Released on January 24th, the audiobook of Devil in Her Dreams by Jane Charles.
Devlin Barrett was never meant to be Viscount Marston, but when his older brother and father die within a day of each other, Devlin not only inherits the title, but three younger sisters, all of marriageable age, and must retire from his former profession. He is unprepared for the responsibility thrust upon his shoulders and determines the best way to care for his sisters, and see that they are happy is to marry them off quickly as possible. He knows what is better for them, even if they don’t agree. And until they are settled, his life, and future, is on hold. Unfortunately, the lady he wishes to make his wife, refuses to wait until he is free.
Louisa Whitton needs to find a husband of her own choosing before Christmas, and is left with only three months to accomplish her goal. She failed to land one during the Season and the little season is her last hope. While visiting her sister in the country before returning to
London she meets the
perfect gentleman, thus foiling the plans her grandfather has of her wedding a
man of his choice, and probably a vicar like her father. However, Marston refuses to even think about
courting her until his sisters are wed and has the audacity to ask her to wait. Louisa knows her grandfather will never agree
to a long courtship and sets out to find the perfect substitute for Marston
during the first week of the little season.
Available at Audible
Miss Valera Bell excerpt by Samantha Grace
Miss Valera Bell excerpt by Samantha Grace
Valera Bell touched the heart pendant hanging around her neck and silently repeated the gypsy’s words. This necklace shall lead to the heart of a duke.
Her stomach fluttered. Well, she was about to put the gypsy’s prophecy to the test. That is, if the Duke of Langley exited the card room before her sister realized she was missing from the ball.
A creak outside the dark sitting room where Valera was hiding sent her scrambling to check the corridor. No one was there, yet again.
“This is madness,” she grumbled and sank against the wall. The duke could be in there all night.
She was tempted to abandon her post and scurry back to her place among the wallflowers, but the memory of her older sister’s cutting remark about Papa having wasted money on her coming out made her fingers tighten on the locket.
Valera wasn’t the prettiest debutante. Nor did she have the largest dowry. Her family wasn’t even among the most influential in England. But she had something better.
She had magic.
And she was going to need it if she planned to marry the most sought-after bachelor in Town and make her Papa proud. She nibbled her bottom lip and prayed Elle had given the locket—and her blessing to pursue her former betrothed—to the right friend.
The muffled noises from the card room grew louder for a moment, as if someone opened the door, then quieted again. Valera shifted her weight to peek through the crack between door and jamb. Two men were headed in her direction. They passed through a pool of light from the wall sconces and her legs began to shake.
It was Langley. His dark curls created a halo with the light behind him, and his face became lost in shadow.
A wave of nausea swept through her as she realized what she needed to do to gain his attention. She took a deep breath and grabbed the door handle with trembling fingers. God helps those who help themselves. Jerking the door open, she flew into his path and braced for impact.
The duke collided with her, but instead of warm arms wrapping around her to save her from a fall as she’d anticipated, she stumbled back and landed on her bum with an undignified “Ooff!”
“Miss Bell!” An alarmed voice barely penetrated the rattling in her ears. “Look what you have done, Langley.”
“What I have done? The chit ran into me.”
And the duke hadn’t even tried to save her. This did not bode well for the start of a courtship.
His companion knelt in front of her, his thick brows drawn together.
“Lord Ravenswood,” she said on a breath. Elle’s brother, Alex. Thank heavens for a familiar face. She practically melted into the carpet gazing up into that handsome face so close to hers. It had been a few years since they had spoken, but Valera had been watching him from afar this Season.
“Have you been injured, Miss Bell?” Alex’s blue eyes lit with brotherly concern as his large hands closed around her upper arms.
A current shot through her where he touched her, leaving her more rattled than the fall. “N-no, my lord. I do not believe so anyway.”
Langley watched the exchange with a dispassionate stare. “The girl is unharmed. Let’s continue to the ballroom.”
The tingles dancing along her skin faded and her heart dropped. Could His Grace not spare a moment to pretend concern for her?
Ignoring the duke, Alex gently helped her stand then readjusted the headpiece knocked loose in the fall. It flopped against her ear again. A slow smile spread across full lips and chased away the chill of Langley’s dismissal. “Perhaps you’ll want to visit the retiring room before returning to the ball.”
Langley raised an imperious brow and leaned to peer inside the dark room. “What were you doing in there, girl?” His piercing stare made her palms moist.
She picked at her gloves. The duke had made her a little uneasy the few times she had been in his presence, but she thought everything would be different since she was in possession of the locket and destined to become his bride. “Uh… I thought it was the withdrawing room?”
“Is that a question?” The duke’s voice snapped like a whip. “Where is your chaperone?”
His chastisement hit its mark and she blushed. Her sister had been basking in the adoration of a foppish viscount when Valera checked before stealing from the ballroom. Janine thought her too meek to do anything this daring.
More like foolish. Tonight wasn’t turning out like Valera had envisioned.
Alex drew her protectively to his side, towering above her and lending her a sense of security. “Miss Bell isn’t responsible for your foul mood,” he said.
The duke sniffed. “No, that would be your fault, Ravenswood. Another kick from the Barnaby clan. You’re as loyal as your sister.”
Valera gasped as Alex tensed beside her. If anyone overheard Langley, he might conclude the duke hadn’t given his blessing for her dear friend Elle’s marriage to the duke’s cousin, Mr. Farrish.
Langley’s mouth twisted sardonically. “Now I see the reason you avoid innocents in favor of widows, Ravenswood. Too easily shocked.”
Intense heat engulfed her. For a moment, she had forgotten Alex’s roguish habits and allowed herself to be caught up in the lovely sensations his touch created.
Foolish girl. Alex was her best friend’s brother. He would never see her as a lady of interest, nor should she want the kind of attention he bestowed on women. Valera was seeking a husband and the duke was in the market for a wife.
Lady Aldora Adamson excerpt by Christi Caldwell
Michael Knightly had battled through the tedium of the evening. He’d not turned from the sickeningly fascinated stares and the curious whispers tittered behind fans and hands.
Except after the monotony of it all, he’d needed to escape. Just for a short while. The crush of the ballroom reminded him of how much he loathed ton functions. He far preferred life in Pembrokeshire, overseeing the men who worked in his coalmines. Hundreds of families were dependent upon the success of his operation, and Michael prided himself on the quality work conditions and benefits he offered to those who worked for him. Those men and women were honest. They appreciated the value of hard work and were fair. Unlike the ton, those who found work in the mines were not self-serving, driven by only material gain and societal standing.
He’d made his way to the balcony, craving the crisp, clean night air.
Of course his lovely vixen would be here.
He grinned, feeling lighthearted for the first time since he’d entered Lord and Lady Aldridge’s soiree.
Lady Aldora’s quiet curse reached his ears.
His smile grew. “Did you just curse, my lady?”
She ignored him, feeling around the balustrade wall.
His smile grew. “It appears you’ve lost something—again,” he murmured. “Tsk, tsk, I’m beginning to think that perhaps this is more than mere—”
“Will you help me or not, my lord?”
He opened his mouth to correct her, then paused. The words died on his lips. He knew the moment she learned his real identity he’d see the loathing in those brown eyes. Time would come soon enough for that, but for now he wanted to enjoy the joy in being with someone who did not know he was the scandalous younger brother who’d killed his friend.
Michael inclined his head. “How can I be of assistance?”
“I don’t normally lose things, you know.”
“Oh?” From their brief meetings, it appeared she did.
Lady Aldora must have assumed he was passing judgment. A little frown formed at the corners of her bow-shaped lips. “I don’t,” she insisted. “And if I need point out, the only reason I lost my necklace was because you nearly bowled me over in the park.”
“Because you were walking down a riding path,” he said.
“And now I dropped my sp—belongings, because you startled me with your unexpected intrusion.” She went on as though he’d not spoken.
Michael moved alongside her. The heady citrusy scent of lemons that clung to her filled the air until he was nearly drunk with a desire for the tart fruit. He gripped the edge of the balustrade and leaned forward. Peering into the gardens below, he took a deep breath as he tried to rein in his emotions.
“That bad?” she said.
He glanced down. Just five or six inches shy of his six foot three inch frame, Lady Aldora towered over ladies and most lords. All he had to do was angle his head ever so slightly and their lips would brush. “There is a row of hedges below,” he explained, his voice hoarse to his own ears.
She caught her lower lip between her teeth and leaned forward.
“There is only one solution.”
“We must go below,” she finished for him.
He’d been going to say that he would have to go down and search for the missing item, but her breathy suggestion danced around them. His gaze wandered back toward the empty gardens. Only now that Lady Aldora had raised the scandalous possibility, he found he rather liked the idea of dancing with the danger of discovery and leading her down into the forbidden gardens below.
“My lord?” she prodded.
Michael held out his arm.
Lady Aldora hesitated for the slightest moment before placing the tips of her fingers on his coat sleeves and allowing him to guide her toward the steps.
“I must thank you for your help,” she said.
“You do know if I’m to help you that you’ll eventually need to confide what it is you’ve lost.”
If he hadn’t been peering at her from the corner of his eyes, he’d have failed to note the way her mouth tightened into a firm, unyielding line. He waited.
“It really wasn’t my fault,” she confessed.
“I’m sure it wasn’t.”
At the dry humor lacing his words, her pursed lips slanted down at the corners. Even frowning she possessed a unique beauty that Michael believed could rival Athena.
“If we are to avoid discovery, I’d suggest you lower your voice, my lady. That is if you are attempting to avoid discovery.” He shot her a bemused look. “Ahh, so it would seem you are planning to meet someone out here. Tell me.” He leaned close. “Has a certain lord garnered your affections?”
“You presume too much, my lord,” she said a touch too quickly. The pale moonlight highlighted the splotches of color that heightened her cheeks. Hmm, so the young lady had put rather a lot of thought into securing a match with the Marquess of St. James. The thought shouldn’t rankle…and yet, it did. Very much.
Jealousy churned in his gut. Michael shoved aside the unpleasant (and unwelcome) emotion.
They moved through the grass still slicked wet from an earlier morning shower. Lady Aldora slipped and he wrapped an arm about her waist, holding her up.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Michael led her to the row of shaped topiaries that rested at the base of the balustrade and stopped. He gestured to the ground. “What is it we are looking for this time? An earbob?”
She shook her head. “Though if it were an earbob, I venture it would be nigh on impossible to find.”
“You are right there, my lady. A glove?”
“A fan then?”
Pale pink color continued to grow in her cheeks until blazing red splotches glowed in the moonlight. Hmm, fascinating. Michael fell silent. What had his vixen lost this time?
“Uh-you see I dropped my, my…”
Michael grinned. So the lady wore glasses.
Lady Aldora’s lips tightened. “Do you find that funny, my lord?”
Somehow it made her all the more perfect. It also well explained her inability to see him or her missing necklace in Hyde Park those two days ago.
He held a hand to his heart. “Not at all, my lady.” He directed his attention toward the ground, dropping to a knee, he felt around the damp earth for the missing treasure.
She sank down beside him and her mint green skirts fanned a soft breeze upon his skin. Michael sucked in a breath and glanced over at her. What was it about this bespectacled, troublesome miss that had so captivated him? Why when the last thing he wanted or needed were any emotional entanglements should he be so intrigued by this small slip of a woman?
Lady Aldora caught her lower lip between her teeth. Brown eyes flecked with gold held his, and he was overwhelmed by a desire to lose himself in their shimmering depths.
Michael gave his head a shake. Good God, where had this poetic drivel come from?
“Are you all right, my lord?”
If he were smart, he’d storm off and escape this maddening hold she possessed over him. She was a sorceress and he was helpless to resist her lure.
Michael cupped her cheek, his fingers taking the time to memorize the satiny smoothness of her flesh. Her lashes fluttered as she leaned into his touch, and he wanted nothing more in that moment than to lay her down and worship her beneath the moon’s gentle beams.
There was no helping it. He was lost.
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