The first bit of news I have for you is that later this month, I have a new release! (You might have guessed from the picture!)
I’ll start with the description, the order links and the lovely cover. And, of course, an excerpt.
An Unusual Courtship
A diplomat Earl and a scandal-ridden adventuress aren’t the perfect match—except in passion.
Welcome to the second book in the Brazen Burrells series, where scandal and adventure follow Juliet Burrell.
When Juliet Burrell meets Valerian, Earl of Langston, their attraction is immediate, but their path to happiness is littered with obstacles it will take all their strength to overcome. Val is a diplomat, looking for a well-connected, scandal-free bride to help further his career. Juliet is surrounded by constant scandal, even though none of it is of her making. And Val is engaged to be married to Juliet’s best friend.
But when Val discovers that his future bride is in love with someone else, he and Juliet join forces to help them and end up in a betrothal themselves. As Juliet gets to know Val better, she tumbles further into love with him, but she’s acutely aware that she is the exact opposite of what he needs. She cares for him too much to let him sacrifice everything for her and refuses to accept that their betrothal will result in marriage, even though their attraction has blossomed into passion.
Val wants Juliet, though he knows he might have to give up his treasured diplomatic career to have her. For years he’s engaged in the dark world of espionage, secrets, and lies, and he has done his job well and kept people safe. But he has always viewed his future in terms of the diplomatic work he is suited to, work that may not be possible with Juliet at his side.
It’s not long before trouble and tragedy plunge the Burrells into the mire once again, and Val may be the only one who can rescue Juliet from a situation that goes beyond scandal and into treason.
Is love worth the sacrifice he may have to make?
Order The Book Here:
Here’s your extract. I do hope you enjoy it, and you want to read more!
Lord Langston’s shout of laughter echoed off the walls of the narrow street. They had passed the inn, and were walking past a line of small, soot-blackened terraced houses. “You’re a budding diplomat, my dear Miss Burrell!”
He guided Juliet around, and they began to stroll back. “I’m waiting for a new diplomatic assignment,” he told her. “So I’ll be in London longer this time.” He paused, and stared at her, his eyes narrowed. “Ah. May I?” Reaching into his pocket, he came out with a clean linen handkerchief. He wrapped the cloth around his forefinger and touched her jaw.
“What are you doing?”
“Cleaning a smut,” he said absently, dabbing the spot. His touch felt like fire on her skin, even though two layers of fabric. Three, because his gloves would be lined. But through all of it she felt him, as if he was touching her skin to skin.
He glanced up from his self-assigned task into her eyes, smiling. “All done,” he said. When he unwrapped the handkerchief, he nearly dropped it, but she caught it deftly and stared at it. “I appreciate the assistance my lord. I’ll have the linen laundered and returned to you.” She slipped it into her pocket. London’s chimneys constantly wept the black, greasy smuts that were the result of the coal fires. The handkerchief certainly bore the evidence of one.
She might also sleep with it under her pillow tonight, but that was her business and nobody else’s. They resumed walking, her hand resting on his arm. “How is your lady mother?” she asked.
“Ah.” He paused. “She is back in London. She said she has done so as a favor to me, returning from her new home in Brighton. I suspect she’ll lease that one, since her reason for being there has gone.”
“I thought she had decided to retire from London,” she said. If Lady Langston had not been very well-connected, and wealthy in her own right, society would have turned its back on her years ago. Juliet had never met her, but her reputation went before her. Her discreetly scandalous affaires had not affected her son’s career. Probably because she was linked in one way or another to half the royal families of Europe—the ones the Bonapartes had left alone, that was.
“She did, but that ended, and she discovered Brighton was a terribly vulgar place.” He smiled indulgently, and his face transformed from harshness to a strange beauty, his mobile mouth softening and his eyes gaining a sparkle she hadn’t been aware of before.
“Don’t you mind your mother having affairs?” she asked before she could control her unruly tongue.
“Not at all,” he replied as if she had not been unconscionably rude. “They keep her happy, and stop me tearing out my hair when she buys hideous Egyptian furniture.”
She had to admit he had very glossy, thick hair, currently swept back into a neat style she could not identify. Although undoubtedly dressed well in a dark gray coat, darker waistcoat, and pantaloons—just the thing for town wear—nothing made him stand out. A single fob on his watch chain, polished Hessian boots without gold tassels, and a gleaming beaver hat completed his outfit.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered. “I shouldn’t have asked such a personal question about your mother.”
“No matter,” he said softly. “I would much rather have at least one friend who told the truth. My world is so full of half-truths and dissimulation, I find a straightforward conversation refreshing.”
They had reached the end of the alley, arriving back where they started.
She held out her hand for him to shake. “Thank you, sir. I enjoyed talking with you again.”
At her nod, McCarrick stepped to the edge of the pavement and held out his hand to hail a cab. He was about to put his fingers to his mouth to whistle one up, when Lord Langston held out a hand, palm open. “Wait. You are surely not planning to travel in a public vehicle?”
Facing him, she raised a brow. “Why not? I dislike sedan chairs, and so it is either a cab or walking.”
“Is there not a family carriage you can use?”
They came from such different worlds. Juliet thought nothing of getting a public vehicle indeed, but she answered him politely enough. “I’m used to it, and it’s something I can do without fuss. Every vehicle in Whiston’s stable bears his crest, so I can’t travel without being noticed if I take one. Bianca took the best carriage this morning to go shopping in Bond Street, but I had no mind to go with her.”
The other brow went up, arched and fine, winged like—well, like Lucifer. “You turned down shopping in Bond Street for a visit to a bookshop?”
“I see. I would be honored to take you home. Fortunately I’m in the phaeton today, so you need not worry about propriety.”
“Since it’s a vehicle open to the weather?” She glanced up. “I see the sun is about to make an appearance. A bashful one, it is true, but it is lurking with intent behind that cloud.” Her comment gave her time to think. Yes, she could go with him. It would be better than a cab stinking of fish or worse, and she would spend more time with him. “Very well, sir. Thank you.”
“I told my groom to bring the carriage here at two,” he said. He pulled his watch out of its pocket. Gold, she noted, but plain and without enamel or jewels—a watch made for use. He flipped the cover open. “He should be here any minute.”
As he spoke, the Cathedral made its presence known. The creaking, clicking sound which presaged the announcing of the hour, followed by the initial bing-bong, bing-bong of the bells made Juliet grit her teeth and clench her fists. “At least it’s only—” she managed before the second peal started. The four quarters duly chimed, the great bell sounded its first boom! “Two o’clock,” she managed to get out before the second one.
His lordship smiled through the ordeal, not even trying to speak. He looked over her head as the brief silence was replaced by the usual chatter, shouts, and grinding roll of carriage wheels. “Here it is.”
Indeed, there it was. The carriage looked as if it would fall apart at the first breath of wind, but of course it would not. A miracle of the carriage-maker’s art, drawn by two high-stepping, glossy chestnut horses, she could only admire the equipage. “My sister Viola would love this. She enjoys driving.”
“What about you?” he said, as the groom pulled up before them with only the slightest touch on the reins. “Do you enjoy driving?”
“Sometimes. I prefer riding.” Unlike Juliet, Viola was a veritable magician with the reins but disliked riding as she had a small deformity that made riding difficult. Her husband was giving her lessons, she said, but Juliet got the sense that more than riding horses was involved in those lessons.
“Allow me to help you up,” he said, moving closer. “The foot rest is a little slippery. I would hate for you to fall.”
He came closer, in the shadow of the carriage, she only had the warning of a twinkle in his eye and a wicked grin before he bent and kissed her.
It was nothing but a brush of the lips, could easily have happened accidentally. It had not. Her lips tingled, and she closed her eyes briefly as he bent and cupped his hands to act as a step up to the high seat. .
It was a kiss—she could not be more certain. His groom stepped down and handed his master the reins as Langston rounded the carriage and leaped nimbly into the driver’s place. “Consider it your fare,” he murmured, as he clicked his tongue and set the horses into motion. She sat there, staring ahead of her.
He’d kissed her. The tingles spread from her lips through her whole body, bringing her alive. She was not even aware if McCarrick had jumped up behind with the liveried groom. She was so confused.
I am genuinely so excited. I loved writing this book. I start all my books with a plan, but sometimes I get halfway through and I know the hero or heroine won’t do what I’ve planned for them. I have to make them do it. So instead, I stop and re-plot. That means I know the characters better. And that’s when the story comes alive. If that happens, I go back and revise the whole thing, make sure the character I now know better behaves in the way he or she should.
Of course it happened with this book, and it was drastic. The heroine and hero liked each other, but there was no way they would fall in love.
The main Brazen Burrells series had three heroines and three heroes. The hero of the first book, Knowsley, fell for Viola the minute he set eyes on her. But the heroine of the second book, the clever Juliet, wanted someone impossible, the betrothed of her best friend. I had to give him to her, didn’t I? But they couldn’t have an easy journey to their happy ending, and they didn’t.
And then, the second book led into the third book, but you’ll have to wait until later in the year for that one.
Writing is my solace, my joy and my escape, but sadly, I haven’t been able to do any writing for the last few weeks. As some of you know, a family crisis stopped me putting out my newsletter last month. I’m so grateful for those of you who sent me your best wishes, and your support. Thank you so much. The events are now settling into their new grooves, although there is a lot to do before we can see where we are. I’ve never had a Christmas like it, and I don’t want another one ever.