Monday, 30 May 2011
A legend spanning time and the man and woman caught in it.
Caroline knows something is wrong the instant she steps from her holiday cottage into that unusual gazebo with two doors. But when a man she knows she will never see again appears outside the gazebo, she flings caution aside and plunges through the back door, crashing into the man--and 1817.
A voyage through time? Impossible. Richard refuses to believe the strange woman's outlandish tale. Still, the lady is lost and alone, and he helps the stranded wayfarer.
But as attraction flares between these two lonely people, Richard's family legend grinds to its ultimate fulfillment--will it bring them together, or tear them apart forever?
Caroline followed him into the room she knew was the kitchen and he stepped up to the banked fire.
Fire? Where were the stove and refrigerator? And all the chrome and stainless steel of the ultramodern kitchen she had seen only this morning? This kitchen contained a scarred wood trestle table with several chairs pushed under it. Pots and pans hung on wall racks and reflected the dim firelight. A cupboard stood against the far wall, next to a sink with a pump. A pump?
With shaking hands, she set the lantern on the table and pulled out one of the chairs. She was in trouble, very deep trouble.
As she sank into the chair, she turned her stunned attention to her host.
Unaware of her gaze, he busied himself at the fireplace. His back to her, he placed the candelabrum on the mantle above the hearth, then drew the fire screen to the side of the grate. Dropping onto his haunches, he pulled several logs from the nearby basket, then arranged the wood in a neat pile on the smoldering embers. Almost at once, the flames blazed to full roaring life.
Silhouetted against the light, he straightened, replaced the screen, then removed his hat and tossed it on the table.
Her jaw dropped. Good heavens, the aggravating man was gorgeous. Tall and slim, his broad shoulders tapered to narrow hips and long legs. But where had he found that outlandish outfit? He wore a top hat, out here in the middle of nowhere. His shirt collar was turned up and he wore a huge white tie. And his waist-length, double-breasted jacket had tails, like the one an orchestra conductor wore. Muddy black boots with the tops turned down came up to his knees. Skintight trousers, or were those breeches--of all things?--emphasized every well-formed muscle.
Now if his face matched his form . . .
What was she thinking? She hadn't felt anything for any man in a long time. Not since . . .
He turned, and for the first time that night she fully took in his face. She gasped. Had she seen a ghost through the gazebo's back door? "Richard?"
Puzzlement spread over those chiseled features she now saw only in her memories. "How do you know my name?"
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!
I'm Linda Banche, and I write witty, sweet/sensual Regency romances with nary a rake or royal in sight. Most contain humor, some fantasy, and occasionally a little paranormal. But comedy is my love, and I've created my own wacky blend of humor and Regency with stories that can elicit reactions from a gentle smile to a belly laugh.
Like many other romance authors, I read romances for years before I wrote my own. Once I tried, I quickly discovered how difficult writing is. Did I stop? No, I'm persistent--that's French for "too stupid to quit".
I live in New England and like aerobics and ducks.
So, laugh along with me on a voyage back to the Regency era. Me and my ducks. Quack.
I have four Regency novellas, all from The Wild Rose Press. LADY OF THE STARS (time travel, finalist in Science Fiction Romance in the 2010 EPIC eBook Contest), PUMPKINNAPPER (finalist in the 2011 EPIC Contest in the Historical Romance category. I'm two for two now. I've entered the EPIC contest twice, and I've finaled twice.), MISTLETOE EVERYWHERE (Christmas), and my latest, GIFTS GONE ASTRAY (available June 29, 2011).
Thank you all,
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!
Monday, 23 May 2011
Stallions are the embodiment of virility and power…and the regency was dripping with them. The Regency world ran on horse power, from high perch phaetons to farm wagons…and just like today’s sports cars, the quality of your engine spoke volume about the person.
What tonnish miss’s heart wouldn’t be set a flutter to see a handsome rogue pull up outside her address in a crest-emblazoned barouche, with coachman and liveried footman. From matched bays to high stepping hackneys the expense of keeping such an equipage was stunning… a definite aphrodisiac. Such conspicuous wealth was not so much equivalent to a Porsche or Lamborghini but to owning a private helicopter with a personal pilot on constant standby. But then again, any self respecting heroine would see through such shallow materialistic values to the man beneath.
From hours in the stallion’s saddle our hero would have finely toned thighs. Chances our she’d get a good appreciation of this and other assets within his skin tight ‘inexpressibles’, showing every contour and plane that left little to the imagination.
And if our heroine is strong minded enough to resist a splendid physique, perhaps the skill of controlling a powerful beast between seat and heel would give her pause for thought. The power of mind over body, of man over horseflesh, of the beast between his thighs might have made her stays feel uncomfortably tight… There’s definitely something about men and horses…what do you find attractive in a man? Do please comment below.
‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ by Grace Elliot.
Celeste Armitage has a plan…and that plan doesn’t include marriage.
After deliberately humiliating a suitor, Celeste’s despairing parents exile her to the country. But once there she discovers a sketch book of daring nude studies and is shaken to find the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she despises most…if only her blood didn’t heat at the thought of him…
Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf’s life is a façade. Only he can save the Charing’s from disgrace as a blackmailer seeks to ruin his late brother’s reputation. But just as Ranulf dares to open his heart to Celeste, the fury of his nemesis is unleashed… facing him with the stark choice between true love and family duty. However when Celeste guesses the truth behind his rejection, Ranulf underestimates her resolve to clear his name and in so doing places the woman he loves in mortal danger….
Excerpt from ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’.
[Lord Ranulf Charing receives an urgent summons.]
…an Arab stallion danced in circles round the stable lad. Granite clouds towered in a brooding sky. A yard door slammed and the wild eyed stallion reared, dragging the lad off his feet. Then a down draught tugged the horse’s flowing silver-white mane and tail, as with flared nostrils he backed across the yard, hooves like flints, striking sparks from the cobbles. The boy clung to the reins, more fearful of letting such a valuable horse bolt than of being trampled. The grey plunged heaven wards, a silvery ghost against a charcoal sky, then struck the ground, the massive muscles of his rump bunching to rear again just as a dark figure rounded the corner and entered the yard.
“Sir have a care, your horse….” The shouted warning was stolen by the wind.
Lord Ranulf Charing grunted, reaching out a hand to gentle the plunging beast. As if he’d cast a spell, the horse calmed and with a snicker rubbed his velveteen nose against his master’s coat to exhibit an understanding between man and horse that eluded Ranulf amongst his own kind.
At the age of thirty, tall and of muscular build; Lord Ranulf Charing was a man not given to suffering fools; his expression a habitual frown, with wide unreadable lips and brown eyes so dark as to be almost black. The impression of the young Lord being part devil and part shadow was heightened by his dress which was entirely black; from neckcloth and lawn shirt, to riding breeches and kerysmere outer coat. In short, Lord Ranulf Charing was in mourning and it suited him.
‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is available from most eBook stores including Amazon, Fictionwise and Smashwords.
US Amazon link:
To find out more visit: http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com/
Monday, 16 May 2011
From Chapter 15: A Muddy field near Harrisburg.
“Ma! Miz Vining!” Davy called. “It’s the Army! They’re coming, just along the road there. General Sam and all! The Army is coming!”
“Oh, my God – a prayer answered,” Margaret breathed, but Maggie’s expression remained bleak. Others of the families encamped in that muddy meadow began to gather as they heard the sounds of marching feet and men’s voices raised in the notes of a ribald song, borne on the morning air.
There was a party of mounted men, first – with General Houston among them, on a brave white horse. His face was set with determination, and he looked neither right nor left. The men following were at first hidden by trees around the turn in the road, but the sound of their voices and brisk but uneven marching filled the morning. The song – which truly was rather rude – died abruptly away as the first marchers saw the women and children watching by the roadside. A slight rustle of consternation rippled through the ranks. Margaret searched for her husband among the horsemen, looked for the elegant black shape of Bucephalus, but did not see either of them.
“There are so many more!” Maggie exclaimed, standing beside her. Roused by the noise of the marching men, and by Davy’s calls, other refugees were joining them at the side of the road, women looking frantically at each face among the marching ranks, searching for a dear face, familiar garments among the motley throng, or holding up their smaller children. There wasn’t a uniform among them that Margaret could see, other than a small cluster of men in grey and others in blue coats – coats with darker patches upon them where shapes picked out in gold braid had been torn off. Most wore plain coats, or round jackets; the men whom she recognized mostly had fringed hunting coats. Every man bore a rifle or a musket, on a sling over their shoulders, though – and all at very nearly the same angle. The general’s drillmasters must have been at it night and day, for weeks.
“Dragon’s teeth,” Margaret said, teased by a faint memory of a tale that Opa Heinrich had told her once, long ago. Maggie looked at her in surprise. “Dragon’s teeth. When the dragon’s teeth were sown, as we sow corn – the teeth become fully armed fighters, springing up from the furrows. Such were sown, all across our lands, and now here they are!”
The children were cheering, crying excitedly when they saw a familiar face, the face of brothers, uncles and fathers; Mrs. Burnett, with her gray hair straggling down her shoulders, came running from her wagon, hastily rolling it into a bun as she ran.
“William!” she called, “William Burnett – where are you!”
“I’m here, Liddy!” an older man called to her from middle of the ranks of marching men, men who were so much younger it wrung Margaret’s heart. “Stay with the girls, Liddy!” Mrs. Barnett darted into the crush and threw her arms around him, snatching a kiss and a brief embrace, before his company marched on. Many faces were familiar to Margaret – neighbors and friends of her husbands’, faces which she recognized from last fall when the militia volunteers had come to Gonzales in defense of their little cannon – men from Mina, from Bexar, from Beeson’s Crossing, the two soldier-volunteers who had brought them meat and firewood on that first day of this long march east, the flaming red hair and pale freckled face of Harry Karnes, but they were a mere scattering among the larger number of strangers. One by one, with their limbers following, came the two cannon that Margaret had seen in the camp at Groce’s Crossing, drawn each by several teams of horses straining at their harnesses to draw the heavy gun-carriages through the mud and ruts of the
“Where have they all come from?” Pru marveled, holding up Sarah’s baby, “Darlin’ little girl, now you can say you saw the Army of Texas on the march!”
“Where are you going?” Margaret called to them, hardly expecting an answer, but several passing close by answered in chorus, amid jovial laughter.
“To fight Santy-Anna, ma-am! Word is that he has gone up the river looking for us!” “We ain’t but a days march away from him, ma’am!” “Oh, but we aim to surprise him, for sure!” “Aim is right, ma’am, aim is right!”
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Davy Darst shrugging into his jacket, running at a purposeful jog, his musket and haversack and a rolled blanket slung over his shoulders.
Maggie saw him too, and cried, “David Darst – where do you think you’re going?”
“With the Army, Ma!” he answered, hastily embracing her. “’Bye, Ma!”
“You come right back here, David Darst!” Maggie shouted after him, but he had already run into the mass of men and boys, falling into a place in the march. He waved at them once, cheerfully. Then he was gone, lost in the ranks and leaving Maggie distraught and furious, and Margaret feeling as if she had seen this many times and would see it again. “Come with me,” Maggie commanded. “We must fetch him back, at once!”
“I think not,” Margaret answered slowly. “I believe he will be in a better and safer place with his fellows than he will be with us. If the Mexican Army comes upon us, with our tents and wagons, and Mama and Sarah’s babe – then all they will find will be women and little children. He is a boy of near to fighting age. With that musket – they will assuredly execute him as a rebel.”
“But you heard what they said – they are going to turn and fight now!” Maggie was still distraught. Margaret looked after the last of the Army, a handful of horsemen ranging this way and that. None of them were Race, and she sighed a little in disappointment.
“So they are,” she answered, with an assurance that she did not in truth feel. “But I have a better feeling in trusting General Houston with the lives of our own. He will not fail us, Maggie – or our men. I am confident of it.”
Celia Hayes Author: Daughter of Texas & The Adelsverein Trilogy
Monday, 9 May 2011
The Vital Principle
A Second Sons Inquiry Agency Mystery
On sale for $.99
Back Cover Blurb
In 1815, Knighton Gaunt, an inquiry agent, is asked by Lord Crowley to attend a séance with the express purpose of revealing the spiritualist as a fraud. When the séance ends abruptly and Lord Crowley is found dead, Gaunt is left to investigate not only fraud, but murder. Suspicion turns first to the spiritualist, Miss Prudence Barnard, an outsider in the tightly-knit group of friends. As Gaunt digs deeper into the twisted history of the guests, he discovers layers of deadly secrets. Inevitably, long-time friends turn against one another as the tension mounts, and Gaunt is challenged to separate fact from fiction.
In this scene, inquiry agent Knight Gaunt is questioning Miss Prudence Barnard, a spiritualist he was hired to expose as a fraud. While he doesn’t quite believe she murdered their host, he’s not entirely sure she didn’t, either, and she’s not making it easy for him.
“May came from the right, however. Past the dowager and Lord Crowley.”
“Question her, then.”
“Rest assured, I will. And the others came around the table from that direction, as well.” He glanced at her again, remembering the details. “You assisted the dowager, didn’t you?”
“I don’t remember precisely, but I supposed I might have.”
“She was standing a yard or so away from the table. And you stood in front of her with your back to the table?”
Her expression tightened. “Then you do remember. Although I'm sure you believe I was close enough to Lord Crowley to pour a few drops of Prussic acid into his brandy. That is what you’re insinuating, isn't it?”
While her accusation was true, he couldn't actually picture her doing that. He had closely observed her the previous evening, waiting for her to try some trick. If she had approached Crowley’s snifter that closely, he ought to remember it.
“If you wish to admit—”
“I do not.”
He nodded. It would have been extremely difficult for her to carry around a bottle of Prussic acid without either pockets or a reticule.
Of course, he intended to verify the lack of pockets or reticule with Miss Barnard’s maid and the other lady guests. One of them may have noticed.
“If you’d just ask the dowager—” She stopped and then added hastily, “But don’t bother her now. She’s not well. It’s been very difficult with first her husband dying and now her son….” She ended awkwardly and glanced away, turning to focus on the sewing basket and magazine. Then her gaze flashed to his. He could see a sudden memory leap into her mind as her expression changed.
“What is it?” he asked.
“I was wrong.” Her dark brows scrunched briefly. “I—”
She shook her head.
“What did you remember? There’s no point in holding back. Ultimately, I’ll discover the truth.”
This earned a small, tight smile. “You’re frightfully conceited.”
“Yes.” A smile twisted his mouth. “Now what did you remember?”
“I—it’s probably nothing.”
“Will you stop equivocating? If it’s something odd, I can assure you there were enough people in the room to help confirm it. There’s no point in being coy.”
“Is that what I’m being? Coy? How unusual.” She certainly had a talent for sweetly stated sarcasm.
“I’ll hold whatever you tell me in confidence. I’m reputed to be a reasonably fair man.”
“As long as women aren’t involved. And it conforms to your idea of the truth.”
“Undoubtedly.” He held her gaze.
She flushed and pushed at the magazine on the table with her fingertips. “I’m sorry. That was rude of me. You do rather have a reputation, however, for distrusting women. Although I’m sure you must have an excellent reason.”
“I assure you, I don’t dislike women.”
“As long as they stay comfortably in their place? And aren’t charlatans? We mustn’t forget how important absolute honesty is.”
“As long as you answer my questions truthfully, I’m completely impartial.”
Available: Kindle and other e-book markets
A Brief Bio
Amy Corwin is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and recently joined Mystery Writers of America. She has been writing for the last ten years and managing a career as an enterprise systems administrator in the computer industry. Her books include Regencies/historicals, mysteries, and contemporary paranormals. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way to make the remaining ones toe the plot line.
Amy’s books include the two Regency romances, SMUGGLED ROSE, and LOVE, THE CRITIC; three Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN, THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER, and THE NECKLACE; and her first paranormal, VAMPIRE PROTECTOR.
Join her and discover that every good mystery has a touch of romance.
Monday, 2 May 2011
Here's an excerpt:
Sosigenes’ dead face stared up at them, its lines fixed in a grimace of pain and bewilderment. A fly landed unhindered on the old man’s open left eye. Disconcerted, Diokles nudged the body with his foot and it rolled over.
‘Oh!‘ Helike covered her mouth with her hand and backed away. Out of the farmer's neck, close to the base of the skull, a short length of metal stuck out. Diokles knelt, reached out his hand and drew the metal out slowly, a fine punch used by a sculptor or mason for delicate work. Its thin iron blade had been driven violently upwards, deep into Sosigenes' brain.
Diokles wiped the punch distractedly on a tuft of grass and weeds, but could think of nothing to do with it afterwards and Hipponikos took it gently from his fingers. The potter stuck it in his belt, shook his head and breathed deeply. 'May the Furies hunt the man who did this to the end of his days.'
’They will,’ Helike said, grim-faced. ’Oh, they will!’ Pulling distractedly at her copper hair, she turned away from the scene and strode for home.
They were alone now in the alley. Hipponikos bent his knees and peered down. On the old man's tongue lay an obol, the small coin traditionally placed there as payment for the spirit's boat journey over the River Styx.
'That,’ said Diokles, ‘was put there by whoever killed him, who certainly kept a cool head. If it had been Sosigenes' small change, it would have been safely under his tongue, not on top. You know how these country people are.' He looked up at Hipponikos. 'Whoever killed Sosigenes must have been cold to do such a thing and then wait afterwards to pay the ferryman.'
Hipponikos ran a massive hand across his forehead, then wiped the sweat from it onto a tunic red with clay-dust. 'Helike, where was Sosigenes staying?'
'With his wife’s daughter, Myrrhine. Married to Simon the baker.‘ Helike suddenly clapped a hand over her mouth, her eyes wide. ’His wife - what am I thinking of? Someone must tell Themisto!'
Hipponikos started back to the shop. 'You guard the body, Diokles. I'll send Skylax. Taking a message is one of the things he’s good at.’
Diokles picked Sosigenes’ cap out of a corner and laid it over the old man's empty, staring eyes.
A Pig in the Roses is published by Smashwords. Buy links, review and more excerpts can be found on my blog: http://www.peteralanorchard.net/2010/01/pig-in-roses.html
My Smashwords page includes The House on Athene Street, an ancient Greece adventure for children and Voices from the Past, a collection of short (mostly very short) stories.
The Greek inscription around the edge of the sixth-century BC engraved stone from Athens above reads 'I am the boundary-stone of the Agora', and it plays its own small part in A Pig in the Roses.
STOP PRESS: A Pig in the Roses is a miserly $1.99 this week at Smashwords if you use coupon ST73U (offer ends on June 3).