"The Trouble with Dukes" Tour and Giveaway

THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES 



ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES
Author: Grace Burrowes
Series: Windham Brides, #1
On Sale: December 20, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Mass Market: $7.99 USD
eBook: $6.99 USD

This first novel in a new Regency series from USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes is a spinoff of her highly popular Windham series.

THEY CALL HIM THE DUKE OF MURDER...

The gossips whisper that the new Duke of Murdoch is a brute, a murderer, and even worse—a Scot. They say he should never be trusted alone with a woman. But Megan Windham sees in Hamish something different, someone different.

No one was fiercer at war than Hamish MacHugh, though now the soldier faces a whole new battlefield: a London Season. To make his sisters happy, he'll take on any challenge—even letting their friend Miss Windham teach him to waltz. Megan isn't the least bit intimidated by his dark reputation, but Hamish senses that she's fighting battles of her own. For her, he'll become the warrior once more, and for her, he might just lose his heart.




AUTHORS LOVE THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES!

“The hero of THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES reminds me of Mary Balogh's charming men, and the heroine brings to mind Sarah MacLean's intelligent, fiery women... This is a wonderfully funny, moving romance, not to be missed!” —Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author of My American Duchess

“Grace Burrowes writes from the heart--with warmth, humor, and a generous dash of sensuality, her stories are unputdownable! If you're not reading Grace Burrowes you're missing the very best in today's Regency Romance!” —Elizabeth Hoyt, New York Times bestselling author

“Sexy heroes, strong heroines, intelligent plots, enchanting love stories...Grace Burrowes's romances have them all.” —Mary Balogh, New York Times bestselling author

“THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES has everything Grace Burrowes's many fans have come to adore: a swoonworthy hero, a strong heroine, humor, and passion. Her characters not only know their own hearts, but share them with fearless joy. Grace Burrowes is a romance treasure.” —Tessa Dare, New York Times bestselling author

“THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES is captivating! It has everything I love in a book--a sexy Scotsman, a charming heroine, witty banter, plenty of humor, and lots of heart.” —Jennifer Ashley, New York Times bestselling author of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie


BUY THE BOOK HERE



THE SERIES

The Trouble With Dukes, #1
Too Scot To Handle, #2



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania and is the sixth out of seven children. She discovered romance novels when in junior high (back when there was such a thing), and has been reading them voraciously ever since. Grace has a bachelor's degree in political science, a bachelor of music in music history, (both from Pennsylvania State University); a master's degree in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University; and a juris doctor from the National Law Center at the George Washington University.

Grace writes Georgian, Regency, Scottish Victorian, and contemporary romances in both novella and novel lengths. She's a member of Romance Writers of America, and enjoys giving workshops and speaking at writers' conferences. She also loves to hear from her readers, and can be reached through her website or her social channels.



FOLLOW FOREVER ONLINE




EXCERPT: 

“I don’t want any damned dukedom, Mr. Anderson,” Hamish MacHugh said softly.  
Colin MacHugh took to studying the door to Neville Anderson’s office, for when Hamish spoke that quietly, his siblings knew to locate the exits.
The solicitor’s establishment boasted deep Turkey carpets, oak furniture, and red velvet curtains. The standish and ink bottles on Anderson’s desk were silver, the blotter a thick morocco leather. Portraits of well-fed, well-powdered Englishmen adorned the walls.
Hamish felt as if he’d walked into an ambush, as if these old lords and knights were smirking down at the fool who’d blundered into their midst. Beyond the office walls, harnesses jingled to the tune of London happily about its business, while Hamish’s heart beat with a silent tattoo of dread.
“I am at your grace’s service,” Anderson murmured, from his side of the massive desk, “and eager to hear any explanations your grace cares to bestow.”  
The solicitor, who’d been retained by Hamish’s late grandfather decades before Hamish’s birth, was like a midge. Swat at Anderson, curse him, wave him off, threaten flame and riot, and he still hovered nearby, relentlessly annoying.
The French infantry had had the same qualities.
“I am not a bloody your grace,” Hamish said. Thanks be to the clemency of the Almighty.
“I do beg your grace’s—your pardon,” Anderson replied, soft white hands folded on his blotter. “Your great-great aunt Minerva married the third son of the fifth Duke of Murdoch and Tingley, and while the English dukedom must, regrettably fall prey to escheat, the Scottish portion of the title, due to the more, er, liberal patents common to Scottish nobility, devolves to yourself.”
Devolving was one of those English undertakings that prettied up a load of shite.
Hamish rose, and for reasons known only to the English, Anderson popped to his feet as well.
“Devolve the peregrinating title to some other poor sod,” Hamish said.
    Colin’s staring match with the lintel of Anderson’s door had acquired the quality of man trying to hold in a fart—or laughter.
    “I am sorry, your—sir,” Anderson said, looking about as sorry as Hamish’s sisters on the way to the milliner’s, “but titles land where they please, and there they stay. The only way out from under a title is death, and then your brother here would become duke in your place.”
    Colin’s smirk winked out like a candle in a gale. “What if I die?”
    “I believe there are several younger siblings,” Anderson said, “should death befall you both.”
    “But this title is Hamish’s as long as he’s alive, right?” Colin was not quite as large as Hamish. What little Colin lacked in height, he made up for in brawn and speed.
    “That is correct,” Anderson said, beaming like headmaster when a dull scholar had finally grasped his first Latin conjugation. “In the normal course, a celebratory tot would be in order, gentlemen. The title does bring responsibilities, but your great-great aunt and her late daughter were excellent businesswomen. I’m delighted to tell you that the Murdoch holdings prosper.”
    Worse and worse. The gleeful wiggle of Anderson’s eyebrows meant prosper translated into “made a stinking lot of money, much of which would find its way into a solicitor’s greedy English paws.”
    “If my damned lands prosper, my bachelorhood is doomed,” Hamish muttered. Directly behind Anderson’s desk hung a picture of some duke, and the old fellow’s sour expression spoke eloquently to the disposition a title bestowed on its victim. “I’d sooner face old Boney’s guns again than be landed, titled, wealthy, and unwed at the beginning of London season. Colin, we’re for home by week’s end.”
    “Fine notion,” Colin said. “Except Edana will kill you and Rhona will bury what’s left of you. Then the title will hang about my neck, and I’ll have to dig you up and kill you all over again.”
    Siblings were God’s joke on a peace-loving man. Anderson had retreated behind his desk, as if a mere half ton of oak could protect a puny English solicitor from a pair of brawling MacHughs.
Clever solicitors might be, canny they were not.
    “Then we simply tell no one about this title,” Hamish said. “We tend to Eddie and Ronnie’s dress shopping, and then we’re away home, nobody the wiser.”
    Dress shopping, Edana had said, as if the only place in the world to procure fashionable clothing was London. She’d cried, she’d raged, she’d threatened to run off—until Colin had saddled her horse and stuffed the saddle bags with provisions.
    Then she’d threatened to become an old maid, haunting her brothers’ households in turn, and Hamish, on pain of death from his younger brothers, had ordered the traveling coach into service.
    “Eddie hasn’t found a man yet, and neither has Ronnie,” Colin observed. “They’ve been here less than two weeks. We can’t go home.”
    “You can’t,” Hamish countered. “I’m the duke. I must see to my properties. I’ll be halfway to Yorkshire by tomorrow. I doubt Eddie and Ronnie will content themselves with Englishmen, but they’re welcome to torment a few in my absence. A bored woman is a dangerous creature.”
    “You’d leave tomorrow?” Colin slugged Hamish on the arm, hard. Anderson flinched, while Hamish picked up his walking stick and headed for the door.
    “Your pugilism needs work, little brother. I’ve neglected your education.”
    “You can’t leave me alone here with Eddie and Ronnie.” Colin had switched to the Gaelic, a fine language for keeping family business from nosy solicitors. “I’m only one man, and there’s two of them. They’ll be making ropes of the bedsheets, selling your good cigars to other young ladies again, and investigating the charms of the damned Englishmen mincing about in the park. Who knows what other titles their indiscriminate choice of husband might inflict on your grandchildren.”
    Hamish had not objected to the cigar selling scheme. He’d objected to his sisters stealing from him rather than sharing the proceeds with their own dear brother. He also objected to the notion of grandchildren when he’d yet to take a wife.
    “I’ll blame you if we end up with English brothers-in-law, wee Colin.” Hamish smiled evilly, though he counted a particular few Englishmen among his friends.
    A staring match ensued, with Colin trying to look fierce—he had the family red hair and blue eyes, after all—and mostly looking worried. Colin was soft-hearted where the ladies were concerned, and that fact was all that cheered Hamish on an otherwise daunting morning.
    Hope rose, like the clarion call of the pipes through the smoke and noise the battlefield: While Eddie and Ronnie inspected the English peacocks strutting about Mayfair, Hamish might find a peahen willing to take advantage of Colin’s affectionate nature.
    Given Colin’s lusty inclinations, the union would be productive inside a year, and the whole sorry business of a ducal succession would be taken care of.
    Hamish’s fist connected with his brother’s shoulder, sending Colin staggering back a few steps, muttering in Gaelic about goats and testicles.
    “I’ll bide here in the muck pit of civilization,” Hamish said, in English, “until Eddie and Ronnie have their fripperies, but Anderson, I’m warning you. Nobody is to learn of this dukedom business. Not a soul, or I’ll know which English solicitor needs to make St. Peter’s acquaintance posthaste. Ye ken?”
    Anderson nodded, his gaze fixed on Hamish’s right hand. “You will receive correspondence, sir.”
    Hamish’s hand hurt and his head was starting to throb. “Try being honest, man. I was in the army. I know all about correspondence. By correspondence, you mean a bloody snowstorm of paper, official documents, and sealed instruments.”
    Hamish knew about death too, and about sorrow. The part of him hoping to marry Colin off in the next month—and Eddie and Ronnie too—grappled with the vast sorrow of homesickness, and the unease of remaining for even another day among the scented dandies and false smiles of polite society.
    “Very good, your grace. Of course you’re right. A snowstorm, some of which will be from the College of Arms, some from your peers, some of condolence, all of which my office would be happy—”
    Hamish waved Anderson to silence, and as if Hamish were one of those Hindoo snake pipers, the solicitor’s gaze followed the motion of his hand.
    “The official documents can’t be helped,” Hamish said, “but letters of condolence needn’t concern anybody. You’re not to say a word,” he reminded Anderson. “Not a peep, not a yes-your-grace, not a hint of an insinuation is to pass your lips.”
    Anderson was still nodding vigorously when Hamish shoved Colin through the door.
    Though, of course, the news was all over Town by morning.


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disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for post.

Review and Giveaway: "The Dare and the Doctor"

THE DARE AND THE DOCTOR
Kate Noble
Pocket Books
Pub date: November 22, 2016
ISBN: 9781476749402
Price: $7.99
Mass Market Paperbound
A Winner Takes All Novel (#3)

 

A thrilling and absorbing tale about two people who find so much safety in each other that they’re able to take the biggest risk of their lives. Not to be missed.”
Kirkus Reviews (STARRED REVIEW, The Dare and the Doctor)

“Noble asks “Can men and women just be friends?” in the third Winner Takes All installment, and the answer is an enchanting tale filled with poignancy and wit…readers will be caught up in the plot as the hero and heroine’s letters reveal more and more about themselves and their relationship…secondary characters enhance the storyline and propel the romance. Noble crafts a lovely, easy-to-read story.”
—RT (FOUR STAR REVIEW, The Dare and the Doctor)

About the book

National bestselling author Kate Noble’s THE DARE AND THE DOCTOR lures readers back to the dazzling, irresistible Winner Takes All Regency Romance series. Margaret Babcock has always been content with her quiet life in the country. But every now and then, she feels the urge to spread her wings. Her late mother used to whisper, “What’s the worst that could happen?” at the start of an adventure, and now Margaret’s continuing the tradition. So when Dr. Rhys Gray, her longtime correspondent on matters botanical, invites her to speak to the London Horticultural Society about her new rose hybrid, she accepts. She’s excited about her first visit to London, but even more so about getting to see her friend Dr. Gray. When she arrives, Rhys is eager to show her the wonders of the city, and the two spend many happy hours together just as friends, of course! But would friends miss each other quite as fiercely when they’re apart; or feel such a spark when they’re together? Margaret finds that friendship with Rhys is much more complicated than she’d imagined…especially when it turns out her friend has forgotten that he may be promised to another woman.

About the author

Kate Noble is the national bestselling author of The Lie and the Lady, The Game and the Governess, third in the witty, sexy Winner Takes All Regency Series, and the critically acclaimed, RITA Award-nominated Blue Raven series. Under the name Kate Rorick, she writes for television, as well as novels based on the Emmy Award-winning web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, for which she is also a writer and producer. She lives in Los Angeles. Visit Kate at katenoble.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

Praise for the Winner Takes All Series

With her usual witty writing and exquisite flair for characterization, Noble offers [The Lie and the Lady]. The effortless manner in which she wrote. The Lie and the Lady as a separate love story while at the same time gracefully connecting it to The Game and the Governess and cleverly hinting at what is to come in the series is nothing less than brilliant.”
Booklist (STARRED REVIEW, The Lie and the Lady)

“After a scandalous escapade with John, a commoner she thought was the Earl of Ashby. Letitia returns to England as the fiancĂ©e of a somewhat older, titled widower- only to find out that her new home is right in John’s backyard . . . heartwarming.”
Publishers Weekly (The Lie and the Lady)

“The Earl of Ashby trades places with his friend and secretary in order to prove he can win a woman without the benefit of his title in The Game and the Governess…It’s a delicious treat to watch Ned grow from earl to man, and see the stalwart Phoebe get everything she deserves.”
Bookpage (TOP PICK IN ROMANCE, The Game and the Governess)

“The subtle development of romance between the devil-may-care earl and the proper governess is the impetus behind this winning novel, complete with rich characters and a multi-dimensional plotline.”
—Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW, Best Summer Romance pick, The Game and the Governess)


My Review:

Rating: 4 Stars

"The Dare and the Doctor" is the first book that I've read in this series, and I feel it can be read as a standalone title. I'm such a fan of books with different characters than what we normally see in historical romances, and this one definitely hits it out of the park with its original leads. It's not often that we see a hero who has a job, instead of being a peer, so seeing history through eyes other than the aristocracy is always refreshing. The heroine, Margaret, is shy and bookish, and it's fun to read about these two avid 'learners' falling in love. 

The book also treats us to another of my favorite tropes of the genre - the friends to lovers plot. I love seeing characters who fall in love over time instead of insta-love. Sometimes love at first sight is great, but it's easier to believe when we know the characters have a back-story. Margaret and Rhys start the book as pen pals who write letters to each other. We get a nice glimpse into their relationship through the letters. In modern times, this would probably be like meeting someone online and then realizing that you have great chemistry when you meet! It's fun to see how their relationship progresses after meeting in person.
 
Bottom Line: This is a fun, light friends-to-lovers tale that is sure to please fans of unconventional historical romances!

 


WINNER TAKES ALL GIVEAWAY!
To celebrate the third in the Winner Takes All series, The Dare and the Doctor, we are hosting a giveaway and the WINNER will TAKE ALL books in the series: The Game and the Governess, The Lie and the Lady and The Dare and the Doctor! Please note, you can enter at all participating blogs but you can only win once. U.S. only. 


Blog Tour

REVIEWS:
BOOKPAGE: GUEST POST NOVEMBER 21ST!

FEATURE POSTS:
THOUGHTS IN PROGRESS

"Christmas in Destiny" Excerpt

 To celebrate the release day for "Christmas in Destiny" by Toni Blake, I have an excerpt from the book, courtesy of the publisher! Enjoy! And keep your eyes peeled for my review coming soon!

"Christmas in Destiny"

By Toni Blake
Publisher: Avon Books
Oct 25, 2016
Source: Sent by publisher


Summary: (from Goodreads)

“Go to Destiny. There’s something waiting there for you.”

Shane Dalton’s new life is waiting in Miami, complete with fast cars and faster women. But first, he’s heeding his father’s dying words and stopping off in Destiny, Ohio. The detour wasn’t supposed to include a busted pickup and a blizzard. But Candice Sheridan, the cute redhead who reluctantly offers shelter, could prove a pleasant diversion. Trouble is, she thinks Shane’s bad news. And he’s pretty sure she’s right . . .

Candice had her trust broken once before. Yet something about Shane won’t let her stay away. By Christmas, he’ll be gone. Until then, she’s itching to stop playing nice and safe . . . and try being a little naughty for once.

As their holiday romance heats up, Shane uncovers a shattering secret and Candice is preparing to face heartache once again. But there’s no better place than Destiny—especially at Christmastime—for two lost souls to find the gift of sweet, surprising love . . .

EXCERPT:

From CHRISTMAS IN DESTINY by Toni Blake. Copyright © 2016 by Toni Blake. Reprinted by permission of Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Bang. Bang. Bang.
Candice’s eyes sprang open as the jarring noise jolted her awake.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
What on earth? She briskly sat up, trying to get her bearings in the dark.
The sound came again. Louder this time. And as she sat there in bed, the room lit only by the deluge of white outside, she realized someone was beating on her door in the middle of the night. Which seemed almost impossible given that the weather outside was more than a little frightful.
Her heart beat rapidly as the relentless banging continued. Even while she dragged herself out of bed and headed toward the stairs, her sleep-addled brain whirled. As a woman who lived alone in an isolated area, she didn’t particularly want to answer. But what if it was Jenny or Mick—what if something was wrong with their little boy?
Flipping on the dim porch light, she made out a shadowy male figure and concluded it was Mick.  The fact that he was out in this weather, at this hour, filled her with worry.  So she flung open the door.
Then gasped.  It wasn’t Mick. 
It wasn’t Mick at all. 
She didn’t know who this was – but he looked horribly out of place, and a little bit scary.  “Wh-wh- …” Words failed her in her fright.
The tall, dark stranger regarded her through piercing blue eyes.  “Look, I know it’s late, but my pickup spun out and I hit a snow bank around that last bend.”  His voice was deep and his tone unapologetic as he pointed over his shoulder in the general direction of the road.  “Can’t get a signal on my cell, so need to use your phone.”
Strangers didn’t just show up on porches in the middle of the night in Destiny, and she simply stared at him as if he were a ghost standing at her door in the blowing snow.  The scary kind, with a lock of dark hair dipping over his forehead, a thick shadowy stubble on his chin, and even a little scar near his right eye.  Though she wasn’t sure if ghosts bothered to knock.
“Who are you going to call?” she managed to ask.  Then blinked repeatedly.  It was an unfortunate habit of hers – blinking when she was nervous.
He arched a critical brow as a cold wind blew around them, his expression implying that maybe he thought she was still half-asleep.  “A tow truck,” he said, enunciating, as if the answer was obvious.
But he was clearly uninformed about something she thought obvious.  “Have you seen the roads?  A tow truck won’t come out here when it’s like this.  I don’t know how you got any truck out here tonight.  And we don’t have a tow truck in Destiny anyway.”
His eyebrows both shot up then, though his voice came out sounding almost matter-of-fact as he said, “Tell me you’re kidding.”
“I can’t.”
A heavy sigh left him as he muttered, “Jesus Christ.”
Since she was pretty sure he wasn’t making a Christmas reference, she ignored that and went on.  “Someone will have to come from Crestview,” she explained.  Then blinked and added, “But I’ll try to call anyway.  Just in case.  Wait here.”
After which she shut the door on him.  And locked it.  In a near blizzard.  Which didn’t exactly feel kind or charitable, but a woman had to protect herself.  And as for calling – despite what she’d told him, she’d decided it was worth making sure, worth a try, to get the scary stranger off her porch as efficiently as possible.
She rushed to the phone and dialed briskly.  And promptly heard a recording on the other end, saying what she already knew:  Meffler’s Towing was closed due to inclement weather and anyone in need of a tow should call back after the storm.  And they were sorry for the inconvenience.  “Me too,” she whispered to no one, hanging up.
Then she steeled herself and walked back to the front door.  Unfortunately, when she opened it, he was still standing there.  Looking cold and a little snow-covered since the snow now even blew up under the roof that covered her porch.
She just shook her head.  “They’re not answering their phones until the snow stops.”  Only then it occurred to her to ask, “What on earth are you doing out here in a blizzard anyway?”
“Got lost,” he said. 
And as he shifted his weight from one snow-covered work boot to the other, she noticed for the first time that his coat was too thin for the weather, and she thought of him trudging from around the bend in a foot of wet snow and for some crazy reason wondered if his feet had stayed dry.  She also wondered what kind of person was out in the country this late at night in this kind of weather.  Escaped convicts and serial killers came to mind. 
“Made a wrong turn looking to find a room for the night,” he said, “but I’m guessing a motel’s gonna be pretty hard to come by here, too.”
She nodded, sorry for both of them to have to deliver the bad news.  “The Half Moon Inn is miles away.”
As another heavy sigh left him, she began to realize – almost against her will – that underneath all the scary, that he was also maybe … kind of hot.  His voice was deep and a little raspy, and the thin coat he wore didn’t hide broad shoulders.  There was something visceral about him – she could somehow feel his very maleness.  And that was when he narrowed his blue gaze on her and said, “Looks like you’re stuck with me then.”

Purchase Here:

CHRISTMAS IN DESTINY – https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062392602/christmas-in-destiny#




Connect with Toni Blake:

Website -http://www.toniblake.com/

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Just Fine with Caroline" Review

"Just Fine with Caroline"
by Annie England Noblin
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: Oct 11, 2016

Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

From the author of Sit! Stay! Speak! comes a tender, terrific novel complete with long-buried secrets, a three-legged pot belly pig, and an irresistible dog—an unforgettable story about love, friendship, and community. Perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Mary Alice Monroe.

Caroline O’Connor never dreamed she’d be back home in Cold River, Missouri, the Ozark Mountain town where everyone is ‘up your business.’…they mean well as they drive you crazy. She thought she’d left town for good, but now she’s back, helping to care for her New York born mother—struck with Alzheimer’s, and prone to saying and doing anything—and her father, the beloved local doctor frustrated he can’t cure his own wife.

As for Caroline, she’s doing ‘just fine’ coping with her parents, her brazen cousin Ava Dawn’s marital disasters, her mostly-deaf dog…and with Noah Cranwell, far-flung relative of a local family mostly infamous for running moonshine, an ex-veteran who’s come to Cold River with troubles of his own.

Caroline believes she knows everything about Cold River and the people who live in its hills and hollers … but sometimes life’s greatest surprises happen closest to home.
My Review:

"Just Fine with Caroline" is the first book in the author's new Cold River series, set in a small town in the Ozarks. The small town setting and quirky characters are the main attraction in this story. The romance is there, but it's really all about those characters, relationships, and interactions that you can really only find in a small town.

I think a lot of people can identify with Caroline. She's a very likable character, and she really always tries to do the right thing for everyone she cares about. This includes her mother, who has Alzheimer's, her doctor father, her trouble-finding cousin, Ava Dawn, her childhood friend, Court, and her fur friend, Yara. Then comes Noah, the long lost grandson of one of the town's most notorious and mysterious citizens. Family secrets are unravelled as new relationships grow.

I loved the town and characters, but sometimes the story meandered off track a bit. I perfer a tighter story, but that's a matter of personal preference. The family mystery was a bit predictable from the start, it wasn't a shocking revelation at the end. There was an interesting sub-story about Caroline's fascination with prohibition era, I would have loved for that to have been developed even more to mirror the current story.

The author has an authentic small town, Southern voice, which I appreciate. Sometimes this type of voice can come off forced and fake, but Noblin's characters come across so natural. This made the story believable and highly readable at the same time.
 
Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 3.5/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line:Overall, this is a nice read for fans of small town fiction. The story could have been fleshed out a bit more, but fans of quirky characteres and small town comraderie will not be disappointed.

disclosure: I received an E-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review


Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel" Excerpt

 As part of the blog tour for "The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel" by Jennifer McQuiston, I have an excerpt from the first chapter of the book!

THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL

By Jennifer McQuiston

Avon Books

September 27, 2016

ISBN: 9780062335142; $$7.99

E-ISBN 9780062335159; $5.99



About the Book


New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McQuiston continues her enchanting Seduction Diaries series as a bookish spinster and an unrepentant rogue unite to unmask a traitor.


Every girl dreams of a hero….

No one loves books more than Miss Mary Channing. Perhaps that’s why she’s reached the ripe old age of six-and-twenty without ever being kissed. Her future may be as bland as milk toast, but Mary is content to simply dream about the heroes and adventures she reads about in her books. That way she won’t end up with a villain instead.

But sometimes only a scoundrel will do.

When she unexpectedly finds herself in the arms of Geoffrey Westmore, London’s most notorious scoundrel, it feels a bit like a plot from one of her favorite novels. Suddenly, Mary understands why even the smartest heroines can fall prey to a handsome face. And Westmore’s is more handsome than most. But far worse than the damage to her reputation, the moment’s indiscretion uncovers an assassination plot that reaches to the highest levels of society and threatens the course of the entire country.

When a tight-laced miss and a scoundrel of epic proportions put their minds together, nothing can stand in their way. But unless they put their hearts together as well, a happy ending is anything but assured.

Excerpt from THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL:



From the Diary of Miss Mary Channing

May 24, 1858



Eleanor wrote today. I should have been glad to hear from her, given that she is my twin sister and I love her dearly, but it would be untruthful to say the contents of her letter pleased me. Her new husband, Lord Ashington, has been called away on business and she’s asked me to come to London to keep her company during the last two months of her confinement.

Can you imagine? Me, in London?

My family says I must get my nose out of my books and begin to live in the world around me. It is true I’ve never been further afield than a day trip from home, and that I have never slept a night outside my own bed. But why would I ever want to leave, when I have my books to keep me company? And a trip to London is not without its perils. I could very well end up like one of the characters in my beloved stories, snubbed by the popular crowd. Whispered about behind lace fans. Or worse . . . led astray by a handsome villain and then abandoned to my fate.

Yet, how could I not go? Eleanor is my sister, and she needs me. So I shall put on a brave face. Pack a trunk. Smile, if I must. But I can’t help but wonder . . . which worries me more?

The many things that could happen in London?

Or the thought of seeing Eleanor, with her handsome new husband, and her shining, lovely life, and everything I am afraid of wanting?


EXCERPT:
Chapter 1



London, May 29, 1858



The smell should have been worse.

She’d expected something foul, air made surly by the summer heat. Just last week she’d read about the Thames, that great, roiling river that carried with it the filth of the entire city and choked its inhabitants to tears. Her rampant imagination, spurred on by countless books and newspaper articles, had conjured a city of fetid smells, each more terrible than the last. But as Miss Mary Channing opened her bedroom window and breathed in her first London morning, her nose filled with nothing more offensive than the fragrance of . . .

Flowers.

Disconcerted, she peeked out over the sill. Dawn was just breaking over the back of Grosvenor Square. The gaslights were still burning and the windows of the other houses were dark. By eight o’clock, she imagined industrious housemaids would be down on their knees, whiting their masters’ stoops. The central garden would fill with nurses and their charges, heading west toward Hyde Park.

But for now the city—and its smells—belonged solely to her.

She breathed in again. Was she dreaming? Imagining things, as she was often wont to do? She was well over two hundred miles from home, but it smelled very much like her family’s ornamental garden in Yorkshire. She didn’t remember seeing a garden last night, but then, she had arrived quite late, the gaslight shadows obscuring all but the front steps. She’d been too weary to think, so sickened by the ceaseless motion of the train that she’d not even been able to read a book, much less ponder the underpinnings of the air she breathed.

She supposed she might have missed a garden. Good heavens, she probably would have missed a funeral parade, complete with an eight-horse coach and a brass band.

After the long, tiresome journey, she’d only wanted to find a bed.

And yet now . . . at five o’clock in the morning . . . she couldn’t sleep.

Not on a mattress that felt so strange, and not in a bedroom that wasn’t her own.

Pulling her head back inside, she eyed the four-poster bed, with its rumpled covers and profusion of pretty pillows. It was a perfectly nice bed. Her sister, Eleanor, had clearly put some thought into the choice of fabrics and furniture. Most women would love such a room. And most women would love such an opportunity—two whole months in London, with shops and shows and distractions of every flavor at their fingertips.

But Mary wasn’t most women. She preferred her distractions in the form of a good book, not shopping on Regent Street. And these two looming months felt like prison, not paradise.

The scent of roses lingered in the air, and as she breathed in, her mind settled on a new hope. If there was a flower garden she might escape to—a place where she might read her books and write in her journal—perhaps it would not be so terrible?

Picking up the novel she had not been able to read on the train, Mary slipped out of the strange bedroom, her bare feet silent on the stairs. She had always been an early riser, waking before even the most industrious servants back home in Yorkshire. At home, the cook knew to leave her out a bit of breakfast—bread and cheese wrapped in a napkin—but no one here would know to do that for her yet.

Ever since she’d been a young girl, morning had been her own time, quiet hours spent curled up on a garden bench with a book in her lap, nibbling on her pocket repast, the day lightening around her. The notion that she might still keep to such a routine in a place like London gave her hope for the coming two months.

She drifted down the hallway until she found a doorway that looked promising, solid oak, with a key still in the lock. With a deep breath, she turned the key and pulled it open. She braced herself for knife-wielding brigands. Herds of ragged street urchins, hands rifling through her pockets. The sort of London dangers she’d always read about.

Instead, the scent of flowers washed over her like a lovely, welcome tide.

Oh, thank goodness.

She hadn’t been imagining things after all.

Something hopeful nudged her over the threshold of the door, then bade her to take one step, then another. In the thin light of dawn, she saw flowers in every color and fashion: bloodred rose blooms, a cascade of yellow flowers dripping down the wrought iron fence. Her fingers loosened over the cover of her book. Oh, but it would be lovely to read here. She could even hear the light patter of a fountain, beckoning her deeper.

But then she heard something else above those pleasant, tinkling notes.

An almost inhuman groan of pleasure.

With a startled gasp, she spun around. Her eyes swam through the early morning light to settle on a gentleman on the street, some ten feet or so away on the other side of the wrought iron fence. But the fact of their separation did little to relieve her anxiety, because the street light illuminated him in unfortunate, horrific clarity.

He was urinating.

Through the fence.

Onto one of her sister’s rosebushes.

The book fell from Mary’s hand. In all her imaginings of what dreadful things she might encounter on the streets of London, she’d never envisioned anything like this. She ought to bolt. She ought to scream. She ought to . . . well . . . she ought to at least look away.

But as if he was made of words on a page, her eyes insisted on staying for a proper read. His eyes were closed, his mouth open in a grimace of relief. Objectively, he was a handsome mess, lean and long-limbed, a shock of disheveled blond hair peeking out from his top hat. But handsome was always matter of opinion, and this one had “villain” stamped on his skin.

As if he could hear her flailing thoughts, one eye cracked open, then the other. “Oh, ho, would you look at that, Grant? I’ve an audience, it seems.”

Somewhere down the street, another voice rang out. “Piss off!” A snigger followed. “Oh, wait, you already are.”

“Cork it, you sodding fool!” the blond villain shouted back. “Can’t you see we’re in the presence of a lady?” He grinned. “Apologies for such language, luv. Though . . . given the way you are staring, perhaps you don’t mind?” He rocked back on his heels, striking a jaunty pose even as the urine rained down. “If you come a little closer, I’d be happy to give you a better peek.”

Mary’s heart scrambled against her ribs. She might be a naive thing, fresh from the country, and she might now be regretting her presumption that it was permissible to read a book in a London garden in her bare feet, but she wasn’t so unworldly that she didn’t know this one pertinent fact: she was not—under any circumstances—coming a little closer.

Or getting a better peek.

Mortified, she wrapped her arms about her middle. “I . . .that is . . . couldn’t you manage to hold it?” she somehow choked out. There. She’d managed a phrase, and it was a properly scathing one, too. As good as any of her books’ heroines might have done.

A grin spread across his face. Much like the puddle at the base of the rosebush. “Well, luv, the thing is, I’m thinking I’d rather let you hold it.” The stream trickled to a stop, though he added a few more drips for good measure. He shook himself off and began to button his trousers. “But alas, it seems you’ve waited too long for the pleasure.” He tipped a finger to the brim of his top hat in a sort of salute. “My friend awaits. Perhaps another time?”

Mary gasped. Or rather, she squeaked.

She could manage little else.

He chuckled. “It seems I’ve got a shy little mouse on my hands. Well, squeak squeak, run along then.” He set off down the street, swaying a bit. “But I’ll leave you with a word of advice, Miss Mouse,” he tossed back over one shoulder. “You’re a right tempting sight, standing there in your unutterables. But you might want to wear shoes the next time you ogle a gentleman’s prick. Never know when you’ll need to run.”


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About the Author

A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal.



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