Hi there, I'm so excited to be here with fellow romance lovers!
My favourite romance genre is historicals and of these I have a weakness for Regency romances. I love the concept that a reputations could be ruined just by being alone with a man…. men were obviously a much more dangerous lot back then!
My debut novel ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is a story of blackmail, duty and unexpected love and it may sound bizarre, but the idea for the book sprang from a portrait of Emma Hart (who married Lord Hamilton and famously became Admiral Nelson’s mistress.)
The painting by George Romney shows an innocent yet lush young woman, scantily clad with a hint of bosom, brazenly staring out of the canvas with an allure that is quite hypnotic. It struck me as sensational for an 18th century work, that the sitter was not prim, proper, straight backed and starchy. It must have been utterly scandalous at the time! But who would be bold enough to commission such a portrait? (As it happened Emma Hart was ahead of her time and loved to flout convention…but that’s another story.)
What a delicious idea for a novel! What if the woman in the painting wanted to shock? What if, years later, this rebellious streak threatened to disgrace her family? What if only the son she despises can save her reputation… but at the price of his secret love? And so ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ was born.
“Historical romance at its best.” OnceUponAChapter
“Totally engrossing…sensual and evocative writing.” FictionBooks.
“Breathtaking sensuality…page turning drama…a wonderful talent.” The Romance Reviews.
Celeste Armitage has a plan…and it doesn’t include marriage.
Celeste’s despairing parents exile her to the country, where she finds a sketch book of nude studies and is shaken to find the artist is her hostess’s son, Lord Ranulf Charing. This cynical lord is the exactly sort of dissipated rogue she despises most…if only her blood didn’t heat at the sight of him!
Lord Ranulf faces ruin as a blackmailer uses his late brother’s debts to destroy the Charing’s reputation. When Ranulf unexpectedly falls for the rebellious Celeste he must chose between true love and family duty…but Ranulf underestimates Celeste’s resolve to clear his name and unwittingly places his soul mate in mortal danger….
So be it. Ranulf gritted his teeth as he grasped the leading leg and pushed. It was like fighting against a brick wall, the calf barely moving. A lamb was difficult enough, how much more so a calf? Just as he was wondering if one man was strong enough, a shower of pebbles rattled down the bank. Concentrating on the calf, he barked.
“Don‟t just stand there. Get down here!”
“I beg your pardon!” A woman‟s voice answered.
With a flash of annoyance Ranulf glanced upward.
A wide eyed young woman in a straw bonnet peered down. “I say, is everything all right?”
“Does it look all right?” Muttering under his breath, all he needed was some sensitive Miss fainting on him. “Go! Fetch help from the house.”
He saw her hesitate, biting her top lip. “But you need help now.”
A contraction clamped around his arm as the cow's tail switched across his face, stinging his eyes like a cat-o-nine-tails.
In a flurry of muslin and lace the Miss slid down the bank, landing with a thud in the ditch.
“Ouch.” She rubbed her ankle. Ranulf glared back, dark eyes flashing.
“You should have gone to the house.” Damn it all, she could make herself useful then. “Hold the tail aside.”
Pulling a face she limped over. Ranulf's eye lingered for she merited a second glance. Of middle height with a tidy waist and curves where God intended them, she appeared quick witted and bright eyed. Without further ado, she stripped off her gloves throwing them onto a bramble bush. Long, sensitive fingers grasped the muddy tail. Practical, Ranulf thought, silently impressed.
“Why didn't you go for help?”
“There wasn't time.” Her bonnet slipped backwards, revealing a quirky face with a pointed chin, her lips finely drawn with an arched cupid's bow. The sort of face an artist could lose himself in, all shades of the sea to be found in deep emerald eyes framed by a tangle of chestnut hair.
Ranulf tightened his grasp and pushed. Sweat beading his brow. The calf retreated an inch.
“What are you doing?” Her voice was gentle and calm, if somewhat deep for a woman. Ranulf guessed it would be husky in bed, whispering over a pillow after a night of passion. Her eyes were on him - deep green eyes, lively and entrancing. Suddenly he remembered that he was undressed to the waist, her curious gaze on his skin as he was gripped by the idea of those lily white hands gliding over his naked chest, her almond shaped nails digging into his skin. He shook away the thought, trying to remember her question.
All innocence and interest she watched, blushing faintly in a charming way and yet, he realized, no wilting flower. He shook his head. The woman had asked a question, damn it. He would answer.
“The calf is breech.” He grunted, “I need to push her back into the womb to turn her…” He wanted to shock this stranger, to test how bold she truly was. She stared back, biting her top lip, exaggerating her snub nose.
“Ah!” Her gaze met his.
“Think of the calf as a carriage in a narrow driveway. To turn it around you push it back into the stable yard…”
“What can I do to help?”
“Nothing.” He growled.
Throwing him an angry look, she anchored the tail with a log and scrambled round to the beast's head. After a moment‟s thought, she placed her pelisse under the cow's head stroking the broad nose and crooning words of comfort.
“She's relaxing.” Ranulf's arm was numb from the contractions. He fell forward, as the first leg finally slid back into the womb. "That helps." His hair had come free from the ribbon, falling thickly about his shoulders. He glanced at the Miss. She was leaning forward, her bosom straining against a tight bodice, a satisfying cleavage between her breasts. He swallowed hard. She was odd looking, he decided, not exactly beautiful but eye catching none the less. Her face showed character, determination…and her complexion too healthy to be fashionable, rosy cheeked and peppered with freckles which with a hint of sunlight burst into a profusion.
The Miss was glaring at him now, her skin glowing bright pink. Had he been staring? His heart raced as he returned to the calving.
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‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is now available from Amazon, Books on Board and most eBook retailers for just GBP 2.14, so why not take a chance on an unknown author?