Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cover Reveal & Excerpt for "The Runaway Duchess"


When feisty, free spirited Lady Charlotte Vanderley is betrothed against her will to the lecherous old Duke of Tarrow, she will go to any lengths to escape him, especially when a chance encounter with the mysterious Gavin Graystone shows her the true meaning of passion.


Gavin Graystone despises the nobility, and for good reason. Born in the London slums, he knows the true meaning of suffering. Now a wealthy entrepreneur, he has left his checkered past behind and secretly yearns for the one thing his money cannot buy: the respect of the ton.


Marrying Gavin will free Charlotte from the Duke. Marrying Charlotte will give Gavin the acceptance he desires. It seems like the perfect plan, but when two yearning hearts are involved, things rarely happen as they should… And as Charlotte and Gavin soon discover, falling in love is anything but convenient. 


“I will not marry him.” Standing with her arms crossed and her jaw set, twenty-one-year-old Charlotte Vanderley shook her head from side to side, sending her unruly mass of red curls whipping across her face. “He is old and grotesque and I would not want him if he were the last man on earth!”
“Pin your hair up, dear, you look like a heathen.” Unimpressed by her daughter’s belligerence, Lady Vanderley sipped her tea and smoothed a wrinkle from her skirts. Always impeccably dressed and well put together, nothing grated on Bettina’s nerves quite like a coiffure that was loose or a stay that was not pulled tight.
A woman of quiet reserve and a spine of steel, she blamed every single one of her gray hairs on Charlotte, and often wondered what she had done so wrong to deserve such a rebellious child. There was no denying the girl her beauty (and for that Bettina took full credit) but as for everything else… Well, it was well known Lord Vanderley had always been much too indulgent with his only daughter. And this, Bettina thought sourly as she took in Charlotte’s disheveled appearance, is the result.
Ignoring her mother’s demand, Charlotte stalked across the parlor and stared broodingly out the window to the street beyond. It was late in the afternoon and London traffic had slowed to a crawl. It would pick back up again once the supper hour drew near, but for now all was quiet and uncharacteristically calm. As she looked on a group of raggedly dressed boys raced passed, whooping and laughing and kicking a red ball while a dog nipped playfully at their heels. Charlotte sighed. What she wouldn’t do to be outside right now, to feel the sun on her face and the wind in her hair. To be able to run and yell and do all the things proper young ladies were never allowed to do.
Instead she was stuck inside with nothing to occupy her time save the thought of her recent engagement to the horrible Duke of Tarrow, an old lecher thirty years her senior who had already seen two wives dead and buried. Why he had need of a third Charlotte was not certain; he already had two sons, the “heir and the spare” as the saying went, and both were in good health.
Her best friend Dianna had told her that he wanted another wife so he could succumb to his “manly urges” whenever he pleased. Charlotte had a small inkling of what that entailed, and just thinking about those wrinkled hands on her body made her sick to her stomach.
“I still cannot believe you allowed the announcement to be printed without my permission,” she tossed accusingly over one shoulder. Catching her mother’s frown out of the corner of her eye, she spun in a half circle and scowled. “This is not the dark ages. If I do not want to marry him you cannot make me!”
“You are behaving like a petulant child,” said Bettina. Fluffing a hand through her auburn hair, now streaked liberally with gray, she straightened even further in her chair and linked her hands together on top of her lap. “It is a great honor to be engaged to a Duke, especially one of Lord Crane’s wealth and social status.”
“I do not care how titled or rich he is!” Charlotte exploded. “I want to marry for love, not money.”
For the first time a hint of true annoyance flashed in Bettina’s dark blue eyes and twin blotches of color appeared high on her cheeks. “You are a foolish girl with foolish dreams who knows nothing of the real world or the perils that exist within it,” she said scornfully. “One day you will thank me for this, mark my words.”
   “Well it will not be today,” Charlotte said before she stormed out of the parlor, taking great satisfaction in slamming the door behind her. 

Release Date: 05/10/13

(My sister's birthday!)

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