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Excerpt: The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter

Excerpt: The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter

Title: The Most Dangerous Duke in London
Author: Madeline Hunter
Genre: Historical Romance

Excerpt: The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter
About the book

Name and title: Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton. Affiliation: London’s elite Society of Decadent Dukes. Family history: Scandalous. Personality traits: Dark and brooding, with a thirst for revenge. Ideal romantic partner: A woman of means, with beauty and brains, willing to live with reckless abandon. Desire: Clara Cheswick, gorgeous daughter of his family’s sworn enemy.

Clara may be the woman Adam wants, but there’s one problem: she’s far more interested in publishing her women’s journal than getting married—especially to a man said to be dead-set on vengeance. Though, with her nose for a story, Clara wonders if his desire for justice is sincere—along with his incredibly unnerving intention to be her husband. If her weak-kneed response to his kiss is any indication, falling for Adam clearly comes with a cost. But who knew courting danger could be such exhilarating fun?


Clara quickly read her morning mail while eating breakfast in Gifford House, the family’s London home. Two letters in particular received very brief attention.
Her grandmother had written a scold. I am told that you have refused to receive Stratton twice since you went up to London ten days ago. I must insist that you cease such provocations.
Theo’s letter said much the same thing. We are unlikely to make progress with Stratton if you continue insulting him. Think of Emilia’s future. Think of mine. Surely you can find a modicum of gentility where he is concerned.
She was thinking of Emilia’s future. And the family’s. This whole idea of bridging the divide between her family’s and Stratton’s struck her as ill-advised and disloyal. Let them try it if they wanted to, but she was not going to cooperate. Grandmamma knew that. It was why no one had told her about this plan before embarking on it.
Donning her pelisse and her bonnet, she lifted a wrapped package and descended to the reception hall. Eschewing the family carriages, she told a footman to get her a hackney.
She took some air on the portico while she waited. Unfortunately, while she did, a carriage pulled into the drive. She cursed under her breath.
Stratton again. And here she was in plain view. She could hardly have the butler tell him she was not at home.
On the other hand, it should be obvious she was leaving. A few polite words and he would be on his way.
The duke stepped out of his carriage and approached her. After a greeting, he stopped with one foot on the lowest step of the portico and eyed her.
“You go out a great deal.”
“I may be in mourning, but I am not dead.”
He gestured to his carriage. “Allow me to take you to your destination.”
“Very kind of you, but my carriage is on its way.”
“It may be some time before it arrives.”
Indeed it might. With an inward groan of resignation, she turned to the house. “Since you have called on me, let us go inside and have a proper visit while I wait.”
She led the way into the house and deposited her package in a footman’s hands. Up the stairs she led the duke, and into the drawing room.
She perched herself on a chair and hoped she appeared at least half as formidable as her grandmother.
The duke took a seat in the chair closest to hers and settled in comfortably. His hair had been styled since she last saw him on that hill. His now disheveled cropped locks brought more attention to his liquid dark eyes and to that sensual mouth and hard jaw.
“It is kind of you to receive me, Lady Clara.”
“Since you saw fit to report to my family that I did not receive you previously, I now feel obligated to pretend I am amenable to this inexplicable desire of theirs to form a friendship with you.”
“You are a very direct woman.”
“You are a most persistent man.”
“Persistence in man is a virtue, while directness in a woman—”
“Is a nuisance. Which begs the question of why you have bothered being so persistent with this nuisance of a woman.”
“That is an excellent question. If you had seen me on my first call, by now you would have a full understanding of my intentions.”
What an odd way to put it. Whatever his intentions were.
“Perhaps you will enlighten me now, and quickly, so I can resume my own plans—plans which you have interrupted.”
He laughed quietly, as if at a private joke. “Your brother called you shrewish. I can see why.”
Shrewish? Why, that spoiled, disloyal boy. “I prefer being called direct. As a gentleman, I am sure you prefer
that word too.”
“Of course. Allow me to be direct in turn, so you can be about your day’s business.” He leaned forward and set his arms on his knees. It brought his fine face quite close to her. “You know your grandmother’s plan to have me marry Lady Emilia.”
“I do.”
“I have decided to decline the offer.”
It was all she could do not to cheer with relief. Thank heavens someone in this sorry business was using some sense.
“I have decided that you will suit me, and the dowager’s plan, much better.”
A stillness rang in the chamber. It took a good long moment for her mind to absorb what he had said. Even then it sounded too bizarre to be accurate.
“Your sister is too young for me, and whatever settlement is offered with her, it will never be as good as a wife with her own property and income.”
Good heavens.
She gathered her wits, but it took some serious groping through her stunned reaction. “Have you even met Emilia?”
“No, but it does not signify. I am quite sure that while she is lovely, she is not the bride for me.”
“How can you say that when you have not even—”
“I know.”
“You had better know differently, and quickly, because I am not available instead.”
He sat back in his chair, not the least impressed by her definitive rejection. “It is understandable that you are surprised by my proposal. I am confident that you will come around, however.”
Too agitated to sit, she stood and glared at the presumptuous idiot. Regrettably that brought him up too. Instead of what had been a satisfactory staring down, she now had to look far up at a face that hovered over her own.
“I heard no proposal. I heard an edict. I cannot imagine what gives you cause to think I would obey it. You are the last man I would marry, should I marry at all. Indeed, my father would turn over in his grave if I even considered the idea. Now, sir, I thank you for your call, but I must be about my day’s business. Already I will be late.”
She pivoted and strode out of the drawing room and down the stairs. She retrieved her package from the footman and headed outside. She sensed the duke on her heels the entire way.
Her hackney coach waited behind the duke’s carriage.
He gazed hard at that hackney. “Why are you not using the family’s equipage?”
“I chose not to.” She descended the stone steps and aimed for her coach.
He walked alongside her. “You are going to a secret assignation, I assume. One that you prefer the family servants not know about. There is no other explanation for using a hackney instead of a family carriage.”
She truly wanted to hit him with her package for saying that within hearing of the footman waiting to hand her into the coach.
She settled herself on the seat while the footman closed the door. The duke rested his forearm on the window’s edge and waited while the servant walked away.
“I will not demand an explanation now,” he said. “However, if you are going to meet a man, that liaison must end immediately, now that we are engaged.”
She stuck her face to the window. “We. Are. Not. Engaged.” She was almost yelling by the end of it, but the coach had rolled away by then, and only the air heard her.

Excerpt: The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter
About the Author

Madeline Hunter is a New York Times bestselling author with more than six million copies of her books in print. She has twenty-nine nationally bestselling historical romances in print, including most recently, The Wicked Duke, Tall, Dark, and WickedHis Wicked Reputation, and The Accidental Duchess. A member of RWA’s Honor Roll, she has won the RITA Award twice and been a finalist seven times. Her books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly, and have been translated into thirteen languages. She has a PhD in art history, which she has taught at the university level. Madeline also writes the Romance Unlaced column for USAToday.com’s Happy Ever After site.


Excerpt: The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter

Interview with Lori Rader-Day

Interview with Lori Rader-Day

Tell us about your latest book.

The Day I Died is the story of Anna Winger, a handwriting expert and single mother of a young teen son, who has been keeping ahead of a secret past by moving around the Midwest. They’ve just landed in a small town in Indiana that reminds her of the hometown she can’t return to when a crime occurs that needs her particular expertise. She’s drawn in, but maybe not the way the local sheriff had hoped when he asked for her help.

Interview with Lori Rader-Day
Who are your favourite authors?

Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, Tana French, Catriona McPherson, Charles Todd, just to name a few. I also have a sweet spot for old-time favorites like Beverly Cleary, Lois Duncan, and Roald Dahl.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Write. It’s easy not to write, but especially when you’re still trying to find an agent and get published, no one is holding you accountable. No one is asking for that book. Get a writers group or join an association for the genre you write. Find your tribe and connect, connect, connect. If you’re writing mystery, join Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime now. You don’t have to be published to go to meetings and meet other writers; in fact, before you publish is the best time to join these groups. 

What's the best thing about being a writer?

Hearing from readers who have enjoyed my book is the best part. The fact that people are out there reading my books is both thrilling and nerve-racking. The other best part: other writers. The mystery community is very welcoming and lots of fun.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

I enjoy books when I can go along on an exceptional ride with a character who feels real and troubled, who is in trouble. That’s the kind of story I try to write. Someone recently called my books “dark stories with heart,” and that’s pretty apt.

Interview with Lori Rader-Day
How long did it take you to write your book?

This book has a bit of an origin story. It was a short story I started in 2007, then a full manuscript that I finished but didn’t like. I put it away and wrote another novel, The Black Hour, which was published in 2014. After my second novel, Little Pretty Things, was turned in to my publisher, I had to decide my next project. I wondered if I had progressed as a writer enough to save that book from the drawer, so that’s what I tried. With the distance of that many years, I was able to see where the early draft had gone wrong. I rewrote the manuscript in 2015. When it comes out in April, that will be ten years since I began that short story.

How do you research your books?

I like to write into a story before I worry too much about the kind of research I’ll need to do, and then seek help. I’ve read textbooks and other resources to write about expertise, such as Anna’s handwriting analysis, or I’ve enlisted willing experts to take a look at my work after the draft is done. For The Day I Died, I read a nonfiction book about handwriting but I didn’t adhere too closely to it. What I was more worried about was making sure that the scenes that had to do with the local sheriff’s office were at least not ridiculously off-base. I had a friend who had worked at a small-town Indiana sheriff’s office as a dispatcher and deputy read the book for that kind of information. I made a few small tweaks based on her experience that made the book more true to life.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I was a big reader as a kid and tried to write very early on. I didn’t finish much until high school and college, and then had a few years where I gave it up because life got in the way. I always wanted to be writer, but didn’t become a writer—a person who writes—until I was in my 30s.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.

I’m revising my next novel for William Morrow for release in 2018, an as-yet-untitled murder mystery that takes place in a dark sky park—a place kept free of light pollution so that visitors can see the stars.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I keep a website at www.LoriRaderDay.com and also have a public Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/loriraderdaybooks

Advice (and Confessions) from a Reluctant Marketer

Advice (and Confessions) from a Reluctant Marketer, guest post by @katelevanauthor @iReadBookTours

I thought I left the world of marketing 20 years ago to do what I do now:  help other business professionals be better seen and heard through my communication training and coaching.  How I ever made a first career out of marketing, I’m not sure.  Personally, I don’t opt in on promotional games and invariably ignore calls from telemarketers who always seem to ring at dinner time. Nevertheless, now that I’ve put my pearls of wisdom in a book for more general consumption, I have found that early experience to be quite handy.  It turns out that writing the book was the fun part.  Now that the book is published, I’m back in marketing again.

The following may only be of interest to those who aspire to be newly published non-fiction writers. For those who don’t fall into this category, I look forward to swapping stories with you once I finish navigating this book promotion stuff.  I’m sure there’s overlap.

Whenever I give feedback as a communication consultant, I use a 3-part model that is also used in marketing:  first consider your strategy, then consider the structure or packaging of your message, and finally its delivery or implementation.  The idea is that any tactical decisions you make should proceed from your stated strategy and be “on target” for your intended audience.  What I’m finding is that I need to take my own advice when it comes to the backend business of publishing a book.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

-Have one.  Generally, to have a strategy means to be thoughtful and have a plan.   Amazon is a great and robust retail platform available to new authors, but your book can die on their algorithmic vine just as easily there as if you marketed it one independent bookstore at a time.  The big retailers are an important part, but only a tactical part of your plan.  So, don’t start with the goal “to have a book about X that I can sell on Amazon.”  That’s not a strategic plan.

-Profile your target reading audience in as detailed a way as possible, because everything—even your promotional materials—will proceed from this.  I thought I was being strategic when I wrote that my book was "for business people who make their living, or their mark, through presentations long and short.”  Why limit it further, I thought?  But it wasn’t until I wrote a description of my typical training participants—their gender, age, schooling, areas of expertise, career level, leadership aspirations and the specific words they use when asked about their strengths and areas for improvement—that I could choose a concept for my website, determine the category listings for the bookstores, and confidently edit a press release.  

-Your book’s promotional strategy is your responsibility.  Not your book coach’s or publicist's or even your publisher’s, if you have one.  They are there to advise you on tactical things about “how it’s done” and to give you access to channels and avenues that will put things in motion.  You however, must hold the North Star direction so that they can better assist you.  


-Seek out feedback.  When you don’t have access to professional focus groups to determine whether you’re on strategy or not, seek out complete strangers at networking groups and (good) friends who won’t necessarily tell you what you want to hear.  I did, and I ended up changing the title of my book because of it.  

-In a world of pay-per-view and niche marketing, you don’t need to have a New York Times best-seller to be successful.  If I’m honest with myself, this deep, unconscious desire was probably the source of my original broad and grand target audience descriptions.  Finally, I realized that I just have to find the people who need to hear my message.  That means I get excited about mentions in obscure association newsletters these days.

-Consider timing.  For many non-fiction writers, this could mean getting your book released or reviewed in time for a big industry conference; otherwise, you’ll be last year’s news.  For me, it meant getting out there before Memorial Day when business people (stateside) go into vacation mode until September.  Whoops.


-LinkedIn gets a bad rap.  It’s not the most social of media, but it is a highly targeted choice for me.  One good post to a former client’s list of 8000 followers and I netted an international (and iTunes rated) podcast.

-Avid reader blogs (like this) create an internet “buzz” that’s indispensable.  Thank you!

-I’ll probably go the publicist route come September when my audience goes back to work and into conferences.

-I already figured out the holiday promotion:  Give the gift of success to your team!

-I’m still in this phase, so wish me luck!


Advice (and Confessions) from a Reluctant Marketer, guest post by @katelevanauthor @iReadBookTours
Kate LeVan trains, coaches and collaborates on business communication effectiveness with major corporations worldwide and as an instructor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Her training consistently receives top ratings from executive development program participants for its simplicity, applicability and career-changing impact.

Book Showcase: Wilde Horses by Jannine Gallant

Book Showcase: Wilde Horses by Jannine Gallant

Title: Wilde Horses
Author: Jannine Gallant
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

Book Showcase: Wilde Horses by Jannine Gallant
About the book:

The Wilde brothers may be attracted to all things fast and furious. But their spirited sister can’t be tamed when it comes to matters of the heart . . .

The beautiful vistas and peace and quiet on her family’s Wyoming ranch are a balm for Eden Wilde’s soul—and inspire a gentle touch when it comes to breaking the wild horses she loves. Though there’s no hope on the breathtaking horizon for her love life. Until her sanctuary is invaded by a movie studio shooting their latest blockbuster starring Hollywood’s man of the moment.

After a personal tragedy plays out in his real life, movie star Blake Benedict finds himself falling for the wide-open spaces and easy going pace of Wyoming—and for Eden. Around her, he feels safe shedding his public persona and letting down his guard. But then accidents begin to happen on set, mishaps that could end Blake’s career—or his life. And Eden will be forced out of her comfort zone to save the Hollywood hero from an enemy he never saw coming...

Purchasing link: http://amzn.to/2rFNlrW

Book Showcase: Wilde Horses by Jannine Gallant
About the Author:

Write what you know. Jannine Gallant has taken this advice to heart, creating characters from small towns and plots that unfold in the great outdoors. She grew up in a tiny Northern California town and currently lives in beautiful Lake Tahoe with her husband and two daughters. When she isn’t busy writing or being a full time mom, Jannine hikes or snowshoes in the woods around her home. Whether she’s writing contemporary, historical or romantic suspense, Jannine brings the beauty of nature to her stories.


Book Showcase: Wilde Horses by Jannine Gallant

Excerpt: Words Of The Future by John Kaniecki

Excerpt: Words Of The Future by John Kaniecki

Title: Words Of The Future (Science Fiction Anthology)

Author: John Kaniecki

Purchasing link: http://amzn.to/2qNCexg

She’ll Remember the Roses
He opened his black leather wallet to the familiar emptiness he was accustomed to. Not to be thwarted he thrust his hands into his blue jeans pockets. Finding them empty he turned them inside out. This extra effort only produced the discovery of a hole. Finally he reached inside his black jacket to find the feel of paper. “Hope it’s a twenty, hope it’s a twenty...” began a mantra. Upon examination it was a lowly Lincoln .
Gazing upon the gray haired woman behind the newspaper stand he smacked the green paper upon the counter. “A dozen, carnations please,” he said with enthusiasm.
“She’ll remember the roses,” spoke the ancient proprietor.
The suggestion struck James in an awkward manner. Tonight was a once in a life time event. He had met the girl, no, the exact woman of his dreams. But roses were twenty dollars a dozen while the asking price of the carnations was an affordable five. “A dozen carnations,” he repeated insistently.
Sir,” said the woman pleading, “She’ll remember the roses.”
James gave a quick glance backwards to see that Laura was still waiting. The lovely young lady caught the look and broadly smiled before giving a bashful look away. “I ain’t got all night lady,” the young man began angrily. Then in a hushed whisper, “For Christ’s sake I’m in love.”
The elderly woman wobbled to the carnation rack and pulled out a dozen carnations consisting of equal portions of pink, white and red; she liberally mixed in some white baby’s breath and green leaves. Hobbling back the woman hand them to the eager patron. Immediately he put them to his nose and sniffed a sniff of delight.
“She’ll remember the roses,” the saleslady tried a final time.
“And you’ll remember me as the jerk you tried to exhort as much money as you can get out of,” said the young man in a restrained rage
 Snatching the flowers with venom the young man turned away. James hid the flowers behind his back and took broad strides towards his black hair beauty. The moonlight shined majestic with stars twinkling and blinking approval. James was oblivious to the scenery focused solely on his true love. “Here Laura,” said the young Romeo fighting his shyness, “these are for you.” Like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat the young lover presented the dozen carnations.
From his vantage point in the woods the man could see and hear everything that was going on. His eyes watched intensely recording every last movement with intensity.
“Why they’re beautiful,” said Laura, her face an explosion of glee.
“Just like you,” said James awkwardly.
And then it happened that magical moment, she kissed him. It was the summation of all the love poems and all the philosophies of kindness rolled into one and then some. James needless to say was overwhelmed. The connection on the lips lingered as the young couple interlocked their hands. Retreating from the embrace the hands remained held as they began the long trek to Laura’s dormitory.
The man sat in the woods concealed watching every single step. He gazed on until the couple vanished in the horizon. He knew it was a night the young man would never forget. In fact the young man would be haunted by that moment every single day of his life. For you see the man in the woods was James.
It took forty years for James to manage the time travel adventure. Not only did he have to secure the exuberant funds but he had to satisfy certain authorities about his intentions. Time travel is serious business. Life is incurably infinite. Mathematical equations fail when you just factor in one variation in the time stream. Theoretically one slight change could dramatically alter realities in unthinkable ways.
James had fallen in love with Laura. She sealed it with a kiss. In fairy tales when a man kisses a woman in true love the bond is eternal. However James knew from the harsh reality of his history that life was no fantasy. Laura would walk out of his life crushing his heart forever.
The watch on James’ wrist buzzed indicating it was time to return from whence he came. He scanned the area making sure it was entirely vacant except for the old lady attending the news stand by the bus stop. Quickly James fled his place of concealment. With deliberate speed he hustled towards the field far away from the bus stop. However as he made his escape a sobbing voice of familiarity paralyzed him causing him to freeze in stillness.
Glancing up he gazed at the news stand full of magazines, candies, and other assorted goods for sale. The ancient lady lifted her head tears steaming down her eyes as she wept. James looked and despite long years he recognized the face. It was none other then Laura.
“Carnations are for one night, roses are for forever,” the ancient woman sobbed in a pitiful voice. “She’ll remember the carnations.”
James was overcome with the realization that he was not the only one to fall in love that night, nor was he the only one to travel in time searching for answers. Somehow life was vibrant and new, not roses but true to reality, carnations.

John Kaniecki is a native of Brooklyn, New York. While he has no memory of New York City but he is proud to call himself a native New Yorker. John spent a few years in Illinois but grew up in Pequannock, New Jersey. After graduating high school John went off to Hoboken to attend Steven's Institute of Technology.
Despite being in engineering school, John was clueless to the direction his life should take. After two years John dropped out of Steven's. He became a Christian and hitchhiked across the United States. Several months later he was hospitalized with bipolar disorder.
At this time John began to write poetry. A self published book called "A Day's Weather" shows his mind at this time. After years of struggle John eventually returned to college and graduated from Montclair State University. John went to work stocking shelves at Sears and then worked with an engineering firm. John married Sylvia Smith in 2004.
Once married John returned to writing. His writing has been published in over seventy outlets. His books are "Murmurings of a Mad Man" a book of poetry by eLectio Publishing, "Poet to the Poor, Poems of Hope for the Bottom One Percent" by Dreaming Big Publications, "Words of the Future" a collection of science fiction stories published by Witty Bard and a couple of horror novellas "Scarecrow, Scarecrow" and "Satan's Siren" published by Jaded  Books Publishing. Just out is his poetry book called "Sunset Sonnets" published by Local Gem Poetry. Also his memoirs "More Than The Madness" that deals with his successfully coping with mental illness is soon to be published by Dreaming Big Publications.
Presently John is a full time caretaker for his wife. Also he volunteers as a missionary for the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue; which is in the inner city of Newark. He stays up light at night and writing in any free time in hopes of becoming a professional writer.
Twitter         @JohnKaniecki
Website        http://johnkaniecki.weebly.com/
Blog             http://johnkaniecki.blogspot.com/
Goodreads   John Kaniecki

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