A Wager for the Widow cover reveal and excerpt

I’m excited to reveal the cover for my July release, A Wager for the Widow.  Although I’d been not-too-secretly hoping for my gorgeous hero Will (looking like a cross between Alexander Skasgard and Chris Hemsworth) I’m really pleased with the result.

The model’s shade of hair is exactly right for my feisty widow Eleanor.  It’s a little redder on the UK cover so that’s the one I’m sharing here.  She also gives the impression she isn’t going to be easily tricked into giving the hero what he’s after.

The Mills & Boon UK cover.
The Mills & Boon UK cover.

Along with the cover I thought I’d share an excerpt from an early chapter.  Will has accepted his wager and is trying to find ways to win a kiss from Eleanor.

‘As Will glanced down his eye fell on the book on Lady Peyton’s lap. Her sleeve obscured the title and he grinned, sensing an opportunity.

‘You read,’ he remarked.

Lady Peyton nodded. ‘Does that surprise you? I could hardly have understood your note if I did not.’

‘For pleasure, I mean.’ Will settled back into his chair. He stretched his legs out until they were almost touching the folds of her skirts. ‘I’ll wager I can guess what you have been reading,’ he suggested. ‘Not the title, but the subject at least.’

‘What would the stake be?’ Lady Peyton asked suspiciously. She leant back against the wall and folded her arms across her body, hugging the book to her chest. Will tried not to stare too noticeably at the soft mounds of her breasts, pushed up and just visible over the edge of the volume.

‘The same thing I asked for before.’ Will grinned. ‘A single kiss.’

Lady Peyton rolled her eyes to the ceiling and huffed. The gesture was so unexpected from a high-born lady that Will burst out laughing. She glared at him.

‘I decline your terms,’ she said. ‘Why are you so insistent?’

‘Because you are beautiful and I’d like to kiss you. Why does the thought scare you?’ Will countered.

Lady Peyton sat upright. She kept the title hidden, Will noticed with delight. ‘It doesn’t scare me,’ she said firmly.

Will leant forward. So close that he could see the flecks of green that danced in her eyes.

‘Then accept the wager,’ he breathed.

He lifted his cup, holding her gaze, and took a deep draught of wine. He waited, letting silence sit between them. Lady Peyton frowned and bit her bottom lip. Will pictured himself slowly tasting it and his heart quickened.

‘Not for that prize. Name another, Master Rudhale,’ Lady Peyton insisted.

‘I see you no longer have your crutch so I judge your ankle must be healing. For a dance then,’ Will said. ‘If I win, you promise the first dance at the midwinter feast will be with me. And call me by my name,’ he added on impulse.

‘Very well. And if I win, you will not ask me again to kiss you,’ Lady Peyton replied.

A ripple of triumph stirred in Will’s belly. A dance invariably led to so much more. He nodded and raised his cup in salute to her. She did the same and they both drank, eyes meeting over the top of their cups.

‘You were reading poetry,’ he announced. ‘Some tale of love and trials of knighthood. Of advances spurned and hearts broken. All women love poetry and I have yet to meet one who can resist the prospect of love triumphant.’

Lady Peyton’s face froze. ‘All the women you have known?’ she asked icily.

‘Very few,’ Will assured her hastily. And fewer still who mattered. The thought took him by surprise. He held his hand out. ‘The book, if you please.’

Without speaking, Lady Peyton held the book towards him obediently. He opened the hidebound volume and read the title aloud.

‘Geoffrey of Monmouth. Historia Regum Britanniae.’

‘Not all women have time for foolish love stories, Master Rudhale,’ Lady Peyton said softly.

Will laughed gently through his disappointment. ‘I shall leave you to your kings, my lady,’ he said, handing the book back. He bowed, picked up his bag and left the hall. Lady Peyton had appeared pleased to see him and his spirits were high even though he had lost the wager.

Will knew nothing of Sir Baldwin, but the man must have been a very paragon of manhood for his widow to be grieving so deeply still, but surely by now she must be craving another man’s touch. He had promised not to ask her for a kiss, but what did that matter? There were so many ways of asking that did not require words after all.’

If that has whetted your appetite, A Wager for the Widow is available for pre-order in ebook and paperback and will be released on July 1st

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wager-Widow-Mills-Boon-Historical-ebook/dp/B00VS0FV5U/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-2&qid=1429724692

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A visit and a video

When I signed my second contract my editor Julia invited me to visit the Harlequin office and go out for lunch which I was really looking forward to (despite being a gibbering wreck about meeting real people).  I’ll freely own up to being ridiculously nervous about being unmasked as a complete fraud in front of adults, especially when they have a lot more experience about the subject of romance and books than I do, but I was dying to see where everything happened and meet the team.

It’s the school holidays and by some machinations and a bit of good fortune I managed to get down to London so I arranged a visit to the office in Richmond.  On the Friday term ended I checked my emails and discovered a request to video me talking for the SYTYCW Sold! blog, thus proving the old adage*…

Despite the fact that in The Day Job I perform in front of an audience every day they’re five year olds and not too discerning.  Throw on a wolf mask to blow their structures down, do a silly voice when reading a story and feign utter amazement when they beat me in the number bond challenge and they’re over the moon.  Since the start of this amazingly fun journey I’ve found myself on I’ve done newspaper interviews via the telephone and even spoken on BBC Radio Manchester but the prospect of being filmed terrified me.

I got through it thanks to the encouragement of Flo who expertly put me at my ease.  I only took a few takes and I managed to talk without going ‘umm’ too many times, though I did get the year I was in SYTYCW mixed up with the year Falling for Her Captor came out.

The video is here

http://sold.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/2015/04/weekend-writing-tip-tbc/

In the event, I had a wonderful day.  I dispatched the husband and children to go find a view of St Paul’s and eat supermarket sandwiches while I went visiting.

I was greeted with a noticeboard with a picture of my book cover (apparently the colourful letters were not just to make the primary school teacher feel at home) and surprise champagne.  noticeboard

The staff were lovely.  Everyone was welcoming and friendly and came over to say hello.  It was a fantastic opportunity to put faces to names and get to meet the people I’ve been in touch with for a year and a half now.  The enthusiasm for what they do is obvious and it made me appreciate how lucky I am to be a small part of such a wonderful team.

group

I shall definitely go back if they invite me.  Apart from anything else, Julia and I didn’t manage pudding and we need to put that right!

*not really.  It was entirely voluntary and I enjoyed doing it, despite having a meltdown beforehand when husband said my dress and top clashed.