Book Tour: The Whirlpools of Time by Anna Belfrace #timetravel #ScottishHistoricalRomance @abelfrageauthor @maryanneyarde

Book Title: The Whirlpools of Time

Author: Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: 11th June 2021

Publisher: Timelight Press

Page Length: 388 Pages

Genre: Time travel romance, Scottish Historical Romance

He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.

It is 1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…

Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction.

The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion. 

Will they find Duncans uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?

Trigger Warnings: Sexual Content. Violence.

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Available on #KindleUnlimited.


“Storm coming,” Lewis said laconically. “I can smell it.”

Duncan studied the sky. If anything, the clouds had sunk even lower, dark and menacing they seemed within touching distance. What little wind there had been fell away, and sweat dewed Duncan’s face, his neck.

“Best increase our pace,” he said.

“Won’t help,” Lewis said. “We’ll be caught in it anyway.”

Duncan gave him an irritated look.

Lewis merely shrugged. “One does not die of rain or thunder,” he said. “I recall—”

Whatever Lewis remembered was drowned in a clap of thunder. And just like that, the storm was upon them. Daylight disappeared, replaced by a murky half-light that made it difficult to see much more than the road before them. Rain fell in torrents from above, and all around lightning flared.

Duncan’s horse baulked, shying from something Duncan could not see. He heard Lewis call out, tried to locate his man but could not make out anything but the whipping branches of the trees. Now and then the darkness was seared with light when a bolt of lightning flashed too close, and every time that happened, Duncan’s mount skittered sideways, throwing frantically with her head.

The road was still visible, widening into a crossroads. Duncan wiped at his face and tried to take his bearings. They were at most a couple of miles from Bourne’s Island. Something crackled overhead. This time, lightning struck very close. Thunder roared, the ground shook.

Duncan’s mare reared and neighed.

“Easy lass,” Duncan said, clutching at her mane to keep his seat. She reared again, bucked, and Duncan was sent flying. He landed painfully in the gravel. His head connected with a rock and for a moment he lost consciousness. Long enough that when he looked up the horse was gone, racing back the way they’d come.


Duncan tried to stand. His head hurt, his face stung and there was blood on the knees of his breeches. Yet another clap of thunder had him jumping backwards, pain shooting through his left leg. The crossroads was a slurry of mud, and the ground tilted this way and that. Once again lightning flashed overhead and the road beneath his feet shook. He had to find cover but standing under trees in a thunderstorm was never a good idea. Duncan shivered and took a shuffling step towards the closest oak. At least it would offer some cover from the rain and lashing wind.

Step by careful step, he made his way over the crossroads. God’s fish, but his leg hurt, and to judge from how his vision blurred, the blow to his head had been hard enough to do some serious damage. One more step and he was at the centre of the crossroads, gaping at how the muddy water swirled around his feet. And then something changed. Instead of dirty brown water, wisps of bright colours coiled themselves around his feet. Green and blue bands tightened round his legs. He couldn’t move, transfixed by the colours. With a roar, the ground at his feet parted. Duncan fell, his last conscious thought being that Grandma Alex had been right: crossroads were dangerous places indeed.


Erin Barnes leaned forward to crank up the volume, squinting at the road before her. Her wipers swished back and forth like a couple of high-speed metronomes, but with the rain coming down in torrents they did little to improve visibility.

She took a right and lowered her speed as she approached the old crossroads. In weather such as this, the old gravel roads became water-logged, and she definitely didn’t need the complication of an accident. Not after this shitty day. Her hands tightened on the steering wheel. She threw a look at the rear-view mirror: no headlights following her. Idiot, she told herself, they wouldn’t dare.

“No, of course they wouldn’t,” she said out loud but the knot of tension that lived in her stomach remained where it was, an uncomfortable weight that had her glancing back the way she’d come over and over again. Steve might. He’d looked ready to throttle her earlier and he had a damned short temper.

Had her grandmother Emily been alive, she’d have told Erin that some crusades were best left alone—unless one was willing to pay the price. Crusade? Erin snorted. This was no crusade, this was her sinking her teeth into a story that would make her career as a journalist and avenge Emily’s death. Well, unless the story got her killed first.

She’d spent months getting an in on it, swallowing down the desire to throw up that afflicted her whenever Steve kissed her or pawed at her body. And now…She tightened her hold on the wheel, recalling just how quickly Josephine Wilkes’ expression had changed, from mildly interested to icy rage when she studied the pics in Erin’s phone. Okay, so she’d done a lot of illegal snooping to take those pics, using the hot romance between Steve and herself as a cover to access his family home on several occasions. Too bad Mama Josephine wasn’t as dense as her youngest son—but then, if she’d been that dumb she would not be heading the racketeering business she’d inherited from her husband years ago.

So here she was, driving madly for the safety of her home, south of the air field. Safety? Please! But now that they had her phone, now that they’d slapped her around a bit, maybe they thought she’d do the smart thing and just keep her head down. Huh. When she’d squeezed out of the narrow bathroom window and sprinted for her car, Erin had been as determined as ever to bring the Wilkes family down. Even more, actually, given that now it was personal, her face swollen and puffy after the repeated “love pats” from dear ex-boyfriend Steve.

Thunder crackled through the night and Erin jumped, the car swerving slightly. Shit! More thunder, and if anything the rain intensified, a veritable deluge that had her slowing her speed to a crawl. A flash of lightning illuminated the landscape and a huge bundle lying right in the middle of the crossroads. Was that a man? An outflung arm? Erin stepped on the brake. Too late. There was a dull thump when her fender connected with the object. For some moments, she just sat there, her hands clenched so tight round the steering wheel they hurt. On the radio, someone was singing about perfection.

From outside came a loud howl. It made her jump. Definitely a human voice and with a deep sigh Erin concluded her day had just gone from bad to worse. She’d just hit some poor idiot, although to be fair, it was just as much his fault as hers. What sort of moron would just lie on the middle of the road. An injured one, her brain told her, one that is even more injured now that you’ve run him over.

There was a gun in the glove compartment, and she tucked it into the waist of her jeans before getting out. One never knew, this could be one of Steve’s more subtle attempts at getting his hands on her, but the moment she thought it she dismissed it as ridiculous. Steve had little finesse, was way more into brutal intimidation. She shivered, uncertain if it was the rain or the thought of Steve that chilled her to the bone. The pile on the road groaned.

A man, she concluded some moments later. Dark hair plastered to his forehead, something that resembled a linen shirt stuck to his torso and long legs encased in weird pants and knee-high boots. Erin rolled her eyes. One of those Renaissance Fair types, she thought, placing a careful hand on his back to make sure he was still breathing.

“Hey,” she said, wiping at her face. “Are you okay?” Stupid, stupid question. The man’s eyes fluttered open.

“Hi,” she said, trying out a little smile.

“Hi?” He scooted out of reach and sat up, groaning loudly. He looked at her. His eyes widened. He blinked and looked again.

“Can you stand?” she asked him, wondering if it would be totally uncharitable to help him to the side and then drive off.


Aye? And what an odd accent. He sounded British, somehow.

The man lurched to his feet, took a step and promptly fell to his knees.

“Are you drunk?” she demanded. He clutched at his left leg and she was suffused with guilt. She’d broken his leg or something, and here she was accusing him of being drunk.

He looked at her. “I wish I was,” he said. “It would explain my hallucinations.”


“Aye.” His eyes narrowed. “Or are you real?” Once again, he stood, favouring his left leg. He was tall, well over six feet, and that shirt of his displayed an impressively broad chest. He was also bleeding from a gash on his forehead, his right sleeve was badly burned as was the forearm and hand, and he grimaced when he put weight on his left foot.

“Of course I’m real.” She grabbed hold of him when he swayed. He yelped and shied away, landing yet again on the ground.

“God’s fish!” he exclaimed. “You are real!”


Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. 

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. Her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk, has her returning to medieval times. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. Her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, is a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands.

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna, her books and her eclectic historical blog on her website, .

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Book Tour: Tho I Be Mute by Heather Miller #historicalfiction @HMHFR

Book Title: ‘Tho I Be Mute

Author: Heather Miller

Publication Date: 13th July 2021

Publisher: Defiance Press and Publishing

Page Length: 340 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Home. Heritage. Legacy. Legend.

In 1818, Cherokee John Ridge seeks a young man’s education at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. While there, he is overcome with sickness yet finds solace and love with Sarah, the steward’s quiet daughter. Despite a two-year separation, family disapproval, defamatory editorials, and angry mobs, the couple marries in 1824.

Sarah reconciles her new family’s spirituality and her foundational Christianity. Although, Sarah’s nature defies her new family’s indifference to slavery. She befriends Honey, half-Cherokee and half-African, who becomes Sarah’s voice during John’s extended absences.

Once arriving on Cherokee land, John argues to hold the land of the Cherokees and that of his Creek neighbors from encroaching Georgian settlers. His success hinges upon his ability to temper his Cherokee pride with his knowledge of American law. Justice is not guaranteed.

Rich with allusions to Cherokee legends, ‘Tho I Be Mute speaks aloud; some voices are heard, some are ignored, some do not speak at all, compelling readers to listen to the story of a couple who heard the pleas of the Cherokee.

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Chapter 1: Daughter of the Sun, Clarinda Ridge, daughter of John and Sarah Ridge

Storm clouds stole the last daylight while I removed my coat. In the sudden darkness, my hand reached for the cold pewter candle holder, topped with beeswax stick and wick. Carrying it to the wood-burning stove near the window, I pulled a twig from a thin broom, its usefulness long forgotten, and removed a switch, touching it to an ember in the banked fire. Smoke billowed into the cabin from the stove’s door. The switch sparked. I torched the candlewick in its man-made rest and returned to the wood-burning stove, dragging the chair behind me—the tree’s extension of my hand. Opening the stove door and loading the iron beast with oak, wood smoked, ignited. This weather premeditated more of its kind: a harsh, blowing fall that doused and chilled the bones of those left outside under tonight’s storm’s revenge.

I removed my leather shoes and woolen socks, stretching out my legs near the fire. Digaleni stirred and stood, expecting the stove’s radiant heat. He stretched his hind legs, extending his hindquarters high as his ears weighed his head low. He slunk for a scratch behind his namesake—Digaleni, ears in English—and sank low in front of the stove. I propped my feet atop his shoulder blades, both of us content to remain for the upcoming hours of this full moon’s rebellious storm.

Anxious rain pelted the roof with innumerable drops. Water collected in an old iron pot from a small hole in the roof where the oak’s branches grew through weaker boards. Neither limb nor rain intruded, was only a welcomed, accustomed guest. Like two people sitting with their backs together, my home and oak tree held one another upright.

I grabbed a spool and my hoop from Momma’s sewing box beside my chair. Using my teeth to separate a strand, I licked the thread to make it straight and held the needle steady to weave the cotton thread through the eye. With the muslin-covered hoop angled in my lap, I stitched from practice and skill. With continued minute and deliberate gestures, a border formed with each stitch. Then, with keen eyes, I rethreaded the needle. This time, instead of thread, I used a strand of my hair, licking the end before threading the eye.

From here, I sewed with my eyes closed, each stitch guided by touch alone. The door rattled against the wind. Not hearing, I sewed one petal of the incomplete moonflower. I must complete this task tonight. Opening my eyes, I saw the shape of the full bloom, filling with my hair, sewn by my fingers. I continued to the next. 

Digaleni stood with a slow-rumbled woof to the door while I sewed and prayed to the Great Spirit for an hour longer. The rain beat and blew. With one last elaborate pull and knot, the poisonous moonflower was complete but starkly different from the one between the pages. It contrasted in color from the bloom, as do I, with my blood from two nations. 

From exhaustion, the rain ceased its tantrum. The moon looked peacefully again upon the Earth. While the Thunder Brother, the one that lost the game, growled and rumbled with resignation from the far side of the mountain. I moved to my bed and dreamt of bird spirits who lost their wings and transformed into great white snakes.

Daylight found my eyes in the eastern sky’s morning haze. It turned colder. Digaleni pawed beside the door as I rubbed my eyes against the day’s masked sun. I moved first to sit and then to stand and walked to lift the latch. Digaleni bounded down the steps and pawed at the grassy ground. I could not see what he sought. Then, his body contorted and limped away, darkened within my standing shadow. He fell on his side, curled, and did not move again. With hurried steps, I reached for him. The rattler struck, jaws spread wide, clamping onto my outstretched forearm. I gasped with escaping breath—soundless. 

Poison seeped into my blood. My eyes clouded as I fell. My body spilled down the stairs. The snake slithered across my tousled strands into the grass. Having completed his quest, he rattled in triumph. Continuous ticks pulsed in time with my failing heart. Owl’s wings shuttered, and he flew northward.

About the Author

Heather Miller

As an English educator, Heather Miller has spent twenty-three years teaching her students the author’s craft. Now, she is writing it herself, hearing voices from the past.

Miller’s foundation began in the theatre, through performance storytelling. She can tap dance, stage-slap someone, and sing every note from Les Misérables. Her favorite role is that of a fireman’s wife and mom to three: a trumpet player, a future civil engineer, and a future RN. There is only one English major in her house.

While researching, writing, and teaching, she is also working towards her M FA in Creative Writing. Heather’s corndog-shaped dachshund, Sadie, deserves an honorary degree.

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Release Blitz: The Glass Demon by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead #paranormalromance #historical @totally_bound @firstforromance

The Glass Demon by
Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Book 2 in the The de Chastelaine Chronicles series

Word Count: 66,464
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 245



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Book Description

What you can’t see could kill you.

When Cecily arrives at her new home with her fiancé, Raf, she’s looking forward to a happy life with all her fears behind her. No longer a put-upon drudge, she is loved and free, ready to explore their new world.

After a summer spent battling the forces of darkness, Raf’s happy to get back to the garden of his chaotic ancestral home. There are flowers to tend and vegetables to harvest and he’s determined to create a perfect sanctuary for Cecily to call her own.

But when a demon made of glass escapes from an ancient church window, the peace of their idyllic village is shattered. Neighbour turns against neighbour, crops turn bad in the soil and flies blacken the air. As a child lingers between life and death, bewitched by the glass demon’s bite, Raf and Cecily must remind the villagers of what really matters and unite the community in a battle to send their infernal tormentor back to hell.


They’d been travelling since early that morning, and Cecily had wrapped herself up in a blanket to keep warm in Raf’s rattly Austin 7. A frost was silvering the landscape when they had set off but once the sun had pushed above the hills and its light had strengthened, the earth had emerged from under its icy crust.

Cecily had never been to Yorkshire before, and certainly never to Acaster Garrow. It almost seemed like a fable whenever Raf mentioned it, and their journey from Devon had been such a long one that Cecily had been half-convinced they’d never arrive.

But eventually Cecily noticed a change. Seagulls swooped overhead and the air took on a briny tang. And once they’d crested a hill, Acaster Garrow was laid out before them, as vivid as a drawing in a child’s book.

Beyond the clustered white cottages and little fishing port and the pointed spire of the church was the wide-open expanse of the sea, gentle waves lapping over its surface and washing against the edge of the sandy beaches. Fishing boats bobbed on the horizon, a little welcoming committee for the returning hero and his new companion. This was her home now, a place where she would love and be loved.

“Smell that fresh air,” Raf declared with a merry smile, drawing in a deep breath. Trapped in the school that had been her prison, Cecily had never seen anyone actually look happy to be home, but she knew that she was seeing it now. “And there’s the sea!”

Cecily gasped. “It’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful, I’ve never seen anything so beautiful before! Where’s your house, Raf? Can we see it from here? Will you show me? Show me everything!

The car puttered to a halt and Raf peered out through the windscreen. When he turned his glittering gaze on Cecily, she felt once more that almost overwhelming surge of love for him that had become her balm and blanket, her comfort when she had thought all hope was gone. They had saved each other in so many ways.

“Right, Miss Sissy Pincombe,” he said. “We can see my house plain as the nose on my admittedly handsome face. But which one could it be? What’s your guess?”

Cecily sat forwards on her seat, her nose almost pressed up against the windscreen. She squinted, and as she did so her vision blurred and the village turned into a daub of colour—the many greens of the trees and grass, the grey stone and the darker grey sea. And—

Cecily shot back in her seat in surprise. She opened her eyes and pointed down into the valley below them. “There—isn’t that your house? All those flowers, all those reds and purples and yellows!”

A blossoming garden in the creeping autumn cool. It can only be Raf’s house.

“That’s it! Our little nest. The de Chastelaine family pile!”

Little? Hardly.

Set a short way outside the village, with its kaleidoscope of a garden ending in the cliff edge, Cecily could see a large, rambling stone house. It was just as she had seen it in her mind when Raf had asked her to use her powers as a sensitive to picture it. It had huge chimneys and a long tree-lined drive, and although it was not more than three storeys high it was wide, which gave it an open, welcoming aspect. The curl of smoke rising from one of the chimneys put her in mind of a cosy fire and she shivered with anticipation. She was coming home.

No wonder I thought it was a hotel when I pictured it.

And all those flowers, and—surely it can’t be blossom, not at this time of year—but from where Cecily sat, she was certain Raf’s garden boasted fruit trees covered in white and pink fluff. A very particular sort of fruit tree, Cecily decided.

And in that garden she’d plant the lavender cutting she’d brought from Devon, though it would seem a paltry little thing next to all those flowering giants.

“What do you think?” Raf asked, his voice filled with the same excitement that Cecily felt at the sheer sight of the place. “It’s missing a bit of southwest lavender and a gorgeous chatelaine called Sissy, but apart from that it’s a nice old place.”

“I’m in love with it already!” Cecily put her arm around Raf and rested her chin on his shoulder. “You’re such a clever gardener. How do you get your garden to look like that in the autumn?”

“Transylvanian magic!” That’s probably true. Raf turned his head and kissed Cecily’s nose. “Ready to go home?”

“Yes!” Cecily clapped her hands. Then she bit her lip, suddenly shy. “Sorry, darling… I don’t mean to carry on like an irritating child…”

“Is that a joke? That’d better be a joke.” He reached up his hand and rested it on Cecily’s cheek. “You’ve got years and years of fun and silly and being loved to make up for. I love you, Sissy. You can be as excited as you like!”

“As long as you’re sure you don’t mind?” Even if she and Raf were in love, Cecily had spent so long with a husband who had been indifferent to her at best that she still wavered. Sometimes she forgot she could be herself now, beholden to no one.

Raf shook his head. Then he grinned, showing those sharp canines that were a clue to his rather unusual heritage. “You’re free. And you’re now one half of Britain’s foremost spiritual operative team. You’re a woman to be reckoned with!”

Cecily sat up straighter in her seat, but she was still a little unsure. It was such a welcoming scene yet she still felt trepidation. She shouldn’t, but she could only think her unease stemmed from the prospect of being around new people in an entirely different environment from what she had known before. “And the people in Acaster Garrow, they won’t mind you’ve brought me home?”

“You’re joking? They’ll probably throw a party!” With that, Raf’s car set off down the hill and they continued on the final leg of what had been a monumental journey. With Raf’s sprawling home in sight Cecily felt nothing but a wonderful sense of homecoming, of belonging in a place she had never even seen except in her mind’s eye. The few people they passed welcomed Raf with a wave or a cry of greeting or, in the case of an elderly man on a bicycle and a younger man fitting a gate to a pasture, a signal that clearly meant they were due a catch-up in the pub.

“How will I ever meet everyone? And remember their names?” Cecily laughed awkwardly. “Is there a fête? Maybe I could win them over with my biscuits.”

“Don’t worry about winning folk over. We’re a nice bunch,” he assured her as the car rolled to a halt before a pair of tall and elaborate wrought-iron gates. In them she saw flowers and leaves, intricate boughs on which birds perched and—Cecily smiled—from which slumbering bats hung by their toes. “If you want a fête, we’ll have a fête. Anything for my lass.”

Cecily stared at the gates. Their home lay beyond. “Do you ever have garden parties? Perhaps we could throw one? I’d love to meet the people in your village.”

“I love a party!” Raf climbed from the car and opened the unlocked gates before joining her again. “Shall we have a Welcome Sissy party?”

“Maybe!” Cecily grinned. Up ahead she could see the roofs of Raf’s house. Their house, she reminded herself. Their vast house, in fact. Though autumn had by now taken hold of the land, the lawns on either side of the driveway were verdant and the flowers still blossomed in every colour of the rainbow. The house could have been imposing but instead it already felt homely, as welcoming as Raf’s arms.

As Raf piloted them up the sweeping driveway and the house grew nearer through the trees, she was surprised she had thought it could have been a hotel when she’d first spied it from the hill above the village—it was a happy home, she could sense it.

“Home at last!” The car drew to a halt and Raf finally turned the engine off. Cecily’s attention was drawn to the large door, dominated by an ornate door knocker in the shape of a single monstrous, reptilian eye. “Shall we get the kettle on?”

Please, I’m gasping!” Cecily turned to Raf with a beaming smile. Then she paused. “Is there tea? And is there anything in for dinner? I can rustle up something from tins, and maybe if you have a vegetable patch too I can pick some potatoes or carrots, and perhaps—”

Cecily stopped herself. She didn’t need to be nervous about going into her own home. And she was no longer shackled to a husband who pilloried her for the tiniest housekeeping mistake.

“There’s tea and there’s probably something to eat. If there isn’t we’ll nip down the pub and see what’s cooking. There’s always at least a pie,” Raf told her. This was life now, a world where there was nipping to the pub and holding parties and not worrying about every speck of dust. Raf helped Cecily from the car but this time he handed her what looked like an ancient key. “I’ll grab the bags in a bit. Captain, would you do the honours and unlock your home?”

Cecily gladly took the key. When she closed her eyes a multitude of faces whirled by her as if they were on a fiendishly quick carousel, men and women, in bonnets, ruffs, cravats, tricorns and hoods, leaving their mark through the centuries. People who had once held that very same key and, like Cecily, called this house their home.

She went up the low stone steps to the front door, and with one last look around her—at the large windows and the abundant garden—she put the key in the lock and turned. The old, heavy door creaked open and as it swung wide Cecily blinked at the sight of her new home.

And the door knocker blinked back.

Of course it didn’t. How could it?

But it did.

“Welcome to your new nest,” Raf announced. “I hope you’ll love it here.”

“I already do, I—” Cecily glanced back at the knocker. It was unmoving, but somehow she sensed it watching her. “Where did you find that?”

“Do you like him? Great-granddad a few times over got him from John Dee in a card game.” Raf closed the door. “He keeps an eye on the place.”

“As long as he’s friendly!”

Cecily sighed happily and leaned back against the front door, not quite able to believe that they were finally here. And almost in one piece. She glanced around the hall, unsure what to look at first. The place was bursting at the seams with what she assumed was Raf’s collection of artifacts and bric-a-brac gathered on his journeys around the world and brought back to assume a space beside the ephemera his family had left in the house before him.

“You certainly have a lot of…things.

“That’s true.” He laughed. “Lots and lots of things!”

“Is the whole of your house like this?” Cecily stared at an antique taxidermied owl inside a glass dome which stared back at her. Although unlike the eye on the door, it didn’t blink.

“Not all of it.” Raf slipped his arms around Cecily’s waist. “Some of it’s cluttered!”

The parts of the wall that Cecily could see were wood-panelled, peeping out from behind a suit of armour, what looked like flags or sailcloth, decorated shields, umbrellas, netting, scattered footwear, a brass elephant, half-unpacked tea crates, a tennis racket in need of restringing, framed portraits and landscapes in oils and watercolours, spears, a dented violin, a small Egyptian casket and objects that Cecily had never seen before in her life. Just what purpose did that ornately carved and clearly ancient stone disc have, with its square-featured face at its centre, its tongue poked out as if it didn’t appreciate her staring? Just how many generations of de Chastelaines had contributed to the array of random items in the house?

Cecily planted a kiss on Raf’s cheek. “I can’t tell you how glad I am to see such a mess—it’s brilliant!”

“Honest?” He widened his eyes, teasing her. “You’re not going to produce a duster and tell me to get tidying? It’s spotless though, that much I can say for sure.”

“It doesn’t feel dusty, that’s true.” Cecily peered into the knight’s visor, then stepped away. This was the sort of house where someone might peer back.

“That’s because of the lovely lady who takes care of me and might still be here but might’ve tactfully gone home even though she’s desperate to get a look at you.” He spun Cecily across the floor in an impromptu dance. “The house likes you!”

“It feels happy here!” Cecily laughed. “And I can’t wait to meet your housekeeper either! Now, let’s see…kitchen this way? There’s a lot of joy in the kitchen, I think…”

But Raf was standing very still, his nose twitching as he turned his head this way and that. For a moment Cecily’s heart leapt with trepidation, then he gave a little smile and whispered, “I smell…carbolic soap. So Mrs Hodge is here. And beer and perfume and—” He wrinkled his nose and fanned his hand in front of it. “The trawlermen’ve been gutting fish! But even I shouldn’t be able to smell that— What do you sense?”

“A crowd.” Cecily reached for Raf’s hand. “Is your house very haunted? Only…there’s so many of them!”

“Those aren’t ghosts!” Raf entwined his fingers with Cecily’s and together they approached a closed door. He kissed her cheek then threw the door wide open with a cry of delighted excitement.

Cecily tottered back in surprise because there in front of her was a room crammed with people. Complete strangers, all cheering, waving a home-painted banner on a sheet of canvas that said WELCOME HOME!!


Cecily grabbed Raf’s arm and tried to hide behind him, but being a few inches taller than him, she knew she must only have made herself look absurd.

“Look at you, you daft whatsits!” Raf laughed as he looked at the assembled faces. “I’ve missed the lot of you!”

But every gaze was on Cecily. And in those gazes she saw such happiness, such joy, that it tugged at her heart. They weren’t judging her or sizing her up—this gathering was a welcome for her as much as for their returning hero.

Cecily gave the crowd a tentative wave. There were women in their housecoats, fishermen in their smocks, one or two ladies in coats with fur collars and one or two gents in pinstripes, the milkman, and men in their battered best clothes, children balanced on hips and—last but not least—a vicar.

Cecily stood self-consciously on the old, uneven flagstones in her new heeled shoes, trying her best not to look as gawky and awkward as she felt. “Hello, everyone,” she said.

“This is Miss Cecily Pincombe,” Raf told them. “My business partner. And my sweetheart, in case any of you saucy Yorkshiremen are plotting a wooing!”

Raf was met with laughter from some quarters and knowing looks from others.

“Pleased to meet you.” Cecily executed a careful curtsey and someone cooed an awww.

As she straightened up a woman stepped forwards and gave a little curtsey of her own. As plump as a pudding and even shorter than Raf, the lady wore a coat and neat hat upon which a rather fancy collection of fruit was perched.

Fresh fruit, Cecily realised.

“Mrs Hodge!” Raf threw his arm around the lady. “Sissy, this is Mrs H, the world’s finest housekeeper. Mrs H, this is Sissy, the de Chastelaine chatelaine!”

“I’ve heard so much about you, Mrs Hodge.” Cecily tried to still her nervous tremble as she held out her hand to Raf’s housekeeper. But she didn’t sense any animosity in Mrs Hodge, just warm kindness.

“Call me June,” Mrs Hodge said in rather proper tones, as though she were addressing a senior member of the royal family. “And don’t listen to anything that one tells you about me, he’s full of mischief.”

“I had noticed!” Cecily grinned at Raf. “I do hope you won’t change anything with me being here—I would hate to spoil your routine. I like to bake but I won’t get in your way, and I’m very tidy. I always clear up after myself, I promise.”

“Ha! Good luck with tidy and Rafael in the house!” But the look on her face was nothing but affectionate indulgence and she shook her head. “Well, you’re welcome here, love. You don’t worry about my routine, I’ll fit in with you. The larder’s stocked with enough to feed an army—or one Rafael. And if he’s told you he’s no good in the kitchen, he’s not lying. Happen it’s time you had a few lessons, young man, Miss Pincombe hasn’t come here to wait on you!”

“Dad said this would happen. Ladies gang up, he told me!” Raf laughed, earning a supportive nod from the men in the room. “I see it all now!”

“Well, I’m glad to see you back, lad, and with such a lovely girl on your arm,” Mrs Hodge replied, having clearly forgotten her theatrical voice in favour of a rather more natural Yorkshire one. “We’ve all been wondering about the pair of you!”

“Raf’s been looking after me,” Cecily told her. “And he had a scrape, but—all’s well. All’s very well.”

“And your father’s written this very morning,” Mrs Hodge said. “He’s in Morocco of all places, says to tell you he’ll be home after Christmas and he’ll call in to meet his lovely new daughter-in-law to be.”

Cecily heard someone clear his throat close beside her and she glanced up to see the vicar. Now he had approached and beyond his dog collar, she could see he bore a striking resemblance to Raf. He had the same bright blue eyes and dark hair, the same small stature. But unlike Raf, Michael’s hair was tidied and pomaded, and there was something of the cloisters about him, as if he rarely went outside.

“Reverend Michael!”

He nodded. “Welcome to the village, Miss Pincombe. And my dear brother, home again!”

Michael clasped Raf in a tight hug and a stream of quick Romanian filled the air. As they parted Raf took his brother’s face in his hands and kissed him once on either cheek. A look passed between them, as though Michael was checking that his brother really was safely returned to him. He alone knew the full story of what had happened on that last night at Whitmore Hall, of the vines and the devil who had lurked among them. Cecily knew that Michael alone shared the secrets of the Hall because she had taken down Raf’s letter for him, saving him the struggle with penmanship that his word blindness presented.

“Home at last,” Raf told him with a beaming smile. “And in one piece.”

“My prayers have been answered,” Michael said, his accent devoid of Raf’s Romanian twang. He sounded like some of the teachers Cecily had known at Whitmore Hall. “You look well after that long journey of yours, both of you.”

“We travelled the scenic route,” Raf admitted. It had been a scenic route that included a good many cosy inns and comfortable beds. “Sissy, this is Mike! I know you know that, but I’m doing things sort of properly.”

“Welcome to the family.” Michael gave Cecily an assessing glance. Then he whispered something to Raf.

‘What a lovely lass.’

“Lass? I’m a lass?” Cecily chuckled. She’d picked up Raf’s thoughts again, like hearing a distant voice through static on the wireless.

Michael glanced at Raf, surprised and somewhat flustered. “Erm… That is to say, a lovely lady…”

My lass. With…serious hearing skills. You don’t even have to speak and she hears it.” Raf put his arm around Cecily’s waist, but she knew there was nothing but love in his tease. Her late husband had believed her to be his possession. To Rafael de Chastelaine, the dhampir with Transylvanian and Yorkshire blood in his veins, she was an equal. “Where’s Mim?”

“Mim? She’s elbow-deep in her Women’s Institute jam-making,” Michael said. He clasped his hands together, a pious gesture which Cecily supposed came second nature to him, given his calling. “She sends her best, and she’ll be over to say hello later. And bring some jam, too. She makes excellent jam, Miss Pincombe.”

“Please call me Cecily.”

Michael nodded. “Then I will—Cecily.”

“Give her our best.” Raf grinned and Cecily realised that his brother didn’t have the teeth. Only normal teeth. “I’m sure you’ll be nipping up to sample her jam!”

“I shall indeed, but—now look, will I be reading the banns on Sunday? Mim has been talking about doing your wedding flowers, but you haven’t mentioned a date…” Michael’s hands were still clasped, his voice still gentle, but his knuckles had whitened. He raised an expectant eyebrow and glanced back and forth between Cecily and Raf.

“Just like a vicar!” laughed a tall, wiry man with a luxuriant black beard as he slapped his hand on the reverend’s shoulder. He looked like a fisherman, Cecily decided, in his cap and sweater. “Let’s have a party first and talk weddings later!”

A cheer went up around the kitchen and Raf told his brother, “Don’t you fret, vicar, we’ll be good!”

As drinks were poured and cake sliced, Cecily smiled and said hello and tried to remember everyone’s names, but she heard Michael’s voice through the hubbub as he said to Raf, “And you’ll come to the church as soon as you can? I don’t mean for a wedding. It’s just that there’s something I need you to see.”

“Is it an important something?” Raf took a sip from his bottle of dark brown ale. “A tomorrow something or a today something?”

Michael leaned closer to Raf and whispered, rather loudly, “Today. I had no wish to worry you during your convalescence, but…there’s something rather bad, I fear, in my church, and that’ll never do.”

Raf glanced back at Cecily and smiled, but she knew him well enough to know that he would go. And she would love him all the more for it. “Then I’ll come over later. What time will you be there?”

Michael took his watch from his waistcoat pocket and tapped the face. “Six o’clock.”

“Whatever it is, we’ll sort it,” Raf promised him. He patted Michael’s arm. “Don’t worry.”

Michael spoke to him in Romanian again, a farewell, Cecily supposed. He waved to her as he hurried out of the kitchen and was gone. Before Cecily could say anything to Raf, she had a glass in one hand and a plate of cake in the other and Mrs Hodge was introducing her to everyone. Raf was never far away from her in the kitchen, just as he had stayed close as they journeyed from the south-west to the far-flung North Yorkshire coast. Not watching and policing, but simply being near. They had become bound to each other in the most wonderful way, lovers, in love, dipping into shops and restaurants, hotels and guest houses on their adventure, not so much learning to be a couple as discovering that it was simply an instinct.

And sometimes, when Cecily was least expecting it, a little bat would swoop down and sit on her shoulder.

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About the Authors

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.

Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

You can follow Eleanor on Facebook and Twitter

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.

She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

You can follow Catherine on Facebook and Twitter and take a look at her Website.


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Audio Blitz: Stylite – Mystery by Tag Gregory and Lily Marie #historicalromance #LGBTQ @GoIndiMarketing @TagWritesBooks

Title: Stylite: Mystery

Series: The Stylite Chronicles – Book One

Author: Tag Gregory & Lily Marie

Narrator: William Pierre

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: 5/1/21

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 05 Hours 48 Minutes

Genre: Romance, Mystery, History, LGBTQ, Contemporary Gay Literature

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Book One of the Stylite Chronicles. A curious art history student disturbs a lonely recluse holed up in an historic building in downtown Pittsburgh’s “Golden Triangle”. Together, they investigate the mystery behind the building and in the process unearth evidence of a long-dead, illicit love affair. Will that ancient romance help kindle a modern one for our history sleuths at the same time?

It’s a Mystery, History, Romance.


Egbert seemed quite taken by the end result and my ego swelled several sizes as he looked at the pictures, even asking me to make them bigger at times so he could see certain details better. I started to explain some of the various techniques I’d employed and why I’d added some of the different elements.

“I like this part,” he said, his finger shaking slightly as he pointed towards a particularly detailed part of my painting that incorporated some of the details from the cornice work of the building.

I beamed once again. Having him like my work meant a lot to me; which was odd, because usually, as long as I liked my work I didn’t care so much what others thought. But all of a sudden it mattered what THIS guy thought. That was different. It made me uncomfortable, but uncomfortable in a good way maybe. I’d have to think on why, exactly, that was. Later, though, because I was too busy bragging to my man to worry on it right then.

“. . . Yeah. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and all,” I summarized when it seemed like we’d talked the painting to death finally. “Now I just have to hope that my professor agrees when I turn it in tomorrow.”

“So, as of tomorrow, you’re done with the project?” Egbert asked, sounding a little disappointed by that prospect.

“Yeah. Which is good, too, because I have to get started on studying for finals for my other classes, all of which I put off while I was working on this monster.” When Mystery Man looked away, seeming to hesitate about whatever it was he’d been about to say, I felt like I’d said something wrong. To backtrack I asked, “why? Was there something else? Something you think I missed?”

“No. No, nothing like that,” he stumbled over whatever it was he meant to say for a moment or two until it seemed like he just decided to blurt it out. “It’s just that, when you seemed interested in that old letter and the drawing, I remembered that my grandfather had a file of old records he kept that he’d found when he bought the building, and I thought you might be interested in looking through them. But, if you’re done with the project, I guess you wouldn’t be interested . . .”

“No! I mean, yeah, I’m finished with the project, but I would definitely love to take a look at whatever you’ve found. Really. If you’re okay with that?”

He looked relieved when I insisted I was still interested and I watched as he unlocked one of the drawers of his desk and pulled out a huge leather binder, filled to the brim with ageing papers. I was surprised that the file was one of the least clean things in the entire building. There might have even been some dust on the jacket of the folder. But, since it was dust that had been in the building for a while, as opposed to dust that came from some stranger outside, maybe it was safe enough, because my man just swiped at it perfunctorily with one of his wipes and then seemed good.

He placed the folder on the desk and pushed it towards me. “Here, knock yourself out.”

I paused briefly before making my way over and running my hand along the smooth leather surface of the file folder; it was so soft. “Wow.”

“You can . . .” He cleared his throat once again. “You can take it home with you to have a look through if you’d like. I just . . . I need it back.”

I couldn’t seem to control my face around this man, I don’t think I’d smiled this much in years. He was basically inviting me back! Well, that’s what I was taking from it anyway. “You know, I might have questions while I’m looking through this stuff. If I can’t figure it out, maybe I could come back and you could go over it with me? You might know more about the history, after all,” I suggested.

He shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly, like it didn’t bother him either way, but I knew that he liked my suggestion. “Sure. I could make time,” he replied, trying to sound all cool and unconcerned even though I could detect a smile hiding in that beard of his. “I’m . . . I’m not busy tomorrow afternoon.”

I wondered when he was ever busy, seeing as he didn’t seem to ever leave the building, but I didn’t think our relationship was ready for that line of questioning yet. “Sounds great. I should be done with classes by around three tomorrow. How about I come back after that?”

“Okay,” he agreed readily enough. “Although, I suspect this is probably the first time in history someone invited their burglar to come back for more.”

“I’m not a burglar. Just . . .”

“Just a brat. I know,” he teased me with that glint of humor in his eyes that I was starting to get to like.

“Good thing you like brats, huh?” I replied, because, yeah, I WAS a brat and, as a brat, I wasn’t about to let him get the last word like that. Then I picked up the binder full of documents and my bag and started for the door before he could say anything more. “See you tomorrow, Egbert.

“Later, Brat.”

In my head I was already planning out what I’d say when I saw my Mystery Man the following day as I galloped down the stairs and out the lobby doors. I felt a little giddy – which was a word you really don’t understand until it happens to you, but which I now totally GOT, because I felt giddy as a fucking school girl and that was really pathetic, I know, but it was how I felt so deal with it, okay…

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Meet the Author

Tag Gregory and Lily Marie are the co-authors of several exciting romance series, including the Time Adventures Series and The Stylite Chronicles. Tag has been writing for almost a decade, bringing an eclectic background as a lawyer, microbiologist, all-around nerd, and adventurer. Lily has also been writing for several years, is a resident of the UK, and is the more visually creative of the two. Together they bring an off-kilter sense of humor, unbounded curiosity, a love of details, and astonishing powers of research to all their writing. If you are looking for a gripping story, with compelling characters that deal with real world issues, then you’re in the right place.

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Release Blitz: To Light a Fire by Kristian Parker #LGBTQ #historicalromance @PridePublishing

To Light a Fire by Kristian Parker

Book 1 in the Speak Its Name series

Word Count: 19,038
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 82


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Book Description


Frank never thought he would find love…until he met his friend’s servant.

It’s 1922 and Frank Harris has finished his exams at Cambridge. He had planned on going home to his parents’ Midlands shop until his friend Charlie Fitzwilliam issues a surprise invitation to stay at his family’s stately home.

Frank has nursed a secret attraction to Charlie since their first meeting and can’t resist a chance to spend time with him, but once there, it’s Tanner, a manservant, with whom he instantly falls in lust.

Charlie tries to force a local girl on Frank, and although Frank knows he should keep up appearances, it’s Tanner who sets a fire in him.

To Frank’s astonishment, Tanner is attracted to him too, and their mutual passion kindles, then burns strong. Only, their feelings must remain a secret—discovery would mean the ruin of them both.

But how long can love that blazes this bright be hidden?


Cambridge, 1922

“Come on, Harris. Don’t be a chump. You can read your precious architecture books at my place. I don’t know why you’re bothering, anyway—we’ve done the blasted exams.”

So spoke Charlie Fitzwilliam the third…or maybe the fourth, standing there in all his glory. As usual, the rest of his gang flanked him and glared at me. It didn’t do to say no to Charlie. I had been in awe of him for four years at Cambridge.

The polar opposite to me, he could make a boy feel awkward just by entering a room. Blond, muscular and his parents owned most of one of the bigger counties just outside London. I, on the other hand, had dark hair, could have been described as a little on the skinny side and certainly didn’t come from the right side of the tracks.

“Go on, Harris,” said one of his henchmen. They followed him everywhere, doing his dirty work and hoping against hope some of that Fitzwilliam magic would rub off on them. “Charlie will be bored if you don’t.”

“Why don’t you go and entertain him then?” I said gruffly.

It had been made clear when we started at university that I would be the lackey of the group and it didn’t do to let me forget it. Charlie’s lot were Harrow boys for whom Cambridge had been a natural next step. My place had been paid for by my parents saving hard and me getting the best marks possible at school.

My parents had several shops in Leicester, the middle of England, where I’d grown up and nothing ever happened. When I’d come to Cambridge, I’d been an awkward eighteen-year-old who had no idea how to use the right cutlery or which wine went with fish. Charlie had taken me under his wing, the others had been jealous and so my runt-of-the-litter position had become firmly cemented.

Charlie had more money than he would ever know what to do with. University was just a diversion, a chance to drink heavily, romance often and generally live a crazy life. The dire state of the economy didn’t come anywhere near him, happening only to other people.

An invitation to go to his house in the country could not be refused, and I found myself tempted by some time alone with him. Besides, I couldn’t apply in earnest to architectural partnerships until I knew my marks for my degree. We had sat our final exam last week and could only wait until August, when we would graduate.

I had planned to go home and help in the shops, but I would only be taking hours from our workers who needed them more than me.

“Just think of it. You can dig around my father’s books to your heart’s content.” Charlie clapped his arm around me, causing me to blush. He knew he had his fish on the line, and a grin creased the sides of my face.

“Fine. A week, no more.”

Charlie held up his hands. “A week is all I want from you. Mummy has demanded my presence in bloody Portugal after that. I’ll be dragged around endless vineyards in search of the perfect grapes for the perfect port. Oh, well done, old man. I hate being stuck in that house on my own. It’s just so boring.”

Having made the decision, I told my parents, and they were fine with it. They wanted me to get as much out of life as possible. Me having the chance to hobnob with a load of posh people would be a talking point for my mother for the rest of the year. God help her customers. They would soon be sick of hearing it.

With a heavy heart, I packed away my books, to send them home to my parents. I would never stand in this bedroom again. I had been lucky to get a set of rooms to myself—most of the other undergraduates shared. I would miss this tiny bit of independence. It might be cliché, but I had arrived a boy and was leaving a man. Charlie and his cronies were still like boys and probably always would be.

I had never gone in for the carousing life. Charlie had a reputation for smuggling girls from the local town into our halls. More than once he had persuaded me to let him use my room for a bit of privacy. As usual he had a henchman, or two, standing guard, and I would find a corner and retreat into my books. It amazed me why Charlie and his gang bothered with me at all. I must have been so boring to them, but Charlie had somehow bonded with me. On his own, when he wasn’t being an insufferable show-off, he could be quite good fun. We were both studying architectural history together. Charlie didn’t know his Christopher Wren from his Antoni Gaudi, and we’d spent many a late night sorting out his essays. In reality, I would write them for him, but I used to live for those nights. Charlie generally sat on the window ledge smoking and chatting while I scribbled away. The public image of Charlie could be hard to get past, but when he did let a person in, a decent chap lay beneath..

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About the Author

Kristian Parker

I have written for as long as I could write. In fact, before, when I would dictate to my auntie. I love to read, and I love to create worlds and characters.

I live in the English countryside. When I’m not writing, I like to get out there and think through the next scenario I’m going to throw my characters into.

Inspiration can be found anywhere, on a train, in a restaurant or in an office. I am always in search of the next character to find love in one of my stories. In a world of apps and online dating, it is important to remember love can be found when you least expect it.

Follow Kristian on Facebook.


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Release Blitz: Eight Acts by A.L. Lester #historicalromance #gayromance @CogentHippo @GoIndiMarketing @jmsbooksllc

Title: Eight Acts

Author: A. L. Lester

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Release Date: 20 March 2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 20,225

Genre: Romance, Gay, Historical

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It’s the summer of 1967 and the Sexual Offences Act has just decriminalized consensual gay sex in private between two men over twenty-one. Percy Wright and his friend Les Baker have both taken temporary jobs teaching English as a foreign language in London during their long summer break from teaching at a rural boarding school near Oxford.

Thirty-three year old Percy is keen to soak up some theatre, music and general culture, whilst the younger Les is also keen to experience the varied gay social scene. When Les picks up a man called Phil at the box office of the Albert Hall when he goes to buy tickets to a Promenade Concert, Percy inadvertently gets thrown together with Adrian Framlingham, Phil’s friend.

Adrian is all the things Percy likes in a man…funny, kind and steady. When Les gets hurt, Percy turns to Adrian for support, but as the end of the summer looms it seems as if their affair will come to a natural end.

What will happen when Percy goes back to his everyday life as a house-master? Will he and Adrian stay in touch? Does he even want a long-distance relationship when arranging to meet someone for sex is still illegal, even if the act itself is not?

A 20k novella that’s set five years before Taking Stock. Stand alone.

Content Warning: secondary character suffers off-screen assault/implied rape


“Shall we go for a walk in Hyde Park this evening?” Les said with forced casualness, shoving toast into the toaster in a bleary fashion.

“Tonight?” Percy said. It was a Thursday.

“One of the blokes I was talking to at the William at the weekend mentioned it. Said it’s an interesting place of an evening.”

He put the emphasis on interesting.

“Les…,” Percy was reluctant. “I’m not sure it’s my kind of thing.”

“What, getting your rocks off isn’t your kind of thing?” Les said, slightly snippily. “Don’t pretend you haven’t been having it off with Adrian for the last fortnight.”

Percy didn’t have anything to say back to that.

“We’re back to school in two weeks,” Les said, almost wearily. “And I want to have as much fun as possible before I get shut up in that damned boarding house with sixty adolescent terrors for another year.”

Percy watched him, steadily.

“This is…so different,” Les continued. “I don’t want to miss anything.”

“Didn’t you have a social set at university?” Percy asked. Not that he had himself, really.

“In York!?” Les said with an derisive huffing noise. “Not these kind of friends. I just want…something, Perce.”

Percy could understand that. “I know, he said. “I know you do. But…is Hyde Park after dark really what you’re looking for?”

Les sat at the small table and focused on buttering his toast fiercely. “I won’t know if I don’t go, will I?” he said. “It’s okay, Perce. You don’t have to come. I know it’s not really your scene.”

Les was so much younger, sometimes, Percy thought.

“What about Phil?” he asked.

“Nice bloke,” Les said, dismissively. “I don’t want a wife, though, Percy. I want some fun.”

Percy sighed. “Well, what time are you thinking of going?” he asked. “I’m meeting Adrian. He’s managed to get tickets for Hello Dolly at Drury Lane.” This would be the fourth time they had deliberately arranged to meet. After their first outing to the Prince William in Hampstead nearly a fortnight ago, they’d met in the week at a pub close to Adrian’s offices after work and gone on and had a meal. And on Sunday they’d begun the day by walking along the Embankment, had some chips in a pub they’d come upon and then spent the afternoon in Regent’s Park. It had been a really lovely day out. He’d felt guilty leaving Les on his own, but Les seemed happy enough going up to the Prince William by himself, once he’d been introduced around the weekend before.

“No idea what time,” said Les, interrupting his memories. I was going to come home and have some tea and then go on out. So you can still come along if you change your mind.”

Percy shook his head. “I won’t change my mind. I’ve got to be out of the door at about six, so I was going to come home, bolt a bit of toast and change, and then go on out. We’re having supper somewhere afterwards, I think.”

Les made grunting assent.

Percy was worried about him. The huge platter of different places and experiences that had opened to them over the last month were so different from anything either of them had experienced before. Percy was much more cautious than Les. He didn’t seem to have the same need to grab everything with both hands and try it all out. He was a decade older, he supposed. Whether than meant it had drained out of his system without him noticing whilst he was busy trying to hide it all, or whether it just meant he was a bit more sensible than he would have been a decade ago, he didn’t know.

What he did know what that in his opinion, Les was going to get in to trouble. And Percy wasn’t prepared to be dragged in to trouble with him.

“You will be careful, won’t you?” he said, diffidently. “Just…be careful, Les.”

Les looked over at him. “I’ll be careful. And you…you have a good time, yeah? If I don’t see you before you go out. He seems like a really nice bloke.”

Percy smiled. “He is. He’s a really nice bloke.”

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Meet the Author

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat and some hens. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

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BOOK REVIEW: A Debt of Dishonor by Lillian Marek #historicalromance #bookreview

Kate Russell is furious.

It was bad enough that her father had let her grow up in virtual poverty, but now her dissolute brother wants to use her as payment for his debts. She runs away, determined to make her way so that she will never again be at the mercy of powerful men.

Then she encounters the Duke of Ashleigh.

He has overcome the shame of his parents’ scandalous lives and has a well-deserved reputation for honorable behavior. Then he encounters Kate, the niece of an old friend. There is some mystery about her background.

She is not the sort of well-bred lady of impeccable reputation that he plans to marry someday, but he can’t get her out of his mind.

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3 1/2 stars

The first romance I read was a Regency, back when I was only twelve or thirteen and I had to sneak it from my mother’s room. I’ve loved them ever since. The description for A Debt of Dishonor immediately intrigued me, and I knew I needed to read it.

The story flowed well, and I enjoyed the characters. Especially Kate’s fire! The banter between her and the Duke made me smile and at times outright laugh. It was clear from the beginning something was brewing between them, even when they wouldn’t admit it to themselves. As far as villains go, Farnsworth was dastardly and completely insane. A truly vile man I wanted to bash over the head every time he entered a scene.

There were so many characters! And not just small parts either. Mrs. Darling, the Duke’s family, his friends, and Kate’s friends from back home all had their parts to play. At times, I found it a bit tedious to suddenly be in the point of view of a minor character. Instead of driving the story forward, it made it feel as if it had stalled while I had to wait and find out what was going on with Kate and the Duke. I can appreciate the minor characters’ perspectives of what was happening, but it seemed completely unnecessary. As did the side romance with the Duke’s sister. It would have been better served in a book of their own. For me, it detracted from Kate and Peter’s romance.

Overall, A Debt of Dishonor kept me entertained and I enjoyed the book. I’m not quite certain if I liked it enough to necessarily read more in this series. It would depend on how much focus was given to the main characters. I give A Debt of Dishonor 3 1/2 stars.

*I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.

Book Blitz: O Night Divine (A Holiday Collection of Spirited Christmas Tales) #historicalromance @XpressoTours

O Night Divine: A Holiday Collection of Spirited Christmas Tales
Publication date: December 17th 2020
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance


Enjoy this stunning holiday collection from some of your favorite Dragonblade Publishing authors in this collection of never-before published seasonal tales!

Imagine, if you will, that it is Christmas Eve.

The candles are guttered, one by one, and a hush falls over the parlor. The children have gone to bed, and a tall, gloriously decorated Christmas tree looms in the shadows of the hearth’s dying embers. A tattered copy of Charles Dickens’ masterwork, “A Christmas Carol” sits, cold and lonely, upon a table nearby.

A small gust of wind, hurling from the seam of an ill-fitting window, blows the cover open. The first chapter appears… “Marley’s Ghost”…

The clock on the wall chimes midnight.

Now, the magic happens.

From the gaily bedecked halls of Regency England to the cold and crisp air of the Scottish Highlands, and everything in between, enjoy the magic of a holiday collection that has drawn inspiration from Charles Dickens’ most beloved literary works. Where the ghosts of Christmas, the incandescent spirit of a tiny disabled boy, and the joy that is the very heart of the Christmas season come alive.

USA Today and Internationally bestselling authors bring you their version of a Dickens’-inspired holiday in O NIGHT DIVINE.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

This collection includes:

Twas the Executioner Knight Before Christmas by Kathryn Le Veque

A medieval version of the Ghost of Christmas Future…

No one survives an Executioner Knight and least of all, Maxton of Loxbeare. But when he married his wife and had children, three little girls right away, Maxton grew a heart. He became a devoted and dedicated father who loved his children dearly. But the Executioner Knight in him still lived. So after a very bad dream, Maxton sees that, for his daughters’ sake, he must change.

Learn more about Kathryn Le Veque:

The Laird’s Yulebringer by Caroline Lee

The Mackenzies are in mourning… none so much as their laird. Since the loss of his wife, leaving Callan to raise a young son alone, he believes he’s lost his chance at happiness. As his extended family gathers to celebrate the Yule together, they can do naught to raise his spirits… until a midnight visitor—of the ghostly variety—brings him hope for the future.

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Making Spirits Bright by Chasity Bowlin

After a lifetime of secrets, scandal, and disappointment… Elizabeth doesn’t believe in happy endings, at least not for herself. But an unconventional nobleman, with the help of a novice Spirit of Christmas, may just change her mind…

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The Haunted Scot by Hildie McQueen

The allure of a reformed rake…

She’s as determined to pursue him as he is to keep his distance. After a heartbreaking debacle, Thomas Sullivan decides to give up his roguish ways and considers the priesthood. Unfortunately, the beautiful arrival gives him second thoughts. Mary Asher is not sure why the handsome new driver tries to avoid her at all costs. After being told he follows her every move, Mary decides to test him.

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Never Keep a Secret at Christmas by Maggi Andersen

’Tis not the season to be surreptitious…

Alice Dountry’s father has gout, and she must spend Christmas with her sister, Marian, Lady Belfries. Their neighbor, the gruff, bad-tempered Earl of Hawkinge, refuses Marian’s invitation to Christmas dinner.

While chatting with him over the garden wall, Alice suspects something deeper lies beneath his humbug opinion of Christmas. Hawkinge and his grandson, Hugh Gifford, are at odds. Alice writes to Hugh but must keep it a secret from her sister.

When the handsome Lord Gifford arrives, there is an immediate spark between them. But Lord Hawkinge is hardly welcoming, and now, Marian and her husband argue over the secret letter.

Learn more about Maggi Andersen:

Her Star from the East by Mary Lancaster

Miss Emma Sayle has enjoyed two London seasons and rejected many suitors. Her heart was given long ago to an exciting prince of the east, a man of another country and another faith. As Christmas approaches, she daydreams of what her life with him might have been – until his ghost walks out of the freezing fog. But is it the ghost of his past or her future?

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The Remembrance of Love by Meara Platt

Hyacinth Farthingale has known and loved Lord Innes Buchan since the day she was born. She is now in her debut season, and as Christmas approaches, it is high time this aloof and lonely lord realized his happiness depends on marrying her.

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How to get an Earl of Christmas by Violetta Rand

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Yuletide at Gillingham by Alexa Aston

A lonely holiday…

One boy abandoned by a greedy gambling father. Another boy watches his father slowly dying. A lasting friendship that will see them through the hard times—and beyond…

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Can two lonely boys draw strength from one another during a Yuletide season that only promises heartbreak?
Learn more about Alexa Aston:

A Thrill of Hope by Anna Markland

Foiling an attempt to assassinate Queen Victoria earns Parker a medal and royal gratitude. The lunatic’s bayonet plunged into his thigh leaves him with a pronounced limp and reassignment to a small constabulary. Particularly trying is having to spend Christmas Day with his

miserly uncle.

During her family’s Yuletide celebrations, Samantha discovers she doesn’t love her straitlaced fiancé. A bleak future looms large.

Neither realize that anarchists are plotting to blow up a newly-constructed railway bridge—although Parker might if he’d heed the mysterious warning voices he hears.

A tale of the eternal struggle between good and evil.

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A Gift for Agatha by Anna St. Claire

A visit and a warning…

Years after her husband’s death, Lady Agatha Wendt has become a surly, cold-hearted miser, increasingly left to her own company. Childless and with little family, the wealthy widow fears

falling into poverty and spurns even the smallest gestures of Christmas giving. A determined spirit visits the wealthy widow and warns her change must happen.

Charles Bentley, her butler, sees goodness in her, and finds himself attracted to the real Agatha—despite knowing they could never be.

Can the spirit awaken Agatha to her real fears and help her to overcome them in time to realize the gift she has always wanted?

Learn more about Anna St. Claire:

The Heart is Never Silent by Aubrey Wynne

Miss Etta Rose Comden is desperate to protect her younger sister, Horatia, after the death of their father. When the heir—and Tia’s new guardian—finds out his ward is deaf, he makes plans to send her away and marry Etta. With no one to turn to, the sisters flee in the middle of the night.

Dr. Gus Wharren, disillusioned with his practice in London, retreats to his late grandmother’s estate. Instead of a much-needed respite, he finds two lovely females stranded along the road.

Two sisters on the run. A London physician who has given up on humanity. The spirit of a loving grandmother. The stage is set for a holiday full of coincidence, a little Christmas magic, and a happy ever after.

Learn more about Aubrey Wynne:

Of Christmas Past by Charlotte Wren

Pride and promise before forgiveness

At the volatile age of seventeen, Percival Josiah Northcott storms out of Highfield Hall on Christmas Eve, vowing never to return. It is a vow supported solely by pride, which, as the old adage goes, generally comes before a fall.

Five years later, Percival has fallen about as low as a man can get. He secretly longs to return home, but pride and fear stand in his way. That is, until he’s visited by someone from his past, someone who gives him the courage to seek his family’s forgiveness.

But first, he must promise to complete a very special task.

Learn more about Charlotte Wren:

Tidings of Comfort by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

A boy with a remarkable talent…

In the lead up to Christmas, Captain Kit Hardacre is in London looking for his long-lost parents. After a disappointing initial search, he finds himself in the city alone. Bringing him out of his self-pity is a call to help in a search for a missing little boy. But which one of them is more lost?

When Kit finds Pip, he discovers a youngster with a remarkable talent for going directly into the heart of those he meets. After seeing Pip safely returned, Kit’s faith in family is restored and a kind word gives him the courage to continue his search.

Learn more about Elizabeth Ellen Carter:

A Christmas Miracle by Elizabeth Johns

Alex Hartmere, Duke of Frompton, has endured enough heartache to make any man bitter.

Having lost his wife and child in the war in Canada, he returns to England, only to inherit a dukedom from a father who dies in a scandalous duel soon afterwards.

Repairing to his family estate for Christmas, Alex finds his first love now widowed and penniless. Can a Christmas miracle, in the form of a crippled little girl, bring them the happiness which was once stripped away from them?

Learn more about Elizabeth Johns:

Her Christmas White Knight by Elizabeth Keysian

England, Yuletide 1587

The dice have really been loaded against Mistress Julia Wentworth. Little wonder she no longer trusts a soul—except for the urchin she rescued from the poorhouse. Having fallen in love with—and been abandoned by—a murderous traitor, Julia’s been turned out by her family and left to scrape what living she can on the brutal London streets. When a goose strays into her yard, it looks as if she’ll at least have something to feast on at Christmas.

Exploding into her life in pursuit of his goose is Myall Farrar, a scarred nobleman who loathes his miserly father and can’t afford to lose the fowl for which he’s scrimped and saved all year.

Can there be any common ground between the mismatched Myall and Julia? Is there any hope of goodwill within their families? And—perhaps more importantly—will the goose prove itself worth saving from the butcher’s knife?

Learn more about Elizabeth Keysian:

Always the Mistletoe by Emily E K Murdoch

When a woman loves a man, it’ll take more than a little Scrooge like behavior to stop her standing by him. Her family, on the other hand…

Learn more about Emily E K Murdoch:

A Libertine’s Christmas Miracle by Emily Royal

Christmas is a time for miracles

Alice and Ross Trelawney are enjoying a quiet Christmas in Cornwall, until their daughter Amelia strays onto the nearby estate of Mr. Scrimgeour, the infamous Beast of Boscarne. When Amelia comes home in tears after a terrifying encounter, Alice resolves to teach the Beast a lesson.

Haunted by his late wife’s ghost and taunted by the locals, Edward Scrimgeour hides away in his crumbling mansion. His peace is shattered when his neighbor’s hellion of a wife storms into his home on Christmas Eve. But she’s no ordinary trespasser. When events threaten to take a tragic turn, Edward is given a chance at salvation, showing that miracles can occur in the unlikeliest of places.

Learn more about Emily Royal:

Past, Present, Future by Lynne Connolly

Rhona sent the love of her life away once, but now Frederick is back. He doesn’t care that she’s a housekeeper, and he’s a wounded soldier and the brother of a duke. For the three nights of Christmas, he’ll give her three gifts; wooden figures he carved for her in the long nights before his last battle. They represent their past, their present, and what they could have in the future. If she doesn’t accept his love this time, he’ll leave for good.

Learn more about Lynne Connolly:

A Yuletide Yearning by Maeve Greyson

Regret is a sly enemy…

Captain Tait Mackenzie doesn’t regret a life of pirating, but it’s Christmas and he’s lonely. Thoughts of dying alone trouble him. What woman would settle for a life with a pirate lord?

If wishes and dreams were oceans and streams, she’d sail her way to happiness…

Ellie has always loved Tait, but he politely ignores her. She intends to change that with a little help from the North Star.

Can three pirate ghosts on Christmas Eve scare some sense into a Scottish rogue and make him see that the love he needs has been right in front of him all along?

Learn more about Maeve Greyson:

A Strange Christmas Game by Whitney Blake

Mr. Charles Mason doesn’t expect a December summons to end in his own love story…

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Highland Stone by Sloan McBride #TimeTravel #HistoricalRomance #MFRWAuthor @SloanMcBride1

A mysterious inheritance and magical forces thrust Kara Malone through the ages to the Scottish Highlands of old. There she encounters Alaxandar McLeod, the dark stranger who inhabits her dreams.

Alaxandar leads the charge to learn the truth about the violent raids against his clan. When his horse almost tramples a beautiful stranger, he is beguiled but skeptical. Is she a spy, or worse, a witch come to lure him with her body and distract him from his quest?

With his clan ever leery of Kara’s presence, and the raids intensifying, Alaxandar must decide what is right for his family and his heart. Will Kara choose to stay with the stranger from her dreams made flesh, or the mission she vowed to complete?




She held tightly to her grandmother’s fragile hand, her fingers trembling. “The key is hidden with your grandfather’s picture,” Glynnis said with her last breath.

A loud rumbling shifted Kara Malone’s subconscious from that heart-rending scene to one where horses ran full speed, and men screamed. She woke with a start. Fully conscious of her surroundings, she identified the noise as thunder. The fury of the storm rattled the windows.

“Damn.” She swung her legs over the side of the full-sized bed as a bolt of lightning cracked outside. She clutched the edge of the mattress, bowing her head and breathing deeply. Dreams and nightmares had been her constant companions since the age of thirteen. This one shook her more so than usual because it involved not only the wild and handsome warrior, but the last moments with her grandmother, as well.

Pulling on sweats, she went downstairs to quench her thirst and steady her nerves. She headed straight to the antique liquor cabinet and a bottle of Asbach Uralt Brandy. The lining of her throat burned as the alcohol coated it. Her eyes watered.

They weren’t tears. She rarely cried.

She looked out the window. Sheets of rain showered the lawn. Mother Nature’s cleansing.

Clutching the glass, Kara wandered the well-known house in the dark, feeling like an intruder. Without her grandmother, the place would soon be unbearable. No more laughter while making bat-wing cookies for trick-or-treaters. No more hot buttered eggnog with that hint of Rum at Christmastime while wrapping presents in front of the fire.

Lurking on the threshold, she jumped as lightning lit her grandmother’s darkened bedroom. She hadn’t realized she’d come to this room, the sanctuary of her childhood when the nightmares had gotten so awful that she ran to Haskell and Glynnis’ room. They smiled, opening their arms and their hearts to give her peace from the frightening moments. No child should suffer the fear of the unknown alone.

A fluttering motion caught her eye. She turned her head. There was nothing there.

‘Tis the wee fairies ye see, little Kara. They protect the children.’

Glynnis had a story for everything. “There are no children here anymore, Grams.”

In another flash, the portrait of Haskell Malone brightened. Her grandmother’s weak voice echoed in her head. The memory of Glynnis looking so frail and worn lying in the hospital bed caused Kara to take a huge gulp from the tumbler. She hissed as it burned her throat and soothed her nerves.

The amber-colored liquid sloshed onto her hand as she slammed the drink down on the dresser. She licked it off before lifting the cumbersome frame from the wall. First, she lay the frame face down and slid the backer from its tracks. There were no magic keys taped to the cardboard or canvas. “I knew she was pulling my leg,” Kara murmured putting everything back together. She stood the portrait against the wall.

Rain battered the roof and wind bent trees almost in half with its force. Another bright burst of lightning and booming thunderclap caused her to jump.

“Get a grip.”

Nights of little to no sleep were making her hands jittery and her mind foggy. She looked at the frame again. A weird feeling came over her. Something didn’t seem right or was she imagining it? She flipped on the lamp and stared at the ornate, golden, hand-carved filigree on the frame. Glancing at the smiling face of her grandfather, she grumbled. “Do you know something I don’t, Grandpa?”

Kara ran her fingertips along the edges and touched the design until her forefinger scraped against an oddity. Moving closer, she concentrated on that area. She rubbed her thumb over it and pushed. A small gold key popped out of the design.

“Oh my God.”

Why would her grandmother hide the key in such a sneaky way? Glynnis had seemed to have all her faculties still intact before she passed. But surely, the story couldn’t be true.

Shaky fingers lifted the brandy glass. Clan stone, Scotland, myths, and legends. Glynnis loved the fairytales. Ancient Scotland was her favorite subject. She talked about the people with such familiarity. It was like she actually knew them.

“This is ridiculous,” Kara said. Marching over to the closet, she threw open the door and stared into the cluttered space. She pushed into the mess. “I swear the woman was a pack rat. You’d think she’d never heard of the Salvation Army or Goodwill.”

Ten minutes later, in the farthest recesses, her fingers brushed something. Blowing hair out of her eyes, she pulled the ten-by-eight-inch cedar box adorned with Celtic symbols into her lap. She recognized her grandfather’s handiwork in the intricate carvings. A Celtic wooden cross, which hung in the living room above the doorway, had also been hand-carved by Haskell. It was a grand hobby of his. Flipping the box over, she ran her fingers across his initials etched in the corner.

The tiny lock had the same shape as the key. An excitement—or was it fear—gripped Kara’s stomach. The room seemed hotter than before. Standing, she grabbed the dresser to fight off waves of dizziness.

Never drink on an empty stomach.

Crossing the floor, she sat on the edge of the bed and hugged the box to her chest. The combination of alcohol and sleepless nights caused blurry vision and the start of a major headache. She didn’t think she could deal with another shock right now. Placing the key on the chain around her neck, she tucked the box under her arm and went back to bed.

It’ll wait. What was one more day going to matter?


Sloan McBride is a multi-published author whose books have been reviewed, and featured in RT Book Reviews.  She is a romance author who leans toward the paranormal, adding suspense, and mixing in mythology with her Time Walker Series. She dances through the Highlands, making merry with the clans in The Talisman Trilogy, and turns up the heat in the crazy world of smokejumpers in the Men of Fire Trilogy.

Sloan lives in Illinois with her husband of 39 years and two children who have grown into adulthood. By day she is executive assistant to the majority owner of a dynamic law firm. By night, she puts on her writing persona and creates kick-ass heroines and the tortured men who love them.

If you’d like more information about Sloan, please visit her website at where you can sign up for her newsletter to receive notice of new books, giveaways, and more.


Cover Reveal: Saving Kimi by Brooke Stanton #historicalromance #westernromance @hibrookestanton

Saving Kimi
Brooke Stanton
(Forbidden Romance, #4)
Publication date: October 13th 2020
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Western

In 1906 Oklahoma, nineteen-year-old Kimimela Wallace has always been an outsider in her small town. With a white father and Indian mother, she’s never been fully accepted into either world. Her childhood friend Chayton—Soaring Falcon—sees only the beauty in Kimi, whom he’s pined for his entire life. But an unexpected turn of events pulls Kimi away from Chayton and towards her new boss, widower Alex Randall. Then tragedy strikes, and Kimi must risk everything to save two very different men. But will giving her heart to one of them mean stripping away the one thing she values most—her freedom?

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Author Bio:

After her own misadventures in New York City, LA, and London, Brooke Stanton now lives in Dallas, Texas. She’s the bestselling and award winning author of the Bloom Sisters and Forbidden Romance series. Visit her website

Get a FREE copy of the prequel, IGNITE, here:

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