HFVBT Presents: The Unexpected Earl

HF Virtual Book Tours invites you to join Philippa Jane Keyworth as she tours the blogosphere for her novel, The Unexpected Earl, from September 20-30.
Publication Date: September 20, 2014
Madison Street Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction/Regency/Romance

From the author of the widely acclaimed The Widow’s Redeemer, comes a new Regency romance from Philippa Jane Keyworth.
Six years after being jilted without a word of explanation, Julia Rotherham finds Lucius Wolversley standing before her once again–unexpected, unannounced, unwelcome. With her heart still hurting and, more importantly, her pride, Julia must chaperone her younger sister, fend off fortune hunters, orchestrate a fake engagement, and halt an elopement–all whilst keeping the man who jilted her at arm’s length. But what Julia doesn’t know is that this time, the Earl has no intention of disappearing, and this time, he has more than an explanation to offer…

My Thoughts
The Unexpected Earl is a hard, but not so fast lesson in the disasters of assumption.
Young Julia Rotherham is so beside herself when she finds the young man that 'left her hanging' as it were, some six years before, has just had the nerve to show his face at her sister's 'coming out' ball, that she finds it necessary to get drunk.

You would think that after six years on the marriage market that is the London social scene of this era, that our young Miss Rotherham would have developed the good sense NOT to leave her charms to wither on the vine.
Its not like she hasn't has offers.

Alas, you would be wrong.
It seems that this shrew has seen fit to accept her self imposed spinsterhood none to graciously.
Moan, moan, lament...yada...yada.

So what does she do when her wayward suitor returns bent on pursuing her?
Run, lie, and accuse him of being after her money without hearing his side, of course.

This is a look at the true Regency romance.  There are no heaving bossoms...
Well, if they are heaving, its with rightous indignation, more so than any unbridled passion.
But I digress.
Let's not forget the spirited games of social musical chairs and hints of scandal.

The Unexpected Earl, has all of this in spades and is a welcome sojourn to a slower paced and seemingly more genteel time.
The characters were written very much to period.  Although there were times when a little more sense and far less manners would have been a welcomed change.
The pacing of the story is rather slow in the beginning, but well worth the wait for things to pick up plot wise heading into mid book.

This book is one of those hidden treasures that you simply have to curl up with, shut out the world, and enjoy.

In young Lucius'defense, I must say that if he was given any advance warning as to where, and with whom, that evening would find him; he would have probably made himself no stranger to the liquor cabinet.

About the Author
Philippa Jane Keyworth, known to her friends as Pip, has been writing since she was twelve in every notebookshe could find. Originally trained as a horse-riding instructor, Philippa went on to become a copywriter before beginning a degree in History. A born again Christian, Philippa lives in the south of England with her handsome husband.
Philippa has always written stories and believes that, since it is one of her loves and passions, she always will. In her early writing career, she dabbled in a variety of genres, but it was the encouragement of a friend to watch a film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that began her love affair with the British Regency. Since then, she has watched every Regency film and TV series she could get her hands on and become well acquainted with Georgette Heyer’s novels which gave her the inspiration to write her own.
Both as a reader and a writer, Philippa believes it is important to escape into a world you yourself would want to live in. This is why she writes stories that will draw you into the characters’ joys and heartaches in a world apart from our own. Her debut novel, The Widow’s Redeemer (Madison Street Publishing, 2012), is a traditional Regency romance bringing to life the romance between a young widow with an indomitable spirit and a wealthy viscount with an unsavory reputation. The novel has been received well by readers and reviewers who have praised the heartfelt story and admirable characters. Her second novel, The Unexpected Earl (Madison Street Publishing, 2014), explores another romance in the Regency era when an impetuous young woman has her life turned upside down by the reappearance of the earl who jilted her six years ago.
So, what are you waiting for? Get swept away into another time with characters you will learn to love, and experience the British Regency like never before.
For more information please visit Philippa Jane Keyworth’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.
Also by Philippa Jane Keyworth
The Widow’s Redeemer
The Unexpected Earl Blog Tour Schedule
Saturday, September 20
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, September 22
Review at Austenprose
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Tuesday, September 23
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Spotlight & Excerpt at Romantic Historical Reviews
Wednesday, September 24
Review & Interview at Bookish
Friday, September 26
Review & Interview at Back Porchervations
Spotlight at Princess of Eboli
Sunday, September 28
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, September 29
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Review at Based on a True Story
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, September 30
Review at A Library of My Own

HFVBT Presents: Inglorious Royal Marriages...A Demi-millennium Of Unholy Mismatrimony

Please join Leslie Carroll on her Blog Tour for Inglorious Royal Marriages: A Demi-Millennium of Unholy Mismatrimony, from September 1-26.
02_Inglorious Royal Marriages
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
NAL Trade
Formats: eBook, Paperback; 400p
Genre: History/Non-Fiction/Royalty
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Why does it seem that the marriages of so many monarchs are often made in hell? And yet we can’t stop reading about them! To satisfy your schadenfreude, INGLORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES offers a panoply of the most spectacular mismatches in five hundred years of royal history….some of which are mentioned below.

When her monkish husband, England’s Lancastrian Henry VI, became completely catatonic, the unpopular French-born Margaret of Anjou led his army against the troops of their enemy, the Duke of York
Margaret Tudor, her niece Mary I, and Catherine of Braganza were desperately in love with chronically unfaithful husbands—but at least they weren’t murdered by them, as were two of the Medici princesses.

King Charles II’s beautiful, high-spirited sister “Minette” wed Louis XIV’s younger brother, who wore more makeup and perfume than she did.

Compelled by her mother to wed her boring, jug-eared cousin Ferdinand, Marie of Roumania—a granddaughter of Queen Victoria—emerged as a heroine of World War I by using her prodigious personal charm to regain massive amounts of land during the peace talks at Versailles. Marie’s younger sister Victoria Melita wed two of her first-cousins: both marriages ultimately scandalized the courts of Europe.

Brimming with outrageous real-life stories of royal marriages gone wrong, this is an entertaining, unforgettable book of dubious matches doomed from the start.

My Thoughts

Today's royalty and celebrities often have to resort to rather far fetched tactics to keep the 'whys and wherefores'  of their nuptials out of the non-blinking sight and ever-listening ear of social media.
Inglorious Royal Marriages provides readers a candid and no holds barred look at what life and marriage was like for those 'rowdy royals' of old.  At a time when "Twitter" was strictly for the birds, and "Facebooking" involved actual books.

Whether it be marriage to a monkish monarch, or dealings with a dallying dauphin, every story is well worth its weight in sordid situations.
Right down to the story of Isabella Romola de Medici and Paolo d'Orsini, and Eleonora di Garzia di Toledo and Pietro de Medici.
This tale of marriage, money, and mayhem is one so full of vendetta and bloody corpses, that it would make the most seasoned mobster proud.

This well researched and expertly recounted history stands as proof that truth is indeed often stranger than fiction.
Readers will fly through the 300+ pages of jaw dropping accounts of the ins and outs of some of history's most well known unions.
Inglorious Royal Marriages is to this reviewer one of the best works of historical nonfiction of 2014.

Praise for Leslie Carroll’s Royal Books

“An irresistible combination of People magazine and the History Channel.”—Chicago Tribune (5 Stars)

“Thoroughly enjoyable.”—Booklist

“For those who tackled Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and can’t get enough of the scandal surrounding Henry VIII’s wives, [Notorious Royal Marriages is] the perfect companion book.”—NewYorker.com

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Barnes & Noble

About the Author

03_Leslie CarrollLeslie Carroll is the author of several works of historical nonfiction, women’s fiction, and, under the pen names Juliet Grey and Amanda Elyot, is a multipublished author of historical fiction. Her nonfiction titles include Royal Romances, Royal Pains, Royal Affairs, and Notorious Royal Marriages. She is also a classically trained professional actress with numerous portrayals of virgins, vixens, and villainesses to her credit, and is an award-winning audio book narrator.

A frequent commentator on royal romances and relationships, Leslie has been interviewed by numerous publications, including MSNBC.com, USA Today, the Australian Broadcasting Company, and NPR, and she was a featured royalty historian on CBS nightly news in London during the royal wedding coverage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

 She also appears as an expert on the love lives of Queen Victoria, Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great, and Napoleon on the television series “The Secret Life of [fill in the name of famous figure]” for Canada’s History Channel. Leslie and her husband, Scott, divide their time between New York City and Washington, D.C.

For more information please visit Leslie’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Inglorious Royal Marriages Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 1
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, September 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Scandalous Women
Wednesday, September 3
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, September 4
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, September 5
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, September 8
Review & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, September 9
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Spotlight at Princess of Eboli
Thursday, September 11
Review at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Friday, September 12
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Monday, September 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, September 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Wednesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Saturday, September 20
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Tuesday, September 23
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, September 24
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Review & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read
Thursday, September 25
Review at Bookish
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, September 26
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
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Will You Be Won Over By "SWAY"?

Sway Title:  Sway
Author:  Kat Spears
Format:  ERC
Length:  320 pages
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Rating:  3 Stars

In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut,g high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help himt win the heart of the angelihc Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.


My Thoughts
See Ferris Bulluer...
Jesse Alderman seems to have it all, and if not...he knows who to ask, where to buy, or who to bribe to get whatever it is that one of the myriad of people on his ever expanding client list needs to make his or her life complete.

The problem?
The magic, or SWAY, that he seems to have over the people, places, and things in his daily existence, simply does NOT carry over into the personal.

With an absentee, musician, father prone to drinking binges, and still reeling from the his mother's suicide, Jesse has taken every precaution against letting anyone get close.

Until her...

The thing is, she was never supposed to be on his radar in the first place. Getting to know Bridget Smalley was a simple Intel mission. $200 to get in, get close, and find out what made her tick.
He had no idea that she would breeze past all of his defenses with nothing more lethal than her smile.
She would be it for him. She would change his game forever. If only he could manage to get over...himself.

This is a book that is built, not so much on the strength of its main character, but in the color, quirk, and vibrancy imparted to him through interactions with his supporting cast.
Bridget, Pete, Joey, Mr. D, and others allow the reader to write the role of hero, villain, coward, or victor, onto the blank slate that is Jesse.

The only part of the story that can truly be attributed to him is the tragedy concerning his mother.

This book is Ferris Bulluer with feels.
The plot falls flat in places, but is saved by expressive writing and supporting players.

Sometimes Love Is An Uphill Climb...Enjoy The Journey With "Priya In Heels"

Priya in HeelsTitle:  Priya In Heels
Author:  Ayesha Patel
Format:  ERC
Length:  436 pages
Publisher:  Entangled/Embrace
Rating:  5 Stars
A new adult title from Entangled’s Embrace imprint…

Love doesn’t conquer all…does it?

Priyanka Patel is the epitome of an obedient daughter. She’s finishing up her medical residency at one of Houston’s busiest emergency departments, and has agreed—albeit reluctantly—to marry the man her family has chosen for her. The only thing that can derail the “perfect” life laid out before her is the sexy musician down the hall who wants into her life…and into her bed.

Tyler O’Connor has been infatuated with Priya since she treated his sprained ankle in the ER, and after saving her from a brutal attack, he can't get her out of his head. When Priya puts her family's wishes before their relationship, agreeing to an arranged marriage with another man, Tyler is devastated.

But love is fierce and unreasonable and clashes with the carefully sculpted life her parents want for her. Is going after her heart such a big deal, or will it truly unravel Priya’s world?

"Priya in Heels is an exquisite mix of culture, romance, and humor all brought together by two characters you can't help but love from the get-go. It's a must read!" ~NYT Bestselling Author Anna Banks

"Sweet and sexy with a dash of spice." USA Today Bestselling Author Nicola Marsh

"Chemistry jumps off the pages in this sexy-fun tale of family, “firsts," and doing anything for true love. I swooned over Ty right along with Pree!" USA Today Bestselling Author Ophelia London

"A moving story about a girl at a crossroads between her Indian culture and what's expected of her, and the American boy who's stolen her heart." USA Today Bestselling Author Cindi Madsen

"A thoroughly entertaining romance that deftly captures the enduring conflict between conservative Indian traditions and contemporary American culture." Shobhan Bantwal, Award-Winning Author of the Dowry Bride  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
Good girl, Priya Patel, knew from the moment that Tyler O'Connor, of the twinkling green eyes and easy smile, ambled into her ER complaining of a possibly broken ankle; he was trouble for someone.
She just had no idea that someone would be her.

Priya In Heels is a beautifully written story which manages to bring the trials and tribulations of love and marriage for Indian-American traditionalists.  Though the beautiful Priya should have the world by the tail, blessed as she is with beauty, friends, and a residency at a top Houston hospital.  Her parents long to see her married off to a "nice Indian boy", and tucked away with two kids in a suburb not too far away.

Since meeting and getting to know Tyler however, it seems that both Priya's mind and treacherous heart have their own versions of "happily ever after"
This is a book that fills the reader's heart and mind through honest and highly relatable characters, and true-to-life scenarios.  Priya and Ty are a couple that readers want to fight for, as they fight the cultural and societal barriers to their love.
The 400+ pages comprising this novel fly by, and can easily be breezed through in one sitting.
Ty is the perfect blend of nerdy heat, compassion, and knightlyness.
Priya is beauty, brains, loyalty, and honesty.
Seeing them struggle against old conventions and mores, in a quest for the new and now, will warm the heart and feed the soul.

HFVBT Presents: Prisoner of The Queen

Please join E. Knight as she tours virtually for Prisoner of the Queen, the second book in her Tales From the Tudor Court Series, from September 15-October 3.
02_Prisoner of the Queen
Publication Date: July 2014
Knight Media, LLC
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: Tales From the Tudor Court
Genre: Historical Fiction
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  I have served three queens in my life. One was my sister, one was my savior, and one my bitterest enemy.
Knowing she was seen as a threat to the Queen she served, Lady Katherine Grey, legitimate heir to the throne, longs only for the comfort of a loving marriage and a quiet life far from the intrigue of the Tudor court. After seeing her sister become the pawn of their parents and others seeking royal power and then lose their lives for it, she is determined to avoid the vicious struggles over power and religion that dominate Queen Elizabeth’s court. Until she finds love—then Kat is willing to risk it all, even life in prison.

 My Thoughts

Prisoner Of The Queen, marks authoress Eliza Knight's latest tarriance among the royal and not so royal blooms of the fabled Tudor Rose.
Chronicling the life and times of Lady Katherine Grey, "princess of the blood" and sister to the tragic "nine days Queen," Jane Grey; this is a story of life, love, and treachery, that has to be read to be believed.

As cousin to both Mary and Elizabeth Tudor, Katherine's story offers a much more intimate look at life among the royals.  As such, the rivalries, jealousies, spites, and slights, create more of the cat and mouse game of sovereign versus subject, and relative versus relative, that readers of Historical Fiction crave.

Eliza Knight once again tells the story of the little known royal relation with a personal panache and flair for the dramatic that serves to elevate one given a mediocre place in the annals of history, to astronomical heights in the fictional arena.

Vibrant characters, mind-bending plot twists, and a fluid yet breakneck pace, are all trademarks of authoress Knight, that fans of her books have come to know as her signature hallmarks of excellence.
Lady Katherine presents as a strong, intelligent, and astute heroine from page one of her tale.  A woman bound and determined to live and love as she chooses, even as forces both within and without the realm of court and crown fight to control her every move.

Tales From the Tudor Court Series

Book One: My Lady Viper
Book Two: Prisoner of the Queen

About the Author

Eliza KnightE. Knight is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America and several RWA affiliate writing chapters: Hearts Through History, Celtic Hearts, Maryland Romance Writers and Washington Romance Writers. Growing up playing in castle ruins and traipsing the halls of Versailles when visiting her grandparents during the summer, instilled in a love of history and royals at an early age. Feeding her love of history, she created the popular historical blog, History Undressed (www.historyundressed.com). Under the pseudonym Eliza Knight, she is a bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author of historical and erotic romance.
For more information please visit E. Knight’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Prisoner of the Queen Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 15
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Tuesday, September 16
Review & Giveaway at JulzReads
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Wednesday, September 17
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, September 18
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Friday, September 19
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Monday, September 22
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Interview & Giveaway at The Tudor Enthusiast
Tuesday, September 23
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, September 24
Review at leeanna.me
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Thursday, September 25
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Friday, September 26
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, September 29
Review at Book Drunkard
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, September 30
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, October 1
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Thursday, October 2
Review & Excerpt at Romantic Historical Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Friday, October 3
Review at The True Book Addict
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
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Get Caught Up In The Romance of "The Bouquet List"

The Bouquet List Title:  The Bouquet List
Author:  Barbara DeLeo
Format: ERC
Length:  211 pages
Publisher:  Entangled/Bliss
Rating:  4 Stars
**NOTE: This is a Red-Hot Bliss and is not a behind closed doors sex scenes story.**

He's #5 on her Bouquet List. Tall, dark...and completely forbidden.

After a too-close call with death, Yasmin Katsalos is checking some things off her Bouquet List—things to do after you thought you were going to die. Fun fashion choices? Check. Purple hair and a cute diamond nose stud? Check, check. Now she's on to item #5: a flirty fling with a man who's tall, dark, rich...and totally out of her league.

And restaurateur Lane Griffiths definitely fits the bill.

Lane isn't just out of Yasmin's league. He's also her brother's best friend and therefore off-limits. Now that they're working together on renovations for her family's wedding hall, however, Yasmin has plenty of opportunities to bewitch, bother, and boldly seduce. He's reserved. She's relaxed. The only thing they share is a spark of attraction that's too strong to resist. But is Lane just another item on her bouquet list... or has Yasmin found something on her list that will last?  -Goodreads

Excerpt from
The Bouquet List
by Barbara DeLeo Copyright © 2014 by Barbara DeLeo. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Chapter One
“Do you have an invitation, miss? Only wedding guests can come in at this time of night.”
The lanky young boy in an oversize doorman’s uniform stepped into Yasmin Katsalos’s path at the gates of the Aegean Palace, the wedding hall her parents had owned in Beauville, Westchester County, New York, for the past forty years. Behind him, well-dressed guests milled about in the courtyard while boys in miniature suits and girls in princess dresses chased each other in the soft light of dusk. The rich aroma of spit-roast lamb carried on the breeze, and the familiar sound of a jaunty bouzouki band played in the distance.
Yasmin finally let herself sigh in dizzy relief. She was home, and there was a time only a few weeks ago when she’d thought she might never see this place, or her parents, again.
Pulling her gaze from the wedding scene, she peered closer at the guard. “Stratis, is that you?” She dropped her backpack and threw her arms around her father’s young godson. “You’ve gotten so big!” She laughed. “And when did you start working here? Last time I saw you was in the Greek school Christmas pageant playing a palm tree!”
Stratis stood stiff beneath her hug and when she leaned back, his eyes widened. “No, I don’t believe it! Yas? Oh my God. I didn’t recognize you with your…your hair and…the nose stud. And when did you stop wearing glasses?”
Yasmin touched the purple streaks in her glossy black hair. Not purple exactly, more a rich, deep lilac, almost the exact shade of the amethyst deceiver, the little mushroom she was so fond of, and the irony made her smile. There’d be no more amethyst deceiver in her near future, and the thought of that, and her whole new look, caused her heart to do a half pike, double backflip.
The hair and the nose stud were the first two items on her bouquet list, the list of things she wanted to do in her life after surviving dengue fever, and she couldn’t wait to get started on the rest. Putting her PhD on hold was third and learning a new language was at four. Seducing a tall, dark man out of her league was five—some things on her list scared her more than others, but she’d have attempted none of them in her quiet and conservative old life BD—before dengue.
Now everything was different.
“I’ve been doing research work in Borneo for a little bit, but I’m back earlier than I’d planned so I thought I’d surprise Mom and Dad. Are they around?”
Stratis shook his head. “Your mom’s not here, and the last time I saw Mano he was in the restaurant threatening to fire one of the new waiters for wearing his pants too low. Want me to take your bag upstairs while you go find him?”
He nodded toward the nearest building. “Your mom and dad moved into the old apartment a while back so they could rent their house as part of the wedding package. You didn’t know?”
Her chest hollowed. She’d been in Borneo for eighteen months, but her parents hadn’t mentioned anything about moving to the apartment. Things had been tough at the Palacefor a while now, which was part of the reason she hadn’t told them she’d been so sick, but she hadn’t realized things had gotten this bad.
“No, I didn’t know they’d moved. Thanks for taking my bag, Stratis. I’ll go look for Dad and catch you later.”
Stratis picked up her backpack and headed up the stairs to the apartment that overlooked the entranceway while she walked through the courtyard. Everything was as she remembered. Statues of Greek gods were dotted around the perimeter while a pink fountain in the middle changed its colored light to synchronize with the movement of the water. If she hadn’t just traveled in a cab from LaGuardia Airport, she could be fooled into thinking she was in Greece. Well, maybe Greece in the 1980s. The decor had never quite kept in step with the decades, but there was more to it this time. Some of the bright turquoise and yellow pots that held tumbling geraniums and basil in every available space were cracked, and the whitewashed wall covered in brilliant purple bougainvillea was peeling. Whether the decor hadn’t been modernized because there wasn’t enough money, or the other way around, the Aegean Palacewasn’t what it used to be. This sight, combined with the news that her parents had moved into the apartment, made Yasmin even more anxious to find her father.
If she weren’t in such a hurry, she’d have gone to say hello to Monty, the parrot who was just as much of an institution as the Dionysus mosaic on the ground and the plastic grapevines adorning the front of the restaurant. There would be time to chat to Monty later, but right now she couldn’t wait to see her dad.
As soon as she entered the restaurant in its conglomeration of gold and black decor, she spotted him. He was standing with his back to her, arms flailing wildly as he harangued a waiter in Greek. The emotion she’d kept bottled inside the last few weeks overpowered her, and she rushed up behind and threw her arms around him. “Baba!”
Panagia!” he called out and spun around. Then, just like Stratis, he froze. “Yasmin! Kori, is that you?”
Instead of squeezing her close in one of his bear hugs that she’d missed so much, he took a step back and his horrified gaze swept from the top of her head, to the diamond glinting in her nose, and down to the Doc Martens boots she wore on her feet. And then to her dismay, his eyes filled with tears.
“It’s okay, Dad,” she said in a rush. “I should’ve told you. Something happened in Borneo and I wanted a fresh…”
He cut her off before she could deliver the speech she’d prepared on the plane about how the fever had affected her, how the list she’d written was changing her already. She should have known that seeing her like this would be a shock.
“It’s your mother,” her father choked.
“Mom? What’s happened? Where is she? Is she okay?”
Her father’s enormous chest rose, then fell, beneath his tight black waistcoat. “She has gone to Greece.” He vigorously crossed himself. “And thanks be to Panagia that you have come to help me bring her back,” he said, swiping at his eyes. He dropped his voice as if he was suddenly conscious of his outburst. “Come to the back office and I will explain everything.”
While the wedding crowd began to move inside for what was probably the arrival of the bride and groom, Yasmin followed her father across the courtyard and into one of the offices. Her mother was in Greece without him? That had never happened before. A relative must have fallen ill. Perhaps her mother’s sister Maria. Her parents had run this place for forty years, but she couldn’t imagine her father coping on his own. Especially when times were so tough.
When they were seated in the office, Mano cleared his throat and stroked his salt-and-pepper mustache. “Your mother doesn’t believe in the Aegean Palace anymore.”
Yasmin, blinked, trying to make sense of what he’d just said. “What do you mean? Mom loves this place.”
“Things have been very tough. Those O’Malleys. Pah! Pah!” He paused and pretended to spit twice over his shoulder. “Those criminals steal so much of our business and I promise your mother that I will turn things around. She shouts at me and tells me this is another one of my schemes with the hairy brain and that she will not return until either this place is sold or the pigs have flown and it starts to make money again. And then she just orders a cab and leaves. She does not understand that I borrowed the money for the renovations so the Palace can finally be successful.”
Yasmin drew a breath and reached for her father’s hand. “Have you told Nick and Ari?”
Mano’s face paled further. “Your brothers know your mother has gone to Greece, but they don’t know the whole story and they mustn’t. I will not have their careers spoiled because your mother has her crazy thoughts. I will go to Lesbos tomorrow to bring her back and then it will all be forgotten.”
“You’re leaving tomorrow? Who’ll run things?”
“I’ve explained everything to Grace and she has it all in hand. And Lane is doing the renovation, of course.”
“Lane Griffiths?” She knew of Grace, the wedding planner for the Palace, but she hadn’t seen Nick’s best friend for years. “What renovation?”
“Yes. He is a good boy and he is very successful with so many restaurants. I’ve asked him to help redesign the restaurant and the menu so people start booking with us instead of those dirty O’Malleys.”
Kyrie Katsalos.” A young waiter had poked his head around the door and the look on his face suggested he was afraid it might be chopped off. “That new boy has dropped the wedding cake on the floor and the mother of the bride has fainted.”
Panagia mou!” Mano shouted and lifted both arms to the heavens. “What have I done to deserve this madness?”
The waiter was gone in an instant and when Mano dropped his hands he picked up a pair of glasses, held them up to his face, and squinted at Yasmin. “You can’t be working here with that hair and that thing in your nose. We have standards to maintain. Grace is good with the Greek mothers but they will be nervous that your mother isn’t here, so you will need to soothe them. And not look like a karagiozis from the carnival.”
Baba, I need to tell you something.” He wouldn’t understand any of the things on her list, but she at least needed to tell him she’d been sick.
He dropped the glasses and rummaged through the pile of papers on the desk. “Not now, koukla. You can tell me everything when I bring your mother home by the end of the week. Where is that damned to God airplane ticket? I’m getting an early cab in the morning. Do whatever Lane asks and let me know if there are any problems. I will give you his number so you can meet and he can explain what he has planned.” He stood up. “Now I must go and clean Mrs. Konstantinopolous and that wedding cake off the floor.” He walked around the desk and kissed her on both cheeks. “You are a good girl, and I know you’ll make me proud,” he said on his way out the door.
He hadn’t even asked why she was back. Or how long she was staying. How could she fulfill her list when he expected her to fit right back into the role of a good daughter? And if she had to stay and supervise things while her father was away, she would certainly not “do whatever Lane asks.” She’d been telling her parents for years the Palace needed to be dragged kicking and screaming into this century. She had her own ideas how to go about it.
At eleven o’clock the next morning, Yasmin stood in the doorway of an old English tea shop and inhaled the scent of fresh-baked goodies. What did Lane look like now? She’d phoned him and left a message to meet her here to discuss what they were going to do. He’d always been an earnest guy, focused and serious like Nick, always aloof and a bit superior—the sort of kid you’d expect to see carrying a briefcase to his own wedding. But there was something completely mesmerizing about him as well—his piercing eyes, his knowing smile; just a glance her way when she was a girl and she’d been a puddle of teenage crush.
As her eyes became accustomed to the low light in the tearoom, she stopped still. Was that him? A dark-haired guy in a charcoal suit sat at a booth in the back, but he hadn’t noticed her. He was too busy looking at a laptop screen, his brow creased and his fist slowly tapping his chin.
He had a strong profile, a jaw that curved in a tight arc, and skin the burnished tan of honey. His dark brown hair reminded her so strongly of someone that she had a sudden sense of déjà vu, but couldn’t quite pin down who it was.
When she took a step into the room, he looked up, and in that instant her heart skipped a beat. Her pulse quickened, her palms became clammy, and she had to remind herself to put one foot in front of the other. The past came tumbling back, and for a moment it felt as though she were transported back in time, unable to speak when he was near. Back then he’d hardly acknowledged she existed, and now he was looking directly at her.
He stood at the booth, his head nearly touching the light hanging above him before he stepped forward. “Yasmin,” he said. “It’s been a long time.” Goose bumps flew across her arms and raced up the back of her neck. His voice was low and slow, the hypnotizing tone of a late-night radio host talking only to her while she was lying alone in her bed…
Stop it!
“Thanks so much for meeting me here,” she said, trying to appear cool and collected. Moving closer, her gaze rested on his, and she held out her hand at the same time that he dipped his face to kiss her cheek. In a clash of fine suit cloth and fingers, her hand collided with his stomach as his lips touched her ear when she twisted her face in surprise. A blush started to burn its way across her cheeks, but without looking at him or acknowledging the blunder, she slid into the booth opposite, the brand of his lips still warm on her skin. “Thanks for meeting me here,” she said as her eyes finally landed back on his face, before she realized she was repeating herself. “There’s a wedding on at the Palace today and I didn’t want to get under everyone’s feet. It was all a bit of a surprise when Dad told me about leaving for Greece last night.”
He sat too and regarded her with his head tilted slightly to the side. Those piercing blue eyes. “I never would’ve recognized you.”
She let out a nervous laugh that sounded all schoolgirl breathless, and was glad to find the waiter ready to take their order.
His brow creased and he looked at her more intently. “Are you okay? You’ve gone all red.”
She loosened the neckline of her new Chinese collar dress and cleared her throat. She picked up the menu and flicked through it, glad of an excuse to look away. “Fine…I’m fine, thanks. A pot of tea, please,” she said to the waiter who’d appeared beside her. “And is that scones I can smell?”
“Sure is. Right out of the oven. Would you like one with jam and cream?”
Her stomach gurgled in anticipation. “Yes, please.”
“Black coffee for me, thanks,” Lane said and pushed his computer aside. “Interesting place.” He looked around as the waiter left.
Yasmin clasped her hands on the table. “Since the coffee in Borneo wasn’t the best, I got used to drinking tea. Isn’t this place cute? My uncle Leo, our cook, told me about it.”
He twisted the other way, then fixed his gaze back on her. “It has…atmosphere. It’s all a bit dark and dreary as if it’s the middle of an English winter outside.”
Of course, he was an expert on restaurants; maybe this had been a bad choice.
“So, how have you been?” she said, breezily. “Dad said you’ve got a great chain of restaurants.”
“Had.” He still looked as serious and aloof as she’d remembered, and his intense stare still made the skin on the back of her neck tingle. “I’ve just sold them and have a very large project starting in a couple of months.”
“What’s that?”
“I was given the opportunity to create my signature restaurant in the newest Prescott Hotel. It’s the sort of thing I’d always had as an ultimate goal, but didn’t think I’d achieve until my mid-thirties.”
The Prescott Hotels? I’ve heard that guy’s ruthless.”
“He is, but he picked my restaurant out of a pretty impressive lineup so I’m ready to put everything into it. Doing this job for your dad was good timing because the hotel won’t be ready until the end of summer, and I hate not working.”
She tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “Look, I know Dad asked you to oversee the changes, but now that I’m here I’m happy to take over.”
He frowned as if she’d asked him to embezzle money from his grandma, but still spoke with that voice as smooth as liquid chocolate. “Your father asked me to do a little more than advise on decor. He asked that I manage the finances and oversee all the restaurant changes. Trust me, it’s easy to pay thousands of dollars for very little impact, and he wants his investment maximized. And with all due respect, you haven’t had industry experience.”
She put her palms flat on the table and straightened her spine. He didn’t need to know why she was back, or that she’d been sick. He just needed to know that she wanted to be in charge of this project, get creative, and help her parents at the same time.
“I appreciate your experience and expertise,” she said, making herself look directly in his eyes, “but I really want to do this on my own, so we can tell Dad we’re checking in from time to time and leave it at that.”
“Your hair,” he suddenly said. “How do they get the purple on there when it’s so dark underneath?”
She fingered the piece of hair over her shoulder, taken aback by his sudden interest in her. “They take a bit and bleach it, then when all the color’s gone they put the purple over it.”
“You mean they take all the existing color out completely? That must be damaging to the hair shaft. Does it ever recover?” He frowned again, and she had to suppress a chuckle at the look of concern on his face. He was just as she’d remembered, serious and aloof.
“I’m not really sure. I just had it done in Singapore on my way home.”
“Interesting. I hope it doesn’t cause permanent injury.”
There was a strange, yawning silence and Yasmin stifled a laugh at the irony of him worrying about damage to her hair when she’d had a life-threatening illness.
“As I was saying,” Lane said, “you’ll need advice and a detailed plan of what needs to be done. I have a designer who’ll come by this week to advise on any structural changes, and then I’ll have one of my chefs in and we can take a look at a menu redesign. I also have…”
She blinked. “Hang on a minute.”
“I want to have some fun with this, make the most of the opportunity.”
“Then I guess we’ll need to talk with your dad. It’s his money and his investment. He didn’t indicate that the focus should be…fun.” He lifted a strong shoulder, then let it fall.
Suddenly, Yasmin thought back to her early teens when she would dream about Lane taking notice of her, talking to her, and seeing her as someone important. He’d seemed untouchable back then—guys like him still were, for a girl who spent more time with mold than men.
A strange feeling overtook her and her mouth dried.
Seduce a tall, dark, and mysterious man who’s out of my league.
The sense of déjà vu—Lane Griffiths with his suit and his status and his cool aloofness, his strong shoulders and those heart-melting eyes—Lane Griffiths could be her number five!

My Thoughts
Yasmin Katsolas has a lot to live for, and almost dying of dengue fever  in Borneo drove that point home for her like nothing else could.
When she returns home with a pierced nose and purple streaks adorning her dark locks, her traditional Greek family doesn't know quite how to deal with this new and vibrant version of her.

Upheavals in the family wedding hall leave little time for her family to bemoan her changes however.
With a rival wedding hall stealing clients left and right, Yasmin and her family must act fast to save the family business.

Enter Lane Griffiths...

Polished, poised, a restaurateur on the rise, Lane has promised to see to the relaunch of her family's business.
As the tall, dark, and handsome man that she wishes to seduce.  A.k.a #5 on her list, Lane has no idea how working with the girl that he was so used to thinking of as "his best friend's sister" is going to change his life.

The Bouquet List is a sweet and passionate tale of love, family, and self discovery.  The thing that sets this story apart is the fact that both Lane and Yasmin learn to trust themselves, live, and love freely.
Their love making is a sweet interlude in an even sweeter romance.  It only serves to cement their fledgeling love bond in the hearts and minds of both the couple and their readers.
This is a wonderful light read; full of wit, banter, charm, and love.

Book Junkie Promotions Presents: The Thief

02_The Thief 
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Howard Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: The Living Water (Book Two)
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure. Desperate to escape the accursed Judean province, he accepts a wager. If he can catch the thieves harassing the marketplace before Passover, he’ll earn a transfer away from the troublemaking Jews.
Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Only with the help of Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, can she keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and a roof over their heads.
When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Longinus longs to learn more about the mysterious healer. Instead, his journey leads him to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.
Unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, they wonder who this teacher is who heals others but does nothing to save himself. Is the mercy he offers in his teachings real, or just another false promise? Can Nissa and Longinus overcome their pasts to find a future free of their shackles?

Praise for The Thief

“Nissa’s tough demeanor as a cover for her fear and and Longinus’ desire to live a life of peace in his mother’s homeland of Gaul are achingly believable. Both characters are truly lost souls brought together by Jesus’ act of mercy. Their discover, through Him, that mercy is the true power that leads to peace is a reassurance Christian readers can appreciate.” —Romantic Times, 4 1/2 stars

“To read The Thief is to be completely transported to another time and place. Landsem’s impeccably researched novel moves at breakneck speed toward a climax that doesn’t disappoint.” —Rebecca Kanner, author of Sinners and the Sea (Rebecca Kanner, author of Sinners and the Sea)

“Powerful and moving, Landsem grabs hold of the soul and never lets go. As compelling a portrait of mercy as I have ever read. Don’t miss this one!” —Siri Mitchell, author of The Messenger (Siri Mitchell, author of The Messenger)

“Filled with memorable characters, The Thief is a tale of hopelessness turned to hope, of high stakes made higher, and ultimate love. What happens when a character at the lowest rung of society crosses paths with the most well-known figure in history? The story of The Thief. I couldn’t stop reading.” —Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Iscariot (Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Iscariot)

“WOW! LOVE IT!!! I started reading on my way home from a conference and was so engrossed in the book I almost missed the flight! The Thief stole my heart and lifted my spirit. Masterfully told, this story of a Roman centurion and a Jewish girl explores familiar New Testament passages but plumbs new spiritual depths. A powerful message of faith and hope intersecting at the foot of the cross.” —Mesu Andrews, author of In a Broken Vessel (Mesu Andrews, author of In a Broken Vessel)
“You know the feeling you get looking at a mountain sunset, listening to sacred music while James Earl Jones reads the Sermon on the Mount? The Thief captures that emotion in an unforgettable story of desperation and beauty.” —Regina Jennings, author of Caught in the Middle and Sixty Acres and a Bride (Regina Jennings, author of Caught in the Middle and Sixty Acres and a Bride)

“A compelling story and vivid characters immediately come off the page and into your heart as Stephanie Landsem brings ancient Jerusalem to life in her enthralling second novel, The Thief. As you run through the streets with the little thief, Mouse, or dip in the Pool of Siloam with the secretive Nissa, a masterful tale full of adventure, heartbreak, and hope unfolds. A must-read for anyone who loves a good book they simply can’t put down.” —Laura Sobiech, author of Fly a Little Higher (Laura Sobiech, author of Fly a Little Higher)

Buy the Book


My Thoughts

The story told here is one that though inspired by the unparalleled brilliance that is the New Testament,
manages to tell its own story in a clear and compelling voice that beckons the reader to not only read,
but to receive its message of unwavering faith, the redemptive power of love, and the mercy of forgiveness.
Set in Jerusalem,
The Thief tells the story of Nissa/Mouse, a young Jewess, at a crossroads in her 
life, and seemingly so far from the loving bosom of the God of her forefathers.
Nissa has no choice it seems, but to risk life and limb by assuming the identity of Mouse,
a highly skilled thief.
When her nefarious activities put her in the sights of Longinus, a centurion of Rome, bound and determined to bring the elusive thief to justice;
Nissa finds herself having to reevaluate long held beliefs and reconsider her path.
Further complications arise when her brother, Cedron, blind since birth, is healed by Jesus and
becomes an outspoken radical for the new Messiah.
As word spreads of Jesus' great works and wonders,
our three main characters finds their fates becoming more closely entwined both 
with each other, 
and with that of Jesus.

While it is true that this story is set in and around the time of the Crucifixion;
the author is very careful not to allow those events to overshadow the story of 
her three main characters.
What readers are presented with when reading The Thief, is a beautiful and inspiring blend 
of faith and fiction;
 made to feed both the mind and the soul of each person fortunate enough to peruse its pages.

Reviewer's Note:
This book is the second in a trilogy that may be read as standalone volumes, or
enjoyed serially.   


About the Author

Stephanie-Landsem-106-199x300Stephanie writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s backpacked through Germany and Eastern Europe, studied in Salzburg, enjoyed gelato in Italy, rode a camel in Morocco, and floated in the salty Corinthian Sea. Her favorite cities are Rome, Berlin and Budapest. Her travels kindle her imagination, fuel her love of history and foreign culture, and introduce her to one-of-a-kind characters.
Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband of 22 years, four children, three fat cats, and a tortoise named Moe. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, volunteering at church and school, battling dandelions, and dreaming about her next adventure – whether it be in person or on the page.
The Thief is an evocative story of two people trapped in their circumstances and the life-changing power of forgiveness and love.

Author Links

The Thief Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 1
Review at Closed the Cover
Tuesday, September 2
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, September 4
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Spotlight at She is Too Fond of Books
Monday, September 8
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Review at Historical Novel Review & Great Historicals
Tuesday, September 9
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, September 10
Interview & Giveaway at The Overweight Bookshelf
Thursday, September 11
Review at What Are You Reading?
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Friday, September 12
Spotlight at Princess of Eboli
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"Misadventures In Seduction" Hits Every Romantic Target

Misadventures in Seduction (Masquerading Mistresses, #3) Title:  Misadventures In Seduction
(Masquerading Mistresses #3)
Author:  Robyn DeHart
Format:  ERC
Length: 106 pages
Publisher:  Entangled/Scandalous  
Rating:  5 Stars

With five siblings to care for, Prudence Hixsby 's duty comes first, even if it means becoming a spinster. When the eldest—and most cherished—of her younger brothers decides to join the war, however, Prudence is determined to keep him safe. So she strikes a bargain with an old acquaintance: her body in exchange for her brother's safety.

In the dead of night, she slips into the bed of a man whose touch is both fierce and passionate... little knowing she's just seduced the wrong man.

Harrison Carlisle, the Duke of Sutcliffe, never imagined that that lovely Prudence would honor his bed, or just how bewitching those lush curves could be. Yet he keeps a gentleman's silence. After all, a spy for the Crown can ill afford to marry. But when Prudence's brother is killed, they find themselves uniting to track down the traitorous murderer. And while death lurks within the shadowy world of espionage, there is also passion... and the unbidden thrill of seduction!  -Goodreads

Excerpt from
Misadventures in Seduction
by Robyn DeHart Copyright © 2014 by Robyn DeHart. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Country house party at the edge of Derbyshire, 1810
Prudence Hixsby, eldest child to the late Mr. and Mrs. Hixsby of Staffordshire, stole a glance at the tall man across the parlor. Harrison Carlisle, Duke of Sutcliffe. He leaned against the mantel as if he owned the room even though he was as much a guest as she. His arrogance was palpable.
His lean figure cut a dashing view with his bright white cravat, expertly tied, and his black tailcoat. She looked down on her own dress—meager by his standards, certainly, but it was one of her finest gowns, a soft blue embroidered muslin with a satin ribbon tied just under her breasts. It was a flattering color, she’d been told. Still, in comparison to the duke’s finery, she felt lacking.
His shrewd blue eyes scanned the parlor, yet he never seemed to see her. Blast it all, but he was handsome.
“You’re staring,” her brother’s voice said from behind.
She started at his intrusion. “Johnston, you shouldn’t sneak up on a person in such a way.” She tapped his elbow. “And I was not staring.” Had she been staring? Nearly twenty people were in attendance. She recognized most of them. Lord and Lady Flintlock played cards at a table in the back of the parlor, with two older women whom she recognized, but could not recall their names. Several others chatted around the room as she and her brother were doing. None of them seemed to notice her, so had she been gawking, perhaps it had gone unseen by all but her brother.
“Deny if you must, dear sister.” Johnston gave her one of his charming smiles. “But we both know the truth.”
She ignored his goading. It was alarming, not to mention troubling, that she’d been staring at the duke at all, let alone that she’d been caught. What was it about the man that she found so interesting? It was not his charm; he’d never been particularly friendly to her.
“I want to speak with you about something,” Johnston said, interrupting her thoughts.
Regardless, she need not spend any considerable time noting the Duke’s assets. “We speak every day. Several times a day, in fact.”
Still, Johnston took her by the elbow and led her to the back corner of the room, near a large bookcase. “Yes, but there are always children around.”
She chuckled. “Those children are your siblings, too.”
“Indeed. But Astrid is always bothering me to teach her to ride like a man.” He tugged uncomfortably on his cravat. “Constance looks at me so disapprovingly for a twelve year old.”
“Jefferson idolizes you,” Prudence said.
Johnston shrugged. “I suppose. And Matilda is always on your lap.”
A pang shot through Prudence’s heart. “I am the only mother she has ever known.”
“Still, this is a private matter, and it would appear that we are alone at the moment.” Johnston glanced about the parlor, then back to her. “I’m tired of sitting at home doing nothing, Pru. I know you won’t approve, but I’m going to join up and fight this war.”
The floor seemed to fall from beneath her. She eyed her brother, four years her junior, and found nothing but sincerity in his gaze. “You cannot. We have a family to care for.”
“But it is my duty to serve my country and honor our family name. Besides you don’t need my help with the family. You never have. You likely won’t even notice I’m gone.”
“I hardly think that is true.” Why did he always assume she was so capable? Because she never let on how terrified she was of the fact that the fate of her family rested on her shoulders. She’d always known that if she required his assistance, all she need do was ask. But now— “And what if you’re killed?”
“That’s unlikely,” he said.
“Don’t be flippant about this.” Her brow furrowed and she fought to keep her voice low. “War is extremely dangerous. Men are killed every day on the peninsula.” Panic rose in her throat; her stomach churned.
“You’re not my mother, Pru. I don’t require your permission for this.”
He was right, and she knew her brother, once he’d set his mind to something, could not be convinced otherwise. She clenched her teeth and scanned the room. Her gaze fell upon the Duke of Sutcliffe again and she glared at him. Another gentleman had joined him, and they stood together at the mantel, drinking and conversing. She was certain that Sutcliffe was to blame for Johnston’s newfound enthusiasm to join the military. He’d listened intently to Sutcliffe’s stories of the battles he’d fought before coming back to England to head up intelligence gathering. And Johnston wanted to be a part of that.
Her breath caught. All it would take was one word from Sutcliffe to change her brother’s mind. She need only appeal to his gentlemanly nature, provided he had one, to ensure her brother stayed out of harm’s way.
“You’re absolutely right, dear brother. Enjoy the remainder of your evening.” She nodded, then strode toward the fireplace, fists balled in her skirt. Thankfully the other gentleman moved on before she reached the duke. Confronting the Duke of Sutcliffe would take every ounce of strength she could muster, so she needed to do it now while the panic of war still burned in her gut.
His brows rose as she approached. “Miss Hixsby,” he said with a slight nod of his head. “I wasn’t expecting you’d attend this party. I didn’t think you left your estate after dark.”
“Yes, well, it would seem I have important business to discuss with you.”
“Indeed,” he said, his tone dismissive. “What business does a lady such as yourself have with a rogue like me?” His eyes quickly trailed the length of her, then studied the glass in his hand.
She narrowed her gaze at him. “Precisely what sort of lady am I? A spinster?”
His shoulders lifted in a casual shrug. “Your words, not mine. But you are, as they say, on the shelf.” He turned his body away from her, and looked out at the room again.
It was a small gathering, a country house party, but that didn’t mean some of the most important families in London weren’t represented. In fact, she and her brother were only invited because they’d been longtime neighbors of Lord and Lady Grant.
“My marital prospects have nothing to do with this discussion,” she hissed. Though he was correct. Even if she hadn’t been old enough to be a spinster, she had so many siblings to care for that no man would want to be saddled with that much responsibility. “I am quite upset with you.”
“I don’t see how that’s possible.”
The weight of his blue eyes nearly buckled her knees. Good heavens but she was a goose. He was merely a man.
“My brother,” she said.
“Which one?”
“Don’t play coy with me, Your Grace. I know that you’ve convinced Johnston to join the ranks of your…” She winced as if what she was about to say physically hurt. “War.”
“My war?” He took a slow swallow of his drink. “You know I find it…” He paused as if searching for the right word, “fascinating how you can insult me while using my title. It seems to me that if we’re to exchange taunts, you might as well use my Christian name.”
“I know you are in charge of some elite group gathering intelligence to help with the battles,” she said, refusing to respond to his offer of familiarity, if it was one.
“What are you insinuating, Prudence?”
“I am insinuating nothing, merely stating that my brother is young and impressionable and he, for whatever reason, admires you, wants to emulate you.” She poked one gloved finger on his chest. “If you don’t do something, you are going to get him killed. You must prevent him from joining this foolish war.”
“There is nothing foolish about a man persecuting people in his own country and trying to do the same across others.”
“I didn’t mean to imply—”
He took a step closer to her, leaned down so that his mouth was dangerously close to her ear. “I don’t take kindly to insults.” His whispered words were hot on her skin, making her shudder.
She sucked in her breath and completely forgot what she was about to say. Having him this close was overwhelming her senses. She should have known better than to approach him alone. He was a trained soldier, and she had no notion of what that entailed. But he was strong and physically perfect. Perhaps she should not be standing so close to him.
Then he straightened his spine. “Besides, I have not recruited your brother.”
“You deny that he has joined your association?”
“This is a discussion you should have with him.” He motioned with his glass. “Look, he’s over there.”
“I have tried, and it would seem I’m not terribly compelling.”
“On the contrary, Prudence, I find you utterly compelling.” His voice did not waver, and his gaze locked on hers.
Certainly he toyed with her, because he could not possibly be flirting. While he’d always been polite in their interactions, she could tell from his expression and tone that he’d never been particularly fond of her.
“It appears as though I need another drink.” He gave her a slight bow. “If you’ll excuse me.” With that, he walked away. The conversation had gained her nothing.
He was too distracting with those ridiculously beautiful eyes and chiseled jawline. Good gracious, but she was a goose.
She could not forget her brother, though, and this foolish decision of his. Johnston was impressionable, not to mention idealistic. Her own efforts had fallen onto deaf ears, but it seemed unlikely that Sutcliffe intended to join her cause. She would talk to her brother again, but she doubted it would do any good.
“Miss Hixsby,” a deep voice came from her right. “If you keep walking so intently, you shall walk right past me, and I will miss an opportunity to enjoy your company.”
She smiled up at the familiar face of Sir Bailey Fenton. “How right you are, sir. My apologies.”
Though he was more than a handful of years her elder, he flirted with her often, had even gone so far as to suggest they have an affair. She could have found his request disrespectful. Instead, she found it refreshing. So many people patronized her lack of marital prospects, insulting her intelligence by suggesting that if she were just to be patient, she’d make a good match. It was startling that they were able to say such things without grimacing. But Sir Fenton fully recognized her spinsterhood and spared her no lies, and she respected him for it.
He was not an attractive man, but his flirtations entertained her. She might be a spinster, but she was still a woman who enjoyed attention from men.
“You look rather lovely this evening,” he said. “Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Not particularly.” Then she caught herself and took a deep breath. “I beg your pardon, sir. I should not have answered so candidly. I misspoke. I am merely distracted, ’tis all.”
“Oh, sweet Miss Hixsby, what could have you so distraught?” he asked. Across the room, several of the guests were engaged in a lively game of charades. He took her elbow and led her over to an empty settee.
His sympathetic eyes relaxed her, the tension falling from her shoulders. “My brother is insisting on joining the military and fighting in this war. And caring for my family will be left solely to me. I have no marriage prospects, which is certainly fine by me. I have no time for such frivolities as courtship. But without a partner and, without my brother, I shall most assuredly be alone in the care of my younger siblings.” She gulped in a breath and realized she’d said entirely too much. She dared a glance at Sir Fenton, expecting him to be horrified by her outburst.
Instead he sat next to her and patted her hand. “It is perfectly normal to be concerned about your brother.”
She shook her head. “You don’t understand. We’re all we have. Our parents are dead; we have no aunts or matronly grandmothers to care for us. It has been up to Johnston and me to care for the younger ones.” Tears pricked at her eyes, but she blinked them away. If she thought too much on the situation, she’d fall completely apart. “I attempted to persuade Sutcliffe to talk some sense into Johnston, but I don’t believe His Grace is up to the task.”
“Yes, well, I suspect His Grace has other tasks at hand to contend with.”
“I suppose you’re right about that. And there are plenty of other brothers and sons who go off to fight in the war.” She took a deep breath and rounded her shoulders back, forcing herself to sit up. She would not get herself all in a dither about this, not here.
“What if I told you that I could put your brother in a position that would satisfy his need to be involved in the fight, but keep him safe here in England?” Sir Fenton asked.
Her heart stuttered. “You can do that?” She knew Sir Fenton was involved with the government in some capacity, but she had no notion of his power. And since he was merely a baron, she had not assumed his power was considerable.
“Sir Fenton, I am willing to do whatever is necessary to keep my family safe.”
“I am most pleased to hear you say that.” He leaned closer, still keeping a legitimate distance between them, but close enough that he could lower his voice considerably. “As you know, I find myself quite attracted to you, Miss Hixsby. Perhaps we could spend some time together. Privately. In my room, this evening?”
She brought her hand to her chest, trying to still the fluttering of her heart. “Sir, I believe you’ve just insulted me.”
“Nay, it cannot have escaped your notice that I have made requests for your attentions before.”
She swallowed. “No, of course not. I am not daft. I meant only that to suggest an affair in exchange for something else makes the entire scenario a little too suggestive of the poor girls working beneath the piers.”
“I meant no such comparison.” His lips curved into a smile. “The fact that I find you irresistible is hardly an insult.”
Irresistible? No man had ever found her irresistible before.
Even though she most decidedly did not find Sir Bailey Fenton irresistible, some part of her was tempted.
“You are suggesting I prostitute myself in exchange for favors.” She kept her voice low, but it hitched with emotion.
He frowned, looking saddened by her indignation. “On the contrary, I am merely being a realist. The job I do for the Crown is quite dangerous, and if I am to keep an eye on your brother, it will be more dangerous still. Is it so hard for you to believe that I’d desire the comfort your company could bring me?”
There was a kind of grim resignation to his voice. As if he believed he might have to give his life to win this war. Furthermore, he wasn’t complaining. He didn’t expect sympathy. He was merely asking for comfort. In that light, his request seemed almost reasonable.
He wanted to have an affair with her, and he’d made that abundantly clear on more than one occasion. But tonight, in light of the situation with her brother, he’d given her a reason to accept his proposition. She genuinely liked Sir Fenton. As a man, not as a potential suitor. He had always been kind to her, had always flirted with her and made her feel sought after, when other men spared her so little attention.
Her gaze drifted across the parlor to where Harrison leaned insolently against the wall.
Blowing out a breath, she turned her attention back to Bailey. What he was proposing was outrageous…or was it?
He stood. “I shall give you time to consider my offer. Just remember that I can ensure your brother stays in England, safe and close by.”
Was she actually considering his offer? A laugh from across the room caught her attention. The Duke of Sutcliffe chuckled boisterously at a jest his companion had shared. If he had made the same proposition, she would likely have climbed atop him here in the parlor. Well, certainly she could have waited until they were alone. So why was Sir Fenton so different? Because he was less handsome? Less powerful?
He had assured her he could keep her brother safe. Certainly her virtue was worth that. It was not as if it was currently serving her any purpose. How could she grow into the eccentric spinster aunt without having some worldly experiences?

Harrison lay still in the darkness. A sound had awakened him, and it took him a moment to realize it had been the click of his door unlatching. Someone was in his bedchamber. He reached to the bedside table and retrieved his pistol. He hated these bloody country house parties—they exposed him to too many people. He had only attended so that members of the Seven, the elite group of spies he led, could exchange information without drawing undo attention to themselves. But apparently he hadn’t been discreet enough, because someone was entering his room. He gripped the pistol’s handle and tried to appear as if he were still sleeping.
There was movement by his bed, and he wished he hadn’t allowed the fire to die down to nothing but a handful of coals. It wasn’t chilly in the room, but it was unforgivably dark.
Then pressure on the mattress as someone crawled in beside him. Soft feminine curves pressed to his bare chest—soft, naked curves. No doubt a servant girl looking for a toss. He sighed in relief and his taut muscles relaxed. She nuzzled closer.
“I’ve been unable to stop thinking about our conversation this evening.”
He knew that voice, and it was most assuredly not a servant. “Prudence?” he asked in a hushed whisper.
She pressed her fingers to his lips. “Shh. This will be easier for me if you let me do the talking.”
Well, she’d better do the talking, because he didn’t understand what the hell she was about. He set the pistol back on the bedside table.
Yes, he found Prudence Hixsby undeniably appealing. How could he not with her intriguing curves, her sharp mind, and her straightforward practicality? She was precisely the sort of woman—maybe even the precise woman—he would court, if he was a man in the position to court a woman.
But there was no place for romance in his life, let alone marriage, and Prudence was not a woman one romanced without the intention of marrying her.
Which was precisely why he’d worked so hard to ignore the attraction he felt for her. Until this very moment, he’d been certain he did such a good job disguising his feelings that she hadn’t a clue that he was attracted to her. Apparently he was less adept at hiding his desire than he’d thought.
“Pru,” he began, his voice so rough he didn’t even sound like himself.
Again she stopped him. “I understand that this isn’t marriage you’re offering. I believe I can accept that. I am old enough and practical enough to know that doing this isn’t going to ruin my chances on the marriage mart.” She drew in a breath, as though she was mustering her courage. Then she pressed a kiss to his jaw. “Please. I want to do this.”
He should have protested. He intended to but, before he could, she crawled atop him, kissed his chin, and then his jaw. Hot, sweet kisses all the way until she reached his mouth.
He had not expected Prudence to seduce him. She seemed so very irritated with him much of the time. Perhaps that was merely her way of flirting.
Her chaste kisses were driving him insane. That and the very unchaste feel of her naked skin against his. He was hard. She wanted him. He sure as hell wanted her.
He rolled her over and kissed her intensely, taking her sweet seduction and setting it afire.
His hand found her breast, and she released a surprised moan. She was plump and deliciously curved against his palm, and he wanted to explore every inch of her body. He cursed himself again for allowing the fire to burn down. He desperately wanted to see her, wanted to see the flush of desire spread across her lovely creamy skin, the pink at the center of her breasts, the dark curls at the apex of her thighs.
Her tongue darted out and rubbed against his own, and lust surged hot and wild through him. Perhaps he should attend these parties more often.
Her moans of pleasure echoed around him. His hands continued to explore her breasts while he kissed her thoroughly. He reached down and moved a hand up her leg, her skin smooth and soft beneath his palm.
His fingers traced behind her knee to the sensitive flesh of her thighs. When he brushed across the juncture of her legs, she released a seductive moan of desire. His own need poured through his veins and settled heavily in his groin.
He moved through her nether curls and found her flesh hot and slick with her need. She trembled when his fingers moved against her. She moaned softly. He continued his exploration.
He slipped one finger inside her, and slowly he began his rhythm. Her pleasure mounted as he moved his finger within her. He found the nub beneath her folds and stroked across it. Her pleas became erratic. She arched toward him. She was intoxicating. Her body, her touch, her smell. All of her surrounded him and he wanted this moment, this night, to last forever.
Closer and closer he brought her to the edge, then he would pull back. He wished he could see her, watch the pleasure play out on her expressive face. She was, undoubtedly, the most passionate woman he’d ever touched. He needed to be inside her. His own desire was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. So he kissed her deeply.
His finger dipped in again as he flicked across her folds. She tightened around his finger as the pleasure shot through her. “Yes,” she whispered. Her head pressed into the pillow behind her. “Yes.”
Quickly he guided himself into her before her climax subsided. Oh God, she felt good. Hot and tight and so slick.
Her climax started again, and her walls squeezed around his shaft as he increased the depth of his thrusts.
“Oh, yes,” she whispered. “Sir Fenton, I had no idea—” her words dissolved into breaths.
For a moment Harrison faltered, but he was already inside her and he knew that nothing would stop his climax from coming, even her cries for another man. His release rocked through his body, and he grunted a primal moan and collapsed atop her.
Prudence Hixsby had just seduced the wrong man.

Six weeks later
Harrison stood in the obnoxiously decorated red and gold parlor and glanced around at the faces in the crowd. He’d come to the Blake’s party in hopes of seeing Prudence. Earlier, he had confirmed that she and her brother Johnston had been invited.
It had been a little over a month since Harrison had last seen her. Since that fateful night she’d mistakenly crawled into his bed. He still couldn’t reconcile her affections for Bailey—the man was probably twice her age. He knew Bailey; hell, they worked together. Then again, Harrison had never claimed to understand the female mind.
Still, she deserved to know the truth about that night. Perhaps she already knew. Perhaps she had seen Bailey and even now, she wondered whose room she’d entered. Either way, Harrison fully intended to tell her precisely that.
If he were an honorable man, he’d insist she marry him. But the truth was, she’d endured enough. She’d lost both of her parents and now played mother and father to younger siblings—he never could remember how many there were. She’d endured enough grief, though, so marrying her was not an option, not while his tasks for the Crown put him in such immediate danger.
Again he searched the many faces of the people before him. Several members of the Seven milled about, as well as a myriad of other people he recognized from London. They would be entering the dining room shortly, and he wanted to speak with Prudence before they ate, as he planned on leaving soon after.
He moved back to the entrance of the parlor, hoping to catch her as she arrived. Fortunately he didn’t have to wait long. Johnston walked down the corridor first, nodded to him, and stepped into the parlor. Prudence followed, striding across the corridor. She walked past him and for a moment stopped. Her eyes shone with anger. Perhaps she already knew, had already figured things out on her own. A flush pinked her cheeks, enhancing her already lovely features. He opened his mouth to speak, but she walked past him, directly over to Bailey. She said something to the man, and the two of them left out the door that led to the corridor.
Harrison followed, keeping some distance from them.
“I should prefer to speak with you in private,” Prudence said.
“This is private enough,” Bailey said with natural authority. “All of the other guests are in the parlor waiting for dinner to be served.” While the man was only a knight, a courtesy title granted to him by the king, Bailey Fenton was a man of means. He was also the liaison between the Seven and the prime minister, so his work for the government was no small task.
Harrison inched closer, following them around the corner. They were in a dimly lit corridor that led to the servants’ staircase. Only a handful of wall sconces scattered sparse light about.
“I was under the impression that you and I had made a bargain, yet my brother is scheduled to ship out next week,” Prudence said in a harsh whisper.
“Indeed. My proposal was that I would ensure your brother’s safety in exchange for certain favors.”
“Precisely,” Prudence said tartly.
Harrison’s stomach soured. He leaned against the wall behind him, his eyes turned heavenward. He’d always known Bailey was a bit of a lecher, but he figured the man kept his appetites sated with servant girls and the occasional widow. He never imagined the man would solicit a woman such as Prudence.
“My dear Miss Hixsby, I waited for you that night, but you never came to my room. I certainly cannot give you something for nothing. My time is too valuable.”
Harrison sneaked a peek around the corner in time to see Prudence bring her hand up to her chest as if to repress her pounding heart. Her skin paled visibly, losing all its lustrous warmth. “What are you saying?” she asked.
“The agreement never came to pass, so this,” Bailey motioned between the two of them, “is nothing more than a conversation we once had. Perhaps you’d care to reconsider my offer?”
“No,” she whispered.
“Pity. I was very much looking forward to your company.” Then footsteps as Bailey walked away from Prudence, leaving her standing alone in the hall.
Harrison nearly stepped out from his hiding place, but what would he say to her? Prudence bit down on her lip and her eyes widened. He watched her clever mind work through the truth behind Bailey’s insinuations. She shook her head and said, “No” again and again.
He could nearly read her thoughts, so transparent were her expressions. She had not sneaked into Bailey’s room, therefore she had seduced the wrong man. She had not saved her brother after all. Her shoulders crumpled under the weight of the realization. He felt the burden of it himself.
When he’d realized she’d meant to seduce Bailey, her actions had seemed almost incomprehensible. How could such a luscious and enticing creature possibly be attracted to Bailey? The man was a good spy, an excellent leader, and had been Harrison’s own mentor, but one could hardly consider the man attractive to women. Now that Harrison knew the truth, everything made more sense. But the truth was even less satisfying than his confusion had been.
Harrison slipped behind a large tapestry hanging on the wall to hide himself as his esteemed colleague walked past. Then he heard a decidedly female sob from Prudence’s direction. He certainly couldn’t tell her the truth now. She was already distraught. But he could do something to assist her.
He could prevent her brother from going to fight on the battleground. If Johnston wanted to be part of the war, he would recruit the man to join the ranks of the Seven. It would keep him far safer than the alternative, and at least Prudence’s actions wouldn’t have been in vain.
My Thoughts
Prudence Hixby has accepted spinsterhood as a foregone conclusion.
With her brother, Johnston determined to risk life and limb for Crown and country, and a veritable brood of younger siblings  in her charge; chances of finding love seem considerably less than stellar.

But how quickly things change...

When the opportunity to save her brother from the ravages of war in exchange for a tryst with the well connected Sir Bailey Fenton, is put before her; Prudence deems the sacrifice of her virtue, a small price to pay to ensure the safety of her brother.
Little does she know that her late night wanderings lead her into the arms and heart of a temptation far greater than the one she planned.

As fate would have it Johnston, while kept out of the line of fire, dies during service of a stealthier sort.
Incensed and fueled by her need for answers about her brother's death; Prudence finds herself on the doorstep of on Harrison Carlisle, Duke of  Sutcliffe, known associate of the late Johnston...and her secret crush.

Authoress Robyn DeHart presents readers with a delectable feast of colorful characters, complex plot twists, and whodunnit variety intrigue.  This story is a step away from DeHart's more societal based romantic plots.  With a story that reads more like a Regency-styled "Mr. And Mrs. Smith", the action and espionage alone are enough to keep hearts racing and pages turning.
Add in the slow burn of well timed passions and the surprise "happily ever after" at story's end, and
Misadventures In Seduction becomes "must-read romance".