Returned by Kimberley Griffiths Little #Bookblast @KimberleyGLittl

Returned Trilogy

ReturnedReturned by Kimberley Griffiths Little

After tragedy strikes on the day they were to wed, Jayden must support Kadesh as he ascends the throne and becomes king of Sariba. But with the dark priestess Aliyah conspiring to control the crown, and the arrival of Horeb, Jayden’s former betrothed, Kadesh’s kingdom, as well as his status as king, is at stake.

Jayden knows that the time to be merciful has come and gone, and that some enemies can only be halted by death. Now she and Kadesh must prepare to fight not only for their love, but also for their kingdom.
This is the final book in the epic trilogy that began with Forbidden and Banished. Jayden and Kadesh’s love will be put to the ultimate test as they fight a war to save their kingdom.

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Praise for the Book

Booklist (starred review)

“At its core, this is a romance, with all the push and pull that goes along with impossible love, and Little elevates the story by creating a perilous landscape, both outward and inward, as Jayden must deal with the hardship of desert life as well as her own desires. . . descriptions of the landscape are evocative in both desolation and in beauty. Just as good is the pacing, which gets the blood pumping for both characters and readers. This will heighten anticipation for a no-doubt exciting conclusion.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Rich historical details are deftly woven into Jayden’s narration, and the dynamics of Jayden’s tribe are vividly drawn. Jayden’s story becomes as much about finding herself as it is about finding love.”

Reader: “This book took my breath away. I loved the immersive story and the rich setting of ancient Mesopotamia. The customs, traditions, and beliefs of the desert people were captivating and every time I set the book down I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. I’ve never read anything like this before.”

Reader: “Forbidden was so captivating that I awoke early in the morning, while my family was still sleeping, so I could finish the last pages of this beautifully haunting tale.”

 

Excerpt

My sister laid the tablet in her lap, running a finger along the symbols with affection.

“To Jayden, daughter of the Nephish

From Aliyah, Goddess of Sariba

The Goddess and High Priestess of Sariba officially invite you to witness the summer solstice sacrifice in two day’s time. It will be a night you will remember for the rest of your life. A permanent kinship with the Goddess will bless you and your family forever.”

“She sent an invitation to watch Sahmril sacrificed!” Grabbing the tablet, I threw it across the room where it hit the corner of a table and broke into pieces.

With a shriek, Leila staggered off the chair and crawled across the floor. Picking up the shards, she cradled them in her hands, trying to fit them together.

“Leila, what is wrong with you? How could you bring this despicable letter to me?”

She raised her eyes to mine. “You’ve been invited as a special guest because our little sister has been chosen to honor the Goddess. Her sacrifice will bring peace and love to this land. She is the pure vessel. We’re so lucky to have found her.”

“Lucky?” I echoed. The nonchalance manner in which she spoke was horrifying. “Our sister was hunted down for the express purpose of sacrificing her to the goddess.”

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SONY DSCAuthor Kimberley Griffiths Little

Kimberley Griffiths Little is the author of ten award-winning Middle-Grade and Young Adult novels with Knopf, Scholastic and Harpercollins, including the Whitney Award, the Arizona/New Mexico Book Award, the SCBWI Crystal Kite, the Southwest Book Award, and others. ALA BOOKLIST named FORBIDDEN, the first book in her Ancient Mesopotamian historical fantasy a Young Adult Top 10 novel for the Historical category, Romance category, and Religious/Inspirational.

Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She once stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland and didn’t sleep a wink; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. She was born in San Francisco but now lives on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and three sons.

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$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 2/27/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Higher Elevation Series by Renee Regent #BookTour @EJBookPromos @ReneeRegent

Series: Higher Elevation Series
Titles: Unexplained, Untouched, & Undeniable
Author: Renee Regent
Genre: Paranormal Romance
– UNEXPLAINED IS ON SALE $0.99 –

“The Higher Elevation trilogy will delight fans of mystery and romance alike.”   ~NYT Bestselling Author Annabel Joseph

When it comes to love, some things just can’t be explained….
A skeptical reporter who witnesses the unbelievable…
It’s the late 1970’s, and tenacious journalism student Sarah McKenn doesn’t believe the rumors of strange happenings in her small college town of Fort Winston, Colorado. But a supernatural event she experiences while chasing down a story for her school’s newspaper leaves her questioning everything. In her quest for understanding, she meets and falls for Chris, the only man she believes can help her unravel the truth.
A psychology student determined to prove his psychic talents are real…

Christian Levine is on the cusp of a bright future as a research psychologist when he agrees to participate in a secret experiment at the request of his mentor. Though it’s the perfect opportunity to prove his psychic abilities, the project turns deadly when Chris discovers the real motivation of the man in control of it all. Chris is forced to choose between his own freedom or saving the lives of his mentor and Sarah─the woman he loves.

A bond that transcends all boundaries…

The chemistry between Sarah and Chris surprises them—a soul-filling passion and a deep psychic connection neither thought possible. Can they discover what their bond means before their lives are ripped apart?

Despite her misgivings, she knew she was falling in love with him and that scared the crap out of her. He was complicated, and was probably leaving the state next year, to go back to New York or wherever his career would take him. She could not afford to be distracted and definitely did not want to have her heart broken. And frankly, this psychic thing between them scared her a little, too. Pulling away from him was the sensible thing to do, and only way she could protect herself.
But he kept showing up, and ruining her resolve in the process.
She felt his eyes on her while folding her clothes, but he said nothing. When the task was done, she looked up at him, trying to find a way to get him to leave without hurting his feelings. Instead, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her.
Well, one kiss won’t hurt, but after that, he has to go.

Love isn’t always what it seems to be…..when you are living in the past
When you can’t believe what you see…
In the summer of 1978, photographer Zac Daley is the only one who sees a young woman in the lake, crying for help. When she shows up in his photos, and begins sending him cryptic messages, he must find out why. 

When you don’t believe what you’re told…
Amanda Bresky has not given up on Zac, even though her parents have forbidden her to see him. They can’t see past his long hair and hippie clothes, and even Zac himself has told her they aren’t a good match. He wants no part of a relationship, and thinks they should just remain friends. But she is determined to break through to his heart, whatever it takes. 

When the truth is buried in the past…

Zac’s interest in the mysterious girl in the lake becomes an obsession when she appears, demanding he deliver a message for her. With Amanda’s help, he sets out to solve the mystery, but at a cost neither of them could foresee. Haunted by his own past, Zac is determined to leave Fort Winston, Colorado as soon as possible─but a wayward ghost and a certain hot-blooded redhead are tempting him to stay.

His hands roamed her body, feeling every curve. He wanted to absorb her into his skin, become one with her. Touching her was not enough. He couldn’t find the usual words of protest, did not have the willpower to push her away this time. He knew she wanted to be his, and he wanted to be hers. Logic and reason had no place here, and for the first time, he knew it was meant to be.
She pulled away, her lips swollen and reddish-pink. “Please Zac, let me stay this time. Don’t push me away.”
He responded by flipping her over, onto her back. He laced his hands in hers. “I won’t. I’ll never send you away again.”

And then he kissed her, pouring his overflowing feelings into every touch. It was as though a damn had burst, and he surprised himself with how deeply he felt it. But for now, he only wanted to make exquisite love to her, so no matter what happened later, she would never forget him, her first lover.

Can an undeniable bond transcend time and distance?

 

When the past seems brighter than the future…
It’s 1986─seven years since Christian Levine last heard from his lost love, Sarah McKenn. When an opportunity arises to leave his crumbling life in California and return to Fort Winston, Colorado, he hopes to rekindle more than memories. If he can find Sarah again, he plans to prove to her their psychic soul connection was more than just a phase two college kids went through.

 

When the future will save you from your past…

 

Sarah McKenn is about to leave Fort Winston, moving to Sedona, Arizona for a career opportunity she can’t pass up. She and her daughter Sophie are looking forward to their new adventure, but when two men come back into Sarah’s life at the same time, she has to decide whether to face the secrets of her past, or embrace her future and never look back. 
When your life is no longer your own….
Sarah knows she must do what is best for her daughter, but can she ignore the explosive chemistry and weird psychic connection she still has with Chris? Or will her unresolved past destroy her chance for love, and a new life?

 

He pulled her to him, devouring her mouth with his own. Words still weren’t enough, and he needed her like a drug. Her arms came around his neck, and she kissed him back, making a small sound of desire. His arousal became evident and he pressed against her, backing her up against the counter. Her fingers were entwined in his hair. She pulled him to her hard, and he felt her teeth against his tongue. His need for her was crashing over him in tidal-wave fashion, but somewhere in his mind he knew he had to stop. She pulled her lips away from his, her breath ragged.

 

 

“We have to stop. Sophie…”

 

He was kissing his way down her neck. “I know…God, Sarah, I can’t take it much longer…I need you.”

 

Pushing on his chest with her hands, she brought him back to cold reality. She slipped away from him just as Sophie returned to the kitchen.

 

“Mamma, can I watch cartoons?”

 

 

As she followed her daughter into the other room, he stood there in the kitchen, still breathing hard. The heat between his legs was dissipating, his heart returning to a normal beat. The craving, the need…that wasn’t going away anytime soon, if ever.

 

A lifelong entrepreneur, Renee Regent spent most of her life writing for business. But she never lost her love of writing stories, especially romance, science fiction, and fantasy. She’s always been fascinated with the science of how the universe works, but equally entranced by the unexplained. Being an incurable romantic, she now writes stories about the power of love, with a supernatural twist. Her stories feature psychics, witches, ghosts and ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

Renee, a California native, lives in Atlanta with her husband, three cats and four turtles. When not working or writing, she can be found sitting on her deck enjoying nature. Wine may or may not be involved….

A member of Georgia Romance Writers and the Georgia Writer’s Association, Renee also loves blogging and sharing her ideas on the business side of being an author, trends in fiction, and tips she has learned in her writing journey.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White #ReleaseBlast @elle_k_writes

 

Inside the Book:

 

Title: Heartstone
Author: Elle Katharine White
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Historical Fantasy 

A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms.They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.

Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.

Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.

It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.

Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

BUY HERE:

Meet the Author:

Elle was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, where she learned valuable life skills like how to clear a snowy driveway in under twenty minutes (a lot easier than you think) and how to cheer for the perennial underdog (a lot harder than you think).
MEET ELLE
When she’s not writing she spends her time reading, drinking absurd amounts of tea, having strong feelings about fictional characters, and doing her best to live with no regrets.
Connect with her on Facebook at @ellewhite.author, or witness the hilarious spectacle that is a writer contending with the 140-character limit on Twitter at @elle_k_writes.
Website | Twitter |Tumblr | Facebook | Goodreads
CONNECT WITH ELLE: WEBSITE|TWITTER|TUMBLR|FACEBOOK|GOODREADS

——————

Tour Schedule

Monday, January 23
Book featured at Rolopolobookblog
Book featured at Queen of All She ReadsTuesday, January 24
Book featured at E-Romance News

Wednesday, January 25
Book featured at CBY Book Club

Thursday, January 26
Book reviewed at RhiReading

Friday, January 27
Book featured at The Bookworm Lodge
Book reviewed at Blooming with Books
Book reviewed at Books Are Love
Book featured at I Smell Sheep

________
Monday, January 30
Book reviewed at I’m Shelf-ishTuesday, January 31
Book featured at A Book Lover

Wednesday, February 1
Book featured at The Dark Phantom

Thursday, February 2
Book featured at Write and Take Flight

Friday, February 3
Book featured at A Title Wave

________

I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Wicked In His Arms by Stacy Reid #ReleaseBlitz @st_reid @bookenthupromo

release day blitz

Book Title: Wicked In His Arms (Wedded by Scandal Series)
Author: Stacy Reid
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: January 23, 2017
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

Tobias Walcott, the Earl of Blade, has learned it is best to exercise rigid control over his passions and emotions in all that he does. Uncaring that it makes him seem cool and aloof to most in the ton, he is content with his desire to only woo agreeable and demur females. Then unforeseen circumstances see him trapped in a closet at a house party with the last woman he would ever make his countess.
Lady Olivia Sherwood is everything he should not desire in a female—unconventional, too decisive, and utterly without decorum. But passion ignites between them and they are discovered. Honor demands they wed, and while Tobias finds himself unwillingly drawn to the bewitching beauty, he must do everything not to tempt the passion that burns in him for her, lest it leads to disastrous consequences.

excerpt

The soft growl that slipped from her throat surprised her with its ferocity. “You, my lord, have no gentlemanly qualities.”

“Are you scolding me for bad behavior?” he clipped quite icily.

It seemed as if the tentative peace they’d formed in the ballroom had dissolved. “Yes!”

“You wouldn’t know refined sensibilities if they bit you in the posterior.”

“Oh! You…you…”

“Christ, will you lower your voice?”

She gritted her teeth until her jaw ached.

“What are you doing here?”

She ignored him.

“I will not ask again,” he said in a dangerously soft tone.

Livvie swallowed, heat burning her cheeks. “I saw you, and I only meant to enquire whether you were well. Very silly of me and now I am exceedingly embarrassed I acted on the thought.”

“Ah…once again you were acting recklessly.”

“Of course not. I had no notion you would drag me in here.” She took a calming breath. “Why are you here?”

“That is none of your business,” he said cuttingly.

“I take it back,” she whispered. “I do not want to be forgiven, you are an—”

“Good God, have we reverted to the insufferable buffoon? And here I thought I had detected some growth.”

Before she could whisper a furious rebuttal, warm lips pressed on her, silencing her and alarming her, sending a shock of desire to her system, and stripping her of her defenses. She went absolutely still, her heart a pounding roar in her ears. Tobias was kissing her! Livvie dimly realized he was just as frozen, and she could feel the thud of his heart. She raised her hand and pressed it against his chest.

Thud.

He shuddered. Then he parted his lips and rimmed his tongue against the seam of her mouth. Her knees buckled and his arms came around her and hauled her even closer to him. His hand moved in a slow soothing stroke over her back. A soft moan slipped from her, and she parted her lips to him, curious as to what would happen. Pleasure. What happened was a shock of undiluted delight, pulsing through her veins as he thrust his tongue into her mouth and conquered.

He squeezed her body tightly to his, moving his lips over hers with sensual force.

She pulled from him, breathless. “Tobias.”

“Good God, you taste even better than I imagined,” he said gruffly.

Livvie was speechless, never in her wildest fancy could she have imagined such pleasure or the soft sensual tones he used. He disliked her, didn’t he? “You’ve…thought of kissing me?”

“Every night since I’ve met you, utter madness.”

meet the author

I am an avid reader of novels with a deep passion for writing. I especially love romance and enjoy writing about people falling in love. I live a lot in the worlds I create and I actively speak to my characters (out loud). I have a warrior way “Never give up on my dream.” When I am not writing, I spend a copious amount of time drooling over Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead, Lucas Hood from Banshee, watching Japanese Anime and playing video games with my love—Dusean. I also have a horrible weakness for ice cream.

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 I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Book Review: Yellowstone Heart Song (Yellowstone Romance Book 1) by Peggy L. Henderson @peggylhenderson #BookReview

Yellowstone Heart Song (Yellowstone Romance Book 1) by Peggy L. Henderson

Blurb

Nurse and avid backpacker Aimee Donovan is offered the opportunity of a lifetime. She encounters a patient who tells her he can send her two hundred years into the past to spend three months in the rugged Yellowstone wilderness at the dawn of the mountain man era. The only requirement: she cannot tell anyone that she’s from the future.

How did a white woman suddenly appear in the remote Rocky Mountain wilderness? Trapper Daniel Osborne’s first instinct is to protect this mysterious and unconventional woman from the harsh realities of his mountains. While he fights his growing attraction to her, he is left frustrated by her lies and secrecy.

Daniel shows Aimee a side of Yellowstone she’s never experienced. She is torn between her feelings for him, and exposing a secret that will destroy everything he holds as truth. As her three months come to an end, she is faced with a dilemma: return to her own time, or stay with the man who opened her eyes to a whole new world. When the decision is made for her, both their lives will be changed forever.

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My Review

 

 

Yellowstone Heart Song (Yellowstone Romance, #1)Yellowstone Heart Song by Peggy L. Henderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yellowstone Heart Song (Yellowstone Romance Book1) by Peggy L. Henderson
This is the first book in the series. I can’t wait to read more in this series.
This book is a time travel story and I love reading time traveling stories that seem real.
It starts off with Aimee Donovan who is a nurse in LA in 2010 talking to one of her patients about her love of being in the wilderness mostly at Yellowstone Park. Her patient Zack told her he was a time traveler, of course she didn’t believe him, I mean really time travel is for real? Well the next things she knows she is in the wilderness. Zack had told her where she needed to go and to find Daniel. Well Daniel found her. Her start on this journey didn’t start out too well.
What I love was their story and of course how different Daniel and Aimee are since their life styles are 200 years apart. Aimee traveled back to 1810. She is a tough woman, who isn’t afraid. This area in 1810 didn’t have many white people let alone a white woman who wanted to learn how to live in the wilderness. It is not easy to live back then. There are many predators, Indians, white men who haven’t seen a woman in a long time, plus the animals. So much to learn.
This book is a 5-star book. I love how well it is written, how the details in the story are so precise. I know for a fact I could not live in the wilderness in 1810. This is a perfect story to read if you love historical romance and time travel. Over all just a fun book to read.
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affiliate links will not affect the purchase price of the products for you.I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

LADY CLAIRE IS ALL THAT by Maya Rodale @TastyBookTours @mayarodale #PreOrderBlitz

The one
thing neither of them counted on is love . . .

 

LADY CLAIRE IS ALL THAT
Keeping Up with the Cavendishes #3
Maya Rodale
Releasing Dec 27th, 2016
Avon Books

 

Her
Brains
 
Claire
Cavendish is in search of a duke, but not for the usual reasons. The man she
seeks is a mathematician; the man she unwittingly finds is Lord Fox: dynamic,
athletic, and as bored by the equations Claire adores as she is by the social
whirl upon which he thrives. As attractive as Fox is, he’s of no use to Claire
. . . or is he?
 
Plus
His Brawn
 
Fox’s male
pride has been bruised ever since his fiancée jilted him. One way to recover:
win a bet that he can transform Lady Claire, Society’s roughest diamond, into
its most prized jewel. But Claire has other ideas—shockingly steamy ones. . .
 
Equals
A Study In Seduction

 

By Claire’s
calculations, Fox is the perfect man to satisfy her sensual curiosity. In Fox’s
estimation, Claire is the perfect woman to prove his mastery of the ton. But
the one thing neither of them counted on is love . . .

London, 1824

Lord and Lady Chesham’s ballroom

It was a truth universally acknowledged that Maximilian Frederick DeVere, Lord Fox, was God’s gift to the ladies of London. He was taller and brawnier than his peers and in possession of the sort of chiseled good looks—above and below the neck—that were more often found in works of classical art. By all accounts he was charming and universally liked by men and women alike, though for different reasons, of course. He won at two things, always: women and sport.

Fox strolled through the ballroom as if he owned the place. He nodded at friends and acquaintances—Carlyle, with whom he occasionally fenced, Fitzwalter, who he had soundly thrashed at boxing last week, and Willoughby, who was always game for a curricle race.

Fox flashed his famous grin as he heard the ladies’ usual comments when he strolled past.

“I think he just smiled at me.”

“I think I’m going to swoon.”

“God, Arabella Vaughn is one lucky woman.”

“Was,” someone corrected. “Didn’t you see the report in The London Weekly this morning?”

Fox’s grin faltered.

That was when Mr. Rupert Wright and Lord Mowbray found him. Their friendship stretched all the way back to their early days at Eton.

“We heard the news, Fox,” Rupert said grimly, clapping a hand on his shoulder.

“I daresay everyone has heard the news,” Fox replied dryly.

It didn’t escape his notice that the guests nearby had fallen silent. It was the first time he’d appeared in public since the news broke in the paper this morning, though Arabella had so kindly left him a note the day prior. Everyone was watching him to see how he would react, what he would say, if he would cry.

“Who would have thought we’d see this day?” Mowbray mused. “Miss Arabella Vaughn, darling of the haute ton, running off with an actor.”

“That alone would be scandalous,” Rupert said, adding, “Never mind that she has ditched Fox. Who is, apparently, considered a catch. What with his lofty title, wealth, and not hideous face.”

Fox’s Male Pride bristled. It’d been bristling and seething and enraged ever since the news broke that his beautiful, popular betrothed had left him to elope with some plebian actor.

Not just any actor, either, but Lucien Kemble. Yes, he was the current sensation among the haute ton, lighting up the stage each night in his role as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. Covent Garden theater was sold out for the rest of the season. The gossip columns loved him, given his flair for dramatics both onstage and off—everything from tantrums to torrid love affairs to fits over his artistry. Women adored him; they may have sighed and swooned over Lucien Kemble as much as Fox.

To lose a woman to any other man was insupportable—and, until recently, not something that ever happened to him—but to lose her to someone who made his living prancing around onstage in tights? It was intolerable.

“Just who does she think she is?” Fox wondered aloud.

“She’s Arabella Vaughn. Beautiful. Popular. Enviable. Every young lady here aspires to be her. Every man here would like a shot with her,” Mowbray answered.

“She’s you, but in petticoats,” Rupert said, laughing.

It was true. He and Arabella were perfect together.

Like most men, he’d fallen for her at first sight after catching a glimpse of her across a crowded ballroom. She was beautiful in every possible way: a tall, lithe figure with full breasts; a mouth made for kissing and other things that gentlemen didn’t mention in polite company; blue eyes fringed in dark lashes; honey gold hair that fell in waves; a complexion that begged comparisons to cream and milk and moonlight.

Fox had taken one look at her and thought: mine.

They were a perfect match in beauty, wealth, social standing, all that. They both enjoyed taking the ton by storm. He remembered the pride he felt as they strolled through a ballroom arm in arm and the feeling of everyone’s eyes on them as they waltzed so elegantly.

They were great together.

They belonged together.

Fox also remembered the more private moments—so many stolen kisses, the intimacy of gently pushing aside a wayward strand of her golden hair, promises for their future as man and wife. They would have perfect children, and entertain the best of society, and generally live a life of wealth and pleasure and perfection, together.

Fox remembered his heart racing—nerves!—when he proposed because this beautiful girl he adored was going to be his.

And then she had eloped. With an actor.

It burned, that. Ever since he’d heard the news, Fox had stormed around in high dudgeon. He was not accustomed to losing.

“Take away her flattering gowns and face paint and she’s just like any other woman here,” Fox said, wanting it to be true so he wouldn’t feel the loss so keenly. “Look at her, for example.”

Rupert and Mowbray both glanced at the woman he pointed out—a short, frumpy young lady nervously sipping lemonade. She spilled some down the front of her bodice when she caught three men staring at her.

“If one were to offer her guidance on supportive undergarments and current fashions and get a maid to properly style her coiffure, why, she could be the reigning queen of the haute ton,” Fox pointed out.

Both men stared at him, slack jawed.

“You’ve never been known for being the sharpest tool in the shed, Fox, but now I think you’re really cracked,” Mowbray said. “You cannot just give a girl a new dress and make her popular.”

“Well, Mowbray, maybe you couldn’t. But I could.”

“Gentlemen . . .” Rupert cut in. “I don’t care for the direction of this conversation.”

“You honestly think you can do it,” Mowbray said, awed.

He turned to face Mowbray and drew himself up to his full height, something he did when he wanted to be imposing. His Male Pride had been wounded and his competitive spirit—always used to winning—was spoiling for an opportunity to triumph.

“I know I can,” Fox said with the confidence of a man who won pretty much everything he put his mind to—as long as it involved sport, or women. Arabella had been his first, his only, loss. A fluke, surely.

“Well, that calls for a wager,” Mowbray said.

The two gentlemen stood eye to eye, the tension thick. Rupert groaned.

“Name your terms,” Fox said.

“I pick the girl.”

“Fine.”

“This is a terrible idea,” Rupert said. He was probably right, but he was definitely ignored.

“Let me see . . . who shall I pick?” Mowbray made a dramatic show of looking around the ballroom at all the ladies nearby. There were at least a dozen of varying degrees of pretty and pretty hopeless.

Then Mowbray’s attentions fixed on one particular woman. Fox followed his gaze, and when he saw who his friend had in mind, his stomach dropped.

“No.”

“Yes,” Mowbray said, a cocky grin stretching across his features.

“Unfortunately dressed I can handle. Shy, stuttering English miss who at least knows the rules of society? Sure. But one of the Americans?”

Fox let the question hang there. The Cavendish family had A Reputation the minute the news broke that the new Duke of Durham was none other than a lowly horse trainer from the former colonies. He and his sisters were scandalous before they even set foot in London. Since their debut in society, they hadn’t exactly managed to win over the haute ton, either, to put it politely.

“Now, they’re not all bad,” Rupert said. “I quite like Lady Bridget . . .”

But Fox was still in shock and Mowbray was enjoying it too much to pay any mind to Rupert’s defense of the Americans.

“The bluestocking?”

That was the thing: Mowbray hadn’t picked just any American, but the one who already had a reputation for being insufferably intelligent, without style or charm to make herself more appealing to the gentlemen of the ton. She was known to bore a gentleman to tears by discussing not the weather, or hair ribbons, or gossip of mutual acquaintances, but math.

Lady Claire Cavendish seemed destined to be a hopeless spinster and social pariah.

Even the legendary Duchess of Durham, aunt to the new duke and his sisters, hadn’t yet been able to successfully launch them into society and she’d already had weeks to prepare them! It seemed insane that Fox should succeed where the duchess failed.

But Fox and his Male Pride had never, not once, backed away from a challenge, especially not when the stakes had never been higher. He knew two truths about himself: he won at women and he won at sport.

He was a winner.

And he was not in the mood for soul searching or crafting a new identity when the old one suited him quite well. Given this nonsense with Arabella, he had to redeem himself in the eyes of the ton, not to mention his own. It was an impossible task, but one that Fox would simply have to win.

“Her family is hosting a ball in a fortnight,” Mowbray said. “I expect you to be there—with Lady Claire on your arm as the most desirable and popular woman in London.”

Make sure to “Keep Up” with the Cavendishes!

 



Maya
Rodale 
began reading romance novels in college at her
mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is
now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York
City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.
 

 

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl