#HistoricalRomance #FirstChapters : Wyoming Heather by DeAnn Smallwood

 

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From Amazon: Wyoming Heather (Kindle Edition)

“A favorite. The author is so good in weaving her stories you believe you are also a part. A great read from beginning to the end.”

“I’ve enjoyed other books by this author and just had to try another. DeAnn Smallwood continued her excellent story telling in this book and I look forward to reading more of her works.”

“Great read!!! Could not put it down, was a great escape from my hubby ‘s driving. Look forward to reading another book from this author.”

 

 

Available at:           Amazon

Heather is a spirited, independent woman living alone on a ranch left to her by her parents. She is also a healer of animals, domestic and wild. A woman doing a man’s work running a ranch that everyone said couldn’t be done, not in this untamed, vastly unsettled land, in the mid 1800’s. The ranch had everything she needed except water. She stole that from a neighboring abandoned ranch watched over by a lonely cabin and a grave.

He rode alone coming back after five years to an empty cabin, a run-down ranch, and a grave on a hill. A former Texas Ranger burnt out on life and afraid to love. Whip had spent five years hunting the man that took his wife’s life and left him to die.

Whip and Heather meet in an explosive moment on the banks of the Powder River. Both lonely, both drawn to one another, and both fight the attraction.

Chapter One

No lantern shown in the window to welcome him home. The cabin looked gray in the moonlight. Gray and ghost-like in the shadow of the mountains and the full moon. The corral was empty, poles missing. The barn door hung to one side, held in place by a single leather hinge.

Whip Johnson leaned back in his saddle, shifting his weary body. His hand rested on his right thigh, his fingers absently circling the indentation of puckered flesh. The wound pulsed, the imbedded piece of lead seemed to seek out and rub against bone.

The saddle creaked as he leaned forward and patted the buckskin’s neck, his eyes never ceasing in their vigilance. He took a deep breath, drawing in the land, the mountains, and the pungent smell of sagebrush. The faded chambray shirt pulled tight across his back. He sat tall in the saddle, every six foot three inches of him hard muscle. Close to his hand, gripping the reins, a rifle rested in the scabbard. Nestled against his right hip was a holster, the butt of the pistol tilted at an angle for easy drawing. Like the man, they looked used. His long, tanned fingers left the warmth of the buckskin then rose and tiredly rubbed across his jaw, the day’s growth of whiskers rasping in the quiet of the night.

He nudged his horse forward. To the far left of him, a jagged bolt of light creased the top of the mountain, momentarily chasing away the gray as thunder rolled, faint and distant. He inhaled deeply. No moisture in the air, the threat of rain only a promise, a teasing whore withholding what the land needed.

Swinging wearily from the saddle, he looped the reins over the hitching post in front of the cabin. He nudged the door open with the toe of his boot. His keen hearing picked up the sound of something scuttling across the hard packed floor. A varmint, most likely a pack rat, had moved in during his absence.

A musty odor met him as he slowly walked into the room. Thumbing his nail across the head of a match, he held it in front of him, the shadows falling back from the flickering light. Nothing much had changed, yet everything had, since he’d last seen the room five years ago. All that was left of the furniture was a wobbly table holding a chipped enamel basin, and the old Monarch stove. Too heavy to move, it had remained in the corner where he’d placed it the day he’d brought it home from Cheyenne.

The match burned his fingers. He blew it out, and then crossed to a lamp set on the plank shelf above the table. He shook it and, hearing the liquid slosh in the glass base, smiled, the sternness momentarily eased from his face. The chimney was black from use, but the wick was still in place and after some urging caught. He carefully sat it down on the table and took a longer look at the room. The chinking in the logs was still tight, the roof solid, the glass in the small window intact. The cabin had weathered the five years better than he had.

Bedding his horse in the barn, he made himself walk back out the sagging door. He’d wait until morning. Then he’d take as much time as he wanted to look it over. Right now the cabin floor was beckoning. He took the rope off his bedroll and rolled it out. Lowering his body, he pulled the worn quilt over him. The last conscious thought he had was that of his pistol resting beside him; in easy reach should he need it.

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#HistoricalRomance #FirstChapters : Venice in the Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna (@ElizaMcKenna)

 

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“I really have to recommend this novel. It’s beautiful and brilliant and I cannot find any flaws within the depths of the words.” ~ For the Passion of Romance

“This is one of those novels that draws you completely into the storyline and keeps you there throughout.  I found myself walking in the main character’s shoes, living through the many trials that she found herself facing.” ~ Jonel Boyko

“Absolutely loved this book! It’s a historical, a mystery and a romance that peaks over and over again with every chapter.” ~ Literary Chanteuse

 

 

Available at:     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     All Romance eBooks     Best Indie Book Store     CreateSpace

 

A Story of Vengeance, Forgiveness, and Love

After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. She returns to her hometown of Venice and her only kin—a father she hasn’t spoken to since her forced marriage. Her hope of making amends is crushed when she learns she is too late, for he recently has died under suspicious circumstances. Grief-stricken, Marietta retraces her father’s last night only to discover someone may have wanted him dead—and she may be next. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta risks her future happiness and her life to avenge the death of a man she once hated.

VENICE IN THE MOONLIGHT takes you back to eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.

Chapter One

Gatti Family Villa Near Verona, Italy, September 1, 1753

Marietta Gatti smashed a pea with the back of her silver spoon. Across the mahogany dining table, her husband Dario’s unfaithful eyes simmered with lust as the young maid served the evening meal. When the girl replenished his crystal wine glass, his fingertips brushed against her skin, lingering longer than well-bred manners allowed. Marietta fisted the linen napkin in her lap while Dario’s parents, sitting on opposite ends of the table, ignored the antics of their only child.

The maid’s rosy cheeks and full pouty lips reflected the child she once was, but her body showed the curves of the woman she would be. Dario liked them young, naïve, and fully ripe for the picking—as a barely fifteen-year-old Marietta was when they first met.

Drawn to his thick, dark eyelashes and heavy coin purse, these girls came willingly to Dario. Six . . . seven . . . eight . . . Marietta crushed a pea for each dalliance in their five long years of marriage. When she finished the tally, only two peas remained whole. At least his affairs kept him out of her bed most nights.

Admittedly, she welcomed his affections at first, considering she was the daughter of an artist who hadn’t painted in two years. Dario courted her as any other respectable nobleman would with nights at the opera in Venice and strolls by the Grand Canal on Sunday afternoons. However, he couldn’t conceal his faults forever, and when they became obvious, she wanted no part of the man. By then, it was too late. Her father insisted a bad marriage was better than starvation, and she couldn’t change his mind.

Dario’s disrespect bothered her the most. Her father cherished her mother until the devastating day that she died when Marietta was only thirteen. She assumed her own marriage would be the same, full of love and laughter, but it wasn’t. Now, she spent her days and nights trying to survive the cold-heartedness of the Gatti family.

Marietta relaxed the grip on her napkin and pushed at the lamb on her plate. When bloody juice oozed from the meat, she let out a small sigh and reached for a piece of bread instead.

At the break in the room’s silence, her mother-in-law’s head snapped up, almost dislodging the mountain of dark curls that compensated for her diminutive height. The black beauty patch that she carefully applied to her painted white cheek each morning twitched in displeasure before she returned her attention to her dinner.

As the older woman’s teeth worked the lamb in her mouth, her bony face grew more repulsed with each chew until she finally spit into her napkin. She pointed her knife at the maid. “Where did Cook get this meat?”

Dario’s latest amusement clutched the pitcher of wine to her bosom and gaped wide-eyed at the elder Signora Gatti.

Marietta’s stomach churned, as it always did when La Signora’s temper rose. Though the maid was inconsiderate enough to flirt in front of her, Marietta wouldn’t wish her mother-in-law’s anger on anyone.

When the girl couldn’t find the courage to answer his mother, Dario intervened. He drained his wine glass in one gulp and held it out to give the girl something to do besides tremble. “You don’t like it, Mama?”

Dario slurred his words ever so slightly, which was never good this early in the evening. If he continued to pursue the maid, she would be in for a rough night. Marietta didn’t know what Dario loved more—wine or young women—but there was no denying the explosive result when the two mixed. She needed to tell the housekeeper to keep the girl busy and out of reach until the morning hours.

“It tastes spoiled.” La Signora dropped her cutlery onto the plate. “Take it away.”

The girl hastened to the opposite end of the table and whisked the offending food out of the room.

Dario sliced off a large piece of lamb and stuck it in his mouth. Between chews, he said, “It seems fine to me. What do you think, Papa?”

Marietta almost forgot Dario’s father was there. The old man’s chin rested on his chest, rising and falling with each soft snore. With his sparse snow-white hair and a habit of napping at will, Marietta figured he was in his early seventies, a good twenty years older than La Signora. Obviously, Dario inherited his love of young things from the man.

She sniffed at her own meat and wrinkled her nose at the odd smell emanating from it. No matter, she’d had enough, though she hated missing one of Cook’s delicious desserts. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m feeling a bit tired. I think I’ll retire early tonight.”

Her mother-in-law snorted derisively.

Dario gave her a few blurry-eyed blinks before he remembered his duty. When he stood too fast, the dinner wine rushed to his head. He grabbed the edge of the table to steady his teetering. “May I escort you upstairs?”

She shook her head. “No, please, finish your meal.”

Before Marietta reached the doorway, the maid slipped back into the dining room and reclaimed Dario’s attention. The girl’s ruined reputation was worth more than the few coins she would receive from him. But Marietta’s warnings had gone unheeded by previous maids, so she had no faith that this one would listen. She pressed her lips together to silence her frustration and gratefully left the room.

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#HistoricalRomance #FirstChapters : Duke by Day, Rogue by Night by Katherine Bone (@katherinelbone)

 

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“Katherine Bone’s books are a rollicking romp in the classic style. From ship deck to London ballroom, Ms. Bone’s stories are packed with intrigue, and rough and dangerous heroes that positively delight.” ~ Katharine Ashe, author of Captured by a Rogue Lord

“Katherine Bone is an author after my own heart! Her books are sexy, adventurous romps guaranteed to keep you reading into the wee hours of the night.” ~ Shana Galen, author of THE ROGUE’S PIRATE BRIDE

“In case you forgot how sexy, fun, and romantic pirates can be, Katherine Bone’s Duke by Day. Rogue by Night is the perfect reminder.” ~ Quillen Hart, author of the Confessions of a Boomtown Madam series

 

 

Available at:     Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Smashwords      Kobo      iTunes

CONSTANCE DANBURY is desperate to escape an arranged marriage to a man nearly twice her age. Her only hope is to board a merchantman bound for Spain to enlist her aunt’s help. Her plans go awry when she’s captured by pirates. Even more alarming, her traitorous body longs for the man who’s returning her to England! Pushed into a marriage of convenience, she’s caught between two men—one owns her heart, the other is bent on stealing it.

PERCIVAL AVERY is a member of Nelson’s Tea, an elite group assigned to protect England’s shores at any cost. On a mission to avenge his sister’s death, Percy infiltrates the gang of cutthroats responsible. When his vessel attacks a merchantman, Percy must choose between vengeance and saving the life of his commander’s niece. His only choice is to mutiny, but mutiny obliterates his well-laid plans. Forced on a new course that leads straight back to Constance Danbury, Percy has to make a decision—chase revenge or allow himself to love again.

Chapter One

English Coast, 1804

GENTLY BRED WOMEN did not disobey their fathers.

Constance understood what her mission entailed. Sail to Spain and plead for her aunt’s support, contrary to her father’s wishes. He detested Aunt Lydia. As a result, no interaction between herself and Aunt Lydia had been allowed since her mother’s death. She had no idea if the woman was even still alive, as no communiqués had arrived to announce her death or verify her health. That she ventured out onto the sea, risking life and limb to find her aunt, was due to her uncle’s insistence. Aunt Lydia was their only hope. Halfway to Spain, Constance lay in her cabin with one goal in mind, winning her aunt’s favor so the Danbury name would not come to ruin.

The reality of how far her family had fallen in so short a time hit Constance full force when a shrill whistle barreled over the merchantman Octavia’s deck. All at once, the ship recoiled and one thunderous volley after another exploded, vibrating the vessel from bow to stern. She stared wide-eyed at the ceiling, willing it to hold firm, fearing its collapse. Fighting back ghastly images of her mother’s death at sea proved almost too difficult a task. She knew well enough what awaited if the ship sank — a watery grave. She had borne that experience ten years earlier, survived, and found herself a motherless child as a result.

The handle on the cabin door jostled, heightening her anxiety. Hampered by the bolt she’d put in place before retiring for the night, her would-be intruder jerked the knob and thumped on the sturdy wood with vengeance.

“Lady Constance!”

Lieutenant Guffald’s voice sent her into action. Constance darted to the door. The gallant officer calling her name had nearly lost favor with his captain for promising her uncle to give her safe passage to San Sebastian. Constance suppressed a shiver. Matters were most grave, if Guffald attempted to enter her cabin without waiting for her admittance. He was a gentleman, one unlike the man she was trying to escape.

Constance glanced at her terrified governess, Mrs. Mortimer, and opened the door. The lieutenant brushed past her, pushing his way into the cabin. He turned and hurriedly grabbed her by the shoulders, casting aside propriety.

“Pirates have drawn alongside us and have every intention to board.”

“Pirates?” The barely audible word rushed out of her mouth, and the irony of the situation hit her with inescapable force.

“I’ve come to warn you,” the lieutenant continued. “Stay inside your cabin. Bolt the door. Admit no one until I return.”

Pirates. Heaven help her, not again!

The lieutenant spoke, his voice barely audible to her ears. “Mrs. Mortimer, I entrust Lady Constance into your care. I beg you — make sure no one enters this room but me.”

“I shall do as you say, sir,” the older woman said.

Another explosion pounded the ship. The Octavia listed. Constance screamed. Lieutenant Guffald wrapped his arms about her to keep her from slipping to the floor. Thankful for assistance, Constance ignored his possessive stare and endured his overprotective embrace until the vessel righted and she could safely dislodge their sinfully entwined limbs. The man was not Lord Montgomery Burton, Baron of Burton. She had no reason to fear him. With Grecian bone structure and thick disheveled blond hair, the lieutenant was a man prepared to sacrifice himself for duty and honor. He was a man with allegiances. A man who fought for a woman, not one lying in wait to stake his claim like that lecherous lord her father planned for her to marry. And yet there was a glint in his cerulean eyes that unnerved her. Could she trust him?

“I must go,” Guffald forced between clenched teeth. His grip on her upper arm tightened, belying his words. She quickly assigned his behavior to the fact that he worried for her safety.

She nodded. “Thank you for coming to warn us.”

His lip curled to one side and an odd light illuminated his eyes. Though Constance yearned to cry out in fear, to beg him to stay, she preferred the lieutenant slay the enemy before the brigands arrived at her door.

“Do not leave this room,” he reminded them, his eyes an unblinking beacon of hope…

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#HistoricalRomance #FirstChapters : A Promise of More by Bronwen Evans (@BronwenEvans_NZ)

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“Bronwen’s historical romances always make the top of my reading list!” ~ New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jen McLaughlin

“A page-turning, sensual adventure.” ~ New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle

“Evans pulls the reader into the story and holds them there long after the last page. I can hardly wait to see what’s next in this fast-paced, drama-filled [series]. . . . A must read!” ~ My Book Addiction Reviews

“Five out of five stars . . . I just loved this second book in The Disgraced Lords series. I was hooked from the first chapter.”~ Laura Tague

 

 

Available at:   Amazon     Barnes & Noble     iBooks     Kobo     Books A Million

When Beatrice Hennessey sets out to confront Lord Coldhurst, the notorious rogue who killed her brother in a duel, her intent is to save her family from destitution. She’s determined to blackmail the man into a loveless marriage. She’ll make the wealthy Lord Coldhurst pay for the rest of his life. But while greeting his ship, Beatrice takes a tumble into the Thames—only to be fished out by a pair of strong masculine arms that tempt her to stay locked in their heated embrace forever. That is, until she realizes those arms belong to Sebastian Hawkestone, Lord Coldhurst himself.

The little drowned mermaid has an interesting proposition indeed; one that Sebastian is surprised to find quite agreeable. Although he’s had women more beautiful, she is pleasing to the eye, and besides, it’s time he fathered an heir. Beatrice promises to be the ideal wife; a woman who hates him with an all-consuming passion is far too sensible to expect romance. However, it isn’t long before Sebastian’s plan for a marriage of convenience unravels, and he’s caught up in the exhilarating undertow of seduction.

Chapter One

London, April 1816

Despite the earliness of the hour and the crowded bustle of the dock, Beatrice Hennessey stood out like, well, like the notorious rakehell Lord Sebastian Hawkestone, Marquis of Coldhurst, would stand out in a nunnery.

She hated standing out. She lived in a world where she took great pains to blend in. She was nobody of note and definitely not one to buck the respectable trends of the ton.

It was absolutely scandalous to be alone on the busy dock. The trepidation she’d felt in dismissing the hackney and driver over two hours ago was nothing to the mortification she was feeling as the men, and some women, leered at her. Given how she was dressed, as a respectable lady, the fact she was standing on the filthy Thames dock unescorted made her as visible as a diamond necklace dropped in an East End street.

Stupidly she had thought her presence might go unnoticed.

The longer she stood looking at the ship berthed in front of her, the more lecherous the stares became. Originally the looks had been simply curious. Clearly she was a lady; where was her escort? Why was she here? Did she have anything of value?

She had sent the hackney away because she could not afford to keep it waiting. She carried nothing of value. She was alone because there was no one else to count on, no one else to do what must be done to save her family.

However, two hours later, when she still stood in the same place with her hands clasped firmly in front of her, the mood of the men and women around her had changed to contempt, overlaid with a veneer of politeness, worn as thin as her remaining patience.

Where was Coldhurst? She’d assumed since he had been away from England for several months, he’d arise and disembark early, possibly as soon as his ship docked. She’d been wrong there too.

However, the worst assumption she’d made was about the place she should confront the scoundrel. Beatrice wasn’t the only woman waiting at the bottom of the gangplank to Coldhurst’s vessel, the Seductress. Several ladies of questionable character made a flagrant display of their wares, determined to be the first to sell the goods on offer as sailors came ashore.

Beatrice didn’t judge the women. If Lord Coldhurst didn’t help her, she might well end up in their position, albeit, she hoped, with a more refined level of clientele.

Her shudder wasn’t entirely due to the early morning chill. Squaring her shoulders, she acknowledged the idiocy of her approaching Coldhurst alone. His last correspondence, however, had left her no option. It was time to take the bull by the horns—or some similar body part. She did not doubt Lord Coldhurst possessed horns. After all, he was the wicked devil who had fled England in disgrace several months ago.

Coldhurst owed her; owed her family—especially her ten-year-old brother, the new Baron Larkwell—a debt he could never repay. Yet Coldhurst wouldn’t be the only one to pay. If her two younger sisters and two infant brothers were to survive and maintain their place in society, Beatrice had little choice but to sell herself to the devil.

Had Doogie lived, he would have married an American heiress whose father wanted a title for his daughter. A title from a distinguished yet impoverished family. A title in exchange for more money than any of them could imagine. Lord Coldhurst had stolen their financial security from them. It seemed only right and just that he should restore the coffers he had brutally destroyed when he’d shot Doogie.

Pain filled Beatrice’s chest as it always did when she thought about her foolish younger brother. She bit back the tears and channeled her grief into her rising temper. Two hours she had waited alone and unprotected on this smelly, dangerous dock, because she could ill afford to keep a hack and driver waiting.

Chin high, Beatrice marched toward the gangplank, politely weaving through the other “ladies.” But as she stepped onto the gangway a rough hand grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back.

“Just where the hell do you think you’re going?” The underdressed, and therefore probably appropriately dressed, prostitute looked her up and down. “No female is ’llowed on board unless invited by the captain.”

Beatrice removed the woman’s grimy hand from her now dirt-smeared shoulder and said, “Unlike you—” Beatrice hesitated, deciding to be both honest and polite, “ladies, I have important business with one of the passengers.”

The prostitute laughed out loud, nodding to the women behind her. “I’ve seen you waiting. You’re not expected. We’ve all got important business with them on board. You don’t get no special treatment. Get back in line.” And she pushed Beatrice backward into the now angry flock of screeching women.

The other women were far from gentle as they continued to push her away from the gangplank. The last woman in the group gave her an almighty shove and Beatrice ended up on her backside on the filthy dock, still tightly clutching her reticule.

She sat stunned for half a breath. Then anger surged through her as she clambered to her feet and, with jaw set, began pushing her way back through the melee of chattering and cursing women.

Finally, once more at the foot of the gangplank, she tapped her original assailant on the shoulder. The woman turned round. “My business,” Beatrice said before the prostitute could more than open her mouth, “is not your type of business. We are not in competition.”

The woman gave an ugly laugh. “Pah. I know who came in on that ship—his lordship. And when a man’s been at sea for a few weeks, he ain’t fussy about the quality of the goods. So piss off, and wait your turn.”

This time the violent shove wasn’t backward. It sent Beatrice sideways. She tried to steady herself, clawing the air, but it was too late. She tripped over a loose plank and pitched forward, arms flailing, over the side of the dock and into the water. Her scream ended as water filled her mouth.

She sank like a cannonball, the freezing water soaking into the many layers of her clothing, the weight pulling her under. She tried to kick her legs, stretching toward the murky sunlight above. Her lungs tightened to bursting point and soon black spots swarmed in front of her eyes. She was going to drown. How could she die? She was all the hope her family had left. She inwardly railed at her fate. Now look what she’d done. What would become of them all without her?

A double curse on Lord Coldhurst.

The last thing she remembered was a strong, muscular arm encircling her waist, and then she was being drawn up, up, up.

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