Saturday, September 29, 2018

Pure Textuality PR Blog Tour Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughtyfor once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

About the Book

Hot Winter Nights 
by Jill Shalvis
SeriesThe Heartbreaker Bay Series
Contemporary Romance
PublisherAvon Books
Publication DateSeptember 25, 2018

Purchase Your Copy Today!
Amazon  |  Avon Romance  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play  |  iBooks


“Tell me about your night. You know you want to.”
“Actually, it was over so fast, I can’t really remember.”
He gave a low, rather triumphant laugh and turned her to face him. “You haven’t yet once managed to look me in the eyes and tell me how bad I was. Here’s your chance, Molly. Give it to me.”
See, that was the thing. She did want to give it to him, quite badly. Naked . . . Gah. She really hadn’t seen this coming, but she deserved fun like anyone else, right? She looked at his mouth, desperately wanting it on hers. And then her body somehow mistook the fantasy for reality because she went up on tiptoes and . . . kissed him. Just a soft brush of her lips across his, gently and a little hesitant, but it was most definitely a kiss.

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of HOW WINTER NIGHTS by Jill Shalvis, we’re giving away a paperback copy of the book!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 10/9/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author JILL SHALVIS lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventure.
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

Monday, September 24, 2018

Pure Textuality PR Blog Tour Got It Bad by Christi Barth

In USA Today bestseller Christi Barth’s last Bad Boys Gone Good novel, the brother who’s always followed the rules finally gets to be a little bad.

Kellan Maguire was a semester away from becoming a lawyer when his life imploded. Now he’s in Witness Protection, hiding from the mob and mad as hell that his brothers lied to him about, oh, everything. The only bright spot in his new life is their drop-dead-gorgeous U.S. Marshal handler. Yeah, he wants to handle her… a lot.
Federal Marshal Delaney Evans has protected her fair share of dangerous criminals. But Kellan is a whole different kind of dangerous—dangerously hot, to be specific. The charming, handsome, and utterly law-abiding Maguire brother got under her skin the moment they met and the more time she spends with him, the harder it is to deny their attraction. Delaney’s willing to give Kellan one night—to get him out of her system—and then it’s over.
Except one night isn’t enough and soon they’re breaking every rule of WITSEC to be together. Kellan’s got it bad for her, but Delaney’s career, her entire life, would fall apart if anyone found out. And then the biggest complication of all hits…

About the Book

Got It Bad
by Christi Barth
Bad Boys Gone Good Series
Contemporary Romance
Avon Impulse
Publication Date
September 18, 2018
Purchase Your Copy Today!
Amazon  |  Avon Romance  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play  |  iBooks


“You have my word.”
“Great. The word of an almost lawyer,” Delaney said mockingly. “That and twelve dollars will buy me a martini.”
Then she instantly regretted pushing his buttons. It was habit. It was fun.
It was dangerous.
One thick, dark eyebrow winged up, like an arched frame around his stunning ice-blue eye. “First you call me spoiled, and now you’re insulting my near-lawyerness? If I didn’t know better, I’d say the lady doth protest too much.”
“The lady has her hands full dealing with your troublesome brothers. She doesn’t need to waste her energy constantly fending you off, too.”
“I think you do.” Kellan set his cup down.
Delaney gaped at him. Because she’d been oh-so-careful never to give away with so much as a flicker the fact the she was still interested. How could he tell something that Delaney barely admitted to herself? “You think I want to keep fending you off?”
“Yes.” Kellan stepped closer. In fact, he moved in way past what would be polite. Invaded her personal space just as much as he’d been invading her mind. “You like fighting with me. You could ignore my compliments, my flirty remarks. You don’t. You rise to the bait every time. I think you’re every bit as frustrated as I am.”
“You don’t know anything about my life outside the time I spend working on your case.” Heat flashed across her cheeks and chest. And she stepped in, too. To where the tips of her breasts brushed his chest, and her feet bumped against his. “Don’t begin to think you know me.”
“I don’t think. I know. I know that you may have been on dates since you met me. But none of them distracted you from whatever’s simmering between us. You want to turn back the clock to the day I asked you out and follow through on it.”
“I don’t.” Her words were the verbal equivalent of a foot stamp. Then, softer, as if she didn’t mean to speak it out loud at all, Delaney said, “We can’t.”
In response, Kellan framed her face with his hands, tilted her head back more, and kissed her.
Not the light, polite, introduction kiss they’d shared the first time. Delaney had obviously pushed him past that step. Kellan kissed as if he needed her to know just how badly he wanted her. His lips worked across her mouth, moving and kneading. Kellan nipped at her wide bottom lip. It felt like punishment for her making him wait so long
It also felt like a reward for waiting so long, and she rewarded him with a tiny moan.
Delaney’s hands fisted in his thick hair, pulling and tugging. It undoubtedly showed him the insta-heat burning her up inside as much as the way her leg wrapped around his calf.
She wanted more.
His tongue teased at the seam of her lips, and Delaney opened for him like they’d already done this dance a hundred times. She tasted the sweetness lingering from his drink. Desire rocketed through her, turning her nerves to lava. From the way his penis had hardened to pure steel against her belly, Kellan felt the same.
He streaked the backs of his knuckles down the undersides of her raised arms. Kept going to just lightly brush them along the sides of her breasts, her ribs, the flare of her hips to finally land on the curve of her ass.
Kellan dug his fingers in and lifted. Just high enough to press her center against his penis. Instantly, she got on board with the position, rocking against him even as her tongue twined and teased.
It was impossible to stop the little, breathy moans that kept escaping from her. It was impossible not to undulate against his rock hard abs and dig her fingers into the sculpted muscles of his back. Kissing Kellan wasn’t foreplay. It was a sex act all by itself. Utterly satisfying even as it drove her hunger up immeasurably.
And while Delaney would’ve sworn it was impossible, he was a million times better in reality than all the ways she’d fantasized being with him over the past months. Kellan ripped his mouth away to burn a trail of kisses down the side of her neck.
A semi rolled by, and the driver honked for a long time. It had been easy to ignore the white noise of the cars passing, but the horn broke through to Delaney. It reminded her they were on the edge of a green-scummed pond, across from a strip mall. The world could see them making out. And they’d already shot way past a reasonable stopping point.
So she unwound her leg and put her foot back down on the ground. Kellan seemed to get the signal. He dialed back the intensity on his kisses and rained them up the side of her face, down her nose, to end with a light peck on her mouth before easing back. Then he moved his hands to her shoulders.
It took a moment for her eyes to re-open. When they did, it took another moment before Delaney fully focused on him.
“Not only can we kiss,” Kellan said with enough authority to make her realize he wouldn’t allow her to pretend this hadn’t happened. To pretend that she hadn’t just climbed him like a tree and responded with a fervor that matched his own. “We’re absolutely doing it again.”

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of GOT IT BAD by Christi Barth, we’re giving away three paperback copies of Never Been Good!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. Three winners will each receive a paperback copy of Never Been Good by Christi Barth. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 9/7/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About Christi Barth

USA Today bestseller CHRISTI BARTH earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance.

Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Pure Textuality PR Blog Tour A Notorious Vow by Joanna Shupe

About the Book

A Notorious Vow
by Joanna Shupe
The Four Hundred Series
Historical Romance
Avon Books
Publication Date
September 25, 2018

Purchase Your Copy Today!
Amazon  |  Avon Romance  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play  |  iBooks

Joanna Shupe returns to New York City’s Gilded Age, where fortunes and reputations are gained and lost with ease—and love can blossom from the most unlikely charade.

With the fate of her disgraced family resting on her shoulders, Lady Christina Barclay has arrived in New York City from London to quickly secure a wealthy husband. But when her parents settle on an intolerable suitor, Christina turns to her reclusive neighbor, a darkly handsome and utterly compelling inventor, for help.

Oliver Hawkes reluctantly agrees to a platonic marriage . . . with his own condition: The marriage must end after one year. Not only does Oliver face challenges that are certain to make life as his wife difficult, but more importantly, he refuses to be distracted from his life’s work—the development of a revolutionary device that could transform thousands of lives, including his own.

Much to his surprise, his bride is more beguiling than he imagined. When temptation burns hot between them, they realize they must overcome their own secrets and doubts, and every effort to undermine their marriage, because one year can never be enough.


He was done fighting.
If she did not desire him, then so be it. He would not pressure or try to convince her. However, if there was a chance for them to occasionally enjoy each other physically during the next few months, he was dashed well going to take it.
Then she could find a normal man, one without Oliver’s quirks and stubbornness.
Until then, she was his.
Mouth gone dry, he licked his lips. “May I ask you a question?” She nodded so he went back to the ledger and wrote. The night in the gallery, were you disappointed I did not kiss you?
Her brows rose slightly as she read, clearly taken aback by his question, but she did not look at him. Instead, she took the pencil from his hand and turned over a new page in the book. A bit.
Heart pounding in his chest, he wrote, And if I asked to kiss you now, what would be your answer?
Her fingers gripped the pencil so tightly while writing that her fingertips went white. She bit her lip as she turned the ledger toward him.
I would say yes.
She’d actually written it.
Christina could scarcely believe she’d done it. Yet somehow it was easier to be truthful on paper than speaking aloud.
And it had been the truth. She wanted to kiss him. Badly.

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of A NOTORIOUS VOW by Joanna Shupe, we’re giving away one paperback set of the entire Four Hundred series!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Giveaway open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback set of the Four Hundred series by Joanna Shupe. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 9/25/2018 @ 1159pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copy out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About Joanna Shupe

JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. In 2013, she won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband. To connect with Joanna, visit

Author Links

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pure Textuality PR Blog Tour Vampires Like It Hot by Lynsay Sands

New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands brings the heat in this new Argeneau novel, as one woman is rescued by an irresistible immortal …


When Raffaele Notte pulls a barely dressed, disoriented woman from the ocean, the last thing he expects is for her to utter that word. The immortal has come to the island resort to help his cousin, but now, it seems, there are rogue vampires dining on unsuspecting tourists. And he soon realizes that not only is Jess a target, she’s also the life mate he’s been waiting for…

Vampires are real. Jess would’ve never believed it until she saw them with her own eyes. She knows she has to get off the island, and her gallant rescuer has offered to help. There’s something about Raffaele that’s unlike any man she has ever met, and his touch sends pleasure through her that is beyond all imagining. But when Jess discovers who he really is, will she risk life as she knows it for a chance of forever by his side?

About the Book

Vampires Like It Hot
by Lynsay Sands
Argeneau Series
Paranormal Romance
Avon Books
Publication Date
September 18, 2018

Purchase Your Copy Today!
Amazon  |  Avon Romance  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play  |  iBooks


“It’s a woman.”
“Who is she?”
“She’s wearing a life jacket.”
“What happened?”
“How did she end up in the water?”
Raffaele shook his head at the rapid-fire questions shot at him by Zanipolo and Santo as he carried the woman out of the water. Rather than answer, he merely said, “Bring my clothes, please,” and walked past them, heading for the resort buildings.
The men had already gathered his clothes for him on the way down, so merely fell into step on either side of him as he walked.
“Is she alive?” Zanipolo asked with a frown, leaning slightly in front of Raffaele to look at the woman in his arms as they walked,.
“Yes,” Raffaele said quietly. “I think she has just fainted from her exhaustion.”
“Are you taking her to the resort clinic?” Santo asked as they reached the rows of lounge chairs at the head of the beach.
“No. I want to look her over myself first,” Raffaele said solemnly.
“Why?” Santo asked at once.
“Two reasons,” Raffaele responded as they made their way out of the rows of chairs and reached the concrete paths leading to the various resort buildings. Much to his relief the paths were pretty much deserted at this hour with most people already in bed, or situated in the bar enjoying the entertainment. There were only one or two guests making their way to their rooms and they paid them no attention.
“What is the first reason?” Santo asked as they approached the paths around the pools.
“I want to look her over for bites,” Raffaele admitted.
“Bites?” Zanipolo asked with interest. “What makes you think she might have been bitten?”
“Because when I asked her if she’d fallen off a boat or cruise ship, she said no, she jumped, and when I asked why, she said—” he glanced around to be sure no one was near enough to hear, and then lowered his voice anyway as he finished with “‘—vampires.’”
“Bingo,” Zanipolo said with grim satisfaction as they got past the pools and approached their building. “She’ll be able to tell us where the vampire nest is and how they operate. It’s got to be some kind of dinner cruise or something. Or it could be a day cruise. She could have had to swim a long way.” He frowned over that briefly as they reached their building and walked along the open hall to the stairs, and then asked, “What is the second reason you want to examine her before we take her to the resort clinic?”
“When I got to her she was beyond exhausted,” Raffaele said as they started up the stairs. “Her words were slurred and she could hardly keep her eyes open. I thought it would be easier all around if I read her mind to see what had happened, and took control of her to drag her in.”
“And?” Santo prodded as they exited the stairs at their floor and started along the hall to their room.
Raffaele was silent for a minute, having trouble accepting what he was about to say himself, but when they reached the door to their suite and Santo pulled out his key card to unlock the door, Raffaele swallowed and said in almost a whisper, “I couldn’t read her.”
Santo had got the door unlocked and started to open it before Raffaele spoke, but now he stiffened and turned sharply to peer at him with amazement. “What?”
Raffaele merely nodded.
“Score!” Zanipolo shouted gleefully. “Didn’t I tell you? I told you! Didn’t I? Hot resorts are the way to go to find our mates! I so toldyou that!”
“Yes, you did,” Raffaele admitted with amusement as Santo pushed the door open for him to carry his life mate into the room.
“And he’ll remind you of that every day for the rest of his life,” Santo said dryly as he let the door close, locked it, and then hit the light switch, turning on the overhead light.
“Sì, I will,” Zanipolo agreed gleefully, moving to Raffaele’s side to peer down at the woman he held. Eyeing her almost reverently now, he whispered, “Cugino, your life mate is very pretty.”
“Yes, she is,” Raffaele agreed solemnly, his gaze sliding over her as well. Her lips were full and looked soft, her nose straight, and while they were closed now, he knew her eyes were large and lovely, and an eggshell blue. Her hair, of course, was wet, but appeared to be a dark brown.
“What is her name?” Santo asked, moving closer to look her over as well.
Raffaele stiffened at the question. “I don’t know her name,” he admitted.
“You didn’t ask her?” Santo asked with surprise.
Raffaele shook his head.
“Are you kidding me?” Zanipolo asked with disbelief. “You finally meet your mate and you did not even ask her name?”
Raffaele opened his mouth to respond, but was forestalled when the woman in his arms suddenly began to shriek and thrash wildly about.

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of VAMPIRES LIKE IT HOT by Lynsay Sands, we’re giving away a paperback copy of Twice Bitten!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Twice Bitten by Lynsay Sands.  This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 9/28/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address.  Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About Lynsay Sands

LYNSAY SANDS is the nationally bestselling author of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series, as well as numerous historicals and anthologies. She’s been writing stories since grade school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through her stories, and if there’s occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that’s just a big bonus. Please visit her on the web at
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

Monday, September 17, 2018

Pure Textuality PR Blog Tour Dare You To Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch

The first installment in the Hometown Antihero series by Amber Lynn Natusch.

When her FBI agent father is framed for murder, Kylene is forced to move in with her grandfather, back to the small town that turned its back on her, and the boy who betrayed her.

All Ky cares about is clearing her father’s name, but someone won’t let her forget the photo scandal that drove her away two years ago. As the threats gain momentum, Ky finds an unlikely ally in the annoyingly attractive rookie FBI agent sent to keep an eye on her.
Determined to expose the town’s hidden skeletons, Ky unwittingly thrusts herself into a much bigger plot. They thought she’d forgive and forget. They’re about to learn they messed with the wrong girl.

DARE YOU TO LIE, a young adult mystery read perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, Pretty Little Liars, or Riverdale.

About the Book

Dare You To Lie
by Amber Lynn Natusch

Hometown Antihero Book One

Young Adult
Mystery / Suspense

Tor Teen

Publication Date
September 4, 2018

Purchase Your Copy Today!
Barnes & Noble  |  Amazon  |  Kobo  |  iBooks  |  Indiebound

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of DARE YOU TO LIE by Amber Lynn Natusch, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!  
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Amber Lynn Natusch.  Giveaway ends 9/18/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About Amber Lynn Natusch

AMBER LYNN NATUSCH is the author of the bestselling Caged series for adults. She was born and raised in Winnipeg, and is still deeply attached to her Canadian roots. She loves to dance and practice Muay Thai―but spends most of her time running a chiropractic practice with her husband, raising two young children, and attempting to write when she can lock herself in the bathroom for ten minutes of peace. Dare You to Lie is her debut YA novel with Tor Teen.
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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Pure Textuality PR Blog Tour Summer of Scandal by Syrie James

About the Book

Summer of Scandal
by Syrie James
Dare to Defy Series

*Each novel is a standalone story.

Historical Romance
Avon Impulse
Publication Date
September 11, 2018
Purchase Your Copy Today!
Amazon  |  Avon Romance  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play  |  iBooks

Madeleine Atherton is no typical American heiress, sent to England to marry an English lord. A brilliant college graduate who secretly dreams of becoming a published author, she wants to marry for love. After receiving a proposal from a future duke, Madeleine flees the London Season for Cornwall to seek her sister’s advice, never expecting her decision to be complicated by a charming, handsome earl she’s certain she dislikes—even though his every touch sets her blood on fire.

Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, has secrets and ambitions of his own. Although under pressure from his mother and gravely ill father to marry his cousin, Charles cannot find the words to propose. But this fascinating American visitor does not figure into his plans, either.

Thrown together unexpectedly at Trevelyan Manor, Madeleine and Charles struggle to rise above their intense attraction. But as things heat up between them over a summer that becomes increasingly scandalous, Madeleine and Charles will both be forced to make a difficult choice. Can two dreamers dare to defy convention and find their own happily ever after?



Charles’s heart began drumming to a different cadence as he made his way across the golden expanse of sand. The ocean setting in all its fresh, morning glory was a fitting backdrop for the woman who, in a peach-colored dress that clung to her perfect figure like a second skin, resembled a goddess newly risen from the sea.
“Miss Atherton!”
Charles wasn’t certain if his voice had carried over the crash of the waves and the raucous calls of the gulls. He tried again.
This time, she turned in surprise. Good lord, she was beautiful. The wind brought out the roses in her cheeks and whipped through her skirts and the loose tendrils of her upswept hair.
He ventured closer and tipped his hat. “Good morning.”
“Good morning.” Her eyes and voice held a note of reluctance, as if undecided as to whether or not she was pleased to see him.
“Collecting seashells?”
“I am.” She held up a small cloth bag. “And stones. For Julia and Lillie. They are fond of them.”
“What a nice gesture.” Standing this close, looking down at her lovely face, he realized he had been wrong about the color of her eyes. Under the bright morning sun, they were more cobalt than indigo.
Stop waxing poetic about her eyes.
He drew a line in the sand with the toe of his boot. “I understand you are leaving us today?” Despite himself, he couldn’t disguise the remorse he felt at the prospect.
She hesitated, as if surprised by his tone and what it implied; yet her guard was still visibly in place. “A carriage is coming for me in a little over an hour.”
“I am glad, then, that I caught you before you left. I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to say farewell.”
“That was thoughtful of you.”
He gestured for them to walk on together. As they strode across the hard-packed sand, he groped for words. “I hope you did not suffer a chill from our little adventure in the rain the other day?”
“Thankfully, no.”
He darted a glance at her. Their eyes briefly met and held. He saw her cheeks grow rosy. Was she thinking about the horseback ride? The near-kiss? Or both? She looked away without further comment.
“I know you felt uneasy about riding astride,” he commented. “I hope you have not berated yourself for that.”
“I haven’t. It was the sensible thing to do at the time.”
“I hope, as well, that you will forgive me for joining you on Tesla’s back. It was not, perhaps, the most gentlemanly thing I have ever done . . .” He broke off.
“It’s all right. It was pouring cats and dogs. We had to get back to the house as quickly as possible.”
“And so we did.”
“And so we did,” she repeated.
Her eyes met his again, now visibly and unexpectedly on the edge of mirth. They both let out a laugh, relieving the tension between them. A seagull squawked overhead, then swooped down to collect some unseen tidbit from the wet sand nearby.
“If it helps, I promise to never breathe a word of it to anyone,” he told her.
“Well. Just so you know: I saw a curtain fluttering when you rode off. I’m pretty sure Woodson saw us.”
“How do you know? Did he say something?”
“Just that he understood why we had both missed tea. And he gave me . . . a look.”
“Ah. A look from Woodson can speak volumes.”
“He didn’t seem to be passing judgment, though.”
“As well he shouldn’t. We were the bedraggled survivors of a downpour, returning to home and hearth.”
“Indeed we were.” Miss Atherton laughed again. “He also mentioned that he is married. To Martin! I had no idea.”
“They are the heart and soul of our household, and have been these many years. I cannot imagine what we should do without them.” The morning sun was growing hotter. Charles lifted his hat, running his fingers through his hair to cool his head, wishing this moment could last forever.
“They are certainly devoted to your family,” Miss Atherton agreed. “I have been meaning to ask. Is there any news about your father? He has been indisposed almost the entire time I have been here. I worry about him.”
“I worry, too. Dr. Hancock has apparently been here every day. All we can do, I am told, is to pray for my father.”
“I have been, and will continue to do so. I wish with all my heart that he will soon be well.”
“You and me both, Miss Atherton. We should probably make a wish on that at the wishing pool.”
“The wishing pool? What is that?”
“It’s a pool of freshwater which, according to legend, is magical. If you drink the water and make a wish, it will come true.” He pointed to the nearby cliffs with a smile. “We have our own local wishing pool just around that bend.”
“Is that so? I would love to see it.”
“Would you?” He paused. “It is in a cave.”
“I love caves almost as much as I love legends.”
“Well, then. Come with me.” Charles led the way down the beach to the mouth of the cave, which was so hidden by the enclave of craggy black rocks surrounding it as to be imperceptible to anyone casually strolling by.
“What a charming spot,” Miss Atherton commented. “I would never have found it on my own.”
“All part of its magic.” Charles hesitated, uncertain of her intention. “If you prefer to go in on your own, I would understand. I can try to tell you how to reach the magic pool. But it is a bit tricky.”
“I see. I suppose it would be most improper for us to venture in at the same time, without a chaperone.” As she said it, her lips curved up mischievously.
He found himself staring at those lips. Imagining what it would be like to taste them.
It was no wonder she was talking about chaperones. Charles gave himself a mental shake.
“I was just teasing.” She laughed lightly, and in a more determined tone went on, “Please, lead the way.”
He wasn’t sure if it was the best idea in the world to go into such a secluded place with her alone. But any further protest would only make clear his own secret longings. So he did as bidden, determined to be a gentleman. Inside the cool interior, the cave opened up into a space the size of a small bedroom, its dark granite walls carved by water and time.
“Follow me,” Charles told her. The profusion of small stones which infused the sandy floor crunched beneath their feet as they advanced, the light growing dimmer with each step. “Can you see?”
“Not very well,” she admitted.
“If you will allow me to take your hand,” he offered, “I can better guide you from here.”
She paused only the briefest of seconds, then complied. Neither of them were wearing gloves. He felt a spark ignite as his hand clasped hers and sensed, from her small intake of breath, that she felt it as well. His heart began to patter in his chest.
“It gets darker as we go,” he said, “but our eyes will adjust. At the pool itself, there is a fissure that lets in a bit of natural light.”
She nodded and they moved forward, hand in hand. It was such a casual contact, this hand-holding, yet his pulse was pounding as strongly as if he were brushing his fingers over her naked form.
There you go again. Envisioning her naked.
Stop it stop it stop it.
The sound of dripping echoed in the distance, increasing in volume as they moved deeper into the cave. He guided her through a series of channels in the rock, past columns, stalagmites, and stalactites. After one final turn through a narrow passage, they entered an open chamber at the end of the cave and stopped.
“Oh!” Miss Atherton said in wonder.
They stood in a roundish chamber, enclosed by rock walls that stretched to a high ceiling. The air felt cool and damp. A narrow fracture above connected somehow to the outer cliff, because it let in a shaft of sunlight that illuminated the interior and sparkled on the surface of the small blue-green pool before them.
“Is it really freshwater?” Miss Atherton asked, her voice echoing slightly inside the chamber. As if suddenly aware that she no longer needed guidance, she let go of his hand.
He regretted the loss of her touch. “Yes, it filters down from the bluffs above.” In confirmation, a drop of water could be seen and heard as it plinked into the pool. “There are many caves with freshwater pools all along the Cornwall coast. I am told they all come with legends, some hundreds of years old.”
She gazed about in fascination. “It is a rather magical place.”
Charles turned to gaze at her. She made such a lovely picture standing there, just a foot or two away. The damp air had caused a few of her curls to frizz becomingly into ringlets around her face. Her peach gown fit so snugly that it showed off her every curve. Her rhythmic breathing was doing its own kind of magic, drawing his attention to her bosom, which was rising and falling and making it impossible to look away.
“How does the magic work, again?” she asked.
He blinked twice, yanking his gaze back up where it belonged, on her face. “You drink the water and at the same time, make a wish.”
“I see. Shall we?”
He nodded. “You first.”
“All right.” She set her bag of shells on the damp rocky outcropping fronting the pool and bent down. After pausing in thought, she scooped up a handful of water. “I wish that Lord Trevelyan will get well soon.” She sipped from her palm.
The simple act looked so wanton to his errant brain, he struggled to regain his wits.
“Can I make another wish?” she asked, looking up at him.
“There is no limit on the number of wishes, as far as I know.”
“All right.” She dipped her hand again, this time closing her eyes and, apparently, making a silent wish before drinking. With a smile, she stood. “The water tastes delicious.”
Staring at her, Charles could think of a few other things that would also taste delicious. He cleared his throat. “What was your second wish?”
“I cannot tell you,” she answered in a tone of mock-mystery, “or it might not come true.”
“Is that an American superstition?”
“I believe it’s a commonly held superstition, where wishes are concerned.”
“It is the first I have heard of it in Cornwall.”
“Well, even an earl can learn new things.” She gestured toward the pool with a smile. “Your turn.”
Charles removed his hat and rested it on a ledge. He bent down, dipped a cupped hand into the pool, and drank, dashing off the following: “May my father live to a ripe old age.”
He stood. Silence stretched between them, slow and catlike. There was no sound other than the intermittent drip of the water and the pounding of Charles’s heart, which was so loud in his ears now, he worried that she could hear it.
“I wonder,” she said softly, “how many people have come here over the centuries, and what they wished for.”
“I suppose some were fishermen and their wives from the village,” he suggested. “Wishing for a good catch.”
“Some might have been women wishing for their husbands’ safe return from sea.”
“Or farmers wishing for a good harvest.”
“Or men and women wishing for a loved one to return to health.”
“Or lovers making a wish for their future.” His breath caught. He had not planned to say that. The words seemed to hang in the air like a live thing between them. Lovers.
Their eyes met, and for a long moment neither of them moved. Tension coiled within his body and vibrated in the air between them. He was so aware of her nearness, he couldn’t speak. From the expression on her face, she was equally aware of him.
In the small, intimate chamber, Charles could hear her every intake of breath, which was coming as fast and unsteady as his own. He felt as if he were suspended in time. They were alone in this quiet spot. In an hour or so, she would be gone. This opportunity would never come again.
Desire came over him, hot and heavy. Charles knew it was wrong. Reckless. Irresponsible. But if he did not kiss her, he would spend the rest of his life replaying this moment in his mind, wishing that he had.
His arms were out before he could stop himself. Sweeping around her waist. Drawing her to him. One hand cradling the back of her neck, angling her head so that her lips were just inches from his.
Through the layers of their clothing, he could feel the thud of her heart against his chest, a rapid pounding that matched his own. He drank in the vivid blueness of her gaze that seemed to say, Yes. Yes. Yes.
And then he kissed her.

The Inspiration Behind my Dare to Defy Series By Syrie James

It has been such a pleasure to write my new Dare to Defy series for Avon Impulse. The concept—about smart, feisty American heiresses and high-achieving, swoon-worthy British noblemen who dare to go against the conventions of Victorian society to achieve their dreams—began with my own fascination with the time period in which the novels are set. So many things were changing during the late Victorian era. It was an age of immense creativity and invention, and yet in many ways societies was still very backward, which is a great source of conflict.

The basis for the characters in the books were inspired, in part, by my love of Downton Abbey. In the TV series, the Earl of Grantham married his wife Cora, an American heiress, because he needed her fortune to save his struggling estate. When I researched the subject I was fascinated to discover that, from the Gilded Age to the end of the 20th century, many hundreds of real life American heiresses married impoverished English noblemen, exchanging money for a title.

I was particularly moved by the heart-wrenching story of Consuelo Vanderbilt. Her father’s immense fortune was considered too “nouveau riche” for Mrs. Astor, who ran New York society. In 1895, Consuelo’s domineering, calculating mother forced her to marry the 9th Duke of Marlborough to gain the title of duchess, an honor which finally opened the doors for the Vanderbilt family to New York society’s prized inner circle. But the marriage was miserable and ended in divorce.

Consuelo’s story inspired the predicament that opens Runaway Heiress, book one in my Dare to Defy series. In Runaway Heiress, my heroine is being similarly forced to marry a man she despises. She runs away to escape, everything goes wrong, and she ends up in Cornwall, where she discovers that the identity she’s forced to hide may come between her and the only man she has ever loved. I was also inspired by one of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s (author of The Secret Garden) lesser-known novels, The Shuttle, in which an American heiress falls in love with an impoverished English earl who is too proud to accept any help to save his ancient, beleaguered estate.

Madeleine Atherton and Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, are introduced in Runaway Heiress, and it was great fun to put them front and center in Summer of Scandal and tell their story. The main characters in this series each have a strong creative passion which they have to hide because it’s frowned on by society. I loved writing about people like that, people who, despite the rules and against all odds, are driven to achieve something that’s deeply meaningful to them. I made Charles an inventor because I’m fascinated by how many patents were taken out in the Victorian era—it was a time of immense ingenuity. Madeleine aspires to be a novelist because—well, that one’s a no brainer! It was very satisfying to give her my own passion; I knew exactly what she was thinking and feeling. And just wait until you see what I’ve I’ve dreamed up for book 3 in the series!

Meanwhile, I hope readers enjoy Summer of Scandal and Runaway Heiress as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of SUMMER OF SCANDAL by Syrie James, we’re giving away one paperback copy of Runaway Heiress!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Runaway Heiress by Syrie James. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 9/24/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About the Author

SYRIE JAMES is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Nocturne; Dracula, My Love; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel 2008, Library Journal.) An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things 19th century. She lives in Los Angeles and is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America.
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Q And A With Syrie James

How do you research your novels?

Research is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. Every time I research a new book, I learn so much. I don’t have a set amount of time for research, I just keep studying, reading, gathering notes and images, and interviewing people until I feel I know enough about my chosen topic to begin writing the novel. Along the way, I always have to pause and do more research because new questions come up.

Whether a story is historical or contemporary, I like to choose an occupation for the characters that fascinates me, and then I research the heck out of it. I’ve met with people in many dozens of fields, spent days with them at work, and tried to walk in their shoes so that I really understand what their daily life is like.

Historical fiction novels take the most research time, because I not only have to learn about the people and place I’m writing about but also every aspect of the era: the clothing, food, houses, social mores, manners, opinions, customs, expectations between the sexes—there are a million details and I am determined to portray it all as accurately as possible. In Runaway Heiress, for example, the heroine rides a train from London to Cornwall. I had to find out what train routes existed in England in 1888, where the stops were, what the passenger cars looked like inside and out, and how long the journey would have taken based on the speed of trains of the era—information which was tricky to find. In Summer of Scandal, my hero, Charles Grayson, is a passionately devoted inventor. I did a great deal of research to determine the kinds of machines and devices he invents, and to bring his work to life accurately in the novel.

When it comes to research, I also make a point of visiting the places I’m writing about whenever possible. I like to immerse myself in that world. Even if my location is fictitious, I often base it on a real place to make it feel more authentic. The one exception to this was in my wintry love story Nocturne. I’ve had many readers ask if they can visit the estate that inspired Michael Tyler’s house on that remote Colorado mountain top—but it was entirely the product of my imagination. ☺

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

To me, writing from the POV of a man is like acting, and I really enjoy putting myself into a man’s head! I’ve been married for over 40 years and raised two sons to adulthood, so I feel like I’ve spent enough time around men to “get” them. I loved writing from the heroes’ points of view in Summer of Scandal and Runaway Heiress. I have such respect for Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, and Thomas Carlyle, the Earl of Longford. They are good, decent men who are incredibly talented and passionately devoted to their work and, ultimately, to the heroine. It was fun to “become” them for a while; they became so real to me that I often felt I was jotting down the thoughts and feelings of actual people.

When my son Ryan and I sold the novel we co-wrote, Forbidden, to HarperTeen, our editor asked us to revise it and tell 50% of the story from the hero’s POV. Ryan was unavailable to work on the book at that point, so I wrote all of the new “Alec POV scenes” myself. In many of the reviews we received, people presumed that all the Alec scenes were written by Ryan and that I must have written all the Claire scenes, which was untrue. I loved getting into the head of my hero!

How many hours a day do you write?

When I’m working on a book I try to write about 6-8 hours a day. If it weren’t for my husband reminding me, I wouldn’t even stop for lunch. When I’m into a story, I never want to stop. I’m beginning to realize, though, that I need to take more breaks! Not just for food and fresh air, but to give my body a break. I got a height-adjustable desk a few years ago and that has made a big difference.

What did you edit out of this book?

Actually … nothing. I outlined the novel carefully and managed to write just what was needed to tell the story, without anything extraneous … which is pretty rare for me!

How do you select the names of your characters?

Choosing names is an important part of my writing process. I go online and study popular first names and surnames for the era and region in which my novel takes place, narrowing it down to a list of favorites. I assign names from that list to all the characters, giving particular attention to the names of my hero and heroine—I have to really love their names and feel that it represents who they are. Sometimes, a character’s name just pops into my head, and I have to research it to make sure the name is appropriate to that era and nationality. There have also been times when I’ve changed the name of a character hallway through a book—thank goodness for Microsoft Word’s “replace” feature!

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’d probably be an elementary school teacher. I love young children. I volunteered as a teacher’s aid for years during high school and college, and spent several summers as a camp counselor. I married young right out of college, though, and didn’t get a teaching credential. So I poured my love for kids into raising our two sons (who are the delight of my life), and put my English degree to good use writing novels and screenplays.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Ha! What a fun question. I think every book of mine has a little hidden “Easter egg” in it, even if it was unconsciously done. Here are a few that come to mind: In my novel Nocturne, the heroine is from San Jose, where I grew up. I also included a reference to the title character from my novel Dracula, My Love. In Jane Austen’s First Love, Jane’s mother calls her interest in novel-writing a “hobby” and insists she devote more time to her sewing skills (which is word for word, what my own mother often said to me.) In Summer of Scandal, Madeleine Atherton is also an aspiring author, a pursuit she knows her mother would frown upon as being unworthy of an heiress. It was such fun to give my own love of novel-writing to these characters, whose passions I understood so completely. And it was therapeutic to include a mother who (although her views may have been well-intentioned) didn’t really understand her.

Here’s a “secret” about Runaway Heiress: I filled the book with homages to one of my favorite novels, Jane Eyre. Alexandra Atherton is an American heiress who, to avoid marriage to a horrific man, disguises herself and (like Jane Eyre) ends up working as a governess at an ancestral manor home in the English countryside, where she falls in love with her employer. Many nods to favorite moments in Jane Eyre are sprinkled throughout. I was frustrated by the lack of physical intimacy (and sex) in Jane Eyre, and excited to have the opportunity to put lots of it in my novel, where I hope I made the hero as swoon-worthy as Mr. Rochester!

What was your hardest scene to write?

The first ten pages of every novel are always the most difficult to write. There’s so much you have to accomplish in such a short amount of time. You have to establish the main character, explain her goal succinctly and with only the merest dash of back story, throw a problem at her right off the bat, introduce the hero as quickly as possible in a situation that is intriguing, humorous, or fraught with conflict, and delve immediately into the action, all (hopefully) in a compelling manner that hooks the reader and keeps them turning pages to find out what will happen next. Whew! It usually takes many drafts to get those first pages—the entire first chapter, really—right.

What is your favorite childhood book?

The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and The Children of Noisy Village, by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. I read those books over and over as a child, and I still enjoy re-reading them.

Does your family support your career as a writer?

I’m so lucky. I have the most supportive family in the world. My husband Bill has championed my desire to be a writer since the day we met in college. He’s always there to listen and offer advice when I have a story problem or research question. He’s the first person to read the first draft of every novel, and he understands when I’m sometimes staring into space or not answering his question that I’m actually somewhere else, writing in my head. I shared my love of writing with our sons Ryan and Jeff while they were growing up, reading aloud to them every day and explaining the elements of story structure and character development so they would better understand the books we were enjoying. As a result, they are both brilliant storytellers who offer me great feedback on my books and scripts, and both put their skills to work today in the video game business. I’ve also had the pleasure of writing a couple of screenplays as well as two novels (Forbidden and its sequel, Embolden, due out October 30) with my son Ryan.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Every book is different—the length of time it takes to write depends on how much research is involved and what else is going on in my personal life. If everything goes well, I usually take 6 – 9 months to write a novel. The fastest I’ve ever written a book was 3 months, but I don’t recommend it— I never left the house and don’t think I changed out of my pajamas! On the other hand, it took me two years to write The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte because I spent so much time researching.