First of all WELCOME to so many new members! So lovely to see so many people signing up for the newsletter. You might also like to join Emma's Book Club on Facebook. It's a fun and friendly place to chat about my work, my heroes, and pretty much anything else you fancy.
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So hopefully everyone has enjoyed book three in The French Fae Legend series, The Dark Deceit? If you have a moment to get your reviews up, I'd be hugely grateful! Did you know that far less than 1% of readers leave reviews? They're hard to get and very much appreciated.
Historical Romance fans, book five of the Rogues and Gentlemen series, Nearly Ruining Mr Russell publishes on November 3rd and the pre-order is live!
If you scroll to the bottom you'll find the first chapter below (unedited) to tempt you!
Autumn is upon us and in my little corner of the Dordogne the colours are glorious. Sadly my attempt at growing pumpkins was rather pathetic, one sorry looking specimen was the best I could do. Still I have a recipe for pumpkin cobbler and I'm determined to make it so I'll just have to buy them, like every year.
What is your favourite Autumn treat?
Treats of another kind below from my guest authors!
The Gentlemen's Club
A place where no desire is forbidden.
Where no hunger is taboo.
Lord McCaulay falls under Mademoiselle Noire's spell.
Drawn into her web, he enters a dark spiral of obsession.
No matter where it leads him, he will follow.
This erotic tale by Emmanuelle de Maupassant is FREE until the 19th October when it rises to a still incredibly reasonable $1.17!
If you'd also like a chance to win a signed paperback of the Gentlemen's Club, click HERE.
Tillie Andrews lives life on her own terms.
She is determined not to give in to the charms of the Duke of Barre, despite the attraction that continues to pull her to him. She wants a life of her own -- one in which she is living her dreams as one of London’s most successful, sought-after dressmakers. Her parents, however, have other plans. They wish to see her wed, and soon, to a boorish man who would stifle all her dreams. Tillie needs time to set her plans into motion, and when she is made the perfect offer from the duke she so wanted to avoid, she cannot refuse.
Alexander Landon, Duke of Barre, wants one thing -- Tillie Andrews.
He must prove to her that he is not the rake she believes him to be. When he sees her across the room at a gala, he presents an offer. He needs protection for his heart when his former love, Eliza Masters, visits his family estate during the Christmas season. Eliza was the fairest of all in Warfield until the arrival of Tillie Andrews, and she is determined to be rid of her once and for all.
She wants a way out. He needs a way in.
Will Alexander’s charade convince Tillie he is everything she ever wanted, or will his deception prove to be their undoing? Can Alexander wake Tillie from her deep sleep to find their happily ever after?
Someday Her Duke Will Come is a 36,000-word romance with no cliffhangers, no cheating, and a guaranteed happily ever after! The Kindle version contains one extra story.
Her Father's Protector
Book 3 of the Highland Valiance Series
She spent her entire life in her clan’s castle being taught to be polite and civilized, being prepared for possible royalty, made to be the perfect lady of the castle. She was bred and raised for a single purpose—to be married off for her Laird father’s own political advantage.
When it is rumored that a neighboring clan is plotting to assassinate the Laird of Aldrich, Camy Crestwell’s family hires a bodyguard, Mathou Jameson, a rugged dirty highlander from the North with no manners and no filter, to hunt down the assassin.
Camy finds her prim and proper upbringing rudely disrupted by the rough highlander, but her heart is kindled with a surprising excitement when she is tasked with showing him around the castle. Perhaps having no filter and no discretion isn’t so bad after all—at least it’s a change from the mundane.
But when Mathou fails to make satisfactory progress finding the assassin, he finds the Laird turning the tables on him. If only Camy’s family knew what Mathou knows—the assassin’s target is not the Laird of Aldrich, but rather someone who has now become dear to Mathou….
Her Father's Protector is a 30,000 word standalone novella with no cliffhangers.
Nearly Ruining Mr Russell
"Wherein we meet our heroine, and an old friend."
"That blasted dog!"
Aubrey Russell was not by nature a violent man. In fact quite the reverse was true. Blessed with glorious good looks and a naturally sunny disposition, it was rare that anyone heard him so much as raise his voice. A fact that had always made his father out of reason cross, for he felt both Aubrey's late mother, and grandmother had mollycoddled his son beyond what was good for him.
Today however, with a chill late October wind whistling around him as he dripped freezing water onto the banks of the Serpentine, he felt ready to do murder.
"I'll ring its blasted neck!" he promised, as the owner of said dog looked up at him with a pair of the most startling blue eyes to be found anywhere in London.
"Oh, don't say it, Aubrey!" Celeste Sinclair, the Countess of Falmouth, pleaded with her most beseeching expression. The Countess clutched the equally dripping spaniel to her bosom, careless of the damage its muddy paws were doing to a perfectly charming Cerulean blue velvet pelisse. "E' did not mean to do it," she said, daring to take a step closer to the him.
Aubrey noted with some satisfaction that her French accent was perfectly audible. It always grew stronger when she was upset and whilst he might well consider Celeste the sister he'd never had, he was in no mood to be placated himself. The fact that she was upset too, it seemed to him, was the least she could do.
"Zhat nasty, great brute frightened 'im! Le pauvre!"
"That nasty great brute was minding his own business until that wretched animal decided to take a bite out of it's hind leg! I shouldn't wonder it chased him into the lake!" Aubrey pointed out as his own indignation swelled. His Hessians were soaked through and he felt sure they'd be utterly ruined. As he was already perilously close to having to touch his father for a loan, the buying of a new pair was quite out of the question.
"Oh, but 'e could 'ave drowned if you 'adn't 'elped, and you are just worried about your boots," Celeste said, waving her hand with aplomb and getting to the heart of the matter with startling accuracy. "Alex will pay for a new pair, you know he will!"
"No he dashed well won't!" Aubrey retorted, wishing he'd never given in to her pleas to save her darling dog. Celeste's husband, the Earl, tolerated his wife's friendship with his cousin Aubrey with a combination of amusement and polite disdain. A terrifying hulk of a man with a dark reputation Aubrey always felt as though he was being judged and found wanting in his great cousin's presence. "I won't take a farthing from Falmouth, I tell you now!"
With as much dignity as he could muster, while his boots were making an unpleasant squelching sound, he began to trudge back in the direction of Celeste's London abode in Mayfair.
"Oh, Aubrey, don't be cross," Celeste wheedled, as she scurried to keep up with his long strides. "I'm really very grateful that you saved 'im. My poor little Bandit, 'e was so frightened."
Aubrey snorted and decided it was safer to hold his tongue in the circumstances. They were attracting enough attention as it was. Privately he thought Bandit was a fiend and a menace to society but Celeste doted on the ridiculous animal so there was nothing to be gained in pointing this out. The fact that he noticed the woman's maid doing her best to smother her giggles did not help his temperament.
By the time they got back to Mayfair Aubrey was chilled to the bone and rather more receptive to the idea that he should come in and get warm and dry. In usual circumstances, avoiding his cousin was a priority but the temperature was dropping and the journey back to his rooms in the freezing cold whilst soaked to the waist was rather more than he could bear.
A couple of hours later and Aubrey was somewhat restored to his usual good humour. Happily the Earl had not yet returned so he'd avoided the man's amusement at his embarrassing, if heroic, plunge into the Serpentine. Furthermore the Earl's valet was a man of superior understanding and had worked miracles with his boots, whilst Aubrey tested Falmouth's legendary brandy stores. The brandy had an unsurprising mellowing effect, and so whilst he was still a little damp, he found his previous anger had subsided enough to see the funny side of the situation. Particularly as the Earl wasn't there to point it out to him.
Dusk was setting as he stepped out of the carriage that Celeste had insisted convey him back to his rooms, and he looked forward to a relaxing evening. He had accepted an invitation to dine with his close friend and neighbour in the large and comfortable house on Bedford Square that they both lodged in along with a number of other well to do gentlemen. In truth, keeping the rooms in such a upmarket house, ate nearly all of Aubrey's allowance but he clung on to it as best he could as all of his friends were here too.
Lord Thomas Tindall, Tommy to his intimates, was the Earl of Stanthorpe, and a more different character to Aubrey's cousin Falmouth it would be hard to find. Though he'd never been blessed with the most powerful intellect, Tommy was a good and kindly sort, and exceedingly generous to his friends. Dining in his lodgings was a treat not to missed out on. So it was with an air deep foreboding that Aubrey heard the rather startling and somewhat Gothic sound of a woman's scream pierce the chill evening from the next street. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled in alarm at the horrified cry and he began to run.
If asked Aubrey would have admitted that he wasn't the fighting sort. He'd always far rather talk himself out of a sticky situation that use his fists and he abhorred physical violence. His father, who had been a notable pugilist in his youth, was forever mocking him for being a site too nice, and he was well used the idea that the man thought him a coward. Sometimes he even worried it was true.
Tonight however, and perhaps in the light of his heroic rescue of an undeserving Spaniel, he found he didn't think twice about going to investigate.
Hurrying around the corner he spied the source of the scream in the middle of a deserted street.
A young woman sat on the filthy ground, dishevelled and alone, a band box spilling its contents at her feet and a look of utter fury on her lovely face. Aubrey drew to an abrupt halt, quite startled by the beautiful creature who had literally fallen into his path.
"May I be of assistance?" he offered, once his wits had gotten over the shock of a pair of moss green eyes, staring up at him from under riotous blonde curls in complete disarray.
"No, Sir, I quite intended to spend the evening sitting in a filthy street I assure you," said the vision, with some asperity.
"Oh! Forgive me," Aubrey exclaimed and gave her his hand to help her to his feet. Once standing he found that she was even lovelier than he had at first supposed and dressed in a manner that suggested a lady of quality. "Are you hurt?" he asked, feeling really quite breathless to be standing in the beauty's presence, and appalled at the notion that she might have been set upon by ruffians.
"A little bruised," she confessed with a blush that was barely visible in the dimming light. He thought he saw her eyes glimmer a little too brightly but she turned and busied herself with stuffing her belongings back into the band box. He bent to help, retrieving a comb and a pair of kid gloves from the gutter and allowing her a moment to compose yourself.
"What happened?" he asked, hoping his tone was gentle and that he did not present too threatening a figure to a woman alone in the dark on the streets of London.
"I ... I've been rather foolish," she admitted, a catch in her voice that made his heart ache and a rather rash promise take form on his tongue to do anything in his power to help her.
He noticed then that she was shivering, whether with shock or cold he wasn't sure, but he felt certain she needed to get into the warm and sit down. What a lady was doing alone and without a chaperone in London, and at this hour, was a question he very much wanted an answer to but he could see she was cold and frightened and any answers could wait a little longer.
"Look," he said, giving her a reassuring smile. "You can't stand out here alone all night. My lodgings are just around the corner. Why not come and sit down and we'll see about getting you home. I'll have the housekeeper come and sit with us, so it will be quite alright."
To his surprise she gave a resolute shake of her head, though it appeared it wasn't the idea of going back to his lodgings that was the sticking point. "I'm not going home," she said, folding her arms and speaking with the decisive tone of a woman who wasn't going to change her mind anytime this century.
"Oh," Aubrey replied, frowning as it began to dawn on him that he might have the beginnings of a dreadful scandal on his hands. Had she run away from home? Visions of angry male relatives beating down his door filled his head, but he shook them off. "Well," he said, taking a breath. "Come indoors won't you? You'll have some tea and something to eat and then you'll feel much more the thing. Are you hungry?"
"Famished," she said, giving him a look so full of gratitude that he felt about ten feet tall.
"There we are then", he said, nodding, as though that solved everything. "Come along."
He picked up her band box, and with a surreptitious look around the street to be sure they were not being observed, he took her back to his lodgings.
"It not decent, Mr Russell," Mrs Meekham replied, her scrawny arms folded over her bosom in a manner that brooked no argument. "You can say she's a gently reared female until you're blue in the face, but what's she doing racketing about London without so much as an abigail to bear her company? You answer me that!" she said with a sniff of disapproval.
"Well yes, Mrs Meekham, I shall answer you as soon as I can discover what catastrophe has overtaken the poor girl. But I would just like, for propriety's sake, if you would sit with us."
Mrs Meekham narrowed her eyes at him and held out one bony finger which he felt sure she fully intended to wag in his direction. "I'm not going to have trouble with you am I, Mr Russell? I know all about you young men and your petticoats. Sneaking them in at all hours," she muttered with obvious disgust and an air of deep suspicion. "I won't have it! If it isn't bad enough with his Lordship upstairs and even if I turned a blind eye to the dreadful light-skirts, he's forever playing off his nasty pranks on the poor Earl ..." Her finger gave the inevitable wag. "I'm not going to put up with any more trouble."
Aubrey forbore to mention that the last of the pranks had been the Earl's doing in retaliation at finding Lord Benjamin Lancaster's horse awaiting him in his parlour. His own fault for teasing Ben that he treated his mare better than any woman he'd ever come across. Aubrey had thought the result had been fairly inevitable but Tommy never had learned when to keep his mouth shut. He had thought that leaving a tame cheetah waiting for Ben in his bedroom a tad excessive himself but there you were. But the Earl was the housekeeper's favourite - being of the peerage - and could generally talk the starchy old busy body around.
"So if you're thinking of getting into the petticoat line ..." she continued, finger wagging all the while.
"Mrs Meekham!" Aubrey replied with some force, deeply shocked and affronted on the beauty's behalf. "I'd wager my life that she's just as she ought to be and has somehow fallen into misfortune," he said, though there was a niggle of doubt at the back of his mind at her determination not to be sent home. "I can assure you my only intention is to see her safely restored to her family."
Mrs Meekham paused and gave him a hard look. "Very well, Sir," she said, though still looking deeply unhappy about the whole thing. "You at least have never brought any nasty animals into the house so I suppose I shall take you at your word, this time," she added with an ominous tone that clearly indicated that she believed such harmony was unlikely to continue for long.
Aubrey chose to ignore the slight, too relieved to have brought the old fusspot around.
"Perhaps then, you would be so good as to bring her some tea and something to eat. I think the poor girl is half starved."
"Very good, Sir," she said with a nod as she retreated to the stairs. "I shall be back presently."
With a sigh of relief Aubrey returned to his rooms to find the vision standing before the fire, warming her hands. He felt a jolt of some strange, proprietary emotion at seeing such a lovely creature in his rooms and took a breath before he entered, closing the door behind him.
"The housekeeper will be here in just a moment," he said, smiling at her. "Won't you sit down."
"Thank you." She him a hesitant smile in return before perching on the edge of the chair closest to the fireplace. "You've been so very kind," she added.
"Not at all," he said, taking the chair opposite. He leaned forward a little, and tried not to stare too hard which was remarkably difficult. "I'm Aubrey, by the way. Aubrey Russell."
She nodded at him. "I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr Russell," she said, but offered no further information.
"And ... you are?" Aubrey prompted.
He watched with growing concern as she bit her lip. "I ... I'm Violette," she said, folding her arms in her lap and avoiding his gaze.
The little niggle of doubt that had assailed Aubrey earlier began to wriggle harder.
"Violette ...?" he queried and then gave a nervous laugh. "I imagine you have a family name?"
"Of course!" she replied, her tone sharp enough to reassure him a little.
He let out a breath of relief. "Well, may I know it please?" he pressed.
Violette licked her lips and stared at the fire for a moment before looking back at him.
Aubrey sat up a little straighter as the niggle turned into the first real twist of anxiety. What the devil had he gotten himself into?
"No?" he repeated, blinking. "Why ever not?"
"Because ..." she began, and he watched as she folded her arms a little tighter and sat up straight, raising her chin. "Because if I do you will tell my guardian and he will fetch me home, and I won't go!" This last was spoken with such defiance that Aubrey was quite taken aback.
"B-but why?" he demanded, perplexed. Visions filled his head of cruel relatives and his lovely vision being locked in dark rooms and he scolded himself soundly for having such a Gothic turn of mind. He should never have started reading Mrs Radcliffe, not if this was what came of it. "You cannot be alone in London, you'll be ruined!" he exclaimed, wondering if the girl had taken leave of her senses.
"Yes," she replied, her face falling and a look of such misery in her eyes that Aubrey was quite undone. "I know," she added and then that glittering, determined look was back in her eyes again. "But there is nothing else for it."
That the girl had foreseen her own ruination quite put Aubrey in a quake. "Why not?" he asked, fearing the answer before that lovely mouth had even begun to form the words.
"Because ... because I have to find him!"
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