Ready for the start of a brand new historical romance series?
Today I'm revealing the cover for Lord Muck and Lady Alice, book 1 in the 'Stations of the Heart' series, set in rural Australia in the mid-19th century.
To celebrate this new release, I have two ebook copies to give away. Scroll down to the bottom to enter.
Or, you can pre-order now for 99c USD:
Lord Muck and Lady Alice
Stations of the Heart #1
Release day: Friday, May 11
Darling Downs, Queensland, 1868
He hasn’t followed me!
Lady Alice Lethbridge raised a shaking hand to the brass knocker on the panelled timber door. Her heart still beat like a tribal drum in darkest Africa. The freezing night air rasped in her throat with each breath and scoured her lungs. With numb fingers, she grasped the door knocker and rapped it against its plate. Oh God, let there be help here.
The knocker’s echo died to silence. Lightning flashed across the rain-soaked plain she had stumbled across. Shivering in her torn nightgown, arms clutched around her body, Alice slumped against the door and slid to the icy verandah boards. It was futile. There was no-one to help her.
A gust of wind drove a sheet of freezing rain over her back and beat a wild tattoo on the verandah roof. There was no shelter from the storm anywhere. Warm tears seeped onto her cold cheeks.
How long she lay there shaking, she didn’t know. When the door opened inwards, Alice’s head hit the doorpost with a dull thud, sending a stab of pain across the back of her head. The rest of her burned with numbing cold.
“Father!” screeched a girl’s voice. “Come quickly!”
Footsteps beat towards her, growing louder. Every footfall vibrated her cheek as it lay against the doorpost.
Warm hands checked her limbs and peeled her eyes open. Pain speared behind her temple as the bright light from a lamp blazed into her face.
The man lifted her. His hard chest heated her side as they moved from the cold and rain into warmth and bright light that forced her eyes shut. Bang. The front door closed behind them, cutting off the foul night.
A gruff voice said, “Miss Chambers’s old room, Nell. The bed is made up.”
He hurried onwards through the hallway, following the light held by the girl. The masculine strength of the man reassured her. The scent of his mellow shaving soap calmed her ragged nerves.
He lowered Alice onto a chaise longue.
James Forrester strode from the former governess’s bedroom, back to his spartan study. Ledgers lined up like a leather-clad picket fence behind the glass doors of his bookcases; symbols of his many business interests and the need to keep tight control of all expenditure in this dangerous economy. But right now, none of that occupied his mind.
The memory of the soft weight of the mysterious Alice disturbed him. Her hair had cascaded in long dark waves over his forearm, its tendrils tickling the exposed flesh where his rolled-back sleeves finished below his elbows. Who was she and where had she come from?
James unstoppered the crystal decanter that sat on his oak cadenza, and poured himself a measure of ‘the whisky that perishes’, as the local vicar called it during his hellfire and damnation sermons. James swallowed the dram in a swift gulp that burned all the way to his stomach. Its alcoholic warmth seeped into his blood, easing the tension in his body.
He poured a second drink and sat in a wingback chair in front of the glowing fire, sipping the spirit and pondering Alice’s possible origin. She couldn’t have come from far away. Warwick, the nearest town, was too great a distance, so she must be from one of his neighbours’ properties. There were only two, or maybe three, close enough.
What had happened to send her fleeing into the night in such weather?
Tomorrow, he would get some answers.
Lord Muck and Lady Alice Giveaway
To celebrate the cover reveal for Lord Muck and Lady Alice, I am giving away TWO ebook copies to two lucky winners. Enter below:
I'm thrilled to share the cover for Regency Treats - ten romance short stories in a boxed set.
A smorgasbord of sweet and spicy Regency short stories...
Regency Treats comprises ten Regency romance short stories to warm your heart, from: Regency Rescues, Gentleman Wanted, Forbidden Valentines, and Wanton Widows.
Regency Rescues - Three gentlemen save the women they love from perils of Regency life.
Gentleman Wanted - Is what a widow needs, really what she wants?
ForbiddenValentines - Three spicy, heart-warming Regency stories of forbidden love that breaks the rules.
Wanton Widows - Three Regency-era widows seek new partners in unconventional ways.
To celebrate the cover reveal, I am giving away two ebook copies to two lucky winners! To enter, scroll down below.
14 February 1814
On 14 February 1814, Caroline Medworth decided to commit social suicide.
For miles, she had idly looked out the window of the carriage, twisting a strand of auburn hair around her index finger, wishing she was anywhere else but listening to her snobby cousin Rachel recite the advantages of Caroline’s forthcoming marriage to Baron Strathmorie. Every so often, her father would add his voice in support of Rachel’s.
They were travelling to the baron’s estate in Scotland for the wedding.
It wasn’t the baron’s first marriage or his second or even his third. And evil rumour had whispered in her ear that he’d had scores of mistresses in his seventy years.
And now he wanted her as his fourth wife!
Her father was a wealthy, social-climbing merchant with his own country estate, growing richer by the year. It was her job to catch a title so his grandchildren would be members of the aristocracy.
That was fine, except the only titled person willing to offer for her was … hideous. Her father and everyone else in her family were delighted.
She was not.
Her skin crawled at the thought.
Then, out the window, Caroline saw something she had never expected, no matter how much she had wished otherwise.
Cousin Rachel’s excited voice prattled on. “When you are Lady Strathmorie you will—”
“Stop the carriage!” Caroline screeched.
Her companions looked at her in confusion.
“Whatever for, cousin?”
Her heart pounding as though she was dancing the Roger de Coverley, Caroline’s mind raced to find a believable reason. “I don’t feel well.” She clutched a hand to her midriff. “My stomach.” . . . .
As soon as Caroline could extract herself from her cousin’s zealous, fluttering concern, she left the private dining room of the Bull and Pig Inn on the pretext of visiting the ladies’ withdrawing room.
Instead of making her way there, she walked right out the rear door into a courtyard where lines of washed sheets hung, then hurried along the alleyway beside the inn until she reached the main street of the town, busy with market day.
Swiftly, she ducked down a side street to avoid the crowd and kept walking. She knew exactly where she wanted to be. She looked over her shoulder repeatedly in case she was being followed. Her heart raced, pounding in her chest, its beat loud in her ears.
At the edge of the town on the London road stood a modest whitewashed house set back from the roadway. To one side stood a large low-set building, open at the front. Inside, the fire of a forge burnt brightly. Under a spreading tree nearby stood a grey draught horse awaiting its shoeing.
At the forge inside, a boy worked the bellows. A tall young smithy, dressed in workman’s garb with rolled up sleeves and a leather apron, tempered a horse shoe. With each blow of his hammer the muscles of his arms rippled. His curling brown hair and chiselled features made him look like an Adonis. Even after all this time.
Caroline swallowed against the lump in her throat. She hadn’t imagined what she’d seen from the carriage window. It was him.
Mesmerised, Caroline took a step across the road towards Gideon—towards her past and her longed-for future.
When she looked again at the blacksmith’s shop she saw the commotion had interrupted Gideon’s work. The horseshoe was now forgotten and cooling on the anvil.
Gideon, with a hammer in his hand, stood immobile in the doorway.
A look of astonishment, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, froze on his face. He took a step forward then stopped.
Caroline watched him in fascination, blood beating in her ears. He was bigger, stronger, more riveting than before.
With deep breaths to calm her racing pulse, Caroline searched for an opening in the traffic on the busy road from London, then ran across its cobbled pavement.
On the other side of the roadway, soft green grass beneath her half-boots rushed by as a blur as she hastened towards the blacksmith’s shed.
A sob escaped her throat. Her eyes misted with tears.
Gideon took another step and halted. The hammer dropped from his grip.
Caroline covered the last few yards towards him. She yearned to throw herself into his muscle-corded arms, to feel the love and comfort she had felt five years before.
Before they were wrenched from each other.
When Gideon made no further move to meet her, didn’t raise his arms to envelope her, didn’t smile to greet her, her confidence and momentum faltered.
She stood frozen, just three feet from his tall, muscular form. From his gentle touch. From his loving embrace.
Hope you love it as much as I do!
Is what a widow needs really what she wants?
Widow Selena Hartnell is deep in debt and faced with prison. Her managing friend, Barbara, Baroness De Ritz, decides Selena needs a wealthy husband – fast!
Guy, Viscount Rushcroft, needs a wife to manage his six motherless children who are running wild.
Barbara decrees Selena and the Viscount are perfectly suited, and launches into matchmaking mode. The outcome of her scheming surprises them all.
Release date: 8 September.
#Historical Romance #Romance #Bath #books #novella
I'm excited to tell you about my latest Regency short stories:
Regency Rescues: Three Short Sweet Romances.
Can three gentlemanly heroes save the women they love?
‘Gentleman to the Rescue’: Clarissa Lanstone has been dragged to the altar by her cousin to marry old Squire Barns. Will Captain Tom Whittlesea, the love of her life, arrive in time to save her?
‘An Officer and a Gentleman’: Marianne Chaseley receives the worst news a mother can hear. Can Major Oliver Hurst convince her to let him help her one last time?
‘A True Gentleman’: Lady Emma Blanche is trapped in a situation no woman should endure. Her husband’s valet, John Wright, knows he must help her, but can they escape Sir Henry Blanche?
Regency Rescues is due out on Mothers' Day and available for pre-order now.
24 Symbols: http://bit.ly/2q08UCw
Thank you to all the readers who have supported me over the years. As a way of thanking you, for the whole of February all of my books are available for 99c USD. You can grab your copies here:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2jBQMId
also available at Tolino, 24Symbols, Scribd & Inktera.
Best wishes, Isabella Hargreaves
All this week you have chances to win one of five ebook copies of ENTHRALLED: A Viking Romance
Just visit one or more of these sites to enter:
the book enthusiast: http://facebook.com/bookenthusiastpromotions
My Chaotic Ramblings: http://www.mychaoticramblings.info/2016/11/enthralled-by-isabella-hargreaves-blog.html
A One-Click Addict's Book Blog: http://aone-clickaddictsbookblog.blogspot.com/
All Things Dark and Dirty: https://allthingsdarkanddirty.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/isabella-hargreaves-enthralled-blog-tour/
deal sharing aunt: http://www.dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com
Lauries interviews: http://lauries-interviews.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/enthralled-by-isabella-hargreaves.html
Angees afterthoughts: http://www.angeesafterthoughts.com/2016/11/enthralled-by-isabella-hargreaves.html
The Bookworm Lodge: http://thebookwormlodge.com
Teatime and Books: http://teatimeandbooks76.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/blog-tour-enthralled-by-isabella.html?zx=4c0c285b969eb77f
book girl's thoughts: https://bookgirlsthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/enthralled-by-isabella-hargreaves-blogtour-isabellahauthor/
Stephanie's Book Reports: http://www.stephaniesbookreports.com
910AD, a convent in Mercia in 'England'
Someone pounded on her cell door. “Wake up, Lady Eadlin! Wake up!”
Eadlin shook her head to clear her sleep-befuddled mind. “Cenric! What’s wrong?” Dread balled in her stomach.
She tugged her habit over her shift and wrenched the door open.
Cenric burst in. He held a sword and small knife. His face was grim, set into harsh furrows.
“Raiders, Lady Eadlin. You must flee at once. They’re in the village and heading this way.”
Now Eadlin could hear distant screams and shouting. The acrid smell of smoke floated on the night air.
Fingers of fear crept amongst her guts like ice spreading across a pond in winter. “I can’t leave the sisters. Can we defend ourselves?”
His jaw dropped. “Not against armed raiders.”
“Are they Vikings?” Her words were high-pitched and breathless.
“Probably.” His voice was severe.
Her heart pounded in terror. Oh God, not that! Eadlin pulled on her veil and boots then upended her reed mattress and took an ancient engraved dagger from beneath it.
The old warrior gestured at her with his sword. “You would prefer to die defending them?”
He grimaced in distaste. “Then get them into the chapel. It’s the strongest building.”
Eadlin ran out to beat on the doors of the nuns’ rooms yelling, “Vikings! Go to the chapel!”
The abbess, veil askew, joined her in shepherding the sisters into the stone building adjacent to their sleeping quarters. A few squat candles burnt on the altar, casting ghoulish shadows across the walls.
Fear haunted the abbess’ eyes, but her voice held its usual calm and commanding tone.
Cenric secured the door and stood ready with his sword. As he waited he pleaded, “Flee, Lady Eadlin, flee! There’s still time! It’s what your father would want you to do. Go while you can!”
Blood pounded loud in her ears. He was asking her to abandon these gentle women who took her in, to leave them defenceless. “I can’t, Cenric. There’s nowhere to go. This is my home, and this is my family now.”
Sounds of timber splintering and pottery breaking shattered the air. A dozen nuns huddled on their knees before the altar.
The abbess led them in prayer, “Domine, libera nos a furore normannorum….” Lord, save us from the fury of the northmen, but most, Eadlin saw, were distracted by the screaming and shouting coming from the village across the river and the noise outside the chapel door.
Some sobbed, and Sister Ælthgifu held a trembling novice in her arms.
The door to the chapel reverberated with the force of a shoulder or foot against it.
“Open the door or die!” yelled the attacker in English, his voice harsh and authoritative.
Surprised, Eadlin exchanged a glance with Cenric across the doorway.
Who were these attackers who spoke their language?
Were they the king’s men, come for her, or were they Vikings as Cenric had thought?
Neither she nor Cenric moved. Either way, danger stood beyond the door and would be in the chapel soon enough without their aiding it.
In seconds the cleaved door hung tattered from its hinges, and their attacker towered before them.
He was tall. Very tall.
His form filled the doorway.
Smoke and the sweet tang of blood clung to him. An iron helmet with nosepiece and a ragged blond beard hid all but his cold blue eyes, harsh cheeks, and bitter mouth.
Eadlin knew then-
#romance, #historicalromance, #Viking, #HistoricalFiction, #historical