Book Boyfriends Cafe: Hot for Friday

Book Boyfriends Cafe‘s Hot for Friday Feature’s challenge this week was to post a section of dialogue containing a “swoon-worthy” line by the hero (which, admittedly, is rather subjective, and I’m not a swooner). This dance, however, made even me reach for my fan.

So, from Royal Regard:


(Excerpt from our hero and heroine’s first dance.)

Royal Regard cover3-02Bella’s slipper caught on the waxed floor. Taking advantage of her instability, he held her waist more firmly, drawing her close to encourage her shivers and gooseflesh.

“You said you had no designs on me! You swore by the Knight’s Creed!”

He leaned in to murmur, “I am not a knight, my sweet.”

With less wallflower and more worldly woman, she laughed, “Sir Satyr, I’m sure, charter member of the Order of Rakehells, pledged to lead me down the path to depravity.”

“You’ve caught me.” He stared down at her ripe mouth. “Would that we were not in a crowded ballroom.”


When Bella Holsworthy returns to England after fifteen years roaming the globe with her husband, an elderly diplomat, she quickly finds herself in a place more perilous than any in her travels—the Court of King George IV. As the newly elevated Earl and Countess settle into an unfamiliar life in London, this shy, not-so-young lady faces wicked agendas, society’s censure, and the realities of a woman soon to be alone in England.

Unaccustomed to the ways of the beau monde, she is disarmed and deceived by a dissolute duke and a noble French émigré with a silver tongue. Hindered by the meddling of her dying husband, not to mention the King himself, Bella must decide whether to choose one of her fascinating new suitors or the quiet country life she has searched the world to find.

TO BUY
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ySFAJi
iTunes: http://bit.ly/1tJ0Kd3
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1uwzC2L
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1yZogCz
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1x4AxYK

Now, go get hot at the rest of this bog hop’s stops. 😉

Snippet from La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess

logo book hooksBook Hooks allows authors to provide book snippets as part of a Wednesday blog hop. Also check out the authors at the link below.

La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess
by Mariana Gabrielle

“Yes, Kali’s mother.” She twisted the glass by its stem. “Rohana.” She lifted her eyes to his, holding his gaze effortlessly, turning her finger lazily around the edge of the glass, setting the crystal singing. “My oldest friend. We were children in the royal court of the second Rajaram of Satara. Our mothers were tawaifs, of course, and so we knew the tradition would be passed on to us.”

“It’s so unfortunate that—”

Her laughter was sharper than broken glass, cutting like a bloody blade through his sincere compassion for any woman forced to life in the demi-monde.

“Unfortunate, my lord? Unfortunate? That we should be raised up among the most influential women in the Maratha? That we should have the ear of the highest nobles and ministers, more powerful than any woman outside the royal family?” Her eyes narrowed, but the bitter laughter drifted into a chuckle that pitied only his delusion.

“No, my lord, what is unfortunate is Kali was not exalted as I, as her mother, to blossom into the full promise of her power. It is unfortunate she is forced to this life as entertainment for Englishmen who have no concept of her value. I wish you not to doubt these words, Lord Rookscombe: were Kali in the India where Rohana and I learned our trade, you would not be high enough in the nobility to warrant an introduction. You would never lay eyes on her.”

Rook sat up straight, ready to defend his family name, his title, and his honor, but found no words equal to the look in her eye as she continued, “A night in her bed—one minute in her bed—would be an impossibility, for she would be the favored concubine of a rajah or maharajah, as were her mother and grandmother. A man of your rank, a minor landowner, would risk death for looking askance at her.”

LDN Book Release Memes10

Pre-sale links for June 10 release:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/19cKUjY
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Fc31m3
iTunes: http://apple.co/1E4ajHF
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1K1vMGq
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1Bx1OCV

LDN CoverKali Matai, London’s most famed Indian dancer and courtesan, harbors a lifetime of secrets, as more lives than hers depend on it.

 Sired by a British peer, born of a paramour to Indian royalty, she has been destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful noblemen—though she hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn. Finding herself under the control of ruthless men, who will not be moved by her legendary allure, she has no choice but to use her beauty toward their malicious and clandestine ends.

When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.

Pre-sale links for June 10 release:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/19cKUjY
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Fc31m3
iTunes: http://apple.co/1E4ajHF
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1K1vMGq
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1Bx1OCV

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Royal Regard meets Encouraging Prudence

Author’s note: In the virtual worlds of historical fiction, authors create whole societies of characters, interacting with real historical events and even real people. But each virtual world sits alone, never touching the worlds of other authors. Until now.


10959826_424216954394543_9016208317182697592_n

“Lord Aldridge”

The year is 1801 in Fickleton Wells, Somerset.

The Marquis of Aldridge, heir to the Duke of Haverford, is 21, just down from Oxford. Lord Nicholas Northope, second son of the Duke of Wellbridge has been, at 27, racketing about England unchecked a fair few years without much purpose. And the trajectories of both young lives are about to change.

“The Duke of Wellbridge”

“I don’t fancy hanging so much, myself.” Lord Nicholas Northope observes, rubbing his fingertips along his throat, the iron chains at his wrist clanking as he considered the length of his neck. “I always thought if Prinny ordered it, I’d be drawn and quartered or boiled in oil. I seem to bring out his bloodlust.”

Nick looks out the window. They have been imprisoned in an old Norman tower at the home of the local baron. Fortunately. With the entire town of Fickleton Wells on the rampage, the local gaol would not have been safe. Even from this place of relative safety, he can see angry townspeople keeping watch from beyond the gate.

The two young noblemen are sitting, cramped and freezing, in torn, grimy clothes, awaiting the Prince of Wales’ pleasure after rather an uproar in one of his royal townships. Wrist and ankle shackles clank at each gesture, chains long enough to allow considered movement, but short enough to impede them if they run.

Back to the wall on the cold stone floor, Lord Aldridge, the Merry Marquis, tosses out, casually, “I don’t qualify for silk myself, you know. I’m just using my father’s second title. Hemp for me, same as you,” Nick thinks Aldridge is taking rather a ghoulish interest in the possible mechanics of his death. “Though I did rather fancy Madame La Guillotine if I were ever put to death. There is something so divinely aristocratic about it.”

“It seems one can only play so many pranks on a monarch,” Nick opines, “before one’s neck is stretched.”

“It wasn’t our fault. Those women…” Aldridge shudders. “I can’t have swived more than three or four, surely? We only had them to ourselves for one evening, after all.”

“I can’t possibly have swived all of them. Though perhaps half… There were… how many? Fifteen? Surely not.”

“I don’t remember much after the dancing. They danced beautifully, didn’t they? The rector’s daughters?”

Both men fell into rather a trance for a few minutes, remembering the plump thighs and comely smiles of the rector’s twelve lovely, lonely daughters.

“Nick, we didn’t do anything… dishonorable… Did we? They won’t really hang us? And the prince—he wouldn’t… Hell, Nick, I played with his little brothers and sisters from the time I could toddle.”

Nick shrugged, “And I might have married Sophia. You will do best not to remind him you might have touched his younger sisters with the same hands you used to defile the rector’s daughters. In fact, Aldridge, speaking as a man six years older and wiser, you will not want to mention the princesses—or defiling—at all.”

He can’t keep his chained hands away from his neck.

“My head feels very fuzzy,” Aldridge complains. “Nick, how many hands am I holding up? And what is that elephant doing in the corner?”

“Prinny won’t be fooled by false deliria. I’ve tried it once already and he caught me out by calling a physician.”

Aldridge subsides, grumbling. “Is it not worth trying? And how very like you to steal a man’s alibi before he even has the chance to use it.”

Perhaps Aldridge has a point. “The gin did have rather a sharp taste, to be sure, though. Did you not think?”

Aldridge straightens, clearly prepared to synchronize their stories. “Yes, of course. Assuredly. Quite sharp indeed.”

Nick laughs and shakes his finger. “Do not lie to your sovereign, Aldridge, and if you must, never so poorly as that. The mayor, the rector, and the squire have truth on their side. There can be no doubt of our guilt. I did visit the squire’s wife, and you did enjoy the mayor’s younger sister, no matter what we might or might not remember about the rector’s daughters. We both knew the town was on the prince’s estate—is that not why we were there? To avoid our fathers’ holdings? No, my friend, we’ve been well and truly served up for His Royal Highness’s supper.”

Aldridge utters an expletive, and sinks his head in his hands.

A sound outside the tower room brings them both to their feet. A key turns in the lock.

The Duke of Haverford brushes past the burly guard who opens the door. “Out!” he barks.

Lord Nicholas Northope is no stranger to the ducal disposition and backs into a corner first thing, a tactical error he started making in childhood and has never outgrown. Aldridge, the son of this particular angry duke, stays at rigid attention, which does not avert the ducal fire.

“You miserable, self-indulgent, beef-witted nodcocks! What on earth possessed you? What were you thinking? Don’t answer that. You were not thinking!” Nick and Aldridge shrink, inch by inch, to the size of ten-year-olds. “Northope, I blame you for this mess. Show the boy the town, I said. Give him a good time. Keep him out of trouble. What the hell do you mean by it, eh?”

If Aldridge thinks Nick will step forward to do the honorable thing and admit his part, he has lost his bloody mind.

“Aldridge,” the duke barks as his heir begins to edge to one side. “Stand, boy. I’ll get to you.” The last is uttered in a low steady monotone.

Nick sinks ever-deeper into the corner he should have abandoned when he had the chance.

“Listen to me, and listen well, you buffle-brained nincompoops. You have been banned from Fickleton Wells! Banned! The sons of two of the greatest men in the Commonwealth banned from an English town. How on earth did this happen?”

Nick clears his throat and still manages to squeak, “Patent medicine, Sir, I swear it!” He shoulders his way out of the corner, determined to give his lies confidence. “In the… in the gin… we were… we were poisoned! The brandy, too, I’ll wager. Lucky to be alive… Surely cannot be held responsible for…”

“Rubbish, Northope. Rubbish! I’ll tell you how it happened. You let a pack of women lead you by your willies. Yes, you did. Your father and I have talked to them. And paid them off, the bitches. Because…” he walks right up and taps Nick’s chest as he makes his point. “You. Let. Them. Fool. You.”

Nick’s hand runs around his neck again.

“Your Grace,” Aldridge has suddenly realized that they wouldn’t be banned if they were to be hanged. This has given him an altogether overly optimistic sense of confidence. “They say they are pregnant, Your Grace.” Haverford’s head swivels dangerously in Aldridge’s direction. “It can’t be us, Your Grace. It’s only been a week since we arrived, and surely, virile as we are, we cannot each have impregnated a dozen women in a week? Surely, not even Your Grace could—”

Nick suddenly realizes the benefit of being six years wiser.

Haverford turns all his attention on his son and heir, and Aldridge’s confidence shrinks to a needle point.

“They claim you have been visiting them for months,” Haverford explains, his suddenly gentle tones a sure sign that Aldridge is about to be very, very sorry. And then even sorrier than that.

While Aldridge tries to duck out of sight, Nick moves to a position well away from any more corners. He is a grown man, for heaven’s sake. And there are plenty of places to stand.

“I haven’t finished with you, Northope.”

“Months?” Nick responds, shaking his head, straightening his cuffs. “You’ve been coming here months, Aldridge?”

“Not I, Your Grace. It’s a lie.” Aldridge squeaks.

“I, on the other hand,” Nick offers, “just came to Fickleton Wells for a prize fight. At least that is why your son told me he was bringing me here. If he had another purpose… well… I cannot speak to that…”

Haverford casts his eyes to heaven. “No honor among thieves or scoundrels. Did the Duke of Wellbridge’s wife play him false with the village idiot? Aldridge, if your mother weren’t a saint I would swear you couldn’t be mine.”

Aldridge is casting Nick a look of deep betrayal. “Nick, how could you?”

Nick relents. There is no need to leave all the blame on Aldridge. “Admittedly, Your Grace, we had a bit more gin than two gentlemen should… But I would swear Aldridge and I were both unknown to them. And the gin had quite a sharp taste, rather like… patent medicine. I can’t help but think they are lying.”

“Of course they are lying.” Haverford throws up his hands in despair. “And of course they set out to trap you. And of course they drugged you. And of course you would drink anything put in front of you! Do you think I’m as big a fool as the two of you? But they have the whole town believing them, and the prince half believes them, too.”

“The prince,” Nick gulps. “What is Wales going to do to us?”

Haverford ignores him to continue his version of a fatherly sermon. “I have told you before, Aldridge. And you should listen, too, Northope. Never, ever, indulge yourself with the lower gentry or the middle sort. Servants, yes. Farmers’ wives and such. But never with people who can embarrass me… you. Keep a mistress. Keep ten; your allowance is large enough. Just don’t let your mother know, and stay away from the middle sort. One of our own, if you must, and if she has done her duty by her Lord. But never the middle sort. You have embarrassed me. You have embarrassed Wellbridge. And you have embarrassed the Prince of Wales.”

“On the topic of, er… Wellbridge… Sir?” Nick’s tentative voice demonstrated not an ounce of the Eton/Oxford poise he was so fond of displaying. “Did my, er… father… say what he would do? And Wales? What has he decided?”

“If it were up to me, and if Aldridge weren’t—God help the Haverford name—my heir, you’d both hang. But Prinny is inclined to be generous. I have no idea why.” He fixes Aldridge with another glare. “Your mother may have spoken to him.”

That brought up a very good point.

“Sir, Your Grace,” Nick asks, “might it be possible to bring this up with the Duchess of Wellbridge, not the duke?”

“There will be no discussion of anything with you, Northope. The king discussed it with Prinny, who discussed it with me and Wellbridge; we discussed it with your mothers, and the petty provincials in Fickleton Wells discussed it the length and breadth of England! You are asked not to find yourselves in the royal presence until such time as you are requested. You are further banned, until the general sense of noble fury is abated, from all of Prinny’s estates, his father’s, your father’s, and mine.

“Which. Will. Not. Be. Difficult.” Haverford’s finger drives the point home, “as you are both leaving England. Northope, your father has booked passage and suggests your long-delayed Grand Tour commence immediately on conclusion of this interview. Aldridge will be going to my estate in Outer Strathclyde, to study the wool trade. It is time he took a hand in estate business.”

“But Your Grace, isn’t Outer Strathclyde… didn’t you complain that you can’t seem to keep anyone there under the age of sixty?”

“Outer Strathclyde,” Nick snickers.

Aldridge looks hunted. “Outer Strathclyde,” he whimpers.

“Live to a ripe old age, they do in those parts. Something to do with the fine crisp air. Of course, all the young people have long since gone. But you could learn a lot there, Aldridge.”

“But Your Grace. You said you would never go there because you couldn’t get a woman to…” Aldridge’s voice trails off. Nick thinks he would have been better not to have opened his mouth.

Haverford, though, just smirks. “Precisely. And so the estate is neglected. But now I have no need to go. My ungrateful son—who could clearly do with fewer women—will represent me instead. And you, Northope…”

Nick knows exactly where he will be going, and if he can go without the ducal blessing, so much the better.

“Hanover, I presume?” he shrugs.

Nick has been recently considering a visit to his old friend, Adolphus, the viceroy, and Prinny will have no objection to Nick causing trouble in his brother’s viceregal Court. Northope second sons have a tradition of travel; it is how the French and Italian titles were acquired, and Nick will be more than delighted to continue the custom. Unexpected, given his brother’s infirmity, but not at all unwelcome. He does hope his father allows him a valet and enough money to eat well.

“Aldridge, you will not disappoint me,” Haverford’s mere tone of voice is a threat to both men… er, boys, who thus comply with the two burly servants come to escort the young lords to their respective transports.

“This is so unfair,” Aldridge hisses to Nick as they are separated. “You are being given the freedom of the globe, while I am being sent into celibate exile in a community of geriatric woollen weavers.”

Nick cannot help but grin. Aldridge is bearing the real punishment for their prank, and Nick is being rewarded with a merry jaunt across the Continent and no way for his father to object to it.

“I’ll remember this day, Northope,” Aldridge calls, as his keepers escort him away. “And I vow my exile will be a short one.”

Nick vows his might last forever.

Save

Royal Regard meets Encouraging Prudence – Part 3 of 4

Author’s note: In the virtual worlds of historical fiction, authors create whole societies of characters, interacting with real historical events and even real people. But each virtual world sits alone, never touching the worlds of other authors. Until now.

11025188_432122276937344_5770461272420998884_nThe Bluestocking Belles, as part of the launch of our new website for historical romance readers, created a magical coaching inn—fittingly called ‘The Crock and Bull’—a place for characters to meet from all of our books’ worlds and those of our guests.

Mariana Gabrielle and Jude Knight soon discovered that two of their characters knew one another well. Rather too well, according to all who knew them as young men.

During the course of the party, the Duke of Wellbridge and the Marquis of Aldridge have referred on several occasions to an incident that saw them banned from an entire town, from the Prince of Wales’ presence, and even—for a time—from England. Until now, even the Duchess of Wellbridge hasn’t known the whole truth.

What was that mysterious event? How do Aldridge and Wellbridge know each other? Why has it been so long since they’ve spoken? Are they still keeping secrets?

Now, exclusively for readers of our blogs, Mariana Gabrielle and Jude Knight have co-written a small bit of backstory shared by a young Lord Nicholas Northope (from Royal Regard) and his protégé in crime, the Merry Marquis of Aldridge (who first appears in Jude Knight’s work-in-progress, Encouraging Prudence).

We will share sections of this scandalous story the week of March 8-13, leading up to the Bluestocking Ball on March 14.


10959826_424216954394543_9016208317182697592_n

“Lord Aldridge”

The year is 1801 in Fickleton Wells, Somerset.

The Marquis of Aldridge, heir to the Duke of Haverford, is 21, just down from Oxford. Lord Nicholas Northope, second son of the Duke of Wellbridge has been, at 27, racketing about England unchecked a fair few years without much purpose. And the trajectories of both young lives are about to change.

“The Duke of Wellbridge”

PART 3

Haverford turns all his attention on his son and heir, and Aldridge’s confidence shrinks to a needle point.

“They claim you have been visiting them for months,” Haverford explains, his suddenly gentle tones a sure sign that Aldridge is about to be very, very sorry. And then even sorrier than that.

While Aldridge tries to duck out of sight, Nick moves to a position well away from any more corners. He is a grown man, for heaven’s sake. And there are plenty of places to stand.

“I haven’t finished with you, Northope.”

“Months?” Nick responds, shaking his head, straightening his cuffs. “You’ve been coming here months, Aldridge?”

“Not I, Your Grace. It’s a lie.” Aldridge squeaks.

“I, on the other hand,” Nick offers, “just came to Fickleton Wells for a prize fight. At least that is why your son told me he was bringing me here. If he had another purpose… well… I cannot speak to that…”

Haverford casts his eyes to heaven. “No honor among thieves or scoundrels. Did the Duke of Wellbridge’s wife play him false with the village idiot? Aldridge, if your mother weren’t a saint I would swear you couldn’t be mine.”

Aldridge is casting Nick a look of deep betrayal. “Nick, how could you?”

Nick relents. There is no need to leave all the blame on Aldridge. “Admittedly, Your Grace, we had a bit more gin than two gentlemen should… But I would swear Aldridge and I were both unknown to them. And the gin had quite a sharp taste, rather like… patent medicine. I can’t help but think they are lying.”

“Of course they are lying.” Haverford throws up his hands in despair. “And of course they set out to trap you. And of course they drugged you. And of course you would drink anything put in front of you! Do you think I’m as big a fool as the two of you? But they have the whole town believing them, and the prince half believes them too.”

“The prince,” Nick gulps. “What is Wales going to do to us?”

Haverford ignores him to continue his version of a fatherly sermon. “I have told you before, Aldridge. And you should listen, too, Northope. Never, ever, indulge yourself with the lower gentry or the middle sort. Servants, yes. Farmers’ wives and such. But never with people who can embarrass me… you. Keep a mistress. Keep ten; your allowance is large enough. Just don’t let your mother know, and stay away from the middle sort. One of our own, if you must, and if she has done her duty by her Lord. But never the middle sort. You have embarrassed me. You have embarrassed Wellbridge. And you have embarrassed the Prince of Wales.”


To find out whether Aldridge will be blamed for twelve (or is it fifteen) pregnancies, come back here or go to Jude Knight’s blog March 13, 2015 for the conclusion to the story.

To attend the Bluestocking Ball with Aldridge, Nick (who is now, himself, the Duke of Wellbridge, at the wise old age of fifty), and dozens of other historical romance characters, go to the Bluestocking Belles’ Housewarming Party, March 14, 12 noon – 8 pm EDT.

Facebook Housewarming Party (The Bluestocking Ball)
Twitter Chat: Follow @BellesInBlue #BellesInBlue
Web Chat on the Bluestocking Belles Website

Royal Regard meets Encouraging Prudence – Part 1 of 4

Author’s note: In the virtual worlds of historical fiction, authors create whole societies of characters, interacting with real historical events and even real people. But each virtual world sits alone, never touching the worlds of other authors. Until now.

11025188_432122276937344_5770461272420998884_nThe Bluestocking Belles, as part of the launch of our new website for historical romance readers, created a magical coaching inn—fittingly called ‘The Crock and Bull’—a place for characters to meet from all of our books’ worlds and those of our guests.

Mariana Gabrielle and Jude Knight soon discovered that two of their characters knew one another well. Rather too well, according to all who knew them as young men.

During the course of the party, the Duke of Wellbridge and the Marquis of Aldridge have referred on several occasions to an incident that saw them banned from an entire town, from the Prince of Wales’ presence, and even—for a time—from England. Until now, even the Duchess of Wellbridge hasn’t known the whole truth.

What was that mysterious event? How do Aldridge and Wellbridge know each other? Why has it been so long since they’ve spoken? Are they still keeping secrets?

Now, exclusively for readers of our blogs, Mariana Gabrielle and Jude Knight have co-written a small bit of backstory shared by a young Lord Nicholas Northope (from Royal Regard) and his protégé in crime, the Merry Marquis of Aldridge (who first appears in Jude Knight’s work-in-progress, Encouraging Prudence).

We will share sections of this scandalous story the week of March 8-13, leading up to the Bluestocking Ball on March 14.


10959826_424216954394543_9016208317182697592_n

“Lord Aldridge”

The year is 1801 in Fickleton Wells, Somerset.

The Marquis of Aldridge, heir to the Duke of Haverford, is 21, just down from Oxford. Lord Nicholas Northope, second son of the Duke of Wellbridge has been, at 27, racketing about England unchecked a fair few years without much purpose. And the trajectories of both young lives are about to change.

“The Duke of Wellbridge”

PART 1

“I don’t fancy hanging so much, myself.” Lord Nicholas Northope observes, rubbing his fingertips along his throat, the iron chains at his wrist clanking as he considered the length of his neck. “I always thought if Prinny ordered it, I’d be drawn and quartered or boiled in oil. I seem to bring out his bloodlust.”

Nick looks out the window. They have been imprisoned in an old Norman tower at the home of the local baron. Fortunately. With the entire town of Fickleton Wells on the rampage, the local gaol would not have been safe. Even from this place of relative safety, he can see angry townspeople keeping watch from beyond the gate.

The two young noblemen are sitting, cramped and freezing, in torn, grimy clothes, awaiting the Prince of Wales’ pleasure after rather an uproar in one of his royal townships. Wrist and ankle shackles clank at each gesture, chains long enough to allow considered movement, but short enough to impede them if they run.

Back to the wall on the cold stone floor, Lord Aldridge, the Merry Marquis, tosses out, casually, “I don’t qualify for silk myself, you know. I’m just using my father’s second title. Hemp for me, same as you,” Nick thinks Aldridge is taking rather a ghoulish interest in the possible mechanics of his death. “Though I did rather fancy Madame La Guillotine if I were ever put to death. There is something so divinely aristocratic about it.”

“It seems one can only play so many pranks on a monarch,” Nick opines, “before one’s neck is stretched.”

“It wasn’t our fault. Those women…” Aldridge shudders. “I can’t have swived more than three or four, surely? We only had them to ourselves for one evening, after all.”

“I can’t possibly have swived all of them. Though perhaps half… There were… how many? Fifteen? Surely not.”

“I don’t remember much after the dancing. They danced beautifully, didn’t they? The rector’s daughters?”

Both men fell into rather a trance for a few minutes, remembering the plump thighs and comely smiles of the rector’s twelve lovely, lonely daughters.

“Nick, we didn’t do anything… dishonorable… Did we? They won’t really hang us? And the prince—he wouldn’t… Hell, Nick, I played with his little brothers and sisters from the time I could toddle.”

Nick shrugged, “And I might have married Sophia. You will do best not to remind him you might have touched his younger sisters with the same hands you used to defile the rector’s daughters. In fact, Aldridge, speaking as a man six years older and wiser, you will not want to mention the princesses—or defiling—at all.”

He can’t keep his chained hands away from his neck.

“My head feels very fuzzy,” Aldridge complains. “Nick, how many hands am I holding up? And what is that elephant doing in the corner?”

“Prinny won’t be fooled by false deliria. I’ve tried it once already and he caught me out by calling a physician.”

Aldridge subsides, grumbling. “Is it not worth trying? And how very like you to steal a man’s alibi before he even has the chance to use it.”

Perhaps Aldridge has a point. “The gin did have rather a sharp taste, to be sure, though. Did you not think?”

Aldridge straightens, clearly prepared to synchronize their stories. “Yes, of course. Assuredly. Quite sharp indeed.”

Nick laughs and shakes his finger. “Do not lie to your sovereign, Aldridge, and if you must, never so poorly as that. The mayor, the rector, and the squire have truth on their side. There can be no doubt of our guilt. I did visit the squire’s wife, and you did enjoy the mayor’s younger sister, no matter what we might or might not remember about the rector’s daughters. We both knew the town was on the prince’s estate—is that not why we were there? To avoid our fathers’ holdings? No, my friend, we’ve been well and truly served up for His Royal Highness’s supper.”

Aldridge utters an expletive, and sinks his head in his hands.


To find out whether Prinny has them served broiled, fried, or fricasseed, go to Jude Knight’s blog tomorrow, March 10, 2015.

To attend the Bluestocking Ball with Aldridge, Nick (who is now, himself, the Duke of Wellbridge, at the wise old age of fifty), and dozens of other historical romance characters, go to the Bluestocking Belles’ Housewarming Party, March 14, 12 noon – 8 pm EDT.

Facebook Housewarming Party (The Bluestocking Ball)
Twitter Chat: Follow @BellesInBlue #BellesInBlue
Web Chat on the Bluestocking Belles Website

Snippet from La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess

logo book hooksBook Hooks allows authors to provide book snippets as part of a Wednesday blog hop. Also check out the authors at the link below.

La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess
by Mariana Gabrielle

A loud banging woke Kali from a sound sleep, the first in almost a week, the last night she would spend in the bed she had shared with Fitz. Sitting up, smoothing the gown she hadn’t removed before she curled up on her mattress, she slowly unwrapped her cramped arms from around a pillow that still smelled like him. She remembered crying herself to sleep, in part because her monthlies were now nine days late, a worry before he had set her aside, but now a reason for terror. She sniffled to clear her stuffy nose and her hand moved naturally to smooth her hair, surely sticking out in all directions.

Maybe it was… no, if it were Fitz, he would have used the key and slid silently into her bed, kissing her throat and shoulders until she woke. She had chosen not to change the locks on the off-chance he might… She scowled the pitiful thoughts right out of her head.

LDN Book Release Memes10

Pre-sale links available March 15.

LDN CoverKali Matai, London’s most famed Indian dancer and courtesan, harbors a lifetime of secrets, as more lives than hers depend on it.

 Sired by a British peer, born of a paramour to Indian royalty, she has been destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful noblemen—though she hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn. Finding herself under the control of ruthless men, who will not be moved by her legendary allure, she has no choice but to use her beauty toward their malicious and clandestine ends.

When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.

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Book Boyfriends Cafe: Hot for Friday (Rated R)

Book Boyfriends Cafe put out a challenge for Valentine’s Day: Share a scene in which characters find themselves entangled in a web of sexual tension.

For once, I’m not posting about Royal Regard. My next book, La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess, will be released June 15, and since it is about an Indian courtesan in London, it is pretty much boiling over with sexual tension.

Perfect.


(Excerpt in which our heroine, Kali Matai, performs for her new lover.) [unedited]

LDN CoverShe clasped his hands behind the chair and asked him to keep them there, mischief and desire both undeniable in her eyes, and he agreed playfully to comply with her every command.

By the time he felt the silk of her sari across the back of his neck, he was more aroused than he had ever been. After a month of touching but not tasting, watching and waiting for this breathtaking woman, he immediately regretted his promise not to put his hands on her body more than any pledge he had ever made.

She had chosen a Persian-blue, gossamer-silk sari shot with gold threads for their first night together, which brought out blue-black candlelight in her upswept hair and the sparks of escalating need in her eyes. The shift and choli beneath the sari were also sheer, offering hints of her hidden treasures, but not detracting from his never-quite-fulfilled view of her succulent skin. The tiny bells tinkling along the edges of the yards of fabric wrapping her body, the music of the bangles she wore on her ankles and wrists, were as fairy dust clouding his senses. He couldn’t keep his eyes from tracking hers, even in the face of the rest of her glorious body.

As she sang slow, ancient ballads of tenderness and yearning, twisting her limbs in the steps of the mujara, she allowed the drape of the sari to drift over his legs, his shoulders, his face, his throat, never following with the weight of her flesh. She slid her skin, even her fingertips, only against the cool water of the loose, translucent silk, but kept herself between her lover and the few candles lighting the room, so he could always see the outline of her slender form, sinuously inviting his touch, moving away any time his hands twitched.

She lifted her knee and bared foot over his shoulder and shook the bangles circling her trim ankle, leaving him to only envision her inner thighs behind his head and still never touching him. He couldn’t help his mouth moving to taste the smooth skin of her calf, inhaling the scent of sandalwood, the trace of jungle rain. Her sharp intake of breath was like food to him, though she quickly moved to tantalize from a few feet away.

She hummed the haunting melody as she removed each pin from her hair, letting them drop onto the Turkish carpet, arms drawn up, full breasts and hardened nipples moving with each breath beneath the silk. Not one strand of her coiffure fell out of place until the entire thick length dropped to her waist like an ell of heavy satin. She moved toward him again, letting her long hair trace across his shoulders, fall around his face as though holding at bay the world around them, filling his senses with forests and spices and the music of mysterious ancients.

His jacket disappeared under her hands, fingertips dissolved his waistcoat buttons, vanished the complicated knots of his cravat. The feel of her nails on his chest, opening the ties of his shirt, made him choke on the force of his desire. She ran her fingers through his hair, into the hollow of his throat, over his shoulders, down his arms. She tugged the shirttails from under his waistband, over his throbbing cock and heavy bollocks, one slow inch at a time.

He found himself rubbing against the inside of his trousers, unable to keep his hips from following after her touch; when she traced her fingernail against his straining erection, the contact was so delicate and swift he would have missed it if not for the shuddering forced through the rest of his body.

He wanted to beg her to touch him—to let him touch her—but he couldn’t conceive of words, nor remember how to speak. He had entirely forgotten his insistence on keeping the upper hand. If she brought any part of her body into contact with his sex, he was certain he would release inside his clothes. When she turned away to shimmy her hips against the insides of his thighs, inches from his heated shaft, it would have taken no more than the vibration of the bells at her wrists, only half an inch closer.

“You so beautiful, Kali,” he forced out, his eyes fluttering closed against the ache in his gut. “Perfect… Oh, God… Exquisite.” Before he opened his eyelids again, she had moved out of his line of sight.

From behind his back, her hand ran down his chest, under his shirt, as she responded low and husky into his ear, “As are you, premi. I have never seen such a magnificent man. You arouse me by only your presence.” He scented her musk in the air, underneath the aroma of her skin that always teased him, and thought his head would rise like a hot-air balloon over the treetops, catch flame until only sparks and flakes of ash remained, drifting on the breeze.

When his head fell back, baring his throat to her, she parted the collar of his shirt and used both forearms to rip down the center, leaving it gaping over his chest. The sudden violence left him gasping, moaning when she used the unfettered access to touch every inch of skin she had bared, the locks of her hair, the edges of her nails, the pads of her fingers tickling his nipples, his stomach, the waistband of his pants, her breasts cradling the back of his head. The teasing left him groaning, growling, and finally begging. When his hands moved from their position behind the chair, trying to slide up the inside of her thigh, she stepped away.

He knew he had only to stand and follow her, assuming his knees would stay under him. He could drag her down to the floor or up against the wall, take her in any position he chose, but he had been keeping the promise for weeks not to molest her person; he could offer up no good reason to break it now. He slowly clasped his hands again, using the placket of his trousers to once more try to ease his desperate need.

When she knelt down before him, between his spread thighs, close enough to feel her heat, too far to touch no matter how he strained, he found himself keening, begging, “Please, Kali. Please touch me. Please.”

Her smile was inscrutable. “Do you not enjoy my attentions, premi? You need only say if I do not bring you pleasure. It is my fondest desire to please you in all things.”

She loosened one button of his trousers, placing a soft kiss on the bared skin, and all he could force from his throat was, “No, you… oh God.” When her tongue tip flicked across his hipbone, he barely, just barely, kept from climaxing without ever touching her. “Oh, dear God.”

By the time she reached the fourth button on the left side, he had found it within himself to pace his desire, worth every recitation of the kings and queens of England, as she rubbed her soft cheek against his skin, warm breath reaching under the fall to almost touch his straining member.

“Oh, God, buttons… more buttons… please,” he begged, his thoughts and words chaotic and jumbled. “Please… dying… touch…” He couldn’t even tell if he were forming words or speaking in tongues.

A bit faster, but only a bit, she loosened the right side of the placket with the same tender kisses as each inch of flesh appeared, sliding the satin lining against him as she finally freed his cock, surely larger, harder, more desperate than it had ever been, dripping with need, striving for any caress she would grant. Her hair drifting across the inflamed head found him thrusting against the air. Her tongue sliding up the underside set him throbbing and begging alternately for her to stop and to never stop.

Each time he moaned, “Don’t… oh, God… stop,” she pulled away. When he whined, “Please… touch me,” she traced the length lightly with her tongue tip again. He reverted to moans and whimpers, but still couldn’t help pleading. “Please, Kali, take… God… tongue… please…”


June 15, you can find out who he is and exactly how his tension is resolved… until then… well… if he can imagine it, you can. 😉

Now, go get hot and bothered again and again at the rest of this bog hop’s stops.

Royal Regard Snippets

logo book hooksBook Hooks allows authors to provide book snippets as part of a Wednesday blog hop. Also check out the authors at the link below.

Royal Regard
by Mariana Gabrielle

RR-Memes-12-26-14-16

To buy:
Smashwords
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Direct from Author

Royal Regard cover3-02After fifteen years roaming the globe, the Countess of Huntleigh returns to England with her dying husband. She soon finds herself plagued by terrible troubles: a new title, estate, and sizable fortune; marked attentions from the marriage mart; the long-awaited reunion with her loving family; and a growing friendship with King George IV.

Settling into her new life, this shy-but-not-timid, not-so-young lady faces society’s censure, the Earl’s decline, false friends with wicked agendas, and the singular sufferings of a world-wise wallflower. Guided by her well-meaning husband, subject to interference by a meddlesome monarch, she must now choose the dastardly rogue who says he loves her, the charming French devil with a silver tongue, or the quiet country life she has traveled the world to find.

To buy:
Smashwords
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Direct from Author

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Royal Regard Snippets

logo book hooksBook Hooks allows authors to provide book snippets as part of a Wednesday blog hop. Also check out the authors at the link below.

Royal Regard
by Mariana Gabrielle

RR-Memes-12-26-14-7

Download the first three chapters at:
www.MarianaGabrielle.com

Or buy now at:
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Smashwords

Royal Regard cover3-02After fifteen years roaming the globe, the Countess of Huntleigh returns to England with her dying husband. She soon finds herself plagued by terrible troubles: a new title, estate, and sizable fortune; marked attentions from the marriage mart; the long-awaited reunion with her loving family; and a growing friendship with King George IV.

Settling into her new life, this shy-but-not-timid, not-so-young lady faces society’s censure, the Earl’s decline, false friends with wicked agendas, and the singular sufferings of a world-wise wallflower. Guided by her well-meaning husband, subject to interference by a meddlesome monarch, she must now choose the dastardly rogue who says he loves her, the charming French devil with a silver tongue, or the quiet country life she has traveled the world to find.

Amazon
iTunes
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Smashwords

Powered by Linky Tools

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Royal Regard Snippets

logo book hooksBook Hooks allows authors to provide book snippets as part of a Wednesday blog hop. Also check out the authors at the link below.

Royal Regard
by Mariana Gabrielle

RR-Memes-12-26-14-5

Amazon
iTunes
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Royal Regard cover3-02After fifteen years roaming the globe, the Countess of Huntleigh returns to England with her dying husband. She soon finds herself plagued by terrible troubles: a new title, estate, and sizable fortune; marked attentions from the marriage mart; the long-awaited reunion with her loving family; and a growing friendship with King George IV.

Settling into her new life, this shy-but-not-timid, not-so-young lady faces society’s censure, the Earl’s decline, false friends with wicked agendas, and the singular sufferings of a world-wise wallflower. Guided by her well-meaning husband, subject to interference by a meddlesome monarch, she must now choose the dastardly rogue who says he loves her, the charming French devil with a silver tongue, or the quiet country life she has traveled the world to find.

Amazon
iTunes
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…