Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Black Unicorn + Giveaway

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The Black Unicorn
by Heather E.F. Carter
Publication date: June 1st 2021
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance

The Year is 1792. The French Revolution rages in Paris, the French monarchy abolished, and William Pitt is about to declare war on the Revolutionary government. But all London Society can talk about is the enigmatic highwayman known as the Black Unicorn.

Newly widowed Elina has no time for highwaymen or politics. Freed from her brutal seven-year-marriage, she is fiercely protective of two things: her new freedom, and her two sisters. But when Elina’s family is mistakenly stopped by the Black Unicorn on their way up to the North Yorkshire Moors, and her sister is savagely attacked by one of his men, revenge consumes Elina. For the sake of her sister, she will destroy the Black Unicorn.

And the shooting party at Scarcliffe Towers seems the perfect place to ensnare the mysterious figure.

Another guest at the party, Ashby Harcourt, is known to London Society as the beautiful Portuguese libertine. Elina knows him simply as the whoring companion of her late husband. But this dark Northumberland lord is a man with secrets: a secret love for Elina Brinkley, the daughter of the lofty Marquess of Hertford, and a secret life as the Black Unicorn. But as Elina unravels the mystery surrounding the man behind the mask, she discovers that the Black Unicorn is so much more than just a highwayman.

Goodreads / Amazon


EXCERPT:

Having reached the opposite wall, the dancers executed a quarter turn to face each other and proceeded through a short advance and then a lengthier, intricately choreographed retreat. Then they moved through another quarter turn to face the Presence, and my breath caught in my throat as I caught my first glimpse of his face.

Damnation.

He was not English, at least not entirely. His dark coloring did not harken back to the raiders from Normandy, but rather to blood whispering of heat-scorched mornings, afternoon siestas, and the lazy currents of warm bluish-green waters. His eyes, though I knew from long experience to be blue, appeared now as dark as his hair, and were fringed with sooty lashes so impossibly thick and long they cast permanent shadows beneath them, lending him a thoroughly debauched air.

In fact, his beauty was staggering; the sort a Michelangelo or a Raphael might have found in some Mediterranean brothel; an incubus to be immortalized by lending a face to divinity.

He advanced towards us, the light shimmering around him like the gentle waves of the flautist’s vibrato as he moved through the intricate series of steps.

“Who is he?” Charlotte queried from my other side. “I do not think I have ever seen him before.”

“That is Ashby Harcourt,” I said. “Earl of Ashenhurst up in Northumberland and whoring companion to my late husband.”

 

Author Bio:

Heather E. F. Carter writes historical fiction, historical romance, and erotic short stories. Though a lifetime Southern Californian, the settings of her novels are not foreign to her, having spent time each year in her parents’ hometown in Northern England. An accomplished academic, she combines her areas of expertise with her passion as she weaves historically authentic and timelessly relevant tales of love and intrigue. Having earned a B.A. in European history from UCLA, an M.A. in Medieval Women’s History from CSUF, and an M.A. in Early Modern History from UCLA, she left her studies midway through a doctorate in eighteenth-century English history when she discovered her passion and propensity for writing novels. While on a year’s leave of absence in her sixth year at UCLA, she put her doctoral research to good use writing THE BLACK UNICORN, a historical romance set in eighteenth-century North Yorkshire. Fascinated with Baroness Orczy” Scarlet Pimpernel stories, she was inspired to explore her first love, Sir Percy Blakeney, and wondered what he might have looked like if he were a little less heroic. That idea, combined with her love for vampire stories and the classic Gothic hero, led to the creation of Ashby Harcourt, also known as the highwayman behind the sobriquet The Back Unicorn. Her family’s history on the gothic North Yorkshire Moors, which grew in her annual visits with her beloved grandmother, was a natural choice for the setting. Heather’s passion for the research and writing of THE BLACK UNICORN comes alive on the pages through the vivid scenes and seductive dialogue. As you surely will, she fell in love with her story, so much so that she eventually chose to leave academia to pursue writing fiction full time. When she is not setting the pages on fire with her steamy romance, she is spending time at home in Sand Diego with her musician husband, Terry Carter, their adorable and precocious twins, and pet snake, Zanzibar. Music runs in the family, and Heather also plays the flute and supports her husband’s burgeoning ukulele empire. Currently she is researching Revolutionary Paris for the sequel to THE BLACK UNICORN.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram


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Spotlight & Excerpt: Chasing the Bride + Giveaway

CHASING THE BRIDE

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the CHASING THE BRIDE by Erica Ridley Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

Title: CHASING THE BRIDE
(Lords in Love #6)

Author: Erica Ridley

Pub. Date: June 9, 2023

Publisher: WebMotion

Formats:  Paperback, eBook

Pages: 197

Find it: Goodreads, books2read 

 

In this fast, feel-good romp from a New York Times bestselling author, forbidden love blooms between a runaway bride and the man sent to find her…

Lady Tabitha Kerr was promised at birth to be the Viscount Oldfield’s bride. Their families had warred for generations, and this union will heal the longstanding rift. But Tabitha doesn’t want to be a pawn—or a consolation prize. She dreams of a love match, and failing that, at least one night of true love. Even if she has to run away to find it!

As Viscount Oldfield’s trusted man of business, Mr. Hudson Frampton is his lordship’s right-hand man, attack dog, and fixer. When a nervous bride jilts the viscount at the altar, Hudson is meant to find and return her to his employer posthaste. He is not supposed to fall in love. Or kiss his employer’s bride. Or say yes when Tabitha makes an indecent proposal that will ruin them both…

 

 


Excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

London, 1818

Lady Tabitha Kerr stood just outside the door to her father’s sickroom, trying to catch her breath. Although he had never been particularly demonstrative, her father was a good man. She knew this. It was why she had spent a lifetime trying her hardest to please him. And yet what the marquess was forcing his only child to do would confine Tabitha to a life of misery.

She rolled back her shoulders. She could no longer postpone the inevitable. She was a lady now. It was time to act like one. Tabitha tapped her knuckles against the door. It opened instantly. Mr. Hudson Frampton had beaten all other servants to the soft knock. Or else he’d been standing within reach of the handle, which was unlikely. Her betrothed’s guard dog never left his employer’s side, except to follow a direct order. Mr. Frampton always seemed to be everywhere at once, and capable of absolutely anything.

At the moment, he was gazing at her gravely. His solemn expression did nothing to lessen his distracting handsomeness. He was no gentleman, and it showed. His brown hair was a little too long, his cravat creased carelessly, his strong jaw already shadowed with stubble at three o’clock in the

afternoon. The omnipresent air of danger emanated from his conspicuous muscles.

He looked like a highwayman, not a viscount’s man of business. Though perhaps the two roles were not so dissimilar. A highwayman robbed passing carriages. Lord Oldfield’s infamous man of business had his fingers in every investment opportunity in London, often reaping greater rewards for the viscount than enjoyed by the poor souls who owned or executed the various operations.

“He’s waiting for you,” Mr. Frampton said softly, his dark brown eyes unreadable.

“Don’t you mean they’re waiting for me?” Lady Tabitha murmured, her correction tinged with bitterness. Viscount Oldfield might be Mr. Frampton’s employer, but both men were in the sickroom of Tabitha’s father.

Mr. Frampton’s dark eyes glittered. “You are, of course, correct. My apologies.”

“It’s all right,” she mumbled under her breath.

It was not all right. Life as she knew it would soon be over. The father she adored, dead. And the sly viscount of equally advanced age standing at the marquess’s bedside… would soon own Tabitha outright, thanks to the legal glories of holy matrimony.

Mr. Frampton stepped aside to let her in.

Tabitha pasted on a smile and went straight to her father, passing both the odious Viscount Oldfield and the kindly physician Dr. Collins in her hurry to kiss her father’s pale forehead and assure herself he would not be leaving her this day, at least.

“Daughter,” the marquess rasped. “A welcome sight for sore eyes.” Her own eyes stung. That was one of the kindest things he had ever said to her. Perhaps confronting his mortality had likewise caused him to cherish the sole familial connection he had left.

“Always my pleasure, Father.” She lifted his frail hand in hers and sent a questioning look toward the physician.

“Stable,” Dr. Collins pronounced, loud enough for the marquess to hear. Then he dropped his white-whiskered mouth to Tabitha’s ear. “But not for long. A month or two, at best. And at worst…”

She pulled her ear away before she could hear the rest of the good doctor’s diagnosis. Tabitha patted her father’s hand instead. A wasting disease was one of the worst ways to die. It stretched on too long. Day after day of knowing death was coming, wiggling its hook in a little more with each passing breath.

It had been two months already. When her father was first diagnosed, they had thought the marquess might hold on for six more months, mayhap another year. But he grew weaker by the day and had been bed-bound for over a month, unable to rise without assistance. This past week, her father had ceased being able to feed himself. The effort of lifting a cup or a fork was too much. Every limb trembled, and every part of him ached.

Tabitha hated seeing him like this. He’d once been so vibrant. Afternoons spent fencing with his friends, or riding his favorite stallion in the park. As much as she appreciated having the opportunity to say goodbye, watching her father die a little more each day was torture.

For his sake, she wished a swift end to his suffering. But for her sake… Father’s inevitable demise was the worst thing that could happen. “You haven’t… greeted your… betrothed,” rasped the marquess. Tabitha gritted her teeth behind a brittle smile and turned the pleasantest face she could muster toward Viscount Oldfield—who, it must be noted, had not greeted her either.

According to legend, such lack of manners was one of the many reasons their families had warred for generations. Both sides believed the other beneath them. Neither side was willing to bend.

Until Father. Bless him and curse him.

Tabitha did not curtsey to her betrothed. “Lord Oldfield. Please forgive my tardiness in greeting you.”

The viscount ran his eyes over her as though he were imagining her naked. “Bah. I’ve no need for a wife who talks,” he murmured, too low for her father to overhear.

Yes. This man thirty-plus years her senior desired her for reasons unrelated to conversation.

Such was her impending marital bliss.

She turned and dropped to her knees beside her father’s sickbed. “Papa, surely you can see—”

“This union will heal a centuries-old rift,” he reminded her, sensing the direction of her plea and putting a stop to it before she could embarrass them both in front of the viscount. “You should be proud to be a vessel of peace.”

A vessel. That was exactly what she was going to be. A hard, empty vessel for Lord Oldfield to fill at his whim and to use as he saw fit. Such unceasing attentions might break her.

“He’s a lord,” the marquess said hoarsely. “You should be grateful I’ve given you to such a fine friend. You might recall that Oldfield saved my life. I can never fully repay him for that. From the moment he and I first guarded the trenches together—”

Another war story. Heaven save her, Lady Tabitha had heard them all, dozens or hundreds of times each.

Father and Viscount Oldfield had met as British soldiers stationed together in the French revolutionary war, in the early 1790s. They’d both been raised to despise the other’s family, but nonetheless had become unlikely friends, united against a common foe. And when it had mattered most, Oldfield had been there for the marquess.

“He’s like a brother to me,” Father continued.

Tabitha wanted to scream, You wouldn’t betroth your daughter to your brother, much less whilst still in the womb, but she held silent. It didn’t matter what she said. Father was the marquess, and his word was law.

“Besides,” her father said gently. “You’ve always hated to see people upset or at odds. Your marriage will wipe clean a century of bigotry and prejudice. You should be proud to play such an important role, daughter. You love to restore peace. And a titled match makes you the envy of your peers. You have better fortune than most.”

Yes, yes, all of that was true, but…

Still on her knees at her father’s side, Tabitha cast a despairing glance up at Viscount Oldfield. He leered at her, displaying the multicolored teeth jockeying in his mouth. He’d lost several in the war. All of which had been replaced by teeth scavenged from the French corpses littering the battlefield.

She would get to think of that every time the viscount kissed her. Tabitha shuddered. She couldn’t help it.

“It’s your turn to serve the greater good, daughter.” Father tilted his head toward the viscount. “Can you procure a special license?” “No!” Tabitha scrambled to her feet. “I cannot marry yet. I’m not ready. This is… It isn’t a good time. In fact, I won’t have a free moment for a fortnight. I’m…” What could she conceivably be doing that would be more important than marrying a viscount? “I-I’ve already promised to attend the May Day festival in Marrywell. It lasts a week, and I must leave by morning to arrive for the opening ceremony.”

Father held her gaze, then cast his exhausted eyes up toward Dr. Collins. “If we read the banns first, what are the chances I will live long enough to attend the wedding ceremony?”

Tabitha sagged with relief—and guilt. She did not wish to disappoint her father or to cause him pain. A good daughter knew her duty and

fulfilled it without question. Was she being selfish by not rushing into an unwanted marriage with a lecherous roué over twice her age? “Shall you last another three weeks, milord? I should think so,” said the physician. “You’re not quite at death’s door yet.”

“But I have arrived outside its residence,” the marquess said dryly, only to be wracked by a rattling cough.

Viscount Oldfield jerked his gaze toward his attack dog. “Hudson, see that the first banns are read tomorrow.”

Mr. Frampton nodded. “It will be done.”

Lady Tabitha let out her breath. The banns would be read three consecutive Sundays. Fifteen days total, from the first reading to the last. It was not much of a reprieve, but it was at least something.

“Oldfield,” rasped the marquess. “Procure a special license as well. If I should worsen faster than expected…”

Tabitha swallowed. Her final fortnight of freedom would be curtailed in a second if there was cause to believe her father unable to hold on for the full reading of the banns.

“Consider it done,” Mr. Frampton assured both men, without looking at Tabitha.

The marquess’s pale blue eyes found his daughter. “Daughter…” “I know, Father,” she murmured. “I promise to make you proud.” Even if it destroyed any hope of her own happiness.

Seeing his only child wed to his old comrade-in-arms was the marquess’s literal dying wish. The marriage would bring peace after generations of fighting. And the promise had already been made.

Only a monster would prioritize her own selfish preferences above the wishes of her dying father and the peace and happiness her sacrifice would bring future generations.

She sighed. A daughter’s duty was to her father. Any other, less privileged young lady wouldn’t even view this marriage as a sacrifice.

Viscount Oldfield was wealthy and titled. An unattainable dream, for most. A coup Tabitha had lucked into from birth, no effort required. She was fortunate. The envy of debutantes everywhere, who would take her place at the altar in a heartbeat.

Tabitha wished she could let them.

“As it happens,” said Viscount Oldfield, as he resumed his open leering, “I have plans to attend the May Day festival as well.”

Oh no.

The viscount dipped his eyes toward Tabitha’s bodice. “You can ride with me.”

An eight-hour drive trapped in a private carriage with him? Untenable. “Of course,” the viscount continued, “I cannot leave until Wednesday —”

Tabitha seized on the opening. “I cannot wait that long. I’ve several appointments to keep, and must be off at first light. I’m very sorry the timing doesn’t—”

Viscount Oldfield gestured at Mr. Frampton. “Go with her.” “What? There’s no need to send your—” Attack dog. “—man of business,” she protested. “Mr. Frampton belongs with you. Besides, I already have a maid. One who is well-versed in playing chaperone.” “Tabitha,” gasped the marquess. “Do as your future husband commands. You will soon vow to love and obey him. It wouldn’t hurt to start practicing that obedience now.”

She ground her teeth behind a tight smile. “Very well. I’ll take Mr. Frampton. We’ll meet you at the festival, Lord Oldfield.”

His eyes still hadn’t left her bodice. “See that you do.”

Tabitha nodded woodenly. Her fortnight of freedom had become anything but free. Instead, she was trapped.

Tomorrow’s long journey was the beginning of the end.


About Erica Ridley:

 

Erica Ridley is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of of witty, feel good historical romance novels, including THE DUKE HEIST, featuring the Wild Wynchesters. Why seduce a duke the normal way, when you can accidentally kidnap one in an elaborately planned heist?

In the 12 Dukes of Christmas series, enjoy witty, heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke!

Two other popular series, the Dukes of War and Rogues to Riches, feature roguish peers and dashing war heroes who find love amongst the splendor and madness of Regency England.

When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found eating couscous in Morocco, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.

Sign up for Erica’s newsletter! Sign up today and get a FREE BOOK—plus giveaways, discounts, insider info, contests, sales, & more!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a $10 Amazon GC courtesy of Rockstar Book Tours, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends June 20th, midnight EST.


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/5/2023

Two Chicks on Books

Excerpt/IG Post

6/5/2023

Cara North

Excerpt/IG Post

6/6/2023

Sadie’s Spotlight

Excerpt/IG Post

6/6/2023

Nerdophiles

Excerpt

6/7/2023

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt/IG Post

6/7/2023

The Reading Life

Excerpt/IG Post

6/8/2023

A Dream Within A Dream

Excerpt

6/8/2023

The Momma Spot

Excerpt

6/9/2023

Country Mamas With Kids

Review/IG Post

6/9/2023

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review/IG Post

Week Two:

6/12/2023

Confessions of the Perfect Mom

Review/IG Post

6/12/2023

A Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review

6/13/2023

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Review/IG Post

6/13/2023

@enjoyingbooksagain

IG Review

6/14/2023

Brandi Danielle Davis

IG Review/TikTok Post

6/14/2023

More Books Please blog

Review/IG Post

6/15/2023

The Chirpy Bookaholic

Review/IG Post

6/15/2023

Romance_matcha_andpaperbacks

IG Review/TikTok Post

6/16/2023

Fire and Ice

Review/IG Post

6/16/2023

@dreaminginpages

IG Review

 

Book Blitz: Earl of Griffith, by Aubrey Wynne

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Earl of Griffith by USA Today bestselling author Aubrey Wynne, is now available. If you enjoy sweet Regency era romance, this one’s for you!

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Earl of Griffith
(Once Upon a Widow Book 6)
by Aubrey Wynne
Publication Date: June 1st, 2023
Genre: Regency Romance/ Clean Romance

Sorrow and Regrets…

Lady Helen was a young, naïve girl when she gave up everything for a charismatic Irishman and eloped. Finding herself a widow after a few short years, she is disillusioned with love and raising a three-year-old daughter alone. Her homecoming will be bittersweet as she faces her family, asking forgiveness for the lies and the worry she has caused. But her first encounter in England isn’t a family member. Helen’s brother has sent a handsome Welshman to fetch her, and he soon charms both her and her daughter.

An unexpected ray of sunshine…
Conway, Earl of Griffith assumed his title and Welsh estate at birth. His world is gray, full of responsibility, and lonely. Griffith agrees to help a friend, escorting his sister from Bristol to London. At first sight, Lady Helen illuminates his dull world, and her daughter adds laughter to his life. But he senses the woman’s haunted eyes are not only from grief and wonders what secrets she holds close to her heart. As his affection turns to love, Griff must find a way to convince the beautiful widow that love is worth another chance.

Available on Amazon


About the Author

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USA Today Bestselling author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule, and barn cats. Obsessions include wine, history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas. Her Chicago Christmas and Regency series have received multiple awards and nominated numerous times as a Rone finalist by InD’tale Magazine.

Aubrey’s first love is medieval romance but after dipping her toe in the Regency period in 2018 with the Wicked Earls’ Club, she was smitten. This inspired her spin-off series Once Upon a Widow. In 2020, she launched the Scottish Regency series A MacNaughton Castle Romance with Dragonblade Novels. Her Regency detective series, Paddy’s Peelers, will launch early 2024.

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