Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Excerpt from FIRST AND AGAIN #MFRWauthor

I'm offering an excerpt from my contemporary small-town romance FIRST AND AGAIN today. Here's the blurb:

Bridget Grant is back in Paradise. Paradise, North Dakota, that is.

She’s swallowed her pride and moved back to her hometown with her daughter after her divorce and the loss of her catering company. Now she’s trying to navigate the strained relationships she’d left behind – including her first love, Jack Davison.

Jack never forgot Bridget, or the day she left town – and him. When Bridget caters a lunch at Jack’s tourist ranch, old flames reignite. They have more in common than ever – Jack’s also a single parent. Though they both try to keep things casual, Bridget, Jack and their girls are starting to look a lot like a family.

But Bridget’s only planning to stay in Paradise until she’s saved enough to relaunch her business. Jack’s invested too much in his ranch to leave. And with their daughters involved both have a lot more at stake than heartbreak. How can they risk falling in love?

Here's an excerpt:

Memories flooded back. Clapping madly as Jack Davison scored the winning touchdown for their high school football team. Her heart racing when he singled her out to dance at the Fall Ball. The sweetness of their first kiss. The thrill of her first love and the anguish when it ended. When I ended it.

His gaze locked with hers and she wondered how he remembered it, if he remembered it at all.

Jack looked lean and fit and very attractive. His sandy-colored hair was free of gray, and though a few lines etched his face, they only made him more handsome. His eyes, fringed by thick, dark lashes, were still the same shade of cornflower blue she’d always loved. Back in the day, one look from those beautiful eyes could turn her knees to water.

Damn it, why did he still have to look so good?

“Hello, Jack.” She extended her hand.

“Hello.” He clasped her hand in a firm shake.

Nerves skittered down her spine. “So what are you doing in Paradise?” Celia had told her years ago that he had married a girl in Houston. Her telephone conversations with her sister had been brief over the years, mostly centering on their husbands and children. She hadn’t wanted to hear news of her old life. “Are you here visiting Celia and Gavin?”

“No, I moved back to Paradise a few years ago. Gavin tells me you’re going to be living here for awhile.”

“Yes.” She started gathering empty glasses from the table, aware of the interested glances from Celia and Gavin’s friends. For the most part, they weren’t being malicious, just curious, but her private life was just that; private.

Tina smiled and leaned forward. “And you’ve been living in San Francisco all these years, Bridget. It must be exciting to live in a big city. What did you do there?”

“Lots of things, but mostly I helped run my ex-husband’s business.”

“Bridget’s being modest,” Celia said. “She’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She was head chef of the catering company she and her husband owned.”

“Really?” Bridget detected a slightly mocking tone in Tina’s voice. “I imagine you catered a lot of fancy affairs.”

“A few.” Was the emphasis on affairs some kind of dig, a double entendre? She rejected the idea. How could Tina know about Ben’s affair? She glanced toward her mother, mentally willing her to call so she’d have an excuse to leave. Unfortunately, her mother was engrossed in conversation with some older patrons, leaving her no means of escape.

“So why did you leave your catering company?”

“Tina, maybe Bridget doesn’t want to talk about it,” Celia said, a note of warning in her voice.
Tina had always had a knack for finding her weak spots and going straight for the jugular. Bridget’s only hope was to show no fear.

“That’s okay, Celia,” she said. She turned to Tina with what she hoped was a composed expression on her face. “The business went under.”

“Really? What a shame. What went wrong?”

The massive lawsuit might have had something to do with it. “It was probably the downturn in the economy.”

“That’s too bad. And I understand your husband left you after that.”

Her heart dropped into her stomach. She lifted her eyes to Tina’s and in that moment she hated the woman. Though Tina’s face was the picture of innocent inquiry, the predatory gleam in her eyes revealed the enjoyment she took in asking these humiliating questions.

“It was an amicable split.”

“But to leave you without any money and then to take up with a younger woman. Well, that’s just too much.”

She heard her sister’s sharp intake of breath before an embarrassed hush fell over the group.

“Knock it off, Tina,” Jack said.

Tina gave him an indignant glare. “I was just trying to express my sympathy for Bridget’s situation.”

He didn’t look convinced. “Sympathy, my ass.”

Bridget glanced at the horrified expression on her sister’s face. In a moment of weakness, she’d phoned and confided the circumstances of her divorce to Celia. How could Tina have known Ben had left her for a woman fifteen years younger unless Celia had told her? Was this how sisters treated each other? Did one betray confidences and then sit back and watch while the other was publicly humiliated and ridiculed?

She could never trust her again.

Gavin coughed self-consciously. He and the others at the table appeared uncomfortable, but she was past caring about anyone else’s discomfort. Anger welled up inside her, anger at Tina, at Celia, at Ben, at the world in general.

“It’s okay, Jack. Tina’s right. My husband did dump me for a younger woman. But hey, my life’s an open book. Maybe there are other details of my personal life you’d like to discuss.  Perhaps you want to know my bra size or maybe my bank account balance, though I’ve got to warn you, neither is very big. Go ahead, ask me anything.”

They stared at each other for what seemed like ages until Tina shook her head, looking chastised.

“You’re right, it’s none of my business,” she said, sounding remorseful. “I just wondered what brought you back to Paradise after all these years.”

There were many reasons for coming home—poverty, hopelessness, a broken heart. But she had no intention of baring her soul to Tina Wilson.

“I came back to Paradise because I need some space. And plenty of privacy.”

She turned away, her hands shaking as she clutched the empty glasses, but not before she caught what looked like amusement in Jack Davison’s eyes. His expression made her even angrier. How dare he laugh at her?

The glasses clinked together as she haphazardly loaded them into the dishwasher behind the bar. One night in Paradise and she’d already been humiliated. Welcome home, Bridget. If she had enough money for gas and if she thought her old Chevy could withstand the return trip, she’d pack up her daughter and their few meager possessions and head back to San Francisco. Why on earth had she ever come back here?

The answer was simple. She had no place else to go.

Buy Links:
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Friday, March 6, 2015

Guest Author Marlowe Kelly and the Scandalous Jane Digby

Historical romance author Marlow Kelly is my guest today. She has a fascinating story about a truly intriguing Victorian woman. Take it away, Marlow!

One of the most scandalous women of the Victorian Era is Jane Elizabeth Digby. She was a woman known for her numerous marriages and affairs. But was she really so bad or was she just a victim of an era when women were seen as the property of their husbands rather than people in their own right?

Jane was born in Dorset, England, in 1807 to an aristocratic family. Her father was a decorated admiral in the British navy who was known for capturing enemy ships and taking their bounty.

Jane was an intelligent, independently wealthy woman who spoke nine languages, and was considered a talented artist and a magnificent horsewoman. She would have been coveted for these qualities alone, but Jane was also beautiful. Her peers described her as tall, with a perfect figure, blond and blue-eyed.

At the age of seventeen she married Edward Law, Lord Ellenborough, a man nearly twenty years her senior. Lord Ellenborough had a rising political career and it seems he spent many days and weeks away from the young, adventurous Jane. She responded to her loneliness by having affairs first with her cousin, Colonel George Anson, who it is rumored was the father of her son, Arthur. She must have also been sleeping with her husband at this time because Edward had no questions about paternity. Unfortunately, Arthur died in infancy.

Next she had an affair with Prince Felix Schwarzenberg. She became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter, Mathilde, in 1829. This time Lord Ellenborough knew beyond a doubt that the child was not his.

Edward divorced Jane by act of Parliament in 1830. In this time period only two divorces a year were granted. The salacious details of this case caused a scandal that rocked England.

After her divorce, and against the wishes of her family Jane followed Felix to Munich, but the relationship ended when their son died soon after birth. Felix broke contact with Jane and it seems that she had no qualms about leaving her daughter to be raised by Felix’s sister.

Jane wasn’t alone for long, she soon caught the eye of Ludwig I of Bavaria and the pair became lovers. It was at this time that she met and married her second husband, Baron Karl von Venningen. They married in November 1833. This, it seems, was a marriage of convenience, and although Jane may have cared for Karl she wasn’t in love with him. Together they had a son, Heribert and a daughter, Bertha.

But Jane couldn’t or wouldn’t settle. Within five years she took another lover, Count Spyridon Theotokis of Greece. When Venningen found out he was furious and challenged Theotokis to a duel. Karl won the dual, injuring Spyridon, but lost the girl. Jane left her husband to care for her injured lover. Seeing that her affections had changed, Venningen released her from their marriage. He kept the children and took care of them, although, he and Jane remained friends and kept in touch for the rest of their lives.

Jane, now in Greece, converted to the Greek Orthodox faith and married Theotokis in 1841. The pair had a son, Leonidas. Tragically, he died at the age of six, after a fall from a balcony. Out of her five children, Leonidas was the only one she seemed to have truly loved and was devastated by his death. Her relationship with Theotokis ended and the coupled divorced.

Once again, Jane wasn’t alone for long; her next lover was King Otto of Greece. This just seems to have been a quick affair. And Jane moved on to Greek General, Christodoulos Hatzipetros. She threw herself into her life with him, living in caves, riding horses and hunting in the mountains. Christodoulos was a man famous for his womanizing and Jane walked out on him when she discovered he was cheating on her. (Okay, I’m surprised by this considering all the cheating she’d done in her life.)

In her mid-forties Jane travelled to Arabia where she met and fell in love with Sheik Abdul Medjuel El Mezrab, whom was fifteen years her junior. Their marriage seems to have been a happy one, built on compromise. She wanted to be married in the European sense whereas he wanted to keep his harem. It is rumored that they agreed to be monogamous for three years after that time he would reinstate his harem and could take other wives. By all accounts, Jane loved the Bedouin life, living for six months a year travelling, and sleeping in a tent. The other six months were spent in her palatial home in Damascus. Her marriage lasted nearly thirty years until her death in 1871.

Jane was definitely a woman out of time. She seemed to yearn for adventure, and men were a part of that. She doesn’t seem to have had much in the way of maternal instinct. I think her children were just a byproduct of sleeping with men in an era where there was no such thing as reliable contraceptives.

I like to believe she found the life she was looking for with the Bedouin. The fact that everyday was different would have been fun for her. And when she got tired of sleeping in a tent she could return to her comfortable home in Damascus.

My character, Annabel, in A Woman of Love, wasn’t as fortunate as Jane. Annabel is completely controlled by her disreputable husband, Lord Elliott Peters. So when he demands that she pay his gambling debts by bedding his friend, James Drake, she is forced to comply.

What happens when Annabel meets James? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

A WOMAN OF LOVE is part of the Honour, Love and Courage series from Marlow Kelly:

When her dissolute husband insists that Lady Annabel Peters bed one of his villainous cohorts to repay a gambling debt, she is scandalized. But she is forced to agree because he controls every aspect of her life.

A physically and emotionally crippled war hero, James Drake has retreated from society. At the request of his brother, he manipulates events so he can interrogate Annabel, a woman he thinks may be part of a ring of thieves.

Neither of them count on an instant and overwhelming attraction. James may now believe Annabel but she suspects her husband plans to kill her. As one of her husband’s friends, James is not to be trusted.

Yet how can she escape a man who has the ability to control her with a gentle kiss?


She swung around, and came face to face with a demon. He was tall, and broad with long, black hair, a bushy beard, and a scar that traversed his right cheek, narrowly missing his eye. Shadows darkened his face with stark lines making him look like a man who had come straight from hell. She straightened her spine. He was a man, plain and simple. Not a demon, and certainly not from hell. She needed to keep her whimsical thoughts at bay, so she could form a plan.

“Have you changed your mind regarding our rendezvous?” His soft-spoken, polite manner seemed strangely at odds with his appearance.

“I-I never agreed to...” She licked her lips. Why was her mouth so dry? Had his intense gaze turned her into a blathering nitwit?

He clasped her hands, enfolding them in his warm touch. “You have a graze here. Did you fall?” He kissed each palm in turn, his warm breath making her quiver deep in her belly. She wrenched her hands away. Good God. Was she so starved for affection a simple touch could kindle her passion? 

Yes, she was. It had been years since a man had caressed her with anything close to tenderness. 

Buy Links for A WOMAN OF LOVE:

Amazon ~ TWRP ~ B&N ~ iBooks

Author Marlow Kelly

After being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, Marlow Kelly made her way to Canada where she found love, a home and a pug named Max. She also discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, children and let’s not forget Max, she started putting her ideas to paper. Her need to write about strong women in crisis drives her stories and her curiosity regarding the lives and loves of historical figures are the inspiration for her characters. You can visit Marlow at

Marlow's Social media Links:

Marlow be awarding a $10 Amazon egift-card to a lucky winner via Rafflecopter.

Readers can go to to get the tour dates and follow the tour. The more you comment, tweet and follow the more chances you have to win. Giveaway runs from 4th March until 31st March.

a Rafflecopter giveaway