The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki – Excerpt & Promotional Post

We would like to extend our thanks to Forever – Grand Central Publishing for letting us share Amy Jarecki’s newest novel with you all today, murr! =^.^=

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Publisher: Forever – Grand Central Publishing

Date Released: June 27, 2017

Series: Lords of the Highlands #2

She cannot resist the man behind the mask…

As the illegitimate daughter of a Scottish earl, Lady Magdalen Keith is not one to partake in lavish balls or other frivolities. Yet at her father’s urging, she agrees to dance with the battle-weary officers at this year’s holiday masquerade. It’s practically her civic duty! But when one such officer—whose dashing good looks cannot be disguised by a mere mask—sweeps her off her feet and into his arms, the innocent lass can’t help herself. Her lips are his for the taking.

But will he betray his country for a kiss?

Navy lieutenant Aiden Murray has spent too many months at sea to be immune to the charms of this lovely beauty. Even after he returns to his ship, she lives in his dreams. But when he discovers Maddie’s true identity—and learns that her father is accused of treason—will the brawny Scot risk his life to follow his heart?

Excerpt:

As in the Highland custom, Aiden wore the plaid belted at his waist, the length pulled from the lower right opening of his doublet, around his back and pinned at his left shoulder with a silver brooch bearing the Atholl arms. The valet had put forth a good effort ensuring there was neither wrinkle nor hair out of place.
He regarded himself in the looking glass above the mantle in the drawing room, sliding one foot forward as he would do for a portrait. Not liking the image, he puffed out his chest and moved a hand to his lapel.
God’s bones, take me to sea where I can cast aside these frills.
Tuning his back to the looking glass, Aiden resorted to pacing and pulling out his pocket watch. The coach would arrive in five minutes, and Maddie hadn’t yet made an appearance.
At least a light glowed from beneath her door indicating she was within. It cast a hazy glow in the otherwise dark passageway. After pacing around the chamber half-dozen times, he again eyed his timepiece. Another minute had passed. Perhaps he should knock on the door—perhaps Maddie’s mantle clock had stopped and she was unaware of the time. Just as he started off, her door opened. A burst of light flooded the passageway, and with the tap of dainty footsteps, an angel emerged.
Aiden knew she’d purchased a new gown, but he hadn’t expected this. His mouth went dry and he suddenly needed to take in two stuttered breaths to steady the thumping of his heart.
Christ, men aren’t supposed to experience such heart hammering. Especially men bred for the sea. Damnation.
She smiled, and his goddamned knees wobbled. He should have taken a healthy tot whilst he was pacing in the drawing room.
Her golden gown rustled as she walked forward, with a matching fan in her hand. She moved the fan to her waist…just below her breasts. Creamy skin Aiden knew to be softer than spun silk swelled above a dangerously plunging neckline. His mouth went completely dry. If Maddie’s serving maid had been anywhere but behind her lady, Aiden would have taken the lassie into his arms, pushed through his bedchamber door and damned the recital.
“I hope I haven’t made us late.” Maddie batted her eyelashes as if she had no idea of the effect she had on his aching cods. “Miss Agnes spent ever so long curling my hair.”
Aiden’s tongue slipped over his bottom lip. “Your curls are exquisite. You are exquisite, m’lady.”
Agnes cleared her throat, coming up behind with a cloak over her arm. “You’d best say so, m’lord. It took the greater part of the afternoon to make those ringlets.”
Nay, there’d be no slipping into the bedchamber for a hasty sampling of those pearl-tipped bosoms.
Aiden glanced to his pocket watch—they still had a few minutes—and now that he knew Maddie was ready, there’d be no harm in making the coach wait for a minute or two. “Fine job, Miss Agnes,” he said with more sobriety than he felt. “I think you deserve a healthy tot of fine spirit for taking such fine care of her ladyship.”
“Have we time?” asked Maddie.
Aiden led them into the drawing room and gestured to the settee. “A stolen moment will not set us behind overmuch.”
Agnes gave a firm shake of her head. “You needn’t make a fuss for the likes of me.”
“It is no fuss. You take good care of your lady, and for that I want to thank you.” Aiden poured three tots of sherry and offered each of the ladies a glass. “Shall we drink to Miss Agnes?”
Blinking, the woman drew a hand over her mouth, dipping her head and smiling broadly. “Heavens.”
“Aye, we should.” Maddie patted her chambermaid’s knee and raised her glass. “To the woman who has seen me through one and twenty years of happiness. I have no idea what would have become of me if you hadn’t been by my side. Sometimes I’ve felt as if you’re the only person in all of Christendom who cares.”
Aiden’s gut twisted. He cared a great deal, but it was inconceivable that Maddie had been made to feel like an outcast from such a young age. He drank thoughtfully, watching the two women as they sipped. Even their mannerisms had become similar. “Miss Agnes, how long have you been serving Lady Magdalen?”
The woman’s eyes glistened with pride. “Since the day she was born. The moment I held her in my arms I knew my purpose.”
Aiden glanced to Maddie and knitted his brows. “Did your mother pass in childbirth?”
Shaking her head, the lass bit her bottom lip. “Nay. My mother knew I would have a better life if she gave me to my father. Only…” Maddie looked away, and took another sip.
“What?”
“The one caveat was that she could never set eyes on me again.”
Grumbling under her breath, Agnes guzzled the remainder of her sherry. “We shan’t discuss the countess any longer. It sets both of our hackles to standing on end.”
“Agreed.” Aiden set his glass on the mantel and offered Maddie his hand. “Shall we be off, m’lady? We do not want to miss the opening. I hear it will be most spectacular.”
Maddie tapped the chambermaid’s shoulder before they strolled toward the door. “I want you to take some time for yourself this night. Do something that will make you happy. You have nothing to worry about, my pet. I’ll be in Lord Aiden’s capable hands.”

Watch the Book Trailer:

About the Author:

Amy Jarecki is a descendant of an ancient Lowland clan and adores Scotland. Though she now resides in southwest Utah, she received her MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Winning multiple writing awards, she found her niche in the genre of Scottish historical romance. Amy writes steamy edge-of-your-seat action adventures with rugged men and fascinating women who weave their paths through the brutal eras of centuries past.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win 1 of 10 print copies of The Highlander Commander, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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Savaged Dreams by Jennifer Lyon – Excerpt & Promotional Post

We’d like to extend our thanks to The Herd Presents for letting us share this exciting post with you today. If you’d like to view all of the blogs participating in this event, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

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Publisher: Jennifer Lyons Books

Date Released: June 19, 2017

Series: Savaged Illusions Trilogy #1

Going away to college gives LIZA GLASNER a chance to escape her painful and dangerous past…or so she thinks. At fourteen years old, she survived an attack by a famous musician. After that, the media, groupies and crazies hounded her with a merciless cruelty that ruined her life. But now she’s thriving—until an internship brings her face to face with the sizzling hot lead singer of a rock band, and she finds herself drawn to the very thing that once destroyed her. Justice is a temptation she can’t resist…and one that could get her killed.

Sexy rock star JUSTICE CADE is determined to take his band, Savaged Illusions, to the top by winning the Court of Rock T.V. show. Tortured by guilt for failing his family, he believes fame is his only path to redemption. But when the fiery college-intern hiding her beauty beneath baggy sweaters and a snarky attitude bursts into his life, Justice is forced to choose between the woman he loves and the stardom he craves. The wrong choice will cost him more than he can bear.

**This is book one in a trilogy and ends on a cliffhanger. However the next two books are being released in July and September so readers won’t be stranded on the cliff for long!

Other Books in the Series:

(Click on the covers below to learn more about each books)

Excerpt:

“That’s utter bullshit. You don’t hide your feelings with me.”

“Is that right?” She stroked her hand over the head of his cock.

He moved back from her touch, the spray of hot water cascading off his shoulders. Damn near helpless to stop himself, he lowered his hungry gaze over her soft belly to the hair slicked down between her legs. Jesus. Fiery lust rammed into him, taking his cock from hard to one massive throb. He should reach behind him and twist the water to cold, but he couldn’t harness enough brainpower to actually do it.

“You told me you found your voice here in San Diego. Use it. You want something from me?” He wasn’t going to unleash his needs on her until he was sure it was exactly what she wanted too.

Naked anger sparked in her eyes. “I didn’t like the way I felt. It was our date, and those girls were touching you. I wanted to push them off you and kiss you right there in front of everyone.

Maybe I’d shove my camera in their hand and demand they take a picture, then I’d post it and show the whole world that you’re mine. How’s that, Justice? That enough feelings for you?” She closed her eyes. “I know how stupid that sounds. I want you to win and—”

“Don’t you dare backtrack now.” He stalked her to the shower wall. “Those are your feelings. I want them. Every damned one.”

Her stare roamed down his body, then snapped back to his face. A current arced between them.

He didn’t touch her, yet the connection shivered on the moist air. Need screamed between them.

Her nipples hardened, and she raised one hand toward him.

He saw it again, that fucker’s hand wrapped around her arm and Beth kicking the shit out of his shin.

“You want me to kiss you? My hands on you?” He slapped a hand on the fiberglass over her head. “The only reason I’m not kissing you in public and making it clear you belong to me is that you want to keep our personal life out of the limelight.” He didn’t like it either, but he understood.

“We’re not in public now.”

About the Author:

Jennifer Lyon is the pseudonym for USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Apodaca. Jen lives in Southern California where she continually plots ways to convince her husband that they should get a dog. After all, they met at the dog pound, fell in love, married and had three wonderful sons. So far, however, she has failed in her doggy endeavor. She consoles herself by pouring her passion into writing books. To date, Jen has published more than fifteen books and novellas, including a fun and sexy mystery series and a variety of contemporary romances under the name Jennifer Apodaca. As Jennifer Lyon she created a dark, sizzling paranormal series, and The Plus One Chronicles, an emotionally sensual adult contemporary series. Jen’s won numerous awards and had her books translated into multiple languages, but she still hasn’t come up with a way to persuade her husband that they need a dog.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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Sara’s Review of Three Weeks with a Princess by Vanessa Kelly

I’d like to extend my thanks to both Tasty Book Tours for letting me partake in this wonderful event, and to Kensington – Zebra for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. If you would like to see all of the blogs participating in this event, please click on the banner above, murr! =^.^=

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Rating:

Publisher: Kensington – Zebra

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Series: The Improper Princesses #2

Goodreads Description:

In Vanessa Kelly s captivating series, three young women are descended from royalty in the most improper way. But that doesn’t stop them from pursuing lives rich in adventure. . .

Lia Kincaid, illegitimate daughter of the Duke of York, comes from a long line of notorious women. Raised by her grandmother, formerly mistress to the late Marquess of Lendale, she has little hope of a respectable marriage. But the new Marquess, her childhood friend, Jack Easton, would make a very desirable protector . . . if he weren’t too honorable to take her to bed.

It’s bad enough being saddled with a title he never desired. Now Jack must resist the beautiful woman he desires far too much. Duty calls, and he is duty-bound to choose a wealthy bride. But then Lia makes another outrageous suggestion: asking Jack to devise some tests to find her the perfect paramour. Tests that involve flirting, kissing, and other pleasurable pursuits. Tests that, in a matter of weeks, could transform friendship into the ton’s greatest scandal, igniting a passion even duty can’t deny. . .

Review:

I’ve conflicting feelings regarding this title. On the one paw, I greatly enjoyed some aspects of it, but on the other paw, there were some things which grated on my nerves and caused my fur to ruffle. Overall, while I did not absolutely love it, I did enjoy this story enough to recommend it to anyone who enjoys Kelly’s novels or is a fan of historical romance novels. There’s a little something for everyone within the pages of this book, from memorable characters, humorous misadventures, and more. And if you haven’t read the first book in this series, I promise that you’ll want to by the time you finish this one.

Lia is a headstrong, decisive, sometimes rather exasperating woman. She’s fiercely independent and loathes the idea of being indebted to anyone, especially those she considers family (of which Jack falls into that category). While I love these aspects of hers, I sometimes felt that they were proving to be more harmful than positive traits. Lia is forever getting into trouble because of her stubbornness and naiveté. But despite this, I found myself liking her immensely, even if I kept shaking my head in exasperation throughout the book. Jack, meanwhile, was hard for me to connect with. I applaud his desire to want to take care of Lia, but I couldn’t stand his overbearing behavior at the same time. And yet, I do agree that Lia needed some reining in, so in that regards I can’t fault him too much. Jack is very much the responsible individual who feels obligated to make amends for the wrongs done by his father and uncle.  He’s also about as stubborn as Lia is on certain matters. As a couple, their relationship is all over the place. When they’re not butting heads, they’re fighting their desires for the other, and when they finally do come together…you’ll need a fan to cool off.

I loved that Gillian and Charles feature prominently in this book mostly because I simply adore Gillian. And it is her reappearance in this novel which leads me to say that if you’ve not read her story, you’ll want to by the time you finish this one. I also enjoyed meeting Chloe and her husband Dominic, and if I wasn’t already interested in reading Kelly’s Renegade Royal series, I’m even more interested in picking up the entire series at some point because I want to know more about them, as well as Steele and Endicott, and how they factor into this particular series. Yes, you read that right, characters from Kelly’s first major series play roles in this one. And this is a feature that I greatly enjoy because not many authors will pull characters from older series and feature them in newer books, and if they do, their cameos are usually brief. As for characters that I was not enamored with, well let me just say that while I can sympathize with Jack’s mother, Lady John, to a point, I desperately wanted to claw her eyes out every time she made an appearance. Her behavior and views toward Lia leave much to be desired, and oh did she push my buttons. Grrr. I also strongly disliked Lia’s mother, she had very little by way of any redeeming quality, and I would say her only saving grace was that she had the sense to marry Stephen, Lia’s step-father. But honestly though, talk about a mother who should never have had a child. Ugh!

This book put me through a wide-range of emotions. There were times when I couldn’t help but smile over the relationship between Lia and Jack, they very much came across as siblings through the first half of the book, and there were times when I hissed in frustration or downright disgust. I have to hand it to Kelly for her skill at invoking a reader’s emotions, it certainly adds an element of depth to her writing that is hit or miss with other authors.

My only complaint with this book is the synopsis and the title don’t come into play until the last quarter of the book. I’m not going to say that I didn’t enjoy getting to know Lia and Jack through their various encounters at Stonefell and in London, but I will say that I feel the synopsis needs to be changed in order to truly represent what happens in this book. Now some may feel that this is an issue that in the grand scheme of things is not worth making note of, but I strongly feel that I would be doing readers a disservice by not mentioning it. Yes, I encourage you to give this book a read, but don’t expect this to be a story entirely focused on Lia attempting to make Jack her protector and their creating a series of tests to find the perfect lover for her over the course of three weeks. As I said, this particular part of the plot only happens during the last quarter of the book, so be prepared for other events and adventures to occur first.

Having said all that, I still liked this book a great deal and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series once it comes out. So if you are looking for a book to read this summer filled with misadventure, steamy moments, a bit of humor, and a leading lady who will steal your heart, give this book and its series a try, murr!

Excerpt:

It wasn’t like Lia to hedge. “Pet, we haven’t got all day. Just spit it out,” Jack said.
She sighed. “Very well. But please do remember that it wasn’t my idea.”
“I give you my word.”
Sitting up straight, she met his gaze. “Granny wants you to become my protector.”
That was a puzzling choice of words. “Of course I’ll protect you. Didn’t I make that clear yesterday?”
“Yes, but not my protector in a general way. She means protector in a rather specific way.”
The vague conversation began to frustrate him. “I’m not sure what else I can do to address her concerns, other than to say that I will provide for anything you need.”
She looked over at the window, shaking her head and muttering under her breath.
“Perhaps you could clarify what she means by specific,” Jack suggested.
Lia finally looked at him, her checks blazing as red as apples. “Granny wants me to be your mistress, you nodnock. She wants you to be my lover. Is that clear enough for you?”
Jack probably looked like a fish who’d landed on a bank, stunned and gasping for breath. And the entire time he stared at her, Lia glared back at him, looking furious and embarrassed. And anything but loverlike.
He finally marshaled the few wits that hadn’t been stunned into insensibility. “Clear? It’s insane. Take you as my mistress? How your grandmother could come up with such a ridiculous notion is beyond me. It’s simply laughable.”
He felt as if someone had knocked him on the head with a brick. And even more appalling, now that she’d put the idea into his head, some part of his brain—well, not his brain actually—thought there was some merit to the notion. How could it not, when she looked as she did now, her cheeks flushed, her gorgeous eyes snapping with fury, and her pretty breasts pushing up over the simple trim of her bodice with each indignant and huffy breath.
Get a handle, you idiot. He would no more take Lia as his mistress than he would don minstrel’s garb and caper about in Hyde Park.
When she crossed her arms under her chest, the movement pushed the plump white mounds up even higher over her bodice. Her scarf had slipped aside, and Jack fancied he might even see the edge of one nipple peeking out from behind the narrow band of lace. That lascivious hint sent a bolt of lust thrumming through his body to settle in his groin.
Argh. He’d never thought of Lia in that way and he was utterly horrified by his reaction.
He forced his gaze up to her face. The fury and hurt he saw in her eyes immediately dampened any misplaced ardor on his part.
“I’m sorry you find the notion so repugnant,” she said tightly. “Of course I realize I can’t hold a candle to all the fine ladies you’re accustomed to consorting with in London.”
“Good God. I don’t consort with fine ladies,” he exclaimed. “What sort of man do you take me for?”
“The regular kind. And don’t pretend you’re a virgin, Jack, or that you’ve never had an affair or slept with, well, you know.” She paused, suddenly looking uncertain. “You aren’t a virgin, are you?”
He dropped his forehead into his hand. “Lia, this is an entirely demented conversation.”
She let out a horrified gasp. “You are a virgin. Oh, dear. I’m so sorry, Jack. This must be thoroughly embarrassing for you. Please forgive me.”
He looked up with a scowl. “It is embarrassing, but not because I’m a virgin. I am not, by the way, though that is beside the point.”
“The point seems to be that you find the notion of me as your mistress hideous beyond imagining,” she said with irritation. “Well, let me tell you that I’m not exactly thrilled by the notion, Jack Easton.”
“Why the hell not?” he asked before he could stop himself. “Never mind, don’t answer that. And just to be clear I don’t find you repugnant in the least. Quite the opposite, in fact.”
She blinked. “Then there is a chance you would consider taking me as your mistress?”
“God, no!”
Lia tucked her chin down and winced. “There’s no need to yell, Jack. I’m not deaf.”
He gripped the edge of his desk and took several deep breaths, trying to steady himself. Then he pushed himself out of his chair and stalked over to the drinks cart. He poured a splash of whiskey into a crystal tumbler and tossed it back. The burn hit his stomach like a gunshot, but the jolt of heat cleared his head.
“I could use one of those,” Lia said.
“I am not giving you whiskey before you’ve had anything to eat,” Jack growled. He refused to look at her before he got himself under some semblance of control. He felt as if he’d fallen asleep and woken up in a madhouse.
“Spoilsport,” she muttered.

About the Author:

Vanessa Kelly is a USA Today Bestselling, award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.”  Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. 

Vanessa’s previous series, The Renegade Royals, was a national bestseller. She is currently writing a spin-off series called The Improper PrincessesMy Fair Princess, book 1, was named a Goodreads Romance of the Month. Vanessa also writes USA TodayBestselling books with her husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes. 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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Kristen Ashley Trade Paperback Release Extravaganza!

We’re excited to be sharing this wonderful news about Kristen Ashley’s newest paperback releases. =^.^=

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ANNOUNCING THREE BEAUTIFUL NEW TRADE PAPERBACK EDITIONS FROM THE COLORADO MOUNTAIN SERIES!

Publisher: Forever – Grand Central

Date Released: June 20, 2017

Series: Colorado Mountain #1

Life isn’t meant to be perfect. It’s meant to be lived . . .

Nina Sheridan thought she’d found the perfect man who would become the perfect husband. She was wrong. When Nina realizes the man she planned to grow old with doesn’t know her at all, it’s time to rethink her idea of perfect. And what better place to get her life in order than a remote Colorado mountain town halfway around the world?

Gnaw Bone, Colorado, may not be flashy or cosmopolitan, but it’s got a brand of hospitality all its own. Nina isn’t entirely sure she’s ready to trade the life she thought she wanted in England for cozy evenings in her mountain retreat, and she definitely isn’t sure she’s ready to handle the connection she feels to the owner of her rental house, Max Holden . . .

Nina didn’t come to Colorado to find love, but even the best-laid plans can go awry. Now, if Nina can let go of her past, Max-and a future in Gnaw Bone-might just be the perfect second chance she’s been waiting for.

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Publisher: Forever – Grand Central

Date Released: June 20, 2017

Series: Colorado Mountain #2

When you lose everything, anything is possible.

Lauren Grahame needs a whole new life. A simpler life. After leaving her cheating husband, she moves to Carnal, Colorado, takes a job as a waitress, and realizes she might have finally found the hometown she’d been searching for. Except things are about to get a lot more complicated . . .

Lauren’s fresh start does not include her growing feelings for her boss, Tate Jackson. She’ll take the new friends, the new job, not to mention the incredible banana bread from the local coffee shop, but love is not on the agenda.

However, the people of Carnal know chemistry when they see it, and they’re not about to let Tate and Lauren miss their chance.

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Publisher: Forever – Grand Central

Date Released: June 20, 2017

Series: Colorado Mountain #3

All you need is a little luck.

Lexie Berry has had nothing but bad luck. You name it, Lexie has probably survived it-or worse. But there’s only so much bad luck a girl can take, and now one promise is all that stands between her and a brand-new life.

When that promise brings her to Carnal, Colorado, Lexie isn’t sure the rough, yet strangely charming, town is for her. But there’s something Carnal has that might just make staying around worth it . . . and that’s Ty Walker.

For five years, Ty was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he wants revenge on the people who framed him. Lexie knows there’s a difference between vengeance and justice, and she’ll do everything she can to make sure Ty gets the latter. And with the good people of Carnal on their side, Lexie and Ty might finally find their luck is changing for the better.

About the Author:

Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win 1 of 5 sets of The Gamble, Sweet Dreams, and Lady Luck, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn – Excerpt & Promotional Post

We’d like to thank William Morrow Paperback – HarperCollins for letting us share with you today’s special post, murr! =^.^=

Publisher: William Morrow

Date Released: June 6, 2017

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Excerpt:

Night had fallen by the time I staggered, weary and starving, off the train in London. The city rolled out in front of me in one huge dark smoky mass—I had no idea where 10 Hampson Street might be. I had a few coins left in my pocketbook, and as I hailed a cab I prayed it would be enough. I really didn’t relish having to yank a pearl off my grandmother’s necklace just to pay for a taxi ride. Maybe I shouldn’t have left that waitress a whole pound . . . But I wasn’t sorry.
The driver took me to what he said was Pimlico and dumped me at a line of tall row houses. It had started to rain in earnest. I looked around for my hallucination, but there was no flash of blond hair. Just a dark street, the spitting rain, the worn steps of number 10 climbing to a dingy peeling door. I hoisted my case, clambered up, and banged the knocker before my courage deserted me.
No answer. I banged again. The rain was falling harder, and despair rose in me like a wave. I pounded and pounded until my fist ached, until I saw the minute twitch of the curtain beside the door.
“I know someone’s in there!” I wrenched the door handle, blinded by rain. “Let me in!”
To my surprise the handle turned, and I flew inside, falling at last off my impractical shoes. I hit the floor of the dark hallway on my knees, tearing my stockings, and then the door banged shut and I heard the click of a pistol being cocked.
Her voice was low, graveled, slurred, ferocious. “Who are you, and what the bloody fuck are you doing in my house?”
The streetlamps sent a blurry light through the curtains, half-illuminating the dark hallway. I could see a tall gaunt figure, a straggle of hair, the fiery end of a lit cigarette. The gleam of light off a pistol barrel, pointing straight at me.
I should have been terrified, recoiling from the shock and the gun and the language. But fury had swept aside the last piece of my feel-nothing fog, and I gathered my legs under me to stand, torn stocking snagging. “I’m looking for Evelyn Gardiner.”
“I don’t care who you’re looking for. If you don’t tell me why I’ve got a damned Yank breaking into my house, I’ll shoot you. I’m old and I’m drunk, but this is a Luger nine-millimeter P08 in excellent condition. Drunk or sober I can take the back of your skull out at this range.”
“I’m Charlie St. Clair.” Pushing the wet hair out of my eyes. “My cousin Rose Fournier went missing in France during the war, and you might know how to find her.”
Abruptly the electric wall lamp switched on. I blinked in the rush of harsh light. Standing over me was a tall gaunt woman in a faded print dress, her graying hair straggling around a time-ravaged face. She could have been fifty, or she could have been seventy. She had the Luger in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other; she kept the pistol steadily trained on my forehead as she raised the cigarette to her lips and took a long drag. Bile rose in my throat as I saw her hands. Good God, what had happened to her hands?
“I’m Eve Gardiner,” she said at last. “And I don’t know anything about this cousin of yours.”
“You might,” I said desperately. “You might—if you’ll just talk to me.”
“That’s your plan, little Yank?” Her hooded storm-gray eyes surveyed me like a contemptuous bird of prey. “Burst into my house at nightfall, no plan, and I’m betting no money, on the chance I’d know something about your m-missing friend?”
“Yes.” Faced with her gun and her scorn I couldn’t explain why, why the chance to find Rose had turned suddenly all-consuming in my wrecked life. I couldn’t explain this strange savage desperation, or why I had let it drive me here. I could only state the truth: “I had to come.”
“Well.” Eve Gardiner lowered her pistol. “I suppose you’ll want t-tea.”
“Yes, tea would be—”
“I don’t have any.” She turned and made her way back down the dark hall, walking long-strided and careless. Her bare feet looked like an eagle’s claws. She weaved a little as she walked, the Luger swinging freely at her side, and I saw she still had a finger through the trigger. Crazy, I thought. The old cow is crazy.
And her hands—they were monstrous knobbed lumps, every knuckle misshapen and grotesque. They looked more like lobster claws than hands.
“Keep up,” she said without turning, and I scurried after her. She struck a door open and flicked on a light, and I saw a cold sitting room—a mess of a place, grate unlit, drapes drawn so no chink of light could come in off the street, old newspapers and dirty tea mugs lying everywhere.
“Mrs. Gardiner—”
“Miss.” She flung herself down in a shabby armchair overlooking the whole messy room, tossing her pistol down on the table beside it. I winced, but the thing didn’t go off. “And you can call me Eve. You’ve f-forced your way into my house, so that’s a level of intimacy I’m already disliking you for. What’s a name?”
“I didn’t mean to force my way—”
“Yes, you did. You want something, and you want it badly. What is it?”
I pulled up a hassock and sat down, suddenly uncertain where to start. I’d been so focused on getting here, I hadn’t thought how exactly I should begin. Two girls times eleven summers, divided by one ocean and one war . . .

About the Author:

Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.

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