"He who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose." – Anne Bronte
The blooming of the rare and mysterious blue rose heralds great change, for when the buds open to full blossom enemies become lovers. Some fear this omen, some desire it. All respect it. Follow the journey of these brand new historical romance tales from USA Today and Bestselling authors and discover the power--and the promise--of the blue rose for yourself.
A Rose for a Rogue by Collette Cameron
A Waltz with a Rogue, book 6
What’s a future duke to do when the most unsuitable woman possible captures his heart?
Caution: this story contains an unconventional miss who puts hats on her horse, a lord not nearly as starchy as he would have everyone believe, villains whose ears you’ll long to box, and an impertinent pet squirrel with a penchant for hiding her treats where she ought not to.
Eden tried to avoid even a hint of scandal her whole life.
Plowing headlong into the Marquis of Sterling and dropping eggs on his boots wasn’t the most foolish thing Eden Haverden had ever done. Imprudently agreeing to take the charming rogue home when his horse went lame wasn’t either. But reluctantly accepting Chester’s invitation to stay the night at his familial estate after she nearly drowned? Yes, that assuredly was rash and invited utter ruin.
The DeCourcy sins have haunted Chester his entire life.
Determined to create a new legacy for the tainted DeCourcy Duchy, Manchester, Marquis of Sterling’s every action and decision are governed by diligence and discipline. A man of reason, compassion, and purpose, he should not be distracted by the wholly unsuitable Miss Eglantina Eden Haverden. Not only is she the by-blow of his father’s arch enemy, she’s also sister to the man who’d killed Chester’s elder brother. Why then, can’t he resist the powerful attraction between them?
The old duke, bent on revenge and hatred, is having none of it though. Dare Chester defy his father for the only woman to ever bring peace to his soul? Can he convince Eden to put aside her wariness and to trust him with her heart and love?
He sketched a bow, more elaborate than the situation called for. “Manchester, Marquis of Sterling. And you are Miss Eden.”
She narrowed her eyes and raked her astute regard over him, from his beaver hat, down the length of his great coat to his soiled boots, and then made the reverse journey to meet his eyes once more.
His flesh reacted—the nerves and pores alert and expectant—with every slow inch of her perusal.
Did her thorough assessment mean she knew who he was?
It was hardly a secret.
She had him at a disadvantage then, for he hadn’t an inkling who Miss Eden might be.
“Not Miss Eden exactly,” she finally said, the amused sparkle returning to her eyes.
She shook her head and that cloud of downy hair billowed around her shoulders.
Unusual to leave her hair down. Not the fashion at all, but he quite admired the shiny mass.
She chuckled, a lyrical warble, causing a weird flitting about in his chest again.
He really must leave off strong spirits if this was how they’d begun to affect him.
Or perchance the expectation of seeing his sire after a decade was causing his heart palpitations.
As she straightened, she passed Jane the soiled toweling.
“Eden is my middle name.”
She bobbed a curtsy that would’ve earned even Almack’s stern peeresses’ approval.
“Eglantina Eden Aster Haverden.”
Chester couldn’t prevent his gaze from falling on the unbroken eggs.
Zounds, why would anyone name a child that? He could well imagine the teasing her name had inspired.
A delightful laugh escaped her as she caught his reaction.
“I know, it’s uncommon. Mama says it means wild rose. I prefer my first middle name, Eden.” She dipped into a shallow curtsy. “I beg your pardon again, my lord.”
After another brilliant smile that left him blinking like a codpated buffoon, she picked up her baskets and whisked into the kitchen behind Mrs. Stewart.
A grin playing around the edges of his mouth, Chester cut a wave toward Stewart and then made his way outside. Remarkable how that small bundle of feminine energy had lifted his spirits like nothing else had in a great while.
The Gentleman’s Seduction by Lauren Smith
‘Tis the season…for revenge.
Eleven years ago during Christmas, Martin Banks’ family was thrown into the streets by wealthy landlord, Edwin Hartwell. Now this holiday season, Fate has handed Martin an unexpected gift. Vengeance. Defeating Hartwell at cards gives Martin the chance to financially ruin the man—but damn, instead of money, Hartwell offers his daughter as payment. And double damn, Martin stupidly accepts. How did retribution turn into seduction? Martin refuses to let himself fall in love, so there must be rules to this game.
And perhaps a bit of romance.
Desperate to save her father from ruin, Livvy Hartwell agrees to accompany Martin as his paramour. She long ago accepted that a penniless bluestocking like herself had no chance for a well-suited marriage. If a few passionate months with a man like Martin is all she’ll ever have as far as romance, it’s an opportunity she will take. But she must guard her heart. He might be handsome as the devil and tempting as sin, but she can’t be a typical mistress and doesn’t want Martin to call her such. In fact, she has a list of rules.
~ Adventures outdoors such as horseback riding would be appreciated.
~ Evening meals should be eaten together to converse about the day’s events.
~ Allotted time alone to read gothic novels.
~ Kissing should be kept at a minimum.
~ Adventures are required—particularly indoors—and will be greatly appreciated.
~ Evening meals will sometimes be eaten in the bedroom, naked.
~ Allotted time together to act out the sensual gothic novels.
~ Kissing—a lot of it and in some very pleasurable spots — is required.
Livvy ducked down behind the banister, struck with the sudden need to hide. Her father and mother’s conversation still haunted her. Her father had gambled away all their possessions at the Argyll Rooms last night? Icy dread gripped her, squeezing the breath from her lungs.
Everything was to be taken away. My home, my clothes…my books?
Any chance she had of making a good match this season was ruined. Her father was a mere gentleman, though her mother was the daughter of a duke, which made Livvy granddaughter to a duke and therefore most attractive. Though her grandfather’s title could not pass through her, the family’s connections to members of the peerage were always welcome. But the scandal around becoming destitute would tarnish even that.
Her grandfather, the Duke of Sussex, was a wonderful and well-liked man. Why hadn’t her parents gone to him for help? He’d let her mother marry for love. Surely he would not refuse to help her if she faced money troubles? Livvy bit her lip hard. Perhaps her mother’s pride might be the problem.
Howell opened the door, and Livvy peered from her hiding place in the shadows as a man entered her house. His gold-blond hair was striking, and his features were those of a fallen angel or a Byronic hero.
“This way, Mr. Banks. My master will see you shortly.” Howell escorted the man into the drawing room. Livvy looked for her parents, but they had stepped into her father’s study.
After a moment, her father appeared and just as quickly disappeared into the drawing room. Howell stood with his back to the door like a sentry. Livvy abandoned her hiding place and rushed down the stairs. When Howell saw her, she held a finger to her lips. He nodded and stepped aside for her. She pressed her ear to the door, listening to the voices.
“As I said last evening, Mr. Hartwell, I now have a debt of four thousand pounds with your name on the vowels. I want you and your wife to vacate this home by tomorrow, and I will sell it by Christmas to discharge the debt you owe me. I understand this house is still partially owned by Drummonds?”
“Yes.” Her father’s reply was soft, broken.
“I will buy out the bank’s interest and sell the house then,” Banks said, his words calm and even. Without emotion.
Livvy knew she had to intervene. Surely this man had some shred of decency and mercy within him. She flung open the drawing room door and burst inside.
“Please!” she exclaimed as she faced the man who stood by the fireplace. He was taller than she’d realized, so much that he dwarfed her when she approached him. His piercing blue eyes glow in the firelight.
“Please,” she repeated more softly, her heart now hammering. “Give my father time to pay back what he owes. It’s almost Christmas…” She feared her plea fell on deaf ears as Banks continued to stare at her. His broad shoulders and fine clothes spoke of his wealth. He didn’t need their money, surely. She felt very young and foolish standing before him in a gown that was two years old, the hem let out twice and the color faded from too much wear. It hadn’t bothered her before, but now? Now she felt very silly when facing a handsome, well-dressed man like Mr. Banks.
His eyes lingered upon her, sweeping from her face down to her slippers and back up, and she swore she could almost feel invisible hands touching her.
“Hartwell, who is this enchanting creature?” His lips, once pursed in a tight line, now softened into a slow, seductive smile.
“This is my daughter, Lavinia.”
“Livvy,” she corrected automatically, and a wave of heat enveloped her face.
“Daughter…” Banks murmured the word as he rested one hand on the marble fireplace. “This quite changes things.”
Hope blossomed inside her, and she started to smile.
“Then you will give me time to pay you back?” Her father stepped close to her as he spoke to Mr. Banks, putting one hand on her shoulder.
Banks’s gaze settled on her, then slid to her father. “No.”
Livvy was cut off as he continued. “I have decided to accept another form of repayment allowing you to keep your house.”
Her father’s fingers dug into her shoulder. “No. Anything but that,” he growled. “Take the house.”
“Anything but what?” Livvy demanded. She couldn’t understand why her father was upset.
“You, my dear,” Banks said smugly. “He means anything but you.”
She tried to battle her bewilderment. “Me? But how can I repay you?” Did he mean that if she were to marry soon she could convince her husband to pay her father’s debt?
“Delightfully innocent. How charming.” Banks’s tone was laced with sardonic amusement that made her bristle.
“Take the house, Banks. You cannot have her. She has marriage prospects and a good life ahead of her.” Her father stepped between her and Banks.
Banks drummed his fingers on the mantel and faced the fire once again. “I could wreck those prospects. My reach is wider than you realize.”
“Yes, I’m now aware. You’re William Banks’s son, aren’t you?” her father asked.
“At last you make the connection.”
Livvy didn’t understand, she glanced between them, confused.
“Who is William Banks?” For a moment she thought neither her father or Mr. Banks would answer her.
“He was a man who owed your father money. Your father cast us out of our home. My mother died that night, just minutes after he left us ruined. He took her from me, and now justice has seen fit to give me the chance to return the favor and take something from him, which would be you, my dear.”
His words left her stunned and she her gaze darted between her father who looked stricken with grief, and the cold, impassionate man, Mr. Banks. Livvy studied his handsome profile, and only then did she understand what he suggested. He wanted her, not any money from a future husband. And there was only one reason a man in his situation would want her when it was clear he did not intend to marry her.
She buried her fear as best she could and composed her features. “If you take me, will you consider my father’s debts fully paid?” she asked. Her body shook as she came to grips with what she was considering: to give herself to this man to save her family.
“Livvy, you will not.” Her father looked down at her, fear and anger in his eyes. She pushed past him to stand face-to-face with Mr. Banks.
“Well?” she asked.
He crossed his arms over his chest, scowling a little. “Yes. You in exchange for the entire debt.” His stare burned into her with such intensity that she shivered with dread.
She cleared her throat. “What are your conditions?”
He stroked his chin, seeming to ponder the question, but she sensed he already had an answer. “You will be mine for as long as it takes me to tire of you.”
Icy tendrils curled around her, paralyzing her. How long would it take for him to grow bored and let her go home?
“No,” her father snapped. “She isn’t going with you. Livvy, go into my study and stay with your mother.”
She wished she could obey her father. More than anything else in the world, she wanted to run from this horror she was agreeing to. But she was no longer a child. She could not hide behind her mother’s skirts and allow her family and home to be ruined. Her parents had sacrificed much for her over the years. It was her duty to return that devotion.
“No, Father,” she said quietly, then looked Mr. Banks in the eyes. Her blood pounded so hard in her ears she could barely hear her own voice. “I agree to your terms.”
What is your favorite historical romance era and what do you like about it?
Amy Jarecki will give away a $20 VISA collectors gift card with a picture of Dunrobin Castle and a signed copy of THE HIGHLAND CHIEFTAIN.
(This is the same giveaway that was featured in the visit yesterday so it is combined with the comments from yesterday.)