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By Beverley Eikli
Watching my latest release, The Reluctant Bride, find its way in the crowded but exciting world of Regency romance books has been fascinating. When it climbed to #2 for a few days meant I’d achieved one of the New Years’ Resolutions I’d made in 2012 – as did my recent book launch. (It’s still within the top one-hundred in ‘best-sellers’ so I’m crossing fingers it’ll still be there by year’s end.
All in all, it’s been a great year with some wonderful things happening on the book front – for both my Beverley Eikli and Beverley Oakley books – as well as on the home front.
Now I’m really looking forward to the release next March of The Maid of Milan – another story in which a ‘fallen’ heroine claws her way back towards redemption. It’s funny how a theme can be similar once you really analyse it, yet the stories are so different.
I’ve always found The Reluctant Bride a difficult one to put into the classic high concept of 25 words or less. There are so many levels to it – romance, espionage, intrigue and adventure. It was such fun to write and I totally fell in love with my hero.
Happily, many readers have endorsed my crush on Angus, who has many of the characteristics of my real life hero of 20 years.
So without further ado, here’s the blurb:
THE RELUCTANT BRIDE
Emily Micklen is proud, passionate – and left with no option after the death of her loving fiancé, Jack, but to marry the scarred, taciturn, soldier who needs to secure a well-connected wife.
Major Angus McCartney hopes that marriage to the unobtainable beauty whose confident gaze about the ballroom once failed to register his presence will offer both of them a chance to put the past to rest.
Emily’s determination to be faithful to Jack’s memory is matched only by Angus’s desire to win her with honour and action. Sent to France on a mission of national security, Angus discovers how deeply Emily has been duped, but the secrets he uncovers lead them both into danger. Can Angus and Emily unmask the real conspirators before they lose everything?
AND HERE’S AN EXTRACT:
In this scene Angus has just proposed to Emily his plan of inviting Emily’s father to visit. She’s recovering from a traumatic episode and loss, and is in bed, and Angus is trying to lift her spirits.
‘If you think he’ll forgive me you know nothing of my father!’ She jerked forward in the bed. ‘Reconciliation is not possible!’
Instead of declaring roundly, as Jack might have done, that he’d make sure it all came to pass, Angus took a while to gather his thoughts. ‘You are respectably married,’ he said slowly. ‘The child will be born legitimate. You’ve brought no shame upon your family. Restoring ties between you and your father is important.’
‘No, you don’t understand.’ She was close to tears as she gripped his hands which were suddenly clasping hers. ‘Papa is vengeful. I sinned. If he could find another way to compound my suffering, my shame, he’d do it.’
Angus hunkered down to take her in his arms and as she was squeezed gently but firmly she felt a strange sensation in the pit of her stomach. Not the movement of the baby and something that was quite definitely more than just gratitude for his concern.
‘You belong to me now, not your father,’ he soothed.
With her ear pressed against his bare chest once again, Emily could hear the strong staccato beat of his heart. The strength of his arms around her was strangely comforting, for indeed the domineering spectre of Bartholomew Micklen did seem diluted.
Gently he lay her back down on the pillow and for a long moment she stared at him as if he were not the husband forced upon her whom she despised.
Still, it was important Angus understand. She clasped her hands and pleaded, ‘Don’t petition my father for forgiveness. It will only give him another focus for his dissatisfaction with me.’ She turned her head away.
‘Then I want to be the means by which you are reconciled. I can do that, Emily.’
She sucked in a quavering breath. ‘I don’t know why you’re so concerned that I mend ties with my father. It’s not as if I came with a dowry dependent upon his goodwill.’
Almost viciously she added, ‘And it’s not as if you married for love.’
In the lengthening silence she regretted her words, but it was too late. Miserably she stared at the wall.
Angus stroked her hands which plucked at the bedcovers. Then, leaning over her, he kissed her brow, his murmured words filling her with immediate warmth only to be swept away by fear of her own failings. ‘My dear Emily, I married where I thought I might find it.’
END OF EXTRACT
- Beverley won the Choc Lit Search for an Australian Star competition with The Reluctant Bride
- Shortlisted for the 2012 Australian Romance Readers Award for her novel Rake’s Honour
- Finalist in the 2011 Australian Romance Readers Awards for her novel A Little Deception.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and that at least 85% of your New Year’s Resolutions come true. I just found the list I made last year and I reckon I managed about 85%, which thrilled me. I’m working on a 12-item list for next year, now.
And now for that give-away, which is a copy of Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly… I’d like to hear what attributes you like most in a hero. Just list a couple of them in the comments section and then at the end of the party I’ll select a winner, in addition to the overall TRS winner.
BLURB OF LADY FARQUHAR’S BUTTERFLY
Falsely branded an adulteress and stripped of her child by her vengeful late husband, Olivia is desperate to escape her grim past. But when her charade to reclaim her son results in a deep and unexpected love with her son’s kind and charming guardian, Max, Olivia fears that blackmail, revenge and possibly murder will continue to stalk her.
LINKS FOR THE RELUCTANT BRIDE
I hope you’re all enjoying the party. Here in Australia the weather has suddenly gone from extremely hot with bush fire warnings all over the place to cold and rainy. I’m enjoying my lazy Sunday morning drinking tea and watching the rain lashing the swimming pool.
I’m sure you all recognise that some of your favourite authors have their own favourite themes and certainly one of my favourite themes is deception followed by redemption. I love adding lashings of intrigue to my romances and having a character embark upon a deception for one pure motive only to find things gets complicated and she must, against her will, embark upon a quest that will result in her redemption. There’s always a roller-coaster ending with lots of danger and I like it when reviewers tell me they couldn’t put the second half of the book down.
So that’s how it seems to be. I like to set the scene with the suspense gradually building until it all becomes a mad race in the second half.
Lady Sarah’s Redemption, which is on sale at Amazon for only 99c, is about a spoiled heiress who takes on the identity of a drowned governess in order to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her to her best friend and neighboring landowner, James.
It pits a feisty, determined and decidedly spoiled society beauty (who’s in the guise of a dowdy governess) against a moral, upright Member of Parliament whose aim is to redress the ills of society. My heroine, Sarah, has no concept that there is anything wrong with society in 1818, when all she’s interested in is clothes and having fun.
Her beloved father is on the opposing side of parliament and as she finds herself drawn to her severe but enigmatic ‘employer’, Roland Hawthorne, she’s shocked to learn that her father and Roland once fought a duel over their political beliefs.
Surprisingly, Sarah finds herself forming a bond with Roland’s teenage daughter, Caro, her new charge. She sets about changing the plain and prickly young girl and in the process both young women discover there are half measures in their firmly held attitudes on life.
When Caro is kidnapped – and the mystery of the ‘dead’ governess comes back to haunt them all – Sarah finds that her actions have plunged them all in danger. Now she must embark upon a race against time to redeem herself and prove to Roland that she is worth loving after all.
Here’s a tiny excerpt, just to get an idea of some of the characters:
The following occurs during a tense dinner when Sarah, the spoiled heiress, is still parading as the lowly governess.
Mrs Hawthorne snapped her head around and looked at Sarah as if she had suggested they open their doors to the starving masses, and serve them, personally. “I do not believe, Miss Morecroft,” she said in clipped tones, “that your opinion was solicited.”
This had the opposite effect of dampening Sarah’s defence. “I deplore injustice as strongly as you,” she bit back. “Caro said nothing to warrant her father’s criticism. It was unjust to accuse her of selfishness when she is naturally excited about her ball tomorrow night.”
“Injustice!” Mrs. Hawthorne cried. “You accuse my brother-in-law of injustice when I can think of no other man who has expended more time and energy fighting for the rights of the working man. With an agitated hand she repositioned her vermilion toque which was favouring one ear, and nearly dislodged the squirrel’s tail hair piece. For once, Sarah was in no danger of succumbing to unwise giggles. Caro had started to cry. Though no tears came Sarah could see the trembling of her thin, white muslin-clad shoulders. She turned to Mr Hawthorne. Surely he knew he was in the wrong?
He was staring at the silver epergne centre piece, clearly resolved to have no part of the argument. Anger seared through her.
“How dare you answer back to your betters!” cried Mrs Hawthorne. “Leave the table at once, Miss Morecroft.”
With a cold, hard stare at her employers, Sarah rose. “I am sorry if the truth offends you,” she said with quiet dignity. Passing close to the back of Mr Hawthorne’s chair as she made her regal exit she hoped he could feel her anger.
He had been vastly unjust. Surely he must realize it.
Then she heard his voice, music to her ears, despite its arctic tone. “Wait for me in my study, Miss Morecroft. I will see you there when I’ve finished my dinner.”
I hope you’re all having fun. I hope I see some of you at the RT convention in Kansas City, too. I’m jetting from Australia to attend my first and will be there as an Ellora’s Cave author, a Total-e-Bound author and a Choc-Lit author. I can’t wait!
Lady Sarah’s Redemption is on sale for only 99c at Amazon.
And you can read more about my other Historical Romance Intrigues and my Sinful Historicals on my website.
Here is the beautiful cover for my September release, The Reluctant Bride,
written under my Beverley Eikli name. Last December I had the enormous good fortune and excitement of winning Choc-Lit’s Search for an Australian Star. Since then my publisher has been absolutely wonderful about keeping me in the loop regarding so many aspects of book’s progress towards publication and today I received this absolutely gorgeous cover.
I’ve mentioned a little about it in my previous post (Her Gilded Prison by Beverley Oakley) and I’ll just add a bit more. This story, which is set in 1813, has had a long and interesting life. It won a Romance Writers of Australia competition, was rewritten three times as the plot took on multiple twists and turns.
Finally, the battle between conflicting loyalties of a half French bride and the returning war hero whom she marries in order to keep the child she’s to bear her dead betrothed lover will come to a head in September with its release.
A lot of murky water keeps these two from entirely trusting each other and it’s only a when lives hang in the balance that my bride risks her own to redeem herself in the eyes of the noble man she’s reluctantly grown to love.
If you want to find out more about The Reluctant Bride and my other stories, please drop by and say hello. I love hearing from readers. And thank you so much for staying with me this far.
You can find more by visiting my website at:
I’m very happy to announce that Barbara is the randomly picked winner of my prize, Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly, which is now winging its way to her.
Thank you, Barbara, and everyone else who dropped by with wonderful comments.
It was a lovely festive atmosphere and I thoroughly enjoyed the party!
All the best,
Beverley Eikli / Beverley Oakley