Thank you so much for inviting me here today, Ivy.
I must admit, I’ve been distracted by our fires north of Melbourne which surrounded our town on two sides and caused mass evacuations. Only a few properties were lost but the earth is charcoal around us for as far as the eye can see.
So it’s been nice to have something to distract me, as in a new release.
Yes, it’s release day for Dangerous Gentlemen today!
I’m very excited about this story which is #2 in my Viscount Partington Series of erotic Regencies published by Ellora’s Cave.
Dangerous Gentlemen can, however, be read entirely on its own as it features a young debutante called Hetty, who is the daughter of my heroine in Book #1.
I love stories of mistaken identities, and there are plenty in this story. Hetty believes her life depends on pretending to be someone else, my hero is mistakenly believed to be a villain, while Hetty’s sister, Araminta, has her own little scheme up her sleeve, based on her own deception. Believe me, Araminta is a piece of work and one day she’ll get her own story but at the moment she’s too fun to include in each book because she’s so self centred and intent on profiting at her sister’s expense. It’s sibling rivalry at its worst. (I happen to have two sisters but they’re both lovely :))
So here’s a little bit about it: the blurb followed by an extract:
Sequel to Her Gilded Prison
Shy, self-effacing Henrietta knows her place—in her dazzling older sister’s shadow. She’s a little brown peahen to Araminta’s bird of paradise. But when Hetty mistakenly becomes embroiled in the Regency underworld, the innocent debutante finds herself shockingly compromised by the dashing, dangerous Sir Aubrey, the very gentleman her heart desires. And the man Araminta has in her cold, calculating sights.
Branded an enemy of the Crown, bitter over the loss of his wife, Sir Aubrey wants only to lose himself in the warm, willing body of the young “prostitute” Hetty. As he tutors her in the art of lovemaking, Aubrey is pleased to find Hetty not only an ardent student, but a bright, witty and charming companion.
Despite a spoiled Araminta plotting for a marriage offer and a powerful political enemy damaging his reputation, Aubrey may suffer the greatest betrayal at the hands of the little “concubine” who’s managed to breach the stony exterior of his heart.
A Romantica® historical Regency erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
And here’s the extract:
An Excerpt From: DANGEROUS GENTLEMEN
Copyright © BEVERLEY OAKLEY, 2014
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
Miss Hoskings, who declared she was not going to emerge from the mending room until the night was over, bade Hetty a gloomy farewell once Hetty’s skirt was mended but Hetty wasn’t sure she felt like reentering the ballroom either. The only person of any interest had left and she had no wish to endure Araminta’s preening self-satisfaction as she recounted her success with Sir Aubrey who, if he really were such a dangerous man, would consequently be of even greater interest to her sister, she supposed. No, Hetty had no chance.
“Make sure you turn the right way. The ’ouse is a fair rabbit warren of rooms and the gennulmen’s quarters that way.” The old crone stabbed a finger up the stairs to the left. “Even that Sir Aubrey what’s staying ’ere got hisself lost. Put ’is head in ’ere just afore you came to inquire as to which way was the lobby so he could order hisself a carriage.”
Miss Hoskings straightened, her look suddenly interested. “Sir Aubrey is a houseguest, I believe,” she said with a sharp look at Hetty. “Handsome gentleman, don’t you think? And with that unusual hair.”
Just the mere mention of him made Hetty’s heart leap. So Sir Aubrey’s room was just down the passage and up the stairs? She hesitated as the old seamstress closed the door behind her, plunging her into the gloom of the dimly lit corridor.
The stairs beckoned a short distance away.
What would be the harm in a quick look? No one would see her and she could always claim she’d lost her way. She’d be believed and besides, all the chambers would be empty since everyone was at the ball. The night was still young and no one would be returning yet.
Hetty, curious by nature, found this too tantalizing an opportunity to resist. With a furtive look around her, she hurried left and up the stairs, at which point two corridors at right angles disappeared into darkness. Choosing the one to the right, she found herself face-to-face with a series of closed doors.
Foolish, she chided herself. Of course they were closed and she could hardly open them. As she turned back toward the ballroom, a faint light shining from the crack beneath a door that was slightly ajar gleamed beckoningly.
With a furtive look over her shoulder, she approached it, and when she gave the door a little nudge with her foot, it swung open.
Excitement rippled through her.
“Hello?” she asked in a low voice. She took another step into the room. “Is anyone in here?”
Silence greeted her. A low fire burned in the grate before which was a table, against which were propped several items, including a familiar silver-topped cane. Her breath caught in her throat. The last time she’d seen that cane was when Sir Aubrey had exchanged several words with Araminta in the street as Hetty had been bringing up the rear with Mrs. Monks. Of course Sir Aubrey had not looked twice at her, excusing himself before having to be introduced to the younger sister and the chaperone who’d nearly closed the gap.
Heart hammering, Hetty closed the door behind her and went to pick up the cane.
How fortunate to have stumbled into Sir Aubrey’s room, she thought when she observed the fine coat lying upon the bed, apparently discarded in favor of what he was wearing tonight.
He really was a nonpareil, wearing his clothes as if they were an extension of his athletic physique.
Yet he was dangerous, she had to remind herself. Meaning she should not be here, which of course she shouldn’t, regardless of whether he was dangerous or not.
But how such a scion of good breeding and genteel society could be guilty of such a heinous crime as treason, Hetty could not imagine. And surely the story of the runaway wife was a gilded one. It was all the stuff of make-believe and Cousin Stephen was only telling Hetty he was dangerous to curb her schoolroom daydreams.
Turning, she saw half protruding from beneath the suit of clothes what appeared to be the edge of a silver, filigreed box. It was partly obscured by the overhang of the counterpane, as if it hadn’t properly been returned to its hiding place.
A moment’s indecision made her pause but soon Hetty was crouching on the floor, closing clammy fingers around the box. Might it contain secrets? Ones that would reveal, conclusively, what Cousin Stephen claimed was true?
Alternatively, proof that would exonerate Sir Aubrey?
Hetty fumbled for the catch. Dear Lord, this was too exciting for words. Perhaps Sir Aubrey was a secret agent working for the English, and Stephen had no idea.
Perhaps he was—
Protesting door hinges made her squeal as the door was flung wide. Hetty let the lid of the box fall and retreated into the shadows as Sir Aubrey strode into the room.
He was breathing heavily as he shrugged off his jacket with a curse, raindrops spattering into the hissing fire as he raked his fingers through his hair. A curious stillness overtook him and he froze, obviously sensing all was not as he left it.
He sniffed the air. “Orange flower water,” he muttered, stepping closer to the fire, fumbling for the tinderbox on the mantelpiece to light a candle.
Immediately he was thrown into sharp relief and as he stared at Hetty, it was not his look of shock and suspicion that made her scream—but the copious amounts of blood that stained his shirtsleeves and once snowy linen cravat.
“God Almighty, who are you?” he demanded as his gaze raked her finery. “You’re no parlor maid, that’s for certain.”
Gaping, unable to formulate a sensible answer, Hetty finally managed, “What happened to your arm, Sir Aubrey? Are you injured?”
“Sir Aubrey, is it? So you know who I am but you still haven’t told me who youare?” He grunted as he looked down at his arm, the bloodied linen shredded over the long graze. “It’s not as bad as it looks and I assure you, I gave a good account of myself.” His laugh was more a sneer. “Indeed, my assailant lies dead in the gutter.”
Hetty gasped. “Dueling?” Myriad questions crowded her mind. Could this be to do with Araminta? Had Sir Aubrey left Araminta in the middle of the ball to fight some other contender for her affections?
“Dueling?” he repeated. He shook his head and Hetty drew back at the coldness in his eyes. “There was nothing noble about my activities this evening. I was set upon in a dark alley. A short scuffle ensued, I drew my knife, then…” With his hand, he made a gesture like the slitting of his throat, adding, “I am slightly wounded but as I said, my attacker does not live to repeat the insult.”
Her horror clearly amused him, for his eyes narrowed while his generous mouth quirked. He looked like an incarnation of the most handsome demon she’d ever seen depicted in the fairy stories she loved to read.
“We all have enemies, madam. Enemies who must be eliminated if we are to breathe freely.”
Please drop by and visit me at my website or blog
Or twitter: @BeverleyOakley
And you can buy Dangerous Gentlemen here.
Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical romances, three of which have been shortlisted Favourite Historical by Australian Romance Readers Association.
She has worked as a journalist, editor, airborne geophysical survey operator and embraced a life of adventure after meeting her future husband, a handsome Norwegian bush pilot around a camp fire in Botswana.
Twenty years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, as well as teaching Short Courses for the Centre of Adult Education and Macedon Ranges Further Education.