Monday, October 31, 2016

Fav Halloween Recipe and My Halloween Story

Happy Halloween!
I do paranormal investigations with a group from New Hampshire near where I live, and I attended my very first ghost hunt with them a few nights before Halloween. About ten of us visited Old Dunstable Cemetery where some victims of a 1702 Indian massacre are buried. It’s the oldest cemetery in Nashua, dating back from when the land was part of Massachusetts. The earliest burial dates from 1687. Researchers had found the victims’ names, so we were able to locate their gravestones. The only equipment I had at the time were my dowsing rods and a digital camera. While others in the group made their attempts to contact spirits, I stood before a gravestone that read: this Man, with Seven more, that lies in this Grave; was Slew, All in
A day, by the Indiens.

Holding my rods, I asked a few questions: Did you die in the massacre? Were you born here? You can only ask simple yes or no questions and ask the rods to cross for yes and separate for no. I got answers to all my questions. I then stood before another stone reading: Rev. Thomas Weld, Born June 1653, Settled as the first minister of the church in Dunstable Dec. 1685, probably massacred by the Indians while defending the settlement June 7, 1702, age 49. All the while, I felt a strong presence, and immediately began feeling dizzy and lightheaded. I found that this happens quite frequently when I ghost hunt. I’ve never seen a ghost, but have felt presences near me, and always get dizzy when I sense someone is nearby. I took several photos throughout the cemetery, and some came out with brightly colored arcs among the tombstones. I didn’t dare visit that graveyard on Halloween night!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN HEALTHY PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:
3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
2/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. salt
4 egg whites
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, no sugar added

Directions:

Place everything in your blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a greased or parchment lined cake pan or a mini scone pan.

Bake at 350 F for 50 minutes.

Optional : When cooled, top with whipped cream 

Enjoy!

1 serving = 1/8 of the entire cake

Carbs: 13 gm

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cape Cod's Haunted 17th Century Gaol

My author friend Kathryn Knight and I both wrote about the gaol in our books, her HAUNTED SOULS and my DARK BREW (click on the cover on the right for link). We both toured the gaol at different times, and had some weird experiences there. Read about the gaol and HAUNTED SOULS on Kathryn's blog http://bit.ly/2eJJZ0v




Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum--Once a Tenement Building, Now a Must-Visit

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street in New York City was once a real tenement. From the time it was built in 1863, 7,000 inhabitants moved in and out of this building. Nearly all were immigrants, poor or working class. Today, each apartment is furnished to represent a different time period. You can step back in time to see how the masses lived, struggling to make ends meet. It's entirely authentic, down to the backyard privies. 


I visited the museum look forward to going back. If you live near or in Manhattan, you can attend the many events they hold there.

I'm on their mailing list, and they just sent me an article about the area's crime in the early 20th century, "Returning to the Scene of the Crime". They mention Luc Sante, who wrote LOW LIFE: LURES AND SNARES OF OLD NEW YORK. I read this for research on my 1894 New York novel FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET which is Book One of my New York Saga.
LOW LIFE is one of the best books I've ever read.



Manhattan's Lower East Side, Early 20th Century


Monday, October 24, 2016

A Halloween Treat! Release Tour for DARK OF MIDNIGHT Halloween Collection

DARK OF MIDNIGHT
2016 Halloween Collection

Friday, October 21, 2016

Aaron Burr has an Association--and I'm a Member!

I joined the Aaron Burr Association when I was researching my bio novel about his last wife Eliza. When I started reading about him, I found him more interesting than Hamilton, the subject of my previous book. As history buffs know, it's so easy to get hooked on a historical figure. Every "Ricardian" has a unique story about how they "met" and got hooked on Richard III.
You may know that Aaron killed Hamilton in the most famous duel in US history, in 1804. And then what happened? Hamilton died 2 days later, and Aaron (Thomas Jefferson's Vice President) went into exile for a while. When he returned to Washington D.C. he made a speech that didn't leave a dry eye in the house.
The Association is made up of history buffs like me, and many members are Aaron's relatives.
This year, the Association had their meeting in the Bordentown, NJ area. We stayed in Hamilton NJ (what are the odds), and toured many historical sites. The Bordentown County Times sent some reporters to join us, and here's a reprint of the article that just appeared, with a video.

 EVERYTHING IS 
RELATIVE

Bordentown City visit has Aaron Burr Association seeking family history


BORDENTOWN CITY — A small garden in downtown here recently drew the attention of a national nonprofit group seeking a bit of family history.
Members of the Aaron Burr Association gathered at the corner of Crosswicks Street and Farnsworth Avenue, where a hardware store once stood. But the lack of a structure, as well as a morning drizzle, didn’t dampen the appreciation association members had for the location’s significance.
Demolished in the mid-20th century, the store was owned by Samuel Burr, a cousin of the historically famous dueler and then-U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. However, it also was the young city’s social and commercial epicenter, according to ABA member Doug Kiovsky, of Princeton, the tour’s guide.
“Bordentown City was an up and coming town, just before the Civil War,” said Kiovsky.
+8  
Members of the Aaron Burr Association take a walking tour down Crosswicks Street.
Dorann Weber
The business’ popularity was rivaled only by the post office, according to a memoir written by the owner’s son, ABA founder Samuel Burr Jr. The book, Kiovsky said, indicated that the store sold dry goods, linens, tools and animal feed, as well as telephone service and fire insurance later on.
The store’s site was one of the stops along the tour that brought to Burlington County Burr family members and descendants, scholars and others with an interest in the history and genealogy of the clan.
Founded in 1946, the association’s mission is to preserve Aaron Burr’s legacy as a student, soldier, lawyer, politician, arts patron, educator, banker and family man, rather than his role in the 1804 duel that killed former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
The group meets annually at locations with a connection to the Aaron Burr family, as well as to Hamilton. Past meetings have been held in diverse places, such as Connecticut, Charleston, South Carolina, and Saratoga, New York.
“This is the first time we’ve been to Bordentown,” said ABA president Stuart Fisk Johnson, a Burr family descendant. “Next year, we’re going to Center City Philadelphia.”
Samuel Burr was a cousin of Aaron Burr. According to Kiovsky, he plied his trade at a family member’s store in Moorestown before moving to Bordentown City and purchasing his business. He, his wife and children were also heavily involved in the community through their various careers and volunteer work.
Bordentown Cemetery was the beginning of the local tour. Samuel Burr and his family are buried at the site, and his wife Anna served as president of the Bordentown Cemetery Association during her lifetime.
The tour group later stopped at the Clara Barton Schoolhouse, a one-room structure that served as the country’s first public school. Although the Burr children did not attend the school, Samuel Burr did correspond in writing with Barton, a teacher and founder of the American Red Cross, and they shared an educational ideology, according to Kiovsky.
+8  
Douglas Kiovsky tells the group the history of the one-room  Clara Barton Schoolhouse.
Dorann Weber
“He met her in Washington, D.C.,” the tour guide added.
Stops at Old City Hall, the Francis Hopkinson House and a pizza lunch at The Vault restaurant gave the tourists opportunities to learn more about the family and the city it helped grow. The Vault is housed in a former bank whose president was Sarah Burr, a descendant of Samuel Burr.
+8  
Bordentown City's Old City Hall was one of the many stops along the walking tour.
Dorann Weber
The tour was part of a week-long gathering that included visits to the Peachfield plantation in Westampton, the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton and Andalusia, a historic home in Pennsylvania. The group's annual business meeting was held in Mount Holly, at the home of Burr descendant Judy Gauntt.
Moorestown native Anna Burr Root was among the touring guests who traveled a distance to attend the ABA  gathering. While visiting the region, the Clifton Park, New York, resident said she planned to show her daughter where she grew up and learn more about their family history.
“Historians know a lot more than I do,” she said. “I enjoy the camaraderie and seeing the places.”
In addition to knowing the Burr genealogy and seeing sites related to the family, Johnson said the ABA tours help create awareness for the group’s mission.
“We’re concerned with correcting the (legacy) of Aaron Burr,” he said.
Johnson and other association members said they hope people will look closer at the duel with Hamilton to better understand the facts of the incident and to learn about Burr’s many attributes.
“Aaron Burr was one of the first feminists, advocating for women’s education,” he added. “Theodosia, his daughter, spoke six languages. He had her educated like a wealthy man.”
Johnson said Burr also was a Patriot, served as a military colonel and fought in the Battle of Monmouth during the Revolutionary War.
According to Johnson, Burr ironically saved Hamilton’s life by leading him to safety during a battle and was a member of an anti-slavery society that his dueling partner founded.
As for the infamous incident in Weehawken, Burr family members say their famous ancestor may not have meant to kill Hamilton. Research has shown that the dueling pistols supplied by Hamilton had hair triggers that may not have been known to Burr.
“Hamilton may have fired prematurely,” said Johnson.


Aaron Burr has an Association--and I'm a Member!

I joined the Aaron Burr Association when I was researching my bio novel about his last wife Eliza. When I started reading about him, I found him more interesting than Hamilton, the subject of my previous book. As history buffs know, it's so easy to get hooked on a historical figure. Every "Ricardian" has a unique story about how they "met" and got hooked on Richard III.
You may know that Aaron killed Hamilton in the most famous duel in US history, in 1804. And then what happened? Hamilton died 2 days later, and Aaron (Thomas Jefferson's Vice President) went into exile for a while. When he returned to Washington D.C. he made a speech that didn't leave a dry eye in the house.
The Association is made up of history buffs like me, and many members are Aaron's relatives.
This year, the Association had their meeting in the Bordentown, NJ area. We stayed in Hamilton NJ (what are the odds), and toured many historical sites. The Bordentown County Times sent some reporters to join us, and here's a reprint of the article that just appeared, with a video.

 EVERYTHING IS 
RELATIVE

Bordentown City visit has Aaron Burr Association seeking family history


BORDENTOWN CITY — A small garden in downtown here recently drew the attention of a national nonprofit group seeking a bit of family history.
Members of the Aaron Burr Association gathered at the corner of Crosswicks Street and Farnsworth Avenue, where a hardware store once stood. But the lack of a structure, as well as a morning drizzle, didn’t dampen the appreciation association members had for the location’s significance.
Demolished in the mid-20th century, the store was owned by Samuel Burr, a cousin of the historically famous dueler and then-U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. However, it also was the young city’s social and commercial epicenter, according to ABA member Doug Kiovsky, of Princeton, the tour’s guide.
“Bordentown City was an up and coming town, just before the Civil War,” said Kiovsky.
+8  
Members of the Aaron Burr Association take a walking tour down Crosswicks Street.
Dorann Weber
The business’ popularity was rivaled only by the post office, according to a memoir written by the owner’s son, ABA founder Samuel Burr Jr. The book, Kiovsky said, indicated that the store sold dry goods, linens, tools and animal feed, as well as telephone service and fire insurance later on.
The store’s site was one of the stops along the tour that brought to Burlington County Burr family members and descendants, scholars and others with an interest in the history and genealogy of the clan.
Founded in 1946, the association’s mission is to preserve Aaron Burr’s legacy as a student, soldier, lawyer, politician, arts patron, educator, banker and family man, rather than his role in the 1804 duel that killed former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
The group meets annually at locations with a connection to the Aaron Burr family, as well as to Hamilton. Past meetings have been held in diverse places, such as Connecticut, Charleston, South Carolina, and Saratoga, New York.
“This is the first time we’ve been to Bordentown,” said ABA president Stuart Fisk Johnson, a Burr family descendant. “Next year, we’re going to Center City Philadelphia.”
Samuel Burr was a cousin of Aaron Burr. According to Kiovsky, he plied his trade at a family member’s store in Moorestown before moving to Bordentown City and purchasing his business. He, his wife and children were also heavily involved in the community through their various careers and volunteer work.
Bordentown Cemetery was the beginning of the local tour. Samuel Burr and his family are buried at the site, and his wife Anna served as president of the Bordentown Cemetery Association during her lifetime.
The tour group later stopped at the Clara Barton Schoolhouse, a one-room structure that served as the country’s first public school. Although the Burr children did not attend the school, Samuel Burr did correspond in writing with Barton, a teacher and founder of the American Red Cross, and they shared an educational ideology, according to Kiovsky.
+8  
Douglas Kiovsky tells the group the history of the one-room  Clara Barton Schoolhouse.
Dorann Weber
“He met her in Washington, D.C.,” the tour guide added.
Stops at Old City Hall, the Francis Hopkinson House and a pizza lunch at The Vault restaurant gave the tourists opportunities to learn more about the family and the city it helped grow. The Vault is housed in a former bank whose president was Sarah Burr, a descendant of Samuel Burr.
+8  
Bordentown City's Old City Hall was one of the many stops along the walking tour.
Dorann Weber
The tour was part of a week-long gathering that included visits to the Peachfield plantation in Westampton, the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton and Andalusia, a historic home in Pennsylvania. The group's annual business meeting was held in Mount Holly, at the home of Burr descendant Judy Gauntt.
Moorestown native Anna Burr Root was among the touring guests who traveled a distance to attend the ABA  gathering. While visiting the region, the Clifton Park, New York, resident said she planned to show her daughter where she grew up and learn more about their family history.
“Historians know a lot more than I do,” she said. “I enjoy the camaraderie and seeing the places.”
In addition to knowing the Burr genealogy and seeing sites related to the family, Johnson said the ABA tours help create awareness for the group’s mission.
“We’re concerned with correcting the (legacy) of Aaron Burr,” he said.
Johnson and other association members said they hope people will look closer at the duel with Hamilton to better understand the facts of the incident and to learn about Burr’s many attributes.
“Aaron Burr was one of the first feminists, advocating for women’s education,” he added. “Theodosia, his daughter, spoke six languages. He had her educated like a wealthy man.”
Johnson said Burr also was a Patriot, served as a military colonel and fought in the Battle of Monmouth during the Revolutionary War.
According to Johnson, Burr ironically saved Hamilton’s life by leading him to safety during a battle and was a member of an anti-slavery society that his dueling partner founded.
As for the infamous incident in Weehawken, Burr family members say their famous ancestor may not have meant to kill Hamilton. Research has shown that the dueling pistols supplied by Hamilton had hair triggers that may not have been known to Burr.
“Hamilton may have fired prematurely,” said Johnson.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Meet Linda McLaughlin for the #RomanticTravel Blog Tour


Linda is a frequent guest of mine. She also writes steamy to erotic romance under the name Lyndi Lamont, and is one half of the writing team of Lyn O'Farrell.


Linda grew up with a love of books and history, so it's only natural she prefers writing historical romance. She loves transporting her readers into the past where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward.

Read about her favorite romantic spot, Quebec (it IS very romantic—my husband & I took a cruise that departed from there), and her historical romance Rogue’s Hostage.
Fall #RomanticTravel: Quebec
Quebec is one of the most romantic cities in North America, seeming more European than NorthAmerican. It’s also one of the settings I used in my French & Indian War-set historical romance, Rogue’s Hostage. When I was writing the book, my husband and I took a vacation to Quebec Province so I could do some research. We started in Montreal, where I managed to figure out how to navigate the Metro using my college French.


After a few days exploring Montreal, we took the train to Quebec, and I fell in love with the charming old city, though I had to keep reminding myself that the setting in my book was the previous city, the one that was destroyed by the British shelling. I was particularly interested in visiting Notre Dame des Victoires, the small church in Lower Town which was destroyed in the shelling, but later rebuilt in the same style. In the book, Mara seeks comfort inside this lovely little church.


Since I wanted to stay in the old part of the city, I booked us a room at Chateau Frontenac, the venerable Canadian Railway hotel. Picturesque setting, but we were pretty sure they gave us the smallest room in the place! Instead of a view looking out toward the river, our window looked down onto an alley. Ah, well, we didn't spend much time in the room anyway. We were far more interested in wandering the winding streets, taking pictures of the old houses and the fort and battlefield.

On the last day we took a boat ride on the St. Lawrence for spectacular views of the city and countryside. What a beautiful area! I'd love to go back some day.

(Note: I took this trip back in the pre-digital photography days so any photos are from my Art Explosion CD collection or DepositPhotos.com.)


About Rogue’s Hostage


His hostage... 

In 1758 the Pennsylvania frontier is wild, primitive and dangerous, where safety often lies at the end of a gun. Mara Dupré's life crumbles when a French and Indian war party attacks her cabin, kills her husband, and takes her captive. Marching through the wilderness strengthens her resolve to flee, but she doesn't count on her captor teaching her the meaning of courage and the tempting call of desire.

Her destiny...

French lieutenant Jacques Corbeau's desire for his captive threatens what little honor he has left.  But when Mara desperately offers herself to him in exchange for her freedom, he finds the strength to refuse and reclaims his lost self-respect. As the shadows of his past catch up to him, Jacques realizes that Mara, despite the odds, is the one true key to reclaiming his soul and banishing his past misdeeds forever.

Excerpt

Quebec, Canada, April 1759
The journey was almost over.
Eyes narrowed against the glare off the water, Jacques stared at the approaching skyline of Quebec as the bateau rushed downriver. Perched on the north side of the Saint Lawrence River, the city’s walls and fortifications guarded the way into the interior of New France. Though the British had tried twice, the city had never fallen. But Jacques knew that sooner or later they would try again.
He glanced at Mara, who sat beside him, huddled in her shawl, shivering slightly. When he put an arm around her and pulled her closer, she burrowed against him. Guilt and regret stirred inside him. She was the reason he had requested a transfer back to Quebec. Since leaving Fort Duquesne, she had been a different woman—quiet, submissive, and obedient.
To his surprise, he missed her sharp tongue and pointed opinions. All through the long Canadian winter, he had watched and waited for her to revert to her normal self, but it was as if she were a different woman. On occasion, Jacques had been tempted to bait her, but his guilt kept him from doing so. Her state of mind was his fault, after all.
In the last four months, she had followed him over a route seen by few white men, much less a woman. Together they had traveled by bateau, canoe, sled, and snowshoe. Mara had witnessed the mighty power of Niagara Falls, traversed Lake Ontario, and braved the Lachine Rapids—all without complaining. But also without any sense of wonder or enthusiasm for the places she’d seen, just a wistful remark about how much Emile would have liked to see the falls.
It had been an arduous journey, and now she deserved some comfort.
A raw wind off the river threw pellets of rain in his face, and he pulled up the woolen muffler Mara had knitted for him. That was all she had done at Niagara, her needles clicking incessantly until he had thought he would go mad. But something about the rhythmic nature of the task seemed to comfort her, so he’d said nothing.
Another blast of wind reminded him of how long and severe Canadian winters could be. In this northern country, rivers and lakes froze over completely. There was a wild beauty in it that he used to find exhilarating. Until an equally impervious chill took up residence around his heart.
The bateau docked at the part of the city called Lower Town, below the cliffs of Cap Diamant. Above them towered the ramparts guarding the government and church buildings that comprised Upper Town. Jacques helped Mara onto the dock and led her down a street lined with warehouses and taverns. He stopped in front of a sign picturing a leering devil with a forked tail.
Le Diable? What are we doing here?” she asked, a surprised look on her face.
“This is home, madame. Welcome to my humble establishment.”
Purchase ROGUE'S HOSTAGE
Amazon, All Romance eBooks,Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.


You can find Linda online at http://lindalyndi.com

and







Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Meet Rachelle Page, Contemporary Romance Author who "stumbled into the world of romance novels"

My guest Rachelle stumbled into the world of romance novels in college; as a way to help speed up reading through Art History textbooks. After years in the professional world writing dry grant proposals and auction descriptions, she started writing the contemporary romance stories she wanted to read. Setting her books in some of her favorite destinations was her inspired way to require plenty of research trips every year with her family. 



Meet Rachelle, read about her latest title COASTAL EROSION and her #RomanticTravel Idea in Georgia!

About COASTAL EROSION

Civil engineer Kim Meyers has built a solid career on establishing order in the midst of construction chaos. Living off the coast of Georgia as a Midwest transplant, she’s made a life for herself amidst the waves, tourists, and palm trees of the Golden Isles. Keeping her focus on her work and her community, she hasn’t had time to stop and consider how much she’s already lost. Until her former flame, Landon Beau IV, swoops in and snatches up her next project.

Excerpt

Clack clack clack, the head council member’s gavel slapped against the folding table bringing order back to the room. The hum of murmured conversations shared between the locals dimmed. Planning commissions meetings had grown into increasingly crowded affairs as development of St. Simons Island exploded.
Suddenly, a familiar set of aqua eyes caught her attention.
What on earth was he doing here?
A spark electrified her, shooting down her back and through her limbs. No one could instantly make her crackle with awareness like Landon Beau could. For some reason the sizzle had lasted for more than ten years.
Kim didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or scream or cry.
But today she couldn’t let him distract her from her mission. She understood what she had to do. She needed to help the Society of Coastal Living, aka SCL, to save the stretch of land on the north end of the island near her grandmother’s house. She wouldn’t rest until the island had no more room for development.
Control. Order. Efficiency.
She had to stay focused.
The council member cleared his throat to address the crowded room. “We will be moving forward with LB Holdings, granting a preliminary rezoning permit for a subdivision. They have proposed a development that meets all the necessary specifications and requirements, and this committee feels will be a benefit to the island.”
Her chest seized as the words reached her. She had failed. An even worse, she’d let down her Grandma Rose.
Her vision blurred. She didn’t see the council members conclude the meeting or her fellow volunteers from the SCL get up and leave. The scrape of metal folding chairs being dragged against the floor echoed in her ears drowning out all other sounds.
LB Holdings would be tearing apart the land just down the street from Grandma Rose. Her quality of life would be destroyed. The rumble of trucks and crash of machinery would become a constant soundtrack for the next year on Grandma Rose’s wraparound porch, blocking out the sounds of the marsh. And the reward at the end would be a congested nightmare to get to and from her grandmother’s home. How could she have let her best friend down?
Why hadn’t she pushed harder? Why hadn’t she gone door to door to get support? Why hadn’t she done more?
Questions and regrets circled in her mind, keeping her gaze hazy and unfocused until a warm palm on her shoulder suddenly made her flinch. She jerked her hands up to a defensive position, palms out in front of her face, and then froze.
Standing before her, he was impossibly handsome with his chiseled features and sandy blonde hair styled without a strand out of place. His piercing blue eyes locked onto hers. She opened her mouth but nothing came out. Her gaze drifted to his lips, transfixed by the easy smile that made his mouth off-center.


Rachelle's #RomanticTravel Idea


I love Georgia’s Golden Isles, the setting for this book series. Jekyll Island is an especially romantic place with beautiful stretches of sandy beach begging for a lover’s stroll, bike paths galore perfect for bicycles built for two, and lodging at the Jekyll Island Club built by the millionaires of the Victorian Era. 

Contact Rachelle




Friday, October 14, 2016

Meet Holland Rae and "The Royal Rakes" Collection

Holland is the author of several works of erotic and romantic fiction in both the contemporary and historical genres, and enjoys pushing the limits of freedom, feminism, and fun in her stories. She has been an avid writer for many years, and recently moved back to her home state of New Jersey from Boston, after completing her education in journalism and creative writing.

In her free time, she loves to travel, and spent several months living in a 14th century castle in the Netherlands. When not exploring the world, she likes dreaming up stories, eating spicy food, driving fast cars, and talking to strangers.



A DUEL OF HEARTS, Book One in
The Royal Rakes Collection 



When Lady Mary Elizabeth Anne Paramour runs away from an unhappy engagement, her options are limited. Soon, she finds herself at the doorstep of a favored cousin's temporary home, the estate of the most debauched lord known to the aristocracy, Nathaniel Arlington. The charming and handsome Lord Arlington's perpetual house party is infamous across England, and fodder for instant disownment if Mary's prudish mother, Countess Helena, ever finds out where she is.
But Mary, with a rebellious streak of her own that led to a lifelong interest in fencing, comes to realize that maybe not everything is as it seems. Over late-night sword fighting and whiskey, she begins to develop an unlikely friendship with the lord, who might just have more behind the rakish facade than he lets most people believe. But just as Mary thinks their unusual friendship might turn to more, she finds herself facing the unexpected, something that might just ruin her chance at happiness forever.
Sneak Peak:

Cumbria, England, 18 March 1797
When Lady Mary Elizabeth Anne Paramour had been very young, her nanny had read her fairytales. From the very first, Lady Mary had soaked in tales of knights and dragons and quests, and the whole wonderful world of fantastical romance. She'd grown into her young womanhood, and while the words beautifulkind, and lovely had all been whispered in the great ballrooms of the English aristocracy, Lady Mary had never let go of her childhood fascination with true love, knights in shining armor, and princesses to be rescued by their heart's mate.
Surely, growing up with her mother, she'd never voiced these particular fantasies aloud. Countess Helena Eleanor Blanche Paramour would not have taken lightly to the notion of fairies and mermaids and true love, and most especially not in regards to her only daughter. The countess herself had met Mary's father only three times before the day of their wedding, which had been the talk of the tonne, naturally, and she made a point of reminding Mary, as often as possible, that one can be a dutiful and loving wife to a man without having to ever get to know him. As it stood, Count Jonathan Paramour and his wife were rarely seen together in public or in private, and to the best of Mary's knowledge that had suited them both just fine.

But that simply wasn't the kind of marriage she wanted for herself, regardless of her mother's insistence on the matter. Countess Helena had preached many things to Mary throughout her life, nearly of them relating back to themes of piety, conservative values, and the ability to retain an impeccable reputation. And for nearly twenty-three years Mary had abided by those rules of her mother's home to the very best of her ability. She never spoke out of turn, never got involved in illicit relations with the local farmers' sons, and never once voiced the opinion that she might like to perhaps marry for love. Countess Helena would have sent her away had those impetuous words ever manifested outside of Mary's own mind.

That wasn't to say that Lady Mary Elizabeth Anne Paramour was entirely well-mannered all of the time. Rather, she was particularly well-versed in playing the attentive and perfectly bred daughter of a countess, and utterly fantastic at pretending she wasn't.

Though her fascination with fairytales had started young, she had only grown into them as she aged. By the time she was old enough to understand that life didn't happen such as the stories had said it, Mary had also learned that there were some elements that could be practiced, if one only knew how.

His name had been Jean-Paul San Martin, and he was known as one of the greatest swordfighters that the continent had ever produced—a birthday gift for her eldest brother, Malcolm. She had been barely older than twelve, and she had watched them duel, watched the dance of feet and fingers and knowing eyes, as Jean-Paul taught Malcolm with all the finesse that Mary had known she'd never be privy to. Eventually, Lady Helena had learned of her escapades, and even the view through the fencing room keyhole had been blocked from her.

But luck, though Mary often considered the possibility of white magic, even if she had never voiced the thought aloud, had been on her side. Some weeks into Jean-Paul's residency at the estate, she'd stumbled upon him and a scullery maid in the first floor hall closet. Knowing her mother's sense of propriety as she did, even at that age, Mary had promised to keep the man's secret—for a price.

It was a small act of rebellion, in the grand manner of things, but it kept Mary's head clear, and allowed her the vaguest hint of individuality, which was more than could be said for most of the women who frequented the society parties of which her mother was so fond.

None of that, however, explained exactly what she was doing on the doorstep of the most debauched kin of royalty known to the tonne. Truly, Helena would have herself heart palpitations at the very mention of the man's name—Lord Nathaniel Arlington. He was beyond infamous, beyond scandalous. By name, Lord Arlington and his raucous, depraved house parties were likely more myth than fact, but she would find out the truth on that matter soon enough. If she managed to keep her courage about her long enough to get through the front door.

At that exact moment a young butler opened said door. He didn't seem the least bit fazed by her lack of formal invitation or earlier notice, and simply welcomed her into the house, introducing himself as Harker before taking her riding coat. She handed it to him, pleased to finally be out of the carriage and hopeful, so desperately hopeful, for a friendly ear.

"I am Lady Mary Elizabeth," she began, cutting herself off before revealing her family name, not that it would have likely made much of a difference. "I've been informed that Lady Amalie Bronwyn is currently residing here."

Purchase A DUEL OF HEARTS

CONTACT HOLLAND