After waiting five years for her fiancé to return from the war and marry her, Roxana Langley has been jilted! She may have longed for excitement, but this was not what she had in mind….
Who could possibly throw over a woman as beautiful and vivacious as Roxana? Certainly not Alex Winslow, the Earl of Ayersley, who has spent years trying in vain to forget his unrequited love. When he learns she’s been abandoned by her cad of a fiancé, he finds himself offering a shoulder for her to cry on. Comfort soon turns into a passionate kiss—and scandal when they are caught in an embrace.
Only one thing will save Roxana from certain ruination: marriage to the earl. The match may save her reputation, but responsible, tongue-tied Ayserly is a far cry from her dashing former fiancé. She’s convinced Ayersley is merely doing his duty…while he’s sure Roxana is still in love with another man. Are they trading one disaster for another?
READ ALL THE “RUIN”
Read an excerpt from RUINED BY RUMOR, coming from Carina Press in May 2012. Roxana Langley is attending a ball given by her brother’s childhood friend, the reserved and self-conscious Earl of Ayersley, when her cavalry-hero fiancé unexpectedly jilts her. When Roxana retreats to the earl’s library to regain her composure, Lord Ayersley follows to check on her. Roxana tells him the news of her broken engagement, and his reaction is typically but frustratingly understated.
What a Job’s comforter he was, refusing even to feel sorry for her. “But don’t my feelings count for anything? And what about my reputation? I have two choices open to me, to appear a jilt, or to appear something even worse—the kind of girl who deserves to be jilted.”
“Your friends will know better.” All the earl’s usual reticence had vanished. Standing only inches from her, he dipped his dark head low enough to look her in the eye, his hand still holding hers. “You think people will talk. So they may. But it will be a nine-days wonder and then something new will take its place. You must believe that. In the end, you’ll be the happier for this.”
“Be the happier!” Incredulous, she tore her hand from his grasp. “I’m twenty-three years old. I waited five years for George Wyatt while he fought on the Continent. I dreamed of marrying him! Now everyone will point me out as the girl Major Wyatt would not marry, and make guesses at the reason why. And you think I’ll be the happier?”
She was shaking.
Ayersley stretched out a hand toward her again. “I’m sorry, but…It’s not easy for a man to face a woman and tell her it’s over. If Major Wyatt broke off your engagement, you can be sure tonight wasn’t the first time the possibility crossed his mind. You’ll save yourself a good deal of pain—and Wyatt too, though that may not matter to you now—if you’ll only let him go.”
“But I love him,” Roxana said, and realized with horror she was going to cry. At first the hot tears simply stung her eyes and she tried to blink them back, but as one after another spilled over her cheeks she gave up the attempt. Her face crumpled and she let out a sob.
“Miss Langley!” The earl, stricken, stepped toward her and held open his arms. She fell into them gratefully.
Suddenly everything that had gone wrong in the past few weeks came welling up, to pour out of her at once in a storm of emotion—George’s infidelity and neglect, her awful mortification when Ayersley caught them kissing in the church, and now this long, humiliating night.
Sobs choked her, making her breath come in harsh gasps like those of a frustrated child. She was always making a fool of herself, and now she could add to the list of her stupid blunders having blindly devoted herself to George Wyatt, only to be unceremoniously thrown over. She shut her eyes against the betraying tears, but they only fell faster.
“Oh, Roxana, he isn’t worth it,” the earl whispered. Still the sobs wracked her shoulders, shaking her, making her head pound. She leaned her forehead on the earl’s white waistcoat and let the tears come, hot and bitter. How silly and laughable she must seem to him.
Her sobbing went on for what felt like forever, while Ayersley held her, patient. With her upraised hand against his chest, she could feel the strong beat of his heart. At last the flood of emotion began to exhaust itself and she sniffled and turned her head. The tears were still there but they were slower now and she could breathe again. She gulped to ease the knot in her throat. Still Ayersley went on holding her.
READ MORE OF THE EXCERPT
GETTING TO KNOW ALYSSA
ALYSSA: As often as I can! I do a lot of my reading in the car, waiting to pick my kids up from an afterschool activity or while riding in the passenger seat on a long drive. I’m so grateful I don’t get sick from reading in a moving car.
ANGI: What’s the first book you remember reading?
ALYSSA: The Black Stallion and the Girl by Walter Farley, in second grade. I would sneak books under my desk and read them whenever the teacher wasn’t looking. The only thing I remember about the book is that the eponymous Girl had high cheekbones and everyone she met fell instantly in love with her.
ANGI: What’s your favorite “love” word?
ALYSSA: I like “besotted.” It has such great overtones of being drunk on love.
ANGI: Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?
ALYSSA: My oldest son has autism, so for me, anyone who chooses to work in special education is a real-life hero.
ANGI: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
ALYSSA: Beauty and the Beast, because it’s all about seeing beyond the surface to a person’s true character beneath. That’s a theme that runs through most of the stories I write.
ANGI: What sound or noise do you love?
ALYSSA: I love lying in bed at night and hearing a train whistle in the distance. There’s something beautiful and a little melancholy in the sound. Someone’s out there on that train, traveling through the darkness—maybe lonely, maybe heading for adventure.
ANGI: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
ALYSSA: I like a little bit of both, fairy tale themes with action adventure pacing.
ANGI: What was the first story you remember writing?
ALYSSA: In school, we were asked to write a continuation of the play “The Corn is Green.” The play is about a turn-of-the-twentieth-century teacher who sets up a school in an impoverished Welsh coalmining town, and the promising young pupil she takes under her wing. I remember being careful to try to capture what I thought was a Victorian/Edwardian tone by mentioning candlelight and carriages. I would love to be able to reread it now because it was my first attempt at a historical voice and I suspect I made my Welsh coal miner’s son sound more like Dudley Do-Right.
ANGI: Who’s your favorite villain?
ALYSSA: Do cartoon characters count? Because, harking back to my favorite fairy tale, I’d have to say my favorite villain is Gaston from the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. I prefer quick-witted, sensitive heroes, while Gaston is muscle-bound, self centered, and so conceited he literally can’t believe the heroine doesn’t want him. His biggest claims to fame include being covered with hair and being especially good at expectorating.
ANGI: What is your biggest vice?
ALYSSA: It used to be drinking Diet Coke, but I quit cold turkey at the beginning of the year. (It’s the second time I’ve quit, so it remains to be seen whether this time will stick better than the first time did.) Now it’s a toss-up between having a sweet tooth and shopping online.
ANGI: Is there a “Blooper” in your story (it may have been changed before printing)?
ALYSSA: It’s more a willful anachronism than a blooper, but I did use the word “blackmail” in its current sense even though A Tryst With Trouble is set in 1820. The word didn’t come to mean “hush money paid to meet an extortion demand” until 1826, and it wasn’t used as a verb until 1852, but the term is so familiar to modern readers and would have been so awkward to write around, for the sake of clarity I bent the etymological timeline.
ANGI’S GOTTA ASK: From Florida gators to a Pennsylvania snowstorms… That’s a huge change for a Florida sunshine girl. What’s the first and biggest adjustment you had to make changing not only homes, but climates? Did your well-dressed Regency heroes bring their overcoats?
ALYSSA’S GOTTA ANSWER: We hardly had any winter at all this year, but most years, my Regency heroes would definitely need their overcoats!
The biggest adjustment I had to make after moving to Pennsylvania had to do with shoes, or the lack thereof. It's the custom here in my small town for guests to remove their shoes when entering someone else's house. I'd never heard of that before, outside of Japanese culture, but with snow, slush, and actual mud (the slippery black stuff, not the wet sand we had in Florida), it makes sense to do it in this corner of Pennsylvania. Whenever I'm visiting friends, I have to remember to wear good socks with no holes in them, because we're all going to be walking around in our stocking feet.
And speaking of shoes, I was completely clueless when it came to equipping my children for the winters here. Growing up on the Gulf coast, I never owned snowboots, snowpants, or mittens. I'd go shopping in late November only to discover that every pair of children's snowpants in our local stores had already sold out. Thank heavens for L. L. Bean.
UP NEXT: A TRYST WITH TROUBLE
Dogged for years by painful gossip about his father’s homosexuality, the Marquees of Beningbrough—Ben, to his friends—has protected himself by becoming the ultimate man’s man. Passed over by suitor after suitor in favor of her pretty but vapid younger sister, clever, forthright Lady Barbara Jeffords has reached the disappointing conclusion most men are shallow, boorish clods. When a philandering footman turns up dead, the two square off: he’s sure she’s determined to pin the crime on his hapless young cousin, while she thinks he means to shift the blame to her sister. To find the real killer, Ben and Barbara must declare a truce that threatens to expose both their buried insecurities and their growing desire for each other.
ALYSSA IS GIVING AWAY a $20 Amazon gift card (via email).
Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only unless specifically mentioned in the post. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.
DON’T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter (#GetLostStories) or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes. Join Jill tomorrow when she hosts Tracey Devlin. Come back on FRIDAY THE 13th for a special Income Tax weekend with that great CPA Tax Investigator, Tara Holloway (Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure & Death, Taxes, and A Skinny No-Whip Latte by Diane Kelly) ~Angi
ALYSSA WANTS TO KNOW:What quality would you like to see more of in a romance hero?