The Loving Lady Marcia Blog Tour – Teaser & Giveaway

MARCIA GETS SCHOOLED…

Of the three Brady sisters, Lady Marcia has always seemed the girl most likely to lead a perfectly charmed life. But after a handsome cad breaks her heart, she swears off love and devotes her life to teaching girls at a private school. In spite of her family’s wish for a London debut, Marcia is happy where she is—until terrible news sends her back to the Brady clan…and into the arms of an unexpected suitor.

ON THE SUBJECT OF LOVE

A dark and dashing earl who knows Marcia’s past, Duncan Lattimore is surprised by what a fascinating and independent woman she’s become. Marcia, too, is surprised—by the fiery attraction she feels for Duncan. But why—why—must he be the brother of the scoundrel who broke her heart? Why must Marcia’s rival at school forbid her from seeing him? How can this lady possibly resist this fellow—when they know that it’s much more than a hunch…?

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Excerpt

Chapter 1
1814

A girl knows when her life really begins, and for fifteen-year-old Lady Marcia Sherwood, daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness of Brady, it was the moment she met the two Lattimore brothers.

When the first one took his seat in the Brady carriage, she had to clamp her teeth together to keep her mouth from falling open. If her friends at school could only see him. They’d never believe he was this handsome.

“I’m Finn,” he said. “Pleased to meet you.” He gave a half-grin, his eyes gleaming with something.

He must guess. He must know she found him attractive. Or perhaps he found her attractive.

Oh, dear. Could that be so?

That would make life so much more interesting. The brothers were to be her traveling companions to Liverpool, and then across the Irish Sea to Dublin, where she’d reunite with her family.

Marcia smiled, being careful to keep her expression demure, but inside, her heart was pounding. “I’m Lady Marcia Sherwood,” she said, feeling like an idiot. “But please–call me Marcia.”

Her maid nudged her in the side. “Lady Marcia will do, young man.”

His clothes were of the finest tailoring, setting off his good looks so well that Marcia had to wonder how he lived with himself. Had he gotten used to being so handsome?

“Right,” he said lightly, “of course,” and smiled at her as if to say, When we’re alone, I’ll call you Marcia.

She already adored him.

A shadow fell across his face as another figure entered the carriage. This young man was just as tall but more solidly built and definitely the older of the two. Marcia had to move her knees sideways to allow him proper room to settle. Once he had, he looked directly at her.

He was striking in his own way, with compelling dark brown eyes, but he lacked the charm—or should she say, the obvious delight in his surroundings–that the younger brother exuded. In fact, his tightly furrowed brow suggested he was slightly irritated before the trip had even begun.

The very exciting, adventurous trip she’d been looking forward to for ages.

“Good morning.” His imperturbable gaze encompassed both her and her maid. “I’m Lord Chadwick,” he threw out in bored tones, as if they should be very grateful he’d spoken at all.

“Good morning,” Marcia answered.

She did not like him. Her body felt all prickly and hot, and it was clearly his fault.

The maid smiled at the earl. Marcia could tell she was gratified that he’d included a mere servant in his greeting. But Marcia didn’t give him credit for it. She wouldn’t. He’d put her off.

The carriage rolled forward.

Lord Chadwick inclined his head at her. “You must be Lady Marcia Sherwood.”

It was a statement, not a question. And he said it as if he didn’t give a fig who she was.

“Indeed, I am.” Marcia forced a corner of her mouth to tilt up–to please Mama. She’d been brought up with manners, after all.

“I’ve heard much of your family.” His tone was cordial but cool. He was going through the motions of polite behavior, nothing more.

What would Mama do?

She’d probably say something complimentary—and sincere–to put the person at ease, so Marcia wracked her brains. “My parents and I are grateful for your escort all the way to Dublin. That’s a trek.” She gave a little laugh.

His distracted gaze didn’t change. “It’s no trouble.”

“Of course, it’s not,” Mr. Lattimore interjected warmly. Thank God for him. He was like a knight in shining armor sitting next to a knave. “Why not travel together? We’re going to the wedding ourselves.”

His older brother didn’t bother acknowledging the interruption. “I understand the rest of your family is currently ensconced at your Irish estate?” he asked Marcia.

Poor Mr. Lattimore. To be treated like…like a nobody. Yes, Gregory treated Peter that way, and Peter did the same to Robert, but still! It must be humiliating, and Marcia was sure Lord Chadwick was far worse a brother than any of hers.

“Lady Marcia?” Lord Chadwick asked.

“Oh, yes. You must mean Ballybrook. It’s the greenest place you’ve ever seen. Daddy”—she pronounced it the Gaelic way, Doddy—“and Mama retire there when Parliament isn’t in session. Otherwise, they’re quite comfortable on Grosvenor Square in London. It’s a busy life, but they say they have the best of both worlds. One green and comfortable–and one sooty…but terribly elegant, all the same.”

There was a faint gleam of something in Lord Chadwick’s eye. Was it amusement? And if so, why? Marcia felt indignation surge in her breast, but of course, she wasn’t permitted to show it.

Instead, she turned to look at Mr. Lattimore and was gratified to see that he didn’t appear amused. He seemed to understand her completely. His large amber eyes gazed into hers with utmost sympathy, and she returned the look as discreetly as possible.

She was forced to look at his brother, while Mr. Lattimore had to sit next to him.

It was hard to say who had it worse.

“She’s got a point.” Mr. Lattimore elbowed the earl. “We can have the best of both worlds, too, now that you’ve got the title. Why stay in Kent when we can be in Town?”

“Because the estate in Kent needs a great deal of work.” Lord Chadwick’s tone was distinctly annoyed. “And I’m not ready to take up my seat in Parliament. Not yet. I’ve a great deal of reading to do on a host of topics. Not to mention that London soot is a bit off-putting.”

That’s not it at all,” Mr. Lattimore stage-whispered to Marcia. “London’s too amusing for him. My brother is all about duty.”

“As you should be, too,” Lord Chadwick muttered, his eyes on the window.

The maid stopped knitting a moment.

“Well, then,” Marcia said brightly, whereupon the maid’s needles began flashing in and out of a skein of wool once more. “We have a long way to travel together, don’t we?”

“Indeed, we do.” The earl’s tone was dry. He turned from the window to study her a brief moment then pulled a small book out of his pocket. “If you don’t mind, I’ll be reading much of the trip.”

“Not at all,” she said courteously.

Mama would be proud of her composure in the face of such rudeness. Or grown-up-ness. Marcia couldn’t tell which was which sometimes.

The title of the book was something about the politics of war. Lord Chadwick cleared his throat and became immersed in it immediately.

Marcia exchanged the briefest of bemused glances with Mr. Lattimore. The earl thought to dismiss them as if they were children, didn’t he?

She suppressed a sensation of pique. Couldn’t he see that his younger brother was far from a child? And that she was a young woman?

She had brains. She could carry on an adult conversation. Not that she wanted to about the politics of war, of course. Perhaps something about the politics of fashion. There were definite sides to be had on so many issues–bonnets, ribbons, sleeve styles–although she could talk of war if she had to.

Lord Chadwick turned a page of his book. The maid’s knitting needles clicked and clacked. Mr. Lattimore raised his brows in a comical way and angled his eyes toward his brother.

Marcia stifled a giggle. She was too grown up to giggle, of course. But Mr. Lattimore was…well, he was simply adorable. He brought out the mischievous in her.

Lord Chadwick looked up briefly, his gaze neutral yet somehow intimidating. When he went back to reading, Mr. Lattimore’s very expressive eyes expressed relief.

I’m sorry for you, her own eyes said back.

We won’t let him ruin the trip, she read in his.

Understanding swelled between them. His mouth tilted up, just barely—a secret smile meant just for her. He leaned forward, the sharp-eyed maid’s needles flashing close by. Close enough to stab him in the thigh or arm if she so wishes, Marcia had the incongruous thought.

Thankfully, Mr. Lattimore appeared oblivious to any danger. And if he were aware of it at all, I suspect he’d scoff at it, Marcia thought.

He was that sort of young man.

“Fine weather for traveling,” he whispered to her.

His voice was like a caress.

“Yes,” she whispered back.

###

But the fine weather hadn’t lasted. In fact, their carriage lost a wheel en route to Liverpool, in the midst of a great, slashing storm. Thankfully, they’d been near enough a market town that Lord Chadwick had walked there with the driver to procure another. But then another deluge prevented any travel for several days.

When they finally managed to board a packet to Ireland, Marcia was already head over heels for Finnian—Finn, she called him. How else to explain that she felt completely new? Joyful? Needy? And very, very confused?

But mainly joyful.

Although perhaps blissful was a better word. Blissful and aching. How she ached! Yet it was a blissful ache. Which made no sense—

Good Lord, she needed help. But she couldn’t tell Mother what was going on. It was too…private at this point.

Janice would be a lovely confidante, but she’d have her two childhood friends with her at the wedding. She and Marcia both would be distracted by the festivities—and Marcia needed a good, long coze with her sister to explain what it felt like to fall in love. This wasn’t something she could toss off in casual conversation.

There were her close friends at school, of course—she could write them letters. Wouldn’t they read her story avidly! But she didn’t feel comfortable revealing her feelings in a missive that could possibly pass through many hands. What if her classmate Lysandra read it? She and the two foolish minions she’d managed to recruit from among the student body would make fun of her, and that Marcia couldn’t bear.

On the packet, she’d passed several girls on deck her age, but even if she were to befriend them, who wanted to reveal such deep passion to someone one had only just met?

Of course, she’d only just met Finn, too, but that was different. They’d been through so much together already. He wasn’t a stranger in the least. Riding together in a carriage for days on end tended to make one familiar with someone rapidly.

Her heart warmed. And standing at the prow of the sailing packet, she realized didn’t need any of her favorite people’s advice or shoulders to lean on, much as she loved them.

She simply needed Finn.

It was a startling, exhilarating conclusion, and she would bask in it in private, staring out at the sea and the endless horizon, where the sun hung huge and low. Life was so much bigger than she’d ever imagined it could be….

“There you are.” The deep, dark, and now familiar voice of Duncan Lattimore, Lord Chadwick, intruded upon Marcia’s thoughts, and he joined her at the bow, at her left.

She was shocked. Nay, astounded. Why was he talking to her suddenly? He’d made no effort to speak to her the entire trip, except when he’d been forced to at meal times. At dinner one night in a respectable inn, he’d asked several other young ladies closer to his age what they liked to do—what books they liked to read, for example—but he’d never asked her anything.

He was too important to be bothered with his younger brother’s friends, Finn had told her. That’s what happened when one inherited a fortune, a title, and properties at a young age.

But perhaps she should give the earl another chance.

“Hello, Lord Chadwick,” she said now, attempting to feel charitable toward him. She focused on the one day on their journey when a wheel had broken on the carriage, and he’d walked through rain and mud to a village to procure help.

“Have you seen my brother?” he asked her without preamble.

Her friendlier feelings dissolved. “No,” she said, “but I was hoping he’d make an appearance above decks soon.”

Hoping was a puny word. Praying was more like it.

“He’s not in our cabin,” Lord Chadwick said in that distracted way he had, as if he had more important things to do than speak to her.

Marcia felt another wave of dislike. Didn’t he even notice that the sea was awe-inspiring? That she was wearing a pretty bonnet that deserved to be complimented? That she was also a skilled conversationalist, if he’d give her a chance?

“I don’t know where Mr. Lattimore is,” she admitted, “but if I should see him, I’ll tell him you’re looking for him.”

“Very good,” he said, but made no motion to leave.

Perhaps he stayed because they were leaning over the prow, a compelling spot to be in those pressing few minutes between dusk and night at sea. It was a place to show fortitude–and a time that drew people to stand together against the vastness of the ocean and the impending darkness, sharing confessions they otherwise might not share.

Marcia felt no such affinity with Lord Chadwick, however. No desire to find solace in his company, no curiosity to know him any better than she already did.

But as the seconds passed in silence and the rising waves and sharpening wind pressed upon her to be as bold as they, she blurted out, “You don’t like me, do you? I’m that silly girl involved with your brother—“

A gust of wind lifted Lord Chadwick’s dark brown hair. “Involved?”

She noticed that he was handsome. He’d always been but in an understated way. Not like golden-haired Finn, who turned feminine heads in every tap room they’d entered, in every street they’d walked.

Marcia lifted her chin. “Surely, you’ve observed we’ve spent time together.”

“Of course, I have. Haven’t we all?”

They watched a cresting wave break into foam, then two more.

“True,” she said.

“Just don’t get too attached to him,” the earl replied in his nonchalant way.

She held fast to the railing, keenly aware that he hadn’t bothered to answer her original question. Not that she cared if he liked her. But she felt a frisson of annoyance—and fear—at his last remark. “What do you mean?” She attempted to sound careless. Inside, she felt anything but.

“My brother’s got obligations.” The earl kept his eyes on the horizon. “He sometimes forgets that his job is to become a man, not sharpen his skills of flirtation.”

The implication being that she was nothing more than another girl for Finn to charm.

The insult came just as a rogue wave slapped the hull, sending spray on Marcia’s face. But she ignored the salt water trickling down her cheek, barely even felt it, in fact. Her middle churned with anger, with a need to put this man in his place.

“You’re rude.” The wind flung her words out to sea, frustrating her enough that she leaned closer, demanding that he turn his head to look at her. “You’ve been rude to me since the first moment I met you. Why? What have I ever done to you?”

“Me? Rude?” The earl’s face registered disbelief.

“You don’t speak to me.”

He gave a short laugh. “You’re fifteen.”

“Almost sixteen,” she replied airily. “And I happen to know how to hold a good conversation. Not only that, I’m friends with your younger brother.”

“Lady Marcia,” the earl said in steely tones. “I’m a busy man. I have much on my mind. And yes, I’ve observed that you’re carrying on a flirtation with Finn—surely, his attentions are enough to occupy you.”

“It’s not simply a flirtation.” She felt her voice crack and was mortified. “And I’m not a spoiled child, demanding excess attention. All I ask is common courtesy. And respect.”

Lord Chadwick drew in a deep breath and looked steadily at her. “I’ve obviously disappointed you, for which I apologize. But I’ve no inclination to spar with you this evening or any other.” He turned and made his way down the empty deck.

It was the dinner hour. But she’d no appetite. For days, she’d had none. Love had taken it away.

She grabbed onto a swinging line. “You’re wrong about Finn and me!” she yelled after the earl. “But you can’t see that, can you?” She knew she shouldn’t be saying such shocking things, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. “It’s because you miss out on so much of life. You read books instead of getting to know people sitting across from you in carriages.”

Lord Chadwick stopped and turned to face her, his expression inscrutable.

“You adjourn to your room early,” she continued unabashedly, “to look at account books rather than stay up late and tell stories by the fire. And right now you don’t even seem to notice how breathtaking the sunset is. Someday you’ll be sorry you were ever so smug. And someday I’ll prove to you there is such a thing as a perfect love.”

He looked over the railing at the blood red sun, then back at her. “There is no perfect love, nor a perfect life,” he said, his eyes dark, his gaze boring into hers. “So give up wishing, will you? It would be a shame to see you hurt. Good evening, Lady Marcia.”

And he resumed walking.

Oh, if only she could throw him overboard!

Finn appeared at the prow, thank God, a few moments later. “What’s wrong?”

Instantly, she felt better. “Your brother—he tried to—“

“Tried to what?” The concern in his eyes made her care for him all the more.

“He tried to warn me against you. He said…he said you’re sharpening your skills of flirtation rather than working on your obligations.” She felt some of her anger dissipate when he pulled her into his arms.

She’d been dreaming of such a moment.

“What man wouldn’t fall head over heels for you?” he said into her hair. “And put aside work to be with you?”

“You’re kind to say so,” she said, daring to remain in his arms.

“I’m not kind; I’m truthful.” He pulled back to look at her, his hands leaving fire where he touched her shoulders. “I’m sorry Duncan was rude.”

Night was close. No one was looking. Amazing how on a small packet, one could get away with so much.

“If it means we’ll do this”–she leaned against his chest–“I hope he’ll be rude to me again.”

“Marcia,” Finnian whispered.

“Finn,” she whispered back, and closed her eyes, reveling in the knowledge that she could both feel and hear his beating heart.

He pulled back and lifted her chin. “I don’t know how it happened so fast.”

“I don’t, either.” She saw that yearning in his eyes, the same one she’d seen in other boys and men in the village in Surrey and on her school trips to Brighton and London. It was a mystery to her no more. She knew it was desire.

But she wanted him just as much. Wanted him to hold her, to kiss her.

Please, she thought.

“I’m falling in love with you.” His voice was rough.

“And I with you,” she answered.

She already had. Everything was Finn. Except for that one, small corner of her mind where she saw his brother telling her not to get attached. And then walking away as if she were a nuisance he was glad to leave.

Duncan Lattimore obviously liked to ruin things. But she wouldn’t let him ruin this.

The arc of the wind-filled jib sail obscured her and Finnian from view. She put a tentative hand on the side of his face. He leaned into her palm, caressing it with his jaw, an act so tender, her eyes began to sting. And then he drew her hand down, clutched it in his own, and kissed her.

It was perfect. So perfect she knew in that moment that love was hers for the taking.

“I must see you as often as possible,” Finn said, as if she were the greatest treasure on earth.

“I’m leaving my school,” she replied without preamble. “I must be in London. Near you.”

“Yes. I like London. Much better than the estate in Kent. Or Oxford.” He kissed her again, a possessive, lingering seal of their mutual promise.

This time his hand came so close to the underside of her breast, she shivered.

The words she’d thrown like a gauntlet to Lord Chadwick came back to her: And someday I’ll prove to you there is such a thing as a perfect love.

With Finn, Marcia knew it could be so.

It was so.

Already.

###

It had been a whirlwind two weeks in Dublin. She’d spent every possible moment she could with Finn. Janice was completely oblivious to her strong feelings for him, caught up as she was in the excitement of being in Dublin with two of her oldest and best friends.

And now it was the night of Marcia’s sixteenth birthday.

Her family had rented a private residence on Dublin’s Southside with a beautiful conservatory attached. Long after the rest of the family had gone to bed, in the deepest, stillest part of the night, she and Finn lay on their backs, cradled in each other’s arms, and looked up through the glass ceiling at the stars barely visible—“but still there,” Finn insisted—through the clouds.

“You only have to be sixteen to marry in Scotland,” he murmured against her hair.

She almost stopped breathing. “Really?”

“Yes,” he said, and ran his hand down her flank. “When we get back to England, we’re going to run away. To Gretna Green.”

“Yes,” she whispered, and held tighter to him, suddenly feeling small.

This was genuine, their love. All too genuine. And although most of the time, she embraced it bravely and with great joy, like a feather dancing in the wind, at the moment she felt its all-consuming power, its potential to sweep her away to parts unknown.

“Don’t be afraid,” he whispered back, and kissed her, his mouth tender upon her own.

No. She wouldn’t be.

He pulled her ties loose at her back, gently pushing her sleeves and bodice down while he murmured sweet nothings in her ear.

That night, Marcia let love take her where it would. She gave Finn everything. Everything.

In the dark, their coupling was awkward. Fast. The fear of discovery was strong between them. And then much to Marcia’s surprise, there had been pain. Blood.

More awkwardness.

But as was typical with Finn, he didn’t dwell on unpleasantness.

After she’d fumbled about and restored herself to order, he merely pulled her close again. “Right,” he said, and released a long sigh.

She waited a few seconds. They’d given themselves to each other. It was a profound moment. But when Finn didn’t speak, she realized he might be nervous. Her father and mother slept nearby, as did her siblings. If they were discovered, there’d be hell to pay.

“I love you,” she reassured him and snuggled close. “You’re the one and only man I will ever love.”

He stroked her hair a few moments. “We’re splendid together,” he said after a few seconds. “More than splendid.” He kissed the top of her head.

“We’re perfect,” she sighed, and looked up at him with a grin.

He grinned back and kissed her once more—a long, lingering kiss–then pulled her to her feet from the extremely crude bed they’d made of pillows stolen from a few chairs.

“And now I must go,” he said, sounding nervous, as she’d guessed he must be. “We can’t be found out.”

“I know.” She clung to him. “But I wish you didn’t have to go.”

This was their last night together. Tomorrow, she’d be off to Ballybrook, and he’d travel to Cork with Lord Chadwick to visit friends and then take a packet back across the Irish Sea to England.

Soon, though, they’d be together forever.

“Where and when will we meet to go to Gretna?” she asked him.

“I’ll plan it all out when I get back to England and write you a letter, of course.” He pinched her cheek. “Silly.” And then he laughed.

She did, too. She couldn’t help it. Seeing him laugh made her happier than anything else in the world.

She was still brimming over with it when the next morning dawned cold and gray. Her first thought wasn’t even a thought—it was a feeling that ran like a slow, lazy, warm, wonderful river through her body: Love.

Love, love, love.

She smiled at the ceiling, rubbed her lips together, remembering how Finn had kissed her. Ran her hands over her belly, and lower. He’d been there. He’d been everywhere.

He was a part of her now.

But then tears blurred her vision when she remembered that she wouldn’t be seeing him that day. She wouldn’t be seeing him for weeks. She lingered in her room, feigning a headache—utterly miserable, ready to snap at anyone who dared speak to her, almost hoping she could, because then she could cry openly, and everyone would think it was because she was sorry for being a shrew. But that wouldn’t be why she’d be crying. Oh, no. She’d be crying because she didn’t belong anywhere Finn wasn’t.

She was in the midst of packing for the journey to Ballybrook—as if she cared anymore about the new wing Daddy had designed!–when she received a note from Finn.

Finn.

Finn, Finn, Finn.

She wanted to hug the servant who’d brought the stiff envelope. She sniffed it. It smelled of him. Suddenly, her world was sunshine-y again.

She pressed the paper over her heart and seated herself at her dressing table, luxuriating in the knowledge that she was Finn’s and that a message had come from her beloved.

It would be a love note to tide her over until she got back to her school in Surrey, a missive she’d keep under her pillow. And perhaps in the letter he’d write about when they could next…be together. Perhaps he had a plan for that. Gretna couldn’t come soon enough. She could hardly breathe, thinking of the risks they were taking.

Being in love, she decided, was not for the fainthearted.

When she finished the note, she stared at her reflection in the looking glass. The woman that she’d become overnight looked back at her. But whereas moments ago, that woman had been flush with love, her heart brimming over with it, in fact, the person looking back at her now was an empty shell.

Finn had written that he was shocked to hear he’d be sailing not back to England from Ireland but to America—in accordance with his brother’s wishes.

“He’s sending me to a property of ours in Virginia for an apprenticeship in land management,” Finn wrote, “but I know the real reason I’m going. He wants to keep us apart.”

There was a blob of ink, as if he’d forgotten to sign it–as if his hectoring sibling were standing at his bedchamber door with an open trunk demanding that Finn throw his breeches and cravats into it then and there.

It was the last note Marcia would ever receive from him.

About the Author

Double Rita®-finalist and USA Today bestseller Kieran Kramer is the author of the lighthearted Regency historical romance series, The Impossible Bachelors, published by St. Martin’s Press. She has a new six-book contract with St. Martin’s for another Regency series called The House of Brady, premiering in August 2012 with LOVING LADY MARCIA. A former CIA employee, journalist, and English teacher, Kieran’s also a game show veteran, karaoke enthusiast, and general adventurer. Without doubt her greatest adventure, which she’s taken hand-in-hand with her husband of 23 years, a commander in the US Navy Reserves, has been mothering their three children.

Find Kieran Kramer online!

Author Site: http://kierankramerbooks.com/
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Street Team: http://regencyrockstars.com
Group blog of writer moms: http://peanutbutteronthekeyboard.wordpress.com
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13-Aug    Bibliophilia, Please    Interview
13-Aug    Reviews By Molly    First Chapter
13-Aug    Doctor’s Notes    Spot Light
14-Aug    My Secret Romance    First Chapter
14-Aug    Live To Read    First Chapter
15-Aug    Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf   Spot Light
15-Aug    Romancing Rakes For The Love of Romance   Spot Light, Interview
15-Aug    Romance Book Junkies    Spot Light
16-Aug    LilyElement Book Reviews    First Chapter
16-Aug    Love to Read Romance    Spot Light
17-Aug    Red Headed Bookworm    Spot Light, Interview, First Chapter
17-Aug    Sapphyria’s Steamy Book Reviews    First Chapter
20-Aug    My World    Spot Light
20-Aug    Ramblings From This Chick    First Chapter
21-Aug    Books, Books, and More Books    Interview
21-Aug    Ramblings of an Amateur Writer    Spot Light
21-Aug   SOS Aloha   Guest Post
22-Aug    Lissette E. Manning    First Chapter
23-Aug    Adventures of Frugal Mom    Interview
24-Aug    Words I Write Crazy    First Chapter
24-Aug    The Self-Taught Cook    Spot Light
26-Aug The Rockville 8 Interview
27-Aug  The Popculture Divas    Spot Light and  First Chapter
27-Aug    Bunnie Reviews  Spot Light, Interview, First Chapter
28-Aug   Release Day  Blitz 

29-Aug    Reviewing Shelf    Spot Light
29-Aug    The Lucky Ladybug    First Chapter
30-Aug    Live To Read    Spot Light
30-Aug    My Secret Romance    Spot Light
31-Aug    A Night’s Dream of Books    Interview
31-Aug    Cocktails and Books    Spot Light and First Chapter
3-Sep    ¡Miraculous!   Spot Light
3-Sep    Bibliophilia, Please    First Chapter
4-Sep    Ramblings From This Chick   Spot Light
5-Sep    Reading Between the Wines  Spot Light, First Chapter
6-Sep    My Cozie Corner    Interview
7-Sep    T B R     Spot Light, interview
10-Sep    A Date with a Book    First Chapter
11-Sep    Ramblings of an Amateur Writer    First Chapter
12-Sep    Mission to Read    Interview
13-Sep     Crossroads   Spot LIght, Review
14-Sep    Always a Booklover    Spot Light
14-Sep    Reader Girls    Spot Light

Cover Reveal Tour + Giveaway: Rise of a Rector

It’s finally here, the cover reveal for Heather McCorkle’s Rise of a Rector, the final novel in her channeler series (due out this October). To celebrate Heather is giving away two copies of her historical fantasy novel, To Ride A Puca. Before we get to that though, here is the cover:

Quick Excerpt to Whet Your Appetite!

The card dropped from her hands as she covered her mouth and tried to stifle a cry. There was no doubt in her mind it came from him. It had the oily feel of his energy still clinging to it. In a heartbeat Aiden was beside her, his hands on her shoulders. The feel of both his hands and his power drove back the edge of her panic, but just barely. Aiden reached down amidst all the scraps of colorful wrapping paper and picked up the card. He made a sound that started as a gasp and ended up as an angry scream. Letting the card fall, he pulled Eren tight against his chest.

To add it to your Goodreads lists click here. If you’d like to check out the rest of the channeler series (her novella Born of Fire is now FREE on Amazon & B&N!). To win an eBook of To Ride A Puca, all you have to do is help Heather spread the word. There will be two winners! To enter fill out the form below.

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About the Author

I am an author of fantasy, in all it’s many sub-genres. Entertaining readers, helping other writers, protecting endangered species, and living as green a life as possible are my passions. When I’m not writing or surfing my favorite social networking sites I can be found on the slopes, the hiking trails, or on horseback. As a native Oregonian, I enjoy the outdoors nearly as much as the worlds I create on the pages. No need to travel to the Great Northwest though, you can find me here on my personal blog three days a week where I share my author’s journey. You can also find me every Monday night at 6:00pm PT on the #WritersRoad chat on Twitter. My lovely friend Tee (TS Tate) and I are the co-creators and moderators of the chat.

Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair Blog Tour

Ever read a blurb and a movie comes to mind? Tales of Lust, Hate, and Despair does it for me–Man on the Ledge. Let ’em out to play and they get involved in all sorts of mischief. 🙂


Samuel Lee has known three days of freedom in the last eighteen years. Three days to come out of prison, see his daughter, settle a score and go back in again, for good this time.

Told in the tradition of the best literary noir, Tales of Lust, Hate and Depair is a modern, lowdown and gritty take on the genre. Inspired by the cinema of Akira Kurosawa and Samuel Fuller as well as the music of Tom Waits, Sage Francis, Neurosis and Marilyn Manson, it is a novel that is sure to please anyone who has ever found themselves trapped and cast aside from the world.

Available at Amazon

Excerpt

Prologue
Donnaconna Institution
Maximum Security.
145 miles north-east of Montreal
267 inmates
27% serving life sentences
2012

Hey kid.

I know you requested to be here in person but your mother had enough sense not to allow it. You’re not eighteen yet, so her decision is final and I think she made the right call. Donnacona Federal prison ain’t no place for a girl like you.

Now, I know I’m not much of a father, probably because I never had the chance to be one but I am sorry I never got to be there for you. Your grandfather came to visit a few weeks ago. I’m glad to see that there’s at least one person from my side of the family who’s looking out for you. He told me you applied to circus school in Montreal. I never thought you could go to school for that, but he says your heart is set on it. So my heart is now set on it too. I just hope I get to see one of your shows one day. If you’ll have me, of course.

I guess what I want to say is, I ain’t got much, but I do have a little money set aside. Only seven thousand or so, but it’s something. It’s all legit money, so don’t worry about how I raised it. I don’t do drugs and I’ve quit drinking years ago. They don’t pay much here in prison, but I’m working the laundry service for 5.50 a day. I’ve been behaving well, and I got lucky enough to get on a Corcan program twice. It pays a little more and it gives me credits and experience to work when I get out. Now, the money is yours whether you want it or not. I don’t have much use for it in here.

Your mother said you wanted to know what happened that day, said you were pretty insistent about it. I don’t know if it is out of anger, which I wouldn’t hold against you, or if it is out of compassion, but if you think you are old enough to hear these things, I’m ready to tell you.

I don’t know everything for sure, but it was pretty easy to figure out. The news covered the story plenty. I had court records and word of mouth from friends and friends of friends and so on. Anything I didn’t know for sure, I just added in the details that made the most sense. Now, there is still time for you to forget about this because I’m not going to make it pretty for you. I may be a murderer, but a liar is not something I am. I won’t try to get you on my side either. I will tell it like it was and let you decide for yourself.

You have to understand that I hadn’t seen you at that point except in pictures. And even then, it was Mikey who had shown it to me while I was inside. Alice…Well, I thought your mother probably had better places to be or better people to be with. She can say whatever she wants. She never supported me in any way and that is one thing she can’t deny.

But you should’ve seen yourself in that picture. You were beautiful. Oh yes! Those pure green eyes, brown hair, lovable little cheeks, chubby cheeks, and you wore a little princess outfit with a tiara and a wand. It was nothing too corny. All green with butterfly wings. A fairy princess or something. I’d spend days looking at that picture.

That picture was taken a year prior to that night in the bar. I didn’t know what to expect anymore. How much had you grown? Had you grown all of your baby teeth? Did you like music? Of course, everybody likes music, but what kind and just how much? And I remembered an oath I made to myself back in prison. I swore I’d find me a good guitar when I got out, and I would sing you all the songs I had written about you. And two years is plenty of time to work on songs, let me tell you that.

I imagined myself on a stool, playing the cords on an acoustic guitar and you’d be dancing and twirling and all of that. What can I say? You were my light. Kept me straight and out of trouble, and to this day you still do. It is strange how I’ve never been in trouble while I’ve been in prison, either in Cowansville or here in Donnaconna. I can assure you that there are plenty of ways to get into trouble in here, but I never did thanks to you. Those three days of freedom earned me a lifetime in prison, but I have been at peace ever since, knowing you were alright out there.

In so many ways, you saved me without you even knowing it so I swore I would make sure to tell you someday, what went down and why it happened and now you are asking me just that. I’m not even looking for salvation here, maybe just understanding and forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a long hard road. I just hope you can understand that.

Chapter 1
1996

It was early, early September. The sky was covered with thick gray clouds. There was rain forecast for the evening. The boss was coming down the road driving his best bike: a brand new, flat black, Fat Boy Harley. The exhaust noise echoed all around as he made his way on the deserted street. He pulled on the gas and the bike winded louder which drew a satisfied grin on the man’s face.

He took a left at the gate of an abandoned industrial building lot. It was well fenced-off with plywood and tarps all around so that no one could peek inside. The building was awaiting demolition but the gates were open because the man on the bike also ran the company that would tear the place down. If they had killed me, I might have ended up in the same containers as the demolished concrete. There would have been a pile of rocks, mesh wire, floorboards, busted lamps and a dead Samuel Lee. Nobody would go looking for me.

He parked the bike right next to an old battered Buick Skylark. There were four other cars in the parking lot. The first two were a Cavalier and a revamped Impala. The other two were cars you forgot quickly about: a Hyundai and a Corolla.

He took off his helmet, went inside and up four stories. There were two men at the door, ‚full patched‛ men wearing leather jackets and dark sunglasses inside. They were silent and still, which was contrasted by a hell of a ruckus coming from inside the room.

Now most people imagine a Russian mob to be silent and methodical, likewise a Chinese triad or a Japanese Yakama too, and they’re probably right, but these folks here were brawlers. Boxing was the fanciest martial art they were ever going to do. Their tactics were loud: they rarely got the job done right, let alone done clean.
I remember hearing the metallic door and the boss walking in. The room had been stripped of all features except for the large square frame windows that had seen too many decades. The lights were all shattered and the room was lit up by a series of double-headed industrial work lights. There wasn’t any ventilation on the floor and with twenty men or so surrounding me in a closed space, it quickly felt like we were in the tropics.

Each of them were granted a turn and I was hurting pretty badly. I was breathing heavily as thick, salty sweat was dripping from my forehead. The droplets ran down my cheeks and mixed with the blood pouring down from the cuts around my jaw. A pool of my own blood and sweat was starting to spread on the floor under the chair on which I was tied. I had at least a black eye and a busted lip, two teeth down and most likely a broken rib. But it seemed that would not be enough. I was in for the beating of a lifetime and I knew it was time to get tough when I heard someone say to the boss, ‚He’s ready.‛

But we’re not going to talk about that just yet.

Three days earlier, I was coming out of prison after my first punishable offense. I guess, I seem to be prison-bound, but what can I tell you? All I had was my GED, therefore employment prospects were looking grim. I had a little money set aside, a few hundred dollars, but there I was: unemployed at 26 and back in town.

Just getting on a bus from the Cowansville penitentiary had cost me close to 60 bucks. I took a greyhound and it came to a stop at a junction somewhere in the southwest of Montreal. The stop was little more than a sign on an electric pole in front of a dilapidated gas station on St-Antoine Street. The whole block near the highway bridge, surrounded by old brick duplex and concrete tenements, was dilapidated and in desperate need of a facelift or a wrecking ball.

They might had been fixing the neighborhood a bit further north, building up fancy towers and that hockey arena up the hill, but this block right there, that was the real deal. It was how it used to be. Places like St-Henri, Pointe-St-Charles and the better half of Verdun were standing a mere hundred yards from Westmount, the richest neighborhood in the country. Yet, on this side of the highway stood some of the poorest slums North America had to offer. You could see remnants of fences, with rusting barbwire still attached here and there. Dust, bricks and stolen cars formed most of the scenery around those streets.

In addition to the age old conflict between Francophones and Anglophones there were conflicts between the Irish and the Brits, tensions between the Whites and the Blacks in NDG. A neighborhood which at the time did not stand for Notre-Dame-de-Grace, but rather for ‚No Damn Good‛ and ‚Niggers Drugs and Guns.‛

There were open fights about which mob was to control the city port. Add to that the highest dropout rates in the city and an increasing amount of teenage prostitutes, the borough seemed ready to explode.

The city wasn’t all that worried thought. The rest of us were not going to barge in Westmount and burn it to the ground. We were too busy fighting one another and they had made it damn near impossible to make it to the top of the hill. There was a cliff, a highway and only one damn north-south tunnel. They could sleep easy.

The bus went its way and I stood there. I was waiting on the corner, busy smoking my second free cigarette in two years. One by the prison door and this one right there. I ain’t had much. I was wearing my grey prison pants and a blue boxing sweatshirt, the ones with the stripes on the shoulder.

It was the middle of the afternoon. The sun was high and strong, though it was clouding over slowly. I had my poor boy hat on. I pulled it down to cover my eyes. I like to think I must’ve looked good, or at least looked like something back then.

Moments later, a beaten up Skylark came by to pick me up. It was a ‘65 or ‘66, something around those years. The one with the round headlights. It was my friend Mikey’s car.

Mikey was a tall skinny black man. He measured 6’3 and weighed 165 pounds at most. His long arms and legs felt more like loose limbs but always had it good with the ladies because he had a wide smile, good hair, good taste and a naturally incredible six pack. The motherfucker didn’t even have to do any sit-ups. I swear.

Once one of the only African-Canadian members the local Anti-Racist-Action skinhead group, he had traded his bomber coats for a job and a career pretty much at the same time I went to prison. I didn’t know just how that had worked from him yet but I knew he was the only friend I could really count on.

The Skylark’s headlights turned off. The radio stopped shouting its profane music. Mikey got out with a large grin on his face, wearing a Fred Perry shirt and dark jeans.

‚Has it been two years already?‛ he asked.

Yes, it had been, I thought. ‚Two years, less one day,‛ I replied. I blew out the last of my smoke threw the stub away.

‚You sure?‛

Mikey always insisted on repeating things. That was his main flaw. That was his only flaw for that matter.
‚I was there, you know,‛ I said and then we shared a heartfelt hug.

‚It’s good to see you out,‛ he added. ‚But come on! We got places to go and drinks to drink!‛

He went around to his side of the car. I went to mine, threw my bag in the back and slid in the front seat as if he had just picked me up after a game or something. As if I had never been taken away for two years.

We both sat in the vast seats of the Buick. Onyx’s Bacdafucup was in the cassette player. Mikey was driving with one hand on the wheel, the other elbow resting outside the window. He barely made any stops, ran every yellow light that came our way. We were just a bit further out of the southwest and headed towards downtown.
You could see that the buildings there probably were built the exact same time as those in Saint-Henri’s or Little Burgundy boroughs. But at least the owners there seemed to put some effort into renovating their lot. The wood felt fresher, the brick and the stone felt cleaner.

Some of the old industrial buildings had been converted into what looked like an artist center or a university building. Tags one the walls were less gang oriented and more political. ‚Free Mumia,‛ one said. Another read ‚Smash Capitalism –Pcr(co)‛.

We drove on St-Jacques up to Peel, took a left, and then headed back west when we had crossed the 720.
‚So you guys taking me to a strip club?‛ I asked.

‚Pufff, you wish!‛ Mikey answered. ‚It’s just going to be you, me and some guys. If you want a lap dance my friend, you’ll have to pay for it yourself. Besides, I’m not taking a man in such a dire need of ass straight to a land full of pussy he can’t fuck. It wouldn’t be fair to you man!‛

‚You’re a good friend.‛

‚Yes,‛ he said as he nodded ‚I know I am.‛

We were around the Concordia University campus and there was no shortage of fine young women in fashionable clothes. It was the nineties. Kurt Cobain was dead but grunge was still alive. The fall had not kicked in yet and there was plenty of skin showing off. Strong thighs under short skirts, long torn shirts, dirty boots and black nail polish. I was young and out of prison, what’s a man to do?

He parked the car in the toll parking in front of the pub, Crescent Street, under Sainte-Catherine’s where three or four Irish pubs were lined up against the ‚American pub.‛ Mikey paid the minimum amount of 12$ evening fee that was to double if he forgot to get out before midnight.

Thank you, the teller said from inside his booth.

‚Fuck you,‛ Mickey answered, politely, and we went to the bar. Of course he had chosen the Irish pub and I was happy about it. Now, I wasn’t Irish, but if I was to salute a flag that wasn’t mine, I was better off in the hands of a people who knew that beer was supposed to have alcohol in it.

About the Author

I am from a working class family and I am proud of my origins. For the last seven years, I have been employed as an assembly line worker, a forklift driver, a park ranger, a warehouse clerk, a janitor, an industrial laundry operator, a warehouse clerk some more and still am to this day. I have never stopped working full time and I saw first hand how the theories of political science could hardly apply to the realities of the working masses. I have worked in the downtown area, in Laval, Rosemont, Montreal-East (Between the Petro-Canada oil storage facility and the Falconbridge foundry) and the south-west prior to gentrification. I have seen Montreal change and the people suffer from these changes.

I write not because I believe that some great social revolution is going to come out of any novel I can write. I have no illusions about the revolutionary potential of fiction writing. I truly believe that it is only by changing economic structures that a society can change fundamentally. This is basic Marxism. So why write at all? It is a good question. I mostly write to purge the hatred inside me, to purge the hours of factory work, poverty and strife of all sorts. I am majoring in Creative Writing, in a language that is not my native tongue because I felt it was a challenge. I am also graduating with a minor in political science, through which I discovered many philosophers that have influenced me deeply. I have studied the essays of Karl Marx, Immanuel Wallerstein, Ernesto Guevara, Max Stirner, Mikhail Bakunin, but also capitalist philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes or John Locke. I’ve looked into dichotomies such as Anarchism Vs Fascism, Communism Vs Capitalism. Nationalist Vs Internationalist etc… I believe that my existence is guided by philosophies such as Buddhism, Hinduism but also Nihilism.

Find Ian Truman Online

www.iantruman@hotmail.ca
www.iantruman.wordpress.com

Follow the Tour

REVIEW BLITZ 6/29

 My Cozie Corner 
 Books, Books, and More Books
Purple Penguin Reviews
Soliloquy
 Creative Writing Addict
  Wonderland Reviews

Redheads Review It Better  Spot Light
 Just Heard, Just Read, Just Seen
Jersey Girl Sizzling Book Reviews 
T B R     Spot Light

 
Tour

7/2 A Few Words /First Chapter
7/2 The Story of A Girl… /Review
7/3 Creative Writing Addict /First Chapter
7/4 Wonderland Reviews /Interview
7/5 All Things Writing /Review, Interview and Give Away
7/5 My Cozie Corner /First Chapter
7/6 The Book Hoard /First Chapter
7/9 Adventures of Frugal Mom /First Chapter
7/9 Book Lovin’ Mamas Review
7/10 Reading Naked   /First Chapter
7/10 Ramblings of an Amateur Writer /First Chapter
7/11 Cabin Goddess / Interview
7/11 Bunnys Review /First Chapter
7/13Reviewing Shelf /Review

7/13Purple Penguin Reviews First Chapter

The Wild Princess Blog Tour + Giveaway

Normally I’m not a historical romance reader, but this cover totally draws me in. Yes… I judge books by their cover. 🙂 Today we have an excerpt from The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry.

 

To the court and subjects of Queen Victoria, young Princess Louise—later the Duchess of Argyll—was the “Wild One.” Proud and impetuous, she fought the constraints placed on her and her brothers and sisters, dreamed of becoming an artist, and broke with a three-hundred-year-old tradition by marrying outside of the privileged circle of European royals. Some said she wed for love. Others whispered of a scandal covered up by the Crown. It will take a handsome American, recruited by the queen’s elite Secret Service, to discover the truth. But even as Stephen Byrne— code name the Raven—vows to risk his life to protect the royal family from violent Irish radicals, he tempts Louise with a forbidden love that could prove just as dangerous.

In the vein of Philippa Gregory, Mary Hart Perry tells the riveting story of an extraordinary woman—a princess who refused to give up on her dreams, including her right to true love.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || The Book Depository

Excerpt

Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Wednesday, January 23, 1901

My dearest Edward,

I write to you with a grieving heart. My emotions are so a-jumble at this moment I can barely stop my hand from trembling long enough to put pen to paper. As all of London wakes to the sad news, you too must by now be aware that Victoria, Queen by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India—my mother—has passed from this life. Last night I stood at her bedside along with my surviving sisters and brothers, the many grandchildren, and those most favored among her court. We bid our final good-byes, and she drifted away. Among us was the devoted Colonel the Lord Edward Pelham-Clinton, who delivers this letter and accompanying documents, by hand, into your possession.

The doctors say it was a cerebral hemorrhage, not uncommon for a woman in her 80’s, but I believe she was just tired and ready to rest after reigning these tumultuous sixty-four years, many of them without her beloved Prince Consort, Albert, my father, who died before you were born.

She was not a physically affectionate mother, demanded far more than she ever gave, often drove me to anger and tears, and very nearly destroyed my life…more than once. Yet I did, in my own way, love her.

The enclosed manuscript is my means for setting straight in my own mind the alarming events of several critical years in my life. But more than that, it will bring to you, although belatedly—and for that I apologize—the truth. Your mother, my dearest friend, wished to tell you of these matters long ago. Indeed, it was she who compiled most of the information herein, using her rare skills as an observer of human nature and, later in life, as a gifted investigative journalist. I have filled in the few facts she was unable to uncover on her own. For selfish reasons I begged her to keep our secrets a while longer…and a while longer. Then she too departed from this world for a better one, leaving no one to press me to reveal these most shameful deeds. Indeed, Edward dear, I would not even now strip bare the deceptions played out in my lifetime, had they not so intimately involved you.

Do these words shock you? If so, then you had best burn these pages and live the rest of your life in ignorance. But as I remember, you were a curious lad, and so I expect you will read on. However, before you go further, I must ask of you a solemn favor. What I am about to reveal is for your knowledge alone, that you might better understand both the gifts and the sins passed along to you. To share this account with others would cause scandal so damaging that our government would surely topple. Therefore, I implore you to choose—either destroy the enclosed manuscript this instant without reading it, or do the same after reading in private.

Regardless of your decision, I pray you will ever think of me as your devoted godmother and friend, and not hate me for the things I have done to protect you or, on my own behalf, simply to survive.
Be assured of my love,

Princess Louise, duchess of Argyll

About the Author

Mary Hart Perry lives in Maryland with her husband and two feline writing partners: Miranda and Tempest. She teaches at The Writer’s Center in Washington, DC and is an inspiring speaker for international and regional organizations interested in the joys of history and fiction writing. She is an advocate for teen and adult literacy. You can reach her at Mary@MaryHartPerry.com. She invites you to “like” her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @Mary_Hart_Perry.

Giveaway Time

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Follow the Tour!

6/4Reviewing Shelf /Review
6/6Romance Book Junkies /Bio, Synopsis, Excerpt
6/8 Wonderland Reviews /Review and Give Away
6/11 Bibliophilia, Please /Review and Give Away
6/15 My Secret Romance /Interview
6/15 Window on the World /Review
6/18Adventures of Frugal Mom /Review
6/18 Reading Between the Wines /Excerpt
6/19 Red Headed Bookworm /Review and Give Away
6/25 ¡Miraculous! /Review and Give Away
6/27BookSpark /Review and Give Away
6/27 Minding Spot /Review and Give Away
7/3 Ramblings of an Amateur Writer /Excerpt and Giveaway
7/3 Ramblings From This Chick /Excerpt
7/5 A Date with A Book /Interview and Give Away
7/9 Reviews By Molly /Review
7/11 A Chick Who Reads /Review
7/13 Bunnys Review /Review and Give Away
7/16 Jeanz Book Read N Review /Interview
7/18 Reader Girls /Excerpt
7/20 Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf /Excerpt
7/23 Always a Booklover /Review
7/25 Turning The Pages /Review
7/27Lissette E. Manning /Review
7/30 The Lucky Ladybug /Excerpt

THE RELEASE DAY ALL REVIEWS BLITZ!!!

Simply Ali
My Cozie Corner
Understanding Shae’s Story
Sapphyria’s Book Reviews
A Date with A Book
Acting Balanced
Book Lovin’ Mamas
The Lucky Ladybug