books

SALE: Get The Governess Was Wanton for $0.99!

The Governess Was Wanton is on sale for a very limited time! The second book in the Governess series is a retelling of my favorite fairytale, Cinderella, but this time The Fairy Godmother gets her happily ever after!

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Mary Woodward, a young veteran governess, has one job: guiding a young debutante through her first season in high society. And up until now, keeping her focus and avoiding temptation has been easy. But never before has the father of her young charge been as devilishly handsome as the single, wealthy Earl of Asten.... Convinced to risk it all, Mary let's herself enjoy one night of magic at a masked ball in Asten's arms, but will they both regret everything when the Earl learns her true identity?

#5forFriday: One Week in Hawaii Is Breaking Up! (And That Means You Save)

This is a special #5forFriday today because it isn't every week I get to announce TWO deals for readers.

  1. My anthology ONE WEEK IN HAWAII is breaking up! What does that mean for you? A 99¢ book that gets you not just one but four sexy novellas just in time for summer beach read season. But remember, you've got just one week for the sale because after that the ebook comes down and you'll only be able to get it via paperback.
  2. Speaking of great deals, my publisher has put together a bundle of 12 free reads including THE GOVERNESS WAS WICKED! It's all in honor of a great site redesign for XOXO After Dark. Definitely check it out, and don't miss this video the authors of Pocket shot for the big anniversary. I'm in there, big hair and all.
  3. My sister and her Scottish boyfriend are coming to NYC! In fact, mere hours after this post goes up, they'll be on the ground (and probably jet lagged). My sister used to live four blocks from me in New York, so it's been tough not having her around. Fortunately...
  4. ...my moving to the U.K. going along about as well as I could hope. There are a million little things that need to be done before I get on a plane, but I'm crossing things off the very long to do list.
  5. Normally I'd round this out by saying I finished a draft of a book (true!) or turned in proofs (also true!) since my last #5forFriday, but really the best thing that's happened to me all week has been seeing friends and getting together those last few times. Even though I'll see many of them in a couple months — I literally just booked airfare to come back to the U.S. for my best friend's bachelorette party in Austin AND RWA in Orlando — there's something about celebrating seeing each other in the same city that makes all the difference.

Your First Look at a Second Chance Romance

Four years ago, I came back to New York from a conference buzzing with excitement over a new story I wanted to write. It was a sexy sports contemporary romance all centered around the NFL Draft. It would have a badass agent as the heroine squaring off against a charming and persistent sports reporter who's fighting to save his job by scoring a big interview with her client. Even better, he's a blast from her past — the guy who never noticed her in high school — but you can bet he's paying attention now. I sat down and started writing that very night.

Over the years the book changed as I grew as an author. I rewrote it a couple of times but kept coming back. Finally, it found a home with my publisher and got the love it deserves from a great editor. Now I can honestly say I can't wait for you guys to read CHANGING THE PLAY, and as a little teaser here's a look at the cover!

Rachel's a powerful agent who will do anything to guard her clients (her client list is full of basketball and football players just like those guys standing behind her). She's totally the type of woman to rock that suit and those shoes at work, and I love love love her!

Trust me, Nick doesn't even know what he's in for!

Here's a bit more about Rachel and Nick's story:

Rachel Pollard has never been a push-over. That’s why she’s a superstar in the world of sports management, making a name for herself with a shrewd eye for overlooked talent. She certainly isn’t taking any chances with her latest NFL draft prospect, Kevin Loder, who’s poised to shake up the league. But when Nick Ruben, a tenacious sports reporter who also happens to be the crush who ignored her all through high school, picks up the scent of a long-buried story, Rachel suddenly finds herself playing defense for the first time in years.

Nick usually doesn’t strike out with women, but his always-dependable charm isn’t getting him anywhere with Rachel or the interview he needs to save his job from his network’s impending layoffs. He knows he’s pressing hard, but she’s pushing back just as much—it’d almost be fun if his career wasn’t on the line. But after weeks of begging and finally striking a deal for an exclusive, Nick is surprised to realize he wants their relationship to be anything but professional. Now he has to figure out a way to save his job without hurting hers, and to make the girl he overlooked in high school believe he’s worth a shot at love.

If you preorder now, you get the book at it's promotional $1.99 price. That's down from $4.99! 

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You can expect to meet Rachel and Nick on August 21, just in time for football season to kick off!

#5forFriday: Moving, Hotly Anticipated Books, and Scrivener

It's been a busy week! Here are the top 5 things I've loved, learned, and listened to:

  1. OMG I'm moving to London! I talked about the decision to move out of NYC in a post earlier this week, and while I'm thrilled I also still can't believe it. (But I'm sure it'll start feeling real once I bring the suitcases out and empty my apartment.)
  2. I got to speak to Sarah Aswell from SheKnows about my top 10 most-anticipated romance novels for the rest of 2017.
  3. This M. O'Keefe book is free right now and you better believe I grabbed a copy.
  4. On this month's First Draught we talked about Scrivener (i.e. the writing and organizational software that makes it possible for me to write several books at once). Here's a link to the podcast.
  5. This song by Odessa is giving me life this week:

COVER REVEAL: Book 1 in a Sexy New Scottish Romance Series

If you've been reading my newsletter or my website for awhile now, you know I've been hinting at the new Scotland-set historical series I've been writing. Well, the first book in the Matchmaker of Edinburgh series is now available for preorder, and it has a gorgeous cover!

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Isn't she beautiful!? The cover designer did an amazing job with this one, and I couldn't be happier!

I loved writing this heroine who is a fiercely independent sculptor who's near ruination lands her in a marriage of convenience with her best friend.

Here's a closer look:

An accomplished sculptor with secret ambitions, Ina Duncan has managed to avoid marriage for years until an accidental encounter at a party leaves her near ruin and in need of a husband. Fast. Determined to find a willing husband for Ina, Edinburgh’s most powerful matchmaker, Moira Sullivan, quickly realizes that the solution to Ina’s problem might be right in front of her.

Ina’s best friend, Gavin Barrett, has a secret no one knows: he’s loved her for years. As the second son of a baronet, however, he knows he has little chance with his brilliant, beautiful friend. All that changes when Moira convinces Ina to propose a marriage of convenience to Gavin to save her from ruin. Ina only wants two things from him in return: a vow she can continue to sculpt and a promise they’ll remain in Edinburgh.

After a rocky start, happiness—and maybe passion—seems on the horizon for the newlyweds until a twist of fate bestows the title of Sir Barrett on Gavin and forces him to assume responsibilities he’s never wanted. Forced to mold herself into the perfect baronet’s wife, Ina must choose between her dreams and the man she’s learning to love.

This book is slated to come out on October 9, and you can preorder it now so you don't miss it's big release day! Just click on one of the links below.

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Free Books for Historical Readers!

Just in time for Valentine's Day, I've got a treat for my historical readers! Fifteen historical romance authors and I are giving away copies of our books for a limited time. Want to wander the Highlands? How about a romp in the Regency? Or maybe retreating to the American Revolution is more your style? This giveaway's got you covered.

You can get these books for free until 2/27, but after that the deal's gone! Click on the covers below to be taken directly to the book download link.

What I'll Be Reading This February

Since I've been writing both contemporary and historical romance this winter, I've been doing my best to read outside of the genre for relaxation. Judging packets for the RITA Awards came out this winter which makes taking a break from romance a bit tricky but here are a few of the books I'm reading off of my TBR pile this month:

I'll See You in Paris, by Michelle Gable

This was a gift from my friend Mary Chris Escobar as part of a secret Santa present. This women's fiction follows a mother and daughter as they return to the mother's long-lost home in England. As the story unfolds, you get little bits of a mystery about a third woman as well.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue, by Melanie Benjamin

Every reader's got catnip. Books about New York in the 1920s, '30s, '40s, and '50s are mine. I haven't started this book yet, but The Swans of Fifth Avenue came as a strong recommendation from a good friend who shares the same obsession as I do.

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners, by Therese Oneill

This was a birthday gift from my sister and her boyfriend. I've read through a couple sections already, and it's a really irreverent, fascinating look at history. Think of all the unglamorous things you don't usually read about the Victorians: poisonous cosmetics, menstruation, weight loss and gain. I can already tell it's going to be really helpful for research.

The Mystery of Princess Louise, by Lucinda Hawksley

This book is strictly for research, although I really enjoy Hawksley's other books I've read. Princess Louise was a talented artist in her own right and served as stand-in for her mother, Queen Victoria, at many state functions while Victoria was deep in mourning.

She's also the subject of one of my favorite portraits. (One day, someone please paint a portrait of me that is as complimentary as this one.)

Grit:The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth

I'm tearing through this book about the psychology behind success and determination. A friend of my recommended reading it because it looks at the common traits that successful people share: passion and determination, or as Duckworth calls it, grit. (FYI, romance authors are some really gritty ladies.) Normally I don't think of myself as a big fan of psychology books, but I'm really enjoying this one and I also thought Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller was fascinating so I might have to revise my thoughts on the genre.

Top 10 Books of 2016

The end of the year is naturally a time for reflection, and for writers and readers that often means looking back at the year in books. This year I'm rounding up my top 10 reads of 2016. I've already talked a bit about four of my favorite books from the year over on my First Draught podcast. You can give it a watch here if you're curious (and want to hear me gush about The Hating Game):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7vc4AUu4XQ

A couple caveats before I start. I'm not great at keeping up with new releases, so every year I read a smattering of books that have come out in the last couple years as well as older titles. I also read pretty widely across genres and always pick up a lot of British history every year. It turns out 2016 was no different.

So, in no particular order, here they are my favorite reads of 2016!

The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne (Contemporary Romance)

This was hands down my favorite book of the year. I actually read it via a wonderfully narrated audiobook, and I couldn't stop listening. It's the story of a workplace battle of the sexes romance and it's jam-packed with snappy banter, a slow burn love story, and a smart, sharp heroine. I highly, highly recommend it, especially if you're looking for an escape this holiday season.

Royally Screwed, by Emma Chase (Contemporary Romance)

Another audiobook with a great narrator (Shane East, your voice is delicious). This was a fun fantastical romance with a very dirty-minded yet dutiful prince and a coffeeshop waitress who fall in love over pie in Brooklyn. While Nicholas's perspective sucked me into the narrative, it was Olivia's POV that kept me engaged. She gets to be strong and sexy, vulnerable and stubborn. I'm now eagerly anticipating the next book, Royally Matched, which is set to come out early next year.

Fire Me Up, by Kimberly Kincade (Contemporary Romance)

I have a weakness for romances that center around restaurants and bars because they so often feature heroes who are chefs. This book sizzles with Adrian, the damaged motorcycle-riding chef, at the center of it, and the hero, Teagan is just the sort of strong, take-no-shit heroine to go toe-to-toe with him.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, by Sarah MacLean (Historical Romance)

I've really enjoyed MacLean's Rule of Scoundrels series—so much so that I was really hesitant to pick up this last book and close out the series. I needn't have worried. I don't want to summarize what happens in this book for fear that I'll give away some major series secrets, but I will say that this book has the only indoor swimming pool I've ever read about in a London-set historical romance and it's put to good use.

Right Wrong Guy, by Lia Riley (Contemporary Romance)

Full disclosure, Lia Riley is a friend and represented by my agent.

You always want your friends books to be excellent, and it's so satisfying when that's exactly what you get. I love a reforming hero book, and this book opens with Archer waking up after a threesome he can't remember in a Vegas hotel room. That was my first clue that this was going to heat up the small town contemporary romances that I've come to expect. Sure enough, the sex scenes sizzle and the characters pop off the page. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Perv, by Dakota Gray (Erotic Romance)

In case the cover and title weren't big enough hints, this book is very, very hot. But while sex drives the plot, it's the relationship between the characters and the ways they encourage/force each other to grow that drives its emotional center. Yet another book where the heroine stood out for me.

Uprooted, by Naomi Novak (Fantasy)

So let's talk about covers for a moment. I hate the American one and love the British one (which is the version that my sister sent me from the UK). Now that my admittedly petty criticism of the marketing choice is out of the way, I talked a lot about this book in this month's First Draught episode so all I'll say is this is a briskly paced adult fairytale filled with action. It was another book I couldn't put down.

The Blackhouse, by Peter May (Mystery)

I like my mysteries bloody, depraved, and emotionally scarring. The first book in Peter May's Lewis series is all of those things. It follows an Edinburgh detective facing his own personal tragedy who gets recalled to his native Lewis to solve a brutal murder on the island. While the mystery serves at the backdrop for the book, it really focuses on the people who live on island—a world that is strangely and wonderfully rendered so that it feels almost like its own character.

His Bloody Project, by Graem Macrae Burnet (Historical Fiction)

Centered around another brutal murder in Scotland (apparently this was a reading theme for me this year), you already know who did it when you begin reading this book. Instead the mystery lies in the why. His Bloody Project is told as though it's a collection of medical documents, court room testimony, and the murderer's confession, and it makes for a riveting read.

The Mistresses of Cliveden, by Natalie Livingstone (British History)

The best nonfiction I read this year, The Mistresses of Cliveden tells the story of a historic house through the women who lived there and/or owned it. It's a collection of fascinating biographies that highlights women who were significant to British history as politicians, de facto royal advisors, and trendsetters.

The Language of Flowers

Bunch of red romantic blooming poppy flowers isolated vector illustration

I've always been fascinated by flowers. Not just the bunches of roses that I get from my local bodega to decorate my apartment. I love the complexity of roses, the endless varieties of lavender, and the usefulness of herbs. Flowers are so much more than a fleeting bit of beauty.

It’s no surprise then that when I learned the Victorians had an entire silent language they gave to flowers, I was fascinated and wanted badly to find a way to incorporate it into a book.

The Governess Was Wanton is a twist on the traditional Cinderella story. Some elements are the same — there’s mistaken identity, a woman who is down on her luck, and an item that’s lost and must be returned by a handsome man — but I decided to flip the story to give the fairy godmother her own happily ever after.

Because I was changing the formula, I also wanted to change up the all-important glass slipper. I decided that instead of Cinderella losing her shoe, my heroine, Mary, loses her handkerchief. But it isn’t just any handkerchief. It’s unique, one of a set of twelve given to Mary by her own governess back when her life was very different. Those twelve handkerchiefs are edged in a pattern of ivy and pink geraniums.

Those flowers aren’t an accident. I chose them because in the Victorian flower language ivy stood for friendship, fidelity, and marriage. Geranium had several meetings but the ones I drew on were gentility and esteem as well as true friendship (this last one applied to oak leaf geranium specifically).

What I enjoyed the most about incorporating these flowers was that they were sort of like the Easter eggs you spot in an episode of Doctor Who. If readers know anything about flower language, it’s a fun little thing to pick up in the story. If not, the flowers were just a pretty embellishment on a handkerchief.

The thing to remember is that authors rarely chose to put something as symbolic as the glass slipper — or in this case the embroidered handkerchief — into their story without thinking a bit about the details.

If you're interested in reading more about flower language and Victorians there's a wonderful article from Atlas Obscura all about it. The next time you see a flower pop-up and romance novel maybe you can find some deeper meaning in why the author chose that flower in particular.

The Governess Problem

I’ve written a bit here about how I came up with the idea to write about three friends who are all governesses and each find their happily ever after in their own time. What I haven’t talked about is why governesses? The answer is simple: governesses occupied a fascinating space as educated, well-bred ladies who earned a wage but weren’t servants. That status on the fringes of society makes them all the more interesting to write about.

"Marian Hubbard 'Daisy' Bell and Elsie May Bell with governess," 1885, Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Who Was the Victorian Governess?

If you’re only vaguely familiar with who governesses were and what they did, here’s a primer. They were often educated, respectable women who’d fallen on hard times, the daughters of parents who couldn’t afford to keep them at home until they married, or other down-on-their-luck widows armed with a good reputation. These women could make an income by educating the girls of a well-to-do middle- or upper-class families until their charges were married and became the mistresses of their own households.

And intentionally or not, governesses were subversive as hell.

It’s important to remember the context of the time period we’re dealing with here. During Victorian England society was governed by a phenomenon called “the two spheres.”

Convention dictated that men occupied the public sphere and could go off into the world and do things like manage businesses, enter into politics, or work. Women got to stay at home.

“The prevailing ideology regarded the house as a haven, a private domain as opposed to the public sphere of commerce,” writes Elizabeth Langland in her article, “Nobody’s Angels: Domestic Ideology and Middle-Class Women in the Victorian Novel."

White, straight, cisgender women of the middle and upper classes occupied this “private sphere,” but at the same time their money allowed them to delegate many of the duties that would have traditionally fallen to women. In households that could afford it, you hired a maid-of-all-work, or if you had more money specialized servants like chamber maids, ladies maids, and a cook. Families who could afford it hired a nurse and, for the education of their young girls, a governess.

The Governess as a Sexual Threat

Governesses, by professional necessity, were not married. They lived in their employer’s homes and therefore had an intimate knowledge of a family regardless of whether their actual relationships with the individual members were warm or not.

Even though governesses were a status symbol of a certain degree of wealth and class, they were still looked on with suspicion. Having an unmarried woman in close proximity to a husband or older sons was seen as a direct threat to domestic peace. The historian M. Jeanne Peterson quotes at length from Mary Atkinson Maurice's Governess Life (1849) in her article “The Victorian Governess: Status Incongruence in Family and Society:”

Frightful instances have been discovered in which she, to which the care of the young has been entrusted, instead of guarding their minds in innocence and purity has become the corruptor—she has been the first to lead and to initiate into sin, to suggest and carry on intrigues, and finally to be the instrument of destroying the peace of families…

Because the governess wasn’t the “traditional” Victorian woman who stayed within the confines of her own home and therefore the private sphere, she was seen as threatening to the very structure that held society in check.

Even more concerning — and surely ridiculous to modern readers — was that Victorian womanhood was wrapped up the idea that the ideal woman was modest and retiring when it came to sex. The accepted model of female sexuality can be most easily seen in the works of the much quoted and undeniably naive Dr. William Acton who believed that that “the majority of women (happily for them) are not very much troubled by sexual feelings of any kind" (The Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs, 1857). If a woman lived outside of the bounds of her traditional role, she must be a threatening, oversexualized figure. This is where the governess-as-seducer trope you see with characters like Vanity Fair's Becky Sharpe gets its bite.

"A sufficient reason," S.D. Ehrhart, Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1894 January 10, Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Governess and The Economic Threat

Governesses didn't just offend society's ideas about womanhood because of they lived close to men or their perceived sexuality. They subverted strictly gender roles for middle-class women by earning a wage. This gave the governess access to money, economic independence, and choice — all hallmarks of what we would later come to know as feminism.

Woman in Victorian England had little say over their own money. It wouldn’t be until a series of Married Women’s Property Acts* increased the legal rights of women under British law throughout the 1800s that a woman could inherit and maintain control over her own money within her marriage. Before then she was essentially beholden to first her father and then her husband and sons for the duration of her life. She was essentially a charity case who had little legal recourse if the man who was supposed to be providing for her was instead frittering away her money.

By living outside of the traditional father-daughter or husband-wife structure and earning her own wage, a governess could exercise a degree of independence by having power over her money.

I don't want to paint too rosy a picture for the Victorian governess. She didn't earn much money so the independence she did have was limited. “Her working life was not likely to last more than 25 years, at a starting salary of 25l, rarely reaching 80l” (Liza Picard, Victorian London: The Tale of a City, 1840-1870, p. 262).

While teaching was one of the few respectable ways for a middle-class woman to earn her living,** the governess was relegated to a lower social status than her charges. Still, she was earning money and was beholden to no man which meant she had legal control over her income — something married women couldn't boast of until well into the 19th century.

Making Them Heroines

The conflict built into the governess's life — whether it's the perceived threat to the fidelity of a marriage or her uncomfortable limbo between lady and servant — makes her the perfect romance heroine. There's conflict built into her story from page one because she doesn't fit neatly into the boxes that Victorian society assigned women. No matter who the hero (or heroine in the case of F/F) is, there is going to be a tension regarding her non-traditional role in the home and in society. And great romance comes out of great tension.

*You can read more about these acts in Mary Lyndon Shanley’s Feminism, Marriage, and Law in Victorian England, a dry but fascinating book.

**Another was writing. Mary Wollstonecraft and Frances Milton Trollope were just two of the women who picked up their pens to earn money during the Georgian and Victorian eras.

Further Reading

Feminism, Marriage, and Law in Victorian England, Mary Lyndon Shanley

“Nobody’s Angels: Domestic Ideology and Middle-Class Women in the Victorian Novel," Elizabeth Langland

“The Victorian Governess: Status Incongruence in Family and Society," M. Jeanne Peterson

Victorian Sexualities,” Holly Furneaux

The Governess Was Wanton Is Out Today!

If you read The Governess Was Wicked and thought, "I wish I could read Mary's story right now," you're in luck! The Governess Was Wanton just released today! Here's a look at what's in store for the second edition of the Governess series: The Governess was Wanton

Mary Woodward, a young veteran governess, has one job: guiding a young debutante through her first season in high society. And up until now, keeping her focus and avoiding temptation has been easy. But never before has the father of her young charge been as devilishly handsome as the single, wealthy Earl of Asten…. Convinced to risk it all, Mary let’s herself enjoy one night of magic at a masked ball in Asten’s arms, but will they both regret everything when the Earl learns her true identity?

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I'm already getting great feedback from readers on Goodreads. If you do read the book (or if you read The Governess Was Wicked) I'd really appreciate a review. Reviews help readers figure out what books will and won't work for them so they're really important!

The next books in the series, The Governess Was Wild, is still available for preorder and will be coming out in November. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you don't miss any future release dates!

How the Governesses Came To Be

The Governess was WickedAsk a writer, “Where do you get your ideas?” And you’re just as likely to get blank stares as you are answers. Many of us have no idea where the ideas come from. They just gel somewhere in the back of our subconscious in some mysterious process even we don’t fully understand because if we did you can bet writing would inspire a lot less hair pulling. If you really want to know where books come from, you’ve got to think of a book like a recipe and ideas like ingredients. You toss a whole bunch of ideas together that you’ve gathered from books, movies, the news, anywhere, and if you’re lucky you wind up with a cake…err…book.

I have no idea where my new Governess series came from, but I can tell you exactly where I was when it sparked. I used to take the 6 train up to the South Bronx every morning to get to my old job. It was an unusually cold day in late October, and I was worrying about what I’d do for NaNoWriMo. Like any good writer, I was armed with my trusty notebook and a pen, ready to write. I just needed an idea.

I got off of the train and headed above ground to wait for the bus that would take me last few miles to work. I probably hunched down into my coat because I’m always cold from October until April. Then, for whatever reason, an idea struck me. What if I wrote a book about a governess?

The Governess was WantonI love dukes and duchesses and all of the shenanigans they get up to in romance novels, but for a long time I’ve been wanting to change up that story. I've always been fascinated by women who lived on the fringes of respectability in Victorian England. Governesses, doctors, teachers, spinsters, small business owners. All of these women were different because all of them did something a woman wasn’t supposed to during this era: they earned their own money.

But despite my fascination with governesses I knew that I couldn't write just one book and call it a day. With my agent’s very sound business advice to think in series in mind, I began to sketch out basic plot lines for two other governess stories. I gave the heroines the names—Elizabeth, Mary, and Jane—that they would go to publication with. I gave them each a different kind of hero (their men’s names didn’t stay the same). By the time the bus pulled up, I had the kernel of an idea.

I kept working and working at my first governess book until I finished a draft and sent it off to beta readers. It came back bleeding with comments, but there was something in it that seemed worth pursuing so I kept at it. Little by little, a draft emerged. My agent was interested. I wrote my scribbled notes for Mary and Jane’s books into synopses. I rewrote those synopses many, many times, learning and re-learning what would make for a good, sellable book. If I wanted to be a writer who could eventually sell on proposal,

Finally the full first book and two subsequent synopses went out on submission, and a couple months later my governesses found a home and a wonderful editor.

The Governess was WildNow that the books are launching this fall, it’s strange to think about the fact that it all started because I was standing at a busy bus stop in the middle of the Bronx, trying to get to work and scrambling to come up with a NaNoWriMo book idea.

If you want to write, I may not be able to tell you where to find ideas of your own any more than I can tell you how I come up with mine, but I can give you these two pieces of advice: keep an open, curious mind and never travel without a notebook.

From now until 9/30 I'm giving away two huge prize packs to celebrate the release of The Governess series. Enter to win below!

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The Governess Was Wicked Is Out Now! (Plus a Giveaway)

The wait is over! Today is release day for The Governess Was Wicked, and I couldn't be happier that the book is now in the hands of readers like you! The Governess was Wicked Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet-sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor. As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt...

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The love story between Elizabeth and Edward was a lot of fun to write, and it also introduces one of my favorite characters I've ever written — Lady Crosby (those of you who read The Lady Always Wins will recognize the acerbic matriarch).

The next books in the series, The Governess Was Wanton and The Governess Was Wild, are still available for preorder and will be coming out in October and November. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you don't miss any future release dates!

If you want to learn a bit more about how the entire series came to be, First Draught dedicated an entire episode to my path to publishing story:

I'm also over on T.J. Kline's blog where she grilled me about the books and gave me a quick pop quiz.

Plus I'm on XOXO After Dark talking about dream casting all my heroes and heroines.

And last but not least, I'm giving away two huge prize packs thanks to a little help from my author friends. You could win ebooks, signed paperbacks, audiobooks, and an Amazon gift card!. All you have to do is enter here:

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A Sneak Peek at The Governess Was Wicked

The Governess was WickedToday I'm sharing a sneak peek at The Governess Was Wicked which comes out in just one week on September 12! Here's a look at the back of book blurb: Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet-sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor. As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt...

And here we go!

“Any woman would be lucky to call you her husband,” she said quietly.

“Miss Porter . . .”

She looked up to find a smolder in his eyes that contrasted with the tightness in his jaw, as though he was holding himself back from doing something he knew he shouldn’t.

“Yes?” she asked, wishing that he’d just once act without thinking and not let another one of these long, fraught, lingering moments go by.

“You hardly know me.”“I know that you’re a gentleman who has done nothing but treat me with respect.”

“Except that sometimes I don’t want to play the gentleman,” he said, his voice taking on a gruff quality she’d never heard before. “Sometimes I think about doing things I shouldn’t.”

His words hung in the air, warming her blood and quickening her breath. It was deliciously wrong. It didn’t help that it would take just a half step for him to tower over her, her unbound breasts brushing his chest through her nightclothes.

She was so tired of stuffing herself into a little box and closing the lid. Everyone thought they saw Elizabeth Porter, but all they saw was the careful mask she’d adopted to survive. Somehow Dr. Fellows and all of his noble intentions had weakened her defenses. She wanted to let him in, to connect with him. After nine solitary years, she suddenly couldn’t control the impulse any longer.

“You should turn around and walk out of this kitchen,” he said quietly. “Go back upstairs and forget all about this, Miss Porter. A lady like you shouldn’t be compromised.”

A lady? Perhaps once she’d thought of herself as such, but no longer. Ladies were like Mrs. Norton—delicate, finicky things who spent their time making and receiving calls and planning what to wear at the next in an endless string of balls and suppers. Elizabeth was the unfortunate daughter of a reckless army captain and a mother who died in childbirth. A woman forced into taking a position. She had no claim on the word. Not anymore.

“I’m not a lady, I’m a governess.”

“You’re more of a lady than anyone I know,” he said, fierceness lacing his words. “I admire you, Miss Porter. You’re intelligent and beautiful in a way I would never be able to put into words, and I fear you’ve bewitched me.”

They were just words—a collection of letters strung together to form the simplest sentences—but to Elizabeth they were everything. Before she knew what she was doing, her hands were in the doctor’s hair, and her lips were on his. He froze, but overcame his apparent shock quickly, for his mouth slid over hers, angling to drink in her kiss.

The Governess Was Wicked is still available as a 99c preorder from all major ebook retailers:

Amazon | Amazon UKiBooks | Kobo | B&N

Grab 4 Romances for 99c Before They Go Away Forever!

Wyoming-One-Week-FB-003All good things come to an end, and so do anthologies. My very first book, One Week in Wyoming, is on sale until 9/7 for just 99c because my fellow authors and I have decided it's time to retire the ebook.

AmazoniBooks | B&N Kobo

Moving forward you'll be able to buy the individual version of my novella Seduction in the Snow and the three other books. However, One Week in Wyoming was a set of interconnected stories which means characters from one book popped up in the others (think Love Actually). If you want the full experience of reading this sexy wintery anthology, you've really got to read them all together!

Just a quick note, the paperback edition of One Week in Wyoming will continue to be available Amazon and CreateSpace. Wyoming-One-Week-SQUARE-005

Score 14 Free Steamy Contemporary Romances From Some of Your Favorite Authors!

Books are great, but FREE books are even better.

Instafreebie_Steamy_7x7 I'm giving away my Hawaii-set contemporary romance, The Wedding Week, but don't worry if you've already got it! I'm just one of 14 contemporary romance authors giving away from 14 different books for free!

Here's what you do to get your free books:

  • From now until Sept. 1 you can click on any of the titles below.
  • You'll be taken to the title's Instafreebie giveaway page. There you enter your email and select the type of file you want (.mobi for Kindle readers and .epub for everyone else).
  • Your book will be emailed to you along with easy instructions for getting it onto you eReader of choice.
  • Get reading! You've got lots of free books to enjoy!

Click on the title for a link to download for free:

The Wedding Week by Julia Kelly

Tease by Alexis Anne

Protecting His Heart by Dana Volney

Personal Geography by Tamsen Parker

Sass by Laramie Briscoe

Anywhere with You by Heatherly Bell

Tease by Tracy Reed

Dissident by Cecilia London

King Takes Queen by Monica Corwin

Stockholm Diaries, Caroline by Rebecca Hunter

Welcome to Cypress Corners by JoMarie DeGioia

Last Call by Jen Doyle

Wrecked (Studs in Spurs) by Cat Johnson

A Good Game by D. D. Shaw

A Sneak Peek of The Wedding Week

The Wedding Week CoverI've had a couple of historical posts recently, so I wanted to change it up this week because I've got a big contemporary release coming out in just eight days (hey, my motto's "Sexy in every century" for a reason).

Today I'm sharing the first chapter of my book The Wedding Week (which first appeared as a novella in One Week in Hawaii). It's a sexy, fun contemporary romance set in beautiful Hawaii. In it you'll meet Annie Kalani, a no nonsense wedding planner, and the man who makes her want to break all the rules, Chris Benson.

If you like what you read, you can preorder The Wedding Week for $2.99:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Ov3VvP Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1WAO7zr iBooks: http://apple.co/1NvcnAf Kobo: http://bit.ly/24TSVkY B&N: http://bit.ly/1TQWsZi Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1WAOiKY

And without further ado...

Chapter One

Don’t panic.

Annie Kalani wedged her iPhone between her shoulder and her ear as she readjusted the tower of boutonniere boxes under her left arm. “How does a bridesmaid lose an earring in a three-room suite? It must be there somewhere.”

Her assistant Jemma’s voice came thin and high through the phone’s speaker. “She may have snuck a cigarette behind my back while I was coordinating the big reveal.”

Annie stopped dead in her tracks. “What?”

“I know, I know. There are so many people in this bridal suite, she just got out.”

She closed her eyes for a brief second and sent up a prayer to the wedding gods. It was the Friday evening before Memorial Day—the official kickoff of Wedding Week at the Kuhio Resort & Spa, and the start of the busiest three months of her year. Stapling a surly bridesmaid to a caterer’s chair was not how she wanted to ring in the season, but she would do it if she needed to.

“Was she wearing her dress while she was smoking?” she asked, keeping her voice as calm as she could. Couples paid a premium to have her orchestrate their big day. If she panicked, they panicked, so she never panicked. Visibly.

Jemma let out a little huff of relief. “She had a bathrobe on, thankfully.”

“At least we won’t have to Febreze the dress. Just her. There’s some dry shampoo that deodorizes in the kit. Get Johnny to give her a once-over with that, and then swap out her earrings for the pearl studs. They should be in a tiny Ziploc in the front pocket of the kit.”

“Johnny’s almost packed up,” Jemma fretted. The temperamental hairstylist was the best in Oahu, and he knew it. Experience told Annie that love and a little ego stroking was the best way to get him to do what she wanted.

“If he gives you a problem, send him my way,” she said, mashing the elevator’s up button with her pale pink, manicured finger. “And it wouldn’t hurt to mention that we have the booking for Jessica McCreedy’s wedding next May. The budget is unlimited.”

“I’ll let him know.” She could hear the grin in Jemma’s voice.

They said goodbye just as the elevator’s door slid open. With the boxes wedged against the wall, Annie let the phone slide down her arm, catching it in her hand to end the call. Alone in the quiet, she breathed deeply. One mini crisis a wedding. That was all she would tolerate, and the future Mr. and Mrs. Mark Liu just had theirs.

Wedding Week was all about putting out fires as fast as they sprang up. Celebrations at the Kuhio had two-a-day bookings for weddings Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, a fiftieth wedding anniversary dinner Wednesday, a Thursday rehearsal dinner, and five events the following weekend. Things would go wrong—they always did—but Annie would be there to fix them. The groom was late? No problem. The father of the bride got drunk? It’s handled. The flowers didn’t show up? On top of it. Being a planner was like juggling fourteen flaming torches while standing en pointe, and she loved it.

The elevator dinged, and she was out in the hall—boxes and all—in seconds flat. Things were running a few minutes behind schedule, but the buffer time she had built in should take care of that, so long as they didn’t slip any further.

At least the groom hadn’t presented any problems. Yet.

As she approached the groom’s suite, the door opened, and Josh, the wedding photographer, walked out while tucking a lens into his camera bag.

“You’re moving fast, Kalani,” he said with a jerk of his chin at the boxes in her hands. “Boutonnieres?”

“Late boutonnieres. I know we all run on island time, but remind me to kill the florist next time I see him.”

Josh laughed as he ran a hand over his shaved head. “You can’t do that. He’s the only florist you like. Besides, the groom’s good to go.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “Really? He didn’t seem like the type to be ready on time.”

Josh grinned as he passed her. “Got you.”

With a sigh, she shifted the boxes back under her arm so she could knock. The door swung open to reveal a groomsman—this one called Dan—with a drink in hand. “Hello, wedding planner!”

She gave him a once-over and nudged through the door. “Your tie is undone.”

He looked down and tugged at one of the bow tie’s ends. “We were just trying to figure it out on YouTube. Gary’s got his done, but everyone else is struggling.”

She lifted the boxes. “Let me put these down. Then I’ll help.”

Dan led her over to a sideboard that also served as a bar. She eyed the levels on the decanter of scotch she’d checked on that morning. About half gone. Calculate that across half a dozen groomsmen plus the man of the hour and it wasn’t too bad. She’d certainly seen more sauced bridal parties on both ends of the gender spectrum before.

She glanced around the richly appointed room. Two groomsmen she’d met at the rehearsal sat on a plush, pale blue couch in front of a Dodgers game. Gary shook his head as he tried to show Dan and Andrew how to take one bold step into manhood and tie a real bow tie. And one man stood with his back to all of them, on his phone. That must be Chris, the late groomsman. She had a dossier on all of the wedding party, but what was on paper often didn’t tell her the whole story. Like the fact that Chris, a Los Angeles chef, hadn’t been able to get away from his restaurant until the morning of the wedding. That meant Annie had spent a good part of the early hours of setup tracking his flight, praying there would be no delays. Now that he was here, all she cared about was that the man was dressed and on time for the actual ceremony.

She would deal with him when he got off the phone. For now, she had tie-struggling groomsmen to put out of their misery.

A movement at the edge of her field of vision caught Annie’s attention. She turned on her nude three-inch high heels and found herself staring at a naked groom.

Well, not naked—wrapped in a towel—but that meant he was wearing a lot less tux than he was supposed to be.

She raised an eyebrow. “Mark, you aren’t dressed.” Before the wedding day, she tried her best to be accommodating, understanding. On the day? Not so much. Her job was to make sure Mark Liu and Karen Curen got to the gauze-covered bamboo pergola that would serve as their altar and said, “I do.” To do that, Mark needed to be clothed. Now. No excuses. No exceptions.

“I was a little late getting in the shower,” he said as he sheepishly ran a hand through his wet hair. Hair that should be pomaded and swept into a perfect, sixties-esque side part, per Karen’s instructions. Time for Mark to learn how to use a hair dryer.

Eric, Investment Banker Groomsman, had detached himself from the Dodgers game long enough to pour a couple of tumblers of Macallan 18. Ice cubes clinked in the glass that he started to hand to the groom.

“Oh no.” She surged forward to intercept the scotch. “Dress now. Drink later. You get married in twenty-six minutes.”

With her free hand squarely on Mark’s shoulder, she pushed him toward the bedroom. “Don’t forget the shirt studs.”

The groom dutifully trudged into the bedroom, sending only a brief, wistful glance at the baseball, booze, and bro time waiting for him in the living room.

When she turned back, she found Frat Boy Dan eyeing her and the glass of scotch in her hand. “Are you going to drink that?”

She could sense the slight edge in his voice. A bossy woman intruding on Man Time. No, not just a woman. A wedding planner, the kind of woman who made her living thinking about lace versus satin. Runners or full tablecloths. Venetian hour or plated desserts. She was the enemy, an intruder, and sometimes groomsmen gave her a hard time. What Dan didn’t know was that her job demanded that she be able to put him in place with ruthless efficiency, all while wearing a pastel, flowered Karen Millen sheath dress and a smile.

For now, however, she’d start with a friendlier approach. “I would like this scotch more than you know,” she said, putting the glass down, “but someone’s got to drive these stilettos. Now, why don’t I help you guys with your bow ties?”

Five minutes later, five groomsmen’s bow ties were in perfect order. The sixth was still pacing back in forth in front of the massive windows looking out over the water to Diamond Head.

Annie planted her hands on her hips, ready to order Late to the Party Chris to grab his tie and get in line, when the man hung up his call. He turned a pair of intense, soulful eyes on her, and he lifted a hand to scrape over the faint trace of a beard. “Are you going to tie me up too?”

The innuendo flowed through her, thick and sweet as golden honey that came to pool between her legs. Oh, this was bad. This was very, very bad.

He was a handsome man in a rugged sort of way. He wore his tux well, but something about him told her that this man was more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt—broken in and comfortable. Pair that with his short black hair and the loose, confident way he stood with his left hand thrust in his pocket, and he was all sorts of gorgeous.

He was looking at her expectantly, his head cocked, and Annie realized that she was checking out his lean body rather than answering his question. She cleared her throat. “Do you need help?”

His grin was a little lopsided as he set his phone down on a table and picked up either end of his bow tie. Slowly he wove them together, manipulating the black silk into a perfect knot. His fingers would be elegant if it wasn’t for the white slashes of healed scars that were visible even from where she stood. An image flashed through her head—those fingers playing over the smooth skin of her breasts—and a fierce blush exploded over the back of her neck, rushing to her cheeks.

“How did I do?” Chris asked, tugging at the tie to straighten it before letting his hands fall to his side.

He was flirting with her. It wasn’t exactly uncommon behavior for a groomsman, especially when you threw alcohol into the mix, but this was different. This time, Annie wanted to flirt back.

No. You have rules.

“You look fine,” she said, pushing away the throb of arousal that rolled through her. “Are you planning on stowing that cell phone for the ceremony?”

He glanced at the phone on the table. “Will you take it away from me if I say no?”

Her eyes narrowed, her expression frosty where his was teasing. “If I need to. Confiscating technology is part of the job.”

“Then I guess I’ll turn it off.” He swept the phone up as he walked by her, hesitating only to whisper, “But it would have been more fun if you took it from me.”

Heat shot through her, and she glanced around to see if anyone had just witnessed that exchange. All of the men were fixated on the Dodgers game.

She blew out a long, steady breath. This Chris guy was just messing with her—his own version of a test the way that Dan had challenged her about the Macallan. Nothing more.

Behind her, the bedroom door flew open, and Mark burst out dressed in everything but his tuxedo jacket. “How do I look?” he asked, a mile-wide grin plastered on his face.

“Like a man who’s about to lock himself to a ball and chain,” said Eric with a laugh.

Annie allowed herself the tiniest of eye rolls. “Okay, Mark, time to walk down to the ceremony. This wedding gets going in twenty minutes.”

The groom nodded. “My jacket’s in the bedroom. Hold on.”

He turned back and… Rip!

Everyone froze as the rending of fabric echoed through the room. All of the color drained from Mark’s face. His hand flew to his shoulder, and he pulled at his shirt. “Shitshitshit. Karen’s going to kill me.”

Annie strode across the room, gripped Mark’s shoulder, and spun him around. A three-inch rip gaped at the back of his fine cotton tuxedo shirt.

Fuck.

“How bad is it?” asked the panicking groom as he tried to twist to look.

“Do you have a backup?” she demanded.

His lips pressed into a thin line. “Karen doesn’t like it. It doesn’t fit as well.”

Of course it didn’t. She looked at her watch. Nineteen minutes to ceremony. “Take it off.”

The groom and his party all stared at her.

“I have a sewing kit in here,” she explained, fighting to keep the exasperation from her voice. “Take the shirt off, and I’ll sew it back together. But someone’s going to need to iron the backup just in case.”

Mark started to unbutton the torn shirt as she looked around the room at more blank faces. “Not a single one of you can iron?” she asked.

Gary, the New York lawyer, shrugged. “Camilla won’t let me near the iron after I burned a hole in my brand new Brooks Brothers shirt a couple years ago.”

“I can do it.”

Chris stepped forward and unbuttoned his tuxedo jacket, letting it slide down his arms. She was one hundred percent positive that if she peeled his shirt off him she’d find strong, wiry muscle underneath there. Muscle she might have let herself indulge in thinking about if it wasn’t for the clumsiest groom in Hawaii.

“Good,” she said with a sharp nod. At least one of them could fend for themselves. Her mother always said that a real man was one who could cook, clean, and keep a house. A man who was the opposite of her father—often drunk, sometimes incarcerated, and rarely present.

She took Mark’s torn shirt, but not before fixing the other groomsmen with a hard stare. “You will each take a boutonniere. Then you will go to the ceremony location. You will stay at the ceremony location. No detours. No stalling. No more drinks until after the wedding vows are exchanged. Is that clear?”

The men murmured their agreement and shuffled out of the hotel room. She half expected them to hold hands, pairing off into field trip buddies like little kids.

She moved to her kit, a suitcase she’d planted in the room that morning. “Mark, how much have you had to drink today?”

“I had a scotch a couple hours ago,” he said shakily. “I was too amped up for anything else.”

“Good. Pour yourself another—a small one—and watch the game. I’ll be done with this in a moment.”

The groom shot her a grateful look and scuttled over to the couch.

She pointed at Chris. “You come with me.”

She moved fast, ripping the dry-cleaning bag off the backup shirt that hung in the closet and sliding it from its hanger. When she turned back, Chris had the ironing board out and was in the bathroom filling the iron’s water chamber.

They worked in silence for a couple of moments, her repairing the shirt with tiny stitches and him moving methodically to iron the backup crisp and smooth.

“You’re good at that,” she said, tipping her head in his direction.

His crooked smile slid over his face again. “Courtesy of my first job. I did all the grunt work at my stepfather’s restaurant. If I was late or broke a dish, I got stuck ironing napkins. He wanted sharp corners, the same way every single time.”

“Is spending all that time in the restaurant what made you want to be a chef?” She didn’t know why she asked it. After tonight, she wasn’t going to see this guy again, but he was helping her. Asking felt right.

“Mark mentioned that I’m a chef?” he asked, flipping the shirt so he could do the second front panel.

“I have a file on all members of the wedding party.”

His eyes widened. “That’s not sinister at all.”

She shrugged. “During one of the first weddings I ever planned, I didn’t realize that one of the bridesmaids had an ex-husband and an ex-boyfriend in the wedding party. The men started brawling during ‘The Cha Cha Slide.’”

He barked a laugh—a sound as rich as chocolate and just as sinful. “You’re kidding?”

The beginnings of a smile tugged at her lips. “The bridesmaid wound up sobbing into my lap in the bathroom. That’s why I try to find out as much about you guys as I can beforehand.”

“So what else do you know about me?” he asked. The question should have been casual, but the low rumble of his voice made it sound like a promise of so much more.

She squeezed her thighs tight. She was at work. That meant no lusting after guests.

“I know enough about you,” was all she said.

“That’s a cop-out.”

“I’m like the CIA. If I told you what’s in the dossier, I’d have to kill you.”

He put the iron down. “And what’s the CIA’s policy on dancing with a guest? Hypothetically speaking, of course.”

Annie nearly jabbed herself in the thumb with the needle. There was no way she was going to dance with this man. She wouldn’t survive the feeling of his body pressed up against hers no matter how much she wanted it.

“Generally the CIA frowns on such activities,” she said stiffly.

“Generally?” The look he sent her might have scorched the panties off her if she hadn’t held herself back. Because she needed to hold back. She could never let herself slip. No matter how much she wanted to.

“Exceptions are made if the man asking is a widower over the age of seventy-five.”

“You’re a tough sell.”

She concentrated on the shirt in her hands. “I’m not looking to buy.”

Oh, but she wanted to. He smelled like he’d just gotten out of the shower, with a hint of salt and masculine spice underneath the soap. Her whole body hummed with awareness, and she couldn’t help but want to know what it would be like to have those full lips on her skin. She had rules, yes, but this man was ice cream on a diet. TV on a school night.

Trouble.

This was getting out of hand. She wasn’t a bridesmaid cliché looking for a wedding fling with one of the groomsmen. She was one of the most in-demand wedding planners in Hawaii, but a long time ago, she’d realized that she needed to be smarter, sharper, better than everyone else. She didn’t have the connections that some planners had. She didn’t have the bred-in taste or knowledge of etiquette of the ones who had old Hawaiian society roots. Instead, she had hard work, grit, and determination. That was how she’d made it this far, and it was how she was going to stay at the top of her game. Men like Chris? They weren’t in her plan. She would not throw herself at a man just because he had some scruff and scars and talked a good game.

After putting in the last stitch on Mark’s shirt, she tied the thread off and snipped it. Barely a seam. “Not too bad.”

Chris turned off the iron and rounded the board. “Let’s see.”

Before she could hand the shirt over, he ran his finger over the thin seam of stitches, pressing the fabric into her open palm. She fought a shiver as he said, “Looks good to me. I think you’ve saved Mark from passing out from stress.”

She scooted along the bed and pushed up to standing a few feet from Chris. “Time to get the groom dressed. Again.”

Chris laughed. “Are you going to use that schoolteacher voice on him?”

“What do you mean?” she asked with a frown.

He closed the gap between them until she had to tilt her chin up to look into those deep blue eyes of his. “You marched those men out of here like they were five. You get shit done, Annie Kalani. I like that.”

Then he took that slow, delicious smile of his and walked straight out of the room.

Again, if you like what you read, you can preorder The Wedding Week:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Ov3VvP Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1WAO7zr iBooks: http://apple.co/1NvcnAf Kobo: http://bit.ly/24TSVkY B&N: http://bit.ly/1TQWsZi Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1WAOiKY

Meet the Governesses!

I'm thrilled to finally be able to reveal the gorgeous covers for my new Governess Series, coming this fall!

This delightfully charming and saucy historical romance series features three best friends employed as governesses for different families, who all find themselves wanting loves they can’t have.

All of the books are now available for preorder from your favorite ebook retailer.

The Governess was Wicked

Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet-sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor. As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt...

The Governess was Wicked releases September 12, 2016

Amazon | Amazon UKiBooks | Kobo | B&N

 

 

The Governess was Wanton

Mary Woodward is London's own "fairy godmother," known for her expertise in transforming awkward, shy girls into marriageable society belles. Her new position teaching the daughter of Eric Bromford, the Earl of Asten, should be just another job — until she meets Lord Asten. He's just the sort of man to tempt her to break all her rules, and she does just that when she dons a mask and spends a moonlight night in a garden with the earl. Torn between the temptation of passion and the security of her position, Mary must risk it all for love in this retelling of Cinderella that gives the fairy godmother her happily ever after.

The Governess was Wanton releases October 10, 2016

Amazon | Amazon UK | iBooks | Kobo | B&N

 

 

The Governess was Wild

Governesses aren't supposed to lose their charges, but that's exactly what happens when Jane Ephram wakes up and realizes that her pupil, Lady Margaret, has eloped from their inn room as they're traveling. Even worse, Lady Margaret's taken Sir Nicholas Hollings's horse, and the disarmingly handsome gentleman is hell-bent on getting the beast back. Racing against time, Jane and Nicholas take to the road again, determined to find the errant Lady Margaret — and maybe even love — along the way.

The Governess was Wild releases November 14, 2016

Amazon | Amazon UK | iBooks | Kobo | B&N

TBR Buster: Holiday 2015 Edition

I was having a drink with Tamsen Parker and Suleikha Snyder on Sunday (just as you've suspected authors do get together to hang out and it's the most fun), and we were bemoaning the fact that we don't read as much as we used to. Writing is wonderful and we love it, but it does eat away at those long afternoons when all you do is sit on the couch or in bed and read. Despite the fact that I will be writing over this holiday season, I will have a lot more time on my hands because I won't be working. Growing up in a family of readers means that we're all happy to sit around and read quietly in each other's company, so I plan to get a lot of reading done and catch up on my to be read pile—especially when it comes to historicals.

Here's a look at what's waiting for me on my Kindle:

Once Upon a Marquess, by Courtney Milan

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Fool Me Twice, by Meredith Duran

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Cold-Hearted Rake, by Lisa Kleypas

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A Virtuous Ruby, by Piper Huguley

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What Happens Under the Mistletoe, by Sabrina Jefferies, Karne Hawkins, Candace Camp, and Meredith Duran

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Under the Sugar Sun, by Jennifer Hallock

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 Claiming the Duchess, by Sherry Thomas

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Love and Other Scandals, by Caroline Linden

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One Week in December and More

It's a little cliche, but aren't the holidays crazy? I've been on deadline working on a new series of three Victorian governess books for Pocket Star (coming out late next year!) as well as getting myself together to travel to London for Christmas. And, naturally, amid all of that I've also released a new book! In honor of the holidays, the women behind One Week in Love have released a short, sweet anthology of stories called One Week in December. Since I now spend my Christmases in London, I decided to set my story "Kiss Me at Midnight" in my adopted home away from home. I hope you enjoy a little romance in December!

Speaking of holidays, First Draught spends every December talking about the one subject we may love more than writing: food. Elisabeth Lane was kind enough to come on and speak to us about her holiday traditions (and share some tips and tricks for getting through all of the cooking). You can check out the video on YouTube or by subscribing to our First Draught iTunes and Soundcloud page.

https://youtu.be/jdITWQlxTDw

You can also get some more holiday ideas from Elisabeth's First Draught holiday foods Pinterest board. It includes her banana fosters waffles recipe which sounds amazing and I can't wait to try.

And finally, I'm going to spread some holiday cheer and share one of my favorite recipes that I always make for Christmas.

Cranberry Orange Bread

Adapted from The Silver Palette Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2/3 c fresh orange juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ c coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1¼ c cranberries, fresh is best but frozen works
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest

Directions

  1. Grease or use non-stick spray on an 8 x 4½ x 3 inch loaf pan.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix in the orange juice, eggs and melted butter until all together, but do not overmix.
  5. Fold in the walnuts, cranberries and orange zest carefully.
  6. Pour into pan and bake on center rack for 45 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove.
  8. Allow to cool completely then wrap and store for a day or two before serving or giving away.