Tag Archives: giveaway

Ooh, free stories!

Want to read some great stories? Meet some new authors, or revisit old friends? Here’s your chance!

Eden Winters and I and some other amazing authors have goodies for you. Pop on over for a complete listing of the great stories available to you.

I’m giving away Prep Work, because I need to get stoked to write the next section of their adventure.  Have some snark and good food, plus sexy times.

(Eden and I do ask that you sign up for the Rocky Ridge newsletter. No matter if you sign up for both our books or are already on that mailing list, you’ll still only get one newsletter once in a while.)

Happy reading!

Kayla Jameth’s back with A Tested Love

TestedLove[A]LG

Book two of Kayla Jameth’s epic of ancient Sparta is here! If you started with A Spartan Love, be ready to continue on with Theron and Andreas’ story. And remember, “This is Sparta!” has a lot of meanings, not least that they didn’t share those soft Athenians’ views on a lot of things, including what was acceptable between men.

Thank you, Kayla, for talking about Apollo, who’s very much part of the story.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Apollo Hayakinthios

While researching Taming Theron (now A Spartan Love) and A Spartan Love (now A Tested Love and A Shared Love), I found all kinds of, for lack of a better word, myths about Sparta. Some are just minor things, such as trying to apply a modern mindset to an ancient culture and one that even its contemporaries considered strange. Others are the result of the other Greek city-states giving them bad press. No one really liked the bullies on the block.

So I thought I would focus on a real myth and explore its origins.

First the myth

Apollo is known for having several lovers—gods, goddesses, nymphs, dryads, and humans. He didn’t limit himself to any one gender.

One of his lovers, Hyacinthus, was a prince of Sparta. Both Apollo and Zephyrus courted the beautiful young man, but Hyacinthus preferred Apollo. One day while Apollo and Hyacinthus were throwing a discus, Zephyrus, the West Wind, blew the disc off course in a fit of jealousy. The discus struck Hyacinthus in the head, killing him.

Apollo was heartbroken. He refused to allow Hades to take the prince to the Underworld. Instead, he gathered the youth’s blood to create a flower, the hyacinth. The Olympian goddesses, Aphrodite, Athena and Artemis carried the divine hero’s body to the Elysium Fields.

The likely origins

A tomb to Hyacinthus can be found near Apollo’s altar and cult idol in the village of Amykles southwest of the modern city of Sparta and dates to the Mycenaean era. Most scholars consider Hyacinthus to be a local deity who predated the Spartan’s and Apollo. His name with the suffix –nth shows him to be pre-Hellenic. (The Greeks called themselves Hellenes.)

When the Doric Spartans invaded the Peloponnesus, they brought their sky gods with them. The Spartans considered Apollo to be one of their patron gods. Since Apollo was one of the gods most likely to take a male lover, Hyacinthus was quickly accounted as his lover. Tying the past to Sparta’s present and legitimizing the Doric occupation.

As is commonly the case when one god preempts another’s place and prerogatives, the older deity had to die to make way for the victor. Hyacinthus met with an “accidental” death at another, although minor, sky god’s hands. Apollo stepped in to fill the religious void, laying claim to Hyacinthus’ sacred site and taking the epithet Apollo Hayakinthios to commemorate his victory.

Apollo’s Men

My series, known as Apollo’s Men, takes place in 5th century BC Greece. Apollo is a POV character in all the novels. Only the short stories do not have him.

As Apollo Hayakinthios, he openly acknowledges he is a lover of men. Apollo is collecting warriors and their lovers (m/m) to provide a band of men to protect his prophet, the Voice of Apollo.

The Spartan Love arc—A Spartan Love, A Tested Love, and A Shared Love—follows Andreas and Theron. Other arcs follow Alexios and Galen, as well as Coridan.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Lured by seductive promises, Andreas risked his life to be with Theron, only to find himself betrayed. Abandoned and alone, Andreas resigns all hope of seeing his fierce warrior again and resumes his life as a helot.

All too aware of the harsh punishment Sparta demands of men who love other men, Theron reluctantly surrenders Andreas in hopes of keeping him safe. The warrior returns to Sparta to embrace his destiny in place of the helot he has grown to see as a man, not just a slave. Cold but honorable duty will be his new lover.

Duty proves to be a jealous lover when Sparta demands the final test of Theron’s loyalty. Sent to kill Andreas, Theron must find a way to come to terms with his burning desire for his handsome helot before their forbidden love destroys them both.

Buy links:

Find at Dreamspinner,  Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and your other favorite retailers.

Chapter One

Andreas’ heart pounded. Time was running out. If he didn’t find Theron quickly, he would be too late. Somewhere out there his warrior lay injured and dying.
Fearing what he might find, Andreas roamed his klēros, searching his barren holding for his missing lover. His fields stretched as far as the eye could see, blackened stubble growing hazy in the remote distance. No matter how long he walked, he couldn’t find Theron.

He tasted ashes, bitter as blood, on his tongue. Gray smudges covered his once white chiton and discolored his skin. Andreas would never be free of the stain.
Sometimes he thought he’d been wandering forever. Racing against inflexible Atropos, the daughter of night, Andreas was driven to find the kryptes before she cut Theron’s thread short with her abhorred shears.

Night was coming, that time all helots feared—something terrible fast on its heels, death in its wake. Doom now stalked them both, flashes of scarlet in the growing gloom.

He’d never stood beneath any sky without the sun to protect him, protect him from the kryptes and any other monsters roaming the lightless night.
Soon. He had to find Theron soon!

But he was frozen in place, unable to move no matter how he struggled….

Andreas sat up with a shout. He whirled, eyes searching frantically for the red-clad peril pursuing him. His breath came in choppy gasps barely audible above the thunder of blood in his ears.

The stink of soot and fear clogged his nostrils. He took a moment to recognize his surroundings in the almost nonexistent light coming from his hearth. The fire had burned down to little more than a flicker.

Untangling himself from the sodden blanket, Andreas shivered, sweat prickling his skin. He scurried to the hearth. Scrabbling for small bits of wood to add to the fire before he lost any hope of rekindling the embers, he drove a splinter under his nail. “Hades!” But he didn’t examine his finger until the scraps of kindling began to smolder. If the flame went out, he’d have to go to Petros tomorrow and beg a coal from his hearth.

He plucked the sliver free with his teeth and spat it out on the floor. Sucking on the wound, Andreas kept watch as the fire took hold. The mix of coppery blood and wood smoke drew his nightmare back from the shadows.

But unlike in his dream, while awake he didn’t fear the darkness within. The dark without held all the danger for him. Like every helot before him, he’d been taught as a child to fear the kryptes who roamed the night, slaying all helots they happened upon. A helot’s only hope lay within the walls of his home once night fell.

Unfortunately nowhere was safe for any helot who the Spartans determined must die.

The sole requirement a kryptes had to meet in delivering their fate was to remain unseen by anyone other than their victim. Their ability to come and go undetected was part of their mystique, part of what made them so terrifying.

The flames blazed up, filling the single-room hut with light. Andreas sank down to the floor, at first unsure what had brought on the nightmare when he’d gone a month or more since the last one. All those thoughts and feelings he’d refused to give life had come boiling up.

Much too late now, the dream should no longer have the strength to haunt him. Theron was long past his help.

Andreas hadn’t seen the Hekate-becursed man since he disappeared months ago.
How many nights had he sat up worrying about the bastard? How many times had he endured that nightmare? He’d woken with a shout, covered in sweat, too many times to count. And what had he gotten for all his lost sleep? Not a cursed thing.

With his endless searching, Andreas had come to know his lands better than he’d thought possible, but the warrior eluded him, whether in life or in death, he didn’t know.

Andreas chose to believe Theron yet lived. But it was long past time for his fate to matter. Theron should have returned by now if he were still alive. Either his “lover”—Andreas snorted in disgust—had died without him, or more likely he’d left Andreas behind without a second thought. If Theron was alive after all this time, he had no intention of returning. Either way Andreas would never see him again.

Once Andreas realized this, he submerged his grief as best he could. In an effort to avoid his nightmares, he’d worked himself harder than he ever had before. He spent his days tilling his fields like a madman, channeling his frustration into the uncomplaining soil until he was too tired to think of anything while he lay in his bed. Or nursing the wine Myron gave him in exchange for helping expand his vineyard. And his plan had worked, mostly.

Staring into the blaze, Andreas wondered what had driven Theron from him and kept him away. He’d left once, soon after they’d met, but Andreas thought they’d resolved Theron’s concerns about being exposed. Theron had even proposed a solution to the problem of their being together, offering to claim him as his mothônes, his companion.

Theron must have changed his mind.

“He’s never coming back.” Something broke inside Andreas, admitting that. But did he actually want to see Theron again?

Reaching for the wineskin hanging from the head of his bed, Andreas was surprised to find it missing. Glancing around the room, he discovered the half-empty skin where he must have left it on the table when he had stumbled to bed. He needed to refill the flask in the morning.

Without wasting time finding a cup, he drank straight from the wineskin. But the familiar warmth didn’t lull him back to sleep this time.

Andreas rose and paced the short distance between the hearth and his bed. The quick temper he’d inherited from his father came spilling out like one of the plagues from Pandora’s jar. He’d thought he’d stamped the last embers of that smoldering resentment out, but maybe he’d never cared about anything deeply enough to have his belief tested. He punched the mattress a fevered Theron had lain on.

Yet another way he would have disappointed his mother had she been here to see him.

For a while after his father died, Andreas had been every bit as angry as his father before him. Father had spoken out against the annual “war” the Spartans had waged on the helots, so when Andreas had railed on about his father’s death, his mother had grown fearful.

“You’re too much like your father! And what did his anger gain him? Is it not enough I have lost a husband? I will not lose my only child as well!”

Even the tears spilling down her cheeks couldn’t keep him from insisting, “But killing someone just because you can is wrong. What did Father do to deserve death?”

“Never forget we’re what the gods made us—slaves. That is our lot in life, Andreas. What we were born for. We are not, and will never be, their equals. The Spartans can do whatever they want to us. A slave’s duty is to endure. Anything else is rebellion and results in many more deaths. Do you want to be responsible for bringing destruction down on us?”

“They murdered him!”

“The Spartans are very careful to avoid murder. They declare war on us instead.”

“It’s still murder.”

“Ah… Andreas, my heart, the gods agree with them.” Then as if to forestall him, she pulled him into her arms. “It’s hubris to think you know better than the gods.”

Hubris. That ultimate of all sins. There was no answer he could make to that.

Andreas had learned to force the anger down, hiding his feelings under obedience and hard work. And the mask had served him well, until the day a thieving kryptes arrived to set his world and his hard-won composure on its ear.

Now the anger and resentment worked their way to the surface like the fires in Hephaestus’ volcanic forge, ready to spew molten fury and rain down disaster on anyone who crossed him. If Theron were here now, Andreas would be tempted to do more than just yell at the kryptes like he had in the past.

“Foresworn godless bastard! He said he’d stand by me and protect me, but where is he now?” Andreas spat. “Oaths to a helot obviously mean nothing to a kryptes. Pretty little promises to get me to do as he wished.”

As he stomped back toward the fire, Ictis darted under the table to escape his feet.

“Couldn’t even be bothered to let me know.” Another turn back to the bed. “The coward said he’d be back and then disappeared, walked off and left me, letting me think he’d died.”

Once more at the hearth, Andreas glanced down at his gods and picked up the figurine of Apollo. “I can’t believe I asked the Lord of Light to watch over a kryptes, of all people!”

Andreas clenched the clay god tight. The terracotta form dug into his palm, Apollo’s bow pricking the skin. He stared at his fist. After a moment’s hesitation, he carefully returned the likeness to his hearth before he did something unforgivable, like crush it. He didn’t dare incur Apollo’s enmity.

“Still allowing that sneaking murderer to control me. Honorless warrior!”

The fire snapped, and a handful of embers cascaded to the dirt floor. One landed on his knee, flaring amid the scent of burned hair before he hurriedly brushed the cinder away. The small red patch stung and throbbed in reproach.

No longer hiding under the table, the ferret’s black bead eyes regarded him from atop one of the stools. Andreas pursed his lips, trying to expel all the bitterness in his mouth. “What was I thinking, Ictis? Theron would come and take me away with him?”

On the next swing, he flung himself down on his bed. “I’m a fool, aren’t I? To believe there can be anything from a kryptes other than a knife in the back.” He lay there, his harsh breaths slowing. Too angry to sleep.

Ictis pounced on him. “I know you like him. I used to like him. But that lying kryptes didn’t abandon you to your fate after placing you in danger.”

~~~~~~~~~~~

Now you need the rest. 😉

The author’s giveaway is a $25 certificate to ARe, (which I suggest is best spent on as many novels of ancient Sparta as you don’t already have 😉 plus some tidbits from your wish list). My platform won’t show the Rafflecopter form, but one click gets you there.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Welcome, Otter Chaos!

otter chaos (1)Lon and Corey are back and ready to be read!

Otter Chaos is live all over the place, from Amazon to Apple, from All Romance Ebooks to Smashwords and Scribd.

The fellas are all over the internet too, with excerpts and giveaways on a host of review and author sites. You could win a signed paperback, an ecopy in your choice of mobi, epub, or PDF, or an otter ornament suitable for holiday trees or your chandelier.

Here are the wonderful folks hosting Professor Corey Levine and his mustelid darling:

otter ornament

Or you could grab your very own copy while it’s still at the absurdly low preorder price, and hope your very own Lon comes in the mail.

Get Otter Chaos: Corey wouldn’t have it any other way.

Amazon ~ Are ~ Smashwords ~ Rocky Ridge Books ~ iTunes ~ Kobo  ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Scribd

Getting nervous–radio interview and a giveaway

NewMan[A]FSTomorrow morning, I’m going up to my local library to tape a radio interview with the lovely librarian Stacy. She was charmed to know I not only obtained reading material at her branch, but plot bunnies. Possibly I may get to tell my story about reading the book in the lower left corner of a particular display, no matter what it is, just to keep my horizons broad. So far this has resulted in two novels and one WIP.

Rare Event 5 star reviewThe books with roots tracing back to that fateful library display are The Rare Event and A New Man. I’m planning to take the books (I had to purchase my own copies for reference, plus some. Plus a lot, actually.) with me, forest of sticky notes and all.

To take my mind off speaking to a microphone, I’ll offer a prize of one copy of your choice of those two books to the winner of the “name that plot bunny” contest. To enter, give a title and a subject for a non-fiction book, real or invented, that might be the book that sparked the WIP.

otter chaos (1)While F*** Like a Mink: the Sex Lives of Mustelids, was not the inspiration for Otter Chaos (Now on preorder at 99 cents, what are you waiting for?), that’s the sort of loopy entry you might offer.

Go wild, and if the winner’s read both possible prizes, we’ll talk. Entries open through Monday, Sept 28 at 11:59 pm.

 

Transgender Romance Writers featuring Vicktor Alexander

Trans_ blog hop badgePlease welcome Z. Allora and the Transgender Romance Writers, who have certainly opened my eyes and added to the TBR pile. Vicktor Alexander has offered a snippet of his new alternate universe novel, A Groom of Convenience, for us to enjoy, and the group has some goodies to offer. Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter.

Z. Allora, please tell us why you’re here today.

I want to thank P.D. Singer for allowing us to hop by on our Transgender* Romance Writers Blog hop. This lovely group of writers and I have been bouncing around the Internet to hopefully raise awareness about transgender* issues.

Did you know the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention came out with a follow-up study on transgender* people. Here are some distressing findings:

78% of survey respondents who suffered physical or sexual violence at school (attempted suicide).

65 % of respondents who experienced violence at work.

57% of those who reported that their family chose not to speak/spend time with them.

69% have experienced homelessness.

60% reported a doctor or healthcare provider refused to treat them.

57-61% of those disrespected or harassed by law enforcement officers.

Source: http://lexiecannes.com/2014/01/28/new-study-family-rejection-violence-cause-for-high-transgender-suicide-attempt-rate

I know many readers in this community have never read a transgender* romance. Remember that dark time long ago when you didn’t read m/m romance? (Hugs, I know you’d rather forget about it.) But when you first heard of this genre, you might have felt it was out of your comfort zone… until you opened that very first gay romance book. You were hooked.

The same way you fell in love with gay characters and now fight intolerance & promote equality, we want you to adore our transgender* characters. We want you to open our books (and your hearts) to witness transgender characters’ strengths, their struggles, their flaws and root for their victories in love because in doing so you’re going to understand a little bit more about their lives. And we hope you will fight transphobia just as hard as you fight homophobia.

We want to encourage your participation in this hop so please comment or ask us questions for a chance to win:

1 of 2 $20 Amazon gift cards
1 of 1 $20 online retailers B&N, ARE, or Amazon
1 of 1 $15 gift card
1 e-book copy of Groom of Convenience
1 e-book copy of Illusions & Dreams
1 e-book copy of Transgression

The winners will be picked after our last stop March 5th. We will notify you by e-mail.

What was your biggest worry in writing a transgender* romance?

Vicktor Alexander: Proselytizing, I guess. I didn’t want to be all like “HERE’S WHAT’S WRONG WITH SOCIETY! NOW FIX IT, ASSHOLES!!!” But at the same time I did want to show people that there was an issue and that they could help, and not even that, but that we all needed to become more comfortable with the issue. Myself included. While I was writing the book I had to constantly get over the sexist ideals that I had in my head that I wasn’t even aware were there. I was horrified.

Theo Fenraven: Not doing justice to the characters. Zach is bisexual, Sky and Liza are MtF transgender, and their friend Ricky is a cross-dresser.

Ethan Stone: That I would get it wrong with Taylor. That Taylor’s issues would seem unrealistic.

Sara York: That we wouldn’t do justice to the story. I think the result was fairly good though. I’m very happy with Transparency and the characters we created.

Kimberly Gardner: I didn’t have a worry that I would say was unique to writing a trans character. Whenever I’m writing a story, any story, I hope I have the talent and the skill to make the world of the story come alive for my readers. Mostly I think I’m pretty adept at doing that. If I fail to draw the reader in, the failure is mine and not on account of characters or the story I’m telling.

Corvus Alyse: At first, I really didn’t want to offend anyone or piss anyone off arbitrarily. But then I realized that I wouldn’t be writing for me. So I wrote from a point of view that I adopted from my own personal lifestyle. I do my thing, and as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, I’m good.

 Z. Allora: Doing harm. The transgender* community has been sexualized far too often… I didn’t want to add to the negative stereotypes or unrealistic views. But I couldn’t stop my Boon-nam from rejoicing over having the body she’d always dreamed of nor would I not allow Lalana to celebrate the duality of her nature.

GroomofConvenience_postcard_front_DSP Groom of Convenience:

In an alternate universe, in the country of Angland, 1814, the gentry live lives of culture and class. It is a time of courtships, marriages of convenience, and titles, where scandal can ruin an entire family. Gender lines are blurred, and making a good match is of utmost importance. Children are born to men and women, which has led to the acceptance of same-sex marriages.

Lady Lucien Timothy Hawthorne is shocked and angry when he is betrothed against his will to Lord Heathcliff Eddington, III, the Duke of Pompinshire. While drowning his frustration at a popular gentleman’s club, he meets “Robert,” a gorgeous older man whom he sleeps with as “Timmy,” regardless of the potential damage to his reputation.

After their liaison, Lucien corresponds with Robert via letters left at Remmington, and they decide to elope. Before they can get away, Lucien meets his betrothed, Heathcliff, who he is surprised to discover is also his beloved, Robert. Both men desire a marriage of the heart, but they find out that sometimes a marriage of convenience can turn into love under the right circumstances. But Lucien has a secret, and Tlondon isn’t as safe as they once thought.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5542

Excerpt For Groom of Convenience:

Lucien pulled on his white gloves and rose from the seat in front of his dressing table. Picking up his reticule, he turned toward his bedchamber door and accepted the golden lace fan Patty held out for him. He wore a white-and-gold waistcoat with tails that trailed to the floor. His white breeches were trimmed in gold, and he wore a pair of heeled white boots his mother had ordered made especially for the outfit he wore. His hair had been brushed, powdered, curled, and pulled to the side to rest on his shoulder, the loose queue surrounded by flowers, and small diamond barrettes throughout the blond strands of the rest of his hair. His eyes were lined in black kohl, and his lips had the smallest amount of red lip rouge, while his cheeks were brushed with pale pink rouge. He felt as if he were Princess Edward in that moment, and he tried not to smile too wide at Patty when she declared him the most beautiful woman she’d ever laid eyes on.

He stepped into the hallway just as the front door opened, and he placed a hand against his stomach to settle his nerves. His entire family was attending the Cavendish ball, and in Hawthorn tradition, they were all wearing clothes that complemented each other. The men were wearing hunter green and gold and the women wore white and gold. It was only in that moment that Lucien realized he should have coordinated his attire with his betrothed, and he could only hope that in the five hours since they’d last seen each other someone had thought to send word to Heath about what colors to wear.

All those thoughts left his mind when Lucien came to a stop at the top of the stairs. Heath stood in the entry hall, handing his walking cane, top hat, and greatcoat to the butler, wearing a black suit with tails, a snow white shirt, gold vest, and a white cravat. Lucien didn’t even have time to be happy about the fact that his future husband was wearing gold before Heath glanced up. The intensity in his gray eyes colliding with Lucien’s own left him breathless. The rest of the room faded around them, and Lucien found himself breathing in sync with his intended.

He watched, barely moving, as Heath walked toward him, up the stairs, not speaking, barely blinking. When he finally stopped before Lucien, Lucien looked up into his darkening silver eyes and inhaled sharply.

“You are a vision, wrapped in a dream.”

Lucien shook his head, wanting to deny Heath’s words, but Heath went down on one knee before him without warning.

“Forgive me for being remiss and not giving this to you before now, but I can only blame the fact that the wonder of your being has held me so enthralled I find myself barely able to function outside of your presence,” Heath said with a small smile. “I can only hope you will accept this gift as a small token of my esteem and as a measure of my devotion.”

Lucien gave Heath a wobbly smile and looked at the black box he pulled from the pocket of his waistcoat. Lucien gasped when the box was opened, one hand on his chest in amazement.

Nestled inside the velvet box was the most beautiful ring he had ever seen in his life. A large sapphire, the largest sapphire Lucien had ever laid eyes on—bigger even than his mother’s—surrounded by diamonds, waited to be placed on his finger, and Lucien’s eyes filled with tears.

“Oh milady! You must not cry! Your cosmetics will smear,” Patty warned him. Lucien let out a watery laugh as he held out his left hand for Heath.

“Then I’m afraid we will be late to the ball, Patty, for these dreadful tears give not one whit about whether or not my cosmetics will run down my face.”

Heath let out a loud chuckle as he lifted the ring from the box and slid it onto Lucien’s finger before placing a gentle kiss on that same finger. Heath looked up into Lucien’s face and smiled gently at him.

“You have made me extremely happy,” Heath said.

“The feeling is completely mutual, I assure you, Your Grace,” Lucien choked out. He smiled widely and stepped back as Heath stood. Lucien turned to Patty. “How bad do I look?”

Patty shook her head and rushed him back to his room.

Before long Lucien was being wrapped in his fur-trimmed white cloak and assisted into Heath’s carriage. Heath sat across from Charlotte, Rourke, and Whitcomb, and Lucien sat next to him and Yarborough. A line of carriages left the Yorkshire Estate and traveled to Cavendish Manor, and Lucien found his hands trembling slightly in his lap, the glove of his left hand puffed up around his ring. He’d caused everyone to laugh when he’d put the ring on over the glove and then taken it off and put it on under the glove before eventually settling for having it on underneath his glove before they could finally leave.

“Are you all right, my lady?” Heath whispered to him.

“Yes, Your Grace.” Lucien nodded. “I am quite well.”

“Oh Luce, I hope you are not worrying over Madison Kipling,” Charlotte spoke up in the darkness of the carriage.

“The viscount’s heir?” Heath asked.

Lucien groaned and lowered his head in embarrassment.

“Why would you be worried about Kipling?”

“Lucien was in love with Madison when he was a little girl,” Charlotte said, a teasing note to her voice.

“You were?” Heath sounded amused.

“Two years ago is not so little,” Lucien mumbled. The carriage grew  quiet.

“It was completely one-sided, though, Your Grace. I assure you,” Charlotte said quickly.

Lucien looked at Heath, who sat watching him intently, and nodded in agreement. “I assure you, Pompinshire, Mr. Kipling doesn’t even know I exist.”

“Well, then, he’s a fool,” Heath stated with finality.

Nothing further was said on the matter, and Lucien settled, as much as his outfit would allow, into the cushioned seat of Heath’s luxurious carriage. Soon they were pulling up in front of the Cavendish Manor and waiting in a line of carriages.

When they reached the front of the line, Charlotte was assisted down by her husband, who had stepped down first, and Lucien was helped down by Heath, who smiled the entire time Lucien stepped from the carriage.

They walked up the stairs to the front door and handed their cloaks and greatcoats to the waiting servants and maids.

Lucien took Heath’s offered elbow and walked with him to the ballroom, behind their parents, followed by Heath’s friends. The rousing sounds of the quadrille could be heard even from the entry hall as they made their way to the ballroom, their whole party resplendent in their attire, and Lucien had to stop himself from bobbing his head along to the music. Heath’s parents were introduced first, and Lucien swallowed nervously. Then Lucien’s parents stepped up to the doorway and handed their cards to the butler so they could be announced.

“The Earl and Countess of Yorkshire,” the butler announced.

Lucien smiled slightly as his parents stepped forward and walked down the stairs to the ballroom. Charlotte and Rourke were announced next, then Mary and George, and when Frances and Sophie stepped up, Lucien saw Madison across the room. His breath caught when he found himself almost pinned in place by the green gaze of the heir to the Cavendish title.

Madison was tall and thin, though not lanky. He was nowhere near as broad and muscled as Heath. But where Heath was all brawn, dangerous muscle, and screamed possessiveness, Madison was grace, sophistication, and beauty. His eyes widened in interest as he looked at Lucien as if seeing him for the first time, and he began to walk forward.

“His Grace, the Duke of Pompinshire, and his betrothed, Lady Lucien Hawthorn,” the butler intoned, and the entire room came to a halt. Including Madison.

It gave Lucien a bit of a thrill to know that Madison Kipling, a man he had spent years pining and daydreaming over, finally wanted him, only to find out he couldn’t have him. Lucien pasted a serene smile on his face, when he really wanted to let out a laugh of delight, and squeezed Heath’s arm gently.

“Are you ready, Beauty?” Heath asked.

“Undoubtedly.”

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5542

More about Vicktor Alexander:

http://www.vicktoralexander.com

http://www.authorvicktoralexander.com (blog)
Thank you, Vicktor, authors, and readers. Please leave a comment to be eligible for the drawings.