Tag Archives: Harlequin

Valentine Giveaway

It’s the season of romance (unless you’re cynical and Northern like me).  To celebrate Valentine’s Day Harlequin are running a giveaway with a difference.

All the authors taking part are giving away a copy of one of their own books and a secret surprise title by another author.  I’m giving away a copy of The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge  and I’ll give you a clue to my secret book-it’s by one of my fellow Unlaced Ladies – all Harlequin Historical authors who manage The Unlaced Book Club where we discuss writing, inspirations and anything else that takes our fancy with a historical or romantic theme.

Valentine's Elisabeth.png

The giveaway runs for the whole of February.  Lucky it’s a short month so you won’t have to wait for too long to find out if you’ve won.

You can enter the giveaway here or by clicking the picture and find details of other authors taking part with the hashtag #HarlequinSecretValentine on Twitter.

 

 

 

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Dance the night away.

>An older post updated to include the scene from Redeeming the Rogue Knight.<

It’s party season and I’m looking forward to getting out on Friday night for a dance with my colleagues so I thought I’d share some of the scenes from my books involving dancing. I love dancing and don’t get to do it often enough so I make sure my couples get the chance.  Learning how to dance properly is on my to-do list when I eventually have the time (and a willing partner).

First from Falling for Her Captor

Falling for Her Captor

Stephen slammed his goblet onto the table. ‘We should dance!’ he shouted, and applause filled the room.

He reached out his hand to Aline, his jaw set and his eyes narrowed. Reluctantly she took his hand and walked to the centre of the room, her eyes cast down. A hush descended over the hall.

‘A quadrille for Lady Aline,’ Stephen announced.

The musicians took up their instruments once more and began to play a simple melody. Stephen took Aline’s hands and together they began to circle the room, the familiar steps of the dance coming back to her as they moved together. She caught a glimpse of Hugh again, deep in conversation with a young woman dressed in scarlet. The woman put her hand to his arm and dipped her head coyly. Hugh smiled. Aline frowned, then caught herself in the act. What was it to her who he talked to?

Hugh gave no indication of noticing her, though she thought she saw him glance in her direction as Stephen lifted and spun her. Stephen didn’t look away from her face, however, and she dared not stare too obviously.

The musicians increased their tempo and other couples joined Aline and Stephen on the floor. The dance became more intricate now: the pairs were weaving between each other, now in one circle, now in two, now in lines, the men lifting the women in sweeping arcs before moving speedily on to a new partner. After her long confinement Aline leapt high and swung wildly, laughing and lost in the dance—until she looked into the face of her newest partner.

A half-smile played upon Hugh’s lips as he bowed to her. His blue eyes met her own. Familiar arms encircled her waist and lifted her off her feet, spun her. They passed shoulder to shoulder, their hands brushing fleetingly as they circled round, their eyes never breaking away.

Then he was gone.

 

Next one from the midwinter feast which Will has staked his savings on in A Wager for the Widow (the dress in the excerpt is the one Eleanor wears on the cover).

piccie

Eleanor walked through the doorway and Will forgot everything.

She wore green. Pale silk under a mantle of heavy, emerald velvet laced with gold braid from beneath her high breasts to her slender waist. Her hair had been twisted atop her head and encased in a net of gold so that her braids flamed between the metal. The gown left her shoulders bare and the elegant expanse of creamy flesh sent Will’s heart thudding into his stomach.

Half-a-dozen men leapt to their feet as they saw Eleanor, but Will was quicker. He tore his gaze from the curve of her throat and collarbone and strode to her. He bowed before her, then lifted his head. His eyes travelled slowly up her body until he met her gaze, determined to leave her in no doubt of the effect she was having upon him. She looked uncertain until Will gave her a discreet wink. She smiled back and the world brightened, as though a hundred more candles had begun to burn.

‘Let me escort you to your seat, Lady Peyton,’ Will said formally. As she took his outstretched arm he whispered in an undertone, ‘You’re the most beautiful woman in the room. It was worth the hailstorm to see you in that dress.’

Eleanor said nothing, but a blush crept across her cheeks and her fingers tightened on his arm. Will led her to her seat, reluctantly relinquishing her to the company of the Sheriff of Tawstott. He could barely keep his eyes from her for the rest of the feast.

When the final dishes had been removed the tables were cleared for the dancing to begin. The musicians tuned their instruments and an expectant hush fell over the hall.

Allencote began to thread his way through the crowd towards her and Will crossed the room to her side. The two men reached her at the same time. Eleanor looked from one to the other apprehensively.

‘Will you dance the first measure with me, Lady Peyton?’ Allencote asked, a shade before Will could ask the same question.

Eleanor’s eyes flickered briefly to Will’s. He held her gaze boldly though his stomach curled with anxiety. It was out of his hands now. If she chose Allencote, he had lost everything.

 

Hal and Joanna’s first dance is at their wedding reception in The Blacksmith’s Wife

Blacksmith's wife cover

‘We should dance,’ Hal said, pushing his chair back and helping Joanna to her feet. He was quick on his feet and graceful. Under any other circumstance dancing with him would have been a delight, but as he led her through the steps Joanna’s thoughts were on his last words. When the day ended they would return to Hal’s lodgings with all that must happen between a husband and wife. The thought made her feel nauseous and she stumbled her footing through the next steps of the reel. Hal’s arm came about her waist, leading her back into the rhythm.

‘Are you ill?’ he asked, concern clear in his voice.

‘Just a little tired,’ Joanna answered.

As she passed down the line one of Simon’s associates overheard her words. He grasped her round the waist and lifted her high. ‘The bride wishes to sleep,’ he cried. ‘We shall have the bedding ere long!’

Joanna’s blood froze in her veins. That part of the wedding night had kept her awake night after night. She had steeled herself to bear whatever her husband bade her do, but to be disrobed in front of the guests would be unendurable. Cheers soared around the room, echoing his words. Joanna felt herself passed from guest to guest through the steps of the dance. Her protestations were ignored as hands gripped her skirts, pulling at the cloth as if they would begin undressing her right there. Laughing faces leered at her as for one terrible moment she became the centre of a circle of dancers before a pair of strong arms gripped her and she was clasped against someone’s chest. She tried to pull free but a soothing voice hushed her, brushing her hair from her face.

‘I’m sorry to disappoint you, gentlemen and ladies, but there will be no bedding,’ Hal said.

Joanna gave a gasp of relief. He smiled down at her with eyes full of intent that caused a shiver to race along her spine.

‘My wife is my own tonight,’ he said quiet enough for only her to hear.

 

Next, the book where no one dances, but which contains a dance scene nevertheless, The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge

SOR front

The second time they met it had been spring, not many weeks later than it was today. A time after they had settled in Hamestan, but before the thegns rose against her people. A market day filled with rare laughter and music where Constance had believed they were becoming accepted, that they could live in peace alongside each other.

There had been dancing and she’d watched enviously as the girls spun about the circle with their skirts flying, trying to ignore the stares and whispers.

Aelric had been at the centre of the knot, a set of pipes to his lips and his red-blond hair falling into his eyes. He had paused his tune as he spotted her watching and threaded his way through the circle towards her and held out his hand. When she indicated the stick she leaned on his expression hadn’t been one of pity or ridicule like she was used to, but regret. Instead of turning immediately back to the dance he’d taken her hand and bowed, then walked with her through the marketplace, leaving his friends behind.

She’d fallen a little bit in love with him at that moment.

 

Since I originally wrote this post I’ve published Redeeming the Rogue Knight

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Even though he’s injured, Roger Danby can’t resist the chance to try get Lucy into his arms for a spin.

He took a brief moment of respite, enjoying the view of Lucy’s legs as she twisted her feet to grind the rushes firmly into place. In the time it had taken him to finish his task she had completed half of hers. She looked as though she was working her way through the measure of a dance.

Roger began to whistle the tune to a French jig that sprung to his mind. Lucy stopped mid-step, one leg bent with heel raised in a pose that twisted her hip to the side and caused the curves of her waist and breasts to command Roger’s attention. The effect was only spoiled by the manner in which she glared at him suspiciously. He explained what he was doing and she rolled her eyes as if it confirmed her opinion of him as a wastrel, lowering her leg and smoothing her dress down.

‘We could dance together and finish in half the time,’ Roger suggested with a bold grin. Despite the soreness of his wound he suddenly found himself yearning for further movement. The idea of taking Lucy in his arms and pulling her close as they worked through the steps made his spirits lift. Some dances involved more than hand holding and polite bowing. She did not refuse immediately and looked almost as if she was considering his suggestion seriously, but then shook her head.

‘It’s been too long since I danced. I fear I’d make a poor partner for a man used to fine company.’

He’d expected refusal, but not this excuse. Denial that she had time to spare for such diversions, possibly. Suspicion that it was a ploy of some sort, almost certainly. A criticism of her own abilities, not at all.

‘I don’t think you would,’ Roger said.

He walked to stand opposite her, adding a slight swagger to his walk. He took his time as if he was taking his place in the middle of a dance floor in front of assembled nobles, enjoying Lucy’s eyes on him. Lucy shifted her stance, straightening her back and letting her hands drop to rest at her sides, watching as he crossed to her. As much as she might deny it, Roger recognised she was readying herself to dance.

His pulse began a low drumbeat in his ears.

The skin at the creamy hollow of Lucy’s throat flickered as she lifted her head to meet his eyes, gazing intently at him through pale lashes, before glancing away in a show of modesty that made his blood begin to race all the more for doubting it was real. The room grew hotter, smaller, enfolding them both in a moment that had sprung from nowhere. Roger swallowed, acutely aware of how much he wanted the woman standing before him.

To find out what happens next in any story click on the names of the book to get hold of a copy.

The Saxon Outlaw’s Cover reveal

The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge is out in November in print and ebook in December and I can finally share the cover art and blurb.

At the mercy of her enemy! 

Abducted by Saxon outlaws, Constance Arnaud comes face-to-face with Aelric, a Saxon boy she once loved. He’s now her enemy, but Constance must reach out to this rebel and persuade him to save her life as she once saved his… 

Aelric is determined to seek vengeance on the Normans who destroyed his family. Believing Constance deserted him, he can never trust her again. Yet, as they are thrown together and their longing for each other reignites, will Aelric discover that love is stronger than revenge?

 

SOR front

I’ll be honest and say the cover doesn’t show the Aelric I had in my head because he’s a Saxon so really should be much blonder than reddish and with longer hair (he’s been living wild in the forests of Cheshire for years after all).  I’d used Tom Hiddleston and Tom Felton as inspiration.  Having said that, I love the pose and his brooding intensity.  He does look like someone who might seriously consider whether to sacrifice the woman he loved to get his revenge on the man he hates.

The original cover was slightly different and I emailed my editor and asked if the hair colour could be changed and the art department worked their magic.  The original and new covers are here for comparison.

SOR spot the difference copy

It’s a December release so will be alongside Christmas books on the shelves so I think the candles give it a festive touch too.

The book can be preordered here for readers in the USA and here for readers in the UK

The UK cover hasn’t been finalised yet so I’ll be interested to see which one they go for.

I’d love to know what you think.  Let me know in the comments below.

Sneak peek

With less than a week to go until the release of The Blacksmith’s Wife I thought I’d share a snippet.  This is the first meeting between Hal and Joanna.  Joanna has talked her way into the tournament grounds, hoping to find Sir Roger, the knight she is in love with.

Joanna made her way to the courtyard where makeshift stables and workshops had been assembled. She had given up hope of finding Sir Roger when, through a sudden parting in the crowd, she saw familiar black curls and glimpsed the line of his jaw just as he turned away.

A thrill of anticipation rippled through Joanna as she eased her way towards him. It had been six months since Sir Roger had last been in York. Despite the urge to run to his arms Joanna stood back and watched in admiration.

Sir Roger was facing away from her, sharpening a sword with slow, sure strokes. He had removed his armour and padded woollen tunic, but instead of the customary fitted doublet of fine wool he favoured, he was dressed in britches and a shapeless tunic drawn in at the waist with a thick belt. As Joanna watched he laid the sword on a trestle table, rolled his head from side to side and stretched his arms high.

Intending to surprise him Joanna crept behind him. She reached on tiptoe to whisper in his ear, her lips close enough to brush against his hair.

‘Greetings, my lord, I’ve been searching for you.’

He stiffened and turned to face her. Joanna found herself gazing up into Sir Roger’s eyes.

In the face of a stranger.

Her mouth fell open and she stumbled backwards away from the man, dropping her bag. Explanations and apologies tumbled unintelligibly from her lips.

‘I didn’t know… I thought you were… I mean… I’m sorry!’

The man folded his arms across his broad chest. His lips curled into an amused smile. Joanna took another step back, her mind whirling with confusion and embarrassment. Her voice tailed off. Her heart was pounding so loudly she would swear it must be audible. She covered her face with her hands in an attempt to conceal the blush that was turning her pale complexion scarlet and peered through her fingers.

It was little wonder she had mistaken the man for Sir Roger. From behind they shared the same build and unruly curls. Facing her there was still a resemblance. She noticed for the first time that what she had taken for a belt was a long leather apron tied about his waist. Whoever he was, the stranger was no knight.

‘I beg your forgiveness!’ Joanna said, wincing with embarrassment.

The man ran a hand through the tangle of black curls that fell to just below his ears. He eyed Joanna with an open interest that made her heart thump.

‘No forgiveness needed. I thought Lady Fortune was finally smiling on me but alas it seems not,’ he said with an exaggerated note of regret. ‘It’s been so long since I have had such a greeting that I believe I should be thanking you for the experience! Perhaps I will do as a companion?’ he suggested.

If that has whetted your appetite then the book is available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and other online retailers. Preorder now

I also have an Amazon giveaway running until May 2nd which is open to readers in the US Enter here

 

 

Reviews advance readers

Giveaway time

I received my author copies of The Blacksmith’s Wife so am running a giveaway via Goodreads to win copy.

Enter here

The giveaway is open to readers in the UK, North America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Europe (any further afield and the postage kills me).

Nearer release date I’ll be doing guest posts on a number of blogs and running giveaways via those too so keep watching for details.Blacksmith's wife cover

$1.99 book sale!

Harlequin have been publishing ebooks for ten years!  To celebrate they’re offering 10,000 ebooks at $1.99 each, including my first book Falling for Her Captor.  If you haven’t read it now is your chance to get hold of a copy.

Falling for Her Captor at $1.99

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Readers have described it as

A feisty heroine, a drop-dead gorgeous hero, a nastier-than-real-life villain, and a plot you can sink your teeth into.

A really gripping, and at times dark, story that really kept my attention.

A satisfying read, with some great ambiance and a fast-paced romance, if you’ve not read this period before, then this is a great introduction to it.

Loads of emotional tension between the two of them keep you turning the pages and the ending is both heartfelt and satisfying. Highly recommend.

Vote for Sir Hugh as Harlequin Hero of the Year

vote

I’m slowly getting to grips with technology though I should confess that for a long time I thought this was Paul Hollywood from Great British Bake Off.

Clicking on the pic should take you to the contest page where you can vote for Sir Hugh.  If you want a reason why he should win check out what readers have said in their Reviews for Falling for Her Captor

Every vote is gratefully received.

A very eventful day and a new contest!

Today is the first anniversary of the publication of Falling for Her Captor.  It’s been a fabulous year since release.  The book has received some amazingly positive reviews.  I had a second book released in July, my third is with my editor and I’ve started writing the fourth.

Today was always going to be a celebration of that but it turned out there were multiple reasons.

I found out that Hugh, hero of Falling for Her Captor has made it into Harlequin’s  Hero of the Year contest.  There are sixteen heroes to choose from who will be narrowed down until only one remains.  He’s currently in Region 3 up against a straight laced District Attorney and needs your support to make it through to the next round!

Vote for Hugh here

You can vote daily so remember to go back tomorrow (and the day after…and the day after…)

Falling for her Captor is also released in French today.  If you always meant to brush up your language skills there can’t be a better way than trying to get your tongue round this.  It’s available on Amazon.

Book things aside, the most important thing that happens today is that my son is 10.  Ten.  Double figures.  Closer to adulthood than birth.  This makes me feel all kinds of strange (and old).  He’s currently doing musical things I don’t understand with electronics that alarm me for the number of dials and jacks.  I miss the days of Duplo but he’s turning into such a lovely, grown up boy and I love him loads.

Shameless self-promo

Harlequin are running a contest to find the Harlequin Hero of the year.  The hero has to appear in a book published between October 2014 and September 2015 which means both Hugh and Will are eligible.  The top sixteen heroes will face off to find hero of the year (and who wouldn’t want to watch those scenes acted out) and it would be lovely to see a Historical hero in the mix.  If you’ve enjoyed my books and think Hugh or Will have what it takes please nominate them.

You can Vote here by leaving a comment or tweet to Harlequin Books using the hashtag #HarlequinHero including the name of the hero, book and author.

Nominations end on September 20th.

A Wager for the Widow first two chapters for free!

Release date for A Wager for the Widow is getting closer and closer so I’m sharing the first two chapters here.

https://www.overdrive.com/media/2100047/a-wager-for-the-widow

It can be preordered here

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wager-Widow-Mills-Boon-Historical-ebook/dp/B00VS0FV5U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434188057&sr=8-1&keywords=a+wager+for+the+widow

or at all other online retailers.

I’m going to be visiting other blogs closer to release date and will post links here.  I’m also going to be interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester on 22nd June so if you’re in the area have a listen to Becky Want’s show around 2.15.