First Kiss Friday with Jude Knight

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Any day I can welcome my friend Jude Knight to my First Kiss Friday blog is a good day. She certainly has a way of pulling at your heartstrings. Read on to find out what she has in store for you!

This first kiss appears in Paradise Lost, the little collection of vignettes that Jude Knight is currently writing, and that she’ll give away to newsletter subscribers when she publishes the story of James’s son next month, on 15 April. Paradise Lost is a companion piece to Paradise Regained, which is about James. To Wed a Proper Lady is the story of his son, and novel one of six in The Children of the Mountain King.

Excerpt:

Eleanor traced the words in the water that puddled on the stone rim of the fountain. “Lady James Winderfield.” Her lips curved in a tremulous smile. The man she loved was asking her father for her hand, and would soon come to ask her.

“I have made an appointment to meet your father tomorrow,” he had whispered in her ear last night as they promenaded down the centre of the double line of dances. Then, as they passed one another, a few moments later, “You know what I want to ask him, my darling.”

She circled the girl at the head of the ladies’ line, barely aware of the other people in the room, conscious only of James and the words that set her heart thumping. Only years of practice kept her moving gracefully back around to meet James again, her arm stretched high, her hand ready for his brief clasp and her ears for another burst of whispered words.

“This is what you want?”

Looking up, she nodded, and the anxiety cleared from his eyes as they met hers. How could he be unsure of her? She had no further opportunity to reassure him. They had to part and dance down the outside of their respective lines, and the music drew to a close before they could speak again.

Her mother was waiting, and hurried her away. The Earl of Farnmouth, her father, had decided it was time to leave.

He was with her father now, shut in the earl’s study. Soon, surely, the earl would send him out into the garden. The answer would be yes, of course. As the daughter of an earl, she knew her worth, but James was third son of a duke; a duke, furthermore who was a friend of her father.

Eleanor cast a glance at the house and frowned slightly. Lord Farnmouth would say yes. Of course, he would. Only last week, he had interrupted her dinner with her mother to announce that he expected a very eligible offer for Eleanor’s hand. “I am pleased with your daughter, countess,” he had told her mother. “Betrothed after only two months after her debut. You are to be congratulated, madam.”

He had not spoken to Eleanor, but he seldom did. Nor had he given a name, but who could it be but James? James was her most ardent suitor. Indeed, since the rapscallion son of the Duke of Winshire had made her the object of his devotion, the rest of her court had fallen away. They had been callow boys, in any case, standing up with her because of childhood friendship or because she had become fashionable.

James was a man, not a boy — twenty-four years to her seventeen. He was unbelievably handsome, charming, clever, funny, and dearer to her than anyone she had ever known, even her older sister. And he had chosen her! She clapped her hands and spun in a circle, unable to contain her delight.

Soon he would come. She composed herself on the stone bench opposite the path by which he would enter the garden.  How would he propose? On one knee? Sitting beside her? The thought had her up on her feet again, too excited to stay still, peering down the path.

“Eleanor!” It was a hiss just a hairsbreadth above a whisper.

She spun around. James had come from the other direction. Well, no matter. She hurried towards him, her hands outstretched. What was the matter? The tragic expression on his face frightened her. “James? What is the matter?”

He clasped her hands and pulled her after him into the shadows of the yew walk, where he wrapped his arms around her and rested his chin on her hair. “Eleanor, I love you. I love you more than life itself. You believe me, do you not?”

Eleanor pulled away, but only enough to peer into his eyes. “James? What did my father say?”

James groaned.

“James, you are frightening me. Did he say we must wait?”

“Eleanor, he says that he has given your hand to the Duke of Haverford,” James blurted.

Eleanor’s breath stopped and she could hear her blood surging in her ears as her heart pounded. Her sight grew dark at the edges, and the enormous yew hedges swayed towards her as if to batter her into the ground. By force of will, she fought off her faintness. “But… but he is old,” she stammered, “and a wicked libertine, and cold as ice.” She stamped her foot. “I don’t want him, James. I love you. I love you, James.”

“Shush, my love,” James begged. “We must be quiet. Farnmouth told me I could not see you again, but I had to, Eleanor. I’ll find a way. I promise. You love me and I love you. I will ask my father to help. He is friends with yours. Surely Winshire can persuade the earl.”

“Yes!” Eleanor’s heart gave another enormous thump, this time with relief. “We will be together?” she asked.

“We will marry,” James promised. He bent his head and his lips touched hers. It was a gentle, reverent salute, but Eleanor pressed closer and the kiss changed, James’s lips still soft, but questing, moving, devouring. His tongue pressed the seam of her mouth and swept inside when she gasped. Again, the darkness hovered, but this time it was a welcoming warmth, a giving and taking of sensation, a merging of selves so that Eleanor no longer knew who sighed and who moaned, or how long they stayed intertwined.

The whistling of a gardener brought them back to themselves. “I must go,” James told her. “Stay strong, my love. We are meant to be together, and I will find a way.”

“We are meant to be together,” she agreed.

***

The Duchess of Haverford put the rose back into her memory box. It was from a small bouquet he had sent her. She had worn it for that last dance. Now it was fragile, dried and faded, adorned with yet another tear to join all the others she had wept on it in the past ten years. Once, she had loved and been loved. That, at least, would never change.

***

For more about Paradise Regained, see https://judeknightauthor.com/books/paradise-regained/

For more about The Children of the Mountain King series, see https://judeknightauthor.com/the-children-of-the-mountain-king/

For more about To Wed a Proper Lady, including preorder, see https://judeknightauthor.com/books/to-wed-a-proper-lady/

For your copy of Paradise Lost, subscribe to Jude’s newsletter: https://judeknightauthor.com/newsletter/

About Jude Knight:

Have you ever wanted something so much you were afraid to even try? That was Jude ten years ago.

For as long as she can remember, she’s wanted to be a novelist. She even started dozens of stories, over the years.

But life kept getting in the way. A seriously ill child who required years of therapy; a rising mortgage that led to a full-time job; six children, her own chronic illness… the writing took a back seat.

As the years passed, the fear grew. If she didn’t put her stories out there in the market, she wouldn’t risk making a fool of herself. She could keep the dream alive if she never put it to the test.

Then her mother died. That great lady had waited her whole life to read a novel of Jude’s, and now it would never happen.

So Jude faced her fear and changed it–told everyone she knew she was writing a novel. Now she’d make a fool of herself for certain if she didn’t finish.

Her first book came out to excellent reviews in December 2014, and the rest is history. Many books, lots of positive reviews, and a few awards later, she plans to keep publishing until she runs out of years.

Website and blog: http://judeknightauthor.com/

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How about a sale?

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Everyone is trying to do their part during these uncertain times. Does social distancing and shelter in place got you down? No worries! I’ve got something to keep you entertained for hours.

I’ve put my entire Knights of Berwyck series on sale for $0.99 each but hurry! This sale ends May 24th. At least you’ll have lots of reading for your TBR pile and you’ll be all caught up when my next novel, Love Will Find You, releases on May 19th! You can click on the Book tab above or find all the links here.

May you all stay safe and healthy while we do our part to get us through the coronavirus. Happy reading, my lovelies, and enjoy!

First Kiss Friday with Virginia Heath & a Giveaway!

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Welcome to another First Kiss Friday. Today’s guest is my friend Virginia Heath who as an excerpt from Redeeming the Reclusive Earl. Take it away Virginia!

I love a quirky pairing and Max and Effie in REDEEMING THE RECLUSIVE EARL are certainly that. Scarred from a fire, Max is trying to hide from the world at his newly inherited estate but those plans are scuppered by the tenacious Effie who flatly refuses to abandon her archaeological dig on his land. Effie is, for want of a better word, a genius with a photographic mind who terrifies most men with her intelligence. Despite his initial anger at her trespassing, the pair form an unlikely friendship as Max finds himself recruited as her reluctant assistant…

Excerpt:

Did she intimidate him?

What sort of a blasted question was that to ask hot on the heels after he had only just discovered there had been multiple idiots who had apparently kissed her in the past. Idiots who were too stupid not to want to do it again! Because to his way of thinking, asking if she intimidated him was merely a polite way of asking if she emasculated him, which would be laughable if everything about Effie didn’t remind him hourly exactly how masculine he truly was.

The most masculine part of him was still reeling at the sight of her all flustered and damp in that worn shirt and those damned form-fitting breeches. And she had a smear of mud on her cheek, which he’d had the devil of a job not brushing away the second he had seen it. The only way he could stop himself was to pretend he did not want to hold her muddy hand when he had stupidly offered to help her out of the trench, because in that precise moment, had he hauled her up, he would have hauled her into his arms and likely scared the hell out of her.

What baffled him, what he still couldn’t wrap his head around, was how those idiotic men had found the strength not to kiss her because he was severely struggling with it.

Every day it got harder and, to make it worse, the urge wasn’t only fired by her pretty face and mouth-watering figure, but by her mind. The more he got to know her, the more he wanted to know her in every sense of the word. His unwelcome infestation of visitors aside, the past three days had been interminable because he had missed her. He’d even ridden twice in the pouring rain in the pathetic hope he would still find her here, tenaciously digging despite the foul weather. The linen shirt plastered to her skin and rendered translucent…

And those thoughts were not helping his discomfort at all. What had possessed him to work in the same trench as her? Mere inches away, but still too many miles apart for his liking.

Blasted torture!

Clearly he had a masochistic streak to have chosen this, rather than the other fifteen trenches he had dug, just to be close to her?

Annoyed, he thrust the trowel into the soft mud wall in front of him and felt the tip of it strike something solid. Even though he knew it was probably a rock, he still took the time to remove the soil carefully from the surface exactly as Effie had taught him.

The edge of whatever it was seemed large and curved like a wheel and, because he did not possess her patience or want to alert her to the fact he might have found something and then have to suffer her leaning over him while he worked, he discarded the trowel and began to tug away the earth with his fingers. Then he hit peat and that happily crumbled with the merest touch.

Little by little, the object quickly revealed itself until Max had uncovered a foot-wide crescent. But unlike a wheel, it wasn’t hollow, nor did it have spokes. He swiped his hands over it to clean away the mud and then stared in disbelief at the tiny spot of ornately tooled metal he had clumsily uncovered.

‘Effie…’

His tone must have alerted her to his discovery, because like a shot she as at his side and staring in disbelief. ‘Good heavens…’

Suddenly crouched next to him, her fingers joined his as they frantically removed the dirt. A task made easier by the moisture left in the ground from days of rain , the removal of years of compacted earth with the pickaxe only days before and the fresh drops which decided to fall from the sky to soften the peat it sat in. In no time and oblivious of the rainfall soaking them through, they had unveiled a perfect circle, obviously an ancient shield, the centre decorated with a proud riveted disc around which swirling patterns had been pressed into the metal.

Max stepped back to allow her smaller, more nimble, gentle fingers to prise the embedded edges from the earth, then watched transfixed as it was suddenly and miraculously free with hardly any effort and she lifted it.

‘I cannot believe it is completely intact.’ She laid it reverently on the grass on the top of the trench and ran her palm over the pattern as the rain that had started again hammered down on it. ‘Unless the peat somehow preserves things better than normal soil?’ She tugged free the hem of her shirt and used it to clean away as much muck as she could and then just stood and stared at it in wonder. ‘It is beautiful… Truly beautiful… Obviously bronze by the patina and lack of rust… The workmanship exquisite.’

‘So much for the Celts being savages, then? The man who used this had excellent taste and knew one hell of a blacksmith.’

She slowly turned to him, half-smiling, half-agog. ‘You are right… The man who owned this was someone special, Max. This shield is a statement. Purely ceremonial, I’ll wager, and a mark of his status, exactly like the gold bracelet. Both are incredibly special objects and it is too coincidental to find two such treasures in one small space.’

‘Do you think it plausible this wooden hut belonged to a king?’ If the Celts even had kings.

‘Perhaps… Which would make this dwelling…’ Awe turned to excitement as she beamed, then launched at him, wrapping her arms around him in an exuberant hug while jumping up and down. ‘Oh, Max! This is wonderful! Wonderful! You’ve found something wonderful! He’s someone important! Someone hugely important! That explains why his house is so big!’

‘Do you think?’

‘It has to be! He is an eminent chieftain or a king!’

‘Or a queen like that Boudicca you and my sister are so fond of. That bracelet is too small for a man’s wrist. And then there is that comb you found. Big, hairy, blue men wouldn’t bother with a comb…’

‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was a woman’s house? A different sort of woman than society understands today, of course.’ Much like Effie herself. ‘But one who mattered once. Someone important…’ Her hands clutched at his waistcoat as she beamed and bounced on the spot. ‘You’ve found something amazing, Max!’ Caught up in her excitement he looped his arm around her waist and laughed, picking her up and spinning her around in the confined space as best he could until they were both giddy. ‘You’ve found something amazing!’

‘We found something amazing, Effie.’

We…

He liked the sound of that on his lips. Liked the feel of her arms locked around his neck. The feel of her lush body in damp fabric plastered against him. The sight of her bedraggled hair and the way it dripped rainwater on to his face. The way that rainwater spiked her long lashes and dewed her lips.

He felt his heart beating against her ribs.

Felt his chest rise and fall in time with hers.

Lost himself in the depths of her beautiful, expressive eyes.

Then forgot all the reasons why he shouldn’t kiss her and simply did, sighing against her mouth as he gathered her close. She tasted like the outdoors. The sea air. The vast horizons he had sailed towards, filled with promise and wonder. Smelled of lilacs and roses and rainwater. Felt like utter perfection in his arms.

As if she had been made for him. That was his last rational thought before he lost himself.

Until the sound of rapidly approaching hoofbeats broke the spell and the pair of them jumped apart and blinked at each other, stunned.


REDEEMING THE RECLUSIVE  EARL
By Virginia Heath

His heart is a fortress.

And she’s trespassing!

After losing all he holds dear in a horrific fire, Max Aldersley, Earl of Rivenhall, shuns the world—until he catches Effie Nithercott digging holes on his estate! He banishes the intrepid archaeologist and the unsettled feelings she rouses within him. But she returns even more determined and infuriatingly desirable than before! He wonders just how deep she’s prepared to dig—so far she’ll reach the man beneath his scars?

Giveaway question: For a chance to win 1 of 3 eBook copies of REDEEMING THE RECLUSIVE EARL simply answer the following question:

I love a tortured hero and there aren’t many more tortured than poor Max- who is you favourite fictional tortured hero?

Buy link: mybook.to/reclusiveearl

Social links:

https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/

Virginia Heath bio:

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Eighteen books later, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

Pre-order Love Will Find You

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I am so excited to announce that my next medieval/time travel Love Will Find You: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time (Book Four) is now available for pre-order.

I know you’ve been waiting a long time for this one (among others) but I promise you it will be worth the wait. This ended up being a complicated time travel with a lot of moving pieces that all needed to be stitch together in order to make everyone’s (and I mean EVERYONE’s) story work.

You first met Killian of Clan MacLaren in my debut novel If My Heart Could See You where he is an Uncle figure to my heroine. Recently, you saw his younger self in my prequels To Love A Scottish Laird: De Wolfe Pack Connected World (#FREE through tomorrow or in Kindle Unlimited. Find links here) and To Love An English Knight: De Wolfe Pack Connected World. But he’s also popped up a time or two in my other medieval’s.

Ella Fitzpatrick was first introduced to you in Only For You: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time (Book Two) and she made an appearance in To Follow My Heart (Book Three). If you recall, she’s been wandering the countryside for many years but we never really heard her whole story.

Now I thought it was time to have this older couple find their happily ever after because everyone needs love no matter their age! I hope you’ll pre-order Love Will Find You but be prepared… You may need a tissue or two… I’m still crying in all the right places!

Love Will Find You:
The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time (Book Four)
Pre-order Now
Release Date: May 19, 2020

Sometimes a moment is all we have…

Ella Fitzpatrick is a woman with a secret. As she comes and goes from Berwyck Castle, seeking refuge within its gates, she yearns to be reunited with the one for whom she crossed time from the twenty-first century. She has lived another lifetime in the twelfth century waiting for the date of their reunion and it is almost upon her. But how could she have known the man she believes she loves is not the person she needs?

Killian of Clan MacLaren has been infatuated with Ella for many a year but has guarded his heart, knowing her affection lies with another. When Ella must flee Berwyck, Killian vows to escort her to her encounter with destiny. But passion flares between them and there is no doubt the bond they have is far greater than either of them expected.

Their time together is running out. Killian has a decision to make that might give him and Ella a future together. If you could change someone’s past, would you seize the moment?

Buy Links:

Amazon US  |  Apple Books  | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Amazon AU  |  Amazon BR  | Amazon CA  |  Amazon  DE  | Amazon ES  | Amazon FR  | Amazon IN  | Amazon IT  |  Amazon JP  |  Amazon MX  |  Amazon NL  |  Amazon UK

First Kiss Friday with Karysa Faire

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Hello, my lovelies, and welcome to another First Kiss Friday. Today it’s my pleasure to welcome my dear friend Karysa Faire to my blog. Karysa is debuting her first release Take Two. I’m so excited to share an excerpt with you. Happy reading and enjoy!

Excerpt:

Roger joined her, handing her a cup of coffee while he noisily sipped on his own. He sat down on the plush chair across from her, toeing off his shoes in turn.

Her eyes closed against the steam. The first sip was almost too hot as it went down her throat, warming her insides.

“Mmmm. I needed that. Thank you.” She opened her eyes and was surprised to see him staring at her chest. She quickly looked down to see if she’d become unbuttoned and said a little prayer of thanks that her bra wasn’t popping out of her blouse. “Uh, so—” Rachel cleared her throat.

Roger’s eyes flew up. “I’m sorry. What were you saying?” He gave her a crooked grin and didn’t look sorry at all for being caught.

“Thank you for the coffee.” Rachel smiled back and took another sip. She felt the caffeine begin to do its magic. “It’s better than I have at home.” She drank the rest quickly, enjoying the feeling.

“Refill, my lady?” Roger got up and refilled her cup as she held it. This time, he sat down beside Rachel. The couch dipped next to her and she almost fumbled her hold on the cup. A flutter went through her at the heat of his body next to hers. They’d been this close in the cab, but he’d still been dressed as Rohbert. Now, he was all Roger.

But he hadn’t kissed her before when she’d opened the door to the possibility. What the hell were you thinking, Rachel?

Not knowing what else to do, Rachel brought the coffee to her lips, took a gulp, then put it down on the table. She looked straight ahead, not at the man, her fantasy, sitting next to her.

She felt his hand lightly caress her shoulder and arm. He shifted and was even closer to her, overwhelming her senses. Rachel felt her hair get pushed back, tucked behind her ear, those magic fingers of his leaving hot trails on her skin.

“I’m uh…” She cleared her throat then tried to speak again. Her words were lost as his other hand reached for hers.

“You really don’t need to go home tonight,” he said, barely above a whisper.

She stood and faced him, needing to put at least an inch of distance between them so she could talk without being distracted. With him sitting on the couch and with her shoes off, she was only a few inches taller. She could almost look directly into those famous green eyes of his, the eyes that didn’t waver as they darkened. “I’m, I’m very confused,” Rachel stammered.

“Allow me to make it clear.” Roger locked his hands around both her wrists and pulled her toward him. Thrown off balance, she fell into his lap. His arm slipped over her hip and he angled her body to his chest.

She looked Roger Conrad in the eyes, his lashes darker so close up. She swallowed, not daring to follow this wish through.

“Hi there,” he said, moving toward her. He was so close his nose touched the side of hers.

“Hi,” she finally managed back. His breath was laced with fresh coffee and the remaining hint of alcohol, a smell she vaguely thought shouldn’t be arousing. But it was, he was, and the smell went straight to her core, imprinting itself in her memory forever.

What the hell. I’ll pretend I’m Isabella and he’s Rohbert. Rachel took the plunge and closed the space between them, giving him small, questing kisses. She ran the tip of her tongue over his lips, asking for entry to his mouth. He moaned and embraced her, circling her body with his long arms.

In a quick movement, Roger shifted their positions, Rachel’s back now on the couch. He pressed his lips urgently against hers, all tentativeness gone. She kissed him back with a need that stunned her.

Rachel heard herself whimper as Roger pulled her body closer to his. He ran his other hand over her clothes, down her waist and to her thigh, teasing the hem of her skirt upwards. His smell was intoxicating. Rachel wrapped her arms around his neck and hooked her leg over the back of his knee. As she grabbed his hair, he pulled back for a breath. “Didn’t you say you had to leave?” he teased.

“That wasn’t me talking.” She grinned and pulled him back down to her.


Take Two
By Karysa Faire
$3.99 or #FREE in Kindle Unlimited

Is their love real or fiction?

 Rachel is a teacher and a single mom who’s picked up the pieces of her life after a horrible marriage. She’d thought her ex-husband was the man of her dreams. He wasn’t. She’s moved on and written a historical romance novel, Swashbuckler, that’s been picked up by Hollywood.

Rodger is an actor who doesn’t trust women. He’s made bad choices in his past that have come to haunt him in the present, especially the choice that came packaged with blond hair, large tits, and a marriage that was doomed from the start. Rodger thought they were in love—turns out his wife was a social-climber more interested in his status than his heart. He doubts there is a woman alive who can love him for who he is, and not for his fame or for the fantasy he presents to the world.

Both Rachel and Rodger have been burned by love, trusting a reality that turned out only to be fantasy. Will their fear succeed at keeping them apart? Or will they break through the barriers and allow themselves to love once again? After all, sometimes reality is much sweeter than fantasy.

Buy Link or Free in Kindle Unlimited: Amazon US

About the Author:

Karysa Faire is a fiction writer and high school science teacher. Her best days are when something unexpected and new happens – whether that be in the classroom or during vacations when she goes on extended road trips to haunted ghost towns. Karysa writes a variety of romance genres including contemporary, historical, erotica, horror, and paranormal. She’s also been known to write a mean lab report. Karysa lives in the San Francisco Bay Area along with millions of other people, including her wonderful family.

 Website: https://www.karysafaire.com/

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KarysaFaire

Join mailing list: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/i7i7l5

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all our wonderful readers!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for making Fire & Frost a bestselling box set. The Bluestocking Belles and I are thrilled with all the marvelous reviews we’ve been receiving and also for the set hitting several bestseller lists including, Amazon, Goodreads, and Smashwords.

You are the ones to make this happen. Thank you for supporting the Bluestocking Belles by purchasing a copy of Fire & Frost. Your purchase also supports our mutual charity, the Malala Fund. Our readers are the best!

¸.•*(¸.•*´`*•.¸)`*•.
Fire & Frost – Only $0.99
Curl up with the gift of a great book this Valentine’s Day. Fire & Frost will warm your heart!
In a winter so cold the Thames freezes over, five couples venture onto the ice in pursuit of love to warm their hearts.
Love unexpected, rekindled, brand new or rediscovered—even one that’s a whack on the side of the head—heats up the winter. After weeks of fog and cold all five stories converge on the ice at the 1814 Frost Fair when the ladies’ campaign to help the wounded and unemployed veterans of the Napoleonic wars culminates in a charity auction that shocks the high sticklers of the ton.
In their 2020 collection, join the Bluestocking Belles and their heroes and heroines as The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans pursues justice, charity, and soul searing romance.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with five interconnected Regency romances.
Buy links:
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2LGvSbK
Apple Books: https://apple.co/355nXMG
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2sdPVYd
Kobo: http://bit.ly/36nYwX
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2LF74AK

First Kiss Friday with Celeste Barclay

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Happy Valentine’s Day, my lovelies! Today on First Kiss Friday I’d like to introduce you to author Celeste Barclay who will be sharing her first kiss scene from A Spinster at the Highland Court. Happy reading and enjoy!

Excerpt:

It wasn’t until Elizabeth exited the trees into an open meadow that she was sure she was being followed. She lifted her elbow again to peer under her arm, but her billowing cloak kept obscuring her view. She saw the rider gaining on her, but it was impossible to tell if he was friend or foe. She thanked the heavens she was positive her horse could outrun any other, but she was becoming uncomfortable as the gap shrank. Elizabeth tugged sharply on the left rein and steered them toward a fast-moving stream. In spring it would swell into a river, but in the winter, it was a freezing stream. Her horse entered the water with no reservation, having taken this route countless times over the years. They forded the stream as the water rose to the soles of Elizabeth’s boots. The cold water splashed over the horse’s stomach, and while she was sure it refreshed her mount, it was like shards of glass pricking through her breeches. But the wind against her face was the freedom she needed, so the momentary discomfort was a small price. She kept her body parallel to the horse’s withers as they barreled downhill. An expansive wood greeted them at the base. She led them into the trees to the right in the hopes it would buy her the chance to see who followed if the rider didn’t change direction.

Elizabeth stroked her horse between the ears and murmured to him to keep him from snorting and shaking his head. Despite the gallop, rider and horse were silent as their pursuer crested the hill and began his descent. The man seemed to be looking directly in front of him, so Elizabeth’s heart lurched into her throat when they turned to face her hiding spot.

“Don’t hide from me, Elizabeth. I’m already angrier than a shaken hive. Come out now.” Edward scanned the trees to make out a shadowy form. He’d nearly fallen from his horse in panic when Elizabeth disappeared over the crest of the hill. He was familiar with how steep the decline was, and he imagined her being thrown and trampled as her horse faltered.

Elizabeth didn’t move. She held her breath and prayed her horse would do the same. He shifted slightly, sensing her tension, and she was sure Edward saw them. When he nudged his horse into the trees, she didn’t know if she should remain still or try to flee. His words reached her, but it was his tone that made her nervous.

“Very well. You refuse to heed my directions, then I shall come to you. Don’t believe you’re well hidden. I can see you and that monster clearly.”

Elizabeth’s hackles went up with a need to defend her horse. He was only an animal, but he was her pet and her best friend. He intuited her every innermost thought and emotion since she received him as a colt. She also was irritated at Edward’s high handedness. He had no say over what she did or where she went. It was only the knowledge that he’d report her to the queen that kept her quiet. She didn’t need to add insult to injury by being rude.

Edward pulled alongside her, and before she said a word in her defense, he plucked her from the saddle. His mouth crashed down onto hers as she landed in his lap. He yanked her hood down and whipped off her cap before lacing his fingers through her hair. His kiss was punishing, and Elizabeth tasted the fear. His other hand roamed over her, but it wasn’t a lover’s caress. It seemed more like he was checking her for injury. It only softened when he was reassured she was hale. His tongue darted against the seam of her lips until she opened to him. Her moan of surprise and want had him lifting her to straddle him and his horse. When her mound came in contact with his stiff cock, it was his turn to groan. He cupped her backside as she shifted to get closer.

Elizabeth clung to his tunic as her head would surely float away. His tongue inside her mouth was strange at first, but curiosity replaced shock. Her tongue tangled with his, and some instinct told her to suck. Edward’s response was immediate. His fingers dug into her backside painfully, but she found the touch of pain exciting. The tighter she pinched her nipples when she touched herself, the faster she climaxed. The heat radiating from Edward’s chest warmed her cold fingers, and when they found their way to the laces of his collar, she slid them beneath to find scorching smooth skin. She mewled in protest when she was unable to touch more of him, so she caressed his neck and shoulders until she grazed her nails over his scalp and tangled her fingers in his hair. His responding growl vibrated through her channel deep into her core.

Edward wanted to know what secrets hid inside that soft, unyielding flesh. He wanted to strip her bare and claim her. He wanted to vow he’d protect her from anyone and everyone, including herself. He wanted to revel in how she amazed him with her fearlessness and now passion. He wanted to worship her until she couldn’t take another moment of pleasure. It was only when the horses shifted that they both drew apart. They sat looking at one another, and neither was sure what to say. Edward stroked the downy skin of her cheek and tucked hairs that came loose behind her ears. The longer he sat holding her in his lap, the more his previous anger resurged. His heart hadn’t slowed, and he recalled why he pulled her from her saddle and kissed her senseless.

A Spinster at the Highland Court
The Highland Ladies Book One
By Celeste Barclay

A spinster lady in waiting…

After four broken betrothals, Elizabeth Fraser believes her father’s political ambitions will keep her from ever finding a husband. Content to be considered on the shelf, Elizabeth would rather be left in peace as one of the queen’s ladies in waiting than engage in flirtations that lead nowhere. She never expected one chance encounter months ago would alter the future she had accepted.

Will Elizabeth give Edward a second chance to prove he wants more than a dalliance?

A warrior wanting to return home…

Edward Bruce, the adopted younger brother of King Robert the Bruce, is tired of fighting the English in Ireland. Loyal to his brother but homesick, Edward returns to Robert’s Scottish court in hopes of settling down once more in the Highlands. Edward recognizes the beguiling Lady Elizabeth from a brief meeting that involved one dance and a rushed conversation on the terrace. He still can’t believe the rumor she started to protect her friends. Drawn to her dry whit and independent nature, Edward realizes that his new home will require one particular lady of the keep.

Can Edward prove to his Highland lady that his intentions are sincere before time runs out?

 A hidden threat…

When Elizabeth and Edward realize their lives are in danger, they must rely on the Sinclair brothers and their wives to help them investigate who might want them dead. Courtly intrigue follows them as their new love blooms and a home in the Highlands calls to them.

 Welcome to Robert the Bruce’s Highland Court, where the ladies in waiting are a mixture of fire and ice. The Highland Ladies, spin off series from Celeste Barclay’s The Clan Sinclair series, returns to the Medieval royal court for love and intrigue. A Spinster at the Highland Court is the much requested and highly anticipated story of Elizabeth Fraser who appeared in both His Highland Pledge and His Highland Surprise. She finally has her own steamy love story and HEA. This a full length novel.  The novella previously appeared in the Once Upon a Christmas Wedding anthology.

Buy Link: Amazon

About the Author:

Celeste Barclay, a nom de plume, lives near the Southern California coast with her husband and sons. Growing up in the Midwest, Celeste enjoyed spending as much time in and on the water as she could. Now she lives near the beach. She’s an avid swimmer, a hopeful future surfer, and a former rower. When she’s not writing, she’s working or being a mom.

Social Media:

 

First Kiss Friday with Caroline Warfield

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Welcome to another First Kiss Friday. Today’s guest is my dear friend Caroline Warfield who is sharing an excerpt from her novella Lord Ethan’s Courage found in our box set Fire & Frost. Happy reading, my lovelies, and enjoy!

Unlike the heroes of the other stories in Fire & Frost, Ethan isn’t able to actually bid on Flora’s time and her basket in the ladies’ charity auction due to illness. He sends his brother as surrogate. He does, however, have a surprise for her.

Excerpt:

She took a step back, arms akimbo and flashed him stern frown. “Is that all you want to say? ‘Call on me?’ Where is your courage when I need it?”

He came closer to her. “I have no right to say more, but if you can be patient…”

Flo heaved a sigh of exasperation and closed the distance between them, grabbing his shoulders, and meeting his lips with her impatient ones. After a heartbeat he returned the kiss with an achingly tender one, using his damaged arm to pull her close while he feathered his graceful fingers across her cheek.

“Much better,” she sighed against his neck, “But know this. I can wait out my mourning and your illness, but do not ask me to be patient.” She spat each of the last words out one by one. “I am not a patient woman when I know what I want, Ethan Alcott, and I want you.”

He kissed her again, this time deeply, passionately, possessively. When she moaned and pulled him closer, he pulled back, tipping his forehead onto hers. “Your brother believes you deserve a Season. I agree. If you still want this in a year…”

“God save me from men and their honor,” she muttered into his cravat.


About the Story

When Flora Landrum’s family is thrown into mourning and her brother loses himself in his new duties as earl, she refuses to be shunted off to her sister’s household under the eye of her vile brother-in-law. If the new earl can take time from his problems to do charity work for returning veterans, so can Flora, even if she has to sneak behind his back to visit some unsavory neighborhoods.

Lord Ethan Alcott lost his desire to live after the horrors of the peninsular war. The courage that enabled him to lead men into battle and drove him to charge into the rioting in its aftermath to save innocents failed him when he woke up on a troopship, just one wounded man among many. He was content to sit among the most wretched in an alley waiting for death until the day an innocent young lady stormed bravely among them determined to alleviate what suffering she could. She ought not be there and honor bound him to find her family and tell them so.

Flora might be insulted by the interference, but she isn’t about to let him sink back into misery. Ethan has a new battle on his hands, one for his life.

Fire & Frost:
A Bluestocking Belles Collection
Only $0.99

In a winter so cold the Thames freezes over, five couples venture onto the ice in pursuit of love to warm their hearts.

Love unexpected, rekindled, or brand new—even one that’s a whack on the side of the head—heats up the frigid winter. After weeks of fog and cold, all five stories converge on the ice at the 1814 Frost Fair when the ladies’ campaign to help the wounded and unemployed veterans of the Napoleonic wars culminates in a charity auction that shocks the high sticklers of the ton.

In their 2020 collection, join the Bluestocking Belles and their heroes and heroines as The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans pursues justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with five interconnected Regency romances.

BUY LINKS

Amazon US  |  Apple Books  | Barnes & Noble | Kobo  | Smashwords

Amazon Global:

AU BR CA DE ES FR IN IT JP MX NL UK

About the Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Visit Caroline’s Website and Blog  http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

Meet Caroline on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7

Follow Caroline on Twitter https://twitter.com/CaroWarfield

Email Caroline directly   warfieldcaro@gmail.com

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter  http://www.carolinewarfield.com/newsletter/

Amazon Author http://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Good Reads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8523742.Caroline_Warfield

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/caroline-warfield

Caroline’s Other Books

Amazon                      https://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/

Bookshelf                    http://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf

Happy Release Day ~ Fire & Frost

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It’s always a great day to celebrate when you release a new book baby into the world (although my brother would say it’s in honor of his birthday ~ Happy Birthday, Tim).

The Bluestocking Belles and I are pleased to release our latest collection, Fire & Frost. Taking place during the last Frost Fair of 1814, you’ll find five stories to give you hours of reading pleasure. My contribution to the set is A Second Chance At Love with Viscount Digby Osgood and Lady Constance Whittles whom you first met in Under the Mistletoe. Be sure to read to the end to learn about our blog hope and contest!

Be sure to grab your copy for only $0.99 and remember that with your purchase a percentage of the sales will go to our mutual charity The Malala Fund.

Fire & Frost: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
Only $0.99!

In a winter so cold the Thames freezes over, five couples venture onto the ice in pursuit of love to warm their hearts.

Love unexpected, rekindled, or brand new—even one that’s a whack on the side of the head—heats up the frigid winter. After weeks of fog and cold, all five stories converge on the ice at the 1814 Frost Fair when the ladies’ campaign to help the wounded and unemployed veterans of the Napoleonic wars culminates in a charity auction that shocks the high sticklers of the ton.

In their 2020 collection, join the Bluestocking Belles and their heroes and heroines as The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans pursues justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with five interconnected Regency romances.

A Second Chance At Love

Viscount Digby Osgood returns to London after a two-year absence, planning to avoid the woman he courted and then left. Surely she has moved on with her life; even married by now. A bit of encouragement from a friend, however, pushes him to seek the lady out. Can she ever forgiven him and give them a second chance at love?

Lady Constance Whittles has only cared for one man in her life. Even after he broke her heart, it remains fixed on him. Another man tries to replace him, but she soon learns she can never feel for him a shadow of what she still feels for Digby. One brief encounter with Digby confirms it; she is more than willing to forgive him. Can they truly take up where they left off?

Charity projects and a Frost Fair on the Thames bring them together, but another stands in their way. Will he tear them apart?

Fire & Frost Buy links:

Amazon US  |  Apple Books  | Barnes & Noble | Kobo  | Smashwords

Amazon Global:

AU BR CA DE ES FR IN IT JP MX NL UK

How about a blog hop & contest to celebrate?

Read and comment on five original pieces relating to our stories at each hop, comment on the Belles’ blog and you’ll be in the running for a $50 Amazon gift card. We’re keeping this contest open until Saturday, February 8th. Start the hop here!

The Book Palace on Ice for Imaginative and Curious Minds

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Lord Digby Osgood held tightly to the lady on his arm after she lost her footing on the ice. He gave her a reassuring smile silently telling her he would never let her fall.  Lady Constance Whittles murmured a soft thank you and Digby swore his heart flipped end over end when she moved a little closer to his side.

They continued on their way through the stalls of the Frost Fair. It had already been a fun-filled day despite the cold weather. They had enjoyed the Tea Shoppe on the Ice followed by the stall featuring Anna’s Hot Roasted Chestnuts. He had been more than thrilled when they had come upon Wilfred Bagshotts Portraits on Demand and he insisted Lady Constance sit for a drawing. The miniature was now tucked away in his coat and he would see that it was properly framed once he returned home.

But when they came upon The Book Palace on Ice for Imaginative and Curious Minds, a squeal of delight escaped Constance’s lips. Digby could not refuse her plea to take only a small peek at what the stall had to offer. Small peek, indeed. He should have known the lady would become lost in the makeshift bookstore the moment she stepped foot inside. Digby had been waiting for the past twenty minutes. Not that he minded. Constance loved her books and he would deny her nothing as long as she was happy.

“Checking out my sister’s competition, Lord Osgood?” That voice held a hint of sarcasm but still remained civil enough to not offend.

Digby turned and saw none other than Samuel Clemens, the editor and owner of The Teatime Tattler. “Mr. Clemens,” Digby replied with a nod of his head. “What brings you here in such inclement weather?”

“My stall is just around the corner and business has never been better. Not only have I sold more copies of my newspaper than usual, but everyone wants a keepsake from the Frost Fair. We keep running out of paper,” he said before he held out a sheet for Digby to take.

His newspaper was nothing more than a gossip rag, Digby thought but took the offering of the keepsake knowing Constance would like it. “It appears the Frost Fair has been a big success for everyone who has a stall,” he replied before pulling the edges of his coat closer together.

“I could not agree more,” Samuel said before his attention turned to the people in The Book Palace stall. “Ah… I see what keeps you here. Lady Constance has been very helpful to my sister’s business. I hope she does not lose the lady to another store once this is over,” he said with a chuckle.

“I am certain Lady Constance is more than happy to work for your sister as long as Miss Amelia will have her.”

Samuel tipped his hat. “I must be off. I cannot keep the world waiting for the latest news.”

Digby watched the man leave before he noticed Constance reaching for her reticule to make her purchase. He quickly stepped forward. “Allow me, my lady,” Digby said.

“I do not mind paying for the book, my lord.” Constance once more brightened his day with her smile.

“I must insist.” Paying the man, Digby offered his arm again to his lady as they began perusing the other stalls. They came upon the next stall, The Mystical Oracle Madam Amy Quinton. “Do you wish your fortune to be told, Constance?” he asked with a grin.

“Perhaps after we see the elephant? You did promise me you would take me to see it,” she said, her eyes twinkling in delight.

“And so I did. Let us make our way to see the beast then we can return here to see what the oracle has to say about our future.”

Constance gave his arm a squeeze. “I already know our future, Digby,” she replied.

“You do?” he said looking down into her beautiful face. Constance never looked lovelier.

“Of course! We shall live happily ever after!”

Digby swore his heart melted right then and there. His future indeed looked bright as long as Lady Constance remained in his life.

Was there really a bookstall at the 1814 Frost Fair?

None of my research found an actual bookstall on the ice but there were nearly a dozen printing presses producing keepsakes and commemorative poems. A printer named George Davis published a 124-page book called Frostiana; or A History of the River Thames In a Frozen State and the Belles referenced this material when we were working on our common theme for Fire & Frost. The entire book was typeset and printed in Davis’s printing stall set up on the frozen Thames.

The 1814 Frost Fair was also it’s last. With the old London Bridge being demolished in 1831, it was replaced with a new bridge with wider arches. This allowed the tide to flow more freely. The river was also embanked during the 19th century causing the river less likely to freeze.

You can read more about printing at the frost fairs here: http://www.letterology.com/2014/02/printing-at-frost-fairs.html


 

My contribution to Fire & Frost is A Second Chance At Love featuring Lord Digby Osgood and Lady Constance Whittles whom you first met in Under the Mistletoe.

Can the bittersweet frost of lost love be rekindled into a burning flame?

Viscount Digby Osgood returns to London after a two-year absence, planning to avoid the woman he courted and then left. Surely she has moved on with her life; even married by now. A bit of encouragement from a friend, however, pushes him to seek the lady out. Can she ever forgive him and give them a second chance at love?

Lady Constance Whittles has only cared for one man in her life. Even after he broke her heart, it remains fixed on him. Another man tries to replace him, but she soon learns she can never feel for him a shadow of what she still feels for Digby. One brief encounter with Digby confirms it; she is more than willing to forgive him. Can they truly take up where they left off?

Charity projects and a Frost Fair on the Thames bring them together, but another stands in their way. Will he tear them apart?

Fire & Frost:
A Bluestocking Belles Collection
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Preorder for $0.99

In a winter so cold the Thames freezes over, five couples venture onto the ice in pursuit of love to warm their hearts.

Love unexpected, rekindled, brand new or rediscovered—even one that’s a whack on the side of the head—heats up the winter. After weeks of fog and cold all five stories converge on the ice at the 1814 Frost Fair when the ladies’ campaign to help the wounded and unemployed veterans of the Napoleonic wars culminates in a charity auction that shocks the high sticklers of the ton.

In their 2020 collection, join the Bluestocking Belles and their heroes and heroines as The Ladies’ Society For The Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans pursues justice, charity, and soul-searing romance.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020 with five interconnected Regency romances.

Melting Matilda by Jude Knight – Fire smolders under the frost between them.

My One True Love by Rue Allyn – She vanished into the fog. Will he find his one true love or remain lost, cold and alone forever?

Lord Ethan’s Courage by Caroline Warfield – War may freeze a man’s heart; it takes a woman to melt it.

A Second Chance at Love by Sherry Ewing – Can the bittersweet frost of lost love be rekindled into a burning flame?

The Umbrella Chronicles: Chester and Artemis’s Story by Amy Quinton – Beastly duke seeks confident woman who doesn’t faint at the sight of his scars. Prefers not to leave the house to find her.

Buy Links:

Amazon US  |  Apple Books  | Barnes & Noble | Kobo  | Smashwords

Amazon Global:

AU BR CA DE ES FR IN IT JP MX NL UK

Comment to Win

Comment on this post, each of the other four, and the page on the Belles’ website here https://bluestockingbelles.net/frostfairhop/?fbclid=IwAR2qQS4IMhZYgVNvhbfFVmTf6Bm5tFwAJy5bxu21remzDRHzcM5rcRXa1sU to go into the drawing for the main prize in the blog hop, a $50 US Amazon card.

Tell me… what would have piqued your interest at the frost fair? What would you have liked to see? All comments on this post will go in a drawing for an eCopy of one the previous four Bluestocking Belles’ collections, plus a copy of Under the Mistletoe a prequel to A Second Chance At Love found in the Belles’ new box set Fire & Frost.

Did you miss the previous blog hop stop? You can access it here.

And don’t forget you have one more hop that surely you don’t want to miss. Find your way to That Mystical Oracle Madame Amy Quinton here: http://amyquinton.net/?p=2308