Release Blitz: The Nile Priestess by Catherin Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead #mystery #historicalromance #paranormal @totally_bound @firstfirromance

The Nile Priestess by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Word Count: 61,298
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 237

Genres:

HISTORICAL
MYSTERY
PARANORMAL
ROMANCE
VAMPIRES

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Book Description

Amid the shifting sands of Egypt, is an ancient evil stronger than even the most timeless bonds?⁠

In the heat of 1920’s Cairo, Raf and Cecily are looking forward to making their honeymoon one to remember. Instead, they find themselves caught between a British nobleman on a mission to loot Egypt’s ancient tombs and a mysterious local woman who will do whatever it takes to protect the land she loves.⁠

When a foreboding pyramid rises from the sands and the scent of decay fills the air, Raf and Cecily find themselves caught in a terrifying race against time to vanquish a murderous mummy and put right the wrongs of the past. But is evil stronger than even the most timeless bonds?⁠

Excerpt

Cecily leaned over the ship’s railing, shielding her eyes from the hot Mediterranean sun with her hand. They’d travelled across Europe to get here, and now they were almost at their destination, a place Cecily had only ever dreamed of before.

“And tomorrow we’ll see Egypt, just there on the horizon!” she excitedly said to Raf, her husband.

If only I could wish and wish and it’d appear there right away.

“And tomorrow night, we’ll be snuggled in bed in the Rosetta of the Nile, counting the stars above Cairo.” Raf beamed. He put his arm around Cecily’s waist and said, “It’s the perfect honeymoon, Sissy.”

“It feels like a dream, Raf, like it’s not quite real!” Cecily pictured pyramids and deserts, a world away from their home in Yorkshire or the places in Europe they had journeyed through. “We’ll go everywhere by camel, of course, and eat nothing but dates.”

“Just like we do in Yorkshire,” he told her with a grin. Then he pecked a kiss to Cecily’s cheek and asked, “Happy, Mrs de Chastelaine?”

“Oh, so happy I might go pop!” Cecily said excitedly. Then with affection, she added, “But then, I have been ever since I first met you, Raf.”

Not so long ago Cecily would never have dreamed that she’d be married to a man—or dhampir, really—like Raf de Chastelaine, let alone be honeymooning in Egypt, but here she was. Her life had taken an unexpected turn and as she stood here beneath the sun, the botanical scent of Raf’s homemade sun lotion mingling with the heat and sea salt, she’d never been happier.

A breeze rippled the brim of her sunhat, and Cecily turned to see another passenger lean against the railings a few feet away. Miss Mansour was a very glamorous Egyptian lady, who they’d sat with at the captain’s table the night before, along with Miss Mansour’s party of archaeologists. Cecily had been over the moon to sit at such an important table on her first long sea journey, and with a party who were travelling to Egypt to uncover its wonders, too.

But Miss Mansour seemed preoccupied and hadn’t noticed them. Instead, she stared off towards the horizon.

Cecily’s sixth sense, her ability to pick up on others’ emotions, began to twitch.

She’s homesick, Cecily thought, although she realised that was obvious.

“Raf,” Cecily whispered, “let’s say good afternoon.”

Raf glanced towards the woman, then gave a nod. “Yeah, let’s say how do,” he decided.

Cecily moved along the salt-covered railing. “Good afternoon, Miss Mansour!” She smiled. “You must be very glad to be so close to home again.”

Miss Mansour removed her sunglasses and smiled back, but there was something sad in her expression. “Oh, of course, if one has a happy home, then one is glad to return. I am thinking of all the work I must do when we arrive. Lord Bath has such great plans for his dig. I think we might uncover many wonderful things.”

“It must be terribly exciting!” Cecily said. “All those treasures that haven’t seen the light of day for years and years and years, and you brush away the sand, and there in your hand there’s a little golden Anubis!”

“Lord Carnarvon hasn’t put him off?” Raf asked. “If you believe the papers, pyramid-diving is a bad business. I don’t know… I feel like perhaps English lords should leave Egyptian treasures in Egypt.”

A flicker of amusement crossed Miss Mansour’s face. She maybe didn’t hear that sentiment often enough. But Raf’s Romanian accent no doubt told her that he had no patience with the meddling of the English. “It is strange to me to think of my ancestors lying in museums across the world. I cannot think it was what they expected when they died—that one day their remains would travel the world, to be stared at.”

“I heard that Lord Bath reckons he’s found a tomb that nobody believed existed at all,” Raf replied. “But legends sometimes turn out to be true, don’t they?”

And Raf would know all about that, wouldn’t he? Not many advertisements for family businesses that spanned the generations read, ‘Ghosts need laying? Rates negotiable on application.’ Raf didn’t work alone anymore though—Cecily was part of the family business, too.

But what fates had Raf’s ancestors faced? His father might be human, but his late mother certainly hadn’t been. After all, it wasn’t many newlyweds who spent Christmas at a castle perched atop a precipice on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains. Cecily would never have guessed that vampires could be such generous and attentive hosts.

“The tomb of Menkare II,” Miss Mansour replied, with a note of distaste. “He is sure that he has discovered it, even though the sands covered it from human sight longer ago than you can imagine. A pharaoh who has almost been entirely forgotten, but the legend of his missing tomb has persisted down the centuries. And now Lord Bath thinks he’s found it.”

Cecily shivered with delight at the thought. “Do you think we might come along to the dig and have a look? We won’t touch anything. We’ll be on our best behaviour. Won’t we, Raf?”

“I don’t want to touch anything that’s been inside a forgotten tomb.” Raf chuckled. “I’ve got an allergy to curses. I’d love to have a nose at the site, though…history’s a bit of a hobby of mine. Along with gardening. And tinkering. I love tinkering.”

Miss Mansour chuckled. Then she looked Raf and Cecily slowly up and down, as if she was assessing them. Cecily did her best to smile under her scrutiny. It felt as if Miss Mansour wasn’t just looking at them, but into them. Although Cecily told herself she couldn’t be. Then Miss Mansour nodded.

“Yes, why don’t you come along? I believe I can trust you.” Miss Mansour pointed to the jumble of necklaces and amulets around Raf’s neck. “You’re wearing a scarab, I see. And the Eye of Horus.”

Raf nodded. “It’s not my first time in Egypt,” he admitted, almost bashfully. “And I like to pack on the protection. Whether it’s from the sun, or…whatever else is floating about.”

“You are very sensible to do so,” Miss Mansour said. “Lord Bath scoffs at such ideas, of course. And I am told sometimes that I am too superstitious, but you never can be too careful. Especially not when you’re robbing graves, even ancient ones.” She paused for a moment, before adding, almost to herself, “Especially ancient ones.”

“We’re very careful about such things,” Cecily said, knowing she couldn’t go into detail with someone they’d not long met. “We always treat the dead with respect.”

“They’re people too,” Raf pointed out, straight-faced. “Just like us.”

“Oh, they are…” Miss Mansour glanced away for a moment, towards the southern horizon. Cecily sensed her homesickness again, a feeling of loss and loneliness. Then Miss Mansour turned back to face them. “You see, I knew I could trust you. There are not many people on this earth who share that sentiment, Mr de Chastelaine.”

Raf smiled gently and admitted, “It’s just something life’s taught us.” And he glanced towards Cecily, his eyes filled with love.

“Miss Mansour!” It was Lord Bath’s braying voice, and it was coming closer from inside the ship. “I say, Miss Mansour, where are you hiding?”

Miss Mansour sighed. “I apologise. I must speak to Lord Bath.” She raised her voice and replied, “I am out here on the deck, Lord Bath, taking the sea air.”

“Dreaming of the old homeland, eh!” Lord Bath stepped out onto the deck. He put his hands on his hips and drew in a deep breath of sea air. “Good Lord, it’s hotter than ever today!”

He was dressed in a linen suit, as most of the European men on the ship were. But Lord Bath’s looked particularly expensive, cut to fit just right. His square jaw jutted out as he took the air, as though he was the master of all he surveyed. And the truth was, men like him were.

Not women like Cecily or Miss Mansour, not men like Raf. But wealthy English aristocrats in Jermyn Street linen suits ruled the world.

“This is not hot!” Miss Mansour chuckled. “You have the sea breeze here. But out in the desert, it doesn’t matter how hot it gets, you hope the wind won’t start up or a sandstorm might follow. But I will be glad to see my home again, yes. Are you not pleased to see yours when you return to England?”

“One has several, and one is always happy to see them. But the tomb of Menkare II is my life’s work. I’ll happily take a long-lost legendary treasure horde over even the nicest family pile in Bath.” Bath guffawed. He lifted his Panama hat to Raf and Cecily. “Good afternoon, Mr and Mrs de Chastelaine. Egypt awaits, what!”

“Oh, it does!” Cecily replied. “You must be so excited about the dig. I know I am, and I’m not even digging anything. But then I’ve never been to Egypt before, and you’re all experts on it. Miss Mansour especially.”

Miss Mansour smiled wistfully. “Egypt and her myths and legends have been my life’s work.”

But it wouldn’t be Miss Mansour’s name connected with the find. Rather, the name of a man born in a country far away, in a land without a single desert to its name.

“I must confess this was a last throw of the dice,” Bath admitted. “Seven failed digs over the years. But our Miss Mansour isn’t only a dashed pretty face. She’s got a very clever little brain in that head of hers!”

Little brain? Cecily had once been married to a man who spoke like that about women. She bristled on Miss Mansour’s behalf.

“How kind of you to say so,” Miss Mansour replied, acknowledging his backhanded compliment with a nod. “I have worked very hard—studied very hard—to acquire the knowledge I now have of my country’s ancient past.”

“And we’re all terribly grateful,” Bath assured her. “Miss Mansour was able to interpret the last clues to the location of the tomb. When the treasures of Menkare II are exhibited in London, I’m sure this young lady’s beauty will dazzle almost as much as the pharaoh’s gold.”

Young lady’s beauty?

Cecily bristled anew. She could sense that Miss Mansour didn’t appreciate the way Lord Bath spoke about her either, but she didn’t say anything.

“And everyone will want to talk to her to find out how she worked out the last clues,” Cecily said.

Miss Mansour gave Cecily a smile, as if telling her that she appreciated her support. “I would be more than happy to.”

Lord Bath met that with a bark of uproarious laughter. He clapped his hands together and exclaimed, “Quite so, Mrs de Chastelaine, quite so!” He wiped his eyes on a pristine white handkerchief. “And when one dines at the Ritz, one lauds the waitress for the chef’s splendid work, eh?”

“But without Miss Mansour, you wouldn’t have found the tomb,” Raf pointed out, frowning. “Isn’t that right?”

“And without my money to hire her, Miss Mansour wouldn’t have been part of the party at all.” Lord Bath’s smile had become rather tight. Cecily could tell that he didn’t take kindly to such ideas. “And she certainly wouldn’t have had access to the tablets and very rare papyri that held the secrets of Menkare II’s tomb. Believe me when I say that such treasures are highly prized and priced accordingly. Far beyond the reach of the Miss Mansours of the world.”

Miss Mansour raised an eyebrow before putting her sunglasses back on. A chill breeze rose from the sea. “That is because the tablets and papyri I needed to study are held in a private collection in England.”

“Guilty as charged.” Bath chuckled. “And I may yet have one surprise left up my sleeve, madam. A little showmanship, if you will.”

“Is that so?” Miss Mansour sounded like someone who was not easily surprised. She tapped her fingers against the ship’s railing, her rings clanging on the metal. “I shall look forward to it.”

“Well, you’ll excuse me. I must dress for dinner.” Bath gave a polite nod of farewell. “Miss Mansour, might I escort you to your state—cabin?”

No stateroom for the hired help then, no matter how valuable their knowledge.

“No, thank you, Lord Bath. I believe I can just about remember the way there. Good evening.” And with that, Miss Mansour inclined her head, then turned and glided away along the deck.

Cecily glanced at Lord Bath, wondering if he had taken offence. But how else could Miss Mansour have reacted without any further dents to her dignity?

“She’s homesick,” Cecily told Lord Bath by way of explanation.

“Ah, England’s green and pleasant land. We all miss her, of course,” Bath replied, apparently untroubled by her departure. And somehow unaware that perhaps Miss Mansour, his Egyptian associate, might not consider England home, no matter how green or pleasant.

“Egypt,” Raf said bluntly.

“Yes, she misses Egypt,” Cecily prompted Lord Bath. “I think maybe she’s glad not to be in England.”

“Well, I certainly won’t be asking her to come back to England if she prefers to remain in Egypt,” the Earl of Bath replied with a magnanimous smile. “I shan’t be requiring her expertise once the tomb is open. Miss Mansour can go wherever she might wish.”

Raf frowned and asked, “You won’t give her the credit for her work, then?” He added innocently, “I thought you said you couldn’t have done it without her.”

“She’s terribly clever,” Cecily added. “Just think of the number of languages she understands, modern and ancient ones. And she knows a terribly vast amount of things about the ancient world as well!”

“And dashed pretty too,” the Earl of Bath replied. “Well, I shall take my leave. Good afternoon to you both!”

“We must go and dress for dinner. Good afternoon,” Cecily responded, the words sticking in her throat. The earl gave another nod and retreated back towards the ship.

“Cheerio,” Raf called, but Cecily knew that his bonhomie was an effort. He didn’t like Lord Bath any more than she did. If the nobleman realised, of course, he didn’t care. Instead he disappeared into the ship, whistling a cheery tune as he went.

Cecily waited until he had gone, then she whispered to Raf, “What a dreadful man, robbing Miss Mansour of her discovery. I really don’t like him at all, Raf. But then, maybe I’ve known one too many men like him in my life.”

Raf nodded. He put his arm around Cecily’s shoulders and whispered, “Not my sort of bloke either. Do you want to head in and get ready to eat?” Raf kissed her cheek. “Do I have to wear shoes to dinner?”

“Oh, yes, let’s go back to the cabin.” Cecily chuckled. “Shoes? Well, if you don’t wear shoes, we might not be invited to the captain’s table tonight. But if the delightful Lord Bath’s sitting there again, maybe that’s a good thing.”

“I’ll put shoes on,” Raf assured her. Then he added with a wink, “But I’ll slip them off when I’m sitting down,”

Raf really didn’t like shoes. He was happiest barefoot, wandering through the garden at home. Cecily smiled at him. “I’d expect nothing less, darling! Right, let’s get ready for dinner.”

Arm in arm, they strolled along the deck towards their cabin.

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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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SPOTLIGHT: They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark #historicalfiction #historicalromance @author_RStark @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours 

Welcome to the tour for Roger Stark’s historical fiction, They Called Him Marvin. Read on for more details and a chance to win a signed edition of the book!

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They Called Him Marvin: A History of Love, War and Family

Publication Date: June 14th, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance/ Based on True Events

Young lovers trying be be a family, but duty called, interrupting them.
He answered. She, with child was left behind.
The war did end, but he never returned.

“They Called Him Marvin” is a history. A history of war and of family. A history of the collision of the raging politics of a global war, young love, patriotism, sacred family commitments, duty and the horrors and tragedies, the catastrophe that war is.

A reviewer explains: “I am a fan of historical fiction and this story did not disappoint. It was sweet, tragic, personal, and moving. Gradually and almost imperceptibly, the story of two wartime sweethearts begins circling the drain of a tragedy you know is coming. The book begins with the ending, but by the time you get there you have convinced yourself that it can’t possibly be the case. I enjoyed every moment, even the ones that left me in tears.

The letters between Connie and Dean provided a fascinating glimpse into wartime life. Reading the experiences of people both at home and abroad was very engaging. I found myself eagerly awaiting the next letter, right along with the young couple!

Lastly, the book left me with an overwhelming acknowledgement of the universal trauma and tragedy of war. The Shermans are not the only family we meet in the book and the weaving together of several different narratives added a depth to the story that’s hard to put into words.

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Excerpt

18 January 1941, The Story Begins

Stanley Carter started all this.

… I want to help you with your problem of not knowing any one in Salt Lake. Tomorrow I am going to my girlfriends house, come with me, she would love to meet you and then you will know two people here.” Dean answered, “I could be talked into that.”

“We are going to meet up at church and then go to her house.”

By the end of church the following day, Dean would actually know three people from Salt Lake City. This because Stan’s girlfriend, Carol Woffinden, happened to be the best friend of Constance Avilla Baldwin, who also just happened to attend the same Waterloo Ward of the Mormon Church, who also didn’t have a boy friend, and who was also more than happy to make a visitor feel welcome.

Dean innocently walked into all of this.

Mormons have a special interest in non Mormons, or Gentiles as they call them. You see, a Mormon is never far from, or without, his missionary zeal. If you’re not a Mormon and your going to hang out with a Mormon for very long, you’re going to get zealed. For Dean Harold Sherman, it was to be a life altering dose of zealing.

Dean and Connie exchanged 67 letters (50 written by Dean) the night (unbeknownst to him) that his son Marvin was born Dean wrote:

18 February 1945

Good Evening Peaches:

Hello sweet girl, I sure have been thinking of you lots these days and wishing so much that I could be around to take care of you, and be holding your nice soft hands and giving you lots of moral support, and see your pretty face and look in your eyes and without saying a word, tell you millions of wonderful things that you mean to me. You do too, Honey, mean so many wonderful things to me. All the wonderful things a beautiful girl can be and my best companion ever along with being the sweetest wife any guy ever could love. Those are just a few of the things, Darling, which make me love you more every day…

Goodnight Peach Blossom,

Dean

On the day Dean was shot down Connie Wrote:

14 May 1945

My most wonderful man,

I’m in a rather odd mood tonight Honey, and it is most all about you and Marvin and me. I have been trying to decide whether or not I would write to you tonight most all evening. I wanted to, but I didn’t know if I could express my feelings as I would want to, and, as I feel them. As you can see Honey, I have made up my mind to try. How well I succeed remains to be seen…

Then I was thinking of Marvin and wondering just what his talents are going to be. To have a Daddy such as you, Honey, he will be kind and good, even as you are, a wonderful man. Honey, I’m really just beginning to realize what a great responsibility we have in teaching and caring for Marvin. We just have to do it to the very best of our ability. I know you have lots of ability, Honey, and I hope I have…

I have a hard time, the past seems like such a thrilling dream of love and happiness. I wonder if it all really happened, but then I know it did. And Oh! Honey how I do love you now and forever and ever ever after with all my heart and soul. Honey I just can’t express how deep my love for you is. Its an impossibility. I love you always.

Good night my husband,

Peaches

Xxxxxxxxxx

10 December 1944, The Same Damn Movie

… In Puerto Rico the crew was quite happy to watch the new release The Lady Takes a Chance starring John Wayne and Jean Arthur. Coincidently when they reached British Guiana the same movie was featured. Not to be deterred the crew again enjoyed the film. When they got to Brazil and it was again the featured picture show, some murmuring occurred. The Corporalies, were feeling cheated.

When they found the movie would be playing at their fourth stop also they complained to Dean.

“Sir, ain’t the Army got any other movies?”

“We know the lines better than the actors.”

“We know John Wayne is going to eat the lamb chops because Jean Arthur cooked them for him even tho he is a beef man.”

“Maybe there will be something new at our next stop,” was the consolation Dean offered. After crossing the Atlantic The Corporalies showed signs of giving up on the movies.

But in KhartoumThe Corporalies forced into the NCO Club by the searing heat and therefore ‘forced‘ to drink cold beer all day had a terrible yearning, near evening, for a movie.

“Howell, go see what’s playing at the movies tonight.” ordered his fellow Corporalies.

By virtue of being the youngest Howell was often the brunt of such requests especially after three or four beers. He had given up protesting that he was the same rank as them. In fact as the Central Gunner, he was in charge of the other gunners in combat, but as the youngest of four boys at home he felt a strange comfort in re-playing the role with his combat brothers.

“And damn it, don’t come back if it is The Lady Takes a Chance.”

Of course he discovered that The Lady was indeed tonight’s special feature. On the way back to the NCO Club with the sad news that John Wayne was again eating those lamb chops even here on the edge of the Nile Rivers, he met his Airplane Commander.

“Sir, they are playing that same damn movie here, oh sorry sir, that same John Wayne movie is playing here. We are sick of it, Sir, ain’t the Army got any other movies?”

“Evan, the reason that movie shows up everywhere we go, is that we have been tasked with delivering it to our final destination while allowing each layover airfield to use it.”

Howell stared at his Airplane Commander as his cognitive impaired brain tried to process. The light finally came on for him, a bit dim, but it came on. “Oh, Sir, I see Sir, I’ll tell the boys.”

And off he wandered, not in the direction of the boys, but in the direction of his bunk, taking his comrades threat to not return with bad news seriously.

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About the Author

roger

I am, by my own admission, a reluctant writer. But there are stories that demand to to be told. When we hear them, we must pick up our pen, lest we forget, and the stories be lost.

Six years ago, in a quiet conversation with my friend Marvin, I learned the tragic story his father, a WW2 B-29 Airplane Commander, shot down over Nagoya, Japan just months before the end of the war.

Bill Clinton has famously said: “They were the fathers we never knew, the uncles we never met, the friends who never returned, the heroes we can never repay. They gave us our world. And those simple sounds of freedom we hear today are their voices speaking to us across the years.”

Such a man was Marv’s father. A father he never knew. The telling of the story that evening by this half orphan was so moving and full of emotion, it compelled me to ask if I could write the story. The result being “They Called Him Marvin.”

My life has been profoundly touched in so many ways by being part of documenting this sacred story. I pray that we never forget, as a people, the depth of sacrifice that was made by ordinary people like Marvin and his father and mother on our behalf.

My career as an addiction counsellor (CDP) led me to write “The Waterfall Concept; A Blueprint for Addiction Recovery,” and co-author “Reclaiming Your Addicted Brain.”

After my counselling retirement, I decided I wanted to learn more about the craft of writing and started attending classes at Portland Oregon’s Attic Institute. What I learned is that there are an amazing number of great writers in my area, and they were willing to help others improve their skills. I am grateful to many of them.

My next project is already underway, a memoir of growing in SW Washington called “Life on a Sorta Farm.” My wife of 49 years, Susan and I still live in that area.

We raised seven children and have eleven grandchildren. We love to travel and see the sites and cultures of the world. I still get on my bicycle whenever I can.

They Called Him Marvin

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Release Blitz: The Scandalous Vixen by Tracy Sumner #Regency #historicalromance @sumnertrac @Bookbuzznet

The Duchess Society Series, Book Two

Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Steamy Romance

Date Published: January 6, 2022

Publisher: WOLF Publishing

In this enemies-to-lovers Regency romance by award-winning author Tracy Sumner, a bold lady and a ruthless duke realize they need to agree to an ardent alliance to get what they want.

 

He knew at first sight.

She knew at first kiss.

Helena Astley, Lady Hell to the ton, has plans. To control her father’s shipping business, to live her way, by her rules. Her plan is going remarkably well until one ill-advised kiss invites the duke she doesn’t want but cannot resist into her life.

Hardnosed Roan Darlington, Duke of Leighton, cares little for society or finding a duchess. The only person ever to challenge him is the incorrigible, infuriating Helena Astley. The one woman he’s never been able to forget. When they’re caught in a ruinous situation, Roan offers her an alternative. A sham engagement she can break off after Christmas.

As they discover a world of forbidden pleasure, Helena must decide if she can relinquish a heart she vowed to withhold from the only man powerful enough to seize it.

And Roan must decide if falling madly, passionately in love is worth the risk.

Other Books in The Duchess Society Series:

The Ice Duchess

Prequel to the Duchess Society Series

Release Date: July 22, 2021

A scandalous countess plays matchmaker…for a man she once longed to take for herself.

Georgiana Whitcomb, Countess Winterbourne, is known as the Ice Countess for her rebellious ways and refusal to marry again. But a scandalous Christmas wager fashioned by Georgiana’s childhood obsession changes everything.

The demanding duke needs a bride…

Dexter Munro, mere days from becoming the Duke of Markham, made a promise to his dying father to find a wife by the Twelfth Night. Except the only woman he’s ever desired has vowed never to marry again. Not even to become his duchess.

Georgiana and Dex share a sizzling attraction and a wicked past…but is their scorching passion enough to melt the Ice Countess’ heart?

If you adore sexy Dukes, feisty Duchesses, and a steamy second-chance romance set in the magnificent Regency era, The Ice Duchess is the romance novel for you!

 

The Brazen Bluestocking

The Duchess Society Series, Book One

Release Date: September 30, 2021

Publisher: WOLF Publishing

In this Regency romance by award-winning author Tracy Sumner, a willful bluestocking matches wits with a devilish scoundrel she never expected to desire with every beat of her heart.

A defiant society outcast.

A forbidding rogue who doesn’t believe in love.

And a passionate wager.

Daughter of an earl, Lady Hildegard Templeton hasn’t conformed to what society expects from a woman of her station. Industrious and unique, she’s created an emboldened organization for women on the cusp of marriage, The Duchess Society. Called a bluestocking to her face and worse behind closed salon doors, she vows to marry for love. And nothing but. Although the emotion has never shown itself to her. Until she meets him.

Bastard son of a viscount and king of London’s sordid streets, Tobias Streeter has spent a lifetime building his empire, and he needs the Duchess Society to find a suitable wife. An asset to expand his worth in society’s eyes. But he vows his search will have nothing to do with love and everything to do with vengeance. Until he meets her.

Soon, Tobias and Hildy’s plans are in turmoil as they choose between expectation, passion, and love.

The Wicked Wall Flower

The Duchess Society Series, Book Three

Publisher: WOLF Publishing

Coming Soon

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About the Author

Award-winning author Tracy Sumner’s storytelling career began when she picked up a historical romance on a college beach trip, and she fondly blames LaVyrle Spencer for her obsession with the genre. She’s a recipient of the National Reader’s Choice, and her novels have been translated into Dutch, German, Portuguese and Spanish. She lived in New York, Paris and Taipei before finding her way back to the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

When not writing sizzling love stories about feisty heroines and their temperamental-but-entirely-lovable heroes, Tracy enjoys reading, snowboarding, college football (Go Tigers!), yoga, and travel. She loves to hear from romance readers!

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Book Tour: Heart of Hope and Fear by C.S. Johnson #historicalromance #fantasy @RRBookTours1

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Welcome to the tour for the gorgeous final installment in The Order of the Crystal Daggers series by C.S. Johnson, called Heart of Hope and Fear. Read on for more details and a chance to win hardcover editions of the entire trilogy!!!

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Heart of Hope and Fear (The Order of the Crystal Daggers #3)

Publication Date: December 2nd, 2021

Genre: Historical Romance/ Historical Fantasy/ Spy Trilogy

In a moment of desperation and desire, one girl takes a leap of faith to secure the future of her nation — and save her family.

Prague, 1871

Despite the many demands that come with being a member of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, Eleanora Svobodová has plenty of reasons to celebrate. With Lumiere’s capture and Lady Penelope’s reluctant acceptance of Ferdy, not even Ben’s painful ire can completely diminish her joy.

But just as the future begins to look bright, the past catches up to Eleanora and the other members of the Order.

For as they investigate Karl’s disappearance, Eleanora learns the shocking secret about her mother’s final mission—and Lady Penelope’s treachery—just as the Emperor heads to Bohemia to conduct a special tripartite council, despite the threat to his life.

Can Eleanora and the Order find a way to save the kingdom? And even if they do, will they be able to survive a new betrayal from among their ranks?

Full of surprising twists and turns, Heart of Hope and Fear is the final book in The Order of the Crystal Daggers, a historical romance spy trilogy from C. S. Johnson.

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Excerpt

Louis Valoris chuckled as he stirred his tea with a spoon. “I do believe it is time we were formally introduced, Lady Eleanora.”

“It’s you,” I whispered, shaking my head in shame.

“I must say, you look so much like your mother. Even in the moonlight, I would’ve sworn it was her ghost if Lumiere hadn’t found you and your brother last year.”

“Eleanora.” Lady Penelope scowled over at me.

I gave her an apologetic look, but I knew it wouldn’t do any good. She’d warned me before Louis was crafty and full of cunning, and I’d been completely caught off guard.

“I must commend you on her progress, Pepé,” Louis continued. “But she’s still very naïve, and that’s dangerous, especially for one who carries the weapon of the Order, yet none of its secrets. How do you know she won’t betray you when she learns the truth?”

“Eleanora is a loyal member of the Order,” Lady Penelope said, her voice full of resignation instead of pride. “She will not betray me.”

“It would be nice to see her live up to her mother’s legacy.”

At his disparaging tone, rage and fury rocked through me to my core. Lumiere had told me less than an hour ago how Louis had a hand in poisoning my mother and killing Nassara—and now I knew he’d used Xiana to fulfill his plans.

“The dead deserve some respect, Louis,” Lady Penelope warned, speaking before I could yell at him. “I’d rather talk of the present than the past, now that we’ve arrived at our final rendezvous.”

She reached down and pulled out her own violet-colored dagger in one hand and a pistol in the other.

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About the Author

S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me.

CS Johnson | Facebook | Kofi

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Release Blitz: The Forest God’s Favor by AT Lander #gay #eroticromance @pridepublishing @firstforromance

The Forest God’s Favor by AT Lander

Book 1 in the Of Gods and Men series

Word Count: 19,781
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 79

Genres:

EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
GAY
GLBTQI
GODS AND GODDESSES
HISTORICAL
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS

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Book Description


Can the love of a man heal the heart of a god?

Fertility god Anthos, a shy and gentle three-hundred-year-old virgin, has grown up in the shadow of his brutal older brother Dryas and spent his life hiding from mortals, no matter how much his nature draws him to them.

Cleon, a humble farmer who always has room in his heart and his bed, knows that Lord Dryas is angry. The crops aren’t growing, and his family is going to starve if he doesn’t give the god a worthy sacrifice—his own body. But when he reaches the shrine, he finds a very different god, the sweet, untouched Anthos.

Eager to satisfy Anthos’ curiosity, Cleon shows him what sex is…and what a relationship between them could be, with their instant attraction blooming into love. But when Dryas returns with a vengeance and Cleon’s life hangs in the balance, Anthos is forced to make a choice.

Will he bow once more before his brother’s rage, or take a stand for the only man who has ever had faith in him?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of abusive behavior, double penetration, voyeurism, exhibitionism and violence.

Excerpt

Cleon’s heart sank as he walked the rows of his family’s field, scanning for a single green shoot and finding none. The barley was two weeks late for sprouting—if it didn’t start growing soon, his family would starve come winter.

“Anything?” his little sister Amara asked as he left the field. Her hands were wringing the fabric of her peplos skirt even as her eyes said she knew the answer.

“Not one,” he said. “Any eggs from the chickens?”

“Not one,” she echoed. “The gods must be angry at us.”

That was the only explanation Cleon could think of, too. Dryas, their local fertility and forest god, was known for his temper. It would take very little provocation for him to withdraw his blessings.

The family gathered in front of their modest farmhouse, worried faces gazing at their patriarch. Cleon, the eldest son and the only one unmarried, glanced at the other members of the household. Amara sat beside him, while his twin younger brothers sat with their wives, both of whom were pregnant with their first children. They had no servants, no field hands, just them.

“We have to beg Lord Dryas for his forgiveness,” their father said, pacing back and forth. “Someone must go to the shrine and pay tribute. Whatever it takes, this curse on our farm must be lifted!”

“W-whatever it takes?” Amara asked nervously.

“Yes,” their father said gravely, words heavy with guilt. “Whatever it takes.”

His children looked at one another, eyes wide with anxiety. They wouldn’t say it out loud for fear of angering the god, but they knew what their father was asking. Dryas’ tastes in tribute were usually carnal and never kind. None of them had any illusions about what would happen to whoever went to plead their case, but there was no other option.

Cleon looked from face to face. Neither of his brothers had any taste for men, and it would be cruel to send either of their wives to such a fate, especially pregnant as they both were. As for Amara, the thought made his stomach twist in disgust. There was only one choice.

“I’ll go,” he said, getting to his feet.

“Are you sure?” Amara asked. “You know what—what he’ll do to you.”

“I know,” Cleon said, trying to sound brave. “But I’ve been with men, so it won’t be so bad for me as it would be for one of you.”

It was weak reasoning, but none of the others had anything better. Cleon was tall and strong, hardy enough to take some punishment and tan from hard labor in the sun. He was no Adonis, but he’d been called ruggedly handsome by past lovers, and he’d earned every muscle on his arms and chest. Dryas preferred pretty youths and maidens over men in their late twenties, but hopefully the god would accept his tribute anyway.

Cleon bathed in the river, combed his black hair and trimmed his short beard, brown eyes watching his reflection in a still pool. He prepared his body as best he could with slick oil and shaking fingers, hoping to reduce the inevitable pain. Finally, he donned their newest, finest tunic, the one Amara had woven and each of his brothers had worn for their weddings, and picked up their offerings with white-knuckled hands. There was nothing left to do but go.

Cleon gave his family the bravest smile he could muster, and they smiled back with pinched, anxious faces—all save his father, whose eyes were solemn and dark with guilt, and Amara, who was crying in his arms. Cleon squared his shoulders and turned resolutely toward the woods. He would face any terror and endure any hardship, if only he could save his loved ones from starvation.

The worn dirt path led deep into the forest, twisting and turning on the way to the shrine. Dappled light slipped through the swaying branches as chittering squirrels fled his passage to peer down at him from the trees.

He suppressed a shiver. These woods were old and sacred, the domain of a cruel and capricious god. At least Lord Dryas didn’t like live animal sacrifices—Cleon would hate to make this trek with a squawking, struggling chicken in his arms. Instead, he had a small jug of spiced wine, a half-dozen honey cakes and his own body…no matter how meager his offerings, they would have to be enough.

He had been to the shrine before as part of the harvest festival, placing the fruits of the year’s labors before the god’s great throne. Those had been times of song and drink and dance, honoring Dryas’ bounty and appeasing his temper with revelry and praise. The god had always chosen one or more young worshippers for his pleasure, and the thought made Cleon nearly sick. It always took them days to recover, if not weeks, and their eyes remained haunted for far, far longer.

This time the shrine was empty, the ring of marble pillars standing silent around the sacred oak. At the base was the god’s throne, grown out of the living wood, made for a nine-foot giant of a being. Cleon could remember looking up at him during the last festival—his eyes dark and cold, his legs those of a black deer and his antlers spreading like ancient, gnarled branches.

“Hello?” Cleon called, looking around for the shrine’s priest. The little hut next to the sacred circle was empty, but that shouldn’t have been a surprise. Lord Dryas tended to discard his priests when they turned twenty-five, and he must not have found a new one yet. It seemed like Cleon would have to beg for divine intervention on his own.

He walked to the stone altar and tried to keep his hands from shaking as he kindled the sacred flames. He doused the honey cakes in wine then fed them to the fire. The offerings were more than his family could really afford, but still they seemed too little. Finally, Cleon knelt before the great throne, pressing his forehead to the grass and trying to look as humble and pathetic as possible.

“Oh Lord Dryas, god of the forest and the field,” he prayed. “I beg your forgiveness! Whatever sin my family or I have committed against you, I humbly offer these gifts to appease your wrath.”

There was a deep, terrifying silence broken only by the blood pounding in Cleon’s ears. He dug his fingers into the grass, eyes squeezed shut, praying with all his might. If Dryas didn’t answer—

“Uh…yeah…” The voice was so small and hesitant that Cleon almost missed it. “Not your fault, really…”

Cleon’s head snapped up and he scanned the treeline. He didn’t see the speaker at first, looking for a taller shape, but when he finally found him…

Oh gods, the young man was exactly Cleon’s type. He looked to be twenty or a little younger, cute and small and beardless, with willowy arms and a bare, slender chest. His eyes were a vivid green against sun-bronzed skin dusted with faint freckles, and his light brown curls looked delightfully soft. He was blushing prettily, shifting from foot to foot and biting his full, kissable lower lip.

“Um, hello,” Cleon said when he could remember how words worked. He struggled to stay on task—he was here to save his family, not get distracted by a pretty face. “I don’t suppose you know where the forest god is?”

“That’s the thing,” the youth said, ducking his head bashfully. “I kind of…am the forest god?”

Cleon frowned at him. The young man might be cute, but he was clearly delusional. Yes, the gods could take other forms, but the idea of Lord Dryas becoming so small and adorable was ridiculous.

“I wouldn’t say that if I were you,” Cleon said. “Lord Dryas is not known for his merc—”

He stopped, eyes widening as the young man stepped out into the clearing on slender, delicate hooves. Deer hooves, just like Lord Dryas’. Unlike Dryas, though, his flanks were dappled with faint white spots and tawny brown to match his hair. What Cleon had assumed to be branches above the youth’s head revealed themselves to be antlers, short and nubby and covered in soft-looking velvet.

Cleon’s heart plummeted like a stone. This was no mortal boy, or even a common satyr. There was an aura about him—the trees leaning in just a little to bask in his presence, the sunlight glowing off his skin. He might be different from Dryas, but there was no denying that Cleon was in the presence of a god.

“Please forgive me, great one!” he cried, groveling once more in sudden terror. He already had one god angry at him and he wouldn’t survive a second. “I had no idea—I am so sorry—”

“No, don’t be,” the youth said, sounding weary and miserable. “I’m a pretty terrible god, to be honest.”

“What do you mean, my lord?” Cleon asked, daring to raise his eyes from the grass. The godling was shifting awkwardly from hoof to hoof, not looking at Cleon.

“Your farm,” he said. “It’s my fault nothing’s growing. My big brother left last month and I…well…”

“You mean Lord Dryas?” Cleon asked.

The youth nodded, biting his lower lip in an adorable way, and Cleon couldn’t help a twinge of relief. His farm was still in trouble, but at least this god seemed willing to help.

“I’ve been trying, I really have,” the godling said, running his hands through his hair. The gesture revealed adorable little pointed ears, and Cleon had to fight to stay focused. “I just don’t know how to make it work!”

“My lord—” Cleon started, sitting back up on his knees.

“Anthos, please.” The god ducked his head. “I’m not used to…it feels weird.”

“Anthos,” Cleon said, “what exactly is the problem?”

Anthos sighed, walking over and sitting on the grass a few feet from Cleon. He pulled his fuzzy knees up to his chest, hugging them close and staring at the ground.

“I’m a fertility god,” Anthos explained. “I’m in charge of new life, new growth…or I am now. My brother took care of things for so many centuries that I never learned how to do it. Now he’s gone, it’s my job, and I can’t do anything.”

“He never taught you?” Cleon asked.

“We’re not Olympians!” Anthos cried, eyes flicking up to Cleon and face turning bright red. “Only the highest gods do…that with their siblings.”

“Oh,” Cleon said, blushing too. “Uh, sorry. I didn’t mean—”

“No, no, it’s fine,” Anthos said, dropping his gaze again. “But that’s the problem—it requires personal experience. I can’t make things fertile until I’ve, you know…had sex.”

“Oh,” Cleon breathed. His heart was beating faster now, his throat going dry as he stared at Anthos. “Would a mortal do? A man?”

“Yeah,” Anthos said with a mirthless little chuckle, “if anyone wanted me. Big brother always said nobody would want to sleep with a puny, pathetic runt.”

Rage flared up in Cleon, all the hotter for its rarity. He’d revered and feared Lord Dryas all his life, burying resentment deep in his heart. The gods could be cruel or kind to mortals—that was their right—but this? The thought of treating his own siblings like this made Cleon ball his hands into fists, and a lifetime of suppressed hatred boiled over. For the first time in his life, he spoke ill of a god.

“You’re not a runt!” Cleon cried. “Your brother was a cruel bastard! He made whole families starve…he set wolves on their flocks and took any man or woman he pleased! I bet he cut down your confidence because he was scared of you. Anyone would prefer a god like you over him!”

“R-really?” Anthos gasped, looking up with wide, shocked eyes.

“As long as you don’t send a famine when there aren’t enough dancing girls at your festival,” Cleon said, belly clenching in remembered hunger. “We worshipped him because we were afraid, but nobody liked him.”

“And you…you like…me?” Anthos asked, voice soft and hopeful.

Cleon opened his mouth then closed it again, unsure of what to say. His flirting experience said this was going pretty well, but how was he supposed to proposition a god? He was just a farmer, rough and rugged and no great beauty. Anthos was so out of his league it wasn’t even funny.

Still, in for an obol, in for a drachma. The god didn’t seem like the type to curse someone for asking, and if he said yes…

“I like you a lot,” Cleon said earnestly, “and I’d really like to kiss you.”

“I…” Anthos licked his lips, his gaze lowering. “I’d like that too.”

Cleon scooted forward slowly, like he was approaching a skittish deer. He reached out to cup one cheek, tawny-gold and warm. Sun-dappled lashes fluttered, the godling’s green eyes falling closed as he leaned in with bated breath.

The first kiss was soft and gentle, just a chaste brush of lips. It was a little thing, but it still sent a thrill through Cleon, a surge of desire. His body knew what Anthos was, something wild, ancient and divine. By the time they pulled away, his cock was hard and twitching.

Anthos let out a soft little sigh when they parted. He gave Cleon a shy smile, nervous and sweet.

“Again?” he asked, as though Cleon might say no. Could say no.

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About the Author

AT Lander

AT Lander has loved stories, both the reading and the telling, since she was a child. Born in upstate New York to an English professor and a former librarian, she now lives in the queerest part of Massachusetts. She never leaves home without a knitting project or a pencil, and she’s never met a cat she doesn’t like.

She has worked as an history museum guide, a professional storyteller, and an actress, sharing tales of what was, what could have been, and what can only be imagined. World mythology is her driving passion, as what better way to understand a people than through the tales they tell?

Follow AT Lander on Twitter and Facebook.

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Book Tour & Interview: Ride with the Moonlight by Andrea Matthews #HistoricalRomance #timetravelromance #scottishhistory #borderreivers #CoffeePotBookClub #BlogTour @AMatthewsAuthor @maryanneyarde

Ride with the Moonlight (Thunder on the Moor, Book 2)

Author: Andrea Matthews

Publication Date: 25th November 2020

Publisher: Inez M. Foster

Page Length: 387 Pages

Genre: Historical, Time-Travel, Romance

After rescuing sixteenth-century Border reiver Will Foster from certain death at her family’s hands, time traveler Maggie Armstrong finally admits her love for the handsome Englishman, though she can’t rid herself of the sinking suspicion that her Scottish kin are not about to let them live in peace. What she doesn’t expect is the danger that lurks on Will’s own side of the Border. When news of their plans to marry reaches the warden, he charges Will with March treason for trysting with a Scot. Will and Maggie attempt to escape by fleeing to the hills, but when Will is declared an outlaw and allowed to be killed on sight, they can no longer evade the authorities. Will is sentenced to hang, while Maggie is to be sent back to her family. Heartbroken, she has no choice but to return to Scotland, where her uncle continues to make plans for her to wed Ian Rutherford, the wicked Scotsman who she now realizes murdered her father in cold blood. With Will facing the gallows in England, and herself practically under house arrest in Scotland, she continues to resist her uncle’s plans, but her efforts are thwarted at every turn. Will’s family, however, is not about to stand by and watch their youngest lad executed simply because he’s lost his heart to a Scottish lass. A daring plan is set into motion, but will it be in time to save Will’s life and reunite the lovers? Or will Ian’s lies prompt Maggie’s family to ensure the bond between them is forever destroyed?

Trigger Warnings

Violence, sexual content.

Buy Links:

This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited

Universal Amazon Link: https://books2read.com/u/m0B0DP

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ride-Moonlight-Thunder-Moor-Book-ebook/dp/B08P5D24QS

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Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Ride-Moonlight-Thunder-Moor-Book-ebook/dp/B08P5D24QS

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Often writers started out as readers. Was there a particular book that inspired you to be an author?

ANDREA: I’ve always loved to read. Books had the power to carry me away to distant lands and times, and made it possible for me to do and be whatever I wanted. The first book I really remember falling in love with was Pride and Prejudice, and I have to say, Mr. Darcy still holds a place in my heart. However, that’s not what inspired me to be an author. I think, perhaps, it was the other way around. Since I’ve always had a vivid imagination, it was easy for me to become engrossed in a book, where I could clearly envision the scenes and the characters, but when I wasn’t reading, I was daydreaming and coming up with stories of my own. My daydreaming use to baffle my teachers, because they’d think I wasn’t paying attention. But when they called on me, I had the answer. That was the beginning of my skill at multitasking. And it has served me well. An added advantage is that I really never get bored since I’m always thinking about the next story or rehashing a scene in my head.   

Do you tend to read the same genre you write?

ANDREA: Yes, and no. I do prefer to read historical and time travel romance and mysteries, which is what I write, but I also enjoy some fantasies and an occasional thriller. One thing I’m not a big fan of is bildungsroman or domestic fiction. They tend to be too deep for me. I do a lot of “deep” reading when I’m involved in the research for my books, so when I’m reading something for enjoyment, I usually prefer light-hearted romances or cozy historical mysteries. But whatever I read, there always needs to be a little romance, even in my mysteries.

Do you have a favorite time period to write about? If so, why?

ANDREA: I majored in history and tend to enjoy anything pre-nineteen twenties, though I do occasionally stroll forward past the early 1900s.  I’m not sure the period matters so much as the story. When writing the Thunder on the Moor series, I wanted the Border Reivers at their height, which was the mid-sixteenth century. My Cross of Ciaran series needed a time on the cusp of Christianity in Ireland. Generally, the story, the characters, and the events within the story will determine the time period. It just seems to be that most of those plots end up finding their home more than a hundred years ago.

How long have you been writing, and how long did it take before your first book was published?

ANDREA: I’ve always loved creating stories and have been writing for as long as I can remember.  It started with poems and song lyrics, then around 1992, while recovering from the loss of my gall bladder, I decided to try something a little more in depth, just to keep me busy while I recuperated. I gave a few chapters to some friends, and at their insistence, ended up finishing the book. It’s tucked away, and some day may see the light of day again, but I had already thought of a few other tales I wanted to tell. That first novel did wet my taste for something more however and gave me the incentive to put some of those other stories to paper — on a typewriter, no less. PCs and word processing programs were still a few years away. And so, I began to write novels, even shopped some around a bit. However, I still had a family to raise, and then I returned to school to get my MLS and became a full-time librarian, so I concentrated on improving the works when I could, not thinking much more about publishing them. Finally, a few years ago with my children grown, and about seven or eight drafts of my first novel under my belt, I decided to take the publishing plunge.

What is the scariest thing you face as a writer? How do you handle it?

ANDREA: Probably reading reviews. It’s almost like I want to close my eyes and peek through my fingers, praying they’re good. And the good ones are wonderful. They give me encouragement and let me know what I got right. The bad ones, however, can be a bit daunting, at least until you accept the fact that not everyone out there is going to like what you write. But that’s okay. You can’t please everyone, and once you get past their sting, there are some that might even help you improve your writing. Of course, there are always going to be those that serve no constructive purpose whatsoever, but I’ve learned that as long as they’re not in the majority, you just have to push them aside and move on. There are a million reasons why someone may not like your work, many of which have nothing to do with how good your writing is. It may be someone who doesn’t usually read the genre you write, or someone who has a favorite book that no one else can ever compete with, or even someone who just doesn’t believe in giving a good review. Whatever the reason, I’ve finally learned to that they are going to appear from time to time,  but I am thankful for the vast majority that are good.

If you could pick your top 3 favorite books of all time, what would they be?

ANDREA: Wow, that would really be tough. Pride and Prejudice, of course, then probably the Harry Potter series, and . . . I guess there is no single book I could list as number three. Having been a librarian, I’ve been exposed to so many wonderful books, it would be hard to choose. So, I’m just going to have to say number three is whatever I’m currently reading. I employ the fifty page rule. If a book hasn’t captured my interest in the first fifty pages, it’s not going to and I’m not going to continue reading it. I used to feel as if I’d have to finish a book if I started it, but I finally realized that there are just too many good books out there to waste time reading those I don’t enjoy.

What do you think is the most important thing to remember when following your dreams?

ANDREA: First of all, be realistic with yourself. If you want to be a doctor, but have no aptitude for science, it’s going to be a hard row to plow. Once you’ve decided your dreams are something within the realm of possibility, however, don’t let anyone talk you out of them or make you feel like they’re impossible or not a real job. One thing more you need to remember. Whatever your dreams are, be prepared to work hard at them and do the best you possibly can. There are going to be ups and downs, but if you work hard and hone your skills, you will succeed.

Does your family support your writing?

ANDREA: Absolutely, my family has always encouraged me and listened with untiring patience to my various story ideas. By the time they were in their teens, my kids were already giving me suggestions about things they did and didn’t like. They still are, and I continue keep their suggestions in mind as I write. They’ve all always had faith in me and never made me feel like I was wasting my time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Matthews is the pseudonym for Inez Foster, a historian and librarian who loves to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogical speaking. She has a BA in History and an MLS in Library Science, and enjoys the research almost as much as she does writing the story. In fact, many of her ideas come to her while doing casual research or digging into her family history. She is the author of the Thunder on the Moor series set on the 16th century Anglo-Scottish Border, and the Cross of Ciaran series, where a fifteen hundred year old Celt finds himself in the twentieth century. Andrea is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.andrea-matthews.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AMatthewsAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andreamatthewshistoricalromance

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreamatthewshistoricromance/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/andrea-matthews

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Matthews/e/B07ZSCWZ6L

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19718311.Andrea_Matthews

Book Blitz: The Earl of Callander’s Secret Bride by Raven McAllan and Cassie O’Brien #historicalromance @firstforromance @totallybound

The Earl of Callander’s Secret Bride by
Raven McAllan & Cassie O’Brien

Book 1 in the The Scots and the Sassenachs series

Word Count: 42,810
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 165
Heat Rating: Sizzling
Sexometer: 2

Genres:

HISTORICAL
ROMANCE

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Book Description

A treasonable letter. Attempted blackmail. Can a secret marriage save the day?

Duncan, the Earl of Callander, loves his beautiful neighbour Lady Cairstine McColl but has held back from proposing until she has enjoyed her debut in Edinburgh. However, matters are taken out of his control when Cairstine discovers a plot to blackmail her father with her hand in marriage demanded as the ransom price.

A daring plan is hatched. To protect Cairstine, she and Duncan will wed under Scottish law, then travel to England incognito to find and destroy a letter that could see her father accused of treason and the family ruined.

But all is not straightforward once they arrive in Corbridge.

They must hide the passion they feel for each other from the blackmailer, and worse, there may not be just one blackmailer, but two.

Excerpt

Lady Cairstine McColl knew it was wrong to slip out from her family home unnoticed and go for a long tramp across the hills. Nevertheless, after the news her papa had just imparted, she’d had to get away. It was that or completely lose her temper. Shout, scream and be the termagant she didn’t want to be. She acknowledged it had been a close-run thing. Hence her escape. A pity she couldn’t escape the future as easily.

How could he?

She skirted the three large boulders that edged the head of the loch and jumped over the burn that flowed into it with a gurgle as it danced across the stony bottom. In winter, when it was in full spate, she would have had no chance. Now in June, when the nights were short and daylight hours long, the weather was sometimes drier and the burn no more than a trickle.

Cairstine strode up the slopes to where the forest began, her boots giving her purchase on the slippery rocks. It might not have rained recently, but these slopes were always damp and covered in moss. As she walked, she mulled over her papa’s words.

How, how could he?

He had promised her in marriage to an Englishman. An Englishman! Whom she had never met. How draconian. And how undoubtedly, in this so-called enlightened age, unacceptable. Surely she should at least have met the man and decided if this marriage of convenience was for her?

Sadly, her papa had been unmoved by her pleas. He’d simply told her she would leave for England in five days’ time.

England. Who on earth would want to go there? And to a place called Corbridge? Not even London, or Carlisle. Until she’d studied a book of maps in the library she’d had no idea where Corbridge was. Evidently between Newcastle and Carlisle. A market town, near the site of the wall built in Roman times to keep the Scots out of England. What a pity it was no longer used for the same purpose. That would have meant there was no way she could have been forced to head south.

According to a pamphlet she’d found on the desk—it seemed her papa had been investigating—this Corbridge was a pretty well set-up place with lots of new and imposing buildings sitting side by side with older, equally as imposing ones.

She couldn’t have cared less. It wouldn’t matter what it was like, it was not home.

George Armstrong, she thought in disgust. An Armstrong. One of those murdering, thieving Border Reivers of old who had thought nothing of riding from England into Scotland to steal the cattle of good honest Scotsmen—and women. The family names of the marauding bands were still notorious enough to put the fear of God into anyone who lived within a day’s ride of the border even in these modern times. Cairstine had been raised on stories of Scots venturing as far as Yorkshire, and the English to Edinburgh. All in retaliation for some real or imagined wrongdoing. You had to be thankful such days were over—but that made her papa’s demands even harder to fathom.

Worse though than the raids—if it was possible for anything to be worse—Armstrong was a Sassenach with, he was said to boast, not one jot of Scottish blood in him. Where was the common ground?

Why, oh why had her papa thought she’d be happy married to one of them?

If he had thought at all. These last couple of weeks he’d been preoccupied, less likely to chat or ask what she had been doing, and never sharing his day with her. Not at all the man she had adored for so many years.

How could he? Is he demented? When the name of her prospective husband was enough to put fear into even the bravest of people… She was no different.

She shuddered and gathered her breath for the final steep few yards to her favourite place on the estate. The lookout. Where in times gone by a sentry would have been placed to keep guard for enemies.

Now she was the only one who ever went there.

Or so she’d imagined.

Head down, deep in thought, she ploughed into a tree.

A very human tree, which swayed before it steadied again.

She scowled. Of all the people it could be it had to be Duncan Callander. Her neighbour, her…her what? She had no idea except that he was the one man who made her skin tighten in an arousing way and made her wonder…what if?

A child of the countryside, she was no stranger to the way animals mated and had on more than one occasion caught sight of a man and a woman in the undergrowth, the lady’s skirts kilted around her waist, his trews around his ankles. It wasn’t something she’d contemplated doing herself though—until recently.

“Where’s where the enemy? Who do I have to shoot?” Duncan grabbed her arm with one hand to rescue her from falling on her rump, put his other hand to his forehead and scanned the area with an extravagant movement. “Pistol or bow and arrow?”

Cairstine giggled. Trust Duncan to cheer her up. “The culprit is too far to reach with either,” she said glumly as she smoothed her skirts down and remembered what had sent her to the lookout in a rush. “In England, at a place called Corbridge.”

“Corbridge?” he said as he dropped his hand from his face. The confusion in his eyes mirrored the incredulous tone of his voice. “Why in hades Corbridge? What the hell’s going on?”

Cairstine sighed. “Hell just about sums it up. My papa says I am to marry the black-hearted devil that is George Armstrong.”

Duncan’s jaw clenched as she said the name. George Armstrong of Corbridge…the bastard! Not that he had ever met the man, but the fame—or infamy—of the Armstrong family was well known and noted in the annals of history. Around a hundred years earlier they had been given a baronetcy—under somewhat suspicious circumstances—and they revelled in their reputation.

Blood raced through his veins at the thought of Cairstine in the clutches of such a man. She stood close enough to kiss, her lips mere inches from his own. Another part of his anatomy stirred deep within his trews with an emotion other than anger. The heady scent of her teased his nostrils and he sniffed the air. Violets, he decided—sweet and seductively entrancing like the lady herself.

He dropped his hands to his sides against an urge to sweep her into his arms and assure her he would not allow the marriage to take place. He was powerless to prevent it—Cairstine’s father’s title being higher ranked in the natural order than his own. What was he, as an earl compared to a duke? Instead he concentrated on not curling his hands into fists and asked with a calmness he didn’t feel, “When and where is this event to take place?”

Cairstine gazed at him, a question written in her eyes as if she sensed the power of the emotions running through his body. “I leave for Corbridge in five days. Oh, Duncan, something is wrong, and I have no idea what it could be. I have asked Papa to explain his decision, but all he says it I have to do this thing. Why?” She whirled around and her skirts followed her, giving him a tantalizing glimpse of a well-turned ankle visible above her half boot. How he wished it showed more.

Callander, get your mind out of the gutters.

“What on earth could be going on?” Cairstine asked in a plaintive tone that hit him hard. “Duncan, I’m at my wit’s end. I cannot move him.”

Duncan nodded, his mind busy with possible plans, and he turned to one side, needing time to think of ways and means to execute them as well as considering the likely consequences. “Stay strong. I’m off to check my snares and have a think. Don’t worry, I will see you again before you go. Can you be here at the same time tomorrow?”

Cairstine nodded. “I will make sure I am.”

Duncan nodded. “Until then.” He spun on his heels and set off in the direction of his manor a mile or so distant on the opposite hill, his thoughts in a whirl.

What in hades is her father up to? To date, the Duke of Glenard, known as Lord Nathaniel McColl in these parts, had been a loving and somewhat protective father to his only daughter.

He strode on. The smell of pine resin carried on the warmth of the June breeze replaced the scent of violets in his nose, but Duncan hardly noticed as he began to gather his thoughts. A rescue plan was needed, one that would absolve Cairstine from all blame so as not to leave her in her parent’s bad graces. Or give any hint of collusion between the two of them. She should not guess his part in it, to allow her to answer with perfect honesty if questioned later by her father.

A bold idea occurred and he quickened his pace while contemplating the prospects and pitfalls of it. A disguise would be required so she didn’t immediately recognise him. It would ruin everything if she inadvertently gave his identity away to anyone with her. Plus, he needed to decide on a place of safety for her to pass the time until his plan achieved its aim.

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About the Authors

Raven McAllan

After 30 plus years in Scotland, Raven now lives near the east Yorkshire coast, with her long-suffering husband, who is used to rescuing the dinner, when she gets immersed in her writing, keeping her coffee pot warm and making sure the wine is chilled.

With a new home to decorate and a garden to plan, she’s never short of things to do, but writing is always at the top of her list.

Her other hobbies include walking along the coast and spotting the wildlife, reading, researching, cros stitch and trying not to drop stitches as she endeavours to knit.

Being left-handed, and knitting right-handed, that’s not always easy.

She loves hearing from her readers, either via her website, by email or social media.

Cassie O’Brien

I love:

Being with family and friends.

Writing and having the freedom to do so now child four of four has passed her driving test and is off to uni later this year.

I Like:

Any excuse to throw a party.

Any excuse to open a bottle of fizz.

Shoes in vast quantities – the higher the heel the better.

Ambitions:

To write many more books.

To own a pair of Louboutin’s.

To never go near an iron or a hoover again.

You can find Cassie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter: @cassieo_author

Giveaway

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New Release: Power and Persuasion by Lisabet Sarai #GildedAge #Billionaire #EnemiesToLovers #Historical #BDSM @lisabetsarai

New Release!

Power and Persuasion:

A Gilded Age BDSM Romance

By Lisabet Sarai

Historical BDSM Erotic Romance

18,400 words,  71 pages

Smashwords and Amazon KDP

ISBN (Smashwords): 9780463534946

ASIN: B09HSS7C6T

About the Book

She’s his natural enemy – and the only woman who can satisfy his perverse sexual needs.

Andrew MacIntyre, heir to a vast empire of railroads, mines and mills, is by far the most eligible bachelor among the society folk summering in Newport, Rhode Island. His mother has filled their opulent mansion with the daughters of bankers and industrialists, but Andrew knows none of these callow young women would ever consent to being bound and beaten, to serving and obeying him the way he craves. His money gives him the freedom to purchase anything except his heart’s desire: a submissive partner to share his life.

Labor activist Olivia Alcott is dedicated to helping the exploited factory workers responsible for Andrew’s wealth. The strike she organizes triggers a confrontation between her and the handsome billionaire. Although their disparate backgrounds and values make them natural foes, something stronger draws them to one another: his need to command and hers to surrender.


Note: This book was previously published by Totally Bound under the title Challenge to Him. It has been revised, expanded by two chapters, and re-edited for this release.

Buy Links

Kinky Literature –

Amazon  US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09HSS7C6T

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09HSS7C6T

Smashwords –  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1108116

Barnes and Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/power-and-persuasion-lisabet-sarai/1140290642?ean=2940165040306

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Add on Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59240690-power-and-persuasion

Excerpt – PG

“Mademoiselle Olivia!” A skinny girl raced up the street that led to the riverside mill, stirring clouds of dust. “Il vient! He is coming!”

The sputtering racket of an internal combustion engine drowned out the girl’s excited voice. The crowd parted like the Red Sea for a boxy vehicle of shiny black, with silvery headlamps like extruded eyes. The noisy Studebaker rolled to a stop in front of the strikers, who stopped in their tracks like everyone else to stare at it.

The door creaked open. A tall man unfolded himself from the somewhat cramped interior, snatched off his hat and goggles and tossed them into the vehicle. He strode towards the massed strikers, his fists clenched at his sides.

“Where is she? Where’s your damned leader?”

The newspapers generally described Andrew MacIntyre as handsome. The epithet did not do him justice. As he stormed towards her, Olivia was struck with a sense of physical power and keen intelligence. He had wavy red-gold hair, a high forehead, a square chin, a determined mouth. His eyes were hazel, deep set under brows darker than his hair. Those eyes drilled into her, fierce and compelling. The women around her shrank backwards in alarm. Olivia steeled herself, holding her ground and fighting the urge to grovel at his feet. Instead of retreating, she took a step forward, holding out her hand.

“Mr. Andrew MacIntyre, I presume?” She marveled at the steadiness of her voice, the cool neutral tone.

“Damned right. And you are…?”

“Olivia Alcott.” She pulled herself up to her full height and forced herself to meet his gaze. She saw anger simmering there, but behind his irritation there was something else, something that intrigued and thrilled her. Something that she might be able to use to further her goals.

Olivia Alcott recognized lust when she saw it.

He towered over her by at least a head. Though his body was hidden by his loose touring coat, his decisive, economical movements suggested he was lean and athletic. For a moment he hesitated, staring at her proffered hand. When he finally accepted it, his firm grip confirmed her impression of strength. His palm felt warm and dry against hers. She suddenly wished that she were not so sticky and disheveled. When he released her, a momentary lightness swept through her, as though she might float away.

“And can I assume that you are the instigator and cause of this illegal strike, Miss Alcott?” He seemed flustered, less confident than she would have expected. Her spirits rose.

“Instigator? Perhaps. But not the cause.” Sweat trickled from her hairline, down into her eyes. She wiped it away with the back of her hand.

“Here.” He surprised her by offering a crisp handkerchief of fine linen, of a white so pure it almost seemed to shine with its own light. The initials ‘AM’ were embroidered in the corner, in golden thread. A faint scent of lavender reached her nostrils.

“Why, thank you!” The square of cloth was far more effective than her hand. When she’d mopped the perspiration from her face, she held out the swatch of now-damp fabric. “Here you are.”

He waved dismissively. “Keep it. I’ve got dozens more. Let’s get back to the matter at hand.”

“How much did this handkerchief cost, Mr. MacIntyre?”

“I have no idea. My secretary handles my personal expenses.”

“It’s imported linen, I suspect. Belgian, perhaps?”

“Maybe. I don’t know. Look, Miss Alcott—”

“And the monogram looks like real gold. Is it?”

“Honestly, what does that have to do with anything?”

Olivia tucked the handkerchief into her bodice, noting that MacIntyre’s eyes followed the movement. Indeed he didn’t try to hide his survey of her figure, rude as it was. Another tremor of strangeness fluttered in her belly.

“I’m no expert—I don’t have anything so fine myself—but I’d estimate that each of the dozens of handkerchiefs like this that you possess cost at least ten dollars.”

“Ah—really I don’t know—perhaps. Something in that vicinity.”

“That’s about two weeks of salary for one of these women who work here in your factory.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“The cause of the strike, Mr. MacIntyre. You asked about the cause of the strike. These poor women—your employees, sir, to whom you have a certain responsibility—generally make five dollars a week. They’d have to work for two weeks—twelve days, twelve hours per day—to afford one of your handkerchiefs. Do you think this is just?”

“Well, they should be grateful they have jobs.” MacIntyre leaned closer, his manner and his voice menacing. “And if you don’t stop your meddling, they won’t. I’ll fire every single one of them in a minute. There are plenty of people who’d be happy for steady work, for a reputable company that’s not about to go bust and put them out on the street.”

“Won’t you consider raising their salaries, Mr. MacIntyre?” Olivia countered, inserting a bit of sweetness into her own voice. She laid her hand on his upper arm and felt his muscles shift under her fingers. “An additional dollar a week would make a big difference to them.”

“I’m running a business here, Miss Alcott, not a charity.” He pulled away from her grasp and shook his head, as if to clear his thoughts, then stepped past her to speak to the assembled workers.

About Lisabet

Lisabet Sarai became addicted to words at an early age. She began reading when she was four. She wrote her first story at five years old and her first poem at seven. Since then, she has written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – over one hundred titles, and counting, in nearly every sub-genre—paranormal, scifi, ménage, BDSM, GLBT, and more. Regardless of the genre, every one of her stories illustrates her motto: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads, Pinterest, BookBub, BingeBooks and Twitter.

Join her VIP email list here: https://btn.ymlp.com/xgjjhmhugmgh

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.

Buy Links:

Universal Link: http://myBook.to/WoT

Available on #KindleUnlimited.

EXCERPT

“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.

“Damnation.”

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.”

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.”

“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!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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, http://www.annabelfrage.com .

Social Media Links:

Website: www.annabelfrage.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/abelfrageauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabelfrageauthor

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Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/ABG

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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.

Buy Links:

Universal Amazon Link: https://books2read.com/u/mV6p5r

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

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Excerpt:

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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