Tuesday, August 22, 2017

E.E. Burke's Best of the West: Can Love Eclipse Hate?

Photo by Tim Petrowich
Yesterday, parts of Kansas witnessed an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime event: a total eclipse of the sun!

Ironically, this solar eclipse occurred on August 21, the 154th anniversary of another historical, never-to-be-forgotten event in Kansas.

The Day Hate Eclipsed Human Decency

On Aug. 21, 1863, Confederate ally and guerilla commander William C. Quantrill rounded up three hundred Missouri “bushwhackers” and descended on Kansas, wreaking a terrible vengeance on a town known for its strong stance on the abolition of slavery.

"Raid on Lawrence," Harpers Weekly, Sept. 5, 1863
What forces drove these men to attack a town filled with civilians? Some would say a thirst for revenge, tit for tat, after a disaster in Kansas City, when a building housing Confederate women prisoners collapsed on top of them, as well as other perceived injustices. By this time, deadly conflicts had raged along the Missouri-Kansas border for nearly a decade, costing innocent lives on both sides. The violence continued to spiral as the nation grappled in a civil war. 

Years later, these men who had given in to violence and hatred had to find their way back to decency. Some never did.

Although the series, Steam! Romance and Rails, begins five years after the end of the American Civil War, the two main characters who were involved in this massacre are still struggling to find healing, and both must come to grips with the meaning of justice.

Her Bodyguard, part of the series Steam! Romance and Rails, weaves history and suspense together in a tale of deceit and betrayal, heroism and sacrifice, and the unfailing power of love.

Can love eclipse hate?

Purchase today
For America “Amy” Langford, investing in the railroad isn’t about chasing riches. The savvy businesswoman is after bigger stakes: influence, respect, success her father didn’t live to see. Rioting settlers and underhanded competitors can’t stop her, but a killer might. 
Buck O’Connor has put his violent past behind him, but being a wanted man dictates a life of deceit. So what’s one more lie? He becomes Amy’s protector so he can secretly thwart her railroad’s progress to help his cousin avoid financial ruin. A great scheme—until he falls in love.
While Buck hides his true purpose, Amy lies to herself about her growing feelings for her bodyguard. But the price for deceit is steep, and secrets from the past could destroy their future—if they survive.

"E.E. Burke understands the heart of romance...and delivers it!" New York Times bestselling author Maggie Shayne

“Her portrayal of strong, realistic, well-defined characters and meticulous research transports readers back to the American West.” Jill Marie Landis, New York Times bestselling author

"Amy and Buck had chemistry and steam between them to power a train! Their push-pull relationship and witty banter was riveting.” Melanie Friedman, Bookworm2Bookworm Reviews

In this excerpt, Buck has just discovered that the railroad promoter he’s supposed to remove is, in fact, a woman…the same woman who offered him a position as her bodyguard.

Buck opened the door to the newspaper office and stepped inside.
Two men were engaged in a discussion. A bearded man behind a desk piled high with newspapers glanced up. The other man sitting in front of the desk twisted in his chair, and then bolted to his feet, his eyebrows arching nearly to a sweep of black hair.
Buck met pale blue eyes similar to his own, but untainted with the icy gray of the cold-hearted bastard who’d sired him. He took an uncertain step forward, waiting a heartbeat for the familiar grin. "Sean?"
Relief flickered across the matured face, however Sean didn't embrace him as he'd always done in years past. He offered a handshake instead. ""Buck, we wondered if you'd show up."
Buck gripped his cousin’s outstretched hand and squelched a twinge of disappointment. He hadn't really expected to be greeted with open arms. They'd not seen each other for years and in between had served on opposite sides of a war. Yet, he had hoped for a warmer welcome than this.
His gaze flickered over his cousin's shoulder to the grizzled man who'd stood, waiting to be introduced. Sean did his duty. "Buck, this is Amos Sanford. He's the editor of the Workingman's Journal. I wrote to you about him. He's helping us settlers organize."
Sanford inclined his head but didn't come out from behind the desk to shake his visitor's hand. "Mr. O'Connor, good to see you could make it here to help us out."
Buck held a neutral expression. "What kind of help would that be?"
"What kind?" Sean looked startled. "Well, the kind I wrote to you about." He sent a worried glance the editor's direction.
"We need your help with removing an obstacle," Sanford said smoothly.
Aggravation churned in Buck's stomach. "An obstacle? Is that what you call her?"
When neither man answered, he strolled over to the desk and picked up a newspaper. The headline urged settlers to rise up and defend their rights. Where had he heard that kind of rhetoric before? Simmering, he rolled the paper like a club and tapped it against his palm. He had a good mind to beat these two over the head with it. "You got the wrong man for the job. I don't kill women."
Sanford sat and leaned back in his chair, stroking a gray beard that reached to the top button of his vest. Canyon deep lines rearranged themselves into a paternalistic frown. “You must have misunderstood, Mr. O’Connor. We haven’t asked you to kill anybody, much less a woman.”
Buck tossed the newspaper aside and snatched Sean's letter out of his pocket. He slapped it on the desk. “States here you want me to get rid of a railroad promoter. That don't mean sending a body away on a pleasure excursion.”
The chair creaked as Sanford reached for the letter. He peered through round spectacles perched at the end of his nose, perusing the lines like he’d never seen them. The crafty old fox had probably helped Sean craft the damn missive. After a minute, he folded the letter and crossed his arms over his chest. “There are many ways to remove obstacles, Mr. O’Connor. I suspect you’re bright enough to figure it out. Sean told me you led a company of irregulars during the war. The fact you’re alive proves you’ve still got a few tricks up your sleeve.”
An alarm tripped in Buck’s head. So that's why the Land League wanted to hire him. They thought he was still in the ambushing business. He looked at Sean, who wouldn't meet his eyes. He'd risked getting his neck stretched by returning to Kansas, but honor demanded he at least try to right a wrong done to his kinsman. Now it looked like he was a fool who'd walked into a trap.
His cousin stood at rigid attention, his tanned face drawn tight as the hide on a drum, not meeting Buck's eyes. An ache started in the center of his chest. Despite their past, they were the only family each other had left. How could Sean have betrayed him like this?
Pulling back his coat, he revealed the twin Navy Colts at his side before pinning the editor with a cold stare. He hadn't killed anyone since the day he'd left this godforsaken state, but he would reinforce the perception he was a dangerous man to cross so they'd think twice about hiring him to do their dirty work and then trying to collect a reward. "My wartime sentiments don’t have a damn thing to do with this.”
Sanford huffed. “We don’t care about your sentiments. It’s your skills we’re interested in.”
“So, you admit it. You want to hire a big gun to take care of one little lady.”
“Don’t be fooled by that pretty face," Sanford blustered. "Amy Preston will do anything to advance that cursed railroad. With this Young Ladies Immigration Society she’s using the age-old strategy for dividing men. Women.”
Buck snorted a derisive laugh. "What’s so dangerous about importing wives for a bunch of horny settlers?”
The editor swelled up like a toad. “She’s dangling petticoats as an enticement to get us to pay those exorbitant prices her boss is charging for land. These boys were soldiers and most of them are unmarried. I suppose you’ve noticed how few decent women there are out here. It’s a devilishly brilliant scheme concocted by a woman who’d sell her soul for thirty pieces of silver.”
It was a brilliant idea, but Buck had already figured out Amy was smart. Her motives, however, weren’t so clear. Was she really that greedy? “I met her already, so I know what she’s up to, but she thinks somebody’s trying to kill her.” He narrowed his eyes in a way that put most men in a fearful sweat. “If I decide to help, I need to know whether you’ve hired somebody else—and don’t even think about lying to me.”
“We don’t have enough money to hire somebody else," Sean grumbled. "If somebody's trying to kill her, it’s probably ‘cause she robbed him blind.”            
Sanford grunted an agreement. "Maybe she’s making that up so you’ll feel sorry for her. Where did you say you met her?”
 Buck didn't say, nor was he interested in providing the details. "I happened across her. She was waiting on some fellow who was supposed to help with that immigration society you mentioned.”
Sanford’s eyes sharpened with interest. “We had a talk with him. I don’t think he’s interested in volunteering anymore. Did she happen to mention her next move? We can't afford to lose any more leverage against the devil who's behind this fraud."
James Joy. The force behind the Border Tier and Satan incarnate if the settlers were to be believed. He was Amy's boss. So what did that make her? Last night, she'd looked downright angelic, even wringing wet.
If Sanford hadn't hired another gun, then her attacker was likely a renegade. Was he an irate settler, an unhappy farmer, one of the men who'd signed up for her program and gotten an ugly wife? The list could be endless.
"She didn't mention her plans.” Buck lifted his hat and threaded his fingers through his hair, his unease getting worse. She hadn't told him much, but she'd played him masterfully to gain his promise of protection, something he'd offered to no woman since being betrayed by another smart, pretty one.
Still, he'd given his word and he wouldn't go back on it. He adjusted his coat, covering the guns at his side. “Just so we’re clear, I’m not using violence against a woman, so I don’t know what it is you want me to do.”
Sanford jerked to his feet. “Distract her. Deceive her. Discredit her. We don’t care, so long as you prevent her from succeeding in her schemes.”
The frown melted as he came out from behind the desk and clapped a hand on Buck’s shoulder. “Why don’t you boys go over to the saloon and get reacquainted? Tell them I’ll pay for your drinks. I’m sure after you hear Sean’s side of things, it will clear up any misgivings you might have about ridding us of that troublesome woman.”
Buck shrugged off the unwanted familiarity. He hadn’t signed on for this kind of work. On the other hand, he couldn’t walk away without at least hearing what his cousin had to say.
Sanford casually laid his fingers on a dog-eared Bible at the corner of his desk. “You recall the story of Samson and Delilah? Makes a man think twice about falling for a pretty woman.”

Her Bodyguard, the second book in the series Romance and Rails, weaves suspense and history together in a tale of deceit, betrayal and the unfailing power of love.

Today, I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card. Just enter the raffle and leave a comment.

Did you see the eclipse yesterday? What did it look like in your part of the world?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 21, 2017

Demon Cursed ~ Bentley Love


Gin Crawford, the world's newest demon huntress, just wants to enjoy a football game, but finds herself hunting a serial killer minion instead. When his victims turn out to be the local football star’s female fans, she must determine if the player has joined forces with the minion, but her efforts lead her deeper into danger. 

When her mentor, Aidan Smythe, is attacked, Gin resolves to go to any lengths to save him, even if it exposes her most tightly held secret. Minions and demons, however, aren't the only terrors she faces. Will she realize the greatest danger lies within—before it's too late?

Amazon |  B&N | TWRP: | iBooks

ANGI: What's your most favorite thing to do in your state?
KARILYN: We moved last year from Texas to Colorado and I've got to admit, there are way more things to do outside here. We love to ski in the winter and hike in the summer.

ANGI: What drinks or snacks are always on your desk when you’re writing?
KARILYN: I like to drink tea or water (usually tea) when I write. No food.

ANGI: Where do you read and how often?
KARILYN: I try to read a book a week, but it doesn't always happen.

ANGI: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
KARILYN: While I wouldn't mind being a fly on a wall for certain conversations, I'd love to be able to move things with my mind. Imagine the possibilities. I could sit on the couch reading a book while the dusting and vacuuming gets done. Wouldn't that be fun?

ANGI: Why a series about a Demon Huntress?
KARILYN: I know you hear this all the time, but the character just appeared in my head one day. I kept seeing a scene where a doctor was shot in the hospital. Originally this was part of another story written years ago (as in the first book I wrote, which is currently hiding inside a box in the closet never again to see the light of day) and I loved the scene but couldn't figure out the rest of the story (or at least the rest of the story someone would want to read. Trust me, no one wants to read that hiding-in-a-box book!). One day I was writing on this funny scene which took place in a hospital and thought, huh, what if I joined the two using the heroine from the funny scene and made the doctor a secondary character? Then the story took off. It turned a dark corner and stumbled into the realm of demons and a woman who hunts them. And the Demon Huntress series was born. It's one part mystery, one part humor, and one part action.

ANGI: What do you like about the heroine of your book?
KARILYN: Gin is snarky and does things I'd never consider doing. But what I like most of all about her is she overcame a lot in her life and keeps on going.

ANGI: What might we find in your heroine's purse?
KARILYN: Her phone and lip balm.

ANGI: What’s your favorite scene from DEMON CURSED?
KARILYN: While there are many scenes I like, the opening lines are my favorite. Here goes:
     My stomach slams into a metal railing as surgically enhanced double D’s press into my back. Cheap beer soaks my arm. A not-so-feminine yell shatters my eardrums. For a second, a similar incident during my whiskey-fueled college years flitters in my mind. I shove the memory back into hiding, and return to the present. Quick reflexes stop me from tumbling over the railing to land on the pissed-off crowd below our box seats. Jackie lets loose a string of obscenities directed at the ref on the field below us, but at least she moves her body off mine.
     Thank God. Death by double D’s at a football game is not the way I thought I’d go.

ANGI: What do you have coming next?
KARILYN: The fourth book in the series, Devil Take Me, has been contracted and should be out early next year. I'm currently writing the fifth and final book in the series, title unknown. It should also be out next year. Then I have to figure out a new series. J Stay tuned!

KARILYN BENTLEY'S love of reading stories and preference of sitting in front of a computer at home instead of in a cube, drove her to pen her own works, blending fantasy and romance mixed with a touch of funny. Her paranormal romance novella, Werewolves in London, placed in the Got Wolf contest and started her writing career as an author of sexy heroes and lush fantasy worlds. Karilyn lives in Colorado with her own hunky hero, a crazy dog nicknamed The Kraken, and a handful of colorful saltwater fish.

website    Facebook    Goodreads    Twitter @KarilynBentley1
Amazon    Pinterest      Plotting Princesses   Newsletter Previous GLIAS interviews

Why are these your favorite?

KARILYN WANTS TO KNOW... Have you ever moved to a different state? What did you like best?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Return to Good Hope and a GIVEAWAY with CINDY KIRK!

Happy Friday everyone!  Please join me in welcoming Cindy Kirk to the blog today!  Her latest release is out now, and takes us back to the town of Good Hope.  Read on to learn more, and leave a comment for your chance to win one of the first three books in the series!
Forever in Good Hope
ISBN: 978-1477848777
In the fourth installment of Cindy Kirk’s beloved Good Hope series, a ruse with an old flame grows into romance.
Delphinium “Fin” Bloom returns to her hometown with one goal: get the mayor—her former flame—to approve a location shoot in Good Hope. But business turns personal when the two become entangled in a fake engagement to comfort his ailing grandmother.
For Jeremy, the romantic façade hits close to his heart. Still reeling from the way things ended between Fin and him all those years ago, he sees the fake engagement as an opportunity to get her out of his system once and for all. But instead of laying the past to rest, Jeremy quickly discovers he can’t envision a life without her.

Now engaged to another man, Fin had long ago given up on the dream of a life with Jeremy. Why is it, then, that her fake engagement feels more genuine than her real one? As the sleepy days of summer come to a close in Good Hope, will Fin and Jeremy give love a second chance? Or will the revelation of a devastating secret put an end to the fairy tale?

Read an excerpt here!

Meet Cindy!

Cindy Kirk started writing after taking a class at a local community college. But her interest in words began years earlier, when she was in her teens. At sixteen she wrote in her diary: “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t be a writer.” After her daughter went to college, she returned to her passion and jumped straight into composing book-length fiction. She loves reading and writing romance novels because she believes in the undeniable power of love and in the promise of the happily ever after. An incurable romantic and an eternal optimist, Kirk creates characters who grow and learn from their mistakes while achieving happy endings in the process. She lives in Nebraska with her high-school-sweetheart husband. 

Lara: How often to you get lost in a story?
Cindy: It’s always my goal when I start reading a book to get lost in the story. I know that it’s happened when I stay up all night not wanting to go to bed until that last page is turned.

In terms of the books I write, I know that I’m lost in the story when my fingers are flying across the keyboard.   
Lara: Which of your characters would you most/least to invite to dinner, and why?
Cindy: I’d love to invite the Bloom sisters to dinner. They’re all so different, but so intriguing and there’s always so much laughter and fun when they’re together. The two people I’d least like to invite would be Eliza Shaw and Anita Fishback.  If you’ve read any of the books, you’d know why those two are on my do-not-invite list.

Lara: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Cindy: I was able to quit my full-time job to write full-time. But the best part is  I’m able to make a living doing what I love.  My passion is writing and I absolutely love it.

Lara: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
Cindy:  A romance (either historical or contemporary) with well-developed characters and a fully fleshed out plot.

Lara: What do you do to unwind and relax?
Cindy:  I like to exercise. I walk my Dorkie (dachshund/Yorkie mix), Chico, every day, take a dance aerobics class three times a week and do some strength training.

Lara: What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?
Cindy:  While I love to read historical romance, all the stories that come to me have always been contemporary.  Someday I may try to write a historical, perhaps something set in the 1920’s. For some reason, that era fascinates me.

Lara: What inspires you daily?
Cindy: I find the idea that I’ve built a whole community of characters that people love (Good Hope) very inspiring. It makes me push forward and make my next series the best it can be.

Lara: Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?
Cindy: I edit my pages listening to piano or cello instrumental but I usually prefer quiet when writing new pages.

Lara: Who’s your favorite villain?
Cindy: I don’t like to read books with “real” villains (the Hannibal Lecter variety)—because when I do, thoughts of them creep into my dreams.  In my books, I’d have to say Anita Fishback is as close to a villain as it gets.

Lara’s GOTTA ASK:  What are the next five books on your ‘to be read’ pile?

Cindy’s GOTTA ANSWER: I’ll be listening to my own book, Forever in Good Hope on audio.  I know it sounds crazy, but I love to listen to them on audio (the narrator does a terrific job!)  JD Robb has Secrets in Death coming out next month so I’ll be reading that one. (I’ve read all the others in her In Death series and I’m not about to stop now) I have a lot of unread books on my Kindle but I’m writing a lot of new pages now, so I think I’ll be doing good to get these two books “read.”

Where can you find Cindy?

What's next for Cindy?

Say I Do in Good Hope. 2/15/18

Sometimes love is right on your doorstep...

Eliza Shaw has never met a crisis she couldn’t manage. If her father thinks she’s going to take his attempt at selling the family home out from underneath her, then he clearly doesn’t know her at all. She‘ll chain herself to the banister if she has to...  

Kyle Kendrick doesn’t have time for the hassle of an eviction. He definitely doesn’t have time for Eliza Shaw’s drama – even if she does look distractingly gorgeous when she’s furious.  His sister is arriving in Good Hope and he needs a home. Now.  

Neither Kyle nor Eliza is thrilled at the idea of sharing the house, but it’s the only sensible solution. Now if they could each just stop fantasizing about their new roommate this crazy plan might just work.  And if they’re lucky, what started out as playing house could end up giving them the home and family they’ve both desperately yearned for.  

Don't miss the first books in the Good Hope series!

Cindy is giving FIVE ebooks (Kindle) drawn from those leaving comments. Winners will get their choice of one of the first three books in the series. 

Thanks for stopping by today, Cindy!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Through My Lens: a Favorite Dinner

Angi & Tim 2017 Cupecoy

One of the best dinners or I guess you can officially call it a picnic was on the cliffs of Cupecoy in Saint Martin.

We grabbed some local pork BBQ (which I think is the official island food) and found some flattish rocks to sit on and watch the sunset.

Since there was barely a hidden beach (about 200 yards away) I don't think there were more than four other people there exploring.

We had a great view of a catamaran as the sun dipped into the Caribbean.

No radios or sounds of people...just crashing waves.

It. . . . Was. . . . Awesome!

Enter for a chance to receive a $10 Gift Card:  #VacationFever Rafflecopter Giveaway
Angi's Books: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google |
Angi Morgan -Bodyguards_facebook

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Regan Walker's Best of the Regency with Allison Lane!

Welcome all! My guest today on the Best of the Regency is Allison Lane. Allison says she has always loved books though she didn’t expect to become an author. Her rather eclectic resume began with degrees in applied math and computer science, a minor in astronomy, and interests in pretty much everything else. Her first career was in computer software design.  Her second was teaching classical piano. But after her youngest left to spend a year in Europe, leaving her with an empty nest, her fingers itched to give writing a try. Allison was astonished to sell her first effort. Many more followed and she has won multiple awards including the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. So she believes this third career will stick.

She says she loves writing and hopes to continue for many years to come. When she takes breaks from writing, her favorite activity is traveling. She has lived all over the US, but currently resides with her husband in California.

Allison is giving to one lucky commenter a $20 Amazon gift card and a copy of her ebook, so be sure and leave your email.
And now for the Interview with Allison Lane:

How often do you get lost in a story?

Frequently.  Because I moved so often as a child, books became the mainstay of my world, and still are.  The best ones latch onto my imagination, forcing me to continue reading even if it means staying up all night until I’ve reached the end.  Those are the ones I go back to again and again.  One wall of my office is covered with print copies of my keepers.  I also own many in digital and audio, though that last format also requires a good voice actor.

Where do you read and how often?

A day without a story feels flat, so I read every day.  At home, I read in my office, in my relaxation chair, or in my yard.  When out, my kindle is in my hand in waiting rooms, in lines, and while sitting at red lights.  While driving long distances, I listen to audiobooks.  And though I read a dozen new books a month, I also visit my favorite characters by re-reading at least as many keepers.

Why do you write Regency romances?

The Regency was a brief period in English history characterized by elegance and upheaval.  Elegance describes the clothing, the society, and the manners everyone exhibited.  I love that people had to rely on their own resources to solve their problems – communication was slow, medicine was primitive, and technology did not yet exist.  The upheaval arises from the political, social, and economic changes instigated by war, the industrial revolution, agricultural advances, and the migration of people from farms to cities.  Such vast and rapid changes challenge my characters, creating infinite opportunities for story conflict.  But when all books take place in the same time and place, my characters often run into people introduced in previous books, so I have to keep meticulous records of every person, place, and event I’ve ever created so my Regency world remains consistent.

What sound or noise do you love?

Falling water.  My most relaxing vacations take me to waterfalls, burbling brooks, and rushing rivers.  The waterfall in my back yard aerates my fishpond.  Reading in a lounger under a nearby tree is extremely refreshing.

Is writing or story telling easier for you?

For me, the easiest part of producing a novel is telling the story – or letting my characters tell their stories.  I’m an into-the-mist writer, which means that all I know when I start a new project is the background of the hero and heroine, including character flaws and past traumas, a mental image of the first scene, and a vague idea of where the story will end.  Then I turn the pair loose and push their words onto the page as fast as possible without stopping to correct anything.  It’s another way to lose myself in a story – I become the conduit as they explain the events that brought them together.  When I reach the end, the story is nearly complete, but the writing is awful.  Turning their story into a polished book is my contribution to the process.

What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?

I read more romance than anything else because I love relationship stories, but I’ve been lost in most genres, including biographies.  To grab me, a book needs riveting characters that latch onto the imagination and a story that remains fresh read after read.

Which of your characters would you most like to invite to dinner, and why?

I’d love to spend more time with Jack Caldwell, who was a close friend of the hero in both Devall’s Angel and The Unscrupulous Uncle.  He lived in my head for more than a decade, demanding that I tell his story every time I started a new project.  I put him off because his story seemed too serious for the usually lighthearted traditional Regency genre I was contracted for.  But eventually I gave in and wrote Kindred Spirits, to widespread acclaim.  Jack is a complex man with a wonderful mind, riveting conversation, a determination to avoid following in his dysfunctional family’s footsteps, and a dedication to honor and decency that is rarely equaled.

How do you come up with ideas for your books?

Every book is different, so every book has a different genesis.  The Rake and the Wallflower is part of a trilogy that was supposed to tell the stories of three sisters – a widow, a wallflower, and a diamond of the first water.  The widow’s book worked well  The wallflower’s worked even better.  But the third book wound up starring their highly conflicted brother because the diamond destroyed her social credit in the second book, revealing that she was a self-centered schemer who never admits fault.  This is why I don’t bother to plan an entire book ahead of time.  The characters grab the story and run with it, so the result is different from what was envisioned.

I’ve found starting points for stories in many places.  The Prodigal Daughter began as a dream in which an inn burned while a female forced a male to help amputate a man’s leg – yes, writers often have weird dreams.  I had no idea who they were or what was going on, but the image was so compelling, I had to find out.  The Second Lady Emily started as a newspaper article about a local man who purchased a British title at auction.  My brain immediately wondered, ‘What if the title came with a curse?’ and a story was born. 

I once read a book in which the hero was jilted at the altar, left town to avoid the scandal, and met the heroine in the country.  My brain wondered, ‘What would he do if there was no heroine waiting to save his reputation, and he later came face-to-face with the girl who jilted him?’ And The Earl’s Revenge was born.  I started writing A Bird in Hand during a disastrous storm season, so it seemed natural that the hero and heroine should meet in the middle of a river while being swept away by a flood.  And then there was the day I was pitching Lord Avery’s Legacy to my editor, and she said, ‘Good story, but it needs something more...’  And without warning, my heroine opened my mouth to ask if she should raise ostriches.  I knew nothing about ostriches, and I still have no idea why my heroine thought that was a good idea, but my editor jumped on it, so I had no choice.  The blasted birds tried to take over the book...

Allison's latest... The Rake and the Wallflower

At first glance, Lord Grayson is everything a man should be – handsome, wealthy, heir to an earldom.  Yet his elegant façade hides deep loneliness.  Estranged from his father, his fortune tainted by trade, he is under society’s censure for supposedly defiling a highborn innocent, driving her to suicide.  And Lady Luck has truly deserted him.  Every day he suffers a new accident... 

Shy Mary Seabrook would rather study birds than participate in the Marriage Mart, but nobody gave her a choice.  To escape boredom, she often slips away to sketch.  But she doesn’t expect to meet the most notorious rake in the realm while hiding behind a screen of palms.  To her surprise, Gray shares her interests…

Gray vows to avoid the intriguing Mary, but fate has other ideas.  Wherever he goes, she is there, uncovering his secrets or saving his life.  It is Mary who realizes that his accidents are not so accidental.  Someone is trying to kill him, and Mary holds the key to the culprit’s identity.  Can they unmask the villain before Gray suffers one accident too many?

See it on Amazon. And Barnes & Noble

Read an excerpt:

To slip away unnoticed, Lord Grayson ducked behind a row of palms, careful not to brush branches as he headed for the card room.  He’d traversed half the distance before he realized he was not alone.  A young lady was also hiding, her hand clutching a pad of paper.
Curiosity is dangerous, warned his conscience.
Ignoring it, he peeked over her shoulder, then inhaled in surprise.  She was a talented artist and a student of natural history.  Who else could draw so well from memory?  A chaffinch perched in a gnarled apple tree, head cocked perkily to one side.  A few lines evoked rough bark, soft feathers, and lustrous fruit.  But he could see why she was frowning.  The bird’s beak was too thick, pushing it slightly off balance.
“Try this,” he murmured, grabbing the pad.
“Oh!”  She whirled, one hand to her breast.  “I d-didn’t know anyone was here.”
“Not so loud.”  He rubbed out the beak.  Brisk strokes reshaped the appendage, bringing the bird to life.  “That’s better.  Are you from the west country?”
She nodded.  “How did you know?”
“That is the only place you find apples that shape.  Those in the east are rounder.  You are an accomplished sketch artist.”
“I—”  She blushed.  “I was hoping to see different birds in town, but we have so little time to look about.”
“If you walk in the park in the mornings, you will see hoopoes and bee eaters.  And a magnificent purple heron visits the Serpentine at dawn most days, though Richmond is better suited for bird watching.  Forest.  Heath.  River.  Plenty of space and food.” 
Gray knew he should leave before someone spotted him.  She was clearly quality, and unmarried quality at that.  But he couldn’t do it.  He found her intriguing.  Obviously she didn’t recognize him.  She was not flirting or swooning or regarding him as Satan.  It had been too long since he had talked with a young lady – or relaxed while talking to anyone.  His reputation overshadowed every contact.
He idly turned pages.  A sparrow hawk, a hedgehog, a caricature— 
“Egad, that is Wigby to the life.”  He chuckled.  She had sketched him as a stork.  Very appropriate, as the dandy was tall and very lean, with thin legs and a long pointed nose.  The next page depicted Lord Edward Broadburn as a charming pouter pigeon, so overburdened by a thrust-out chest that he teetered on his feet.
“Sir—  My l-lord—”  She stammered to a halt. 
He knew his manners were outrageous – she was an innocent, for God’s sake – but something about her drew him.  Her presence behind the palms told him she was shy, though her sketches displayed a wicked sense of humor.   
“My apologies,” he said softly.  “But I must wonder why so talented a lady is hiding in the shadows.  London is not filled with ogres.”
“Of course not.  But it takes only one.”
“An ogre?  Are you sure?”  He turned the page and chuckled again.  She’d drawn Griffin as a snake, hanging from a tree, his forked tongue hissing.  “You’ve a delightful eye for character, my dear.  He is pure poison, though too few see it.  But except for ungentlemanly insults, you should be safe enough.  He prefers country innocents of fourteen or so.”
“I had heard rumors, though no one will confirm them to young ladies.  Yet he clearly seeks me out.  Though I try to avoid him, he is forever popping up.”
“Like a weed?”
She laughed.  “Exactly.  Bindweed, most likely.  One moment the room is quite congenial, the next it contains Mr. Griffin.  One cannot root him out.”
“So circumvent him.  You might befriend Mr. Hempbury.  Not only is he fascinated by birds and other natural wonders, but Griffin cannot tolerate the fellow.”
“Th-thank you,” she stammered.
When she was nervous she seemed quite young, and very unspoiled.  Perhaps she had reason to fear the snake after all.  He returned her pad.  “Au revoir, my dear artist.  It has been a most delightful meeting.  I needed a chuckle after a frustrating day.  But be careful whom you parody.  There are those who lose all humor when they are the subject.”

Allison’s question for you: Who is your favorite Regency hero of all time and why? (Other then Mr. Darcy, whom we all love...) Don't forget to leave your email when you comment!

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