Tag Archive | Christy Carlyle

GUEST SPOT AND GIVEAWAY: Historical Hellions Box Set

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From bluestockings to scandalous heiresses, these strong-willed, unconventional historical romance heroines don’t let anything stand in their way when it comes to love and happily ever after. Featuring seven novellas and novels from award-winning and bestselling authors.

The Pursuit of Pleasure by Elizabeth Essex

Independent, politically-minded heiress Elizabeth Paxton has never wanted to marry, but longs for the freedom afforded to widows. The last thing she wants is dangerously attractive Captain Jameson Marlowe as a husband.

The Thief Steals Her Earl by Christina McKnight

The Earl of Cartwright is determined to find out who stole from his family. When he finds out the thief is the woman he’s fallen in love with, he must choose between duty and love.

Secrets in Scarlet by Erica Monroe

When a bluestocking with a scandalous past meets an idealistic sergeant, sparks fly as they work to solve a murder…but her secrets may lead to their undoing.

Sleeping Beau by Lila DiPasqua

Inspired by the tale of Sleeping Beauty–a scorching hot historical romance novella from the Fiery Tales series. One sleeping rake, one scorching kiss, one night of unforgettable passion…

The Art of Seduction by Eileen Richards

A spinster finds freedom as a theatre set painter until a chance meeting with the marquis who broke her heart has her questioning what she wants for her future.

The Madam’s Highlander by Madeline Martin

What’s the madam of a successful bawdy house in Edinburgh to do when she finds one of the English supported Black Watch soldiers needing to desert his post? She helps him, of course – but there’s a high price to pay.

Reckless Wager by Christy Carlyle

Victorian propriety and passions collide when a beautiful widow makes a wager with a wounded police detective bent on solving the Ripper mystery.


Heroines as Hellions: a Guest Post by Erica Monroe

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” – William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

erica monroeI have always been drawn to strong heroines. I am a child of the ‘90’s, growing up surrounded by American Girl dolls, highlighting women’s contribution to history, and stacks of Nancy Drew novels, teaching me that women could solve any problem with a bit of ingenuity and kindness. As I came of age, a plethora of television shows highlighting fierce women (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, Charmed, the X-Files all come to mind immediately) constantly reminded me that my value is not determined by the opinions of others, but by how I perceive myself. In college, I studied authors who changed the course of literature with their refusal to blindly follow society’s dictates that women could not possibly write as well as men. Jane Austen’s Emma, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and George Eliot’s Middlemarch solidified not just my love for nineteenth century Britain, but for determined and smart, yet still flawed, heroines.

As I write this, Lady Gaga is blasting in my office, and I am surrounded by signs that say things like “like a boss” and “write your own life story” (as well as a gigantic poster from Rogue One with “Rebel” in big letters), all reminders to remain true to myself and my creative strengths. And indeed, I have forged a career for myself in writing dark, suspenseful historical romance, where the women are just as dangerous and capable as the men whose heart they capture. I write women who are survivors, who, despite many difficulties and obstacles, have fought tooth and nail to eke out a small place of happiness in a cruel world. When I write—and when I read for my own enjoyment—a book, I want the hero and heroine to be equal partners.

So it should come as no surprise that when my critique partner, Christina McKnight, and I sat down to outline a new historical romance boxed set, we chose “strong women” as our theme. Like me, Christina writes unconventional women, and heroes that embrace their uniqueness. Historical Hellions  contains seven novels and novellas (two of which have never been before published: The Madam’s Highlander and The Art of Seduction), all featuring revolutionary women blazing their own path. We’ve got a thief desperately trying to save her family from debt (The Thief Steals Her Earl), a woman who agrees to a marriage of convenience with her best friend in hopes she’ll become a widow (The Pursuit of Pleasure), a mysterious seductress (Sleeping Beau), and a widow who drives a hard bargain (Reckless Wager).

In my book, Secrets in Scarlet, my heroine Poppy has been shunned by her small English town because she had a child outside of marriage. Poppy moves to London, and begins working in a factory in the Spitalfields rookery under an assumed name—pretending to be a war widow, so that no one will know her daughter is illegitimate. But when another girl is murdered at the factory, the H-District Metropolitan Police’s investigation puts Poppy right in the crosshairs of Sergeant Thaddeus Knight… who would love nothing more than to solve the puzzle Poppy presents.

Secrets in Scarlet holds a special place in my heart because Poppy is somewhat of an unwilling rebel—her main concern is protecting her daughter. She thinks she’s cost herself her own happily ever after, because surely, no man would want a fallen woman. While Thaddeus’s love certainly strengthens Poppy’s sense of self-worth, she must learn for herself that her past does not weaken her. I think that’s one of the most important lessons I learned from growing up with so many excellent examples of strong women: strength manifests itself in many ways. Poppy is a quieter heroine, a bluestocking who’d rather spend her days at home surrounded by books. She struggles, and she has doubts and fears, but when it comes to seeking justice, she fights hard. In the end, she realizes that her past experiences have made her who she is today, able to empathize and love with great depth.

That’s what we hope to present to readers with the Historical Hellions set: women who are their own champions, who love passionately, who battle nearly impossible odds and still triumph. None of our heroines are perfect– just as none of us are—and it is their imperfections often that end up making them shine. We want readers to know that like these heroines, their uniqueness is wonderful, and they too can change the world.

Giveaway

Erica and her fellow authors are offering THREE (3) eCopies of the boxed set of Historical Hellions novels and novellas to three lucky winners. Enter at Rafflecopter below (no purchase is necessary). The giveaway is open for one week, and the winners will be notified shortly after the closing date.

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About the Authors

USA Today Bestselling Author Christina McKnight writes emotional and intricate Regency Romance with strong women and maverick heroes.
USA Today Bestselling Author Erica Monroe writes dark, suspenseful historical romance with an emphasis on women’s rights and social issues.
USA Today Bestselling Author Lila DiPasqua writes historical romances with heat, and her Fiery Tales features fairy tale reworkings.
USA Today Bestselling Author Madeline Martin heats up the Highlands with her historical romances.
USA Today Bestselling Author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era.
RITA Award Nominee Elizabeth Essex writes award-winning historical romance full of adventurous heroines and their sea captain heroes.
Bestselling Author Eileen Richards writes lighthearted Regency romps.

VIRTUAL TOUR: Rules for a Rogue (Romancing the Rules #1) by Christy Carlyle

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Kit Ruthven’s Rules (for Rogues)
#1 Love freely but guard your heart, no matter how tempting the invader.
#2 Embrace temptation, indulge your sensual impulses, and never apologize.
#3 Scorn rules and do as you please. You are a rogue, after all.

Following the rules never brought anything but misery for Christopher “Kit” Ruthven. After rebelling against his controlling father and leaving the family’s Ruthven Rules etiquette book empire behind, Kit has been breaking every one imaginable for the past six years. He’s enjoyed London’s sensual pleasures and secured his reputation as a Rogue, but he’s failed to achieve success. When he inherits his father’s publishing business, Kit is forced back into the life he never wanted. Worse, he must face Ophelia Marsden, the woman he jilted but never forgot.

After losing her father and refusing a loveless marriage proposal, Ophelia has learned to rely on herself. To maintain the family home and support her younger brother, she tutors young girls in deportment and decorum. But her pupils would be scandalized if they knew their imminently proper teacher was also the author of a guidebook encouraging ladies to embrace their independence and overthrow outdated notions of etiquette like the Ruthven Rules.

As Kit rediscovers the life, and the woman, he left behind, Ophelia must choose between the practicalities she never truly believed in, or the love she’s never been able to extinguish.

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EXCERPT

Before Ophelia could gather her sister and head back to the kitchen, a knock sounded at the front door. Juliet clutched her notebook to her chest and bolted back into the library.

Slipping Guidelines behind her back with one hand, Ophelia grasped the doorknob with the other. She schooled her features into a pleasant expression in case it was Mrs. Raybourn or, heaven forbid, Mr. Raybourn, in need of more reassurance their girls weren’t on the high road to ruin because of the book no one knew she’d written.

When she pulled the door open, all the breath whooshed from her body.

Their visitor wasn’t any member of the Raybourn family.

“Kit Ruthven.”

“You remember me, then?” He grinned as he loomed on the threshold, his shoulders nearly as wide as the frame. Eyes bright and intense, he took her in from head to toe, and then let his gaze settle on her mouth. When he finally looked into her eyes, the cocksure tilt of his grin had softened. She read a wariness in his gaze that matched her own.

She’d spent years trying to forget those dark, deep-set eyes.

“I remember you.” Her book slipped, skidding across her backside and clattering to the floor as her throat tightened on sentiments she’d been waiting years to express. None of them would come. Not a single word. Instead, in outright rebellion, her whole body did its best to melt into a boneless puddle. Gritting her teeth, Phee fought the urge to swoon or, worse, rush into his long, muscled arms.

“I’m relieved to hear it.” He had the audacity to kick his grin into a smile, a rakish slash that cut deep divots into his clean-shaven cheeks. Then he took a step through her door. “I worried that—”

“No.” She lifted a hand to stop him. Looking at the man was difficult enough. Hearing his voice—deeper now but achingly familiar—was too much. If he came closer, she might give in to some rogue impulse. And that wouldn’t do.

That wouldn’t do at all.

Ophelia swallowed hard. She needed a moment to gather her wits. To rebuild her walls.

“You dropped something.” He moved toward her, so close his sleeve brushed hers.

She lowered her hand to avoid touching him and jerked back when he bent to retrieve her book, watching as he turned the volume to read its title.

Miss Gilroy’s Guidelines for Young Ladies. How intriguing. Looks as though Ruthven Publishing has some competition.”

Seeing him again was worse than she’d imagined. And she had imagined this moment aplenty. Far too many times. Not just on her infrequent jaunts to London but most days since they’d parted. The man had lingered in her thoughts, despite every effort to expel him.

Taking a shaky breath, she braced herself and faced him.

He’d always been tall. When they were children, she’d looked up to him. Literally. But he’d never used his size to bully others. More often he’d born teasing about his physique. Ungainly, his father had called him, and Kit repeated the word when referring to himself.

Now he offered no apologetic hunch in his stance. He didn’t cross his arms to narrow his body. More than embracing his size, he wielded his generous dimensions with a virile grace that made Phee’s mouth water. He stood with his long legs planted wide, shoulders thrown back. His chest was so broad that she itched to touch it.

Stop being a ninny, she chided herself. The most essential observation was that he did not look like a man who’d pined for her. Not a hint of guilt shadowed his gaze.

He thrust his hands behind his back, and the buttons above his waistcoat strained against the fabric on either side, as if the muscles beneath were too sizable to contain. Phee’s gaze riveted to the spot, waiting to see which would win—the pearly buttons or the dove gray fabric. When sense finally wound its way into her boggled mind, she glanced up into gilded brown eyes. He was the winner, judging by the satisfied smirk cresting his mouth.

Kit stood too near, close enough for her to smell his scent. A familiar green, like fresh-cut grass, but mingled now with an aromatic spice. Each breath held his spice scent heightened by the warmth of his body. The heat of him radiated against her chest.

His eyes were too intense, too hungry. He perused her brazenly, studying the hem of her outdated gown before his gaze roved up her legs, paused at her waist, lingered on her bosom, and caught for a moment on her lips. Finally, he met her eyes, and his mouth flicked up in a shameless grin.

She looked anywhere but at his eyes. On his neck, she noted the scar from a childhood adventure in the blackberry briar. Then she got stuck admiring his hair. Apparently his scandalous London lifestyle—if the rumors she’d heard were true—called for allowing his jet black hair to grow long and ripple in careless waves. Strands licked at his neck, curled up near his shoulders.

Time had been truly unfair. The years hadn’t weathered Kit at all. If anything, his features were sharper and more appealing. His Roman nose contrasted with the sensual fullness of his lips and those high Ruthven cheekbones. And his eyes. Gold and amber and chocolate hues chased each other around a pinwheel, all shadowed by enviably thick ebony lashes. One theater reviewer had written of the “power of his penetrating gaze.”

Ophelia only knew he’d once been able to see straight to her heart.

Retreating from his magnetic pull, she dipped her head and stared at his polished black boots, the neatly tailored cuffs of his trousers. Black as pitch, his clothing reminded her why he was here. He’d come to the village to bury his father. He was no doubt as eager to return to London as she was to close her eyes and make the too tempting sight of him disappear. But why had he come to her home?

“My condolences to you and your sisters,” she offered, and almost added Mr. Ruthven. That’s what everyone in the village would call him now, and they would expect him to live up to the name. Just as his father had.

“You didn’t attend the funeral.”

“Would your father have wished me to?” They both knew Kit’s father had never welcomed her presence in his life. She didn’t bother mentioning that Ruthven’s rule book explicitly instructed ladies to avoid funerals.

He shrugged. “I only know what I wished.”

There it was. The heart of all that had passed between them spelled out in six words. Kit had never doubted what he wanted—freedom, fame as a playwright, financial success on his own terms. Unfortunately, she’d never made it high enough on his list.

“Forgive me for missing your father’s funeral. I promise to call on your sisters soon.” Ophelia slid the door toward him, forcing him to retreat as she eased it closed. “Thank you for your visit.”

Pushing his sizable booted foot forward, he wedged it between the door and its frame. “I don’t think we can count this as a visit until you invite me in.”

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: AVON Impulse, November 2016

Time and Setting: England, 1894
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by: Heather C.

Kit and Phee were close friends and very nearly lovers before he left the country life for the siren call of London and the thrilling life of a playwright. During the next four years apart, Kit and Phee both tried to convince themselves that they were not hurt by the decision and could move on, but when the death of Kit’s father brings him back home to settle the estate, the past doesn’t seem so much in the past between these two. Can they get their feelings sorted out and make a go of it again or are they destined to remain apart?

I very much enjoyed Rules for a Rogue and I credit most of that to the fact that the situations that unfolded within the story do not feel contrived, but are instead natural and believable. I wasn’t required to suspend reality for one moment. Kit leaves for the city because he doesn’t fit with his father’s strict regime at home and he wants the thrill of the stage in London, yet he leaves behind his heart. His father’s death is due to a long-standing illness, not some sudden onset, and Kit returns home with the plan to just put his family back together then return to the place he has made his home… that is, until he runs into Phee again. Meanwhile, Phee has a secret; she has penned a guidebook for young ladies that pushes the envelope toward modernity and she doesn’t want her close-minded community to find out that she is the author. Her secret and Kit’s family’s business dealings come together in a way that could bring them closer or set them farther apart and I liked how both Kit and Phee vacillated between the possible outcomes. The author strikes the right balance between the light, comedic moments and the more serious elements that contribute to the believability of the story.

I really enjoyed the characters in this novel. Ms. Carlyle makes each one into a full figure – even the peripheral characters like Kit’s sisters, Phee’s sister and aunt, and their friends. Very quickly each is given a distinct personality that is anything but cookie-cutter. While they might seem to represent tropes (the hard-headed heroine, the rogue, the spinster friend, etc.) there are so many layers here that are peeled back as the story goes on to discover more complexities than previously thought. Even the villainous character isn’t a representation of evil; in Christy Carlyle’s hands he is more of a persistent prig that causes our couple hardship by getting in the way rather than intentionally wreaking havoc. Additionally, I believed in the character’s motives. Both Phee and Kit have been hurt and are trying to protect their hearts, but also make the hard decisions to do what is right by their families, and each other. We also have just enough back-story to fill in the details of their relationship before Kit goes to London to make the reader understand just what they gave up by making that decision.

The romantic element here is spot on. The author did not need to spend lots of time on the build up as these two had been nearly lovers in the past, but did need to give readers something to connect with first. It’s sweet, but necessary and doesn’t feel all that scandalous despite how it would have been perceived by society.

I don’t often pay much attention to quotes that authors sometimes use at the start of each chapter, because they are too oblique for me to pick up on the reference while reading, but that isn’t the case here. The majority of the chapters begin with either an excerpt from one of Ruthven’s Rules or alternatively, Miss Gilroy’s Guidebook for Young Ladies. These two books do play a significant role in the greater story arc and each rule or guideline directly connects to an action taken by either Kit or Phee in that chapter. There is a clear purpose here and I appreciated it.

Overall, I was very satisfied with this story as I just ate up the pages and was left wanting more.

GIVEAWAY

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

christyFueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

You can connect with Christy at: website * ~ * Facebook * ~ * Twitter * ~ * Goodreads.

One Dangerous Desire (Accidental Heirs #3) by Christy Carlyle

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In a bet between two old flames . . .

Rex Leighton dominates the boardroom by day and prowls the ballroom at night. Searching for the perfect bride to usher him into the aristocracy, he abandoned the idea of love the last time he saw the delicious May Sedgwick. But when he’s roped into a bet, where the prize is the means to fund his greatest ambition and the stakes are a marriage he’s already planning for, Rex is willing to go all in. There’s just one problem—he’s competing against the only woman he’s ever loved.

Only love can take it all…

May Sedgwick could be the belle of the season . . . if she cared. She is more interested in the art studio than the marriage market and her craving to pursue her passion far outweighs her wish for a titled husband. Winning this bet will finally allow May to follow her true artistic desires. Rex losing is just a side benefit, as are his breathtaking kisses that she just can’t resist.

When May is forced to choose between the dream she never knew she wanted and the man she’s never been able to forget, Rex must convince her desire is worth a bit of danger.

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Publisher and Release Date: Avon Impulse, April 2016

Time and Setting: Victorian England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Jenny Q

I was drawn to One Dangerous Desire for several reasons: it takes place in the late Victorian period, it features Americans in London, and the hero and heroine are competing against each other to win a bet. May Sedgwick, daughter of an American department store baron, came to London for one purpose: to find a titled husband. But, raised in her father’s business world, she also has dreams of running her own business one day. A talented artist, May has a passion for interior design, but it’s unlikely any English husband would approve of his wife being in trade. However, opportunity comes her way in the form of her best friend’s father, the Duke of Ashworth, who is thinking about redecorating his Mayfair mansion and is willing to consider May for the job. But there’s someone else angling for his patronage, self-made tycoon Rex Leighton, who dreams of building the grandest hotel in London and needs Ashworth’s investment to make it a reality.

May is shocked to see her first love in London, the young clerk who abandoned her and broke her heart six years ago in New York. Rex knew May was in London, but he vowed to stay away from her, believing himself to be unworthy of her affection and not wanting to interfere with her future. But neither is prepared for the rush of feelings that accompany their re-acquaintance. The duke, being a bit of a romantic and a trickster, and sensing something between May and Rex, offers them a chance to compete for his patronage. Knowing that both are seeking titled spouses to further their positions in society, he challenges them to find their future mates, and the first one who does will win the bet. Both May and Rex have prospects in mind, but over the course of the next few weeks, seeing each other at every social function on the arms of others makes them realize that, after all these years, they still only have eyes for each other. May finally learns the reason Rex left her behind and comes to understand the demons from his childhood that drive his ambition, and Rex recognizes May’s talent and applauds her dreams for a career of her own. But before they can act on their feelings for one another, they have to re-evaluate the futures they’ve chosen for themselves and determine what’s most important to them. Do they stick with their sensible plans or take a chance on love?

This was my first time reading Christy Carlyle, and I was very impressed with the writing and the dimensional, intriguing characters, including several secondary ones whom I’m hoping will feature in future books. But the story itself fell a bit short for me. From the description, I was really looking forward to a battle of wills where Rex and May would try to out-do each other in a game of one-upmanship as they battled to win the bet. But since it turns out that to win the bet all one of them has to do is get engaged before the other, that intense competition doesn’t happen, especially since neither of them really wants to be with anyone else anyway. I also expected their reunion to take a bit longer. Six years apart is a long time, and while the author does a good job of letting us see glimpses of the past and the young love they shared, I expected May to put up more of a fight when the man who broke her heart suddenly reappears and wants another chance. There are a couple of subplots involving their fathers and their attempts to use their children for their own gain, but overall, I found the story to be a little plain and ho-hum. But I give it big props for its business-minded slant, for endearing characters, and for a sweet epilogue that left me with a big smile on my face.