A Letter to Readers from Alyson McLayne, Author of HIGHLAND PROMISE (The Sons of Gregor MacLeod #1–with a giveaway!)

A Letter to the Reader

Hello Lovely Readers!!

My name is Alyson McLayne, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to introduce you to my book, HIGHLAND PROMISE, a Scottish Highlander Romantic Adventure!

It’s the first book in my historical romance series, THE SONS OF GREGOR MACLEOD, starring five Highland Lairds, who were fostered together as lads to become brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin, and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true love.

These Highland Lairds are a band of brothers, who will defend each other to the death—if they don’t kill each other first with their sharp wit and hilarious banter. They take their oaths seriously, whether it’s to bring peace to the Highlands and defend one another as friends and allies, or to razz each other so hard, only one brother is left standing—and then they’ll take him down too.

And the women they love? They have spirit, and tenacity, and they take care of others before they take care of themselves. They’re all different—their backgrounds, their struggles, their interests and talents—but at the core of each woman is a strength, compassion, and a capacity to love that brings their man to his knees.

Totally. Slayed.

Before I tell you about HIGHLAND PROMISE, here’s a little about me. J I live on the west coast of Canada with my adorable (aka annoying) 5 year old boy/girl twins; my sweet yet sarcastic husband (who just said he’s not sarcastic at all, he’s ironic!); my counter-surfing puppy, Jasper, who turns one year old the same day HIGHLAND PROMISE debuts (Happy Birthday, baby!!); and my 86 year old dad who gets a look on his face every time it’s mentioned there are—gasp—sex scenes in my books…but then goes on to tell me young people (meaning me) did not invent sex.

Ears…burning…must pour…hot oil…inside…

Speaking of ears, as I’m writing this, I have ear plugs in because my son is beside me in my office (aka my bedroom) building a fort under the covers on the bed, while my Slytherin-declaring daughter waits to knock it down, which results in WW3; Jasper hovers at the edge, barking, until he can’t stand it anymore and jumps onto the bed with the monsters, er, I mean children; my husband comes in and says something “ironic” about the chaos; and I stare fiercely at my computer screen determined to ignore it ALL—and thanking God my dad can turn his hearing aids OFF.

Just grist for the mill…grist for the mill…said all writer-moms everywhere.

Okay. Onto the important part: HIGHLAND PROMISE! I started writing HIGHLAND PROMISE almost 10 years ago after reading ALL of Julie Garwood’s medieval-set historicals, most of which were set in the Highlands. I LOVED them. I don’t read a lot of books over and over, but I did hers. I found them completely captivating.

I think HIGHLAND PROMISE captures that same tone and spirit: Caitlin MacInnes is the archetypal Waif/Free Spirit who turns the archetypal Chieftain, Laird Darach MacKenzie’s life upside down—and then spins it around and dribbles with it for a while. As Lachlan MacKay, Darach’s foster-brother, says of Darach’s and Caitlin’s courtship:

“I doona know when I’ve laughed so much as watching Darach trying to control [Caitlin] over the past few weeks. Her intentions are good, but she’s trouble. It follows her around like a faithful hound.”

Darach is undone by her. His heart, which he swore he’d NEVER give to another woman, is torn from his body and becomes putty in her hands. Of course, he doesn’t know that at first, and even when he finally figures it out, he doesn’t tell her—he’s a warrior, a leader of his people, not a poet. And Caitlin, who is determined to make Darach happy whether he wants her to or not, doesn’t believe there’s any possible way she can stay with him. She needs to leave the Highlands immediately and find her mother’s family in France.

’Cause there’s a whole lotta trouble on her tail (some might call it a shite storm—haha!) heading straight for Darach. But what Caitlin fails to realize is that Darach, along with his brothers and their clans, is strong enough to handle it.

War is coming. Caitlin didn’t start the blood feud between the Frasers and the MacKenzies, nay, Laird Fraser and his sister, Darach’s former betrothed, did that, but she will be the catalyst that ends it—pinning the good men of the Highlands against a monster.

And hopefully winning.

(Well of course they win, and of course Darach and Caitlin live happily ever after—it’s a romance, after all!!)

Now go—before I start rambling and give too much away. Read the words and feel the feels. Fall in love with both Darach and Caitlin…and prepare yourself for Lachlan’s story next.

Smooches,

Alyson McLayne

About the author:

A stay-at-home mom of twins and award-winning writer, Alyson McLayne is a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband.

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Title: Highland Promise
Author: Alyson McLayne
Pub Date: October 3, 2017
ISBN: 9781492654506

 

Five boys destined to become Highland lairds are fostered together as brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true loves.

When forced to choose between duty and honor…

Darach MacKenzie vowed never again to let a woman near his heart after his betrothed betrayed him. It sparked an intense feud between his clan and the Frasers. With all-out war on the wind, Darach can’t be distracted—not even by a sweet and charming lass who desperately needs his help.

This Highland Laird will find a way to have both

When Darach rescued Caitlin MacInnes from the clutches of vile Laird Fraser, she vowed to never let men or misery rule her life again. With Darach and the MacKenzie clan, Caitlin finally feels safe. But when Laird Fraser shows up to claim what’s rightfully his, or go to war, Darach will have to use all his brawn and brains to protect Caitlin—even if it means losing his heart.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters | iBooks | Indiebound

 

Excerpt:

“I’ll not be marrying the lass, Oslow, but if I did, she’d more than likely give me daughters. All of them looking like her, causing trouble. I’d be an old man in my grave before I was forty.”

“Nay. She’d give you sons. Braw lads as strong-minded and fearless as her. But if you’re not interested in the lass, I’ll introduce her to my Angus. He needs a wife, and I’m sure he’d be as smitten with her as Gare and Brodie.”

The blood heated in Darach’s veins, flushing his face. He looked toward the field, trying to make out what Caitlin and the two younger men were doing. Naught of consequence. Just playing with the kittens.

Playing with the kittens—like hell. Brodie was a right rogue with the lasses, and Gare was such a pitiful lad, caught betwixt man and boy, she’d want to save him just like she’d saved the baby bird. Most likely he’d try to make himself look as pathetic as possible with the hopes of ensnaring her, the devil.

Darach stood abruptly and made his way across the rocky shore to the field. Lachlan’s snort followed him. Sure enough, Gare and Brodie sat beside her, hanging on to every word. Scoundrels, both of them. He frowned, and they jumped to their feet. Let Caitlin see who was master and laird here—the most dominant MacKenzie male.

After sending them to Oslow, he sat on the grass beside her. She looked pleased to see him. Maybe now would be the time to tell her the kittens were going to the miller’s. He willed himself to begin, but one of the cats tumbled into his lap and mewed up at him. Bloody fiend.

“Och, would you look at that. He loves you, Darach. Maybe he will be called Justice, for he is drawn to you and you are the most just man I know.”

He puffed up and deflated at the same time. ’Twas a good decision to send the cats to the miller. Not only did it show Justice, but also Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance. Surely she would see the right of it.

The kit ran up his body and batted his hair. Darach started in surprise. Grabbing it, he held the wee thing in front of him. The cat reached out and swatted his chin.

Caitlin fell sideways onto the grass, laughing. “You’ve ne’er had a cat before, have you?”

Darach grunted and brought the kitten closer. He had to admit it was sweet—big eyes and downy, soft fur. It suckled the stubble of his beard, and his heart turned over.

“They’re starved, poor babies,” she said. “He’s trying to nurse. All we had was water. It helped, but their bellies are empty.”

There would be lots of milk at the miller’s.

“Caitlin, I doona think…”

She gazed at him, her eyes wide, trusting. A happy glow surrounded her, and the words stuck in his throat. Maybe she could keep the kits ’til they were old enough to be on their own. House them in the kitchens and out of his sight and the sight of his dogs for a week or two. Then they could go to the miller.

“Aye, Darach?”

“’Tis naught, lass. We’ll be home soon and they can have their meal.”

Picking up a kitten, she held it close. “I think this little lass will be Temperance, for she’s the only female and needs to have much restraint to live with three brothers. It must be a trial, doona you think?”

“I lived with four brothers, and aye, ’twas a trial.”

A wistful look crossed her face. “I did so wish for a brother. Or a sister. But my parents were not blessed with bairns after me. Instead, I had lots of pets—cats, dogs, horses, and pigs.”

“Pigs?”

“Aye, pigs are wonderful pets. Although I caused such a fankle when my father wanted to butcher the dear thing, I was ne’er allowed to bond with a pig again.”

“And what happened to it?”

“I doona know. I lost more than just my parents the night of the fire. Verily, ’twas a torment. I longed for pets after that, but I feared to show favor to any creature, lest my uncle hurt the animal. I was verra careful when I fed Cloud apples. The guards who followed me knew, I’m sure, but one older guard in particular didn’t mind.” She turned to smile at the stallion tethered with the other horses. “I’m thankful you saved him too.”

His stomach soured at the insight into her life after her parents’ death, at how afraid, alone and sad she must have been. Yet she’d shown none of that to him or his men. And he knew she must have felt it—her heart was as big as the loch.

“I want you to have, Cloud,” he said suddenly. It was the least he could do.

Her eyes grew round. “Truly?”

“Aye. But wait to ride him until we return to the keep. I doona want him to spook and throw you out here. Let him get used to you in the stables first, aye?” Where he could have a healer on hand and spread out some hay to soften her fall.

With an excited holler, she threw her arms around his neck and almost knocked him backward. One arm settled around her waist, the other hovered just above her hair. The devil take him, he wanted to touch her, to hold her still for his kiss.

 

GIVEAWAY: 5 copies of Highland Promise

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THE DUKE OF DANGER by Darcy Burke (The Untouchables #6)

 

 

About the Book: 

After killing his opponent in a duel, Lionel Maitland, Marquess of Axbridge, is known as the Duke of Danger. Tortured by guilt, he shields himself with a devil-may-care attitude. However, when he kills another man in another duel, he’s beyond redemption, even though it wasn’t his fault. He refuses to smear a dead man’s name, especially when he’s left behind a blameless widow who doesn’t deserve an even bigger scandal.
Widowed and destitute, Lady Emmaline Townsend must marry the man of her parents’ choosing or beg unsympathetic relatives for support. The only way out is to ask for help from the one man she’s sworn to hate, the man who owes her anything she asks, the man who killed her husband. They strike a devil’s bargain in which passion simmers just beneath the surface. But her dead husband’s transgressions come back to haunt them and threaten their chance at love.
 
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Excerpt:

“Good afternoon, Lady Townsend. May I offer my deepest condolences?”

She turned on the chair, barely curious as to who might be visiting and eager to send him on his way. But as soon as she pivoted, it was as if a dam inside her split in two and a cascade of emotion tumbled forth.

Bolting from the chair, she took two long steps toward him. “You.”

“Yes, me.” The Marquess of Axbridge didn’t flinch. Indeed, he stared into her, his blue eyes clear and piercing.

“You’ve a singular audacity to come here.”

The marquess bowed deeply. “I beg your pardon.” He looked at her once more. “And your forgiveness.”

Rage spiraled through her, and it was glorious to feel. “You’ll never have either.”

“That is completely understandable.” His tone was tight, measured. His cool reserve antagonized her.

She narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m so glad I have your approval.”

“I wouldn’t ever ask for, nor expect that.”

“And yet you ask for my forgiveness. It hardly seems to matter—I’ll give you nothing save my undying hatred.”

“Which I deserve. Nevertheless, I would apologize for what happened.”

“Apologize? You didn’t step on my foot during a dance. Nor did you spill a glass of ratafia on my gown. You killed my husband.”

Now he flinched. His eye twitched, and his lips pressed together so hard, they turned white. And yet he was still incredibly handsome. That hardly seemed fair.

He took a step toward her. She didn’t retreat, but her body tensed. She clenched her hands into tight fists. Her spine was so straight and stiff that she could have flown a flag from her shoulder.

“I didn’t come to make excuses, but please know I had good reason to demand satisfaction. I’d hoped he would settle the matter before moving to weapons, but he refused.”

She gaped at him. “Are you somehow trying to blame my husband for your actions?”

His jaw tightened, and he blew out a breath. “No. I came to offer my condolences, beg your forgiveness, apologize, and offer any assistance you may need—ever.”

He wanted to help her? She stared at him, the anger inside her curdling. “I would never want anything from you, nor would I ask.”

“I certainly understand you not wanting anything from me; however, if a need should ever arise, I would very much like to help you.”

“I think you’ve done quite enough.” Fury churned through every part of her, and she wanted to lash out. Needed to. “Actually, I can think of one thing I would like from you.” She took a step toward him, her lip curling. “I should appreciate it if you would be miserable for the rest of your life. I would take great joy in knowing that you will wallow in guilt and anguish for all your days.” She glared at him, long and hard.

“I can do that,” he said softly, without a shred of irony. “You may be pleased to know that I am already well on my way. And I shan’t trouble you with my presence. I’m leaving England today.”

“Good.”

“My offer will always stand, whether you choose to take advantage of it or not. Should you require anything at all, please contact my man of affairs.” He held out a card.

She didn’t want to take anything from him. “Choke on it,” she spat.

He withdrew his hand to his side. “Again, my deepest apologies, Lady Townsend.” He turned and strode from the room, his broad shoulders straight, his gait sure.

Damn him.

Damn him.

Review:

I feel like I say this after finishing every book in this series, but this book’s couple is my absolute favorite of all of them. Somehow it’s true every time, and even more so with Emmaline and Lionel. They start as enemies–at least Emmaline believes Lionel is her enemy, and she gets through months of her life by plotting how she’ll get even with him–but end up as the best of friends and lovers, as the family that both of them have longed for for so long. How Ms. Burke gets us (and them, of course!) from enemies to lovers makes for an absolutely delicious story that I didn’t want to put down for even a second.

I was so afraid that this would be the last book in the series–silly, I know, since she has other books, many of which I’ve read (and the remainder are waiting in my TBR) but they’re not this series. Because, this series…. No worries, though, because her note at the end tells us that The Duke of Ice is coming next, though not when

Patience, I know. But it’s hard. Did I mention how much I love this series?

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Check out the other books in  The Untouchables series:
 

 

Meet the Author:

Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, and three Bengal cats. Visit Darcy online at www.darcyburke.com and sign up for her newsletter, follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/darcyburke, or like her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DarcyBurkeFans.
Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Giveaway:

  • Kindle Fire HD8 with a $25 Amazon Gift Card – US shipping ONLY
 

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New Release Review! HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS by Sorcha Mowbray (Lustful Lords #1)

Synopsis:

His brother’s untimely death leaves him with an Earldom and a fiancée. Too bad he wants neither of them…

Theodora Lawton has no need of a husband. As an independent woman, she wants to own property, make investments and be the master of her destiny. Unfortunately, her father signed her life away in a marriage contract to the future Earl of Stonemere. But then the cad upped and died, leaving her fate in the hands of his brother, one of the renowned Lustful Lords.

Achilles Denton, the Earl of Stonemere, is far more prepared to be a soldier than a peer. Deeply scarred by his last tour of duty, he knows he will never be a proper, upstanding pillar of the empire. Balanced on the edge of madness, he finds respite by keeping a tight rein on his life, both in and out of the bedroom. His brother’s death has left him with responsibilities he never wanted and isn’t prepared to handle in the respectable manner expected of a peer.

Further complicating his new life is an unwanted fiancée who comes with his equally unwanted title. Saddled with a hand-me-down countess, he soon discovers the woman is a force unto herself. As he grapples with the burden of his new responsibilities, he discovers someone wants him dead. The question is, can he stay alive long enough to figure out who’s trying to kill him while he tries to tame his headstrong wife? 

Excerpt:

London, May 1860

Stone heard the butler intone his name and title loudly enough for all of London to hear, let alone the population of the Devonses’ ballroom. Had anyone suggested three years ago he would bear the family title, Earl of Stonemere, never mind be contemplating his future nuptials, he would certainly have laughed. True, he never actually laughed anymore, but he certainly would have found such a claim incredulous.

It was no longer an amusing matter.

Having survived the receiving line, he eased through the crowded ballroom. Every few feet, he stopped to speak with one acquaintance or another. Not so long ago, these same people would have been running for the hills and hiding their daughters. But fate, a fickle mistress to say the least, had other plans.

Moving with a quickness born of desperation, he barely acknowledged the next three men as the heat from the crowd paired with the stench of perfumes and body odor to choke him. After his service in India, crowded entertainments such as a ball had grown difficult to endure. The press of bodies and the loud murmur of conversation punctuated by the occasional shrill laugh smothered him, too similar to the roar of battle and the cries of the dying.

Moving past a swarm of silk skirts, he spotted a dark, hidden alcove, an oasis from the overwhelming onslaught, both real and imagined. If he could shut it down quickly enough, he wouldn’t embarrass himself. If he failed, all of London would learn just how broken he was.

He was an earl. Not a soldier. Never again a soldier.

Once the cool darkness enveloped him, he opened his mouth and drew a breath. His pounding pulse eased as the vise around his chest released and his damp skin dried. After another quarter hour spent tucked away, he believed he could manage the crowd long enough to find his betrothed.

As any good officer would, he had a strategy. Find her, claim his dances, and then await each one either on the balcony or on the dance floor, if required. Even the cardrooms at these soirees bordered on disabling.

He reached for the drapes to his hideaway, but hesitated as two women tittered in the immediate vicinity.

“Why, Gladys, I heard his name announced earlier. I’m certain Matilda invited Stonemere despite all the gossip.”

“I simply cannot imagine what she was thinking,” the one called Gladys said.

“Can’t you? Having one of the Lustful Lords in attendance at your ball? I daresay everyone who is anyone will wish to be able to say they were here. It’s all so deliciously scandalous and yet possible now the unmitigated rake is off the market.” Gladys’s friend sighed with a bit more drama than anyone in their right mind or otherwise would deem necessary.

“Well, one should hope that man can contain himself what with all these poor young virgins parading around. It would serve Matilda right if he debauched each and every one of them while here under her auspices.”

“Oh, do be sensible, Gladys. He could perhaps ruin four or five in one night, but all of them?”

Past ready to find his fiancée and escape his hidey-hole, he stepped out next to the ladies in question, turned to them, and bowed over each of their hands. The shock on their faces far outweighed any notion of good manners on his part. “Why, ladies, you both give me far more credit than I deserve. Even in my heyday of debauchery, I could only service three ladies in a single evening.”

As the two ladies sputtered, he departed their corner. The temptation to turn and wink at the gossipers won out, which caused another round of tittering and sputtering from behind him. Of course, he was well aware of what proper Society called himself and his friends. But the Marquess of Flintshire, Earl of Brougham, Baron Lincolnshire, and Viscount Wolfington—as well as himself—held little regard for polite society. Each of them had learned the hard way that they had no place amongst their peers.

 

Review:
His Hand-Me-Down Countess took me by surprise. I read the blurb–I’m pretty sure–but not all that closely, apparently. (You’d think the series title–Lustful Lords would have clued me in, but still…) So…there was a little bit of taken abacked-ness on my part when the book began with–well, a bang (it is definitely not SFW) and reading it did require a bit of an adjustment.

Once I was thoroughly engrossed in the story, though? Whoa. I loved Theo and Stone (sorry, though, I just can’t use his actual first name or its shortened version, I’ll go with her nickname for him instead) and their scenes together are off-the-charts HOT. I really wanted them to get to their HEA, and almost didn’t notice when they did so without resolving Theo’s latest problem with his high handedness (the land? her man of business? or did I just miss that part in my hurry to see them happy together at last? It’s not totally outside the realm of possibility, but I don’t think I did…)

Ultimately I ended up really enjoying this story and absolutely cannot wait to read book two, Connor’s story. You just know that anyone who’s been so adamant about how love is not for them is going to have one heck of a comeuppance coming 😉

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

About the author:

Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.

She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!

For more information about Sorcha, please visit her website, “Like” Sorcha on Facebook and follow her on TwitterInstagram and Goodreads. Join Sorcha’s newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming releases. She’s loves hearing from her readers. Email her directly at sorcha@sorchamowbray.com

AUTHOR LINKS:
Website: http://sorchamowbray.com
Facebook: https://Facebook.com/sorchamowbray
Twitter: https://Twitter.com/sorchamowbray
Instagram: https://instagram.com/sorchamowbray
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5151174.Sorcha_Mowbray
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ytV65

Release Day! HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS by Sorcha Mowbray (Lustful Lords #1)

Today we are celebrating the release of HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS, the first book in the Lustful Lords series by Sorcha Mowbray. This book is a historical romance title from Jack’s House Publishing. Check out the links for the book below.

His Hand-Me-Down Countess (Lustful Lords, #1)
by Sorcha Mowbray


Book Blurb:

His brother’s untimely death leaves him with an Earldom and a fiancée. Too bad he wants neither of them…

Theodora Lawton has no need of a husband. As an independent woman, she wants to own property, make investments and be the master of her destiny. Unfortunately, her father signed her life away in a marriage contract to the future Earl of Stonemere. But then the cad upped and died, leaving her fate in the hands of his brother, one of the renowned Lustful Lords.

Achilles Denton, the Earl of Stonemere, is far more prepared to be a soldier than a peer. Deeply scarred by his last tour of duty, he knows he will never be a proper, upstanding pillar of the empire. Balanced on the edge of madness, he finds respite by keeping a tight rein on his life, both in and out of the bedroom. His brother’s death has left him with responsibilities he never wanted and isn’t prepared to handle in the respectable manner expected of a peer.

Further complicating his new life is an unwanted fiancée who comes with his equally unwanted title. Saddled with a hand-me-down countess, he soon discovers the woman is a force unto herself. As he grapples with the burden of his new responsibilities, he discovers someone wants him dead. The question is, can he stay alive long enough to figure out who’s trying to kill him while he tries to tame his headstrong wife?

 

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EXCERPT:

London, May 1860

Stone heard the butler intone his name and title loudly enough for all of London to hear, let alone the population of the Devonses’ ballroom. Had anyone suggested three years ago he would bear the family title, Earl of Stonemere, never mind be contemplating his future nuptials, he would certainly have laughed. True, he never actually laughed anymore, but he certainly would have found such a claim incredulous.

It was no longer an amusing matter.

Having survived the receiving line, he eased through the crowded ballroom. Every few feet, he stopped to speak with one acquaintance or another. Not so long ago, these same people would have been running for the hills and hiding their daughters. But fate, a fickle mistress to say the least, had other plans.

Moving with a quickness born of desperation, he barely acknowledged the next three men as the heat from the crowd paired with the stench of perfumes and body odor to choke him. After his service in India, crowded entertainments such as a ball had grown difficult to endure. The press of bodies and the loud murmur of conversation punctuated by the occasional shrill laugh smothered him, too similar to the roar of battle and the cries of the dying.

Moving past a swarm of silk skirts, he spotted a dark, hidden alcove, an oasis from the overwhelming onslaught, both real and imagined. If he could shut it down quickly enough, he wouldn’t embarrass himself. If he failed, all of London would learn just how broken he was.

He was an earl. Not a soldier. Never again a soldier.

Once the cool darkness enveloped him, he opened his mouth and drew a breath. His pounding pulse eased as the vise around his chest released and his damp skin dried. After another quarter hour spent tucked away, he believed he could manage the crowd long enough to find his betrothed.

As any good officer would, he had a strategy. Find her, claim his dances, and then await each one either on the balcony or on the dance floor, if required. Even the cardrooms at these soirees bordered on disabling.

He reached for the drapes to his hideaway, but hesitated as two women tittered in the immediate vicinity.

“Why, Gladys, I heard his name announced earlier. I’m certain Matilda invited Stonemere despite all the gossip.”

“I simply cannot imagine what she was thinking,” the one called Gladys said.

“Can’t you? Having one of the Lustful Lords in attendance at your ball? I daresay everyone who is anyone will wish to be able to say they were here. It’s all so deliciously scandalous and yet possible now the unmitigated rake is off the market.” Gladys’s friend sighed with a bit more drama than anyone in their right mind or otherwise would deem necessary.

“Well, one should hope that man can contain himself what with all these poor young virgins parading around. It would serve Matilda right if he debauched each and every one of them while here under her auspices.”

“Oh, do be sensible, Gladys. He could perhaps ruin four or five in one night, but all of them?”

Past ready to find his fiancée and escape his hidey-hole, he stepped out next to the ladies in question, turned to them, and bowed over each of their hands. The shock on their faces far outweighed any notion of good manners on his part. “Why, ladies, you both give me far more credit than I deserve. Even in my heyday of debauchery, I could only service three ladies in a single evening.”

As the two ladies sputtered, he departed their corner. The temptation to turn and wink at the gossipers won out, which caused another round of tittering and sputtering from behind him. Of course, he was well aware of what proper Society called himself and his friends. But the Marquess of Flintshire, Earl of Brougham, Baron Lincolnshire, and Viscount Wolfington—as well as himself—held little regard for polite society. Each of them had learned the hard way that they had no place amongst their peers.

——————————
AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.

She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!

For more information about Sorcha, please visit her website, “Like” Sorcha on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. Join Sorcha’s newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming releases. She loves hearing from her readers. Email her directly at sorcha@sorchamowbray.com.

AUTHOR LINKS:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads

InkSlinger Blogger Final

Mary Wine, Author of HIGLAND FLAME, Share 3 Historical Facts You Need to Know (plus a giveaway!)

Historical facts you should know when reading Highland Flame:

  1. A reverence was the proper greeting for this era, sometimes called courtesy. You stepped back with one foot, bent at the knee, keeping your back straight and ‘lowered’. If you were the higher ranking person, you would do the same and it was called ‘offering courtesy’, meaning it was a polite way of greeting one another. Even Queen Elizabeth Tudor lowered herself before the archbishop of Canterbury.
  2. Every house had a buttery….it was where the butts of ale were stored.
  3. A butler was the man who kept the keys to the buttery. In this period, he was huge and someone who could defend those keys with his brawn because ale was essential to survival in winter.

 

About the author:

Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of Scottish Highland romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives in Yorba Linda, California with her husband and two sons.

 

Title: Highland Flame
Author: Mary Wine
Pub Date: September 5, 2017
ISBN: 9781492602538

 

NEWLY MINTED LAIRD SEEKS WIFE, PREFERABLY RICH

Laird Diocail Gordon has just inherited his uncle’s run down castle and rag-tag clan. He knows the sorry sight of the castle would send any woman running, but is determined to find a wife to help return his home to its former glory.

Widowed lady Jane Stanley is determined to return to England, even if she has to tromp through the Scottish Highlands on foot to get there. Her travels lead her straight into the midst of a troop of dangerous Highland warriors. The mysterious, brawny laird forbids his men to harm her, and the spark between them is immediate. The only way Diocail can keep her safe is to take her home with him, but will the miserable state of his clan douse her newly ignited Highland flame?

Buy Links:

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters | iBooks | Indiebound

 

EXCERPT:

They both fell silent again as they consumed more of the food and faced a topic neither of them had any experience with. Not many a man did. It was why men wed, and women too, because together a man and woman might combine their knowledge to make a successful home. He’d been taught the logistics of defense and negotiation needed to foster relationships with other lairds.

But how much fare to put on the tables?

He had no idea or even how to go about making sure there were ample hands to prepare the food. Diocail felt his brain throbbing as he contemplated all the things needed to run a kitchen, and those were only what he knew about. What truly nauseated him was that he knew damned well how lacking his knowledge was. He knew how many men to ride out with, how many horses, and his education continued on to include how many blacksmiths it took to make sure those horses were shoed, how many stable lads it took to make certain those animals were fit to ride, how much feed and what sort was needed to maintain a horse’s strength.

A hundred details, and a kitchen was no different. No wise man made the mistake of thinking it an easy thing to keep running smoothly. Their current circumstances were proof of that surely enough.

“Ye need a wife, one raised with the education to see this place set right. No’ that any decent girl would have this house as it is,” Muir added. “Try to contract one, and she’ll run home to her father the moment she sees the condition this castle is in. But ye need one. A wife, that is.”

“I hoped to have a bit of time before getting down to that part of being laird,” Diocail groused.

“Best set yer secretary to sorting through the offers in Colum’s study.” Muir didn’t offer him any respite.

“Do nae hold out any hope,” Diocail replied. “There is a decade of letters sitting there. Any offers are long past their time of opportunity.”

His new lairdship was proving to be far more challenging than he’d ever thought it might be. Somehow, in all the times his mother had spoken to him of the day he’d take over the Gordon clan as laird, she had never mentioned just how complicated the duty was. There was building to consider, horses, men, training—and the list went on. All things he’d been taught as a man.

Now there was the kitchen, and God only knew what else went along with running one

smoothly.

Well, not God.

He let out a grunt. Here was something he knew less about than the Lord above.

Women.

And, more precisely, a lady and the duties she would have been trained to do.

There were reasons a laird wed a woman from a highborn family, and one was that she would come with an education as diverse as any given to a laird’s son. Running a kitchen was more than turning bread; it was knowing how much bread to set out to rise in the morning so that the supper table was full and how much grain was needed to make it through the winter and how many hands were needed to produce it all. His head began to ache. He didn’t know what went into bread, much less how much was needed to see an entire castle through a day, but as laird, his duty was to make certain the tables were laid with fare.

Nor did he know anything at all about helping a lady settle into the place he hoped she’d make into a home.

Muir was correct; she would run back to her father before sunup.

Diocail took another swig of the whisky, wishing it would dull his senses.

But all it did was warm him enough to make him conscious of the draft coming through the holes in the roof. He tipped his head back and discovered stars peeking at him where tiles were missing, likely from the winter storms. Colum was a bastard for leaving his people to such circumstances.

Laird of the Gordons. Diocail’s mother’s dream.

And his nightmare, it would seem.

 

GIVEAWAY!

Two bundles of Mary Wine’s Highland Weddings series

 

 

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Romance Awareness Month, Week 3 Book on Sale: THE BEAST OF AROS CASTLE by Heather McCollum

August is Romance Awareness Month and what better way to celebrate than to put some of our favorite romances from different genres on sale! Whether you are already a romance lover or new to romance reading you are sure to find something to fall in love with.

If you haven’t fallen for a Highlander yet, you don’t wan to miss this steal! The Beast of Aros Castle by Heather McCollum is on sale for just 99¢.  PLUS, as an added bonus you can also pick up the latest book in the series, The Wolf of Kismul Castle is also on sale for 99.

Readers are raving about The Beast of Aros Castle…

“There is SO much to love about this book!… It’s passionate and steamy and I loved every passage and word. Tor is a magnificent lover and with Ava, they literally set the pages on fire.” – Kilts and Swords

 

“I was glued to the pages of this fascinating dramatic romance. Ms. McCollum did not disappoint me with her vivid descriptions, her captivating characters and the storyline was intriguing and masterfully written.” – April, My Book Addiction and More

 

“One of those books that keep me reading till all hours of the night (morning!) because I couldn’t put it down… Tor and Ava’s romance is so beautifully written.” – Linda, Goodreads.com review

 

Synopsis:

Ava Sutton is on the run from a dangerous man and makes her way safely to Scotland. Masquerading as a titled, English lady, she must convince the darkly handsome chief of the Macleans of Aros to wed her before she is tracked down.

Tor Maclean, the new chief of Aros Castle, has sworn off marriage. Despite his efforts to scare away the Englishwoman his father arranged for him to wed, Tor is nonetheless drawn to her passion and beauty. But he doesn’t know if he can forgive the untruths that have come to light for a chance at a once in a lifetime love…

 

Buy it for just 99¢!

Find it online:

 

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Goodreads

 

Other books in the series:

The Rogue of IslayIsle, Book 2

The Wolf of KismulCastle, Book 3

 

About the author:

Heather McCollum is an award winning, historical paranormal and YA romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology, much to her English professor’s dismay. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart finalists. The ancient magic and lush beauty of Great Britain entrances Ms. McCollum’s heart and imagination every time she visits. The country’s history and landscape have been a backdrop for her writing ever since her first journey across the pond. When she is not creating vibrant characters & magical adventures on the page, she is roaring her own battle cry in the war against ovarian cancer. Ms. McCollum recently slayed the cancer beast and resides with her very own Highland hero, rescued golden retriever & 3 kids in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

New Release Review and Giveaway! DISCIPLINED BY THE DUKE by Alyson Chase (Lords of Discipline #1)

Can she succumb to the hot sting of his hand and the gentleness of his kisses without revealing her true identity and darkest secrets? 
 
DISCIPLINED BY THE DUKE
Lords of Discipline #1
Alyson Chase
Releasing Aug 15, 2017
Swerve
The day her sister murdered their abusive father, Elizabeth Wilcox stopped being a gentleman’s daughter. Willing to do anything to save her sister from the hangman’s noose, now she is a spy… A servant. A liar. A thief. A submissive.
Masquerading as a parlor maid and entrenched in the Duke of Montague’s estate, Liz is willing to risk all to uncover the secrets that would save her sister. But submitting to the duke’s peculiar brand of discipline surprises her with a heady mixture of pleasure and pain. Eager to relinquish control of her messy life, Liz soon craves the rough hands of Montague and his powerful, passionate attentions. Can she succumb to the hot sting of his hand and the gentleness of his kisses without revealing her true identity and darkest secrets? And what punishment will she face when he realizes her betrayal?

“Look at me.” His voice was quiet. Kind. But no less commanding than when he gave orders to his steward. Or his dogs.

Her gaze rose over hard thighs, the fall of his trousers, the flat expanse of his stomach, and the wider expanse of his chest. She looked up until his eyes captured hers and held on. Her breath caught in her throat. His eyes weren’t the gray of unyielding stone anymore, but rather the shifting silvers and subdued greens of an ocean tossing in a storm.

“I don’t make a habit out of breaking anyone’s, anything’s, spirit.” Dropping to a squat, Montague ran his fingers under Reggie’s jaw.

The heat from his body, his sudden nearness, curled around Liz. She took a deep breath to calm her racing heart. But she was swamped with his scent, and her pulse ratcheted up even higher.

“Sometimes animals need to be molded so they can become their best selves. Guidance, a firm hand, training.” His breath bloomed across her cheek with every word. “My horse, Darkwing, has as much spirit as he did as a foal. I merely redirected it to productive channels. Now, he and I have a partnership. We each trust the other.” His lips quirked. “More so than I do most men.”

Digging his fingers into the soft fur at the back of Reggie’s neck, Montague gently lifted the pup. “Now if this fellow doesn’t wish to be molded that is his prerogative. He might not make the grade for a work dog at my estate, but he will make someone a lovely pet.”

Reggie yipped, and the duke lowered him to the ground. The puppy coiled around himself like a snake, obviously exhausted from his day. Montague kept his hand on the dog, his palm almost large enough to span Reggie’s entire back. He ran his long, tapered fingers slowly through the puppy’s coat, and Reggie gave one more sleepy yip before tucking his nose under his tail.

“You seem to have an affinity for the scamp.” Montague gently rubbed the tip of Reggie’s ear between his thumb and forefinger. Liz’s own earlobe tingled. “Perhaps you’d want him as a pet.”

Her heart twisted. She’d love to spoil a dog. But it wasn’t to be. And the duke should have known that.

“Where would I keep him?” She hated to do it. It would ruin the moment, these amazing few minutes when the duke spoke to her like she was a real person, an equal, not the hired help. She’d forgotten what it felt like to be able to sit without fear of violence or discovery. To not have every moment revolve around a job for Westmore, scraping together enough money for food for her and Amanda, finding enough coal to keep her warm at night.

This was like an afternoon of days past, when gentlemen treated her with respect and she wanted for nothing. She felt like her old self, if only for a moment. The decadence of it almost made her dizzy.

But being the old Miss Elizabeth Wilcox was a luxury she could no longer afford.

So she twisted the blade, just a little. Just enough to sting. “Mr. Todd doesn’t allow servants to have pets. And if Reggie followed me around on my duties I think he’d probably make more of a jumble than I could clean in a day.” Taking a deep breath, she clenched her stomach. “It doesn’t make sense for a chambermaid to have a puppy.”

And there it was. That small flicker. The stormy sea hardening back into granite. Montague had forgotten himself. Or, more accurately, forgotten her. Forgotten how low she was in relation to him.

Her lungs burned with the effort to keep her breathing steady. The reminder stung more than she’d expected. The duke would probably forget his momentary lapse in the time it took him to return to his house.

It would take her longer.

And she couldn’t keep forgetting who she was, why she was here. It hurt too much when reality crashed back in. So she dug the knife a little deeper into her side.

Picking up the sleeping puppy from her lap, she laid him next to Reggie. Standing, she brushed at her skirts, plucking an errant strand of fur from her apron. “Now if you will excuse me, Your Grace, I have some chamber pots I need to empty.”

Without looking to see whether she had shocked him, Liz turned on her heel and made her way back to the side door of Hartsworth. The servants’ entrance.

It wasn’t until she’d refilled Molly’s bucket and lugged it halfway up the stairs that she realized she’d forgotten to curtsy before leaving the duke. She could only hope her disgraceful chamber pot reference had distracted the man too much for him to notice.

Confession time–I didn’t examine the blurb for this one all too well before signing up to read it (the title and series name got me, I admit it), so the part of the plot that dealt with Liz determined to do pretty much anything to save her sister from prison and Marcus’s side business of espionage came as a bit of a surprise. A pleasant surprise, though, because let’s face it, when you’re reading BDSM with your teenage kids just feet away from you, it sometimes feels a bit awkward. The other plot elements, therefore, were a nice distraction, and made both Liz and Marcus more sympathetic and relatable than they might have seemed otherwise.

Disciplined by the Duke is a decent debut that combines historical romance, intrigue (spies have been my weakness since pretty much forever…), and light BDSM–though there were a few things here that gave me pause, Ms. Chase definitely has my attention for the next book in the series, which will feature Liz’s sister and another of Marcus’s friends and fellow spies.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / B

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


Alyson 
Chase writes historical romances that are just a bit…naughty. She is a former attorney, and thought that her flair for dramatic and sexy writing was seriously undervalued in her legal career. She also writes under the name Allyson Charles. 
 
She lives in Northern California where the incredible weather and natural beauty so far outweigh the overcrowding and congested freeways. Also, the food in the Bay Area rocks. 
If you want to know when the next book is coming out, visit her at website and sign up for her newsletter.

 

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A Conversation with Kimberly Bell, Author of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SCANDALOUS (A Tale of Two Sisters #1) with a New Release Review and Giveaway!

He’ll go along with her scheme, even if it means ruining them both.

Welcome, Kimberly! What 5 things should readers know about you?

  1. Hearing what readers think about my books, even the criticisms, is the coolest thing in the world.
  2. If you tweet at me, I will absolutely tweet you back.
  3. I think romance is found in the little ways another person shows they pay attention.
  4. If I ever meet the Jamie to my Claire, I’m going through the stones and not coming back. Sorry if I’m in the middle of writing a series when that happens.
  5. I was a romance reader long before I was a romance writer and I try to remember that with everything I write.

LOL—I sincerely hope that if #4 does happen, you’ve at least just turned in the final copy on your latest book 😉

 

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

Amelia and Julia were already in my head, but it wasn’t a book until the idea of a hero that really had nothing much to offer except himself kept coming back up. Nicholas doesn’t have a title or a fortune, but what he does have is a lifetime of loving Amelia for who she is.

Sigh…and that makes him AWESOME.

 

How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I started writing about three years ago. I’ve always loved historical romance, and if I can write a book that makes someone feel the way the Amanda Quick historicals made me feel when I read them, I’ll consider myself a success.

Excellent motivation 🙂

 

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year? 

I just finished the first five books I contracted two years ago, so this year is about taking a short breather and then starting the next three-book series I’ve got in mind. (Hint: The first one features Jasper’s twin-sister Ruby).

Wow! After five books, I guess you deserve a breather 😉 (And—yay, Ruby!)

 

What are you currently reading, and what are your thoughts about it so far? 

I have a very neglected TBR pile, so I just now got around to reading Jo Beverly’s Too Dangerous For A Lady. I love the spillover of the effects of the French Revolution on English society, and the nonchalant confidence of her hero and his friends.

Oooh, that does sound good! (Adds to TBR pile…)

 

If you had to “sell” your book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

I’d probably cheat and steal someone else’s words–in this case a Goodreads review by a woman named Amy: “Kimberly Bell’s start to her Tale of Two Sisters series is everything I could want in a romance novel. Romance, adventure, and shenanigans abound.”

LOL—works for me! Thanks, Kimberly!

 

Kimberly Bell writes historical romance from her cabin in South Lake Tahoe or the beaches of Southern California (it’s a super tough life).
She’s a pretty hardcore introvert that loves dogs, cheeseburgers, and occasional day drinking. She also spends way too much time on twitter because she thinks she’s super hilarious and she’s trying to get that rumor to catch on.
 
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING SCANDALOUS
Tale of Two Sisters #1
Kimberly Bell
Releasing July 25, 2017
Entangled Select
 
A horse race in trousers on Rotten Row. Visiting a gaming hall in a dress that would make her mother faint. Sneaking an invitation to a masquerade ball attended by only the wickedest, most debauched members of society…

None of these things are scaring off bookish but strong-willed Amelia Bishop’s stuffy, egotistical fiancé.
The only thing left is to entice childhood friend Nicholas Wakefield into a truly engagement-ending scandal. The Wakefields are the height of propriety, and Nicholas’s parents have made it clear a wife from the neighboring Bishop family would be unacceptable…But Nicholas would give up his family and his fortune if Amelia would ever see him as more than just a childhood friend. He’ll go along with her scheme, even if it means ruining them both, because he’s got a plan that will change her mind about him being merely the boy next
door.


Such a fun read!

The characters in this new series (Tale of Two Sisters) are a whole lot of fun. Of course I loved Nick and Mia–yeah, a conversation could have resolved much of their problems, but somehow Ms. Bell made it seem believable that they took so long to figure that out–but their supporting characters were just as much fun. Given the series name, you know that Mia’s sister Julia has to get her own story (next? Please next?) but I’ve also got high hopes for Nick’s BFF Jasper (*cough* Julia’s story *cough*) and Jasper’s twin sister Ruby…so much to look forward to!

This was my first book from this author, but definitely not my last. I really enjoyed Ms. Bell’s sense of humor and her unique take on family life and friendship in Victorian England (I agree, it is such a shame that Prince Albert met Victoria before Julia. Though I know Ms. Bell will more than make it up to her in her own book. Did I already suggest Jasper as the one to help her get over the loss? Yes?) and cannot wait to see what the rest of this series brings!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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New Release Review! SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER by Theresa Romain (Romance of the Turf #2)

Did you see my guest post from Theresa Romain here? She talks about her favorite summer activities–and Scandalous Ever After!

Scandalous Ever After
by Theresa Romain

Does love really heal all wounds?

After being widowed by a steeplechase accident in Ireland, Lady Kate Whelan abandons the turf. But once her mourning is complete, her late husband’s debts drive her to seek help in Newmarket amidst the whirl of a race meet. There she encounters antiquities expert Evan Rhys, her late husband’s roguish friend―whom she hasn’t seen since the day of his lordship’s mysterious death.

Now that fate has reunited them, Evan seizes the chance to win over the woman he’s always loved. But once back within the old stone walls of Whelan House, long-held secrets come to light that shake up everything Kate thought she knew about her marriage. Now she wonders who she can trust with her heart―and Evan must decide between love and a truth that will separate him from all his heart desires.

 

Romance of the Turf Series:
The Sport of Baronets (Book .5)
A Gentleman’s Game (Book 1)
Scandalous Ever After (Book 2)

 

Review:

This one took a while to get into–I couldn’t quite grasp what was up with Kate’s ‘tude, and since I was a member of Team Evan pretty much since page 1, her back-and-forth where he was considered was aggravating. I kept shaking my head–what was her deal? The story gradually drew me in, though, and somewhere around the 50% mark I found myself pretty much unable to put the book down until I got to the end. And Kate? Totally redeemed herself in the end 🙂

I really need to read more of Ms. Romain’s books, because each time I do they’re rife with highlighted bits by the time I’m done–romantic bits, funny bits, ways with words that I wish I had–so many highlights. This time they’re almost all Evan’s, and they run the gamut from LOL:

For God’s sake. Sometimes a man just wanted to dig up an ancient cock sculpture and show it about. Was that too much to ask from life?

(For the record, no, I don’t think it is.)

to OMG, yes:

What was there to want in life for than someone who said I miss you when you’re across a room?

to HOW? HOW CAN SHE RESIST HIM?

“I want more than a half measure of you. And I deserve someone who wants more than a half measure of me.”

Sigh. Seriously, how???

Fortunately, she manages to see the light before the final pages. And the path they take to get there? Makes this book one heck of a read.

(Second in the Romance of the Turf series, but worked just fine as a standalone. Though you’d better believe book 1 and book .5 were on my TBR pile by the time I was about 51% of the way into this one.)

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

View all my reviews

 

New Release and Giveaway! LADY BE BAD by Megan Frampton

Lady Be Bad
by Meg Frampton
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Genres: Historical Romance

Once upon a time, a duke had five daughters who never made a stir. They practiced their French, their pianoforte, and their dancing…until one ran off with the dancing instructor, and the rest were left to face the scandal.

Lady Eleanor, the Duke of Marymount’s eldest daughter, knows the burden is hers: she must marry well to restore the family name. So a loveless match is made and her fate is set. But then Eleanor meets her intended’s rakish younger brother. With his tawny hair, green eyes, and scandalous behavior, Lord Alexander Raybourn makes her want to be very bad indeed.

With his very honorable sibling too busy saving the world to woo Eleanor, Alexander is tasked with finding out her likes and dislikes for his elder brother. But the more time he spends with the secretly naughty Eleanor, helping her tick off all the things on her good list for being bad, the more he knows what they want, and need, is each other.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

About the author:

Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction under the name Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son. You can visit her website at www.meganframpton.com. She tweets as @meganf and is at Facebook.com/meganframptonbooks.

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