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The cover of the print edition of The Return of the Earl, by Sandra SchwabI’m terribly late with today’s post (so late that it’s already tomorrow here in Frankfurt) because I had this brilliant idea to record a reading for you only to realize that after more than a year out of the classroom, my vocal cords aren’t quite what they used to be…. In other words, Chaos Sandy has struck once again.

BUT!!!! I’ve finally finished that recording, and I even still have a voice! Wheee!

So, remember how back in January I told you all about my return to Regency England and the garden follies and how I used the grounds of Harewood near Leeds as an inspiration for the grounds of the stately home belonging to the very grumpy earl in my WIP? Well, the very grumpy earl is about to be unleashed unto the world: On Friday, The Return of the Earl will hit bookshelves! Here’s the blurb:


On the Continent they call him the Ice Prince, icy of manner, icy of heart. Now, after thirteen years of exile, Con returns home to England and to Harrowcot Hall, a place haunted by memories of a long-lost friendship and past betrayals, a place where all of his dreams shattered and died.

But the past is over and done with, and can no longer touch him — or so Con thinks. He certainly does not expect to come face to face with Bryn Ellison again, the man whom he once loved beyond everything and who repudiated their bond in the cruelest way imaginable.

As snow and frost close in on Harrowcot Hall, Con’s icy demeanour starts to melt while he grapples with old hurts and newly awakened passions. Will he give in to the lure of the past against his better judgement?

This book contains a very grumpy earl, a dashing stablemaster, some ravishment in various places, several garden follies, a lot of snow, and a horse called Lancelot

And now please grab a cup of tea and follow me to Harrowcot Hall as I read to you a few snippets from the novella.

I hope you enjoyed the reading!

The Return of the Earl is already available for pre-order on Amazon, and the print edition should be ready by next week.

Now the only question is: What should I write next? I think I might stay with the garden follies of Regency England… I’ve missed them so! 🙂

cover picture of A Taste of Scandal
Yesterday was release day for A TASTE OF SCANDAL, a multi-author box set I contributed to. Indeed, even the cover is so scandalous that Facebook wouldn’t let one of us boost her “Hooray! New release! With pretty new cover!!!” post. Because, you see, you can plainly discern a man’s neikkid back and shoulder. *gasp*

And biceps!

Let’s not forget that lovely biceps!!! *pats screen*

(I do hope you’re keeping your smelling salts nearby in case you’re overcome by so much scandalous scandalousness!)

And here’s is the scandalous blurb:

Heat up your history with eight amazing novels from USA Today bestselling authors and brand new voices [and, well, me] in this box set! From Regency ballrooms to Victorian bedrooms [and garden follies adorned by giant stone pineapples!!!] [how could you possibly resist those stone pineapples?!!?], there’s something here for every lover of steamy, sexy historical romance. Scottish highlanders, noble spies, and witty aristocrats use humor, wits, and intrigue to get whatever — and whoever — they desire. But these daring heroes meet their match when they encounter bewitching beauties who want more than just a taste of scandal…

(In case you wonder: the fabulous Elizabeth Cole aka the mastermind behind this box set wrote the blurb. Now I just need to find out how I can get her to write all my future blurbs.)

If you don’t quite know how to become properly scandalous yourself, never fear: We have assembled a list of handy tips from some of our heroes & heroines on how to be truly scandalous. Let’s start with a bit of a garden theme:

"The Dovecote" - art by Sandra Schwab “If you suspect a beautiful, unmarried woman is a spy, lead her to a dark garden where you can kiss her senseless while discovering whether she has hidden assets.” ~ Sebastien Thorne from A HEARTLESS DESIGN by Elizabeth Cole

“Garden follies (even those adorned by giant stone pineapples!) are most wonderfully suitable for seduction.” ~ Sebastian “Fox” Stapleton from BEWITCHED by Sandra Schwab

For our next tip, you don’t need a garden, but having a brother is kind of essential:

“Blame everything on your roguish brother so that your darkest secret will never be revealed to the woman you love.” ~ Patrick Rochester from DARK PERSUASION by Vicki Hopkins

So far, our list might lead you to think that only romance heroes have scandal on their minds. But nothing could be further from the truth! So let’s hear from two of our heroines:

"Elinor" - art by Sandra Schwab“The easiest way to get one’s self married is to make a man dizzy with desire. And not let him get undizzy until after the wedding.” ~ Elinor from TO WED THE WIDOW by Megan Bryce

The next one is my personal favorite. It’s a great line to use when you have to deal with a stubborn or annoying hero:

“I don’t think I could kill you, even though you deserve it. They would probably behead me at the Tower if I murdered a duke.” ~ Elizabeth from EDUCATING ELIZABETH by Kate Pearce

"Elizabeth" - art by Sandra Schwab
If you want to find out about all the scandalous things that happen in A TASTE OF SCANDAL, you can pick up your copy for just 99 cents at the following sites:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Apple itunes | Kobo

And now let’s hear from you: What is the best scandalous thing you’ve ever encountered in a romance novel?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of the very first edition of BEWITCHED (yes, that would be the old Dorchester edition from 2008) (and yes, I still have a few brand new copies of that edition), my contribution to the box set. I’m going to pick a winner (randomly chosen) on Sunday, 11 October.

Freedom to Love, my newest historical romance–and my first full-length release in over two years!–comes out tomorrow. It has what I think is an unusual and somewhat risky setting for a Regency–most of the story takes place in America in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of New Orleans.

FTL cover

I specifically asked for this release week because Thursday is the 200th anniversary of the battle. Even though all the story action is after the fighting ends–the first scene is the hero waking up on the battlefield, wounded and dazed–I did a fair amount of research just to know what he’d gone through before the story started. Most of that research involved books that have long since been returned to the University of Washington library (my day job employer and go-to source for dry academic tomes, access to 200-year-old newspapers, and the like), but here are five things I learned about the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans that I didn’t know going in.

1) I’d always been told that the British were so confident of victory and eager to get at the wealth and famously beautiful women of New Orleans that on the eve of battle their sentries’ sign and countersign were “beauty” and “booty.” Turns out that isn’t true–while the British knew they outnumbered the Americans and with some justification believed their regiments to be of superior quality, they also knew they were attacking a well-fortified position across open ground. Also, no matter how much they were looking forward to the pleasures and treasures of New Orleans, “beauty” and “booty” sound far too much alike to be an effective sign/countersign, and the British commander, Sir Edward Pakenham, was an upstanding, upright gentleman who would’ve been unlikely to approve its use.

2) Andrew Jackson employed slave-catchers to try to prevent American slaves from escaping to the British (who promised–and delivered–emancipation to any who came to them). However, he also accepted the city’s free black militia into his cobbled-together army over the objections of many officers and civilian officials. This would not be the first or last time Jackson proved himself a pragmatist above all, IMHO.

3) British soldiers too severely wounded to join the retreat were cared for by Ursuline nuns–though my plot required a different fate for my hero, Henry Farlow.

4) Back in elementary and high school, we were taught that the main cause of the war was the British navy’s impressment of American sailors. While that was certainly a cause, the reality, as it often is, was More Complicated Than That. In fact, it was so complicated that I’ll simply recommend that anyone interested read Robin Reilly’s The British at the Gates.

5) Wellington was offered command of British forces in America after Napoleon’s initial abdication, but he politely refused, preferring a diplomatic role as ambassador to France and at the Congress of Vienna. It’s intriguing to imagine how different history might’ve looked if he’d accepted. He might not have been back in time for Waterloo, for starters. While I think Napoleon would’ve ultimately been defeated regardless, the 19th century would’ve looked different if, say, the Russian army rather than the Anglo-Dutch and Prussian forces claimed credit for his downfall. Also, there is simply no way Wellington would’ve attacked Jackson’s fortifications from such a position of weakness. Even Pakenham knew it was a bad idea, but he was pretty much goaded into it by the naval commander, Admiral Cochrane. Since Wellington was as stubborn and confident as anyone living at that time not named Napoleon, he would’ve stood up to the pressure. And if the Battle of New Orleans hadn’t been fought, or it was fought at a different place or time as a British victory…let’s just say we’d almost certainly have a different face on our twenty dollar bills.

Freedom to Love

Louisiana, 1815

Thérèse Bondurant trusted her parents to provide for her and her young half-sister, though they never wed due to laws against mixed-race marriage. But when both die of a fever, Thérèse learns her only inheritance is debt—and her father’s promise that somewhere on his plantation lies a buried treasure. To save her own life—as well as that of her sister—she’ll need to find it before her white cousins take possession of the land.

British officer Henry Farlow, dazed from a wound received in battle outside New Orleans, stumbles onto Thérèse’s property out of necessity. But he stays because he’s become captivated by her intelligence and beauty. It’s thanks to Thérèse’s tender care that he regains his strength just in time to fend off her cousin, inadvertently killing the would-be rapist in the process.

Though he risks being labeled a deserter, it’s much more than a sense of duty that compels Henry to see the sisters to safety—far away from the scene of the crime. And Thérèse realizes she has come to rely on Henry for so much more than protection. On their journey to freedom in England, they must navigate a territory that’s just as foreign to them both—love.

Freedom to Love is available wherever ebooks are sold, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, All Romance Ebooks, and Carina Press.

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