Never Kiss a Toad – Prologue

Today, I am starting a new feature, Weekly Serial Fiction. Three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, I will be posting three different books by chapter, with a snippet here on the regular blog (so you are notified), and on individual pages (so you can read start to finish, instead of upside-down, at your leisure). I will post full chapters, even if they are long.

If you like Historical Romance, stop by on Mondays for Lord Coventon’s Concubines, a short story sequel to La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess, or Saturdays to continue Never Kiss a Toad.

If you prefer poetry, come by on Wednesdays for Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld.

Today, I am starting with Never Kiss a Toad, a Victorian Romance I am currently co-writing with Jude Knight. (This means it may yet have a few typos, and the story is ongoing.) This book features characters–and their adult children–from my Regency Romance, Royal Regard, and Jude’s Regency Romance, A Baron for Becky.  If you decide you want to read ahead, you can find more chapters available free at Wattpad.

About this Book


David “Toad” Northope, heir to the Duke of Wellbridge and rogue in the mold of his infamous father, knows Lady Sarah “Sal” Grenford, daughter of the once-profligate Duke of Haverford, will always hold his heart. But when the two teens are caught in bed together by their horrified parents, he is sent away to finish school on the Continent, and she is thrown into the depths of her first London Season.

Can two reformed rakes keep their children from making the same mistakes they did? The dukes decide keeping them apart will do the trick, so as the children reach their majority, Toad is put to work at sea, learning to manage his mother’s shipping concern, and Sal is taken to the other side of the world, as far from him as possible. How will Toad and Sal’s love withstand long years of separation, not to mention nasty lies, vicious rumors, attractive other suitors, and well-meaning parents who threaten to destroy their future before it has begun?

© 2016 Mariana Gabrielle and Jude Knight



October 1823
Haverford House
London, England

Nick Northope, Duke of Wellbridge, paced the floor in a receiving room of Haverford House, waiting nervously for his oldest friend. He and his wife had been shown to the Duke of Haverford’s family wing, where the rooms were as opulent and gargantuan as the public spaces, but a few touches showed that this space was for living rather than show. A workbasket stood by one chair, angled toward the fire, and a small stack of well-thumbed books sat within easy reach of another.

On a couch that favored comfort without sacrificing elegance, Wellbridge’s duchess, Bella, clucked over little Davey, the new Marquess of Abersham, not quite half a year old, ensconced in Nurse’s lap. It had been more than two years since the Wellbridges had married and left England to live on her frigate in his Venetian lagoon, In two days’ time Davey would be christened, with King George IV for a godfather. After all they had been through with His Majesty, the dinner he was throwing in their honor on the morrow might prove the most trying of all their joint experiences thus far—even considering their previous ordeals had included kidnap, murder, penury, and exile.

To read the rest of the Prologue, go to the blog page.


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