Friday, 25 November 2016

Interview with Christy Carlyle + Giveaway

Today I'd like to tell you about another new historical romance release, Rules for Rogues, which is the first book in Christy Carlyle's Romancing the Rules series. I took advantage of the blog tour to interview Christy, read on to learn more about the novel and its main characters, and for your chance to enter a giveaway for a fantastic prize pack, don't forget to enter the form at the end of the post.


Stella: Hi Christy, welcome to Ex Libris! Could you tell our readers what they can expect of this novel?

Christy Carlyle: A lot of emotion, I hope. The is a friends to lovers tale, yet it’s also a second chance love story. One of my favorite aspects of the novel is that both of my main characters are writers, and you get to see snippets of the heroine’s book throughout the novel in chapter headers. I hope readers will also get a taste of the late Victorian era. It was an exciting time.

Stella: I LOVE friends to lovers stories!! Could you introduce the hero and heroine to us? (maybe even include some quotes to give readers a taste of the characters and their chemistry)

Christy Carlyle: Ophelia Marsden is trying to hold her household together by tutoring young ladies in decorum, despite the fact that her own personal beliefs about women’s roles is a bit daring for the time period.

Kit Ruthven left duty behind years ago to a be an actor and playwright in London. When his father dies, he’s forced to go back home, face his responsibilities, and confront the young woman he left behind.

One of my favorite snippets just before their first (re) meeting is:

He was drawn to her like a lost man seeks the polestar.

Her face was the only one he longed to look upon again, her voice the only sound he needed to hear. Even if she shouted at him. And she probably would.

Stella: Could you whet our appetites for the story in Twitter-style (in 140 characters or less)?

Christy Carlyle: When the rogue who broke her heart returns, Ophelia must choose between the life she’s made and a love she’s never been able to extinguish.

Adam Driver
Stella: If the story were made into a movie, who could you picture portraying your characters?

Christy Carlyle: Funny you should ask. :-) I actually had a very clear idea of my hero when writing this story and saw him as having the large, muscular physique and dark hair and eyes of Adam Driver, who’s probably best known for playing Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens. For my heroine, Elyse Levesque, a red-haired Canadian actress served as visual inspiration.

Stella: Would you like to share with us your future plans, what shall we be on the lookout next?

Christy Carlyle: Rules for a Rogue is the first in the Romancing the Rules series. Each story will feature a Ruthven sibling. So Rules is Kit’s story. Sophia’s will come next and it’s called A Study in Scoundrels. Last but not least, the youngest Ruthven, Clarissa, will get her happy ending in How to Woo a Wallflower.

Stella: After such a release I think it goes without saying that you must be a period drama fan. So tell us: what is your favourite Jane Austen novel? / Modern Jane Austen movie/TV series adaptation?

Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley and Romola Garai as Emma
Christy Carlyle: Gosh, that’s a hard one. I’ve read all the books several times and watched some of the adaptations over and over. I really enjoy the updated Emma adaptation starring Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley and Romola Garai as Emma. Though my favorite portrayal of Wickham is, hands down, Tom Riley’s version in Lost in Austen. He actually made me want to write a Wickham adaptation someday.

Lady Sybil Crawley
Stella: ... favourite Downton Abbey character? 

Christy Carlyle: Lady Sybil Crawley. So much so that I stopped watching the show for a year after one particularly heartbreaking episode.

Stella: ... favourite British tradition? 

Christy Carlyle: Just the absolute respect and appreciation for good tea. I live in the Pacific NW and truly love coffee, but there is nothing like an excellent cuppa.

Stella: Did you discover anything interesting/funny/weird during your research for the novel?

Christy Carlyle: So many things! I did a lot of research on Victorian etiquette books and 19th century theater, most of which never made it into the book, of course. I also had to teach myself (with an article from the New York Times Magazine and You Tube videos) how to skip rocks, which I’d only ever done poorly in my life. There is a rock skipping scene between Kit and Ophelia, and I wanted to get it right.

Stella: Wow, that's dedication! :-) Anything else you’d like to add? What can we be on the lookout for from you in the future?

Christy Carlyle: Well, in addition to my Victorian historical romance novels, I’m working on a project that’s a little different for me. My only slightly secret project Is a historical mystery set in Gilded Age Chicago. I’m hoping to have it finished early next year!


Book #1 in the Romancing the Rules series

Kit Ruthven's Rules (for Rogues)

#1 Love freely but guard your heart, no matter how tempting the invader.

#2 Embrace temptation, indulge your sensual impulses, and never apologize.

#3 Scorn rules and do as you please. You are a rogue, after all.

Rules never brought anything but misery to Christopher “Kit” Ruthven. After rebelling against his controlling father and leaving the family’s etiquette empire behind, Kit has been breaking every one imaginable for the past four years. He’s enjoyed London’s sensual pleasures, but he’s failed to achieve the success he craves as London’s premier playwright. When his father dies, Kit returns to the countryside and is forced back into the life he never wanted. Worse, he must face Ophelia Marsden, the woman he left behind years before.

After losing her father, Ophelia has learned to rely on herself. To maintain the family home and support her younger sister, she tutors young girls in deportment and decorum. But her pupils would be scandalized if they knew she was also the author of a guidebook encouraging ladies to embrace their independence.

As Kit rediscovers the life, and the woman, he left behind, Ophelia must choose between the practicalities she never truly believed in, or the love she’s never been able to extinguish.

Buy at Amazon - Kindle - B&N - iTunes - Kobo


About the author

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there's nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

Connect with Christy at her website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads


GIVEAWAY RULES:


Rules for a Rogue prize pack filled with the following items:

o Book of Victorian etiquette (because RULES is all about etiquette)
o "Opelia's blue" 1928 teardrop earrings (blue is Ophelia's color)
o Harney and Sons English breakfast tea (because my characters are always drinking tea)
o a Rules for a Rogue spiral lined notebook
o Jasmine-scented hand lotion (jasmine is Ophelia's scent)
o Downton Abbey scone mix (my characters eat scones with their tea)

To be entered in the giveaway simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway is only open to US residents!

Good luck!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

And the winners are...


Hey Everyone!

A couple of giveaways have ended and I owe you some winner announcements!

Congrats to

the lucky winner of paperback copy of Wicked Little Secrets by Susanna Ives is

Meredith M.


the lucky winner of a paperback copy of Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin is

lkish77123


the lucky winners of a signed copy of Little Red Writing by Lila DiPasqua are

Tünde
lorih824

Congratulations! I have sent you a notification e-mail, please get back to me by Monday or I will have to draw new winners. Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Interview with Darcy Burke + Giveaway

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming romance author Darcy Burke to the blog, who is celebrating the release of her latest historical novel The Duke of Deception, book #3 in her Untouchables series! Darcy was kind enough to answer some of my questions, so read on to get to know Aquilla and Edward better and for your chance to win the super prize pack at the end!


Stella: Hi Darcy, welcome to Ex Libris! Could you tell our readers what they can expect of this novel?

Darcy Burke: They can expect a slow burn romance with two characters who are trying to play it safe...but you know what happens when people do that! Readers can also expect some twists and turns—hopefully a few surprises!

Stella: Could you introduce the hero and heroine to us?

Darcy Burke: Aquilla Knox has been a failure on the Marriage Mart despite being beautiful and from a good family (her father is a baronet). She’s a bit of a chatterbox (there are Reasons!), which tends to drive men away—something she doesn’t mind. Edward Bishop, Earl of Sutton, has been looking for a wife for years, but she has to meet his very specific requirements. He harbors a secret that she must be able to keep and support (he IS the Duke of Deception after all). Their love story is full of witty banter and smoldering chemistry. Here are a few snippets!

“Demand? I’m not at all sure I enjoy autocratic gentlemen.”
He looked suddenly terrified. “Do you mean to change my nickname to the Duke of Demanding?”
“You’re joking.” She hadn’t been sure, but the crinkles next to his eyes gave him away.
“Yes, you’re joking. Just for that I’m going to call you the Duke of Disagreeable.”

“I thought men liked vapid women.”
“Not smart men.” His fingertips skimmed the space above her waist. Tingles of awareness danced up her spine. “Not the ones worth having,” he said softly.

“Please, don’t ever stop talking. Except when I’m kissing you.” He pulled her into his arms again and kissed her thoroughly.
She pulled back. “But what if it’s terribly important?”
“What could be more important than kissing?”

Stella: Could you whet our appetites for the story in Twitter-style (in 140 characters or less)?

Darcy Burke: Warning: I am not good at this!

A chatty young lady drives men away until a sexy, charming earl rescues her. Will they find love or will deception keep them apart?


Stella: If the story were made into a movie, who could you picture portraying your characters?

Darcy Burke: I think Evangeline Lilly would make a great Aquilla and Jude Law would be a scrumptious Ned.


Stella: Would you like to share with us your future plans, what shall we be on the lookout next?

Darcy Burke: My next book will be a contemporary, in my series, Ribbon Ridge: Love on the Vine. SO RIGHT will be out in early 2017 and features Luke Westcott, the middle Westcott brother, and librarian Kelsey McDade. Set in small town Ribbon Ridge with the Westcott brother’s new winery as a backdrop, it’s a flirty, friends to lovers story with a bit of suspense thrown in for fun! (The first book in that series, SO GOOD is available now and the entire six-book Ribbon Ridge series is available from Avon Impulse.) After that, it’s back to The Untouchables with Ivy’s story in THE DUKE OF DESIRE, which I’m hoping will be out in March.


Stella: After such a release I think it goes without saying that you must be a period drama fan. So tell us: what is your favourite Jane Austen novel? / Modern Jane Austen movie/TV series adaptation?

Darcy Burke: This is the part where I shamefully admit that the only JA novel I’ve read is Pride and Prejudice. But I want to read Sense and Sensibility (in my spare time) because that’s my favorite movie. Emma Thompson crafted an amazing screenplay. I have a fantastic book by Thompson about the movie – it contains the screenplay and her diaries. So that’s my favorite JA-related book!


Stella:  And your favourite Downton Abbey character?

Darcy Burke: Oh man, this is so hard! The Dowager is the obvious answer, but other than her, Mrs. Hughes, I think.:-)

Stella:  ... favourite British tradition?

Darcy Burke: I don’t know that I have one, but my mother was born in England and my grandparents were exceedingly British, so I grew up doing a lot of British things (or certainly eating the foods anyway). I am the proud owner of my grandmother’s various Royals collectibles, including a commemorative book from Elizabeth II’s coronation and a variety of dishware celebrating everything from her coronation to Fergie and Andrew’s wedding. I love it all!

Stella: Did you discover anything interesting/funny/weird during your research for the novel?

Darcy Burke: The research into Bedlam and the care of the insane was interesting. It’s a bit difficult to write about something when we know so much more about it (in this case, schizophrenia) today than they did then. 


Stella: Anything else you’d like to add? What can we be on the lookout for from you in the future?

Darcy Burke: Thanks so much for having me today! I’m really enjoying telling these stories of these intrepid wallflowers and the untouchable noblemen they bring to their knees. I’d planned at least one more in this series (THE DUKE OF DESIRE), but I have an idea to set up three more books in THE DUKE OF DESIRE, so stay tuned!


Book #3 in the Untouchables series

After five years on the Marriage Mart, Miss Aquilla Knox is ready for spinsterhood until a benefactress steps in to help her secure a husband. Only Aquilla doesn’t actually want to marry—her failure is entirely on purpose. When the earl she’s nicknamed the Duke of Deception sets his sights on her, she refuses to be drawn in by her attraction to him. If there’s one thing she knows it’s that a gentleman is never what he seems.

Edward Bishop, Earl of Sutton, has a reputation for courting young misses and dropping them without a second thought. This has earned him a reputation for deceit, a description he can’t refute because he does in fact, harbor secrets and will do anything—deceive anyone—to ensure they don’t come to light. As he comes to know the charming Miss Knox, his resolve is tested. However, trust comes at a price and Ned won’t pay with his heart.

Buy at Amazon - Kindle - B&N - iTunes - Kobo

About the author

Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, and three Bengal cats. 

Connect with Darcy at her website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Giveaway for a Duke of Deception Prize Pack filled with the following:


o Jane Austen jigsaw puzzle
o Jane Austen inspired candle
o Pride & Prejudice board book
o Bath salts from author Wendy LaCapra
o Darcy Burke trading cards, bookmark, and cleaning cloth

To be entered in the giveaway simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below:


Giveaway is open worldwide!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

My Top 5 Christmas movies by Cindy Skaggs + Giveaway



My Top 5 Christmas movies
by Cindy Skaggs

I have a confession. I’m a Christmas movie junkie. It started with those beautiful red and white dresses in White Christmas, and next thing I knew, I was sitting on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a glass of merlot; strung out on Lifetime and Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. I can’t seem to stop myself. The romantic comedies are my favorite. Sure, I take a break every now and then to watch Scrooged—I’m not a complete heathen—but it’s really all about the romance. Here are 5 of my favorite Christmas romance movies:


1. Holiday in Handcuffs with Mario Lopez and Melissa Joan Hart. Add in the fake fiancé trope with a struggling artist who needs a fiancé for Christmas. Did I mention the fake fiancé didn’t go willingly? Hence the handcuffs. Lighthearted and fun.



2. While You Were Sleeping. Technically not a “Christmas” movie, it takes place over Christmas, so it counts. This time, Sandra Bullock is the fake fiancé. Sort of, but she ends up falling for the brother (Bill Pullman). It’s a beautiful thing.



3. A Holiday Engagement, starring Jordan Bridges who plays—wait for it—a fake fiancé. I might have a thing for that trope. If you watch the trailer, you know the fake fiancé as the brother on Rizolli and Isles.



4. The Holiday with Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, and Jack Black. Two women change homes in different countries for the holiday. Great fun. Plus Jude Law.



5. 12 Men of Christmas, starring Kristin Chenoweth and Josh Hopkins (Grayson from Cougar Town). She plans to help a Search and Rescue team raise money for their equipment with a calendar. A nude calendar. Enough said.

There you have, some of the many Christmas movies that I watch and love. Enjoy!

An Untouchable Christmas by Cindy Skaggs

Book # 2 in the Untouchables series

This holiday is one she will never forget. 

Sofia Capri survived life as a mob wife, but living with drop-dead gorgeous FBI agent Logan Stone has its own challenges. Step one? Host his family for Christmas dinner.

Rescuing Sofia from her former mob life and saving her kidnapped son was enough to earn Logan a place in her life, but a mysterious phone call before dinner threatens the security he'd give anything to provide.
When Sofia's son and Logan's nieces disappear from the festivities, the illusion of a normal Christmas shatters, hurling Sofia back into her nightmares.

Each book in the Untouchables series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.

Series Order:
Purchase: Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Check out the other books in the Untouchables series:

 


Meet Cindy:

Cindy Skaggs grew up on stories of mob bosses, horse thieves, cold-blooded killers, and the last honest man. Those mostly true stories gave her a lifelong love of storytelling and heroes. Her search for story took her around the world with the Air Force before returning to Colorado.

As a single mom, she’s turning her lifelong love of storytelling into the one thing she can’t live without: writing. She has an MA in Creative Writing, three jobs, two kids, and more pets than she can possibly handle. Find her on Facebook as Cindy Skaggs, Writer, @CLSkaggs on Twitter, or www.CSkaggs.com to sign up for her newsletter.

Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | PinterestGoodreads


GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 11 November 2016

Another guest post by Lynette Austin + Giveaway

This week I already told you about a brand new wedding romance that got released: Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynette Austin, book #3 in Lynette Austin's Magnolia Brides series (you can read an execrpt and win a copy of The Best Laid Wedding Plans, the first book in the series HERE), but if that wasn't enough, Lynette agreed to stop by again and share another heartwarming scene with you! Oh and this time, you could win yourself a paperback copy of Picture Perfect Wedding at the end!

It Brings Tears to Your Eyes
by Lynette Austin

There’s nothing as incredible as a child’s love. In Picture Perfect Wedding, the third book in my Magnolia Brides series, Tansy Calhoun Forbes, Beck Elliot’s first and only love, married someone else and had a daughter, Gracie Bella, to him. Tansy’s returned to Misty Bottoms, Georgia, her small hometown to open Sweet Dreams, where she’ll create wedding cakes for the Magnolia brides.

While she and Beck are still dancing around a relationship, he’s fallen hard for her four-year-old daughter. In this scene, Tansy has invited Beck to dinner with her and Gracie. I admit to more than a few tears as I wrote these pages.

Beck finished the book, his arm tightening around Gracie as he leaned forward and laid it on the coffee table. He sniffed her hair. “You smell good, Gracie Bella.”

“My mama puts lotion on me.”

“Ah, I see. Do you think that’s why she smells good, too?”

“Uh-huh.” Gracie looked up at him with those expressive eyes as she twisted the bow on her T-shirt. “My daddy doesn’t like me.”

The words left Beck totally vulnerable.

Gracie sat very still in his lap, her eyes never leaving his.

He fought for the right words. Kissing the top of the girl’s head, he said, “That can’t be true, sweetheart. How could anyone not love you?”

She shook her head, her long hair swinging side to side. “He told me so. Lots and lots of times.” She reached up and put one hand on either side of his face. “I wish you were my daddy.”

He heard a small sound and looked up to see Tansy in the doorway.

“Wait! I forgotted.” Gracie jumped off his lap and skirted around Tansy. Crouching, she rooted around in her backpack. Pulling out a small piece of crumpled red paper, she ran back to Beck. “Teacher said to give this to our daddy. I don’t have one anymore, so I’ll give it to you.”

Jeez, could she stick that knife in any deeper? He unfolded the paper, skimmed it, and glanced up at Tansy.

“What is it?”

“An invitation to the preschool’s father/daughter luncheon tomorrow.”

The color leeched from her face, and she sank into a chair, setting the coffee cups on a side table. “Oh, sweetie.” She drew her daughter to her. “Why didn’t you tell me? Beck can’t—”

For a heartbeat, he couldn’t string three words together. Then he blurted, “Yes, Beck can,” he said. “If it’s okay with you.”

“Please, Mama, please.” Gracie twined her arms around Tansy’s neck. “I want Beck to go with me.”

“Are you sure?” Tansy raised stricken eyes to his.

“I am.”

“But you have to work.”

“Nothin’ needs done that won’t wait. This is important, sugar.”

Gracie looked from one to the other with basset-hound eyes. It would take a stronger man than he was to say no to that face. How could a person ever deny her anything?

“I think it would be wonderful.” The smile Tansy sent his way did crazy things to him. “Gracie, honey, why don’t you tell Beck good night? It’s time for bed.”

“Will you come for my school party tomorrow?”

“I will.”

Gracie patted his cheek. “Will you come for dinner again?”

He looked to Tansy for help. What did he say? The tenacious child was laying him bare. The daughter wanted him here, but did her mother? He hoped so, but with Tansy…

“We’ll see.” A nonanswer, but the best he could do.

Gracie’s grin was his reward. She crawled back up into his lap, pulled his head toward hers, and gave him a big, sloppy kiss.

He kissed her back, then lifted her off his lap. “Night, sugar.”

“Night, Beck.”

As she left the room, one hand in Tansy’s, she turned and blew him another kiss.

He caught it and closed his fist, holding it tightly.

Then he slipped quietly out of the house.

I hope this scene touched you as much as it did me. And Beck? I love him and hope you do, too.

What do you think makes a great hero?


Book #3 of the Magnolia Brides series

One mistake can change everything…forever

Beck Elliot and Tansy Calhoun were inseparable—until Tansy left Misty Bottoms, Georgia, promising to come back after she finished school. Beck stayed behind to save the family business, dreaming of the day when Tansy would return. Instead, his trust and his heart were broken when she inexplicably married another man and bore his child.

Five years later, Tansy comes home, a sadder and wiser woman. Despite his anger, Beck finds it hard to avoid her and her adorable little daughter—especially with all the busybodies of Misty Bottoms going out of their way to throw him and Tansy together, hoping a lingering spark will reignite their enduring flame...

Excerpt

In a perfect world or, heck, even in a movie, music would play softly in the background. The SUV’s windows would be down, her auburn hair blowing softly in the breeze. Her hero would wait at the road’s end, arms open and welcoming.

They’d kiss…

Tansy Calhoun Forbes’s cell rang, and, startled, she glanced in the rearview mirror. Gracie, her four-year-old daughter, slept soundly, a welcome respite from today’s endless are-we-there-yets.

“Hello?” she practically whispered.

“You unpacked yet?” Jenni Beth Beaumont, her best friend forever, sounded stressed.

“Still a few miles from town, but almost there.”

“Good. Great. Listen, I know this has been a stressful day, heck, a stressful year, and you’re tired…”

Tansy smiled. She could practically see her friend squirming. “What do you need, Jenni Beth?”

“Oh, Tanz, I have two weddings and a sixteenth birthday party coming up this week. Magnolia Brides is booked solid for the next nine months—my dream come true—but I’m dying here! I need cakes. Phenomenal cakes. Your cakes!”

“I don’t have—”

“Kitty said you can use the bakery’s kitchen.”

Tansy sighed and ran her fingers through already-mussed hair.

“I know, I know.” Jenni Beth’s tension vibrated over the airwaves. “I’m putting you on the spot. Big-time. I’m a horrible person. An even worse friend.”

“No, you’re not.” Determined, Tansy sat up a little straighter. “This is exactly what I’ve insisted I want. Part of the reason I’m on my way home. Color me stupid, but I’m in.”

As the city-limits sign loomed, she hung up and removed her dark glasses. Misty Bottoms, Georgia. The Low Country. Even slowing to a crawl didn’t stop the inevitable.

Home, sweet home.

Right back at the starting gate.

Waiting for her? No music, no hero, and no kiss.

And no one but herself to blame.

Tansy pushed her sunglasses back in place and glared at the brilliant sunshine that bathed the beyond-gorgeous autumn day. The humidity had dropped, and a few white clouds drifted high in the bluebird sky. Shouldn’t it be raining, the sky dark with ominous thunderheads?

Divorced for fifty-three days, five hours, and—she checked the dashboard clock—six minutes, and here she was, hell-bent on creating the cake for a bride’s special day.

She’d had her own shot at the dream and lost—because the wrong groom stood beside her at the altar.

Walking out of her supersized house that morning had been confusing. She’d expected a huge weight to lift, and it had. Still, that was the house she’d brought Gracie home to after she’d been born. Where her first four birthdays had been celebrated. Christmases and Thanksgivings.

And so much unhappiness and deceit.

A building off to Tansy’s right caught her attention and caused a hitch in her heart. Elliot Construction and Lumberyard.

Beck Elliot, the groom behind door number one, the door she hadn’t chosen.

Oh boy. Was she making another mistake? Should she have started over somewhere else?

Ding, ding, ding. The low-fuel indicator chimed, and the little red light blinked on. Shoot!

Tommy’s Texaco loomed.

Relieved, she flipped on her turn signal, veered into the lot, and pulled up to the gas pump.

And there it sat.

A big red truck with Elliot Construction on the side.

The door to the gas station opened, and Beck Elliot, looking hotter than any man had a right in dusty jeans, a faded T-shirt, and old work boots, stepped outside.

He tore the wrapper off a candy bar and took a bite.

Then his intense, midnight-blue eyes met hers. The chill had her rubbing her arms even though the temperature read seventy-five in the shade.

As she got out, her gaze collided with Beck’s again.

His eyes radiated resentment and betrayed hopes.

Hers? She figured they held remorse, hurt, and impossible-to-deny desire.

Beck nearly choked on the bite of chocolate. What the hell?

He tossed the bar into the trash barrel outside the door.

Months ago, he’d heard rumblings that Tansy’d enrolled her daughter in the local preschool, but since no one had said anything else about it, he’d figured she’d changed her mind. That fancy SUV of hers was loaded to the roof, though, way more than she’d need for a quick visit.

His chest constricted, and he swore under his breath. Why would she return to Misty Bottoms? She looked like one of those emaciated French models in the magazines his mom read. A good strong wind off the coast would blow her from here to Atlanta.

The strong, carefree Tansy he’d known had disappeared. She’d become… He didn’t know. Ethereal came to mind.

Not his business—and she’d be the first to tell him that.

“Hey, Beck,” Tommy said. “Got your truck filled for ya.”

“Thanks. I left the money on the counter. Later, pal.”

Without another word, without another glance toward the woman he’d once expected to marry, Beck hopped in his truck, turned the key, and pulled out of the gas station, reminding himself that Tansy Calhoun—no, make that Tansy Forbes—was history. Ancient history.


LYNNETTE AUSTIN gave up the classroom to write full time. An author of eight novels, she has been a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest, PASIC’s Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Contest. She and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Blairsville, GA.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered to win a paperback copy of Picture Perfect Wedding, just leave a comment answering Lynette's question: What do you think makes a great hero?


Giveaway is only open to US residents and ends on 20 November 2016!
Good luck!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Guest post by Lynette Austin + Giveaway

Today I'm happy to welcome Lynette Austin to the blog, whose latest novel Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynette Austin, book #3 in her Magnolia Brides series just got released, and with such a stunning cover who doesnt want to be invited to such a wedding? Read on to get a glimpse of the story and enter the giveaway at the end to win yourself a copy of The Best Laid Wedding Plans, the first book in the series!

Love—the Second Time Around!
by Lynette Austin

I love second-chance romances—both to read and to write! Our couple’s first chance has generally happened before the book begins, and, then, they meet again—with all the ensuing angst. This is no slow-build relationship but rather a raging inferno from the get-go with the chemistry and connection full-blown on page one.

The once-lovers often face-off as enemies; the conflict is built in. Something caused their relationship to implode the first time around. When they meet again, that problem remains unresolved. If they couldn’t solve it before, how can they hope to now?

On top of that, neither the hero nor the heroine has remained in a vacuum during their “away” time. They’ve both had lives for these two or five or ten years. Both have changed, and those old emotions, resentments, and frustrations have had a chance to fester.

Picture Perfect Wedding, the third book in my Magnolia Brides series, is a second-chance-at-love story. When Tansy Calhoun left for college, she promised to return to Beck Elliot, who stayed behind in Misty Bottoms, Georgia, to save the family business. She reneged on that promise and married someone else, had his baby.

Five years later, divorced and broke, she and her daughter return to Tansy’s small hometown to create wedding cakes for Magnolia Brides. The question isn’t whether or not she and Beck will fall in love but rather will either take a chance on risking his heart again.

One mistake can change everything…forever.

If you love this trope as much as I do, I’m sure you have favorites! Here is one of mine:

Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Sugar Beth Carey ruled Parrish, Mississippi, fifteen years ago. When she left town, she left behind a lot of hatred and resentment, all well-earned. Collin Byrne’s animosity is almost a living entity.

At the story’s start, this golden girl crawls back to Parrish with her deceased third husband’s dysfunctional dog and barely enough money to feed herself and put gas in her car. One of the feistiest heroines ever, it’s a veneer. She’s the girl you love to hate, the one who made high school a living hell. Yet, under Phillips’ expert hand, I found myself rooting for Sugar Beth, and, once the reason for her behavior was exposed, I wanted her to rise like the phoenix. Sugar is fighting for a second chance both at love and redemption.

My guilty confession—I’ve read Ain’t She Sweet at least six times, and, every single time, I cringe at the fork-under-the-table incident. I’m not telling. You’ll have to read it for yourself.

What’s your favorite second-chance romance? Why?


Book #3 of the Magnolia Brides series

One mistake can change everything…forever

Beck Elliot and Tansy Calhoun were inseparable—until Tansy left Misty Bottoms, Georgia, promising to come back after she finished school. Beck stayed behind to save the family business, dreaming of the day when Tansy would return. Instead, his trust and his heart were broken when she inexplicably married another man and bore his child.

Five years later, Tansy comes home, a sadder and wiser woman. Despite his anger, Beck finds it hard to avoid her and her adorable little daughter—especially with all the busybodies of Misty Bottoms going out of their way to throw him and Tansy together, hoping a lingering spark will reignite their enduring flame...

Excerpt

In a perfect world or, heck, even in a movie, music would play softly in the background. The SUV’s windows would be down, her auburn hair blowing softly in the breeze. Her hero would wait at the road’s end, arms open and welcoming.

They’d kiss…

Tansy Calhoun Forbes’s cell rang, and, startled, she glanced in the rearview mirror. Gracie, her four-year-old daughter, slept soundly, a welcome respite from today’s endless are-we-there-yets.

“Hello?” she practically whispered.

“You unpacked yet?” Jenni Beth Beaumont, her best friend forever, sounded stressed.

“Still a few miles from town, but almost there.”

“Good. Great. Listen, I know this has been a stressful day, heck, a stressful year, and you’re tired…”

Tansy smiled. She could practically see her friend squirming. “What do you need, Jenni Beth?”

“Oh, Tanz, I have two weddings and a sixteenth birthday party coming up this week. Magnolia Brides is booked solid for the next nine months—my dream come true—but I’m dying here! I need cakes. Phenomenal cakes. Your cakes!”

“I don’t have—”

“Kitty said you can use the bakery’s kitchen.”

Tansy sighed and ran her fingers through already-mussed hair.

“I know, I know.” Jenni Beth’s tension vibrated over the airwaves. “I’m putting you on the spot. Big-time. I’m a horrible person. An even worse friend.”

“No, you’re not.” Determined, Tansy sat up a little straighter. “This is exactly what I’ve insisted I want. Part of the reason I’m on my way home. Color me stupid, but I’m in.”

As the city-limits sign loomed, she hung up and removed her dark glasses. Misty Bottoms, Georgia. The Low Country. Even slowing to a crawl didn’t stop the inevitable.

Home, sweet home.

Right back at the starting gate.

Waiting for her? No music, no hero, and no kiss.

And no one but herself to blame.

Tansy pushed her sunglasses back in place and glared at the brilliant sunshine that bathed the beyond-gorgeous autumn day. The humidity had dropped, and a few white clouds drifted high in the bluebird sky. Shouldn’t it be raining, the sky dark with ominous thunderheads?

Divorced for fifty-three days, five hours, and—she checked the dashboard clock—six minutes, and here she was, hell-bent on creating the cake for a bride’s special day.

She’d had her own shot at the dream and lost—because the wrong groom stood beside her at the altar.

Walking out of her supersized house that morning had been confusing. She’d expected a huge weight to lift, and it had. Still, that was the house she’d brought Gracie home to after she’d been born. Where her first four birthdays had been celebrated. Christmases and Thanksgivings.

And so much unhappiness and deceit.

A building off to Tansy’s right caught her attention and caused a hitch in her heart. Elliot Construction and Lumberyard.

Beck Elliot, the groom behind door number one, the door she hadn’t chosen.

Oh boy. Was she making another mistake? Should she have started over somewhere else?

Ding, ding, ding. The low-fuel indicator chimed, and the little red light blinked on. Shoot!

Tommy’s Texaco loomed.

Relieved, she flipped on her turn signal, veered into the lot, and pulled up to the gas pump.

And there it sat.

A big red truck with Elliot Construction on the side.

The door to the gas station opened, and Beck Elliot, looking hotter than any man had a right in dusty jeans, a faded T-shirt, and old work boots, stepped outside.

He tore the wrapper off a candy bar and took a bite.

Then his intense, midnight-blue eyes met hers. The chill had her rubbing her arms even though the temperature read seventy-five in the shade.

As she got out, her gaze collided with Beck’s again.

His eyes radiated resentment and betrayed hopes.

Hers? She figured they held remorse, hurt, and impossible-to-deny desire.

Beck nearly choked on the bite of chocolate. What the hell?

He tossed the bar into the trash barrel outside the door.

Months ago, he’d heard rumblings that Tansy’d enrolled her daughter in the local preschool, but since no one had said anything else about it, he’d figured she’d changed her mind. That fancy SUV of hers was loaded to the roof, though, way more than she’d need for a quick visit.

His chest constricted, and he swore under his breath. Why would she return to Misty Bottoms? She looked like one of those emaciated French models in the magazines his mom read. A good strong wind off the coast would blow her from here to Atlanta.

The strong, carefree Tansy he’d known had disappeared. She’d become… He didn’t know. Ethereal came to mind.

Not his business—and she’d be the first to tell him that.

“Hey, Beck,” Tommy said. “Got your truck filled for ya.”

“Thanks. I left the money on the counter. Later, pal.”

Without another word, without another glance toward the woman he’d once expected to marry, Beck hopped in his truck, turned the key, and pulled out of the gas station, reminding himself that Tansy Calhoun—no, make that Tansy Forbes—was history. Ancient history.


LYNNETTE AUSTIN gave up the classroom to write full time. An author of eight novels, she has been a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest, PASIC’s Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Contest. She and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Blairsville, GA.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered in the giveaway just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:


Friday, 4 November 2016

Guest post by Susanna Ives: How to Impress a Marquess + Giveaway

I just love it when there is a pinch of humour in my romance novels, and as you will see below, it seems that How to Impress a Marquess by Susanna Ives has plenty of that! Read on to see what I mean, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end for your chance to win a copy of Wicked Little Secrets, the first book in the series!

What is my favorite scene in How To Impress A Marquess?
by Susanna Ives

My favorite scene is the etiquette drinking game. My hero George, the Marquess of Marylewick, is determined to mold his trustee, the wild, bohemian Lilith Dahlgren into a proper lady. To this end he enlists his sister, Lady Fenmore to tutor Lilith on the finer points of being a gently bred lady and leaves Lady Fenmore with a stack of etiquette books for Lilith to study. George is appalled to come home and find Lilith has managed to enlist his sister into a mischievous etiquette drinking game.

I adore this scene, because it’s a mashup of many Victorian things I’ve studied through the years.

The tiny idea of the scene started when my children and I were listening to the original Sherlock Holmes stories in audiobook format. (I enjoy hearing British stories told with proper British accents. My mental British accent is rather appalling.) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used the term “gin palace”. I thought gin had fallen out of favor after the terrible addiction rates in the 1700s as depicted in Hogarth’s “Gin Alley”. I was pleased to know “gin palaces” were about in the late 1800s. I had to use that term. So, George says, “You’ve entangled my sister in some drinking game worthy of a gin palace?”

I have a penchant for collecting old etiquette books. I love digging through them, learning the proper way to have a tea or leave calling cards. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to old etiquette books. I adore their titles, so I derived great pleasure in making up my own titles to fictional etiquette books. In How To Impress A Marquess, George asks Lilith several etiquette questions from books titled What Every Young Lady of Quality Should Know Upon Entering into Society and Marriage: A Guide to Gentle Breeding, The Deportment of Proper Young Ladies in Society and Abroad, and The Lonely Suitor’s Guide to the Romantic Arts, or How To Get Married Within a Year—A Comprehensive Guide to All Areas of Flirtation Including Handkerchiefs, Parasols, Rings, Flowers, Gloves, Linens, and Utensils.

Of course, Lilith knows all the answers, clever woman. As she tells George, her so-called ramshackle, bohemian lifestyle isn’t born of ignorance but her own educated decision.

For several years now, I’ve had posts of Victorian flirtations up on my blog, but I was never able to use the fabulous information in a book until now. In the Victorian era, courtship was a rather rigorous affair and the culture of the time was quite, well, Victorian. Unmarried men and women were rarely left alone.

Their verbal communication was narrowly restricted to what was considered polite. To subtly combat their repressive society, courting couples developed systems of nonverbal flirtation, which included how one wore their rings, held their fan, used utensils, and opened windows.

During the game, Lilith says to George “You are at a dinner party,” Lilith began in a somber voice. “And you can’t help but notice that the gentleman or, in your case, the lady across from you is exceedingly handsome. How do you signal to her that you desire to rendezvous on the dance floor later?”

I’ve included an excerpt below so you can learn George’s sexy answer.

“I have completed your entire list for today.” She drew the page from the side table and held it up. “I’ve checked off each item: modiste, millinery, shoes—ah, but we added bookshop, print shop, and confectionery—I appended those at the bottom. Now Lady Fenmore is tutoring me in etiquette. We’ve even made a game of it. Care to play?” She patted the empty place beside her on the sofa.

Who was this woman who outwardly resembled Lilith? “I don’t think—”

“Do play, Brother,” Penelope implored. “It’s great fun.”

With his sister, who had been so listless for months, who hadn’t responded to any of his attempts to cheer her or let him inside her thoughts, now smiling, he couldn’t refuse.

“Maybe for a few minutes.” He took the seat Lilith offered. “I must leave shortly.”

“You must select a question.” Lilith picked up a stack of tiny squares of paper. She leaned in, close enough for him to smell her musk perfume. His pulse quickened.

“But don’t look at the back, for it has the answer,” Penelope cautioned.

“That’s right.” Lilith wagged her finger. “No cheating.” He cautiously picked a piece of paper so as to avoid any accusations of duplicity. A strange sensation, like painless, hot electricity radiated out from where their fingers met.

“You read it,” he said, handing it to Lilith. He sat back in the cushion and tapped his fingers on the armrest. “This is a very serious etiquette question indeed.”

Lilith’s face grew grave.

A tiny giggle burst from Penelope, but she quickly composed herself again.

“You are at a dinner party,” Lilith began in a somber voice. “And you can’t help but notice that the gentleman or, in your case, the lady across from you is exceedingly handsome. How do you signal to her that you desire to rendezvous on the dance floor later?” Both women dissolved into giggles.

“What?” he cried. “This wasn’t in the books I gave you!”

“We found those books rather antiquated,” Lilith explained. “So we purchased The Lonely Suitor’s Guide to the Romantic Arts, or How To Get Married Within a Year—A Comprehensive Guide to All Areas of Flirtation Including Handkerchiefs, Parasols, Rings, Flowers, Gloves, Linens, and Utensils. George, I didn’t realize people flirted with their utensils. How could I have missed it all these years? I wonder if a man has been secretly signaling that he loves me and all the while I thought he was bathing his parsnip in cream. Have you ever flirted with your spoon or linen?”

He was about to say something censorious about mocking his instructions when his sister helpfully supplied, “Oh, George doesn’t flirt with his spoon or anything.”

He was torn. Which did he want more? For Lilith to obey his dictates or not to think he was a flat. All the while, Lilith waited.

“I see you don’t know the answer,” she said, as if she expected as much. “Now you must—”

“When I want to rendezvous with a ravishing lady on the dance floor,” he said, “I draw my linen slowly through my hand as if I were caressing her as we dance.”

Lilith’s mouth dropped. She stared at him as if she couldn’t believe he was capable of anything romantic. He winked at her to further discombobulate her.

“Lord Marylewick, you’re right!” She gave his arm a gentle swat. “Have you read The Lonely Suitor’s Guide?”

“I have not.” He edged even closer. The phrase moth to a flame echoed faintly in his head. “These things come naturally to me. For instance, when I want to rendezvous in a quiet garden or elsewhere, I place my spoon atop my knife. Maybe give them a little rub together.” He couldn’t deny that how he used his fingers to illustrate might be deemed impertinent, but he enjoyed seeing how her blush and fluster erased the usual wry gleam in her eyes.

“George!” Penelope cried. “You’re horrid. Lilith isn’t married. You shouldn’t say such things.”

“I’m sorry, Miss Dahlgren,” he said, but felt no contriteness. After all, she had asked him to play. Maybe it wasn’t so amusing when she couldn’t control the game. “What is my prize for my table-flirting prowess?”

Lilith was still blushing as she reached over to open the box on the table. “You get a toffee.”

How to Impress a Marquess by Susanna Ives

Book #3 in the Wicked Little Secrets series

Take one Marquess: responsible, worldly, deadly dull but concealing an artist’s soul.

Add one rebellious, brilliantly creative but lonely young lady who craves love, home and family.

Combine with ill-assorted guests at an ill-fated house party hosted by a dowager with a poison tongue and a penchant for scandal.

You’ll be shaken, you’ll be stirred, you’ll laugh and you’ll swoon—most of all you’ll be tossed into an intriguing Victorian love story that you’ll never want to leave.

Buy at Amazon - Kindle - B&N - iBooks

About the author

Susanna Ives started writing when she left her job as a multimedia training developer to stay home with her family. Now she keeps busy driving her children to various classes, writing books, and maintaining websites. She often follows her husband on business trips around Europe and blogs about the misadventures of touring with children. She lives in Atlanta.

Connect with Susanna at her website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads


GIVEAWAY RULES:

To be entered to win a paperback copy of Wicked Little Secrets by Susanna Ives, the first book in her Wicked Little Secrets series


just fill in the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is only open to US residents and ends on  13 November 2016!

Good luck!

Related Posts with Thumbnails