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Retro Post: Forced Seduction or Rape?

Posted March 15, 2017 by Casee in Discussions | 22 Comments

A lot has changed in publishing since 2008, but forced seduction and rape haven’t gone away. If anything, I think we’ve seen even more of this in contemporary novels.

This was originally posted February 25, 2008.
Casee: The other night, Holly and I started talking about the ever controversial topic–rape in romance novels.

The topic came up when I mentioned that I was going to start reading Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell. (I’ve since finished it and hope to have my review up in a few days.) Holly asked if CtC had the “forced seduction” in it, which yes, it does. There are several reviews on Amazon taking the author to task for daring to call her book a romance when the hero rapes the heroine. Whether it was rape is another story altogether. One reviewer told her that CtC was a throwback to the bodice-rippers of the 80’s.
Hello? Have these reviewers ever read Stormfire by Christine Monson? That is indisputably rape. That book is one that doesn’t neatly fit into the “romance” slot it’s supposed to. I’m sure that almost everything that has read Stormfire would agree that there is no question of forced seduction or rape. It was rape.

Then you have the books where it’s rather murky. It basically is left to the reader to decide for themselves b/c it’s far from cut and dried.

The few books that came to mind when Holly and I were talking were Once and Always and Whitney, My Love, both by Judith McNaught. Holly is insistent that Jason raped Tory in Once and Always. Me, not so much. As a matter of fact, I had to go back and read a few pages b/c I don’t remember ever thinking it was rape.

No means no. Right? It’s not so black and white when it comes to the written word (please remember that we’re talking about this topic in regard to reading). As far as Whitney, My Love goes, I think it was rape. Clayton raped Whitney. I don’t even have to think about it.

Then you have books like The Duke by Gaelen Foley. The rape of the heroine turned the plot. It changed who the heroine would have been if the rape wouldn’t have happened. Does that make it less a romance? No, that makes it life. It made the heroine change her life choices, sure, but it didn’t make it less of a romance. That doesn’t mean it’s any less tragic, it just showed the reader that something like that changes a person’s life.

Holly:

There’s definitely a fine line between what I consider “acceptable” forced seduction and just flat out rape. While I agree with Casee about Whitney, My Love, I disagree with her about Once and Always. In my opinion, Jason raped Tory, same as Clay raped Whitney, it was just written prettier in O&A.

You see, Tory said no. She said no at the beginning and continued to say no throughout. Even as her body responded, she told him no. No is no. I don’t care what your body says. If your mouth says no (and it’s clearly not what you want) that’s rape. Plain and simple.

Of course, there are a lot of gray areas there. Because if well written, a forced seduction can be a turning point in a novel. And if extremely well written, I – who considers the “forced seduction/rape” issue a major hot button – will love the hero anyway. That doesn’t happen often, but it has happened.

But back to Jason and Tory. The thing is, I liked Jason. A lot. He was a good hero, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure Tory deserved him. She wasn’t totally TSTL, but she did come close. Regardless of that, however, that one scene, the scene where he forces her to submit to him, wasn’t sexy, or hot, or something I’d ever want to experience. Maybe it’s because I’m fairly independent. Or because I’m a modern day woman. Or maybe it’s just I can’t imagine having all control taken away, but when Tory told Jason, “I’ll hate you if you do this” and he did it anyway..well, a part of me hated him, too.

I have to give Judith McNaught credit, however, because even though I hated that one scene in the book, I didn’t end up hating the book as a whole. Nor did I hate Jason or Tory. Honestly? I’m not even sure if I can explain exactly why that is. I imagine it has something to so with JM’s ability to make her characters 3 dimensional and real.

Of course, we’re still not talking about rape. We’re talking forced seduction. Rape, well, that’s something all together different. I don’t think there’s any coming back from rape.

What do you think? Do you think there’s a place for Forced Seduction in romance? What about Rape? I’m not talking about the heroine being raped by someone other than the hero, either. I’m talking about the hero forcing the heroine, against her will.

I think Forced Seduction has it’s place. There are times – though I’m loathe to admit it – when it really needs to happen for the story to progress, or the characters to develop. Rape? I don’t know. I have yet to read a novel labeled romance where the hero actually raped the heroine. There have been a couple close calls, but not an actual rape.

Casee:

I really believe that in the cases of the McNaught books or Claiming the Courtesan, it really is left up to reader interpretation. In books like Stormfire or Island Flame by Karen Robards (those come to mind first), it is clearly rape and those books are not for everyone. I agree with Holly that Forced Seduction does have it’s place.

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Retro Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted March 7, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 13 Comments

Retro Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsReviewer: Holly
Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 13th 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
five-stars

A Desperate Young Mother
Rachel Stone's bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car's that's spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she's come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she'll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .
A man With No Heart
Gabe Bonner wants to be left alone, especially by the beautiful outcast who's invaded his property. She has a ton of attitude, a talent for trouble, and a child who brings back bad memories. Yet Rachel's feisty spirit might just be heaven-sent to save a tough, stubborn man.
Dare To Dream
Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who's forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on October 8, 2009.

I meant to have this written as part of our Susan Elizabeth Phillips Author Spotlight last month, but I didn’t get around to writing it. Dream a Little Dream is one of my favorite SEP novels. It’s hands down my favorite of the Chicago Stars/Bonner Brothers series.

Gabe Bonner lost his wife and son in a tragic car accident and for the past two years he’s been in a state of deep mourning. He’s been coasting through life, numb and emotionless, waiting for the day when it all will end. But Rachel Stone changes all that the day she shows up at his drive-in; dirty, hungry and desperate to save herself and her son Edward. He should be repulsed by her, but he isn’t. He’s drawn to her in a way he hates. She cracks the icy ball that’s surrounding his heart.

Rachel Stone has returned to the last place on Earth she ever wanted to see again, Salvation, North Carolina. 5 years ago she and her husband G. Dwayne Snopes were the hope and pride of Salvation, a televangelist couple to rival even the most sincere and promising of them. But all that ended the night G. Dwayne disappeared with the life savings of the people of Salvation, bringing shame and scandal to the once prosperous town. Now she’s back, determined to find the stash Dwayne left behind, desperate to save the future of her much beloved son.

At times this novel is hard to read, especially in the beginning when Rachel and Gabe meet. They’re both desperate and broken, though for different reasons and with different ways of dealing with their pain. One of the most emotional things I’ve ever read is when Rachel begs Gabe for a job. The first few chapters of this book are hard to get through, but they showcase perfectly just how far both characters have fallen.

Eventually Rachel and Gabe form a tight bond, though both are reluctant to acknowledge it. The town shuns Rachel, and her house and car are vandalized. Gabe takes on the role of protector, though even he can’t understand why. Despite their change in feelings for one another, they both know they have no future together. Especially since Gabe can’t stand Edward, Rachel’s son.

I loved the strength Rachel showed. It wasn’t easy for her to continue on each day, especially in the beginning, but she did what needed to be done. I would have to say she’s probably one of my favorite SEP heroines. She’s practical and tough, with a smart mouth and a strong will to survive. What’s not to love?

My heart ached for Gabe. I wanted to wrap him in cotton and protect him from the world. I loved that Rachel was the only one who saw him for what he was, and was willing to push him in the direction he needed to go.

Even though this is a darker novel, there are moments of unexpected tenderness and humor. I loved that even though the town hated Rachel, none of them took it out on her son. Everyone, from the townsfolk to the Bonner brothers, was kind to Edward. Well, except for Gabe.

The secondary romance between Ethan Bonner and Kristy Brown, his church secretary, was sweet. It provided relief from the darker tone of the rest of the novel.

Dream a Little Dream is heartwrenching and emotionally compelling. I couldn’t put it down, even when I could barely see the pages through my tears.

5 out of 5

five-stars

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Review: Stolen Magic by Marina Finlayson

Posted February 23, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Stolen Magic by Marina FinlaysonReviewer: Holly
Stolen Magic (Shadows of the Immortals #1) by Marina Finlayson
Series: Shadows of the Immortals #1
Also in this series: Murdered Gods (Shadows of the Immortals, #2)
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 262
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Goodreads
three-stars

Lexi Jardine may be a thief, but she’s not stupid. When a crooked fireshaper wants her to steal a ring from the boss of his order, she knows it’s a one-way ticket to sleeping with the fishes. Her answer is to drop off the face of the earth.
Safely hidden in a quiet seaside town, she just needs to keep her head down and pretend to be a regular human. Since her only magical ability is the power to control animals, that should be easy, right?
Then a new fireshaper shows up in town. He’s hot as hell but oddly hostile. With his suspicious eyes watching her every move, her safe haven starts feeling more like a trap. When her best friend disappears, Lexi knows the time for hiding is over. The fireshapers might be more powerful, but Lexi’s not one to abandon a friend. It will take everything she’s got to save them both from the flames.

The world is broken up into Shifters (who change shape), Shapers (who control the elements) and Humans. Lexi is a little more than human, but not a Shaper or Shifter. She and her best friend, cat shifter Syl, have been hiding in a sleepy seaside town for the last several months to escape a Fire Shaper who wants them to steal a powerful magical artifact from the leader of the Red Adept, the ruling Shapers council. When another Fire Shaper, Jake Steele, shows up unexpectedly in town, Lexi knows she should keep running, especially after he takes notice of her and starts asking some pointed questions. She’s happy for the first time in years, though, so she talks herself into staying. As things heat up, Lexi finds herself getting in over her head – spending more time with Jake, meeting Vampires and getting wrapped up in a nefarious plot to steel magic from Shapers and Gods everywhere, In the end she and Jake will have to decide if they trust each other enough to work together.

This was a fun read. It wasn’t perfect – Lexi was almost too-perfect, aside from making questionable decisions (though her best friend often talked her down before she did anything truly stupid), but I enjoyed the premise. The world-building is shallow, but I was interested in finding out what was going on. Finlayson didn’t reinvent the wheel, but the mythology was fun to get back into. The action was good and I liked the budding romance between Lexi and Jake. This isn’t a deep read, but I was entertained.

Until it ended on a cliffhanger. Then I was just frustrated. The conflict was cleared up, but there were a lot of unanswered questions about the heroine and the overall story arc. I really wish this had been labeled as a cliffhanger. It wasn’t labeled as “Part 1”, either, but rather as “Book 1.” That seems rather disingenuous when this read as the first part of a full story.

I immediately bought Book 2, Murdered Gods, but it, too, ended on a cliffhanger (and felt even shorter and less complete than this one did). Book 3 isn’t out yet. I doubt I’ll be continuing the series.

3 out of 5

three-stars

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Guest Review: Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone

Posted December 26, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen StoneReviewer: Tina
Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone
Published by Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: November 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Pages: 247
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

Evelyn Tester is sleepwalking through her suburban life—until a late-night phone call startles her awake. Her husband, a prestigious psychiatrist, has been in an accident. And he isn’t alone.

Suddenly Evelyn’s world isn’t as tidy as she thought. And in the midst of it all is Juliette, not only her husband’s secret lover but also his patient. If news of the affair were to get out, it would ruin more than just Evelyn’s marriage. Although it’s a bitter pill for Evelyn to swallow, protecting her family means staying silent—even if, as she begins to discover, the night of the accident has consequences far more dangerous than the unmasking of an affair.

But the more Evelyn learns about Juliette’s picture-perfect life—complete with a handsome, unsuspecting husband—the more she yearns for revenge…and satisfaction. Her growing obsession fuels her rage, burning away her complacency. What will be left of her after it flames out?

I found Evelyn, After on NetGalley where I was looking for something that would bring me down from my “sugar-high” from over-indulging on a few too many syrupy Christmas stories. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE those kind of books during the holiday season, but a girl has to give herself a break once in awhile. The minute I saw that cover, the first thing I thought was “Oooh!! Somebody’s gonna get it!! It looked creepy BEFORE I read the blurb, and then when I found out the subject, I couldn’t wait to read it. So when I found that I had been given a review copy, I downloaded it immediately and got ready for a wild ride……or so I thought.

The first part of the book was exactly what I would expect in a thriller. We have a car crash and a woman filled with rage after discovering that her husband is having an affair. But, by the middle of the book and nobody is dead yet, I started wondering what the heck was going on. My only suspense at that point was wondering when all the crazy was gonna start!!

So was this woman pissed or what? Yep, she was, but she didn’t go all bat-shit crazy like I expected. Instead she did a little Facebook stalking and a couple “drive-by’s” (not THAT kind…) which is not exactly was I was expecting in a book that is supposed to be a psychological thriller.

What happened instead you ask? Well, our scorned wife lost quite a bit of weight in a relatively short amount of time and went out and bought herself a new wardrobe. Then she had a “revenge-affair” with the other woman’s husband. So… in finding out that her husband was a cheating bastard, she re-invents herself and becomes the woman that she had “lost”. Really???

At this point ,all I could think was “Wow”. And I didn’t mean this in a good way. I wanted her to be so enraged that she lost her damn mind on somebody! Instead I felt like I had just watched a made-for-television drama on WE!

Evelyn, After was NOT a psychological thriller in my humble opinion. Nobody went psycho, and I didn’t get so caught up in the suspense that I ate a whole bag of M&M’s or anything!! The book had some decent DRAMA, but it didn’t scare the bejeezus outta me like I had hoped. I didn’t hate the book, but it just wasn’t what I expected at all. And then to top it off, the ending totally killed it for me.

With all this being said, I thought this book was just okay. If it would’ve had a different cover and had not been labeled a psychological thriller, I might have still picked it, I just would’ve known what NOT to expect. I might have even rated it a bit higher.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with this advance ebook in return for an honest review. I would give this one 3 out of 5 stars.

three-stars

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Sunday Spotlight: Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare

Posted September 11, 2016 by Rowena in Features | 18 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we’re running in 2016. Each week, we will spotlight a release we’re excited about. We’ll be posting exclusive excerpts and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I love Tessa Dare’s books and I adore her Spindle Cove and Castles Ever After series. I absolutely adore Charlotte Highwood so when I found out that this new book was Charlotte’s book and that it blends both the Spindle Cove and Castles Ever After series, I was over the moon! I’m so in for this one.

do-you-want-to-start-a-scandal

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #5, Castles Ever After #4
Releases on September 27, 2016 by Avon

Pre-Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library.

•Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan?
•Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall?
•Perhaps the butler did it.

All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: it wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville—the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace. When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.

But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh-so-proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit … and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.

Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?

During a ball, Charlotte Highwood has discreetly followed Piers Brandon, Marquess of Granville into a room while everyone else dances the quadrille…and then shenanigans.

Excerpt

“Don’t be alarmed,” she said, closing the door behind her. “I’ve come to save you.”

“Save me.” His low, rich voice glided over her like fine-grain leather. “From . . . ?”

“Oh, all kinds of things. Inconvenience and mortification, chiefly. But broken bones aren’t outside the realm of possibility.”

He pushed a desk drawer closed. “Have we been introduced?”

“No, my lord.” She belatedly remembered to curtsy. “That is, I know who you are. Everyone knows who you are. You’re Piers Brandon, the Marquess of Granville.”

“When last I checked, yes.”

“And I’m Charlotte Highwood, of the Highwoods you’ve no reason to know. Unless you read the Prattler, which you probably don’t.”

Lord, I hope you don’t.

“One of my sisters is the Viscountess Payne,” she went on. “You might have heard of her; she’s fond of rocks. My mother is impossible.”

After a pause, he inclined his head. “Charmed.”

She almost laughed. No reply could have sounded less sincere. “Charmed,” indeed. No doubt “appalled” would have been the more truthful answer, but he was too well-bred to say it.

In another example of refined manners, he gestured toward the settee, inviting her to sit.

“Thank you, no. I must return to the ball before my absence is noted, and I don’t dare wrinkle.” She smoothed her palms over the skirts of her blush-pink gown. “I don’t wish to impose. There’s only one thing I came to say.” She swallowed hard. “I’m not the least bit interested in marrying you.”

His cool, unhurried gaze swept her from head to toe. “You seem to be expecting me to convey a sense of relief.”

“Well . . . yes. As would any gentleman in your place. You see, my mother is infamous for her attempts to throw me into the paths of titled gentlemen. It’s rather a topic of public ridicule. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase ‘The Desperate Debutante’?”

Oh, how she hated even pronouncing those words. They’d followed her all season like a bitter, choking cloud.

During their first week in London last spring, she and Mama had been strolling through Hyde Park, enjoying the fine afternoon. Then her mother had spied the Earl of Astin riding down Rotten Row. Eager to make certain the eligible gentleman noticed her daughter, Mrs. Highwood had thrust her into his path—sending an unsuspecting Charlotte sprawling into the dirt, making the earl’s gelding rear, and causing no fewer than three carriages to collide.

The next issue of the Prattler had featured a cartoon depicting a young woman with a remarkable resemblance to Charlotte, spilling her bosoms and baring her legs as she dove into traffic. It was labeled “London’s Springtime Plague: The Desperate Debutante.”

And that was that. She’d been declared a scandal.

Worse than a scandal: a public health hazard. For the rest of the season, no gentlemen dared come near her.

“Ah,” he said, seeming to piece it together. “So you’re the reason Astin’s been walking with a limp.”

“It was an accident.” She cringed. “But much as it pains me to admit it, there’s every likelihood my mother will push me at you. I wanted to tell you, don’t worry. No one’s expecting her machinations to work. Least of all me. I mean, it would be absurd. You’re a marquess. A wealthy, important, handsome one.”

Handsome, Charlotte? Really?

Why, why, why had she said that aloud?

“And I’m not setting my sights any higher than a black-sheep third son,” she rushed on. “Not to mention, there’s the age difference. I don’t suppose you’re seeking a May-December match.”
Lord Granville’s eyes narrowed.

“Not that you’re old,” she hastened to add. “And not that I’m unthinkably young. It wouldn’t be a May-December match. More like . . . June-October. No, not even October. June-late September at the very outside. Not a day past Michaelmas.” She briefly buried her face in her hands. “I’m making a hash of this, aren’t I?”

“Rather.”

Charlotte walked to the settee and sank onto it. She supposed she would be seated after all.
He came out from behind the desk and sat on the corner, keeping one boot planted firmly on the floor.
Have out with it, she told herself.

“I’m a close friend of Delia Parkhurst. You’re an acquaintance of Sir Vernon’s. We’re both here in this house as guests for the next fortnight. My mother will do everything she can to encourage a connection. That means you and I must plan to avoid each other.” She smiled, attempting levity. “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a titled man in possession of a fortune should steer far clear of me.”

He didn’t laugh. Or even smile.

“That last bit . . . It was a joke, my lord. There’s a line from a novel—”

“Pride and Prejudice. Yes, I’ve read it.”

Of course. Of course he had. He’d served for years in diplomatic appointments overseas. After Napoleon’s surrender, he helped negotiate the Treaty of Vienna. He was worldly and educated and probably spoke a dozen languages.

Charlotte didn’t have many accomplishments, as society counted them—but she did have her good qualities. She was a good-natured, forthright person, and she could laugh at herself. In conversation, she generally put other people at ease.

Those talents, modest as they were, all failed her now. Between his poise and that piercing blue stare, talking to the Marquess of Granville was rather like conversing with an ice sculpture. She couldn’t seem to warm him up.

There must be a flesh-and-blood man in there somewhere.

She stole a sidelong look at him, trying to imagine him in a moment of repose. Lounging in that tufted leather chair with his boots propped atop the desk. His coat and waistcoat discarded; sleeves uncuffed and rolled to his elbows. Reading a newspaper, perhaps, while he took the occasional sip from a tumbler of brandy. A light growth of whiskers on that chiseled jaw, and his thick, dark hair ruffled from—
“Miss Highwood.”

She startled. “Yes?”

He leaned toward her, lowering his voice. “In my experience, quadrilles—while they may feel interminable—do, eventually, come to an end. You had better return to the ballroom. For that matter, so had I.”

“Yes, you’re right. I’ll go first. If you will, wait ten minutes or so before you follow. That will give me time to make some excuse for leaving the ball entirely. A headache, perhaps. Oh, but then we have a whole fortnight ahead. Breakfasts are easy. The gentlemen always eat early, and I never rise before ten. During the day, you’ll have your sport with Sir Vernon, and we ladies will no doubt have letters to write or gardens to pace. That will see us through the days well enough. Tomorrow’s dinner, however . . . I’m afraid that will have to be your turn.”

“My turn?”

“To feign indisposition. Or make other plans. I can’t be claiming a headache every evening of my stay, can I?”

He extended his hand and she took it. As he drew her to her feet, he kept her close.

“Are you quite sure you’ve no marital designs on me? Because you seem to be arranging my schedule already. Rather like a wife.”

She laughed nervously. “Nothing of the sort, believe me. No matter what my mother implies, I don’t share her hopes. We’d be a terrible match. I’m far too young for you.”

“So you’ve made clear.”

“You’re the model of propriety.”

“And you’re . . . here. Alone.”

“Exactly. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and yours is clearly—”

“Kept in the usual place.”

Charlotte was going to guess, buried somewhere in the Arctic Circle. “The point is, my lord, we have nothing in common. We’d be little more than two strangers inhabiting one house.”

“I’m a marquess. I have five houses.”

“But you know what I mean,” she said. “It would be disaster, through and through.”

“An existence marked by tedium and punctuated by misery.”

“Undoubtedly.”

“We’d be forced to base our entire relationship on sexual congress.”

“Er . . . what?”

“I’m speaking of bedsport, Miss Highwood. That much, at least, would be tolerable.”

Heat bloomed from her chest to her hairline. “I . . . You . . .”

As she desperately tried to unknot her tongue, the subtle hint of a smile played about his lips.
Could it be? A crack in the ice?

Relief overwhelmed her. “I think you are teasing me, my lord.”

He shrugged in admission. “You started it.”

“I did not.”

“You called me old and uninteresting.”

She bit back a smile. “You know I didn’t mean it that way.”

Oh, dear. This wouldn’t do. If she knew he could tease, and be teased in return, she would find him much too appealing.

“Miss Highwood, I am not a man to be forced into anything, least of all matrimony. In my years as a diplomat, I’ve dealt with kings and generals, despots and madmen. What part of that history makes you believe I could be felled by one matchmaking mama?”

She sighed. “The part where you haven’t met mine.”

How could she make him see the gravity of the situation?

Little could Lord Granville know it—he probably wouldn’t care if he did—but there was more at stake for Charlotte than gossip and scandal sheets. She and Delia Parkhurst hoped to miss the next London season entirely, in favor of traveling the Continent. They had it all planned out: six countries, four months, two best friends, one exceedingly permissive chaperone—and absolutely no stifling parents.

However, before they could start packing their valises, they needed to secure permission. This autumn house party was meant to be Charlotte’s chance to prove to Sir Vernon and Lady Parkhurst that the rumors about her weren’t true. That she wasn’t a brazen fortune hunter, but a well-behaved gentlewoman and a loyal friend who could be trusted to accompany their daughter on the Grand Tour.

Charlotte could not muck this up. Delia was counting on her. And she couldn’t bear to watch all her dreams dashed again.

“Please, my lord. If you would only agree to—”

“Hush.”

In an instant, his demeanor transformed. He went from cool and aristocratic to sharply alert, turning his head toward the door.

She heard it, too. Footsteps in the corridor. Approaching.

Whispered voices, just outside.

“Oh, no,” she said, panicked. “We can’t be found here together.”

No sooner had she uttered the words than the library became a whirlwind.

Charlotte wasn’t even certain how it happened.

Had she bolted in panic? Had he swept her into his arms somehow?

One moment, she was staring in mute horror at the scraping, turning door latch. The next, she was ensconced in the library’s window seat, concealed by heavy velvet drapes.

Pressed chest to chest with the Marquess of Granville, The man she had meant to avoid at all costs.

Oh, Lord.

Spindle Cove

Giveaway: We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

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Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

tessa-dare

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fourteen historical romance novels and five novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award (twice!) and the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties.

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