September 2, 2014

Death by Scandal


Sometimes poison is a girl's best friend.
Lady Calandra can't help it if the scandal sheets have dubbed her "the dangerous debutante." The Earl of Camden needed to be shot. And she certainly didn't poison her latest suitor for failing to make her an offer...although everyone seems convinced she did. She's never killed anyone, but someone is determined to make it look as though she has. Desperate to save her reputation, Lady Calandra needs a betrothal-now-and turns to one of the few friends she has left.
Arthur, Lord Alsbury is only too happy to oblige her. Arthur has loved the beautiful musical prodigy for years. To save Calandra, he must put himself at risk. In order to unmask a killer, Arthur must pretend to be Calandra's next intended victim.
If he fails her, the consequences are dire--either a slow death by scandal or a swift one at the hands of a murderer.


Lady Calandra leveled her pistol at the Earl of Camden's heart. Upon further consideration, she lowered it to aim at a more precious portion of his anatomy. She didn't intend to kill her betrothed, but if he made a move toward her she might very well maim him.
He deserved nothing less.
Camden raised his hands in surrender. "What a pea-goose you are, my darling. Do be reasonable."
That was the wrong thing to say. Her resolve steadied.
"Reasonable? You arrogant nodcock! I should shoot you for that alone."
"Now, Calandra." His voice dripped honey. "Sweetheart, lower the gun. It might actually be loaded, you know."
"Shall we find out?"
"Perhaps I was a bit rough."
"Rough?" Her hair had slipped over one eye. Her cheek ached from his fist. "How dare you? No one lays hands on me like that."
His brow lowered. "Don't provoke me further, Calandra. Sometimes a husband must correct a wife." He took a step closer.
"I'm not your wife and I never will be." Her heart threatened to burst from her chest.
The Earl of Camden had been her parents' choice, linking the families of two prominent earldoms. If the young Earl had a reputation as a rake, there was no disputing his charm. He had such pretty ways and such a fat purse that she was quite agreeable to the match--up until thirty minutes ago when a silly miff had turned violent.
The assault hadn't stopped until she'd wriggled free and reached the dueling pistol on the desk before he had.
She looked down. Her lace hem was torn where he had stepped on it during the struggle. "You ruined my dress. I've only worn it this once."
Camden took a step closer. "Now you're making a cake of yourself. This was nothing but a tiff, darling, a trifle. By tomorrow all this will be forgotten." He took another step.
"Not while I have the bruise on my cheek to remind me." And the taste of blood in her mouth where her teeth had cut her.
"I never meant to mark you." He lowered his hands slightly, but froze when she cocked the gun. "Now give my pistol back, sweetheart. That thing goes off at the merest shiver of a touch. I know you have your bristles up, but you surely can't mean to kill me."
Her hand began to shake and she lowered the gun, pointing at his shin. To be fair, she had been flirting with other men. Camden had no right to take her to task so harshly, but perhaps she did bear some fault.
Sensing victory, Camden moved swiftly toward her. "That's my girl. You know I didn't mean to hurt you, but you made me so angry. If you hadn't provoked me like that, I would never have--"
The pistol bucked in her hand. Its report reverberated in the drawing room. Shouts and trampling feet followed.
Lord Robert Willis, fifth Earl of Camden, writhed on the floor clutching his backside.
"My arse! She shot me in the arse!"
It was sadly true.
He had turned at the last moment and taken the projectile in his derriere.
Just as well.
Otherwise, she would have shot him in the stones.

August 30, 2014

A Noble Dilemma

Susanne Marie Knight and A Noble Dilemma

Bethany has a guilty secret that if discovered, will scandalize Polite Society and her new love, the Earl of Ingraham. What would Jane Austen do?
After Bethany's elderly aunt dies, she is left without a home. When a distant relation, the Earl of Ingraham, offers her a London Season, it would seem to be the answer to her dilemma.
But Bethany has no interest in attracting an eligible suitor. She has other plans for her future. Her dream is to support herself by writing a novel, following in the footsteps of her favorite author. 
However, literary ladies are frowned upon, not only by Society but by the Earl, who is smitten with Bethany's beauty and character.
Fretting about her guilty secret, she agrees to further intrigue by acting as secretary to one of the royal dukes.
Will Bethany give up her chance for true love to continue her writing career? Or, will the Earl find a way to solve this noble dilemma?

David’s wish had been granted. The next dance would, indeed, be a waltz.
The vigorous music began to float throughout the ballroom. He set his hand on Miss Branford’s slender waist. He felt her tremble, like a fearful fawn might, newly taken from her mother’s side.
He smiled to reassure her, then took her hand. With a rush, he twirled her about in time with the music. Warm air sailed past them fueling their movements.
It was wonderful. Magical. As they danced, the delicate flush on her cheeks deepened. She cast her gaze everywhere but up at him.
Holding her as closely as the constraints of polite society would permit, he murmured into the shell of her ear. “I have been remiss in my attentions to you, my dear Miss Branford.”
She started to protest, but he stopped her.
“No, it is true, I have been negligent. As your guardian, tonight’s first dance should have been mine.” He inhaled her sweet fragrance of jasmine. “Is it any wonder I intend to challenge Penning to a duel?”
“No!” She pulled away, her face a study in conflicting emotions.
Surprise, shock, indignation--all these and more flitted across her lovely features.
David couldn’t help but laugh. “Peace, my dear Miss Branford. I jest.”
She resisted his resolve to bring her back into the folds of an intimate embrace.
A few seconds passed without her speaking. Finally, she scolded, “That was unkind of you, sir.”
“Perhaps.” He tightened his hold. “However you must admit the sight of Penning and me battling it out would surely prove to be a nine days wonder.”
“I admit nothing of the sort, my lord.” She turned her pert nose up at him. “Indeed, I believe you were correct in your first statement. You are remiss.”
She wasn’t averse to ringing a peal over his head, that much was certain. He found her righteous attitude to be delightful in the extreme.
He grinned. “Mea culpa, my dear. I shall endeavor to mend my errant ways and resume my guardian demeanor, eh?”
He executed a turn rather sharply, duplicating a movement he had espied Penning indulging himself in. The effect on his partner was the same: Bethany bumped into his chest.
That brief melding of her bosom to his stoked a fire burning wildly in his heart. He wet his lips, tapped down his desire, then apologized.
The blush on her cheeks changed to crimson. She apologized as well.
She gazed up at him earnestly, her yellowish brown eyes deepening to pure gold. “I realize I am foolish, and perhaps I am even badly mistaken in this case. But I do sometimes worry about inappropriate situations.”
“To be truthful and honorable are virtues to be commended, my dear. May I say how pleased I am that you have joined the Greyle household here in London.”
His words were meant to praise, not to cause consternation. But oddly enough, Bethany did indeed look alarmed.
When the waltz ended and they made their bow and curtsy, she gave a wan smile, then professed a desire to return to his mother’s side.
As David escorted Bethany back to the countess, he puzzled on the enigma that was his new protégé. Just what the devil had distressed her?

August 29, 2014

Historical Female Characters

Powerful Female Characters in Literature

We all have some favorite female characters here are a few of the ones we like.  Who are some of your favorites?

Jane Eyre

Though she suffers greatly, she always relies on herself to get back on her feet — no wilting damsel in distress here. As China Miéville wrote, “Charlotte Brontë’s heroine towers over those around her, morally, intellectually and aesthetically; she’s completely admirable and compelling. Never camp, despite her Gothic surrounds, she takes a scalpel to the skin of the every day.”

Lizzie Bennett, Pride & Prejudice

She is strong, smart, and knows what she wants.  She always spoke her mind.

Jo March, Little Women

Jo from Little Women is smart, impulsive, argumentative, and willing to do anything for her family, even cut all of her hair off to raise some cash. 

Hellen Keller, The Story of My Life

Her determination as a girl to learn to communicate, but also her social role as an adult.