fortune Laurent left her.” Ella’s heart thudded. She was aware of these things, but it still hurt to hear them. Her father would have been sorely disappointed that there was nothing left.

“What are you saying, Walter?” Hope screeched.

He cast her a serious look. “I chose to lead up to the reading of the will in this manner for a reason.”

The stepsisters tucked their phones away while Walter adjusted his bifocals and unfolded the will. “Let’s begin. To my daughters Hope Agnes and Charity Bernice, I regret that I cannot bequeath you anything except my precious poodles, Creampuff and Cupcake.” Hope and Charity went white.

“What in God’s name?” Charity yelped. “I thought we’d get the house!”

Walter met the girls’ gapes with a scowl. “As shocking as this may be, this mansion is going into foreclosure. Your mother hasn’t paid the mortgage for six months and the bank is taking it back.” Shoulders tensed, Walter proceeded to read from the will again.

“To my stepdaughter, Ella.”

A tingling sensation formed in Ella’s stomach. She knew there wasn’t any money left, but perhaps Adelaide had left her something sentimental . . . anything to show her appreciation.

“At the request of my late husband, Laurent Albert Benoit—and I stress that this is at his request only—my stepdaughter Ella shall inherit Château de Maincy, an estate in France purchased by Laurent in 1996.”

Hope and Charity gasped simultaneously. Ella’s entire body prickled with surprise. What? She barely heard Walter as he continued reading.

“Upon my death, the title of this estate—which has been held in a trust thus far—shall be passed to Ella. The trust also holds two hundred and fifty thousand U.S. dollars. This amount has been designated exclusively for the care and renovation of Château de Maincy.” Walter set the will down. “Ella, I’m pausing to inform you that Laurent appointed a financial planner to manage the trust fund. This savvy planner has grown its total to four hundred and fifty thousand dollars by investing in the stock market.”

Ella’s heart threatened to leave her chest. She wasn’t excited because she’d inherited an exotic estate in France and a good deal of money. She was excited to have the freedom and purpose that came with the gifts.

“We got a pair of slobbering pooches and Ella gets a French estate?” barked Hope.

“I’m not taking those damn dogs.” Charity crossed her arms defiantly.

“Why should Ella get a boatload of money and a château?” shouted Hope. “She’s just the stepdaughter!”

Walter folded the will, placed it inside his briefcase, and laced his hands together. “That concludes the reading of Adelaide’s last will and testament.”

--

“Those horrible girls!” Mimi said. “How did you stand them growing up?”

“I had no choice.” Ella shuddered. The girls’ torturous ways had started right after her father died. From spiders in her bed, lye in her shampoo bottle, and horrible language that could make guests on The Jerry Springer Show blush, Ella’s life had been sabotaged by Hope and Charity.

Mimi lowered her voice although there was no one around to hear her. “Adelaide wasn’t the most generous person. When Walter and I needed help—”

“It’s water under the bridge, my dear,” Walter said gently.

Mimi chimed in, “We’ve taken the liberty of purchasing your plane ticket to France. That’s how happy we are for you.” “You bought my plane ticket?” Ella said excitedly. “You didn’t have to do that!”

“It was nothing.” Walter showed a rare smile.

“You leave tomorrow,” Walter said.

“Tomorrow?” Ella cried. “But there’s so much to do here!” “We’ll take care of everything,” the attorney assured her. “Your stepmother named me executor of the estate, so go. Mimi and I intend to auction the furniture to pay for Adelaide’s medical bills. So, jet off to a new life.”

“You’re free, Ella,” Mimi said softly. “Free to be who you truly are.”



From THE SPINSTER BRIDE

Marjorie Penwhistle came to the startling realization, on the fifth of May in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred seventy-four, that she was destined to be a spinster. That she was, in fact, already a spinster. She had been overlooked.

Marjorie loved her mother dearly, but often found herself disliking her. The burden of always being the good child, the beautiful one, the charming and special one, grew tiresome. If she were the golden child, her poor brother George was the pariah. George, with all his wonderful imperfections, bitterly embarrassed their mother.

Sweet George, who didn’t have a mean bone in his lanky body, was the object of Lady Summerfield’s scorn. And so, as much as Marjorie loved her mother, she disliked her, too. Disliked the way she treated her beloved brother, the way her eyes turned cold when he walked into a room.

Marjorie wished her brother were here. Instead, he was out with their cousin, Jeffrey, a nice enough chap if you liked sullen men who constantly complained of their lack of funds. Ironically, the two were playing cards at their club. Marjorie gazed around the room, then halted when she saw the familiar shock of her brother’s bright red hair. Next to her, her mother stiffened, and Marjorie’s stomach twisted, to see the object of her thoughts walking toward them.

“Good God, he’s not even dressed,” Dorothea said with horror.

“He’s dressed, dear Mother, just not properly.” Marjorie gave George an affectionate smile. He was wearing an informal suit with a bright green vest and mustard-yellow cravat. His hair, never truly tamed, was particularly messy, as if he’d been out in a windstorm. Marjorie left her mother’s side to intercept him and lead him away from their parent. “I wasn’t expecting you this evening, George,” she said, looping her arm affectionately around one of his. “And from your dress, I don’t believe you were, either.”

“Mother is going to be so angry, Marjorie,” George said, swallowing thickly. He sounded frightened to death.

Marjorie felt the blood drain from her head, and she pulled him into a hall for even more privacy and to get away from her mother’s prying eyes. “What’s happened, George?”

“I like playing cards at school. I’m good at it, too. I almost always win because I know what cards there are. I keep track of what’s left, you see.”

“You gamble, George?” Marjorie asked, dreading what was to come.

“Only for a few pence at school. But I went to the club—it’s Wednesday, you know.”

Yes, Marjorie knew what day it was and also knew that on every Wednesday George went to his club without fail. However, she’d never known him to join a card game.

“I saw Lord Hefford and Lord Pendergast and asked if I could join their game. A Mr. Norris was there, too.”

“Charles Norris?” Marjorie asked, with the feeling of dread growing. She’d met Charles Norris during a house party. The boisterous Mr. Norris had briefly pursued her dear friend Katherine Wright, now the Countess of Avonleigh.

“Yes. Charles Norris. He won a lot of money from me.”

Marjorie could feel sweat forming along her hairline as her trepidation grew. Surely Mr. Norris would not take money from George.

Then again, perhaps he hadn’t noticed that her brother was slightly . . . off. Oh, she adored George, but she worried about him in social situations. He was brilliant researching law, which was why he was a solicitor, but he’d never be an effective barrister. He was, to say the least, awkward. “How much money did he win, George?”

“Twenty-four thousand, five hundred and thirty-two pounds.”

What little blood was left in her head drained away and Marjorie actually swayed. “Oh, no, George.” She knew it wasn’t the loss of money that was the most important thing, it was that George had lost the money. If it had been Marjorie, her mother would have forgiven it, would have even laughed at her daughter’s silly folly. But this was George and he would never be forgiven. It was simply another flaw that would never be overlooked, another reason for her mother to claim he was not worthy of the title. How many times had her mother said aloud that she wished she could petition the House of Lords to remove his title? Even Lady Summerfield knew that was a nearly impossible task. But losing such a sum? It would simply add fodder to her claims of incompetence. Poor George would not fare well in any public hearing.

“It’s all right, Margie. He said he’d forgive the debt. He gave me this note to deliver to you.”

The relief she felt was nearly as strong as the fear she’d experienced just moments before. Perhaps Mr. Norris was a good, fair man who realized George likely didn’t understand the enormity of what he’d done.

Marjorie took the note, suspecting it was simply an explanation of the evening’s events.

Please meet me at my townhouse 25 Bury St. immediately so that we may negotiate the terms of the dissolution of your brother’s debt. Yrs. Charles Norris

The dread came back in force. Immediately? It was nearly one in the morning. She couldn’t possibly . . .

Oh, she would have to, drat it all. Marjorie looked up at George, angry with her brother for putting her in such a situation. And frustrated that he seemed so completely oblivious to this fact. “George, I am very, very angry with you.”

“You are?”

“Yes. You are never to gamble again, do you understand me, George? Never.”

George ducked his head, his pale, freckled cheeks turning scarlet. Marjorie instantly felt remorseful, for she couldn’t remember the last time she’d raised her voice to George. Using a softer tone, she said,

“This was very bad of you, George. He has not forgiven the debt but has requested a meeting. Thank goodness he’s asked to see me and not Mother.”

George couldn’t know how very improper such a request was, and if she felt she had a choice, she would have refused. But how could she? If Mr. Norris did not forgive the debt, her mother would surely take steps to remove George from society. Why would any gentleman demand to see an unmarried woman in his townhouse at such a dis- reputable hour? For all his flaws—and Marjorie had noted quite a few in their brief acquaintance—she had thought him to be a gentleman.

She tried to remember what she did know of the man, but came up with a woefully small amount of information. If she remembered correctly, he was the second son of Viscount Hartley, and a diplomat of some sort who’d recently returned from somewhere. She gave an inward shrug. She’d no doubt find out more about his motives in a few minutes, for his home on Bury Street wasn’t far from where she stood now. If it weren’t for the hour, they could have walked. “You will accompany me to his townhouse, George, but wait in the carriage. If I do not return outside in twenty minutes, you are to knock loudly on the door and demand entrance.” George, with his head still down, nodded.

--

Once in the carriage, seated across from her brother, Marjorie tried to remain calm. Those words in the cryptic note nagged at her— “negotiate the terms.” What on earth could he mean by that? Her imagination suggested every scenario from her hand in marriage, to her virtue, or one of her family’s properties. But if he wanted a property, couldn’t he have negotiated that with George? Her brother was the head of the family and quite capable of such a negotiation.

Oh, God, would he want . . . favors? Her stomach twisted as she tried to recall anything she could about Charles Norris. He was a gentleman—at least he had been raised that way. His brother, heir to the viscountcy, was a highly respected man with an excellent reputation.

In short order, the carriage pulled up in front of the townhouse on fashionable Bury Street, not far from St. James’s Square. The streets were deserted, but well lit by gas lamps hissing in the quiet of the night. With a deep sigh, Marjorie stepped down from the carriage, ignoring the concerned look of their footman, and walked up the steps to the front door. Twisting the bell, she stepped back, clutching her fists to her stomach in a desperate attempt to squelch the sick nervousness settling there. She barely had time to collect herself when the door opened to a tall Indian man wearing a traditional dhoti and white turban.

“Lady Marjorie, please come in. Mr. Norris is expecting you.”

“Lovely,” Marjorie said, stepping into the dimly lit entry hall.

“This way.” The servant walked down a long, dark hall, which only added to the trepidation in her heart. She thought she heard a strange grunting sound coming from the direction of their path, and she stopped dead.

The man turned toward her inquiringly.

“I . . . Are there no lights?”

“Ah, forgive my rudeness. I am used to walking these halls in the darkness and quite forgot you are not familiar with this house.” He pulled a match from his pocket and lit a wall sconce. “Better, no?”

Marjorie smiled. “Much better, thank you.”

“Now we can contin—” His sentence was interrupted by a very loud and very foul curse. “Nighttime can be difficult for Mr. Norris,” the Indian said cryptically, before continuing down the hall.

“Perhaps another time would be better?” Marjorie called after him.

He turned again, smiling pleasantly. “This way, my lady.”

With a sigh of resignation, Marjorie began walking toward the end of the hall, stopping when the man knocked softly at a door, which showed a dim light underneath. Here they would no doubt find the loud and foul-mouthed Mr. Norris.

“Goddamnit, Prajit, if she ain’t here yet, leave me the fuck alone!”

“Perhaps I should come back at a more respectable hour, sir?”

Charles spun around from his spot by the fire where he’d stood, hoping the warmth of the flames would soothe the agonizing pain shooting through his leg. He muttered yet another curse, clenched his jaw, and forced a smile, which even he knew probably made him look like a madman.

“Lady Marjorie, I apologize for the lateness of the hour, but I wanted this resolved as soon as possible.”

Through the haze of pain, he was aware the lady was dressed for a ball, and he had enough wits about him to realize she’d been pulled from said ball to attend him. “And I apologize again for taking you from what I imagine was a pleasant evening.”

“Perhaps more pleasant than this,” she said, raising one brow in her lovely face.

Now that she was in front of him, he realized he remembered her quite well. It was rather difficult to meet Lady Marjorie Penwhistle and not remember her. She was, in fact, every Englishman’s fantasy of what an English woman should look like—if one preferred darkhaired beauties as opposed to blondes. Her complexion was near perfection, creamy and smooth with the slightest blush along her delicate cheekbones. Her nose was small, her chin perhaps a bit strong (a gift, no doubt, from her mother), but she was in no way mannish. Her eyes were dark, and in this light, he couldn’t tell if they were dark blue or perhaps brown. Her entire countenance gave her an air of authority and intelligence—and coldness. No, he wasn’t the least bit attracted to her.

She would be perfect for him.



2 comments:

Tasty Book Tours said...

Thank you for hosting the Historical Spotlight!

Janice Hougland said...

In Cinderella and the Ghost I was glad for the excerpt that showed how Ella fared living with her two "ugly" stepsisters and how she was bequeathed the chateau in France. I love this take on a favorite fairytale and can't wait to see how Ella and the Ghost get along. :-) I also liked the excerpt from The Spinster Bride and am looking forward to seeing how Marjorie and her marriage of convenience fare. I have a feeling there will be an HEA in this story too! Thanks so much for the post. jdh2690@gmail.com