Feature – Fringe Benefits by Sandy James


FRINGE BENEFITS – On sale April 21, 2015

About the book

When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. High school teacher Danielle Bradshaw deserves a happily ever after, and the Ladies Who Lunch are determined to deliver Mr. Right.

HOT FOR TEACHER
As the new head of the English department, Dani doesn’t have much time for anything but lesson planning and literature. Romance–or even sex? Forget about it. But then the principal introduces her to last-minute hire Nate Ryan. Finding time to mentor a new teacher won’t be easy, especially when his incredible body and equally disarming charisma are enough to make her heart skip a beat . . .

Nate may be fresh out of school, but he’s confident in his teaching skills–and in his feelings for Dani. But while she’s everything he’s ever wanted, he knows his place on her staff–and his age–may be problematic for his sexy boss. How can he convince her to ignore the gossip mill currently in full swing in the teacher’s lounge and surrender to what’s meant to be?

Excerpt
They stood facing each other, and she thought she should turn and walk away. There were things she needed to do, and staring at Nate Ryan too awfully long was playing with fire.

Dani wanted him. She was honest enough with herself to admit it. The way he’d made her feel when he’d kissed her haunted her each time she saw him, and it was getting harder and harder to keep from reaching for him.

Nate eased closer, and she mimicked his action until they were nearly toe‑to‑toe. He leaned in, his eyes searching hers.

He was going to kiss her, but he was giving her a chance to back away.

She wasn’t going to. It was so easy to let him take the lead. Then she didn’t have to feel bad about throwing herself at the man. No, he was the one in control; she was merely the target of his attention.

His face hovered over hers, making her catch and hold her breath. With a smile on her lips, she closed her eyes and waited for his kiss.

When his lips brushed her cheek, Dani opened her eyes, surprised and confused. He hadn’t given her a real kiss since he moved in. Just chaste pecks on the cheek, and he was starting to frustrate the hell out of her.

Nate gave her a lopsided grin as he took a step back. “Not this time, Dani.”

Embarrassment made heat bathe her face, and she found herself too flustered to say anything to his rather terse statement.

“You were waiting for me to kiss you. That’s not how it’s gonna be.”

She found her voice. “What do you mean?”

After releasing a hefty sigh, he folded his arms over his chest. “I’ve made it pretty clear I’d like to get to know you better.”

“Which is why I was going to let you kiss me again.”

“I’m not going to lead this little dance anymore, not when I’m the only one with his feelings involved.” He shook his head and headed to the basement door. “The next time we share a real kiss, you’re going to have to be the one giving it.”

The man had her too confused to do more than sputter.

“From the moment I met you, I’ve wanted to get to know you better,” he said. “And not as a colleague. Not as a friend. As a man captivated by a woman who’s not only beautiful but also funny and intelligent.” When she tried to speak, Nate held up a hand. “But she’s got it in her mind that he’s too young for her and that she’s his ‘boss.’ ” He punctuated the last word with air quotes. “Silly notions, but until she gets past those and wants the same things he wants, the only kiss she’s gonna get is on the cheek.”

“But—”

“I’m here when you’re ready, Dani. But only when you’re really ready.”

The door closed softly behind him.

————————————

About the author
Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband. She’s a high school social studies teacher who especially loves psychology and United States history. Since she and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses, they often spend time together at the two Indiana racetracks.


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There are sets of The Ladies Who Lunch series up for grabs. The series includes: THE BOTTOM LINE; SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED; SEALING THE DEAL; and FRINGE BENEFITS – go and check it out right over here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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For today…

~ Happy Easter! ~

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Just a note…

Well, I didn’t want to do this, but I’m going to have to – at least regularly, my blog will be on a bit of a hiatus until after mid-May.

It’s just been that kind of semester. LOL

I just don’t want to miss any commitments, have a post that I need to get up slip my mind, stuff like that. And that is definitely not fair to anyone.

So, while I’ll still have a post here and there pop up, it won’t be anything close to every day as I’ve tried to do so far. But as for adding anything new – if I can get something up for someone, I’ll try, but I just do not want to give any guarantees until school is over and I can get back to reading my own books instead of textbooks, papers and journal articles.

But you can certainly check out older posts – pretty sure you can still find those books around and you might still find a new author to check out! :)

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Feature – A Highlander’s Passion by Vonnie Davis


A HIGHLANDER’S PASSION – On sale April 7, 2015

About the book

Two of the wildest hearts in Scotland fight for their destiny in this searing-hot romance, sure to be devoured by fans of Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series and Shelly Laurenston’s Pride Stories.

As a bear-shifter in a pack roaming the Scottish countryside, Bryce Matheson embodies brute force and untamed abandon. As a widower, he’s running scared. When Bryce attempted to open his scarred heart to another, she grew tired of waiting for him to state his intentions, and the unearthly beauty spurned him for someone who wasn’t worthy. But now that fate has conspired to set Kenzie Denune free once again, Bryce vows to finally win her love.

Kenzie is a witch who summons her powers to protect those too weak to care for themselves. After surviving an abusive husband, she swears off men—even men like Bryce, whose iron muscles make her knees weak, and who’s piercing eyes fill her with longing. Her life’s purpose is to help others. However, dark forces have different plans for her gifts. To save herself, Kenzie must team up with the shifter who has always stirred her soul—and trust in a passion powerful enough to set her blood aflame.

Excerpt
His eyes twinkled with humor in that damnable way they had. Although Bryce kept talking, his hands slowly roamed over her body, eliciting sensations she had no business enjoying. “Ye study plants, luv. Ye ken how rare the wild cherry tree is in the Highlands. I’d like Effie to enjoy its blossoms in May.” He kissed her beneath her ear and a shudder pirouetted through her body. “Would give me great pleasure to see her enjoy the chaste beauty of its dainty white blossoms.” He shifted to kiss beneath her other ear, his closely cropped beard causing more shivers to dance along her skin. “I’m thinking Hamish and I will plant a sea of bluebells and shy primroses around the trunk to charm the American.”

Much as she hated to admit it, the man’s weight on her and the flexing of his muscles fetched some verra sweet and sexy memories. Dinna be weak, Kenzie. Show him he means nothing to ye.

She slapped her palms against his sweaty chest to push him off. “If yer thinking of charming me with kisses and sweet talking, yer wasting yer breath. Now let me up. I need to check me bike. See if I can ride it the rest of the way.” Her fingers eased across the inked designs on his warm skin. When did he get these tattoos on his pecs? Dinna look at his chest. His face. Look at his face, Kenzie, for God’s sake!

His hands covered her breasts and one of his disarming sexy smiles spread, showcasing snowy white teeth, the front two overlapping halfway down, adding a boyish allure to an otherwise perfect face. Why did he have to be the one to make her yearn, the one she dreamed of in the night, and fanaticized over during the day? Why him?

“Get off me, ye worthless excuse for a man.” His erection poked her abdomen and angered her all the more. How dare he? “Are ye naked beneath yer kilt?”

His dimples winked when he flashed a sexy-as-hell smile. “Ye ken I am. Ye, above all, ken how I dress and undress, me bonnie blue-eyed and brown-eyed woman.” He bit her lower lip, sucked on it fer a few intense seconds, and sighed before he rolled over. “Get up, then. I’ll see ye get to the American’s house. Me truck is up ahead.”

Mad as a hornet, she stood and brushed leaves and grass off her clothes before she marched up the hill to her bike. “No thanks. I’d sooner ride with the devil hisself as to get in a vehicle with the likes of ye, Bryce Matheson.” Ye and that massive hard-on ye just had pressed to me.

“Kenzie Denune, the mere sight of ye still sets me heart to tripping. As soon as yer through mourning Duncan, I mean to woo ye.”

Nothing the clod might have said could have angered her more. When she’d handed him her heart fourteen months ago, he’d backed away, claiming his deep love for his deceased wife kept him from caring the way he should. He’d tried softening the blow by telling her she deserved more. As if she were a bampot who would fall fer such foolish nonsense. Now that she was in mourning herself, he was chomping at the bit fer her to forge ahead with her life. Well, she was moving on and her journey didna include him as a traveling partner.

“Dinna hold yer breath waiting. A man only gets one chance with me and ye threw yers away.”

“Surely a good-hearted woman such as ye can see when a man is sorry fer the terrible mistake he’s made and grant him another go.”

————————————

About the author
Vonnie Davis, who studied English at Penn State, likens herself to a croissant: crusty, wrinkled, flaky—and best served with strong coffee. After a career as a technical writer, she’s spending her retirement playing fairy godmother to her characters, giving them their happily-ever-afters. Six fantastic, talented kids call her “Grandma” and brighten her world in so many ways. She lives in Southern Virginia with her husband, author Calvin Davis.

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Feature – Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding


INDISCRETION – On sale April 2, 2015

About the book

Indiscretion is the new novel from award winning romance novelist Hannah Fielding.
Written in Fielding’s signature style, infused with an old-school Hollywood glamour, Indiscretion evokes the drama and passion of 1950s post-war Spain.

1950’s London. Alexandra, a young writer is bored of her suffocating but privileged life amongst the gilded balls and parties of Chelsea. Keen for an adventure, Alexandra travels to Spain to be reunited with her estranged Spanish family on a huge estancia in Andalucía.

Arriving in sun-drenched southern Spain for the first time, Alexandra is soon caught up in the wild customs of the region. From bull fighting matadors and the mysterious Gypsy encampments in the grounds of the family’s estate, to the passionate dances of the region and the incredible horsemanship of the local caballeros, Alexandra is instantly seduced by the drama and passion of her new home.

When Alexandra inevitably falls for Salvador, the mercurial heir to her family’s estate and the region’s most eligible man, she finds herself entangled in a web of secrets, lies and indiscretion. Alexandra soon falls prey to scheming members of her own family, the jealousy of a beautiful marquésa and the predatory charms of a toreador, all intent on keeping the two lovers apart.

But nothing can prepare Alexandra for Salvador’s own dangerous liaisons with a dark-eyed Gypsy.

Can Alexandra trust that love will triumph, or will Salvador’s indiscretion be their undoing?

Excerpt
For the week leading up to the masked ball, confusion had reigned on the ground floor at El Pavón. Servants had shifted out furniture, rolled up carpets, prepared tables for the buffet in the dining room, and chandeliers, wall sconces, columns and cornices had been decorated with garlands of bright roses interspersed with jasmine and orange blossom from the garden. As the evening began, and the sweeping strings of ballroom music filled the hacienda, El Pavón seemed transformed into a magical palace.

Although the ball was in full swing as dusk gave way to night, cars were still arriving. They stopped at the foot of the stairs with a rasp of gravel and young drivers in dark-grey suits and caps leapt out to open the doors.

In the garden, an array of colourful lanterns hung from arbours, dangled between fruit trees, encircling the fountains and pools, twinkling with light. While in the great ballroom, overlooking the east-facing gardens, Doña María Dolores’ guests, attired in all sorts of disguises, drank, joked and glided happily on the polished oak dancefloor.

The ballroom was long and rectangular, taking up the entire length of the house. At each end, French doors opened out on to terraces stocked with exotic plants. Down one side, more windows led to the wide green lawn at the side of the hacienda. High mirrors hung between the windows, framed with gilded beading. Supported on marble columns was a gallery with a wrought-iron balustrade where musicians in evening dress were playing romantic dance melodies from tangos to Viennese waltzes.

Alexandra paused on the threshold of the vast room, a trifle overwhelmed by the grand spectacle. All the guests wore masks of velvet, satin or lace, giving them a mysterious air. She watched for a moment as Ondine, Goddess of the Northern Seas, leant against a column, lost in a dream, her head slightly tilted to one side. In her long tunic of turquoise silk sprinkled with iridescent sequins, she appeared to have just risen from the depths of the ocean, her beautiful golden hair draped gracefully about her bare shoulders. A torero in black silk breeches, drawn in at the hips, with a waistcoat brocaded with silk, knee-length stockings and shiny flat shoes, gazed at her. Just as he had decided to approach, another gallant figure, Oreste, bearing his father’s sword in his belt, swooped in first and, bowing deeply before her, drew her on to the dancefloor. They passed a maharani wearing a magnificent sari of dark gold brocade, who was walking towards the veranda arm-in-arm with a American Indian in a headdress of multi-coloured feathers and a jacket of brown suede.

A hand tapped Alexandra’s shoulder. Startled, she turned, almost bumping into a couple of waiters carrying trays laden with appetizing tapas and small glasses of fino sherry. The intruder was a musketeer in a wide soft hat, loose breeches and a leather doublet. A black mask hid his twinkling eyes but she recognized the beaming smile.

‘Well, Cousin,’ he said cheerfully, ‘I didn’t have to search very long to find the most beautiful girl at the ball. I told you I could spot you under any disguise.’

She smiled at Ramón, happy to find a friend in this sea of masked strangers, but it was difficult to concentrate on what he was saying. Her eyes were scouring the dancefloor, eagerly scrutinizing the whirling couples from behind her velvet mask. What, or more precisely who, was she looking for, exactly? After all, she knew nothing of the mysterious Conde, except that he had a deep and seductive voice. Recalling it made her pulse run faster and her knees slightly weak. Could the peculiar episode at Mascaradas have been merely a foolish jest designed to mystify her? Surely Old Jaime would not have taken part in a practical joke? She started with indignation at the idea she might be the victim of some prank. Yet, the more she thought about it, the more that seemed improbable. It would be an expensive joke to play, after all. No, the sheer cost of her beautiful costume had to be proof of the generosity and admiration of her romantic stranger.

As the evening progressed and there was still no sign of the mysterious Conde, Alexandra was forced to admit that she must have been the victim of a practical joke. It was gone eleven o’clock, surely he would have shown up by now if he was going to? Putting aside her disappointment, she told herself it had all been merely a captivating puzzle, one that had fired her romantic imagination and aroused her yearning for adventure, nothing more. At least she had some ideas for her new hero, she reminded herself, and decided to enter fully into the festive spirit, now that she had given up on her elusive stranger.

She didn’t notice the oriental prince, wearing a costume similar in style and colour to her own, observing her quizzically from a far-off corner of the room.

A pierrot in a black-and-white silk suit with a collar of pleated tulle and a bonnet decorated with black pompons asked Alexandra for a dance. She allowed him to move her around the dancefloor, with only half an ear on the eager conversation he was making as she took in the sea of colourful guests. It was almost midnight. Don Felipe was paying court to a shepherdess in a crinoline gown. Further along the room Mercedes, disguised as a bluebell, wearing a crown of tiny blue flowers and a dress with a bodice of green velvet and an organdie skirt, with petals of periwinkle blue, was squabbling with Electra, who was sulking in a corner. Isis and Osiris were discussing something with a pretty redhead in Savoy costume.

Alexandra was once again aware of the pierrot, who drew her closer to him. ‘Soon it will be midnight,’ he whispered into her ear, ‘and the lights will go out—’

‘Excuse me señor, I’ve come to collect my wife,’ interrupted a deep, warm voice. Alexandra smothered a gasp. Her heart gave such a jolt she thought it might leap out of her mouth.

The first notes of a Strauss waltz began. Before she could recover, the stranger swung Alexandra into his arms, holding her so tightly to him she was unable to lift her head to see his face. The blood pounded in her veins. She was conscious of his strong, sinuous length against her and the turmoil of her own body as his warmth soaked into her, adding to the heat welling up inside her like a furnace. Her temple brushed against his jaw; his skin was smooth. He smelled of soap, mint and tobacco, indefinably masculine. As they twirled around the dancefloor, Alexandra was carried away by an overpowering tide that left her light-headed, almost breathless. It was as though she were under a spell, a bewitching charm of the mind and senses that had no place in the dictionary of her experience.

Eventually, the giddy whirlwind ended and they found themselves on the terrace. In contrast to the brightly lit ballroom they had left, it was bathed in an almost unreal, diaphanous light from the moon and the glowing lanterns in the trees. They waltzed in silence for a few more minutes, taking in the melancholy softness of the night.

‘I owe you an apology for stepping in just now but I could see no other way of tearing you away from the arms of your too-forward partner,’ he said, in those same ardent, deep tones that had so haunted Alexandra over the past few days.

She caught her breath, unable to reply immediately and all the while hoping he wasn’t aware of the urgent beating of her heart. He still held on to her firmly and she could only look up at him with a smile. The moon disappeared behind a cloud, shadowing his features.

The stranger was almost a head taller than Alexandra. Under his light cloak she could see that his costume was very much like hers. It was in a similar cloth of pure, ivory-coloured silk, yet less decorated. His head was clad in a plain turban, which entirely concealed his hair. In the wide faja, the silk band that clasped his waist, he had placed a navaja, much like the ones Alexandra had noticed at the station in Puerto de Santa María on the day of her arrival, the difference being his was set with genuine precious stones. His shoulders were broad; his embrace firm and close.

As a shaft of moonlight fell briefly on his face, Alexandra’s heart missed a beat. In spite of the half-shadow and the narrow mask shielding his tanned features, she recognized the stranger she had seen on the seafront and then in the Church of Santa María: the man on the prayer stool who had so deeply disturbed her. So it was the same man after all. One man who now made something inside her thrill deliciously at his nearness.

Somewhere far off, a clock struck midnight. An owl hooted, as if in response. The air was fragrant with the sweet smell of jasmine and orange blossom. Masks fell and shouts of joy burst from all sides under a shower of confetti.

The oriental prince leaned his head forward towards his sultana.

‘Will you allow me, señorita?’ he whispered, his lean fingers with infinite gentleness removing her velvet mask. His gaze delved deeply into her large, glowing green irises, reading the emotion in her upturned face as her body yielded helplessly to his touch. A rush of blood coursed wildly through Alexandra’s veins as his hand once more slipped about her waist, pausing before pulling her against him.

————————————

About the author
Hannah Fielding was born and grew up in Alexandria, Egypt. Her family home was a large rambling house overlooking the Mediterranean where she lived with her parents and her grandmother, Esther Fanous, who had been a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt during the early 1900s.

Fluent in French, English and Arabic, Hannah’s left school at 18 and travelled extensively all over the world. Hannah met her husband in England and they lived in Cairo for 10 years before returning to England in 1989. They settled in Kent, bringing up two children in a Georgian rectory, surrounded by dogs, horses and the English countryside. During this time, Hannah established a very successful business as an interior designer renovating rundown cottages.

With her children now grown up, Hannah now has the time to indulge in her one true passion, which is writing. Hannah has so far published two novels Burning Embers set in 1970s Africa and The Echoes of Love set in 1980s Venice. Her romance novels are adored by readers all over the world.

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Feature – Scent of Desire by Ayr Bray


SCENT OF DESIRE – On sale March 16, 2015

About the book

After a tempestuous acquaintance fraught with misconceptions, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are at last of one mind and heart. Their betrothal is not without its own difficulties, however, and a single misunderstanding may place all of their future happiness in jeopardy.

By Amazon Best-Selling author Ayr Bray, Scent of Desire is a Pride and Prejudice expansion chronicling the six-week engagement of one of the world’s most beloved Jane Austen couples.

Excerpt
Autumn had draped her russet mantle upon the Hertfordshire hillsides. It was a brisk morning, perfect for a walk. A patchwork of clouds moved swiftly across the sky, the sun breaking through in bursts as Elizabeth Bennet set out from Longbourn. The path along the westernmost edge of her father’s estate had always been one of her favourites for viewing the splendours of the season. As if to repay her favour, a leaf tumbled towards the earth just ahead of her, twisting in the breeze until it came to rest amongst its fallen brethren, heralding the coming winter.

She followed the path towards a little stream her father’s tenants used for irrigation. The snapping of twigs and crunching leaves underfoot startled a bird from its lofty perch in the criss-crossed branches overhead. She stopped and craned her neck to track the bird’s flight. Just then, the kerplop of pebbles splashing into the stream alerted her to the presence of someone else on the path, and she moved forwards to investigate. Elizabeth was not surprised when she rounded the bend in the path and found her Fitzwilliam standing at the edge of the stream. Cupped in his hand was a small pile of pebbles. She paused and watched him for a time.

Unaware of her approach, he plucked a speckled pebble from his pile and then cast it into the water. Plunk. It made a small splash and a series of ripples which were quickly seized by the current. He remained oblivious to Elizabeth’s presence, entirely lost in his own thoughts.

Elizabeth noticed a dimpled smile momentarily stealing across his face. It was gone in an instant, replaced by the stoic and noble expression so many in the neighbourhood, herself included, had once taken as an outward display of his pride and conceit. Elizabeth knew better now. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, master of Pemberley, an estate worth at least ten thousand pounds a year, was not proud and conceited. Those who had the good fortune to know him better could not deny his good, kind, and loving nature.

Her engagement to Mr. Darcy made her exceedingly happy. The last several months of their acquaintance, beginning with last spring in Hunsford, had been fraught with pain and regret from harshly spoken words—things said without full knowledge of facts and circumstances. But the pain had subsided and been replaced with a firm understanding of his character, and with that understanding came the longing. She had longed to see him again, longed to apologize.

Last summer, coming upon him so unexpectedly at Pemberley had embarrassed her, though the surprise had not been unpleasant once she’d had time enough to recover her composure. When he had talked to her, she had scarcely dared lift her eyes to his face, but then he spoke with her aunt and uncle and she had been amazed at the alteration of his manner since their last parting. He had spoken to them as equals. There was no condescension in his manner and she could not take her eyes from him. It was then when she first admitted to herself how handsome he truly was. For the first time, she had wished she could take back her previous rejection.

That was all behind them now. Coming out of her reverie, Elizabeth gazed at the noble figure of her betrothed and felt her heart begin to race. She put her cool, gloved hands to her flushed cheeks and wondered at the cause of her sudden reaction. It could not be the sight of Mr. Darcy, handsome though he was. Surely, she thought, some other explanation existed for the quickened thudding of her heart against her ribs. After all, he was just a man, and no man had ever before caused such a reaction in her. He was the same man she had danced with at the Netherfield Ball. The same man she had walked with around Rosings Park. The same man she had met with last night in the presence of her family. It was not as if they had been parted for a long duration or he had changed in the last twelve hours. And yet it must be him. She could not otherwise account for her racing pulse.

She scolded herself for her immaturity, considering she was no better than Lydia and Kitty had been when they so exuberantly chased after the officers last winter. She ought to have the maturity to be composed in her fiancé’s presence, and yet the exhilaration of seeing him again shot straight through to her heart.

She took a step forwards and a twig snapped under her boot.

Mr. Darcy looked up and took notice of her at last. He tossed his handful of pebbles into the stream and went to her.

“Elizabeth, my dear, there you are. I had hoped I would see you this morning if I walked out this way.”

He bowed as he approached her and then took her gloved hand and raised it to his lips. As he kissed her hand, she offered him a deep curtsy. Heat surged up Elizabeth’s arm, bursting like fireworks in her breast. If this is how he affects me when my gloves are on, I have no hope of surviving if he ever touches my skin, she thought.

“How fortunate you are, Mr. Darcy, that I chanced to mention my penchant for early morning walks in this part of the neighbourhood when we spoke last night.”

“I am fortunate indeed.”

“Perhaps I should further mention I walk here every morning, when the weather permits. What about you, Mr. Darcy? Do you think you will be walking out for a morning constitutional tomorrow?”

“Fitzwilliam. Please, Elizabeth, when we are together, you must call me Fitzwilliam.”

“As you wish, Fitzwilliam,” she corrected, her voice portraying every ounce of happiness she felt in saying it.

“As for my walking out tomorrow, I shall have to consider it.”

“Fitzwilliam, I think you must be teasing me.”

An impish smile overspread his features, one Elizabeth had never before witnessed.

“Of course I am teasing you. Nothing, not even the weather, will keep me from coming in case you should be here. I would not miss one moment of privacy which we may have together.”

“I am glad to hear it, for I very much want you to come.” A flush crept up her cheeks and her toes curled in her boots. Admitting she wanted to be with him as much as he did with her was more disturbing than she had ever expected it to be. After years of self-reliance, to admit her happiness could be directly affect by another was a new sensation altogether.

Unable to meet Fitzwilliam’s intense gaze, Elizabeth looked at the ground. Though summer had passed, Lady’s Bedstraw still bloomed in the fields. She left the path to pick a sprig, bringing the small yellow blossoms to her nose to breathe in the sweet perfume. The honey-scented flowers always soothed her no matter the ailment, be it an irritating mother and sisters, or the man she loved causing her heart to leap out of her chest.

“I wish summer would remain all year,” Elizabeth sighed. “It has always been my favourite time of year, when the countryside is filled with flowers. It is a shame the flowers will all be gone soon.”

“I agree, but then again, if the flowers were always here we would take them for granted. I appreciate their return every spring because it means the close of the dreary winter.”

“Yes, you are right, I never considered it that way.”

Taking the sprig of Lady’s Bedstraw from Elizabeth, Fitzwilliam studied it and then lost himself in a memory of the past. Elizabeth touched his arm to bring his attention back to the present.

“Are you all right?”

“Yes, I was just remembering.” Fitzwilliam offered her his arm, which she accepted, and the pair began to walk while he told her his story. “Each summer, on a sunny morning in late July, my mother would take me out in her little phaeton. We would drive to one of the pastures west of Pemberley and park at the edge of the grass. From there, we only needed to take a few steps up the embankment to arrive at our sea of bright yellow flowers at the peak of their bloom. We would pick armfuls of these same flowers and take them home. Mother and I would then place a sprig or two in every vase throughout Pemberley. This annual event was always one of my favourites. Every year I would wait for my mother’s invitation with excitement. I always thought our purpose was to brighten the house, but years after her death, I learned the flowers had another purpose. They keep the bugs away in the summer.”

“That is not their only use,” Elizabeth responded without thinking.

“Really? What are their other uses?” Fitzwilliam inquired.

“Oh, ah … well … they say … that is … I understand it helps with … ah …” Elizabeth had heard the village midwife say it could help a woman through a difficult childbirth, but a lady could hardly say such things to a man, even if she was engaged to him. She ought not to have brought it up, and she cursed her tongue for sometimes being quicker than her wits. Elizabeth searched her mind for any mention of the flower’s use other than the one she had been thinking of. “It has a number of medicinal applications,” she said vaguely. By now her cheeks and neck were three shades of red and she utterly refused to look up at him.

“Medicinal applications, you say? How interesting.”

Elizabeth was inclined to think he did not believe her, but what else could she do? Tell him what the plant was really known for? No, she could not. Mr. Darcy took pity on her and continued with his story.

“Georgiana’s birthday is the middle of July. For her fifth birthday, I had the phaeton readied and took her to the place our mother took me. We picked the flowers, just as my mother had done with me. Then we brought them home and placed them in vases all around Pemberley, but it was not the same. I never took her again.”

His confession did not require a response, so Elizabeth just tightened her hold on his arm as they walked in silence for a few more paces, her free hand swinging at her side, brushing the tops of the flowers.

“I am sure your family will expect you for breakfast. Would you like me to walk you home?” Darcy asked after assessing the position of the sun and then consulting his pocket watch.

“Yes, I would like that very much.”

“Mr. Bingley mentioned we would call today around one. Perhaps then we can discuss a wedding date. Colonel Fitzwilliam will bring Georgiana, but I need to send word of the date so they can plan appropriately.”

“I am eager to see Georgiana again. I have missed her.”

“As have I.”

“I have thought a little about the date already,” Elizabeth said.

“Have you a specific date in mind?”

“No. I only know that I would not like to wait long to marry. There was a time when I thought I would never marry, yet now that we are engaged I find I would prefer to wed sooner rather than later.”

Darcy stopped on the path and drew in a deep breath. Looking deep into Elizabeth’s dark eyes, he said with a low voice, “I would marry you today if it were possible.”

“That would be nice, for then you would be the last person I saw at night and the first in the morning.” Elizabeth’s hand flew to her mouth. So long had she thought about falling to sleep and waking up next to Fitzwilliam that she was hardly aware she had spoken the words aloud until they were already said.

“Tare an’ hounds, Elizabeth, have you really had such thoughts?” His voice was husky with restrained emotion. Oh, how she loved it!

“Do you think less of me for admitting it?”

“Of course not. In fact, you will be lucky if I do not raise a breeze by hauling you off to the altar before sunset.”

“Lucky! I should say I would be unlucky if you did not. Now that we are engaged, I do not plan to be Missish.”

In an instant, Elizabeth’s hand was caught by his and he kissed her palm. Again, her heart raced and heat swept over her in waves. Drawing her close, Darcy leaned very near her mouth and whispered, “There will be the devil to pay if you keep talking like that. I must insist you say no more.”

“Very well, if you insist.”

Darcy offered Elizabeth his arm again and they continued towards Longbourn, each lost in their own thoughts, until Elizabeth spoke up again. “You are right, of course. My father would ring a fine peal over us if we were to do anything untoward. After Lydia’s near disaster, he has taken a far greater interest in all of us. What I meant to say earlier, before my mouth ran away all on its own, is that I have had a talk with Jane. If you and Mr. Bingley approve, we may share their wedding day in six weeks’ time. I do not think it is possible to arrange the event any sooner, for Mama will insist Jane marry first, her engagement being the longer.”

“A double wedding sounds an amiable enough business. Six weeks, you say? I am sure I did not expect it even that soon, but it pleases me that it will be.”

“Very well, then, it is settled. If Mr. Bingley agrees, we shall have a double wedding.”

“He will agree.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Have you ever known Mr. Bingley to disagree with an amiable suggestion? I am not certain the man is capable of dissent.”

The lovers stopped in the path as they neared Longbourn’s gate. Fitzwilliam bowed over her hand and then watched until Elizabeth made it safely to the front door. Rather than waving as she entered the house, she blew him a kiss. She knew it was not a decent thing for a young woman to do, but she did not care. She loved him and wanted the entire world to know it.

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About the author
“From an early age I have always been fascinated by the written word and the mood and atmosphere it creates for a reader; especially those books that affect me and transport me to some far-off place. These are the elements I strive to create in my books. My books in many ways record what most affects me: my feelings and experiences with family, friends, and those I have run into on my life’s journey. My hope is that in my books you will find something that touches you, something which will resonate in your soul and remind you that you are strong and can overcome anything, especially if you have the support of loving friends and family.” – Ayr Bray

Ayr Bray is from the Pacific Northwest, but travels as much as possible so she doesn’t have to deal with the cold.

Ayr loves to hear from readers. Connect with her at her website http://www.ayrbray.com or on Facebook at http://goo.gl/kAAO3u.

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Cover reveal – A Billionaire Between the Sheets by Katie Lane


A BILLIONAIRE BETWEEN THE SHEETS – On sale November 24, 2015

About the book

Overnight billionaires, the Beaumont brothers are thrust into life in the fast lane with exotic cars, private jets . . . and sex and success on their minds.

A commanding presence in the boardroom and the bedroom, Deacon Beaumont has come to save the failing company French Kiss. He was born to be boss in this glamorous new world of lacy lingerie and stunning supermodels. But one bold and beautiful woman dares to question his authority.

Olivia Harrington has dedicated her life to the company’s success. Just because Deacon is sexy as hell doesn’t mean he’ll make a better CEO. With a limitless supply of push-up bras and garter belts, Olivia turns her considerable feminine charms on Deacon to discover what makes him tick . . . and reveals instead the billion reasons why she wants him to stay.

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About the author
Katie Lane is the USA Today bestselling author of the Deep in the Heart of Texas and Hunk for the Holiday series. Katie lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and when she isn’t writing, enjoys reading, going to the gym, golfing, traveling, or just snuggling next to her high school sweetheart and cairn terrier Roo.

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