Tuesday, December 12, 2017

#NewRelease from Beverley Oakley

I'm happy to host historical romance writer Beverley Oakley on her Reviews by Crystal Blog Tour. I think you'll enjoy this excerpt, and of course, don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post.  


Forsaking Hope

Fair Cyprians of London By Beverley Oakley
Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here

About the Book: 

Two years ago, she missed their secret assignation and disappeared without a trace. Now the divine "Miss Hope" is in Felix Durham’s bed - a 'surprise cheering-up gift' sourced by his friends from London's most exclusive brothel. Felix is in heaven - and he wants to stay there.

So does Hope, but she can’t. Hope Merriweather lives by a code of honour – even if she’s a prostitute. Having sold her soul, she’s prepared to sacrifice everything else to protect what she believes in. Even if honour – in her eyes – comes at the cost of thieving and breaking hearts. Including her own.



Available for preorder here:
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Excerpt: 

Chapter One

Wilfred Hunt. If there was a name to tip Hope into the abyss of despair she was hearing it spill from Madame Chambon’s lips now as the older woman directed Hope to take a seat in the reception room, presumably so Madame could loom oppressively over her.

With her hands on her ample, expensively padded hips, Hope’s benefactress—procuress, employer and gaoler were other monikers—sent Hope a beetling look that needed no interpreting: Regardless of Hope’s true feelings, Hope must project the required show of warmth and delight at being the chosen one.

Madame patted the side of her faux curls. Years of hot irons had reduced her hair to the texture of wool but her crowning glory these days was supplemented by the lustrous locks of those girls who dared cross her – before they were thrown back into the street from where most had come. Nevertheless, Hope had to make her resistance clear. Surely Madame who knew her history would understand her loathing for this man, above all others. “I shan’t do it,” she whispered. There was little evidence of the willful child and wild adolescent who’d been the despair of her family. “I won’t—”

Outside, the noise of the traffic rumbling over the cobbles and the shrill calls of competing vendors settled upon the tense silence. Madame Chambon’s other girls, ranged around the sumptuously appointed room on red velvet upholstered banquettes, watched the exchange with prurient fascination. Hope knew it had been a calculated ploy of Madame’s to conduct her interview in public so that Hope would serve as an example to them.

No one crossed Madame Chambon.

The shrill cry of a fishmonger caused Madame to look pointedly out of the window. With something between a smile and a sneer, she smoothed a Marcel wave. “Is that where you plan to return, Hope? The gutter?” Her nose twitched and in the sunlight that filtered into the room, the grooves chiselled between mouth and chin were thrown into harsh relief, highlighted rather than hidden by the thick powder she used to conceal her age.

Madame Chambon’s comfort, now and into retirement, depended on obedient girls. Hope knew that as well as anyone. She’d had to bury her rebellious streak just to ensure food in her belly. The Frenchwoman raised a chiselled brow and began to pace slowly in front of her girls. A painter with an eye for beauty would have been ecstatic at capturing such a spectacle on canvas. The discerning young man about town who visited 56 Albemarle Street was frequently rendered ecstatic by the range of delights Madame Chambon's girls offered in addition to the visual.

“You forget yourself, Hope. I put a roof over your head and deck you out as handsomely as Mr. Charles Worth ever did for his most discerning customer.” There was acid in Madame Chambon’s tone. “But for me, you'd be starving and glad of the pennies you could trade for a grubby stand-up encounter in a dark alley.” Madame Chambon thrust out her bosom and breathed through her nose, her response a calculated warning to the other girls arranged in various languid poses about the ornately decorated reception room that intransigence would not be tolerated.

“Mr Hunt has requested you.” She paused and when Hope remained silent, though her stance and expression left no one in any doubt as to her horror regarding this enforced assignation, went on. “Remember what I told you—what I tell all my girls when they first come here? The past must be forgotten the moment you step over my threshold. You are reborn, remodelled, refashioned into the most exquisite delectation of womanhood. A marquess, a prince, is well recompensed for the tidy sum he hands over in order to enjoy your sparkling wit, to converse with you in French, or if he chooses, on philosophy…to enjoy your charms…and,” she added significantly, “your gracious hospitality and tender ministrations to his needs. That is our agreement and you are no different. If Mr Hunt wishes you, Hope, to attend him at his residence then you will go.”

Faith, one of the kinder girls, patted Hope’s arm in silent solidarity. Hope didn’t expect any of them to speak up in her defence. Not when they all relied on Madame Chambon as much as she did to provide them with the necessities of life. Anything more than that was part of a strict contract that indentured a girl for life unless she was able to secure a generous benefactor to settle Madame's severance bill. The fine clothes were part of the charade, necessary to entice a more elite clientele. Hope’s exquisite wardrobe did not belong to her though she'd have forsaken all the dupion silk and Spitalfields lace for the freedom of the gutter and to be mistress of her own destiny – and her body - if she could only be sure of a plate of gravy and potatoes every second day.

Closing her eyes, she hung her head, the carefully coiffed curls that fell forwards brushing against her tear-streaked cheeks. It was as well that they not be in evidence. Tears, weakness, vulnerability were like a red rag to a bull where Madame Chambon was concerned.

“How long…do I have to prepare myself?” She was not so stupid she couldn’t admit defeat when there was no alternative. Obduracy was beaten out of one, but tears ensured a girl got the very worst next assignment. Their clients weren’t all marquesses and princes, though they did require a very fat pocket book.

“Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow.” Hope repeated it in a leaden tone, and stared at her hands, clasped in her lap; white-knuckled. As white as the rabbit-fur that edged her fashionable black-and-white striped satin cuirass. Hope had the tall, slim figure suited to the scandalously tight tie-back skirts that were all the rage, the back flowing into a train adorned with elaborate swags and trimmed with bows. She'd turned heads the length of Oxford Street as she’d promenaded along the pavement following a walk through Hyde Park earlier that afternoon. In fact, for the first time in two years, she’d almost felt happy as she’d pretended a sense of freedom in the afternoon sun, blocking her mind to the prison to which she was returning.

She drew in her breath and forced herself to be brave, knowing the punishment she’d invite for daring to speak her mind. “Please tell Mr Hunt I will see him again under sufferance.”

Madame Chambon’s voice was surprisingly caramel. “Well then, now that you have made your objection clear, Hope, you will be pleased to hear that Mr Hunt’s desires are not only motivated by fond memories of your no-doubt mutually satisfying congress. I believe he wishes to acquaint you with news of your family.”

Hope hid her shock. “I have no family.” With care, she modified her tone so it was as leaden as before though emotion roiled close to the surface.

“Not even a sister?”

Hope raised her chin. Here was the chink and Madame knew it. The woman did her research. Aware that the other girls who surrounded her were tense with anticipation, Hope struggled not to respond. Camaraderie existed at surface level but one never knew when it might profit one to have the dirt on a fellow prostitute. It was, clearly, another reason Madame Chambon had chosen to make this conversation public.

“Mr Hunt will see you at nine tomorrow evening,” said the so-called Frenchwoman who, it was whispered, was from the gutters of Lambeth, not Paris. “At his apartments in Duke Street. Now go and prepare yourself for Lord Farrow. Married to a monolith like the venerable Lady Farrow, he likes his girls vivacious and free-spirited. There’ll be less coin in your pocket if you sully the transaction with that long face, Hope.”

~*~*~*~*~*~ Author Info: 

Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.
Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.
Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery, intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose – it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.

Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth century lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.

You can get in contact with Beverley at:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A SWEETER SPOT #sale #99cents!

Today Donna Simonetti visits to tell us about her .99cent sale on A SWEETER SPOT. This contemporary romance (ebook version) can be purchased at all major online retailers. All the best with your sale Donna!




Blurb:

Magda knows a 28-year-old shouldn’t run away from home, but Rivers Bend is the ideal escape. Helping out her best friend will get her away from her uber-wealthy, controlling grandmother and duplicitous ex. She doesn’t expect the quirky little town to feel so much like home. Add in hotter-than-the-sun Jeff and his daughter, and leaving seems as unthinkable as it is inevitable.

Raising Sam alone, Jeff knew he wanted her to grow up in his supportive hometown. The arrival of a feisty new tenant sends Jeff's world spinning. Magda fills a void in his life that he’d like to make permanent.

Will love triumph over the most powerful woman in the country, and can they figure out how to make this happy-for-now in Rivers Bend into their happy-ever-after?

Excerpt:

“Being cheated on is no fun. It happened to me once. Up here,” he tapped his forehead. “You know it’s not your fault. But here,” he tapped his chest over his heart. “You feel like it has to be your fault – like you could’ve done something to prevent it. But you couldn’t have. It’s all on him, Maggie. Not you.”

She picked a dandelion, whose flower had turned into a puffball, and blew on it, scattering the fluff to the wind. “Maybe. Maybe not. But thanks for the support.”

She pushed to her feet and took a couple of steps toward the river. Jeff rose and followed.

How could he be so angry at a man he didn’t even know? How could this Pierce jerk have slept around on a woman like Maggie? And the prick had even made her doubt herself in the process. It was written all over her anguished face.

He stood behind her and gently kneaded her shoulders. He turned her to face him and cupped her face in his big hands.

“This Pierce guy is the biggest fool on earth to go to someone else when he had you at home, Maggie.”

She blinked away tears, and he felt his heart constrict. Before he could think it through and decide it was a really bad idea, Jeff dipped his head and captured Magda’s lips in a gentle kiss.

Buy Links:

Amazon:
https://www.amzn.com/dp/B01N1S1K06/

TWRP:
http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/4862-a-sweeter-spot.html

Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-sweeter-spot-donna-simonetta/1125338511?ean=2940157374921

Amazon UK:
http://amzn.eu/14pwrnP

Kobo:
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-sweeter-spot-1


My Social Media Links:

https://www.facebook.com/donnasimonettaauthor

https://twitter.com/donna_simonetta

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15422407.Donna_Simonetta

https://www.amazon.com/Donna-Simonetta/e/B06X415TWW/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/donna-simonetta


Author Bio:



My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

Friday, December 1, 2017