Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Forever Your Earl and Scandal Takes The Stage by Eva Leigh

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The Wicked Quills of London Book One
Eva Leigh
Released Sept 29th, 2015
Avon Books

Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office one day and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades…What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?

Daniel has secrets and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best laid plans.

But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.

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 Continuing, she said, “That’s exceptionally conceited of you, my lord, to assume that you are Lord A—d.”  Leaning back in her chair, she gave a thin smile.  “I could be writing about Lord Archland.  Or perhaps Lord Admond.”
“Lord Archland hasn’t left his country estate in a decade,” the earl answered, “and Lord Admond’s days of scandal happened when red heels and powdered wigs were in fashion.  The man written about is undoubtedly, nauseatingly me.”
So much for that defense.  “Oh, but you’re far from nauseating, my lord.  In fact, you’re enthralling—to my readers,” she hastened to add.
Lord Ashford shook his head.  “It amazes me that the citizens of London have such paltry lives that they'd care a groat what I did.”
“The provinces, too,” she added.  “I have a thousand subscribers throughout the country.”
He threw up his hands.  “Ah, that improves the situation immeasurably.  I cannot fathom what my concern was.”
“As my paper states,” she said, “you are London's most notorious rake.  Of course people care what you do.”
He crossed his arms over his chest, a movement that emphasized that the width of his shoulders didn't come from the work of a tailor's artful needle.
“One might think that your readers would be far more interested in the food shortages that have resulted from recent crop failures,” he fired back.  “Or perhaps they might be intrigued by the East Indian volcanic explosion that caused the crops to fail.  Maybe, just maybe, they'd be concerned with Argentina declaring its independence from Spain.  Did none of that ever cross your mind, Miss Hawke, rather than reporting spurious gossip about a figure as inconsequential as myself?”
Though she was momentarily shocked that a man as infamously dissolute as Lord Ashford would be so well-informed, she quickly recovered.
“I'd hardly call you inconsequential, my lord,” she countered.  “Your family name goes back to the time of Queen Elizabeth.  If memory serves, your ancestor Thomas Balfour won himself an earldom as a privateer to the queen—though others merely called him a pirate with a government charter.  It seems as though scandal runs in your blood.  How could the public not be fascinated?”
It was his turn to look surprised.  He likely didn't expect her to be so knowledgeable of his ancestry.  But Eleanor was nothing if not thorough.  She had Debrett's memorized the way others knew their Bible verses.
“Because I am merely one man,” he answered.  “Granted, a man with a somewhat extensive wardrobe—”
Of mistresses, she silently added.
“But hardly worth devoting page after page of precious paper and ink,” he concluded.
“You belong to a gentleman's club, do you not?” she asked pointedly.  “White's, if memory serves.  And what do you do there?”

The Wicked Quills of London Book Two
Eva Leigh
Releasing Oct 27th, 2015
Avon Books

Successful playwright Maggie Delamere has no interest in the flirtations of noblemen like Cameron, Viscount Marwood. She once paid dearly for a moment of weakness… and vows to rebuff the wildly persistent-and irritatingly handsome-scoundrel at every turn. But when pressure to deliver a new play hampers her creativity, an invitation to use his country estate as a writer’s retreat is too tempting to resist...
For years, Cam has admired Maggie’s brilliant work and he can’t pass up the opportunity to discover if the beautiful, mysterious playwright is as passionate and clever as the words that flow from her quill. He’s never offered a lady his bed without being in it, but if it means loosening Maggie’s pen-and her inhibitions-he’ll do exactly that.
But soon Cam’s plans for seduction become a fight for Maggie’s heart. He’s more than the scandalous, carefree rake society believes him to be… and she’s the only woman who has ever noticed.
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Enter Phoebe, in country dress.
Phoebe: What a task I have set before me!
The Shattered Heart
London, 1816

The curtain at the Imperial Theater fell. The audience rose to its collective feet and applauded.
Standing in his theater box, adding his own applause, Cameron Chalton, Viscount of Marwood was filled with excitement. Much as Cam enjoyed the theater—he went practically every night, and often saw the same work over and over, enjoying it anew each time—half the pleasure came after the performances.
“What say you, Marwood?” drawled Lord Eberhart, one of Cam’s companions for the evening. “Gaming at Donnegan’s? Shall we away to the rout at Lord Larkin’s? He’s brought in a whole bevy of beauties from France just for the occasion.”
“Why choose?” Cam answered with a laugh. “The night’s in its infancy, and we can do anything at all.”
“Good point.” Eberhart grinned. He wasn’t the brightest star in the firmament, but ever since Cam’s good friend Ashford had wed and settled into marital bliss, Cam couldn’t afford to be as selective with his company. Besides, Eberhart was always up for a night’s revelry. “Let’s go.”
“Not yet,” Cam answered, watching the theater slowly empty.
The Imperial was smaller than the other popular theaters in London, with only three tiers for seats and boxes, plus a smaller pit and orchestra. Yet it wasn’t shabby. The proprietors kept its appearance well. Painted plaster friezes depicting scenes from mythology adorned the fronts of the boxes, and blue velvet curtains draped the sides and top of the stage. Gas lamps provided lighting.
The boxes now released their occupants like tropical birds flying free of their cages. In the pit, the younger, wilder set laughed and boasted, jostling one another, flirting, arguing. Orange girls and women of fast reputation circulated freely among the young men.
Cam’s status prevented him from sitting in the pit anymore, but he missed it. The energy, the rowdiness. Still, he couldn’t complain, not when he’d just watched a performance of a work written by the celebrated and mysterious Mrs. Delamere. Not when the evening opened up for him like an endless banquet. One he would sample to his heart’s content. But not quite at this moment.
“Tell you what, Eberhart,” Cam continued, turning back to his companion. “I’ll meet you at Donnegan’s, then we’ll sally forth from there onto Larkin’s.”
“Going to circulate?” Eberhart said with a grin.
“This is my kingdom,” Cam replied with a wink. “I must inevitably tour my realm. Inspect its crops.”
“Of actresses.” His friend leered.
Cam tilted his head in acknowledgment. “Merely a part of my dominion.”
“Enjoy, Your Highness.” With a chuckle, Eberhart slipped from the box and out into the night. Once his friend had gone, Cam took one last minute to enjoy the theater’s house as patrons continued to leisurely make their way. The thrills from the performance still resonated in Cam’s body, palpable as electricity crackling along his veins. Though he’d seen this particular work several times, it never lost its excitement—the soaring highs and resounding lows that came from watching characters’ love and loss. He especially loved how the heroine thoroughly humiliated the aristocratic villain before gaining her tragic vengeance against him.

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EVA LEIGH is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ‘80s. Eva and her husband live in Central California.

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