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The winner of Darcy Burke’s Secrets & Scandals Volume One is Eileen Dandashi! Thank you everyone for stopping in to help me celebrate the release of THE DE VALERY CODE. Don’t forget to get your copy!
Hello Friends! I’m delighted to welcome you to the drawing room today to celebrate the release of the first book in my new Regency Treasure Hunters series, THE DE VALERY CODE. And as long as we’re celebrating, I’m thrilled to announce that I’m a brand new USA Today Bestselling Author as of yesterday, when the ten-author anthology I’m part of, TEMPTED BY HIS TOUCH, hit the USA Today Bestsellers List at #91. Huzzah!
But today isn’t about me, it’s about Rhys and Margery, the adventurous hero and heroine of THE DE VALERY CODE. Here’s the official blurb:
Miss Margery Derrington and her dear aunts are in dire straits. Their discovery of a rare medieval manuscript will hopefully stave off their creditors—if it’s worth what they hope. Margery reluctantly allies with a reclusive scholar to use the book to pursue a treasure that could exceed her expectations. Amidst danger, secrets, and an insatiable attraction, is Margery gambling just her financial future . . . or her heart?
Academic Rhys Bowen can’t believe he has his hands on the elusive de Valery text. Solving its hidden code and unearthing its legendary treasure would establish him as one of Britain’s leading antiquarians, finally casting him out of his brilliant late father’s shadow. But when a centuries-old organization convinces Rhys of the perils of disturbing the past, he must choose between his conscience…and the captivating woman he’s sworn to help.
I had a wonderful time writing THE DE VALERY CODE. After researching many different UK-based legends and artifacts, I ultimately decided to use Arthurian legend as the basis for the treasures in the series. Whether or not King Arthur was an actual person is a matter of considerable debate, but what’s more interesting to me is how he became an icon over centuries of storytelling–both in oral and written form. The power we wield as storytellers is massive! I created my own twist on the legends, focusing on the tales of a knight (who isn’t really based on anyone specific) and the artifacts or treasures, as it were, he accumulates. The Thirteen Treasures mentioned in the book appear in various stories (the Deathly Hallows are supposedly based on them) and I simply adapted them to fit the story I wanted to tell. Ah, artistic license! I did base things in the book on information we do know: that Arthur probably lived in the late 5th century, if he lived at all, and that there are many places in Wales (and beyond) where he could have lived and traveled. I used some of those locations in THE DE VALERY CODE and you’ll see more in the rest of the series. I hope you’ll stay tuned to see what they’re searching for next!
While the treasure hunt sets a great background, Margery and Rhys are center stage. They have a lot of delicious banter in this book, which was so fun to write! Here’s a snippet from a late-night meeting in the library . . .
She tipped her head to read the cover of the book he held, but there was no title on it. “What are you reading?”
He glanced down at the tome. “A book of poetry from the twelfth century.”
His dark gaze found hers and held. “Welsh.”
“You speak medieval Welsh?”
“I read medieval Welsh. There is a massive difference.”
She smiled at the humor in his tone. “I’m sure. What other languages can you read?”
He leaned against the bookshelf, which brought his chest almost in contact with her shoulder. “Latin, Greek, medieval English of course, Italian, French, some German.”
She also turned so that her side was against the bookshelf, so she could face him straight-on. “My goodness, that must’ve taken years to master.” How old was he anyway? She’d guessed him to be within five years of her.
He shrugged, and the familiar touch of hubris that she found attractive—in moderation—came out. “Once you learn one, the rest come easily.”
“I can’t imagine it’s that way for everyone. I’m sure you worked hard.”
“I did.” There was no sense of pride in his answer, just a confidence that she found ridiculously alluring. “Do you read any languages?” He reached out and tucked a loose curl behind her ear.
She struggled to remember his question. Languages? “Um, yes. French and a little Latin. I actually speak the French in addition to reading it, however.”
“Well done.” His whispered words caressed her, and the heat swirling in her belly heated to a slow burn.
Pick up your copy of THE DE VALERY CODE today at your favorite online retailer for just $3.99!
I’m giving one lucky commenter an electronic copy of Secrets and Scandals Volume One, the first three books in my first historical series. Are you a fan of King Arthur? Do you think he actually lived? Do you have a favorite movie depiction of the Knights of the Round Table? First Knight with Richard Gere and Sean Connery, perhaps? Or maybe the Clive Owen/Keira Knightley epic, King Arthur? My personal favorite is probably Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Hello friends! I hope you’re having a lovely summer, my the days have been flying by! I am thrilled to be a part of the ten-author boxed set Tempted by His Touch: A Limited Edition Boxed Set of Dukes, Rogues, & Alpha Heroes Historical Romance Novels. It features nine wonderful historical romance authors–besides me–some of whom I know you’ll find familiar! The best part is that this amazing set is just 99 CENTS!! But grab your copy fast because after September 21 it disappears forever!
Here’s what you need to know about the books in this great set!
A boxed set with ten sizzling historical romances from ten bestselling historical romance authors. Fall in love with fabulous tales of intrigue, suspense, wit, and passion featuring dukes, rogues, alpha heroes…and the women who can’t resist them. JUST 99 CENTS from July 27 – Sept. 21—then it disappears FOREVER!
Scoundrel Ever After by Darcy Burke - Once upon a time there was a very bad boy who met a very nice girl….
Lady of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle – Educating a man in the art of love takes time. Lots of it.
Sonata for a Scoundrel by Anthea Lawson - Passion and secrets simmer against the glittering backdrop of 19th century musical celebrity.
To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield by Bronwen Evans – What’s a lady to do when a notorious rake wins her estate in a game of cards?
Undone by Lila DiPasqua – One steamy, emotionally charged retelling of Rapunzel…Rescuing this beauty from the ‘tower’ is only the beginning…
The Problem with Seduction by Emma Locke - Elizabeth Spencer needs a man. She doesn’t need to like him—because while she needs a man, she doesn’t particularly want one.
A Dangerous Invitation by Erica Monroe – Daniel O’Reilly returns to win back Kate Morgan’s heart and prove he’s innocent of murder.
Once Upon a Duke by Eva Devon – A widow looking to get seduced. A duke more than willing to oblige.
Great & Unfortunate Desires by Gina Danna - A marquis with a guilty past takes a bride in a world where love is fatal.
Dark Surrender By Erica Ridley – Trapped in darkness…. Their passion burns bright!
We’re doing a blog tour to celebrate our LIMITED EDITION boxed set and the Dashing Duchesses is just one stop on our fun-filled jaunt. I hope you’ll join us elsewhere and be sure to sign up for our rafflecopter giveaway (see below)–an iPad Mini! The contest runs until the set disappears on September 21.
Be sure to join us at our Facebook Party this Wednesday, July 30 from 6-11 pm EST. There will be many guest authors and giveaways, you won’t want to miss this soiree!
Without further ado, I’d like to highlight one of our authors, the spectacular Bronwen Evans. Her entry in the set, TO DARE THE DUKE OF DANGERFIELD is quite delicious! We’re doing a Q&A with Bronwen, plus she’s got an excerpt for us from TO DARE THE DUKE OF DANGERFIELD.
Q&A with Bronwen Evans
What’s your favorite historical romance? Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught
What is the first romance novel you ever read? A Mills and Boon by Penny Jordan, I can’t remember the title but it made me cry and then gave me the HEA and I was hooked.
Would you want to live in the time you write about? What would you love? Hate? Probably not no. Women had very few rights and I’m far too opinionated. I would be a wallflower for sure. I’d love the the balls and sleeping late. I’d hate everything else, especially the uncomfortable clothes.
If given the choice between a duke, a rogue, or an alpha hero, which would you choose? An alpha hero, duke who was a rogue.
What tempts you? (Chocolate, caviar, long walks on the beach…) Tall, dark and handsome! Especially if coupled with chocolate and a cup of tea!
Rapid fire round:
Designer purses or Target special? Designer purse
Heels or flip flops? flip flops
Rich or famous? Rich – famous is too intrusive
American hottie or sexy Brit? sexy Brit
Where’s your happy place? in my writing room with my puppy, Brandy at my feet.
Excerpt from TO DARE THE DUKE OF DANGERFIELD:
Scene set up: At the first challenge
Their gazes clashed, and annoyance coursed through her veins—mixed with something that edged the annoyance higher. Excitement. His dark-lashed, grey eyes twinkled. The man knew precisely the impact his arrival was having on her.
Caitlin’s lips parted. Her heart pounded against her corset, which was obviously tied far too tightly. She had to remind herself to breathe. In. Out. Ignore him.
“I must say how lovely you look, however, I still prefer you in trousers.”
His husky declaration broke the spell that held her captive. “Then I shall ensure never to wear trousers again,” she said, warmth flaring in her cheeks.
He straightened. “Quite right. My apologies.” His little bow mocked her. “I don’t prefer you in trousers. I’d prefer you in nothing at all.”
TEMPTED BY HIS TOUCH GIVEAWAY
Grand Prize :iPad Mini (16GB) with surprise bonus print books [Open to US/CA]
I love history. Obviously, or I wouldn’t write in a historical time period. Typically I think about the fun facts of history. Beautiful silk and lace gowns, lots of petticoats that swish and shush and froth around a lady’s legs. Hair curled and piled high, anchored with combs and pins embellished with jewels.
And of course, my Duchess tiara.
Then I think about the heroes. Oh. The heroes. (Sorry, I must pause here and fan myself, as a Duchess never gets hot and bothered). Romance heroes come in all shapes and sizes and, well, hotness levels. Highwaymen, pirates, smugglers. Lords and princes, alpha men from the rookeries who rise up despite all odds, and those rough men from the Colonies who make an English lady weak in the knees (among other things). I love all those parts of history and romance writing.
But history still comes down to people. People lived in 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900—and all the centuries before that. They lived and breathed and laughed and loved. They bore children, they buried children. They worked hard to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. They suffered toothaches and stomach aches and colds. After all, the cold virus didn’t start a few years ago.
Can you imagine that? This winter you had a cold, blew your nose, and suffered through sinus pressure. Two hundred years ago, ladies did the same thing, without the joy of cold medicine and tissues with lotion to help them. I worry about my 5 year old when he jumps off the top step of the deck and I worry about my husband when he starts using a chain saw. I imagine ladies in 1100 AD worried about their boys jumping off stone walls and husbands heading off to sword practice.
Decade to decade, century to century, millennium to millennium, we all have the same hopes and fears. We all love and we all laugh. Family is family, for good or ill. And everyone mourns and grieves.
So when I read this entry in the London Gazette, April 19, 1814, my heart grieved:
“The Prince Regent has also been pleased to command, in the name of and on behalf of His Majesty, that those badges which would have been conferred upon the officers who fell in, or have died since the battle of Vittoria, shall, as a token of respect to their memories, be transmitted to their respective families…
1st Regiment of Foot
To be Captains of Companies
Lieutenant D. McQueen, vice McNicol, killed in action. Dated April 12, 1814
Lieutenant L. Grant, vice Parvis, died of his wounds. Dated April 13, 1814
Lieutenant P. McGregor, vice Westerall, killed in action. Dated April 14, 1814”
These gentlemen’s lives were honored by being posthumously awarded a promotion, though that doesn’t make the loss of life easier.
There is always a connection, past to present to future. And that connection is humanity. The basic human connection of mother to son, father to daughter, husband to wife—none of that has changed. Perhaps, in the days where a mother might bear ten children and lose six in infancy, there was an easier acceptance of death.
But I doubt it. The death of a husband or brother or father—or child—is no easier to bear in 1814 as it is in 2014.
I think history is about humanity and relationships. People are people, with all the emotions that complicate and strengthen love. So I grieve for the families of 1814 as much as the families of 2014. And I wonder, what joys and heartaches did my ancestors experience?
So tell me, what joys and trials have your ancestors borne that reminds you we’re all human, whether it’s 1000 AD or 2000 AD—or the winter of 2013/2014 that I swear has still not ended here in Michigan.
Alyssa Alexander writes about lords turned spies and ladies turned smugglers. Her next release features a Waterloo widow and the spy who loves her.
Petticoats: By Tranquil Garden (Own work) CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons
Dry Stone Wall: By Gpmg (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I must beg your pardon, dear friends! I’m afraid the day(s) got away from me! Between Valentine’s Day parties and distributing Girl Scout cookies, this duchess is quite over her head. I’m thrilled to announce the three winners of Secrets and Scandals Volume 1:
Thank you everyone for helping me celebrate the release of Scoundrel Ever After! I hope you’ll join me at my Twitter party on Tuesday, February 18 from 7-8 pm EST. It’s going to be a rollicking good time with lots of ebook giveaways! Hope to see you then!
There is still a chance to win a copy of The Rogue Returns!
See Tuesday’s post for details. I’ll announce winners on Sunday.
Best, Leigh LaValle, aka My Queen Peach
Excerpt from The Rogue Returns
“Why do you call me buttercup?”
“Because you are so sweet.”
“I am not that sweet,” she muttered. “Ugh, these tangles. I can’t get them—”
He slipped the burlap sac from her hand and examined the knotted strings. Calloused, patient fingers coaxed the tangles loose. She did not glance up when he placed the food bag on the rock.
“Yes, you are sweet.” He hooked his finger under her chin and nudged her head up. Their eyes met, then he dropped his gaze down to her lips. “Sweet and spicy and tempting as sin.”
It was a simple glance, but it left her hot.
Hot and achy and full of want.
This was ridiculous. She was ridiculous. She arched away from his touch. “Tempting as sin? Really? How original.”
His lips tilted up. “I’ve wanted to kiss you all day.”
“And why would I let you kiss me?”
“Because I could make you feel wonderful. Exceptionally wonderful. ”
THE ROGUE RETURNS has been released into the wilds of readerville.
Oh, the challenges of writing romance! As I crafted the hero of THE ROGUE RETURNS, I suffered through endless hours of character research. What a chore it was to study the rogue in his natural habitat.
I wanted Roane, my intrepid hero, to be a silver-tongued charmer with a quip at the ready. He needed to have a great sense of humor and keen observation skills. On top of that, he required an adventurous spirit with just a touch of bad-boy-danger to give him an edge.
Lucky for me, there is a plethora of heroes to study in film. Here are just a few of the hotties who inspired me to write. Whether they had anything to do with Roane’s actual character, I can’t say…
GIVEAWAY- Who is your favorite rogue? Leave a comment below and enter to win a digital copy of THE ROGUE RETURNS
The plot of THE ROGUE RETURNS is a road romance/ treasure hunt. Romancing the Stone was a natural launching pad for inspiration. I hadn’t seen this movie in years, and I enjoyed it immensely. (By the way- did you know Joan Wilder writes for Avon?)
Jack T. Colton, you are a rogue for the ages.
Roane, like Sonny Steele in The Electric Horseman, possesses an extraordinary talent with horses. I’d like to think he’s just as handsome as Robert Redford as well, in that sun-kissed, golden boy way.
Sonny Steele, you are one hot cowboy.
Oh, Indy. You do make a girl’s heart beat. I’ll come look for your jewel any day.
Roane doesn’t have a whip, sadly. And he looses his hat in a river. But he does have that slow, sultry smile. And those eyes…
And, for your viewing pleasure…
THE ROGUE RETURNS
THE ONLY THING LESS TRUSTWORTHY THAN A ROGUE…
Lady Helen Gladstone has siblings to protect and creditors at her door. There’s only one way to stave off disaster–to find the fabled fortune that her deceased brother buried years ago. Her experience with her lying father and gambling brother has left her able to spot a scoundrel at ten paces. Unfortunately, the scoundrel she encounters is a lot closer than that…and he’s planning to make off with her treasure.
…IS A LADY WITH NOTHING TO LOSE
After years of exile, Roane Grantham is eager to begin a new life without the law on his heels. First, he needs gold–his gold, buried one drunken night long ago. But he doesn’t count on a petite, bold-as-brass blonde laying claim to his hoard.
Forming an uneasy alliance, Helen and Roane adventure through the high peaks of England, battling treasure hunters, violent storms, and dangerous terrain. But can they escape the growing passion that threatens to steal their hearts?
With all the wrapping, cooking, and corralling, I thought it might be nice to escape for a few minutes. Here is an all-new, never-before-seen Christmas short story (Exclusive for Dashing Duchesses readers!) that follows after the end of my latest release, Sins of a Wicked Princess.
A Princess’ Christmas Wish
By Anna Randol
If Ian needed proof he was in love, the bundled ham was it. He tried not to wince as he gave the last bit of their carefully packed food away.
“God Bless. God Bless,” the gnarled, elderly woman cried, cradling the meat in her bony arms like a newborn.
At least she treated his carefully chosen food with the respect it deserved.
Princess Juliana–his wife and soon to be queen, he thought with a grin—clasped the old woman’s stooped shoulders with her deceptively dainty hands. “Tell your husband we will definitely be in need of skilled masons in the Spring.”
The woman shifted in the ankle deep snow. “Bless you and welcome home, Your Highness.”
With a quick smile Juliana took the cloak from her own shoulders—her present from Ian that he a procured with great trouble from a Russian Czarina—and placed it on the woman. Juliana hopped in the coach and gave the order to proceed before the woman could protest.
Juliana continued looking out of the frosty windows of the coach until long after the other woman had disappeared from view. She chewed slightly on her lower lip—a bad habit she would never have allowed herself in front of anyone else.
Ian gloried in that. Like he did when she moved to his side of the coach and rested her head on his shoulder.
“Not only did you give away your present, but you ruined my Christmas surprise,” Ian murmured.
She lifted an amused brow. “All without trying. I’m more skilled than I knew.”
“I was going to arrange a fantastical fairy picnic for you in the castle.” Ian had hoped it would soften the blow of seeing her childhood home reduced to a burned out ruin. “But then you gave away the bread, the tarts, the cheese, and the apples, and the ham.”
Of course, she had. Juliana loved her people with a fierce devotion that he intended to see properly comprehended and respected. It appeared his life as a feared spy might hold some value after all.
She snorted softly. “You are the one who suggested we stop and see if those people needed help. And I might remind you that most of our supplies are coming in the other coach tomorrow.”
Along with his former butler—now the Count of Canterbury—and his new bride, Princess Eustace.
He pulled Juliana closer. “I thought you were going to smile and bless them with some of your queenly magnanimity. Or that wave I saw you practicing in front of the mirror last—”
Her elbow found a soft spot in his side. He caught her up onto his lap before she could do more damage, and answered her attack with a more passionate one of his own. Her lips were sweeter than any sugary confection.
Perhaps he didn’t miss the food as much as he thought.
She suddenly pulled away from him, an awed gasp coming from her lips.
“I know that I am a skilled kisser, but—” He stopped his witty banter at the look of wonderment on her face.
They had crested a hill and the city of Concordia lay glistening in the late afternoon sun. Its wide cobbled streets flowing between buildings of sand colored marble. Pearly snow clung to tile roofs.
A fairy tale city.
Until one saw the castle on the hill. The roof was blackened where there weren’t gaping holes. One of the turrets had tumbled into a pile of rubble and charred wood.
And Ian knew, when they drew closer, they’d see the broken windows and the empty shops in the city as well, the wear and strain from the decades long war with Napoleon. But he didn’t need to tell Juliana that, he could see the same knowledge in her eyes.
By the time they had reached the bottom of the hill, the snow was falling thick and fast. Soon the horses were sliding and they were forced to stop at an inn at the edge of the city rather than pressing on to the house they had rented.
The inn was nothing fancy, but it was clean and run by decent folk. And Ian made sure to let all the rooms, leaving no room for anyone that might harm Juliana.
Juliana always saw to her servants before she saw to herself, so by the time they retired it was quite late. She sighed softly as she nestled beside him under the simple homespun quilt. “I will not cry tomorrow.”
She was talking about the castle and the memories of the death of her parents. He pressed a kiss to her brow. “No, you’re strong and—”
She bit him on the shoulder. “I wasn’t looking for pity. I was making a promise. And I never break them.”
The next morning, Ian was up far before the sun. It was a habit he found he couldn’t break. When one grew up falling asleep beside a stolen fire, one had to be gone before the owner awoke.
Ian brushed frost from the window and gazed down at the city below.
Snow had piled high in the night, giving the whole city a—
Snow had piled high.
Ian slipped soundlessly from the room and down the stairs. The innkeeper’s wife gave him a surprised look, pausing in her stirring. “No luck, sir, if you plan to go outside. The snow is nigh up to my waist.”
No. No. No.
Ian hadn’t truly cared about losing his frigid picnic surprise because he knew that what Juliana truly wanted was to set foot in her castle once again.
Now she wouldn’t be able too.
She had promised yesterday that she wasn’t going to cry.
It was his job to see that she never had reason to. He turned to the innkeeper’s wife, “Do you happen to know where I can get embroidery hoops and fishing twine?”
Juliana awakened warm, rested. And alone.
She always knew when Ian wasn’t there. Even before she reached over to feel his empty space on the bed. Off doing his strategizing, no doubt.
Something about the winter air in Lenoria brought back memories she hadn’t thought of in a long time. Selecting a Yule log in the forest. The heavy incense in the church. Carefully wrapped gifts she taken from her mother’s hands.
Juliana heard Ian’s step on the stair and closed her eyes. Ian liked to think that all his plotting happened in secret. She couldn’t bring herself to tell him she knew how he always arranged everything to perfection.
That, and she loved the way the way he woke her up.
His lips feathered kisses across her forehead before wandering their way down to her lips. “Good morning, Jules.”
Now she was fully awake. She sat up so fast she almost crushed Ian’s nose. “The castle.” She jumped from the bed and ran to the window. A heavy weight settled on her chest. There would be no trip to the castle. There was little chance a horse could get through that, let alone a carriage.
But before she could draw a breath to feign disinterest, there was a tap on her shoulder. She glanced back at Ian.
He held two large circles that had been crossed and re-crossed with thin ropes.
A present of some sort. Homemade, obviously. She fumbled for the right thing to say. “How intriguing.”
He grinned his infuriatingly adorable wolfish grin. “I know, aren’t they?”
The beast. He was just going to stand there and force her to ask what exactly they were. But then he surprised her by setting one circle by her foot and then moving her foot on top.
Then she knew what he had done. She’d seen them before in the mountains—or rather something roughly similar. They were snowshoes.
But that meant—“The castle. I can go today.” Her heart pounded wildly, gloriously wild and free. Thanks to her own personal spymaster.
He grinned and swept her up into his arms. “Merry Christmas.”
She blinked back the tears she’d promised not to shed. “You’ve given me a castle. That will be a rather difficult present to top.”
Ian lowered his lips to hers. “Challenge accepted.”
Ian Maddox, aka the Wraith, is happy to leave his life as a spy— as soon as he discovers who’s been trying to kill his friends. All clues lead him to the bedroom of an exiled princess. Yet Princess Juliana isn’t the simpering royal he expects, and this irresistible beauty agrees to give him the information he seeks . . . for a price.
Princess Juliana has never cowered—not even as she fled her burning castle in the midst of a rebellion—so she won’t tremble before the darkly charismatic man who appears in her bedchamber and holds a knife to her throat. Instead, she bargains with the infamous spy to help her retrieve sensitive documents and restore her kingdom. But Juliana quickly finds that Ian is no humble servant, and she never imagines that lessons in thievery will lead to schooling in seduction.
Readers, now it your turn–What was your favorite Christmas surprise? One lucky commenter will receive all three books in the Sinner’s Trio series (Sins of a Virgin, Sins of a Ruthless Rogue, and Sins of a Wicked Princess)! Contest closes December 27, 2013. Void where prohibited.