Showing posts with label Regency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Regency. Show all posts

August 28, 2015

Diana's Review!! Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter

Colonel Gabriel de Laurent departed for the war intending to die.

After a decade of bloodstained battlegrounds while fighting in Napoleon's army, Gabriel returns to the streets of Paris a shattered and haunted soul. Plagued by inner demons, he swallows the barrel of his flintlock pistol and pulls the trigger.

But fate has a different plan.

Ariah Larochelle is a survivor. Orphaned at twelve and victim to a devastating crime, she has learned to keep her back to walls and to trust no one. But when she finds a gravely injured soldier washed up on the River Seine, she's moved by compassion. In spite of her reservations, she rescues him from the icy water and brings him into her home.

Now scarred inside and out, Gabriel discovers a kindred spirit in Ariah—and feelings he imagined lost forever reawaken as he observes her strength in the face of adversity. But when Ariah's own lethal secrets unfold, their new love is threatened by ancient ghosts. Can Gabriel and Ariah find hope in the wreckage of their pasts—or will the cycle of history repeat again?

Perfect for fans of Gaelen Foley's Lord of Ice and Judith James's Broken Wing, Finding Gabriel features all the dark romance, searing passion, and historical intrigue of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables.

Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of historical romance and, any well-written book that bears this label, has always been close to my heart. 

The story Rachel L. Demeter has chosen to bring to life – that of a tormented man saved by a woman, who manages to convince him that he isn’t the person he thought he was – became one of the best I have read so far. 

After losing his family and experiencing the tragedy of wars and countless fights, Colonel Gabriel de Laurent makes up his mind and decides to kill himself. Without any trace of faith or hope, the last thing he expects is to be saved from his own doing and be given a second chance. 

“Broken and alone, Gabriel had returned from the battlefields months earlier. And he’d departed for the war fully intending to die. But things hadn’t gone according to his plan.” 

Ariah Larochelle has been through a lot in her life, but she still has a lot of goodness left in her soul. When she stumbles across a wounded soldier who only has minutes left to live, she immediately decides to take him under her roof. 

Both Gabriel and Ariah are survivors of awful events that marked their lives and themselves. Their relationship unfolds beautifully and, together, they heal each other’s wounds. 

“Thoughts of Ariah and his past invaded his mind, refusing to grant him rest. He wanted to hate her – non, he wanted to despise her – for thwarting his plan. He’d finally mustered her courage to do what should have done long, long ago… then she’d appeared.
Indeed, she’d appeared within the darkness, like a lighthouse among the jagged sea cliffs, steering him away from destruction.” 

I fell in love with their story immediately. Gabriel’s stubbornness and passion and Ariah’s compassion and capacity of love made this book even more marvelous. Also, the other characters made the book even more endearing to me. 

The author’s writing is simply alluring and flows naturally as she vividly portrays her characters and the Paris of the nineteenth century. I highly recommend it! 

I live in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, my goofy lowland sheepdog, and high school sweetheart of eleven years. I enjoy writing dark, poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.

Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been my passion for longer than I can remember. Before learning how to read or write, I would dictate stories while my mom would jot them down for me. I hold a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, I ensure every character is given a soul.

I endeavor to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes my stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.

My dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through my words. ♥

August 21, 2015

Excerpt & Giveaway! Undercover With The Earl, Brotherhood of the Sword #1 by Robyn DeHart

London, 1838

The handsome Earl of Summersby may just be the most eligible bachelor in London, but has no interest in a wife. As a member of the Brotherhood, Bennett Haile is far more vested in his undercover duties for the crown and protecting the Queen from would-be assassins. For now he has the perfect tool with which to lure out the villains—a young woman with an uncanny likeness to the queen.

The spirited Evelyn Marington is about to live out every country girl's dream—becoming royalty overnight. Under the tutelage of the arrogant Earl of Summersby, she'll have to fool the entire court that she is, in fact, the queen. But as danger threatens from every side, Bennett realizes that his lovely little protegé isn't just placing her life in his hands... She's stealing his heart.

“Stand and walk to the other side of the room,” he said.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I must evaluate how you walk.”

She gaped at him. “How I walk?”

“Do try and keep up, Miss Marrington. People will be watching.”

“Is there something wrong with how I walk?”

“Your walk is ...” No. In truth, she walked with an unconscious grace and agility he found charming. There was nothing studied about her movements, nothing calculated. She managed to be both completely natural and totally bewitching, which was entirely beside the point. “Your walk is unstudied.”

“Are you staying I'm clumsy?” Her gaze sparked with indignation, but perhaps a flash of pain as well. “I am well aware that I lack the grace and cultivation of my older sisters, but I assure you I am not some clumsy oaf who can't be trusted to walk into a room.”

He drew in a deep breath, praying for patience. This was why he wasn't yet married. This was why he was absolutely the wrong man for this job. 

“Your mannerisms must match hers,” he said tightly.

She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths before standing, then walked across the room. It was not a clumsy or awkward gait, but not regal either. 

“No.” He shook his head. “Try it again but slower, yet with more purpose.”

She crossed her arms over her ample bosom. “This is ridiculous.”

He allowed his gaze to linger on her tempting curves before stepping over to her. “Miss Marrington, do you want to do this assignment or not?”

Her mouth opened, then she paused and her brows slanted down in anger. “My Lord, I realize that you are an Earl and of relation to our Queen and our Society deems you more important than I. Perhaps they are even correct; however, it would seem to me that you,” she jabbed a finger into his chest, “need me more than I need you for this assignment. Thus far you have insulted my family, the way I walk and my hair. You are arrogant and rude and sorely lacking in manners.” Her hands fisted on her hips accenting their roundedness. 

How was it that this little slip of a woman shoed no fear of him? He’d frightened women merely by walking into their drawing room. And here, he was being a bully—and for good reason—to Evelyn Marrington, but she was quite obviously not afraid of him. He couldn’t help but find that both infuriating and alluring. 

“You have obviously decided that I do not possess the intelligence nor grace to succeed in this charade. I will not stand for this sort of treatment. I should like a carriage to bring me home on the morrow. Good day, Lord Somersby.” She turned and marched from the room. 

He watched her go in complete disbelief. No one had ever spoken to him in such a way. Arrogant and rude! She was the only lacking in manners. This entire assignment echoed with idiocy. Ellis had claimed his cousin amiable and clever, neither of which Bennett had seen. All he had witnessed was her sharp tongue. 

Damned if he didn’t find her sass alluring as hell. All the more reason to send her back home and tell Potterfield she refused to participate. Bennett couldn’t be blamed for this failure if she was the one who walked away. This would work out perfectly. He’d get to continue with the Brotherhood and not be distracted by the ridiculously attractive and fiery-tongued Miss Marrington. It would almost be worth completing the assignment just to see if she was as passionate in other areas. Almost.

National Bestselling author, Robyn DeHart's novels have appeared in the top bestselling romance and historical romance lists. Her books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Her historical romantic adventure series, The Legend Hunters, were not only bestsellers, but also award-winners, snagging a Reader's Crown and a Reviewer's Choice award. She had three releases in 2013 and 2014 will see four more, all set in the popular historical romance Regency and Victorian eras. Known for her "strong dialogue and characters that leap off the page" (RT Bookclub) and her "sizzling romance" (Publishers Weekly), her books have been featured in USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. A popular writing instructor, she has given speeches at writing conferences in Los Angeles, DC, New York, Dallas, Nashville and Toronto, among many others.

When not writing, you can find Robyn hanging out with her family, husband (The Professor) a university professor of Political Science and their two ridiculously beautiful and smart daughters, Busybee and Babybee as well as two spoiled-rotten cats. They live in the hill country of Texas where it's hot eight months of the year, but those big blue skies make it worth it.

July 22, 2015

Excerpt & Giveaway! The Maddening Lord Montwood, The Rakes of Fallow Hall #3 by Vivienne Lorret

Frances Thorne learned at an early age to rely on herself. Yet, losing her job and her home and watching her father carted off to debtor’s prison all in one day, is too much for her to bear alone. When a generous offer of assistance falls into her lap, she ignores her better instincts and decides to take a chance. The last thing she needs is for the infuriating Lord Lucan Montwood to stand in her way.

The end of the bachelors’ wager is near, and Lucan Montwood can taste victory. Yet, on the precipice of finally gaining freedom from his debts, he’s incensed to learn that the beautiful Frances Thorne has fallen into an insidious trap in the guise of a new position. Lucan can’t deny the way her lips call to him and knows he must risk his own future to ensure her safety.

Convincing her to trust him is the hard part and resisting her is next to impossible. But falling in love with her? That’s far too simple.

Stepping around to view the statue from behind, she could not help but notice that her admiration was not stirred the same way it had been when she’d spied Lucan, fully clothed on a London street or even today at Fallow Hall. Wasn’t this statue supposed to represent the epitome in male grace and beauty?

“You are quite the avid admirer, Miss Thorne.” 

Frances jumped. She spun around so quickly that her taper sputtered and flickered out.

“Careful,” Lucan crooned, his voice emerging from the shadows lingering at the outer edges of the room. “Without a lamp how can your artistic perusal continue?”

It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dim light filtering in through the windows. The sculptures around her seemed to possess their own faint glow, soaking up the moonlight. And then she saw Lucan clearly—the glint of amber in his gaze, the flash of white in his smile, the darkness of his hair and eyebrows that made the shadows appear gray in comparison. 

“What are you doing here?” she asked, still attempting to catch her breath. “I could lose my post if you are caught.”

“As I said before, I’m too familiar with dark places to be discovered.” He drew closer, never looking away from her. “Besides, I told you I would come.”

Seven insignificant words and yet her pulse raced in her throat. Silly as it was, knowing that he’d come solely because he’d said he would touched on a tender wound that she’d carried with her for a long while.

“You needn’t have bothered,” she said, though her tone lacked any bite. 

Lucan’s grin broadened, as if he’d noticed. “You’re glad that I’m here.”

“Nonsense.” She gave him her most condescending glare. 

Unfortunately, it had no effect on him. He moved closer. Ignoring the sudden leap in her pulse and the warm tremor that coursed through her, she held her ground. 

Reaching out, he slid her spectacles up the bridge of her nose. “There. Try it again. I might believe you this time.”

USA Today bestselling author VIVIENNE LORRET loves romance novels, her pink laptop, her husband, and her two sons (not necessarily in that order ... but there are days). Transforming copious amounts of tea into words, she is proud to be an Avon Impulse author of works including: “Tempting Mr. Weatherstone”, The Wallflower Wedding Series, and the Rakes of Fallow Hall series.

June 24, 2015

Excerpt & Giveaway! How To Marry a Royal Highlander, The Renegade Royals #4 by Vanessa Kelly

Illegitimate yet thoroughly irresistible, the Renegade Royals are leaving behind their careers as daring spies for the greatest adventure of all…

At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…

After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…

A moment later, Dailey ushered Evelyn Endicott into the room. She halted when she saw Aden, but smoothly recovered, a warm smile curving her lush mouth. Alec got a jolt, both to his brain and to his groin. The latter was an unerring barometer when it came to one person in particular.


The gorgeous young woman who’d just swept into his library was no more the wife of Wolf Endicott than Alec was the King of Spain.

“Mrs. Endicott, what a pleasure to see you,” Aden said with a bow.

The faux Mrs. Endicott dimpled up prettily and returned his greeting with a brief curtsey. “And you, Captain St. George, although I see I interrupted your meeting. Please forgive me.”

She cast what she no doubt thought was a shy, apologetic glance at Alec. He raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest. Her brows, partly hidden by her spectacles, tilted down in a frown.

But a moment later she was directing another charming smile at Aden, who seemed completely taken in by her silly charade. Alec almost laughed out loud at the notion of the outrageous Eden Whitney pulling the wool over the eyes of England’s most accomplished spy.

“No apology necessary, Mrs. Endicott,” Aden said. He nodded to Alec. “I’ll speak with later.”

Alec answered his cousin with a polite smile, enjoying the prospect of mocking him at a later date. But when Aden reached the door, he glanced over his shoulder, his eyebrows raised and his gaze glinting with laughter.

Clearly, the little minx hadn’t fooled Aden, after all.

The woman who was fast becoming the bane of Alec’s existence flashed him what she probably thought was an innocent, shy smile. It was nothing of the sort, of course. Eden Whitney exuded a mostly unconscious sensuality that could knock a man flat from twenty paces.

“I’m sure you must be surprised to see me,” she said in a sweet, quiet voice.

He had to admit she got the voice right. If he hadn’t been looking straight at her, he would have thought he was listening to Evie and not her diabolical twin.

“Give it up, Miss Whitney.” He took her by the elbow and steered her to one of the club chairs. “You’re not fooling anyone.”

She gaped up at him with astonishment. “Confound it, how do you do that? I haven’t been in the room for more than a minute.”

It wasn’t the first time Edie had switched identities with her twin, but it hadn’t worked any better with him this time than it had a few months ago. There were a dozen differences between the sisters, some quite noticeable. For one, Edie carried herself with a degree of confidence and restless energy her twin lacked. She cut a swath through the ton like a sharpened sickle through a field of ripe wheat.

There were more subtle signs as well, like the way her clothes hugged her generous curves just a little more snuggly than her sister’s. She might think she was fooling him by choosing a modestly cut carriage dress in dove gray, but Edie’s sense of dash always seemed to bleed through. No cautious ponderings or sober second thoughts for Miss Eden Whitney. To her, life was a challenge and a lark, something to be enjoyed to the hilt.

“Never mind that, you daft woman,” he said. “Have you no care for your reputation?”

She let out a disdainful snort. “Reputation? That’s rich, coming from you. You’re constantly doing outrageous things.”

“I’m a man. I can get away with it. You, however, cannot.”

“It’s so unfair,” she grumbled.

Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes.

June 16, 2015

Excerpt & Giveaway! A Good Rogue is Hard to Find, The Lords of Worth #2 by Kelly Bowen


The rogue's life has been good to William Somerhall: He has his fortune, his racehorses, and his freedom. Then he moves in with his mother. It seems the eccentric Dowager Duchess of Worth has been barely skirting social disaster-assisted by one Miss Jenna Hughes, who is far too bright and beautiful to be wasting her youth as a paid companion. Now home to keep his mother from ruin, William intends to learn what's afoot by keeping his friends close - and the tempting Miss Hughes closer still. . . .


He's tall, dark, and damnably intelligent - unfortunately for Jenna. She and the duchess are in the "redistribution business," taking from the rich and giving to the poor, and it's going great - until he shows up. But even as William plots to make an honest woman out of her, Jenna will use all her wiles to reveal just how bad a rogue he can be . . .

For a moment, Worth looked stunned. “What the hell did you drop down the front of your dress?” he snarled.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jenna replied placidly. She had gotten herself out of stickier situations than this. Distract and deflect. She dropped her hands again.

“I demand to know what you took.”

“Nothing, Your Grace.”

“You have something in the front of your dress,” he snapped.

“I have since I was twelve years old.”

Worth started in shock before he swiped his hands through his hair angrily. “You think this is funny?”

“A little.” She was forcing a sangfroid she didn’t feel.

The duke let out a string of expletives better suited to the London docks. “You have five seconds to produce whatever you have in the front of your dress, or I swear by all that is holy, I will rip your bodice in half and retrieve it for you.”

“Ah. Is this your area of expertise?”

That stopped him short. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Jenna smirked at him and cocked a brow. “I thought bodice ripping might be part of your overwhelming charm.”

Worth’s eyes darkened even further. “Very well, Miss Hughes, have it your way.”

God’s teeth, he was calling her bluff, and in truth, he had every right to do so. Though she’d be damned if she conceded. “Do your worst then,” she dared.

She watched as the duke’s hands went first to her shoulders, then to the edges of her bodice. She felt the backs of his fingers brush against her bare skin as he curled them under the seam at the top of her breasts. Jenna remained perfectly still, her breath caught in her chest and her heart thundering against her ribs. 

He had long fingers. Beautiful fingers, actually, covered in small nicks and scars and calluses that attested to the fact this duke understood physical exertion. And they were tracing the neckline of her dress in slow, sure movements. Her stays were suddenly suffocating. The air around her had thickened. Every muscle in her body had clenched, and it wasn’t in fear. It was in anticipation.

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She worked her way through her teenage years as a back country trail guide and ranch hand. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.

But it was Kelly's infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

June 2, 2015

Excerpt & Giveaway! Love in the Time of Scandal, Scandalous #3 by Caroline Linden

The third book in a deliciously sexy series from USA Today bestselling and RITA award winning author Caroline Linden, in which an utterly shocking book--Fifty Shades of Grey for the Regency era-- has all of London talking and gives more than one young miss a mind for scandal.

Penelope Weston does not like Benedict Lennox, Lord Atherton. He may be the suave and charming heir to an earl, as well as the most handsome man on earth, but she can’t forget how he abandoned a friend in need-nor how he once courted her sister, Abigail. He’s the last man she would ever marry. If only she didn’t feel so attracted to the arrogant scoundrel…

Once upon a time, Benedict thought he and Penelope got along rather well. But, though he needs a wealthy bride to escape his cruel father’s control, spirited Penelope just doesn’t suit his plans for a model marriage -- until a good deed goes awry, and scandalous rumors link his name to Penelope’s. She might not be the quiet, sensible wife he thought he wanted, but she is beautiful…beguiling…and far more passionate than he ever imagined. Can a marriage begun in scandal become a love match, too?

"There are many handsome gentlemen in London," Penelope said aloud. There were, although none near this part of the ballroom, where the unmarried ladies congregated. If Joan were here, they could discuss the scandalous rakes lounging elegantly at the far end of the room, closer to the wine. But Frances was only seventeen and would fall into a blushing stammer if Penelope openly admired the way Lord Fenton's trousers fit his thighs.

Frances nodded, a beatific smile on her face. She edged a little closer to Penelope's side and dropped her voice. "Miss Weston … may I confide in you? You've been very kind to me, and I do so look up to you for advice—well, you know, on how to deal with gentlemen who are only interested in One Thing."

Oh dear. Frances meant the fortune hunters who clustered around her. Penelope tried not to heave a sigh. Unfortunately she had too much experience of those men, and too little experience of real suitors. She was probably the least suited person to be giving advice, but Frances persisted in asking her. "Is another one bothering you? If so, you must send him on his way at once. Such a man will never make you happy if all he cares for is your fortune or your connections."

"Oh no, I know that very well," replied Frances earnestly. "I've turned away Mr. Whittington and Sir Thomas Philpot and even Lord Dartmond, although my mama was not very pleased by the last one. Only when I explained to her that you had turned him down as the very lowest of fortune hunters did she relent."

The Earl of Dartmond was at least forty, with a pernicious gambling habit. Mrs. Lockwood was a fool if she even considered him for her daughter, earl or not. "I'm sure you'll be very happy you did, when you meet a kinder gentleman who cares for you."

The younger girl nodded, her face brightening again. "I know! I know, because I have met him! Oh, Miss Weston, he's the handsomest man you ever saw. Always so smartly attired, and the very best horseman I've ever seen, and a music lover—he listened to me play for almost an hour the last time he called, and said I was a marvel on the pianoforte." Frances looked quite rapturous; she was very fond of the pianoforte and practiced for an hour each day, something Penelope couldn't fathom surviving, let alone enjoying. "And what's more, he's heir to an earl and has no need of my fortune. Mama is so pleased, and Papa, too. He's been calling on me for at least a fortnight now, always with a small gift or posy, and he's the most charming, delightful gentleman I could imagine!"

Penelope nodded, hoping it was all true. "How wonderful. I told you there were true gentlemen out there. They just require some hunting."

Frances laughed almost giddily. "There are! My other friends were so very scandalized when I refused to receive Mr. Whittington, because he's the most graceful dancer even if he is horribly in debt, but you were entirely correct. I credit your wise advice for the happiness I now feel—indeed, for the very great match I'm about to make! May I present you to him? He's to attend tonight."

For a moment Penelope felt like saying no. It was bad enough that she had to feel old and unwanted next to Frances. Her friend was sweet and kind, but also somewhat silly and naïve. It was bad enough to see Joan and Abigail marry deliciously handsome men; Penelope loved them and wanted them to be happy. She also wanted Frances to be happy, but tonight it just felt a bit hard to see Frances find her ideal man and be swept off her feet in her very first year in London, while Penelope had been overlooked for three years now by all but the most calculating fortune hunters.

But that was petty. She mustered another smile. "Of course. You know I always like to meet handsome men." Frances's eyes widened at the last, and Penelope hastily added, "I'm especially pleased to meet one who adores you."

Frances's smile returned. "He does, Miss Weston, I really believe he does! He's even hinted that he means to speak to my papa soon." A very pretty blush colored her cheeks. "How should I respond, if he asks me about that?"

"If you want to marry him, you should tell your father that he's the man for you. And stand by your conviction," she added. "Parents may not always understand your heart, so you must be sure to tell them emphatically."

"Yes, of course." Frances nodded. "I hope you approve of him, Miss Weston."

"Your approval is what matters." Penelope wondered if she had ever been so anxious for someone else's validation of her opinion. She would have to ask Abigail, the next time she saw her sister.

"I see him," said Frances with a little cry of nervous delight. "Oh my, he's so handsome! And his uniform is very dashing! Don't you think so?"

Penelope followed her companion's gaze and saw a group of the King's Life Guards, making their entrance with some swagger. Instinctively her mouth flattened. She'd met a few of them last summer, when one of their number, Benedict Lennox, Lord Atherton, had courted her sister. Penelope was sure he'd never been in love with Abigail, and when Abigail confessed her love for another man, Lord Atherton reacted like a thwarted child. Penelope hoped he wasn't in the crowd, but then she caught sight of his dark head.

Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer software before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, twelve books, three Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision. Her books have won the NEC Reader’s Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. Since she never won any prizes in math, she takes this as a sign that her decision was also a smart one. Visit her online at

May 29, 2015

Book Promo: Excerpt & Giveaway! A Kiss for Lady Mary, The Marriage Game #6 by Ella Quinn

Lady Mary Tolliver heaved a sigh of relief. She’d been at her brother, the Earl of Barham’s, dower house with her grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Bridgewater, and her widowed aunt, Lady Eunice Phipson, for two weeks now. Thankfully there was still no sign of her cousin, Gawain Tolliver. Perhaps he’d finally given up attempting to compromise her. She’d been taking her regular walks after breakfast for the past week. But this morning she had remembered advice given to her by a friend to vary her schedule as long as Gawain was after her and had decided to go earlier.

She was about a half mile from the house when a familiar male voice asked, “How much longer?”

Mary stopped and scanned the woods. Suddenly, the dark green she’d taken for leaves ruffling in the slight breeze moved revealing a jacket.

Blast it all! It was Gawain, and she’d almost stepped into his trap. She’d known her luck wouldn’t hold. She slipped behind a tree, and listened.

“About another half hour,” a man with a rougher voice answered.

“Have the coach ready,” Gawain ordered. “I want to get away as soon as we grab her.”

She backed up carefully, keeping the dense foliage between herself and her cousin, until she could no longer see Gawain clearly.

“Did you hear something?”

Mary stifled a groan. How far was it to the house, and could she outmaneuver them? She glanced around. It was eight, maybe nine, feet to the old oak tree where, as a child, she’d won many a game of hide and seek. Gathering her skirts, she dashed to it and hid in the hollow part of the trunk. Gawain would have to know exactly where to look to see her. Still, she could not remain in the tree all day. She would have to hope they gave up waiting for her and left, planning to return another day.

“Nah, sir, just a deer or something.”

Several minutes later, Mary shifted and dirt fell around her. This space had been far more commodious when she’d been younger. Something landed on her arm and began to crawl. Stifling a scream, she swatted at it, dislodging more debris. Her heart thudded, making it hard for her to breathe. It was certain her cousin wouldn’t leave until at least the time when she normally passed by. She would just have to run. As they began to converse again, she picked up her skirts and dashed out of the home wood. Once she reached the outer part of the curtilage she raced through the rose garden, staying off the flagstone and gravel paths to the nearest door and darted in.

“My lady,” Cook exclaimed. “You look like the devil hisself is after you.” The old woman narrowed her eyes. “What have you got into? Shake out your skirts before you come in any farther. Is that a dead spider on your arm?”

Mary leaned back against the door, sucking in great gulps of air as she caught her breath. “That might be an apt description.” She briefly considered asking Cook not to tell Grandmamma, but that would only insure her grandmother heard about it sooner. “I’ll be down for breakfast as soon as I wash my hands.”

Ella Quinn lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband, three bossy cats and a loveable Great Dane.