A Sneaky Little Peek into REBEL MARQUESS

With less than a month to go until the release of REBEL MARQUESS on April 22nd, I thought I would give a little peek into the romance of Eliza and Rutherford. 


RebelMarquess72lgEliza Terribury was in the wrong room.

She had been sent on an errand to fetch her mother’s favorite fan and recalled the directions clearly. “Left at the top of the stairs, sixth door on the right.”

Eliza was certain she’d counted the correct number of doors along the third-floor hallway to
find her mother’s room. She may have been a bit distracted, but  she wasn’t a featherbrain.

So why did she see a set of men’s clothing laid out on the grand four-poster bed?

A scowl narrowed her gaze. She glanced around for the vanity, looking for her mother’s vast collection of scented water bottles she brought with her everywhere. There was no vanity. Though there was a valet’s station all set up with shaving implements.

A frisson of fierce trepidation coursed through her. Oh, pray let it be her father’s room.

She looked again to the clothing on the bed. From the short distance, she could see the fawn-colored trousers             were of soft cotton as was the fine-stitched white shirt. Her father preferred linen for his shirts. The coat was  expertly tailored and far too broad of shoulder for her father’s modest frame.

As she stood in the center of the room, finally coming to terms with the fact she must have somehow gotten her mother’s directions wrong, a small door tucked unobtrusively into the corner of the room opened.

“Back so soon, Simmons?” a strong male voice inquired.

Panic flashed through Eliza in a hot arc and froze her in place on the plush carpet. Before she could gather her wits to command her body to move, a man strode through the inner door into the room.

But not just any man.

It was the Marquess of Rutherford, the most sought after and elusive bachelor in England. The prize feather that has so long eluded her mother’s match-making cap.

And he was completely naked.

The swift acknowledgment that her mother had really gone too far this time was overtaken by the shocking details of the sight before her. Heat flushed though her body in a wave. In all of her nineteen years, Eliza had not had a single opportunity to catch a glimpse of unclothed male anatomy.

And Lord Rutherford was an amazingly well-formed man.

Solid muscle defined the length of his arms and legs, which were liberally sprinkled with dark hair. Broad shoulders put to rest the rumor that he padded his coats. And his chest and narrow abdomen were cut with more ripples of muscle. A modest patch of damp curling hair covered his chest and a thin dark line extended from his navel downward.

Her curiosity was cut short by the towel he brought in front of his most masculine body part.

To Eliza, he looked more like a medieval warrior than the pampered lord of London he was. For a man who had reached his mid-thirties, an age when most gentlemen began to show evidence of their indulgent lifestyle, he was incredibly fit. Not what she would have expected by far.

“You are not my valet.”

His voice was low and curious, telling Eliza he did not yet realize who she was. Once he did, his manner would not be so relaxed or amiable.

She needed to get out of there. In fact, she wasn’t sure why she hadn’t turned tail and run already. Aside from the obvious reason that she couldn’t seem to keep her gaze from running rampant over the details of his body.

Shaking her head to unlock her gaze, Eliza managed to lift her focus to Rutherford’s face.

A bit of a mistake there.

She had only ever seen him once at a distance in Hyde Park two years ago. Her mother had been pointing him out to her sisters who were then at the start of their London season.RebelMarquess72lg

Impressive at a distance, the marquess was nearly devastating up close.

His was not a face one could call classically handsome. His forehead was a touch too wide, his nose had an obvious crook in it and his chin held a dimple in its center. Not to mention the fact that the imperious arch of his brows and the arrogant glint in his brown eyes made him appear unapproachable. Still, there was something about him that had Eliza casting him as one of her romantic protagonists without conscious effort. Maybe it was the overwhelming confidence he exuded in spite of his bared state.

“Can I help you?” he asked as he took another few steps into the room.

Did her imagination conjure up the smooth and suggestive note in his voice? She suddenly felt overwhelmed by the pure masculinity of his presence. Hot embarrassment and acute awareness spread through Eliza’s limbs, making her mouth go dry and her palms sweat. A previously dormant instinct for self-preservation released her frozen feet and she took a couple of steps back in response.

“I, ah…I am,” she stammered.

The marquess raised his brows as he wrapped the towel around his lean hips.

Eliza had to make a very concentrated effort to keep her gaze above his chin. She never would have foreseen she had such voyeuristic tendencies.

“You are standing in the middle of my bedroom,” he stated dryly. “Either you were looking for me, in which case I’d expect you to have a reason for doing so. Or as I’m starting to suspect, you have somehow found yourself in the wrong room.”

“Wrong room,” Eliza admitted with a decisive nod of her head.

Why on earth couldn’t she find the proper connection between her brain and her tongue? She was starting to give the impression of being short on intelligence.

“A pity.” His sigh was barely audible as his dark gaze swept over her body in a swift and proficient assessment. The way his brow furrowed had Eliza wondering what bothered him more—her intrusion or the fact that she had not been seeking him out. “I will show you out then.”

He headed to the door without bothering to see if she’d followed. When he opened it, voices could be heard coming down the hall.

“Bloody hell. That woman seems to be everywhere at once,” he muttered under his breath as he pushed the door closed again. “You will have to wait a moment until Lady Terribury and her entourage pass by.”

Alarm sparked across Eliza’s nerves and turned her fingers ice cold. “Lady Terribury? Are you sure?”

“No mistake. The voice of that woman haunts my nightmares.”

He did not bother turning around to look at her as he spoke, not even considering his less than favorable comments about a fellow guest might be considered offensive.

Eliza was well aware of her mother’s faults and the unsavory history that existed between Lady Terribury and          the Marquess of Rutherford. His opinion of her mother was the very least of her concerns at that moment. Her        gaze darted about the room as she grasped her skirts with both hands in preparation for flight.

“You have to hide me.” Panic laced the edges of her words.

He turned to her then. Curiosity lit his features along with the obvious note of irritation at having his decision questioned, but he showed no real concern. Yet.

“Once she passes you can be on your way.”

Eliza met his gaze with intent directness, trying to impart the urgency of the situation into the tone of her voice.    “No. You do not understand. She is coming here. To this room. You have to hide me. Now.”

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REBEL MARQUESS is the third story in a series that started with ROGUE COUNTESS and continued with RECKLESS VISCOUNT. All three are available at the Samhain store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and everywhere ebooks are sold!

Beautiful Dreamer

Several years ago when I decided it was time to make a serious go of this writing thing, one of my first tasks was to create time designated for this purpose. At the time, my oldest was just a toddler and I was expecting my second child. For a while I would try to sneak in an hour or so of writing in the early evening after I got home from work and before dinner. But this time of day was when I most wanted to reconnect with my family. Besides, my creativity was strongest first thing in the morning. So, my husband, wonderful man that he is, agreed to take on the morning parenting tasks on his own. This entails getting the kids up, dressed, fed, ready and out the door to school/daycare, giving me a couple hours to write before I have to get myself off to work.

This has been our daily pattern now for probably five years or so. I go into my office when the house is still dark and quiet. I do not have to close the door (most days) and I love it when each of my kids come to me for a morning hug and kiss before they go about getting ready for their day. Though my oldest daughter is starting to get away from that habit, my son still stumbles in with his eyes sleepy and his hugs warm and of course, there is my youngest… the little giggling monster who runs in to show me her dolly and lifts her arms to be pulled into my lap for a long squeeze before daddy gets her dressed.

Some days it is difficult to stay at the computer while the kids are starting their day. I try hard not to get drawn in by the drama of homework that isn’t done yet, socks that don’t fit right, missing gloves, or the dreaded cry “we’re out of cereal!” And no matter how much their daddy does for them every morning, there are some things they just have to come to mommy for. The interruptions are expected and I have learned how to shift my focus from my work to the kids then back again without too much disruption to the writing flow. But then there are days when the words are stuck in a jerky pattern and I can’t seem to get my thoughts to flow. On those days, I might have to close (and sometimes lock) my office door.

Every day I do this. Every day. Weekends too. I set my alarm and get up before everyone else to sit at my computer. Of course there are occasional exceptions that require I leave my little room and assist with the morning rituals. And it is always difficult around the holidays for some reason. But every day it is my intention to get up and get to work while the kids are corralled by their dad.  And sometimes, I feel a mother’s guilt for insisting to my family that my writing time is important…for giving my kids that morning kiss and hug and then gently shooing them from the room. I do my best to balance this out by being as fully present and available as possible in the evening hours when we all congregate back at home after work and school, but some days, it is still hard.

I hope that by committing to this practice of writing and staying the course I am demonstrating something valuable to my children. It has long been my dream to be an author, but it was not until I put in the necessary work and dedication that the dream started to come to fruition. This is what I hope my kids are learning as they find me at my computer every morning…that it is very often not enough to simply want something. If it is important to you…if it is your dream…you have to make it happen. You have to put in the time, the commitment, the effort and the occasional heartache to reach your goals. And if you do, no matter how lofty it may be, any dream is attainable. Anything at all is possible if you believe you are capable of making it happen.

My oldest daughter, a nine-year-old who is practically obsessed with animals of all kinds, has decided she would like to be a veterinarian when she grows up. A few weeks ago, she asked me what she could do now to start working toward this goal.

I don’t know if her inspiration to put forth this effort has anything at all to do with being a witness to my determination in making my dream come true. But I do know we are now volunteering at our local Humane Society so she can begin to learn what it takes to care for so many animals. If it gets her that much closer to achieving her own beautiful dreams, than it is well worth it.

 

The Dreaded Wall

GAH! It happened again.

Just when I get right into the thick of my work in progress, somewhere in the second half, I walk smack into a wall. It is plastered with copious notes on characters and story lines, dozens of loose plot threads, and all of my great intentions. The wall is not so high that I can’t see over it, but it is long and wide and daunting.

This is the point in my writing process when all the doubt crowds in. I am faced with everything I had set out to accomplish in my WIP. Staring back at me, stretched along the unsightly wall, is all the evidence of what I have not yet managed to pull off. I stop and look over my shoulder at what is already written. There are some great images, a good introduction to the hero/heroine relationship, but also some obvious holes, leaps in plot, and missing scenes. Then I stretch up on my toes and look over the wall at everything that still must be put down on paper. All the elements that will need to come together to allow for the groundwork to grow into something complete and satisfying.

Anxiety wants to take over. I seriously doubt I can do it.

There is still so much to do… not only in finishing the first draft, but is going back over the entire WIP to check for the disastrous potholes.

  • do my H/h have clear GOALS, MOTIVATION and CONFLICT?
  • is the conflict logical? does it follow with what we know about the characters and life in general?
  • is the plot logical? does it make sense that these people are doing what they are doing when they are doing it?
  • is the plot filled with cliches and eye-rolling coincidences?
  • are the characters relate-able? do you know enough about them?  or too much? do they belong together?
  • is my research complete? do I have my historical facts right?
  • am I getting all the subtleties in there? the tiny bits of information that are clear to me, but don’t need to be front and center for the reader?
  • is the romance sexy, interesting, emotional enough?
  • and how the hell do I tie down all these loose threads?

There comes a point in every WIP when these questions, or others very similar, stump me. They make me want to sit down right where I stand and complain about not being good enough and the work being too hard. But I know, because I have to know, that I can get past this. So I throw my leg over that wall and hoist myself up until I drop down on the other side. And I keep writing.

I may carry pictures of that wall with me as I go on, to remind me of what work needs to be done and what questions still exist in the story. I make notes of things I can change: a scene or bit of dialogue I can add, a slightly different timeline I can try to see if it fits all the elements better, another way to show the hero’s motivation or internal conflict.  And when I finally get to the end of that first draft, I go back to the beginning and work on all of the glaring inconsistencies and problems that were up on that wall. And I hope, hope, hope that by the end of that second draft, most of those problem are fixed. If they are not, there is always that third draft, or the fourth, or fifth…

Because that wall doesn’t come down on its own. I have to take it down.

Time to roll up my sleeves and put my hard hat on.

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Today is my birthday and I could think of no better way to celebrate than with the Cover Reveal of my next title scheduled to release from Samhain Publishing April 22, 2014…

The Marquess of Rutherford has successfully evaded the relentless pursuit of six husband-hunting Terribury daughters…

Time to meet the seventh!

Rebel Marquess

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It is about time Rutherford got his story!

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Wow! I can hardly believe it is Christmas Eve.

I feel like I was swept up in a whirlwind right after Halloween, spun and tossed around for a while, and then got unceremoniously dropped on Christmas. (Just call me Dorothy) And here are my Munchkins greeting me daily with “Can we open presents early? Please! Just one? We promise not to ask anymore if you let us open just one!”

I can remember holidays when I was young. My sister and I were relentless in begging my mom to let us start opening gifts early. So relentless, that it actually began a tradition for us to open one gift on Christmas Eve-Eve, another on Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas day. I read an article online recently written by a mother who unashamedly explained why she spoils her little girl with Christmas gifts. As a single mother with twins, my mom did not have the kind of budget to allow for extra candy bars in the grocery line or spontaneous toys buys throughout the year. She had to say “no” to us a lot. But when Christmas came…she always pulled out all the stops. Every year was an overload of gifts for my sister and I and it was…MAGICAL.

Now as a parent of three with limited means myself, I understand how hard it is to refuse your children even the small things that might bring them joy because we have such little wiggle room in our budget. Seeing their disappointment is difficult, but I also know how important it is for them to understand that you cannot always have exactly what you want the moment you want it. Sometimes you have to work for it, sometimes you have to accept that some things are just not possible right now.

But when Christmas comes, like my mother, I find it hard not to jump into the spirit of the holiday with both feet. I love the anticipation of seeing my kids eyes widen with the kind of excitement and wonder that a stack of brightly wrapped presents can create. And the absolute elation when they open something and find exactly what they wanted and have been dreaming of for weeks. Such happiness may be fleeting, but for children who do not yet have to focus on the big picture that adults tend to constantly be distracted by, at least the happiness is PURE. And that is beautiful.

So when those little munchkins come begging to start opening gifts early, I resist. Far more than my mother ever did. Even when their Dad gets in on their side, I shake my head. No. Because I want to savor that morning when we are all sitting around as a family in our pjs, anticipating the magic about to commence, smiling and joyful and connected. But it always seems to be over so quickly once it starts. I dread that moment when the kids look around and see that they have opened everything, no more surprises remain. Soon after that, the magic slowly dissipates. So I resist taking away from that morning by even one gift opened early.

However, this year it’s not just my kids and their dad begging to start the festivities early. My sister and her family are staying with us for an extended visit over the holidays. I had almost forgotten just how single-minded and impatient my sister was when it came to opening presents. I realize that my mother may have given in all those years on the strength of my sister’s unflagging determination alone. I also realize in trying to convince her to wait, that there is some magic to be found in sneaking a present early. In a way it can up the anticipation and prolong the joy involved in this particular aspect of the holiday season.

So… needless to say, last night after dinner my family and my sister’s family sat down to open one present each.

And it was MAGICAL.

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Ahh! The JOY!

Happy Holidays to all!

May it be filled with WONDER and JOY,

FAMILY and MAGIC!

Blog Parties and Giveaways!

Come join the party at Long and Short Reviews.

Tons of fun prizes being given away all week!

Halloween 2013 Participant

Check out my post on The Creative Descent.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free download of Reckless Viscount!

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Then in November, I will be visiting The Romance Reviews for their Year End Splash Party.

With more than 400 participating authors and tons of prizes!

Including another chance to win a free download of Reckless Viscount.

 

 

Join the fun!

Just some pics of my office…

Feeling a little lazy these days… but I knew I had to get a new post up soon so I figured I could just share a few pics of my writing office. (Yes, it’s a total mess, but it seems to like it that way.)

It is a tiny little room off the dining room that I painted in two shades of blue (my obsessively favorite color). It has a lovely door that does not lock from the inside, but does manage to muffle much of the family noise on Saturday mornings.


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Can you see the wrapping paper and blue silk ribbon from my anniversary gift last year(See blog post A New Anniversary Tradition?

Can you tell who are in the pictures I have tacked to my wall board as visual inspiration for Rutherford and Eliza (REBEL MARQUESS)?

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Some of my favorite research books.

056Need a good map if you wanna know where to go.

One thing these pictures don’t show is the bookshelves on the wall to the right of my desk. My brooding hero finally got around to putting up a two shelves, perfectly sized for paperbacks, across the upper expanse of the wall.  At this point, the plan is to continue the shelves down to the floor so they cover the entire wall around the closet door. Unfortunately, this little project is not exactly a priority when there is school, work, writing, parenting and so many other important, time-consuming things going on.

But someday it will be finished and I promise to post a pic once it is!