Saturday, March 18, 2017

Excerpt: THE SCANDALOUS LADY MERCY - The Baxendale Sisters Series Book #5

 
THE SCANDALOUS LADY MERCY - Baxendale Sister Series Book Five. Can be read as a standalone. #1 Regency and Suspense Amazon.Bestseller.
Enjoy an excerpt: AT TWO O’CLOCK the next day, Grant was admitted to the Baxendale’s house in Portman Square. During the night, he’d considered his options. Of course, he knew he must do the right thing, although he was confident that Lord Baxendale would refuse his offer. Grant had no estate or property to recommend him, his only income came from his grandmother who bequeathed him money. His father topped it up now and again if he overspent, but he believed young men needed to manage money and respect it. Too many fell afoul of the gambling hells.
Grant hoped they might come up with some other way to banish the rumors already doing the rounds, judging by the slaps on his back and the chuckles of his friends when he’d eaten at his favorite pub. He’d refused to discuss it, but that hadn’t tamped down speculation. With Lady Fountain spilling fantastical stories, God only knew what would be said in drawing rooms and balls this evening.
The butler showed him into Lord Baxendale’s library where Mercy’s father greeted him with a sober expression. He shook Grant’s hand and indicated a chair with the sweep of his hand. “I’m aware of what took place, Northcliffe. Mercy explained how you came to her aid, for which I express my heartfelt thanks. I am indebted to you. It was foolish of her to wander off alone and, but for you, I hate to think what might have happened to her. An unfortunate business.”
“I feel responsible, my lord, because I had undertaken to squire the ladies for the evening. I should never have left them unattended.”
“Mercy’s mother regrets her role in this…”
“I want to make amends.” Grant sat forward in the tan leather armchair. “I wish to ask for Lady Mercy’s hand. But I must be honest, sir, as things stand right now I have little to offer.”
Lord Baxendale bowed his head and thoughtfully steepled his fingers.
“And it will be some years, God willing, before I am able to,” Grant added, keen to make his position clear.
“Yes, I understand, Northcliffe, however…”
Grant’s shoulders tightened. He sat forward on his chair. “Sir?”
“I don’t see it as a barrier. You have excellent prospects. And my daughter will have a handsome dowry.”
Grant held his breath as his future unraveled before him.
“I don’t see why an engagement cannot be announced immediately,” Baxendale continued with a smile. “Unless, you have some objection?”
Grant cleared his throat. “No, my lord. I consider myself most fortunate.”
“Good, good.” Mercy’s father pulled the bell rope. When a footman appeared, he gave an order for Mercy to come to the library. “A whiskey to celebrate? Or should we wait for champagne at dinner.” Baxendale turned from the drink’s table on which decanters and glasses stood. “I hope you will dine with us?”
“I’d be delighted, thank you. Whiskey will do nicely.” He’d be glad of it. His throat was as tight as a drum. How had this happened? He felt as if he’d hurtled over Gaping Gill Falls in a tub. How could he continue his covert investigation while squiring Lady Mercy to every ball, soirée, theatre party, and dance in town? Not to mention that the parson’s mousetrap was looming, and with a lady not of his choosing, who’d exhibited a tendency to behave in a reckless, thoughtless fashion. He had little enough wish to tie the knot with any lady. And even though he had to admit Mercy was one of the loveliest debutantes out this Season, he did not want to be shackled to a silly girl barely out of the schoolroom with foolish ideas about running some kind of business. It was beyond the pale! Not only would he have to give up his freedom, he suspected she would make his life hell.
And what did Mercy feel about it? he mused. She’d expressed little gratitude for his assistance at Vauxhall. He allowed the smoky liquor Baxendale gave him to slide down his throat, with the hope it would revive him enough to inject some enthusiasm for his situation.
“You wished to see me, Father?”
Lady Mercy slipped into the room and her startled deep blue eyes gazed into Grant’s. Her pale gold hair was pulled neatly into a knot and the morning gown she wore of a pink flowered material with an embroidered white muslin collar at the neck, failed to disguise a pleasing figure and soft curves he’d taken note of the first night they’d met. Creases formed on her smooth brow and she licked her full bottom lip.
Grant quickly crossed his legs, attempting to ignore a flash of lust, annoyed by the turn his thoughts had taken. The lady was clearly not happy to see him.
“How is your ankle today, Lady Mercy?” He hoped she’d forgive him for not rising to greet her.
She gazed at him askance. “Very much better thank you, sir. And thank you for coming to my aid last night. It was kind of you to call. But not necessary. I have written to thank you.”
“Sit down, my dear,” Lord Baxendale said. “I have very good news. Lord Northcliffe has asked for your hand.”
“Oh no!” Looking stricken, Mercy sank onto the cream-and-bronze striped sofa.
Her father scowled. “That is not a graceful reply. I would expect better manners from you, daughter.”
“But Lord Northcliffe cannot mean it,” Mercy said, her voice choked.
Grant felt something from him was required. There was no going back on it now. “But I do mean it, Lady Mercy. I would be greatly honored if you agree to become my wife.”
Mercy merely raised her eyebrows and shook her head.
“Excellent.” Lord Baxendale stood. “I shall leave you two together for a few minutes to settle things between you.” He strode to the door with surprising confidence. It closed behind him with a final click.
A moment’s silence followed.
Grant sat on the sofa beside Mercy. He took her hands in his and cleared his throat. “Lady Mercy, will you do me the honor…”
She pulled her hands away and jumped up. “You are honor bound to do this because I was compromised. It’s too silly. You do not wish to marry me. I shan’t agree.”
Grant glanced up at her suddenly annoyed. Did she find him such a poor prospect? “At this moment, I have less to offer you when compared to your other suitors, but…”
She planted her hands on her hips and scowled fiercely. “You think I am mercenary?”
“We really don’t know each other that well as yet, do we?” he observed raising a single eyebrow. “But given time I trust we will. I’m afraid your father has decided we will marry. The die is cast.”
“Fear not, Lord Northcliffe, I shall find a way out of it.”
“Well, until you do, let us proceed with some civility,” Grant said stiffly, rising to gaze down at her. “Will you accept my proposal?” A quick marriage would be ideal after which she could live with his grandfather and he continue with his investigation.
She pressed her hands together. “Yes. I suppose we must then, for now.”
Hardly an encouraging or flattering reply. Grant forgot for a moment that he had been unfairly ensnared as he gazed down at her. He took her by the shoulders. “I am overcome with joy,” he said impassively and brought his mouth down on hers

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: Aurora's Pride by AnneMarie Brear

***** 5 Stars for me! This story wouldn't let me go!



Amazon:


1898 Yorkshire--Aurora Pettigrew has it all, a loving family, a nice home, a comfortable life. She's waiting for the right man to offer her marriage, and the man for her is Reid Sinclair, heir to the Sinclair fortune and the love of her life. But, Reid's mother, Julia, is against the match and her ruthlessness unearths a family secret that will tear Aurora's world apart.Unwilling to bring shame on her family and needing answers to the allegations brought to light by Reid's mother, Aurora begins a long journey away from home. She leaves behind all that is familiar and safe to enter a world of mean streets and poor working class. Living in the tenements of York, surrounded by people of a class she'd never mixed with before, Aurora struggles to come to terms with the way her life has changed. By chance, she reconnects with a man from her past and before he leaves with the army to war in South Africa, he offers her security through marriage. Aurora knows she should be happy, but the memory of her love for Reid threatens her future. When tragedy strikes, can Aurora find the strength to accept her life and forget the past?

My Review: Brear paints a gritty, but vivid picture of Victorian Yorkshire which held my interest until the end with wonderfully detailed and authentic descriptions of the poorest parts of Yorkshire and the characters who inhabit them. They all seem very real and leap off the page. The protagonist is a young, well born woman, Aurora Pettigrew who is forced to abandon her wealthy family, and becomes determined to find her birth mother. Discovering her is quite a shock. Aurora finds she must develop new skills to survive in the slums. Strong and determined she is constantly tested in a sometimes violent world. I stayed up late finishing this novel. Brear's stories are so unpredictable I couldn't guess the ending. There's a tender love scene, a handsome hero and the minor characters too are exceedingly well drawn. Made me a bit teary at one point, but the ending is heart warming.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Giveaway from BookSweeps! Women Sleuth Mysteries! Win 45 Books and a Kindle Fire!

Live!
I'd like to win this one myself! Have you seen this awesome giveaway from BookSweeps? You can win my book AN IMPROPER EARL, plus books from authors like Denise Grover Swank and P.B. Ryan, and a Kindle Fire. This giveaway ends soon, so make sure you hurry and enter! Good luck!
Join the fun here!

When you’re done, tell me which books you’re most excited to win!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME! A DANGEROUS DECEPTION Book One The Spies of Mayfair

Amazon:

London, 1816. A handsome baron. A faux betrothal. And Horatia's plan to join the London literary set takes a dangerous turn.

Baron Guy Fortescue arrives in England to claim his inheritance, abandoned over thirty years ago when his father fled to France after killing a man in a duel. He is set upon by footpads in London, and on his way to his country estate, robbers attack him again. Guy escapes only to knock himself out on a tree branch.

Aspiring poet, Horatia Cavendish has taken to riding her father's stallion, "The General," around the countryside of Digswell dressed as a groom. When she discovers Guy lying unconscious on the road, the two are forced to take shelter for the night in a hunting lodge.

Someone wants Guy dead. Is it his relative, Eustace Fennimore? He has been ensconced in Rosecroft Hall during the family's exile and will become the heir should Guy die. Guy proposes a faux betrothal to give him more time to discover the truth.

Horatia is determined to keep alive her handsome fiance, who has proven more than willing to play the part of her lover even as he resists her attempts to save him.
Find Book Two and Book Three on Amazon.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Breathless In the Bush: Favourite Aussie Romance Reads of 2016

Breathless In the Bush: Favourite Aussie Romance Reads of 2016: By the Breathless Bloggers So great to have our favourite reads get the thumbs up from Keith Urban (courtesy of giphy.com)! It has...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why I set my spy novels in the Regency era by Maggi Andersen







The Regency era offers so much for a writer to draw on, any number of possibilities for exciting tales of espionage. That brief period in English history came about when King George III, was struck down by porphyria, an illness which rendered him insane. In 1811, his eldest son, George, an aesthete and a spend-thrift, ruled as Regent in his stead, until his father’s death in 1820 when George IV took the throne.

The beau monde, or ton, met during the London Season, which took place during the months when Parliament sat. They danced and flirted, discussing politics and gossip and the latest ondits. The Regency era was a mannered society with strict rules of etiquette. One could be ostracized if seen to break them. Scandal and gossip was rife. Affairs were the norm and many duels were fought over a lady love. 


Young debutantes entered Society during a Season to find a husband. Such marriages were often arranged to provide heirs and preserve the titles and estates of hereditary peers.

While the Victorian era favored the darkly Gothic after Queen Victoria was widowed, Regency London was glamorous, like a glittering, beautiful fan held up to hide unpleasantness.  However, beneath this glossy exterior, crime was endemic; there was no established police force until Sir Robert Peel in 1829 set up the Metropolitan Police Force at Scotland Yard.

Throughout the turbulent years of England’s war with France, the Duke of Wellington’s spies supplied him with vital information and came from all walks of life.
“The French armies have no communications and one army has no knowledge of the position or of the circumstances in which the others are placed, whereas I have knowledge of all that passes on all sides.” – Sir Arthur Wellesley (Esdaile, 2004)

After Napoleon had been imprisoned on Saint Helena at the end of the war, Liverpool’s government struggled to steer England safely through years when the country’s resources were badly depleted. The English countryside could no longer feed the people. Where once the populace could live off the land, new by-laws fenced off the land, and drove them to the towns and cities to work in the grim factories.
The government feared the poison of the French Revolution would seep into English society with a similar bloody result. Plots festered among the disadvantaged, and illegal pamphlets continued to be written. In Yorkshire, the Luddites smashed machinery, the Blanketeers marched on London, there was the ill-fated Cato conspiracy to murder all the cabinet ministers, the Spa Fields Riots, and the Peterloo Massacre, a protest against the Corn Laws, which was so badly handled that a tide of dissent swelled against the government.

The British intelligence came of age in the 19th century when it was developed as a key weapon against French power in both politics and war. One such man was part diplomat and part spy, Charles Stuart de Rothesay, later 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay 1779-1845. He was no ordinary diplomat. He’s been called the first 007.

My series, THE SPIES OF MAYFAIR draws on some of these events which follow after the Napoleonic Wars. Three spies work for the Crown to keep Britain safe. Each with their own story.


Meet my spies and the women who love them:




Review: Horatia, riding in the woods, dressed as a boy, discovers a man knocked out after an attack. She drags him to a cabin to help him. He thinks she's a boy, and she's afraid to reveal herself, though she's attracted to this handsome stranger. They both turn out to be not who the other thinks. Ms. Andersen weaves danger and romance together with realistic characters and an authentic setting. I found this a compelling read.

Baron Guy Fortescue arrives in England to claim his inheritance, abandoned over thirty years ago when his father fled to France after killing a man in a duel. He is set upon by footpads in London, and on his way to his country estate, robbers attack him again. Guy escapes only to knock himself out on a tree branch.

Aspiring poet, Horatia Cavendish has taken to riding her father's stallion, "The General," around the countryside of Digswell dressed as a groom. When she discovers Guy lying unconscious on the road, the two are forced to take shelter for the night in a hunting lodge.

Someone wants Guy dead. Is it his relative, Eustace Fennimore? He has been ensconced in Rosecroft Hall during the family's exile and will become the heir should Guy die. Guy proposes a faux betrothal to give him more time to discover the truth.

Horatia is determined to keep alive her handsome fiance, who has proven more than willing to play the part of her lover even as he resists her attempts to save him.



Review: Another engaging book by Maggi Andersen. Well plotted and enjoyable, with lots of dimensional characters, and a gripping plot which is refreshing for a historical romance.
Highly recommend

John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn, is on an urgent mission to find the killer of his fellow spy. Has the treasonous Frenchman, Count Forney, returned to England to wreak havoc? Or has someone new landed on English shores to stir up rebellion in the Midlands? After visiting the young widow of one of his agents, Strathairn strengthens his resolve never to wed. And most certainly not to Lady Sibella Winborne, with her romantic ideas of love and marriage. Unable to give Sibella up entirely, he has kept her close as a friend. And then weak fool that he is he kissed her...

Lady Sibella Winborne has refused several offers of marriage since her first Season years ago -- when she first set eyes on the handsome Earl of Strathairn. Sibella's many siblings always rush to her aid to discourage an ardent suitor, but not this time. Her elder brother, Chaloner, Marquess of Brandreth, is insisting she marry. Sibella yearns to set up her own household. She is known to be the sensible member of the family. But she doesn't feel at all sensible about Lord Strathairn. If only she could forget that kiss...


Review: Amazon review of A Secret Affair “A wonderful, wonderful book! The H and h both had had problems in the past to overcome but neither played the victim. There was a mystery, murders, espionage and romance. The ending was sublime! I plan to look for other books by this author.”

A widow resigned to her fate... When Lady Althea Brookwood comes up against a dangerous foe, she is forced to marry a man of influence. But her former life with her cruel husband has made her distrust men. She will grace her husband's drawing room and his bedchamber, but her heart will remain uninvolved.

Leaving his sad past behind in Ireland ... Irishman, Flynn, Viscount Montsimon has become a renowned diplomat and close confidant of the Prince Regent. A handsome rake many women of the ton wish to take to their beds, Flynn treats women lightly. Until he meets a lady who seems impervious to his charms. She appears to want to get to the heart of who he is. But what does she really want?

Embroiled in a dangerous game of intrigue ... Flynn cannot afford to lose his focus, for there is not just his heart at stake...

Cheers,

Maggi

Twitter: @maggiandersen

 SOURCE: Franklin, Robert. Private & Secret: The Clandestine Activities of a Nineteenth Century Diplomat. Book Guild, 2005.
Other books of interest:
Deacon, R. (1970). A history of the British secret service. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.
McGrigor, M. (2005). Wellington’s Spies. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books Ltd.