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Good With His Hands by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #romance #steamy #shortstory

Blurb

Layla is enjoying a beautiful moorland walk in the English countryside when suddenly, clouds start to roll in. The weather was forecast to be fine all day, so Layla is woefully unprepared when the heavens open and her visibility is reduced to next to nothing. Trying hard not to panic, she carefully makes her way towards a remote hut she spotted before the fog descended. When she arrives, though, she discovers park ranger Stuart already there, and luckily for her, he’s much more prepared than she is, and they soon find a way to pass the time until the storm blows over.

Note: Good With His Hands was previously published in the Down and Dirty boxed set.

Buy links

Amazon: http://mybook.to/goodwithhishands

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/good-with-his-hands-lucy-felthouse/1129960024

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/good-with-his-hands/id1445209735?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/good-with-his-hands-15

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/910076?ref=cw1985

*****

Excerpt:

Anticipation seeped into Layla’s body, increasing with every second that ticked by. Each handhold she groped for, each push off with her feet brought her that bit closer to the moorland plateau she’d been wanting to explore ever since she’d seen photos of it in a Facebook group a few weeks ago. She was a keen hiker—or walker, she’d never really understood what the difference was between the two—but she’d always stuck to places she knew well, or had at least visited a couple of times before, mainly because she always walked alone, and getting lost was bad enough without doing it by yourself.

But one Sunday evening, after a flurry of yet more stunning photographs of the area had been uploaded to the group, Layla made up her mind. The following Sunday, she would join the seemingly scores of people that headed up to the dramatic-looking gritstone edge in Derbyshire’s Peak District every weekend, no matter the weather. Hikers, climbers, fell runners… they all raved about the place, despite the crowds. And if she did get lost, well, she’d just ask one of them for directions. No problem. Then, providing it was indeed as amazing as the photo-uploaders proclaimed it to be, she’d add it to her list of regular haunts. It’d make a refreshing change from her usual low-level trail walks.

Now she was beginning to understand what all the fuss was about, and she wasn’t even at the top yet. After leaving the relative familiarity of the car park, she’d trekked up a slight incline through some dense woods—surprised to pass only one or two small groups of people on the way. She’d expected it to look like London’s Oxford Street but with outdoorsy types in hefty boots and backpacks instead of shoppers with umbrellas and carrier bags. The moment she’d stepped from the shadow of the woods, the landscape had opened up in front of her and she’d got a real sense of how special it was. Then she’d glanced up and to her right and, taking in the height of the edge she had yet to climb, realised she hadn’t seen the half of it yet.

With one last push to get her onto a particularly large boulder, then a small step, she was there. On the gritstone edge, the moorland plateau—whatever you wanted to call it. As she took a couple of tentative steps forward and looked around, she decided she wanted to call it heaven. It was like nowhere she’d ever been before—so removed from everyday life that she was half convinced she’d stepped onto the moon, except it was unmistakably England. Wild, untamed, rugged, but England nonetheless. How had she never been up here before? And were there more places like it? She suddenly felt like the worst kind of ignorant city dweller—her walks up until now had made a mockery of wearing walking boots. She may as well have done it in flip flops.

She turned at the sound of voices behind her, and moved aside to let a group of three men in their early twenties pass. They had enormous, weirdly-shaped bags strapped to their backs, and yet strode along—exchanging smiles and nods with her when they drew level—as though their burdens weighed nothing.

Layla shook her head incredulously and started to follow in their footsteps. She didn’t need to consult her walk instructions yet—there was only one path, deliberately keeping footfall to a dedicated area for conservation purposes, according to a snippet of text she remembered reading on her printout. The trail stayed close to the edge—not so close as to be dangerous, but close enough to afford the most amazing views. The ground beneath her feet was made up of mud, rough grasses, rocks and boulders in shades of grey, brown, and black, scrubby bushes, and what she suspected was heather. To her left, the stunning countryside went on for as far as the eye could see, with delightfully twisted trees in the foreground, followed by brown and green fields, woodlands, moorlands, and more fields, broken up only very occasionally by a road—often only identifiable by the moving glint of light that passed along them—vehicles highlighted by the reflection of the sun off their metalwork. It’d be incredibly easy to forget civilisation even existed while she was up here.

 

*****

Bio

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight and The Heiress’s Harem series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Join her Facebook group for exclusive cover reveals, sneak peeks and more! Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Out Now—False Memory by Meli Raine (@meliraineauthor)

THE FALSE SERIES: False Memory (Book 1), False Hope (Book 2) & False Start (Book 3)

Author: Meli Raine

Release date: November 13, 2018

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Series Description:

She’s faking her amnesia to fool a very real killer.

FALSE MEMORY (Book 1)

Release Date:  11/13/18

Apple Books Exclusive:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/false-memory/id1387687477?mt=11

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40405827-false-memory

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/false-memory-by-meli-raine

It all started with the bereavement flowers with my name on them.

Not the best way to wake up, right? I work in a flower shop. I know a funeral arrangement when I see one.

I know a killer when I see one, too. And one is standing in my hospital room right now, straight behind the man who saved my life.

I can’t tell anyone the truth, because that’s the fastest way to really die. So I do the next best thing. I “lose” my memory.

I fake my amnesia.

Pretending not to remember a brutal attempted murder has its perks. The killer is backing down, spending less time around me, loosening the noose.

The less I claim to recall, the more my rescuer, Duff, works to help me “remember.” I hate lying to him.

But he doesn’t understand that my memory is dangerous. To me. And to him.

Fooling everyone isn’t easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Except it’s starting to look like I’ve been fooling myself.

In more ways than one.

 

FALSE HOPE (Book 2)

Release Date:  12.11.18

Apple Books Exclusive:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/false-hope/id1421994196?mt=11

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42088265-false-hope

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/false-hope-by-meli-raine

 

FALSE START (Book 3)

Release Date:  01/15/19

Apple Books Exclusive:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/false-start/id1421999168?mt=11

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42088271-false-start

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/false-start-by-meli-raine

 

Author Bio:

Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them. Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://meliraine.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/meliraine

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/meliraineauthor

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/meli-raine

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13536295.Meli_Raine

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/beV0gf

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Multi-Orgasmic Vol 2 by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #erotica

Blurb

If you’re a fan of erotic short stories, then get your hands on this collection from the pen of award-winning erotica author Lucy Felthouse.

From famous movie stars to sexy farmers, holiday flings to seducing delivery drivers, and even unusual household items being used as bondage, this book has variety galore. It’s sure to get you hot under the collar and eager to turn just one more page.

Enjoy nineteen titillating tales, over 54,000 words of naughtiness packed into one steamy read.

Please note: Many of the stories in this book have been previously published in anthologies, as standalones, and online, but three are brand new and never seen before!

Buy links

Amazon: http://mybook.to/MOV2

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/multi-orgasmic-vol-2-lucy-felthouse/1129829792?ean=2940155871637

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/multi-orgasmic-vol-2-a-collection-of-short-stories/id1441592585?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/multi-orgasmic-vol-2

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/905453?ref=cw1985

*****

Excerpt:

“Yvette!” Jack snapped. “Are you even listening to what I’m saying?”

“Yes, Sir!” I’d only missed a bit. Maybe a couple of words. And it wasn’t my fault.

“So what’s the problem? Are you uncomfortable? Would you like a cushion?”

“No, Sir. I’m fine, thank you. It’s just…” As another noise filtered in through the double glazing, I was unable to stop my gaze slipping in that direction.

“What—?” Jack strode past me, all stompy and masterful.

I allowed myself a shiver of pleasure at his demeanour. He was sexy when he was grumpy, though naturally I didn’t enjoy it when he was grumpy with me.

He peered out the window to see what had distracted me. “Neighbour is mowing his lawn, that’s all. Can’t very well go around there and complain about that, can I?” he muttered.

Jack stepped back in front of me. “The window is closed, Yvette. I can’t really do any more than that.” He shrugged.

“It’s okay, Sir. He’ll be done soon. I can ignore it. It’s not that loud.” Ever since he’d given me that look and ordered me into the bedroom, my pussy had ached, and I had yearned for his orders, to do his bidding. To please him. I certainly didn’t want to displease him by allowing the next-door-bloody-neighbour’s garden maintenance to get in the way of our scene, but it’d be tough to remain entirely focused with that racket going on.

“Hmm. All right, then. Let’s continue. So, where were we?”

I hoped like hell that was a rhetorical question, because I’d been distracted enough by the noise outside that I hadn’t, in fact, heard all of what he’d said. I bowed my head and waited, mentally keeping my fingers crossed that Jack would answer his own question. Luckily for me, he did.

“Come here, take out my cock, and suck it.”

“Yes, Sir!” I almost got carpet burns on my knees as I eagerly shuffled forward. I reached out and undid his zipper. Slipping my right hand through the gap, I manoeuvred until my fingers closed around his shaft—which was rigid, red hot, and irresistible.

Carefully, I popped his cock out through the opening in his boxers and trousers, where it stood proudly, looking just as irresistible as it felt. All purple and swollen; raring to go. Licking my lips, I pumped my fist up and down his length a couple of times, before closing my mouth around his glans. Immediately, the delicious musky, salty taste of him hit my taste buds and I hummed happily and prepared to start sinking further onto him.

Just then, a high-pitched roaring sound reached my ears.

Jack picked up on my flinch. Stepping back—and slipping his dick out of my mouth in the process—he exclaimed, “Oh, for heaven’s sake! It’s really distracting you, isn’t it?”

I sat back on my heels and pouted. “I’m sorry, Sir! I can’t not hear. If I could switch my ears off, trust me, I would.”

Jack’s expression softened. “Hey, it’s okay. It’s not your fault. It’s just… kinda ruining what we’ve got going on here.”

I bit my lip. “Yeah, I know. But what are we supposed to do about it?”

*****

Bio

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight and The Heiress’s Harem series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Join her Facebook group for exclusive cover reveals, sneak peeks and more! Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter here: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

 

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Moonlight & Moet – B&B Billionaire Romance Series (Book 2) By Madison Michael (@madisonmichael_) #giveaway

Madison has put together some really awesome Prize Packages to giveaway during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win one of the prize packages. You may find the tour locations here (https://goo.gl/ESBmdA).

*****

About Moonlight & Moet:

Can the Hottest Man Around Melt this Ice Queen’s Heart?

When her husband publicly cheats on her, Leigh Dobbs trades her humiliating reputation as an ice queen and a hometown that shuns her for the unknown of rural North Carolina. Taking over a small bed and breakfast, Leigh sets out to restore it, her dignity and her life. Excited at the prospect of adding more rooms and a full-service restaurant, Leigh’s big plans encounter the brick wall that is Caleb Rausch. Sparks fly even as Caleb votes no on the planning commission, crushing Leigh’s dreams.

Handsome powerhouse Caleb Rausch is a man on a mission, expanding his huge corporation without encroaching on the small town where it resides. His commitment to his products, employees and historic preservation are unwavering. What’s lacking is his commitment to one woman. Caleb is the most eligible bachelor in three states, dating celebrities and models, but never settling down. Until now.

Even as Caleb forces Leigh’s expansion plans on hold, the couple moves full-steam-ahead on their relationship, unable to resist the mutual attraction. So why, after a steamy night together, does Caleb disappear for weeks? Has Leigh put her heart out there again, just to be played?

Will the magic of a moonlit night be enough to kindle their love or will Caleb’s constant disappearing act prevent him from melting this ice queen’s heart?

Moonlight & Moet Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2DDXQm9

*****

Excerpt:

Exhausted and anxious to return home, Leigh wasn’t paying attention as she stepped out the door of the small law office at the end of the row of storefronts. Leigh went down hard on the cement, her skirt flying up, her brochures flying. A shook-up Leigh assessed the damage and caught her breath. Her dignity was beyond repair.

Leigh was brushing the dirt from her palms, scraped from trying to break her fall when a shadow blocked the sun, and a large, dirty hand, attached to a long, strong arm reached down to assist her. Leigh’s gaze followed the flannel covered forearm up over a muscled bicep and continued until her scrutiny was arrested by a pair of coffee-colored eyes surrounded by the deep laugh lines of an outdoorsman. He was staring vast expanse of creamy thigh and more than a hint of her magenta panties. His expression told Leigh that he liked what he saw.

Leigh clumsily scrambled to lower her dress, gather the brochures fluttering in the breeze, and take the proffered hand all at once. Several pamphlets escaped down the sidewalk, but she quickly forgot them as she was lifted like a feather against her mountain’s chest and too swiftly placed gently on her feet. She winced when the blisters made contact with the hard surface beneath them and the lumberjack buried behind a grizzly bear beard reacted.

“Injured, little lady?” he asked with concern. “Let me help you get you to urgent care.

“That won’t be necessary,” Leigh responded, smoothing her dress to cover her embarrassment and interest.

“Then at least let me help you to your destination.”

“I was just heading to my car, down the ways,” Leigh tried to gesture with the arm the man still held. “But, I’m fine. Really. I can take it from here.”

“Fine, indeed,” Grizzly Adams replied in a sarcastic, deep baritone.

He was tall, covered in a subtle sheen of dirt and sweat, but Leigh quickly realized the shirt under her fingertips was the finest wool and his boots, caked in an inch of dried mud, were Scarpa Phantom 8000’s. He was a very wealthy Grizzly Adams, and a dedicated hiker too. Those boots were featured in the mountaineering store up the road for over $1000, way too rich for Leigh’s blood.

He stood still, his smile twitching as caught Leigh checking him out. Then, without warning, he swept her into his arms, carefully adjusted her dress to modestly cover her behind while managing to slide his hand all along them. The man was a pro. Leigh couldn’t fault his effort, even as she realized he was copping a feel.  Carrying her easily, he began taking long strides in the direction she had pointed.

“This is completely unnecessary,” Leigh repeated more than once, interspersed with “put me down, please” and “Really I can walk.” He ignored them all, speaking right over her repeated and flustered objections.

“You took a nasty fall there. People are always missing that last step.” His face was too close and too handsome. He smelled of the outdoors – pine, sweat and sunshine. It was intoxicating.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer I took you over to the doc’s office or the urgent care?”

“Just to my car, thanks,” Leigh requested, done trying to argue with the hard-muscled man. Who was she kidding? It felt incredible to rest against his broad chest, his arms holding her securely and his minty breath blowing on her face. He may have been filthy, a bearded mountain man who was certainly not her type, but he was sexy as hell. Leigh wished her car was miles away. ,

“Will you be ok to drive, Miss…”

“Leigh.”

“Miss Leigh,” he repeated, caressing her name. “Are you sure you’ll be alright to drive?”

Leigh bobbed her head in the affirmative. She loved resting her head against the power of this man’s chest, secure in his firm grip. Leigh looked up at him from under her eyelashes, admiring what she saw. She could tell that under the caked on mud and scruff, he was handsome, with a cocky smile and those laughing eyes. She wished she could see more.

“This is my car,” she finally motioned. “Thank you, Mr…”

“You’re certain you can drive?” he asked in his slow, smooth drawl, ignoring her question.

“I’m not going far,” Leigh reassured him. “I’ll be fine.”

The mountain man placed Leigh on her feet, holding her by the waist as if waiting for reassurance that she was solidly standing. Leigh looked down as if to assure herself both feet were there and with a deep breath made eye contact. The man was a head taller, broad and powerful, and staring at her as if he wanted to devour her. A hot flush filled Leigh’s cheeks, and she extended a hand to shake his.

“Well, thank you again. You certainly turned out to be my knight in shining armor today,” she jested.

“Well, Miss Leigh, then I guess I get my knight’s favor,” the man responded with a devilish grin. Leigh was still registering his warning when he lowered his head to hers and placed his warm lips upon her cooler ones.

*****

Other Books in the B&B Billionaire Romance Series:

Desire & Dessert Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2Fg1qo5

*****

About the Author:

Madison Michael is an indie publisher, blogger and the author of the Beguiling Bachelor Series as well as the novella Desire & Dessert, from her sizzling B&B Billionaire Bachelor series.

A Chicago native and hopeless romantic, Maddy was raised on Chicago culture, fairy tales, great literature and swashbuckling movies. Maddy employs that history, writing steamy contemporary romance novels set against the sumptuous backdrop of Chicago’s elite society.

After receiving a BA in Journalism from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago, Madison abandoned her writing to find her way in the corporate business world. Daughter of a librarian, it was inevitable that she would return to the world of books.

Maddy writes from high above Chicago where she can stare at its gorgeous skyline or the shores of Lake Michigan surrounded by feline assistants. When she is not writing,, Maddy can be found lost in a book, fighting for the rights of the mentally iil or dining on Chicago’s famous cuisine. Hot dogs and pizza, anyone?

Social Links:

Website: madisonmichael.net

Madison’s Blog: madisonmichael.net/category/maddys-blog

Maddy’s Romance Madness: madisonmichael.net/category/mrm/

Maddy’s Tours and Treats: madisonmichael.net/category/tours-and-treats/

Facebook: facebook.com/madisonmichaelromance

Twitter: twitter.com/madisonmichael_

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/Madison-Michael/e/B01EVUGG6G/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

*****

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Beverley Oakley Launches Keeping Faith with Tour and Giveaway

Keeping Faith

Fair Cyprians of London Series (Book 3)

By Beverley Oakley

 

Beverley has a print copy of Her Gilded Prison to giveaway during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win a print copy of Her Gilded Prison. You may find the tour locations here.

 

About Keeping Faith: “My beautiful Revenge.”


Four years ago, Faith’s mysterious benefactress falsely accused her of stealing and deposited her in Madame Chambon’s exclusive brothel.

 

There, Faith was to learn how to entrance London’s noble gentlemen with her learning in philosophy, politics and art.

 

Her body was to be saved for the greatest enticement of all: revenge.

 

Faith doesn’t care what she has to do. She lives only to fulfil a bargain that will set her free.

 

But when Faith is recruited as the muse of a talented, sensitive painter whose victory in a prestigious art competition turns them both into celebrities overnight, she discovers the reasons behind her mission are very different from what she’d been led to believe.

 

Now she is complicit in something dark and dangerous while riches, adulation and freedom are hers for the taking.

 

But what value are these if her heart has become a slave to the man she is required to destroy?

 

Genre – historical romantic suspense

Heat Level– Medium

 

Keeping Faith Buy Links:

https://www.books2read.com/u/bP5pGY

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Dg70UP

 

 

Excerpt:

 

Chapter One

 

“What did you learn last night?”

 

“A gentleman must always believe he knows best.”

 

Confident that her answer was pleasing, Faith reached across the table to help herself to a macaroon but a sharp slap across the back of the hand stopped her progress by the silver teapot.

 

Her smile of feigned contrition was rewarded with a raised eyebrow from Madame Chambon. Not an invitation to partake of a macaroon, unfortunately. The table laden with eclairs and petit fours in Madame’s private sitting room was merely for show.

 

“Greedy girl, Faith! You can eat at the Dorchester tomorrow and I daresay you won’t even spare a thought for the other girls who are justified in being somewhat jealous of your cossetted life.” Madame sniffed as she patted one of the grizzled, orange curls of her elaborate coiffure. Faith suspected a squirrel’s pelt had made its contribution. “I’m sure they wonder every day why you never have to stir yourself – or anyone else, for that matter – to get your fine clothes or a roof over your head.” Madame Chambon piled three macaroons onto her already laden plate before making a sweeping gesture that encompassed the furnishings of her surprisingly decorous private sitting room with its gold tasseled green velvet curtains and flock wallpaper. “What have you told them, Faith? About why you are here, I mean?”

 

Faith’s stomach rumbled as she gazed from the prints of the famous artists that lined the walls to the fine fare in front of her, ordered from Fortnum and Mason. These monthly sessions in table manners were supposed to give Faith the practice she needed to deport herself like a lady when eating in public. However, under Madame’s guardianship, Faith never actually got to try the specialties.

 

“Answer me, Faith. In all the three years that you’ve been here, you’ve had to do precisely nothing to justify your existence. Surely the girls have questioned you? I have my own version of the truth for them, as you know, but I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.”

 

Faith didn’t answer. She already knew how lucky she was, but Madame was not ready to drop the subject, despite having just crammed an entire chocolate éclair into her mouth. Faith just managed to make out the muffled words, “Every night you lie peacefully in your bed while the other girls have to earn their livings.”

 

Lying peacefully in her bed was not how Faith would describe the restfulness of her slumber. She was kept awake every night by the grunts and cries of ecstasy that penetrated the thin walls of her attic chamber.

 

Still, she’d finally learned when it was wise to respond meekly, so she bowed her head and stared at her neat kid gloves while dreaming of the delicacies Mrs. Gedge would order for them when Faith really was dining with her at the Dorchester Hotel the following afternoon. The Sacher Torte Mrs. Gedge had ummed and aahed over before finally choosing the baked Alaska from the sweets trolley last month still haunted her. However, since part of Faith’s tutoring included how to win over reluctant gentleman ‘and make them wild with wanting’ which is how Madame phrased it, then surely Faith could persuade her American benefactress to order the Austrian chocolate specialty?

 

She was so busy rehearsing her words for tomorrow that she almost missed Madame’s prophetic and appalling statement.

 

“Well, Faith, the time has come for you to start earning your way, now.”

 

Faith brought her head up in shock. Was Madame teasing? When it appeared not, she gripped the table edge as she struggled for composure. For so long she’d known the reckoning would come. Yes, and with three years preparing for it, she’d believed she could meet it head-on with the necessary fortitude.

 

But there’d been no warning.

 

She began to shake, biting into her bottom lip and clasping her hands in her lap to try and keep secret the manifestations of her terror from Madame who’d only be spurred onto gloating and make her suffer even more.

 

“Mrs. Gedge reported last month that she wasn’t entirely happy you were ready for what she has in store for you when she took you to tea, Faith.” Madame chewed noisily, unperturbed, it seemed, by the crumbs that landed on her gaudy vermillion skirts.

 

Faith didn’t suggest that Mrs. Gedge’s dissatisfaction was perhaps the fault of Faith’s tutor – the one sitting in front of her – who knew nothing about deporting herself as a lady.

 

With a dainty gesture using only her forefingers, Madame Chambon raised her plate and licked at the crumbs that had not been dislodged before saying, “Fortunately, Lady Vernon is recovered at last from her long indisposition and has agreed to forget your rudeness to her from six months ago. In fact, she’ll be here shortly. Yes, she’ll soon have you passing the scrutiny of the most discerning duchess.” Madame gobbled down another macaroon with as much finesse as the dogs Faith’s father used to goad into fighting each other after they’d fought over the scraps from the scrubbed wooden table at the farm. Not that there’d been many scraps with ten children to feed.

 

“Should we not have waited for Lady Vernon?” Faith suggested, daringly. But she had to say something to stop herself from launching into a volley of querulous questions about exactly what form this ‘having to earn her own way’ might take.

 

Madame Chambon pushed aside an untouched plate of bread and butter to reach for another chocolate éclair and sighed. “There was just so much food on the table it seemed unnecessary to wait if her ladyship was going to be late. Ah! And here she is.” Madame’s orange painted mouth turned up at a knock on the door. “Shoulders back, Faith! And make sure you don’t talk with your mouth full.”

 

Since this was not a danger, Faith supposed there might be some compensation in having to face her former nemesis who surely must subscribe to the belief that learning table manners required one having to eat.

 

Madame threw her arms wide in a welcome as the door opened to admit the new arrival. “Good evening, Lady Vernon. We’re so glad you’ve recovered from your chest ailment,” she gushed. “A good rest has done you the world of good. Why, you look ten years younger. Just as you do every time I see you, in fact. And we’re indeed humbled that you’ve consented to return.” Madame simpered at the elderly woman, dressed all in black who looked, Faith thought, even more wraith-like than usual as she pinned up the veil of her bonnet and took the seat at the table proffered by Madame who went on, “I’m sure you’ll feel even better once you’ve heard Faith’s heartfelt apology.”

 

Faith blushed under the scrutiny of the two pairs of expectant, unforgiving eyes, and glanced longingly at the remaining macaroon.

 

Yes, there were times when it was worth being abject. She mightn’t mean what she said, but if the last three years under Madame Chambon’s roof had taught her one thing, it was how to sound heartfelt and sincere when she felt anything but.

 

“I’m sorry for my rude comments about…” Faith hesitated. Perhaps it was best not to stir up old memories. While it must be perfectly obvious to anyone who met Lady Vernon as to why an earl’s daughter could remain a spinster into her sixtieth year, it hadn’t been in anyone’s interest – Faith’s least of all, it turned out – for Faith to have gone into quite such specific and extensive detail regarding her thoughts on the likely reasons. “I behaved like a child, though it’s such a long time ago, now, I can barely remember what was going through my head at the time. I was only seventeen and, in those days, prone to losing my temper but now I’m eighteen and, thanks to all your efforts in teaching me how to act like a lady, Lady Vernon, I’m so far from the rude and impulsive young thing I was before, you’d not recognise me today. Thanks to your thorough tutelage, I am determined that I will never speak out of turn, to you, or anyone. Indeed, I have changed! I truly believe that, confronted by a table of delicacies like this, for example, I would certainly not embarrass you or Mrs. Gedge or any lovely young man or his mother who might take me out to tea by any show of greediness or lack of restraint.”

 

Lady Vernon’s eyes remained fixed firmly on Faith for the duration of this speech with no indication of how forgiving or otherwise she might prove to be.

 

After a long silence, she spoke. “Restraint?” She sniffed. “Restraint is the most important requirement of any young lady, Faith. I’ve told you this many times, so I’m glad it’s a lesson you claim to have finally learned.”

 

With her eyes fixed on Faith, she reached towards the remaining macaroon that sat lonely on its plate just in front of them both, her long-fingered hand hovering just above. “Please pass that to me, Faith. I can’t seem to reach it.”

 

Wordlessly, Faith complied, schooling her features into impassivity while she railed inside, I hate you! I hate you! as she watched Lady Vernon transport the coconut confection to her thin, bloodless lips.

 

“Delicious,” Lady Vernon murmured. “In fact, I believe it is the best macaroon I have ever tasted? You must surely agree, Faith, since the plate is now empty.”

 

She looked pointedly at the two remaining crumbs that clung to the edge of the fine china, as if to imply that Faith had eaten the rest. Then she indicated the plate of bread and butter near Madame Chambon. “Please eat, Faith. Madame Chambon and I have a leisurely afternoon at our disposal. She and I will partake of the remaining chocolate eclairs –” Her pointed chin wobbled slightly, whether from the suppression of mirth or the swallowing of bile, Faith could only guess, “while you make good work of the bread and butter with all the ladylike restraint you’re so anxious to prove.”

 

Other Books in the Series:

 

 

Saving Grace Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2z7rVGx

 

 

 

Forsaking Hope Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2DlzV9M

 

About Beverley

 

Debutantes, widows and the occasional courtesan test society’s boundaries in Beverley Oakley’s wicked, passionate historical romances dripping with scandal, intrigue, and suspense.

 

Her Fair Cyprians of London series is about a group of determined and clever courtesans at a high-class Soho brothel who use their wit and beauty to avenge past betrayals – and who find lasting love along the way.

 

How can there be a happily ever after? is a question many a reviewer has asked before admitting to being delighted and satisfied by the unexpected plot twists and surprise endings – just like in Beverley’s own life. You can read more on her website.

 

 

Beverley’s Social Links:

 

Website: http://www.beverleyoakley.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeverleyOakley/

Pinterest: https://au.pinterest.com/beverleyeikli/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeverleyOakley

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/5989577.Beverley_Oakley

 

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© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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