Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Treats - edits and mince pies complete

A little Christmas miracle occurred the night before Xmas when my oven inexplicably started working - 2 weeks after it apparently gave up the ghost.

Very excitedly I pulled out the beautiful short crust pastry I'd had to put into the deep freeze, and finished two dozen delicious, home-made mince pies. Unfortunately, my Norwegian husband doesn't appreciate the English traditions of Christmas cake, mince pies and plum pudding, all of which I adore. Nor do my girls, but I make them anyway, because ... well, I like them.

They are now nearly finished being eaten, exclusively by me, and this morning I also finished my final edits of Dangerous Gentlemen.

We'd planned to go camping in the highlands but there's a complete fire danger alert for the whole of Victoria so we decided to stay put and veg out by the pool instead.

So, with my obligations towards Dangerous Gentlemen fulfilled, here's a taster.

OK, blurb first.

Dangerous Gentlemen
Beverley Oakley

Shy, self-effacing Henrietta knows her place—in her dazzling older sister’s shadow. She’s a little brown peahen to Araminta’s bird of paradise. But when Hetty mistakenly becomes embroiled in the Regency underworld, the innocent debutante finds herself shockingly compromised by the dashing, dangerous Sir Aubrey, the very gentleman her heart desires. And the man Araminta has in her cold, calculating sights.
Branded an enemy of the Crown, bitter over the loss of his wife, Sir Aubrey wants only to lose himself in the warm, willing body of the young prostitute Hetty. As he tutors her in the art of lovemaking, Aubrey is please to find Hetty not only an ardent student, but a bright, witty and charming companion.
Despite a spoiled Araminta plotting for a marriage offer and a powerful political enemy damaging his reputation, Aubrey may suffer the greatest betrayal at the hands of the little “concubine” who’s managed to breach the stony exterior of his heart.
A Romantica® historical Regency erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

So, the above is the official blurb, but here is just a little bit from me about it, followed by the Extract.

A sweet, do-gooding debutante who wants to clear the name of the gentlemen whose reputation she believes has been erroneously tarnished finds herself in more trouble than she dreamed…
This is the premise of my soon-to-be released erotic Regency with Ellora’s Cave, Dangerous Gentlemen. It’s book 2 in the ‘Viscount Partington’ Series and follows on from Her Gilded Prison. Her Gilded Prison features the bitter-sweet love affair of the long-married Lady Sybil, mother of my heroine in this book.
The younger of her two very different daughters, Hetty, is the heroine of Dangerous Gentlemen.
Poor Hetty has never been looked at twice by any gentlemen of any standing but she’s a shy, sweet young thing who is improving in looks and confidence as she takes part in her first season. Unfortunately her ‘do-gooding’ is the undoing of her – literally – as she sets about righting what she believes is a great injustice, only to find herself mistaken for… Well, read on and find out.
Below is an extract taken from chapter two after Hetty sneaks out of the Ladies’ mending room during a ball and starts snooping around the bedchamber of the man she’s fancied from afar and who is staying at the house while his own is renovated.
I hope you enjoy it.
Yet he was dangerous, she had to remind herself. Meaning she should not be here, which of course she shouldn’t, regardless of whether he was dangerous or not.
But how such a scion of good breeding and genteel society could be guilty of such a heinous crime as treason, Hetty could not imagine. And surely the story of the runaway wife was a gilded one. It was all the stuff of make-believe and Cousin Stephen was only telling Hetty he was dangerous to curb her schoolroom daydreams.
Turning, she saw half protruding from beneath the suit of clothes what appeared to be the edge of a silver, filigreed box. It was partly obscured by the overhang of the counterpane, as if it hadn’t properly been returned to its hiding place.
A moment’s indecision made her pause but soon Hetty was crouching on the floor, closing clammy fingers around the box. Might it contain secrets? Ones that would reveal, conclusively, what Cousin Stephen claimed was true?
Alternatively, proof that would exonerate Sir Aubrey?
Hetty fumbled for the catch. Dear Lord, this was too exciting for words. Perhaps Sir Aubrey was a secret agent working for the English, and Stephen had no idea?
Perhaps he was—
Protesting door hinges made her squeal as the door was flung wide. Hetty let the lid of the box fall and retreated into the shadows as Sir Aubrey strode into the room.
He was breathing heavily as he shrugged off his jacket with a curse, raindrops spattering into the hissing fire as he raked his fingers through his hair. A curious stillness overtook him and he froze, obviously sensing all was not as he left it.
He sniffed the air. “Orange flower water,” he muttered, stepping closer to the fire, fumbling for the tinderbox on the mantelpiece to light a candle.
Immediately he was thrown into sharp relief and as he stared at Hetty it was not his look of shock and suspicion that made her scream but the copious amounts of blood that stained his shirtsleeves and once-snowy linen cravat.
“God Almighty, who are you?” he demanded as his gaze raked her finery. “You’re no parlor maid, that’s for certain!”
Gaping, unable to formulate a sensible answer, Hetty finally managed, “What happened to your arm, Sir Aubrey? Are you injured?”
“Sir Aubrey, is it? So you know who I am but you still haven’t told me who you are?” He grunted as he looked down at his arm, the bloodied linen shredded over the long graze. “It’s not as bad as it looks and I assure you, I gave a good account of myself.” His laugh was more a sneer. “Indeed, my assailant lies dead in the gutter.”
Hetty gasped. “Dueling?” Myriad questions crowded her mind. Could this be to do with Araminta? Had Sir Aubrey left Araminta in the middle of the ball to fight some other contender for her affections?
“Dueling?” he repeated. He shook his head and Hetty drew back at the coldness in his eyes. “There was nothing noble about my activities this evening. I was set upon in a dark alley. A short scuffle ensued, I drew my knife, then—” With his hand, he made a gesture like the slitting of his throat, adding, “I am slightly wounded but as I said, my attacker does not live to repeat the insult.”
Her horror clearly amused him, for his eyes narrowed while his generous mouth quirked. He looked like an incarnation of the most handsome demon she’d ever seen depicted in the fairy stories she loved to read.
“We all have enemies, madam. Enemies that must be eliminated if we are to breathe freely.”

Chapter Three
Aubrey was enjoying the girl’s wide-eyed terror. No doubt she imagined he’d sliced the throat of a footpad, not the snarling, mangy cur who had leapt upon him as he’d been returning from his brief assignation to settle a gaming debut incurred by his favorite, reprobate nephew.
Taking pity on her, he said reassuringly, “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you.’ Her wide-eyed look as he removed first his jacket, then the bloodied shirt he tossed upon the bed, before he rose to his full height, bare chested, afforded him the most amusement he’d had in a long time. “So, you’re the girl Madame Chambon sent?”
Dangerous Gentlemen is due out in February and it follows on from Her Gilded Prison which can be bought here:

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