Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Led Astray By A Rake by Sara Bennett
Thank you for inviting me along to YRR and letting me chat about my books, old and new. I have been writing romance for, wow, a very long time now. I’ve been an Avon historical romance author since 2000, and I started off with Medievals, then wrote a story set in the Scottish 18th century, before moving on to the Victorian era. You see I’m nothing if not versatile! Well, I’m still writing in the Victorian era but I’m all set to start a sexy new series and I’m pretty excited about it.
The series is called the Husband Hunters Club and the first book is Led Astray By A Rake. There will be five books in the series, one for each of the respectable young women who first meet at Miss Debenham’s Finishing School and become friends. They make a pact at the Finishing School Graduation Ball in 1837, that they will not allow themselves to be persuaded by their families and their circumstances into making marriages that are not to their liking. In other words they will flout all the conventions and rules of polite society and go for a man who will make them happy. Unheard of! And how will they capture their man? The girls decide that they will “hunt” him down and ensnare him with their “feminine wiles”. After all, a husband worth having is a husband worth hunting.
In the first book, Led Astray By A Rake, Olivia Monteith decides the man for her is Lord Nic Lacey, although he’s a known bad boy and rake. But she has been neighbors with Nic all her life and she has loved him forever, although he seems not to know she exists. Nic is not the marrying sort—he prefers women of the demi-monde—but Olivia is determined to persuade him, even if she has to corner him at the Demi-monde Ball. However Olivia brings out Nic’s latent protective instincts, and he finds himself saving her from gentlemen like himself. And all the while he tries desperately to resist her. And fails, of course.
I’d love to offer a copy of Led Astray By A Rake as a give-away but it isn’t available yet. However I do have a copy of my latest book, Her Secret Lover, and if you like mystery and adventure and steamy love scenes, then this one is for you. I’ll let Terra choose the winner from the comments section, so good luck! (If you don't leave an email addy with your comment you will not be entered into the giveaway!!!)
Thanks again for the invite and happy reading to everyone!
Her Secret Lover
The Aphrodite's Club Series ~ Book #2
GABRIEL + ANTOINETTE'S STORY
Road to Wexmoor Manor
Suddenly the coach lurched. Antoinette dropped her spectacles. Outside there was a popping noise, following by shouts from coachman and his boy. She leaned forward to grasp the window frame, just as a galloping horse drew alongside the coach. The rider wore black, everything black, including a black mask covering the upper half of his face. He kept pace with the coach, and although her poor eyesight made him appear blurry, there was something almost mesmerizing about him. And then he leaned down and stared at her through the dusty glass.
And smiled the smile of a dangerous predator spying his prey.
He was there for only a heartbeat, and then he’d spurred his horse on, but it was long enough. Antoinette felt as if his regard had burned itself into her skin. As if he had left a brand upon her.
Confused, startled, her heart thudding, she pressed herself back into the soft leather of the seat. She told herself that this was England in the reign of Queen Victoria, and highwaymen belonged to an earlier and more lawless age. Or was this isolated corner of Devon yet to catch up with the more civilized parts of the country?
Antoinette clung to the strap, bracing herself against the wildly rocking vehicle as the driver attempted to outrun the highwayman. Her straw bonnet slipped off as they tipped dangerously around a corner, and there was a loud bang as the coachman’s boy fired his blunderbuss. Antoinette squeaked, trying to see beyond the window, but it was all a blur of trees and earth and sky. And then the coach began to slow until eventually it shuddered to a halt.
Antoinette sat a moment and caught her breath, wishing she could loosen her stays beneath the tight-fitting bodice of her tan taffeta and emerald green velvet traveling dress. Her hair, a moment ago neatly pinned and parted, was hanging down, hampering her movements, and her skirts and petticoats were tossed and tangled, displaying far too much silk-stockinged leg above her lace-up boots.
What now? Antoinette asked herself. Was she to cower inside and await her fate? Practical, sensible Antoinette had never cowered in her life. Bad enough that she’d been sent into the country to a place she didn’t know by Lord Appleby, a man she detested, but to be trapped inside her coach by an anachronism? No, she wouldn’t have it.
Antoinette released the catch on the window and after a brief struggle forced it down.
Cold, moist air wafted in, and with it the pungent sting of gunpowder. Undeterred, Antoinette stuck her head out of the coach. The scene before her was chaotic. The coachman and his boy were on the ground, hands in the air, and the masked man on the horse was pointing a brace of pistols at them. “Be silent,” she heard him order in a gruff voice as the coachman began to argue.
Antoinette’s mind worked furiously. Was he after her money and her valuables? She’d brought so little with her. Most of her luggage was still in London, and her scant pieces of jewelry were locked in Lord Appleby’s safe.
The two men had turned their backs to the highwayman, and—she peered hard with her naked eyes, trying to make out the scene—he began to tie their hands. This was ridiculous. Antoinette turned away, searching for her spectacles, telling herself that if she could see him properly she would feel braver. She did not for a moment imagine she might be physically unsafe, or in any danger of being molested.
The coach door was flung open. Her thoughts froze. Antoinette gasped. He was leaning in, looking at her, and despite the lack of clarity in her vision—or perhaps because of it—he was even bigger than she’d thought. He cut out the light and filled the door space, his hands gripping the frame, a pistol dangling casually from his fingers.
What did you say to a highwayman? For some reason the proper form of address escaped her.
“Give it to me,” he said in a deep voice.
“Giver it . . . ?” she echoed in a whisper.
He tipped his head, and she knew he was taking in her disarray. She sat up straighter, brushing down her skirts and pushing back a long strand of hair. When she looked at him again he was smiling, but it wasn’t the sort of smile a gentleman would give a lady.
“I know you have it,” he said in that same deep, slightly husky voice. “The letter. Give it to me.”
Shock froze her. He knew! She only just prevented herself from reaching up and clutching the letter against her skin in its hiding place inside her bodice.
“Who-who sent you?” she demanded shakily.
“Who do you think?” he mocked.
Lord Appleby! She hadn’t been so clever after all. He knew she had in her possession the letter that could destroy him, and he’d sent his man after her to fetch it back. What better way to dispose of the evidence and her chance to use it than to stage a robbery? Oh, he was very clever.
But she couldn’t allow this to happen.
The big man was climbing into the coach, and his broad shoulders blocked out the light. There was something very menacing about him, she thought, as she blinked up at him, her mind racing as fast as her heart, searching for a way out. He slipped the pistol into his belt and drew off his gloves, slowly, while she watched. When he was finished he casually reached forward and put a hand on her knee.
His skin was hot, his bare fingers thick and blunt. It was his touch as much as the unexpectedness of it that shocked her. She jumped back, pressing herself into the farthest corner. His masked face loomed closer, and she could see the glitter of his pale eyes thought the slits. His mouth was no longer smiling now but held in a straight line, grim and determined.
“Give me the letter. Don’t make me search every inch of you, because I will. Every inch.”