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I Am Crispin

I am Crispin, Chastity Reynolds’ very large, very black cat and, in my humble opinion, central to her story, as you would expect. I am named after the patron saint of shoemakers, which makes sense when you consider my mistress designs ladies’ shoes. However, I have skills of my own. Only my mistress seems to acknowledge my ability to read her moods and identify those lesser creatures with whom she should not willingly associate. I stand guard as any noble cat would.

My life was greatly disrupted when Chastity hauled me off to Brighton to spend the summer with her great-aunt. (Don’t even ask me about the carriage ride from Northampton!) It was in Brighton where I first encountered The Rogue, as Chastity calls him. A man totally unworthy of her. I made clear my dislike for Sir Robert the first time I saw him, hissing and arching my back and placing myself between them, glaring at him with my golden eyes. (I can be quite fierce, you know).

But there came a day, even I had to give the man credit for recognizing my true value. It was the day a viscous dog attacked the fence and quite threw me off my game. I scrambled up a tree as any respectable cat concerned for his safety would. And I had no intention to come down. But my mistress was quite distressed and deigned to allow Sir Robert to assist. He got rid of the menace and carefully retrieved my person from the tree without ruffling my very lustrous fur. Well, after that, I had to give him his due, no matter my mistress called me “Traitor!” and continued to loath the man.

We cats perceive things other miss and I knew my mistress had a fondness for The Rogue. I became rather fond of Sir Robert myself and his very nice boots. I let him know of my new affection by graciously rubbing my body against his boots and meowing loudly. I am certain he was duly impressed as he should be. But still, I feared for the outcome. How could my mistress, a country lass, dubbed The Girl Who Needed Watching, ever hope to win the heart of The Rogue.

Even a spy needs a holiday…

Robert Powell’s work as a spy saves the Cabinet ministers from a gruesome death and wins him accolades from George IV. As a reward, the king grants him a baronetcy and a much-deserved holiday at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton where he thinks to indulge in brandy, cards, good horseflesh and women.

But when Muriel, Dowager Countess of Claremont, learns of Sir Robert’s intended destination, she begs a favor…to watch over an “errant child” who is the grandniece of her good friend living in the resort town. Little does Robbie know that Miss Chastity Reynolds is no child but a beautiful hellion who is seemingly immune to his charms.

Chastity lives in the shadow of her mother and sisters, dark-haired beauties men admire. Her first Season was a failure but, as she will soon come into a family legacy, she has no need to wed. When she first encounters Sir Robert, she dubs him The Rogue, certain he indulges in a profligate lifestyle she wants no part in.

In Brighton, Robbie discovers he is being followed and senses the conspirators who had planned to murder the Cabinet have discovered his identity. Worse, they know the location of Chastity’s residence.   

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Scandal in Garden: Bride Caught with Groom’s Brother

Last night, at a dinner party hosted by a prominent member of the ton, the lovely Lady N was caught in the garden in a passionate embrace with a certain captain, the son of the Earl of W. Reportedly, both the captain’s brother, Viscount S, and the lady’s illustrious father, the Duke of C, witnessed the shocking sight.

Even more disturbingly, an engagement announcement between Lady N and Viscount S had been widely anticipated. Although the captain has been decorated for his bravery, his actions last night were certainly far from heroic. Did the heiress’ rumored immense fortune cause the captain to steal his brother’s intended?

Although we here at the Teatime Tattler fully expect that the young man will do his duty by the young lady, we wonder how these two prestigious old families will ever recover from this scandal. Both the Duke of C and the Earl of W must be very ashamed by their children’s behavior. We certainly expected more from a lady and one of country’s most decorated heroes!

EXCERPT – GAMBLING ON THE DUKE’S DAUGHTER

“He’s a disgrace! Honestly, can you believe the nerve! Making a scene and ruining a perfectly lovely ball!” Lady Amelia Lansdowne fluttered her filigreed fan with unusual vigor, an unbecoming flush on her pale cheeks.

“I wouldn’t call this a scene, Amelia. He merely arrived a little late. I’m sure he had a good reason.” Lady Natalia Sinclair sighed with impatience over her companion’s melodrama, but her own fan fluttered a bit faster as she watched Captain Blake chat with Lord Basingstoke.

Captain Dylan Blake, recipient of the Victoria’s Cross.

Natalia knew all about him. She’d read dozens of newspaper articles touting his courage, but she’d never actually met him.

“He’s dreadfully good-looking,” she mused, as she cast a subtle glance in the captain’s direction.

In his scarlet dress uniform, with his confident military bearing and chest full of medals, he stood out in the crowd of somber, black-garbed lords. His thick black hair, caught at his nape with a piece of scarlet ribbon, contrasted sharply with his light blue eyes. His high, chiseled cheekbones, square jaw, and clear, sun-kissed skin stole her breath.

Amelia gave a delicate shudder. “How can you say such a thing? He hasn’t a title nor farthing to his name. He’s been in the military for years, serving with the very dregs of society, and probably doesn’t know the first thing about how to act around civilized people.”

“Surely, the fact that he fought to preserve our way of life gives him the right to a few eccentricities. He’s a hero, Amelia.” Natalia didn’t bother to point out that a man’s wealth had nothing to do with how attractive he was. It wouldn’t do any good. In Amelia’s eyes, money and power did determine a man’s worth.

Unfortunately, Natalia’s father shared Amelia’s opinions, and he would choose her future husband.

Amelia turned up her nose with a condescending sniff. “Well, hero or not, you wouldn’t catch me marrying such a man.”

“No.” Natalia fought to maintain a civil tone. “I don’t suppose so.” Not that a hero like Captain Blake would want to marry a little cat like you anyway.

To her relief, Amelia soon drifted away, obviously in search of someone more inclined to share her narrow-minded opinions. Natalia found herself alone for a few moments, free to daydream about Captain Blake.

She wanted to meet him, even though her father would never permit a man like Captain Blake to court her. It seemed so unfair. What good were wealth and a title, when so many of those who had them lacked even a hint of character?

Captain Blake had risked his life to save his men. He’d dashed back into the fray three times before he’d been wounded. The mere thought of his courageous actions sent a shiver down her spine.

Unfortunately, Captain Blake and Lord Basingstoke left the ballroom before she could work up the audacity to arrange an introduction. Disappointed, Natalia forced a smile as the next young man on her dance card claimed her for a mazurka.

Lord Roger Densby was the son of a duke. While undoubtedly her social equal, he was at least two stones overweight and stank of sweat and brandy.

He managed to step on her toes twice before he even got her out on the dance floor and didn’t have a heroic bone in his entire well-fed body.

Densby, or someone like him, was her fate. Still, her entire soul rebelled at the thought of spending her life with a man who wasn’t interested in anything but the next hunt or glittering party.

What she really wanted was someone like Captain Blake—a man with poetry in his face and courage in his heart.

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AUTHOR BIO

All my life, I’ve wanted to a writer. Even as a child, my sister claims all I ever did was sit in my closet and scribble in a notebook. Now, I concede the scribbling part, but not the closet part! Why would I need to sit in my closet when I had a perfectly good desk? In any event, I won my first writing contest when I was seven, and I was hooked!

I married young, and soon had three wonderful little boys running around the house, so writing took a backseat for several years as I worked a variety of jobs that I hated. Once I started seriously pursuing a writing career, I found it was not as easy as I had expected, and I was not the prodigy I had imagined. But I joined a writer’s group and made a ton of writing friends along the way who showed me the error of my ways and unselfishly helped me to get a little better. By the time I sold my first book in 2006, I’d already been at this for over ten years and was about ready to give up. Rejection is hard!!! But holding that first book in my hands made it all worth it!

Now my sons are all grown up, and two of them have babies of their own, and being a grandma rocks! I now have all the time in the world to devote to telling the stories that just won’t let me sleep. I hope you enjoy them!

Website – www.dianabold.com

Reader Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/dianasboldbeauties/ Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/diana-bold

Innocent Lady Shocks Ton with a Scandalous Affair Involving a Duke

Dear Lovely Readers:

A shocking page of the infamous Madame Bellerose’s journal has crossed our desk. We felt it pertinent to bring this to your attention. It appears an innocent miss of the ton frequents Belle’s daily while her parents are in the country. However, the lady does not spend her time alone. From Madame Belle’s journal, a certain duke has made her his mistress. While the journal entry refers to the lady as ‘Violet’, that is not her true name. Who is this lady and her duke? Which members of the ton have been missing from society? See if you can decipher who our mystery couple may be:

May 1820

I am troubled by what I have done. With my encouragement I have persuaded ‘Violet’ to enter into a relationship of the passionate nature with S. While S has always been a close friend of mine, I worry on how he could destroy her heart. I see the connection between the two and know that this lady as innocent as she may be, is the one to bring him to his knees. The awful row I overheard this morning between them, has brought doubts to the forefront of my mind. However, when I witnessed S leave ‘Violet’s’ room, I saw how she affected him. But I also notice the sadness in Lady S’s ‘Violet’s’ eyes when she hears of S’s search for a bride. I wish she could remove the mask she wears to hide her identity and he could see the beauty that is meant for him. If they cannot share their secrets, then I fear they are doomed. Then it shall be my fault that a powerful duke ruined an innocent lady. Friend or not, we will all be ruined. I will write to Lady W to ask if she can assist me in turning this scandalous rendezvous into a courtship meant for a lady. All I ever wanted was for them to find love, not heartache.

Well readers, can you help me with whom the players in this journal entry may be? Be on the lookout for a missing duke and a lady whose parents are away in the country. From what I can tell, the duke does not know who his mystery lady is.

Whom Shall I Marry… An Earl or A Duke? (Tricking the Scoundrels #2)

An afternoon spent in disguise leads to a passion that …

She wanted to explore the promise of his kiss. He wanted to persuade her to become his mistress. Will a case of mistaken identity lead to a marriage of love?

While trying to prevent her friend from a scandal Sophia Turlington becomes entangled in her own. As she waits for her friend in a brothel, a duke mistakes her for a harlot. When he requests an arrangement, Sophia decides to explore the passion he awakens in her soul. Her only stipulations for the affair are a mask, one week, and he must never discover her true identity. Can Sophia give him her heart and walk away as if their time never affected her?

Alexander Langley’s life as a prominent duke will soon come to an end unless he can acquire a duchess whose family can support him through a scandal. When he meets a violet-eyed temptress that awakens his every desire his search comes to a halt. As they explore their passion, he loses his heart to a woman he can never marry. Will Alex put aside his status in the ton for a love to last a lifetime?

Throughout the season Lady Sophia Turlington and Alexander Langley, the Duke of Sheffield’s dislike for one another is known to all. A chance encounter throws them together as Alex and ‘Violet’. After their time ends, Sophia wants Alex to see her for herself. If not, then she might as well accept her friend’s marriage proposal. Can Alex overcome Sophia’s deceit? Or will his need for revenge destroy the love she holds for him?

Excerpt:

“Love, do you need to return home to your parents?” He kissed her shoulder as he leaned over her.
“Mmm,” Sophia moaned into the pillow.
“Violet?”
Sophia rolled over to regard Alex through her drowsy eyes. Disappointment flooded her when she saw him next to the bed, already dressed and ready to leave for the day.
“I must be off. I will have Belle arrange a carriage for your return home.”
“No bother, I shall reside here this week.”
“How will you explain this arrangement to your family? I do not wish for a scandal, my dear. While I love bedding you, I will not wed you. Do not think to trap me.”
And once again he was the arrogant duke she despised. He only considered himself and not others. Why Sophia loved him was beyond her. Her anger got the best of her as she unleashed her fury at his conceited ego. She pushed him away as she rose from the bed with the sheet wrapped around her body. She spilled her thoughts out loud, ticking them off on her fingers as her voice grew louder.
“First, I will not have to explain this arrangement to my family, because an emergency at the family estate called for my parent’s attention. Second, there will be no scandal involving you or our time together. Third, while I love bedding you also, I do not believe I have even hinted at wanting to be married to an overbearing, egotistical ass such as yourself. Fourth, I have no intention of trapping you into anything but the use of your body for the remainder of the week. Furthermore, let me make myself clear, I am too good for the likes of you. One day a ring shall be placed upon my finger, but only by a man who deserves me, and that man is not you. Now, if you will be so kind, please leave my bedroom now.”
Sophia finished her tirade standing at the door, pulling it open for him to leave. She watched as he stood across the room, glaring at her. Her foot tapped in annoyance the longer he stood there. If he didn’t leave soon, she would rip off her mask to reveal her identity. Then he could deal with who she was and how, if she wanted to trap him, she could. Her father was a powerful man in the ton. If she cried injustice at the hands of the Duke of Sheffield, he would make the duke beg for her hand in marriage.
Sheffield walked over to stand before her, staring at his wild temptress in her fit of anger. He didn’t know whether to be furious with her for addressing him in that tone, or to carry her to the bed and make love to her all day. She riled his emotions on another level. As she stood before him, the sheet slipped from her grasp as she pointed at the door for him to leave. Her tangled hair fell over her shoulders hiding her breasts from his gaze. Her body shook in anger as she continued to glare at him with those dark violet eyes that shot sparks of silver at him. While he would love to stay and turn them into passion, he was already late for an appointment. But he had time to kiss her and show her just how arrogant he was.
He pulled her into his arms and her glare intensified as she dared him to kiss her. He wore the smirk of a man who takes a dare and declares himself the winner.
Sophia knew from his stare that he wanted to ravish her lips and she would be powerless to stop him. Because angry as she was, she still desired him. Sophia wanted him to kiss her, then it would mean he desired her too. However, when his lips lowered to hers, it was the kiss of an apology. Soft. Slow. Gentle. Each brush of his lips against hers asked for forgiveness.

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About Laura A Barnes:

I am the author of The Romancing the Spies Series. When I am not writing, I am spending time with my family. I love reading books on lazy afternoons and late into the night. Anytime really. Married twenty-nine years to the love of my life, we have three wonderful children and two sweet grandbabies. Besides writing, I have always wanted to travel. In the last few years, we have gotten our passports stamped in England, Scotland, and Ireland. We are hoping to add Italy to the list soon. My debut novel is Rescued By the Captain.

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The laird denies it, but the clan hopes

The clan was busy with planting. Even the laird—Niall MacLean was out in the fields. The laird was still healing from the death of his wife and newborn son from a little over a year earlier. Thankfully, he had stopped drowning himself in his cups. That eased the clan’s worries for their laird.

So when a boat arrived on the isle, the whole clan was thrown to the floor when Ermina Bruce pronounced that her and the Laird were married. That news alone was shocking but she was with child. She was so large with child that no one could look beyond her belly to see her beauty.

The clan couldn’t stopped talking about it. No one thought he would marry so quickly then we learned that he was handfasted with the lass to protect her and certain events followed as they do. That sounded like the man I served and stand at his side. The whole MacLean clan was hoping that love bloomed. We all saw that his wife loved him, so that was a good beginning.

Only problem was Ermina Bruce swore she’d die in childbirth. The laird couldn’t survive burying another wife.

Another thing: it seemed that the Laird couldn’t fight against feelings he had deep inside him. He told me they were friends, having grown up from childhood to adulthood together. But I knew differently, and now it was time for Ermina and Niall to learn it.

The Chieftan’s Secret

On a windswept Scottish Isle…

Many objects wash up on the shores of the rugged Isle of Mull. The Laird of Lochbuie never expected a pregnant wife to be included among the items. Honorable Niall MacLean was wed to his childhood love when she died in childbirth. Now a widower, he struggles to get beyond his grief. 

Then his dear friend, Ermina Bruce pleaded for his help. His protective instinct came alive and he handfasted with Ermina to save her from an unsuitable marriage and one drunken night has led to forever after and a possible repeat of his past heartbreak.  

The bonds of friendship…

Noble Ermina Bruce has loved Niall MacLean since he first fostered in her uncle’s home. But he loved another so she settled for the deep bonds of friendship. When Niall save her from that miserable fate, she never thought she would end up in his arms. 

One night of passion…

That one night in Niall’s arms led to her pregnancy. Ermina has not told Niall of their secret baby. But his reaction isn’t her greatest fear. Her fear is even greater than the brave laird’s wrath. Every woman in her family has died in childbirth and all know the same fate awaits her. Once again, Ermina knows Niall is the only one who can save her. And if he fails, her last days shall be with the man she loves. 

Will love have a chance to come alive?

Buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Chieftains-Secret-Medieval-Scottish-Romance-ebook/dp/B07SD9DKYJ/

The Monster of Montvale Hall and the mysterious American miss

The village of Montvale is atwitter with news of its most notorious resident. The Duke of Montvale, dubbed the Monster for his dark and frightening ways seems to be playing host to a house guest. A young lady!

Though his dashing friend The Marquess of Avondale is no stranger to Montvale, it has been quite unheard of for anyone else to brave the wrath of the Monster and visit the Hall. Yet it seems one such person exists.

One Miss Abigail Langton recently arrived from The Americas has not only visited, but is staying at Montvale Hall.

And if our sources are to be believed, she has turned the place on its ear. The duke too!

Though the servants of the house remain as tight-lipped as they did all those years ago when tragedy struck the Montvale family, Miss Langton has been making her presence known in the village and apparently in the house.

We do wonder if poor Miss Langton knows what she’s let herself in for.

Though perhaps we should be wondering if the duke knows what he’s let himself in for.

We have no doubt that something monumental will come from this unprecedented event.

As for what that could be? Well, we shall just have to wait and see.

The Monster of Montvale Hall Blurb

A childhood tragedy had shaped the life of Robert Forsythe, the Duke of Montvale Hall, forever.

He kept himself isolated from the world and the people in it, revelling in his reputation as a monster.

Locked in a world of guilt and grief, nobody had ever been able to break down the walls he kept around him. Nobody had ever tried.

And if being a monster kept everyone away, then a monster he would be.

Abigail Langton was as headstrong as she was mischievous, so it was no surprise that she wasn’t exactly welcomed at Montvale Hall with open arms.

It didn’t take her long to understand why its owner was called a monster.

It took even less time to realise that monster or not, Abigail’s heart called to him in a way she couldn’t deny or understand.

Robert’s world is turned upside down and inside out by the irrepressible Abigail. And try as he might to avoid it, he finds himself drawn to her in ways he doesn’t want. In ways that scare the wits out of him.

Will Robert give in to the temptation that is Abigail? And will Abigail find the heart of the man beneath the monster?

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