on September 12th 2017
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Two Regency novellas of true love deep in the English countryside....Legend says that the first gentleman a lady kisses on the Duke's Bridle' Path will become her true love. Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain say it's not that easy...
In His Grace for the Win, by Grace Burrowes, Philippe, Duke of Lavelle, has sworn off all things equestrian after his brother's riding accident. Just one tiny problem: The woman who steals Philippe's heart, Harriet Talbot, loves horses, and generally only notices men when they're in the saddle. Will Philippe rise to the challenge, or come a cropper for the sake of true love?
In Desperately Seeking Scandal, by Theresa Romain, ambitious London reporter Colin Goddard follows a trail of scandal to the Lavelle seat in Berkshire, hoping to save his career with articles on how to snare a wealthy spouse. What was intended as a humorous series turns seductive, as Lady Ada Ellis, sister to the duke, uncovers Colin’s true purpose and challenges him to a battle of wits…and wills, and hearts. But if they fall in love, one of them will lose everything. Who will triumph?
His Grace for the Win, by Grace Burrowes
Philippe, Duke of Lavelle, has sworn off all things equestrian after his brother’s riding accident. Just one tiny problem: The woman who steals Philippe’s heart, Harriet Talbot, loves horses, and generally only notices men when they’re in the saddle. Will Philippe rise to the challenge, or come a cropper for the sake of true love?
Philippe, Duke of Lavelle, and his neighbor and dear friend Harriet Talbot are on the legendary duke’s bridle path discussing nothing of any particular moment…
“So who was your first true love?” Philippe asked.
Harriet heard not a hint of jealousy his question. He was merely passing the time while tramping on her heart.
“He was tall,” she said. “Quite muscular, a fellow in his prime. Splendid nose, moved like a dream, all grace and power.”
“You noticed his nose?”
Was that disgruntlement in the duke’s voice? “One does, when kissing.”
“Not if one goes about it properly.”
Philippe apparently spoke from blasted experience, while Harriet was spinning fancies. “I noticed his dark, dark hair, his beautiful eyes, his scent.”
“You found a lad here in Berkshire who could afford French shaving soap?”
“He wasn’t a lad, Your Grace. He was quite the young man, and all the ladies adored him.” Which was why he’d been sold as a stud colt and was still standing at a farm in Surrey. “I kissed him good-bye under a full moon on the bridle path, and I will never, ever forget him.”
Philippe slowed as they neared the trees. “You kissed him good-bye?”
This part of the bridle path ran between two rows of stately oaks. Nobody knew when the path had come into use, but the oaks were ancient. In places, the path wound beside a stream. At other points, it left the trees to cut along the edge of a pasture. Every square yard of the footing was safe. Every inch of the way was beautiful.
Especially by moonlight.
Philippe stopped at the gap in the oaks. The night was peaceful enough to carry the sound of horses munching grass in their paddocks. Harriet’s slippers were damp—her only good pair. She’d neglected to change into boots, because shooing away His Grace had been the more pressing priority.
Shooing away His Grace, whom she missed desperately even when she was standing beside him.
“May I trust you with one more secret, Harriet?”
In the shadows of the trees, she couldn’t make out his expression. “Of course. We are friends, and friends…”
He took off his hat and set it on a thick tree limb. “I waited in vain on this path. Nobody fell prey to my youthful charms, not on Beltane, not at harvest. Nobody would kiss the duke’s younger son, though I witnessed several young ladies bestowing favors on Jonas.”
That must have hurt. “Lord Chaddleworth was a rascal.” A lovable rascal.
A foal whinnied, and the mama answered. A sense of expectation sprang up from nowhere, and two instants later, Harriet realized His Grace was through waiting for somebody to kiss him.
He touched his mouth to hers. Harriet stepped closer, and then his arms came around her.
The kiss resumed, and while Harriet noticed many things—how her body matched the duke’s differently in the darkness, how the breeze blew her hair against her neck, how warm he was, and how his shaving soap smelled of sweet lavender—she did not notice his nose at all.
Desperately Seeking Scandal, by Theresa Romain
Ambitious London reporter Colin Goddard follows a trail of scandal to the Lavelle seat in Berkshire, hoping to save his career with articles on how to snare a wealthy spouse. What was intended as a humorous series turns seductive, as Lady Ada Ellis, sister to the duke, uncovers Colin’s true purpose and challenges him to a battle of wits…and wills, and hearts. But if they fall in love, one of them will lose everything. Who will triumph?
At five minutes of two, Colin stood before the front door of Theale Hall. He had brushed his hat, donned his best clothing. When the butler opened the door to him, he doffed his hat.
“Lady Ada is expecting me,” he said with more certainty than he felt. The lady had been prickly the day before, but not, he hoped, completely set against him.
The butler showed him not into some frothy parlor all done up in flowers and silks, but into a study. A masculine room, all wooden shelves and ancient oils and beautifully bound volumes. The air was scented with leather and lamp oil and the faint, musty smell of old paper.
“Lady Ada.” The duke’s sister was seated behind a desk half the size of Colin’s room at the White Hare. “This is where you welcome your social callers?”
She pulled off a pair of gold spectacles and blinked up at him. “This is where I spend most of the hours I pass indoors.” Blotting a page in a large ledger, she slid it to one side of the desk. “Thank you, Chalmers. We won’t require any refreshment.”
“We won’t? Are you sure?” Colin asked. “I think I might require something.”
She leveled at him the sort of look a barmaid offered when her arse had been pinched one time too many.
“Fine,” he sighed. As the butler left them alone, he dropped into a chair across the desk from her. As he leaned against the back, he groaned a little. Sturdy leather, supple as cloth, with upholstery as comfortable as an embrace. It was a good life, being a duke’s sister. Or simply visiting her for a while.
She steepled her hands. “I learned a bit more about you, Mr. Goddard. You truly are a writer for hire. And at present, you work for… The Gentleman’s Periodical.” She spoke the words slowly. They were weighty to her, though he didn’t know why.
“A tone of surprise, Lady Ada? I would not dare lie to someone so formidable.”
“Formidable? Honestly.” She took up a quill and penknife. “You might as well call me plain and frightening and be done with it.”
Why she called herself plain, he had no idea. She wasn’t beautiful in the way of painted portraits and marble-carved statues. But she looked like no one else he’d ever seen in the world, and that was surely the opposite of plain.
“Frightening, I will grant you,” he said with mock sincerity. It didn’t fool her for a second, for she shook her head.
“An attempt at flattery? How transparent.” Thumb against the end of the quill, she shaved a perfect sliver from its nib. “Do tell me about your work.”
It saved my life, he could have said. He’d been born to gentry, but his father was too fond of the bottle and the dice. The family lost their land, then their money—and when the influenza swept England in 1803, his parents lost their lives as well. Colin had been fifteen then, his younger brother only ten and troubled by a condition that kept him out of the public eye.
Boys’ tricks helped them survive for a time, as they eked out a living in the village their father had lately served as clerk. Both bright, the brothers would perform feats of recitation, memory, and mathematics for anyone who would give a coin. Through the new clerk, they sometimes reviewed books and documents from the occasional London publisher. With Samuel’s aid, Colin eventually struck up a correspondence with one—a Botolphus Bright, who published a daily broadsheet—and asked for employment.
I don’t hire writers. I buy pieces, had replied the editor. What do you have to offer?
The brothers scrawled a criticism of humorous writing in a tone so dry as to parch his fingers. “I never read anything so ridiculous,” said Bright when offering publication, and that was how the brothers were able to have meat again. They abandoned their village life for London and never looked back.
That had been ten years before. From the daily broadsheet, Bright had moved up in the world, and he now published the monthly Gentleman’s Periodical of which Lady Ada seemed so fond. It was an upstart publication, aping the established and respected Gentleman’s Magazine in every way except for being established and respected. But it was profitable enough. Bright had never yet hired the Goddard brothers, but Colin was determined that would change. If he played his cards right, the decade of piecework and scrambling for every coin would end in the security of an editorship.
But there was no way Colin would tell all of that to Lady Ada. “What if I make things up to impress you?”
“What if you do? I shall probably spot it. I’m not at all bad at telling when someone’s lying.”
“Really? Let’s test that. At some point before I leave, but only once, I shall tell you a lie.”
She held up the quill, gave a satisfied nod, and set it and the penknife aside. “That was it right there. You intend to tell me far more than one.”
“Curses. In that case, there’s at least one more for you to catch.”
Ms. Burrowes and Ms. Romain are giving away a digital copy of this lovely book
and they are curious…
Have you ever had to overcome a fear involving animals, or been caught doing something you probably shouldn’t have been doing?
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