**Release Blitz** ~ Hold You Against Me, by Skye Warren (plus excerpt and $50 gift card giveaway)

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Discover the dark contemporary romance of the summer from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren. HOLD YOU AGAINST ME is a brand new standalone romance that you can’t miss!

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“Hold You Against Me quite literally grabs a hold and refuses to let go until the end. Truly one of the first Mafia books I’ve read that sucked me in with a completely original and brilliant storyline that had me guessing the entire time!” – #1 NYT Bestselling Author Rachel Van Dyken

Book Blurb

Once upon a time the daughter of a mafia king fell in love with a foot soldier…

This fairy tale didn’t have a happy ending.

My sister and I barely managed to escape alive, and we’ve lived in relative hiding ever since. I’m safe now, but I can never forget the boy who gave his life to save mine.

Except there’s a chance that he’s still alive. And he’s fighting a war.

Even knowing the risks, I have to find him. I have to find some way to protect him, the way he protected me. But he isn’t the boy I left behind. He’s a violent man. A criminal. And he’s been waiting for me—the final pawn in a dark game of survival and love.

“Suspenseful and sexy, Hold You Against Me will leave you gasping for breath and wanting more. Skye Warren is the queen of dark reads and she comes through once again with Hold You Against Me. An absolute must read.” – USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Shea

Kindle ➝ http://amzn.to/1qSrcBW

iBooks ➝ http://apple.co/1Xqwtxl

Nook ➝ http://bit.ly/1X1eWNT

Google ➝ http://bit.ly/1TI8wT4

Kobo ➝ http://bit.ly/1TNyvXj

Print: http://amzn.to/22sZQjL

Excerpt from Hold You Against Me by Skye Warren 

Something moves me gently, constant and rhythmic like waves. I’m warm. There’s something soft curling around my arms, wrapped inside my fists. Padding beneath my cheek that smells like home.

An unnatural darkness weighs down on me, keeping me from waking up—a demon’s whisper in my ear. You’re warm, you’re safe. Sleep.

But something is wrong.

I remember falling asleep, so suddenly, remember drinking water that I hadn’t filled. And I remember the phone call from Amy telling me that Giovanni’s alive. Impossible.

Awareness pricks my skin like a cold breeze. Wherever I am, I’m not alone.

I blink rapidly, forcing my eyes open. They adjust to the darkness quickly, taking in the tinted windows on either side and the wide leather bench curving beneath me. I’m in a car. A limo, to be exact. And it’s moving.

On the opposite side of the long space, a large body reclines. I can see the wide stance of his legs, the pale white of his shirt. A suit jacket tossed beside his hip. His face is hidden in the shadows of the vehicle.

I was raised by the head of the Las Vegas mafia, the capo. I grew up around guns and violence, so I know when a man is armed. It’s the way he holds himself, the warning shimmering around him like a dark halo.

This man is armed and extremely dangerous.

Every muscle in my body tenses. My mind still swims in thick water, because I must have been drugged. He drugged me, this faceless man. Why did he take me? It won’t be anything good, that’s for sure.

Even worse, I suspect this has something to do with my past, with my family. It’s messed up that I’d rather be taken by some random psycho. But at least then I’d have a chance of getting away.

“Who are you?” I demand, my voice hoarse from whatever drugs they gave me.

There’s a long pause, the weight of his regard as heavy as a finger trailing down my neck.

“Have I really changed that much, bella, that you don’t recognize me?”

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 GIVEAWAY

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**Blog Tour, Exclusive Author Post & Review** BLOQ by Alan Jones

Released in the last week, we are pleased to be joining gritty, Scottish crime author Alan Jones (The Cabinetmaker, Blue Wicked) for his latest work of fiction, BLOQ, during his release blog tour! Not only do we have the book info and review for you, but the author has written an exclusive piece for us, whereby a main character from the story is being interviewed by a journalist, also a character from Bloq!

bloqTitle: Bloq

Author: Alan Jones

Genre: Crime drama, thriller

Release date: April 1st, 2016

Released by: Ailsa Publishing

Length: 300 pages

Blurb: A father waits in Glasgow’s Central Station for his daughter, returning home from London for Christmas. When the last train has pulled in, and she doesn’t get off it, he makes a desperate overnight dash to find out why. His search for her takes over his life, costing him his job and, as he withdraws from home, family and friends, he finds himself alone, despairing of ever seeing her again.

This is a gritty crime novel with some sexual content.

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

Bloq is an extremely well-written dark and gritty crime novel, telling the story of a widower whose devoted daughter doesn’t come home for Christmas. The father goes to all lengths in the search for her, with twists and surprises that really do shock and create emotion within the reader.

We start where the reader is succumbed to a fantastic, dark-but-gripping prologue, demonstrating foul play and providing us with the curiosity to find out just who the victim is, and who did it. I love it when books reel you in, straight in at the deep end at the very beginning. In this way, there’s no leaving the story until you get some answers. The author has his claws in you, and you’re hooked!

One cannot help but feel completely devastated for Bill. He is a very likable, gentle character, and not only has he been widowed recently, but now his only daughter, Carol, has gone missing with no explanation. Since she moved down to London for her career as a journalist, Carol always took the time to return to Glasgow, visiting her parents, and now just her father. She would always let him know which train she was ready to catch and he would then meet her at the station. When her train arrives with no sign of Carol, he immediately senses that something is wrong; she hasn’t called or texted him. And so he waits for the next; all the time the reader senses his gut feeling that something is wrong.

As the story begins to unfold, and with little help from the police, Bill tries to follow the only lead he has from one of Carol’s friends. To be able to keep track of his search he spends a great deal of his time in London, whilst still trying to maintain his day job in Glasgow. With luck going completely against him, after a few weeks of working flexi-time, he is encouraged to leave due to the fact that he shuts himself off and thinks only of his daughter’s disappearance.

Many doors close in Bill’s face, leaving very little hope. But, the sheer determination that Bill has is admirable. The reader can truly sense that he will find out what happened if it’s the last thing he does. I found myself tearing up due to the gentle and caring manner the author wrote about Bill’s actions and feelings – as if it was the author himself that had undergone this terrible ordeal. It is delicately and beautifully written in the places it needs to be. A truly outstanding read.

I love how in all of Alan Jones‘ books the main character has a skilful trade that is incorporated somewhere into the story. In this case it is more subtle than his previous work, but as a fan of the author I truly appreciated it.

Alan Jones has gone from strength to strength with each book (The Cabinetmaker, Blue Wicked). And, I can see Bloq being his most popular to date. It will definitely stay with me for a long time to come, and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

A copy of Bloq was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**EXCLUSIVE AUTHOR POST**

To coincide with our blog tour post Alan Jones has kindly provided us with a pastiche of an article written by one of the minor characters in the book, a journalist, about one of the main characters in the book, the owner of the nightclub that gives the book its title – Bloq.

Aleksander Gjebrea – Eastern Bloq Entrepreneur. By Steve Evans The Times, Business section: London Local

I met Aleksander Gjebrea at his up-and-coming nightclub, ‘Bloq‘, a new player in London’s entertainment scene. After hearing good things about the club, bravely located in one of the city’s less fashionable areas, I paid a visit with some friends a week ago. If the evening was anything to go by, the management are pulling out all the stops to attract the cream of London’s clubbers.

While they’re still a way off attracting the A-listers, the club has its fair share of lesser known celebrities and young footballers. And it was busy. Even so, the owner took time to sit down during the evening for a while and chat with our group, and I must say, it would have been hard to imagine a more congenial host. I took advantage of this and asked him if he would be prepared to give me an interview for an article in a series I was writing about young immigrant entrepreneurs who had made their mark on their adopted city, and he kindly agreed.

So, before it opens for the evening’s revelry, we’re sitting in Bloq, drinking coffee and talking about his journey from his first job as a barman after arriving in the UK over ten years ago, to owning a nightclub with multiple zones and a top of the range sound system attracting up and coming DJ’s from all over England.

I asked him first if he’d ever hoped he could have come this far in such a short time. He laughed. “I always knew I would succeed. I would have just kept going until I did. That it happened so soon is just a bonus.” He tells me this in a voice tinted with an accent which is a product of his Albanian origins. I complement him on his English. He smiles and tells me that at first, the accent was detrimental, both in his employment and in social situations, but, the more successful he had become, the more his Albanian tinted speech proved to be an asset, but he stopped short of saying that he deliberately cultivated his accent to appear more charismatic.

He certainly oozed an easy and unaffected charm. A good looking man at 35, he says his single status is largely due to his focus and drive being on the business. He claims to work 18 hour days and, from what I have seen, it would be hard to dispute this.

“When I arrived from Albania, I had three of four jobs in different bars; a day here, a day there, but the owners soon realised that I worked hard and had a good feel for the job. I’d worked in my uncle’s bar back in Vlorë before I left Albania, so I knew the bar trade well. After a few months, I was offered the manager’s job at one of the bars and I increased turnover by £35K in one year. I put the bonus money I’d saved as a deposit on a run-down bar in a not so good area. It was part of a bankruptcy sale and it went very cheap. Within two years I had bought the property next door and expanded out into it. There were lots of students moving into the area and I put in some good audio, hired some decent DJs and did the whole place up as a small club.”

He told me where his first venture was situated, and that his younger brother ran it now. I asked him what had prompted his decision to move on to a new place when he had built up a good business that was doing well for him.

“I knew that I’d taken it as far as it could go. My brother had been over for a few years working for me and I thought of making him the manager, but I decided that he would make a better job of it if he owned it. I know that he’ll pay back the money to me, even though I’ve never asked him for it. It’s in our family make up. So I was happy to hand it over to him. I knew that to achieve my ambition of having a top class club, I needed a bigger venue, in the right location.”

I asked him why he’d chosen Walworth. It wasn’t an obvious place for a top end nightclub.

“It was the building that mattered, and I couldn’t afford one big enough in a more fashionable area. Walworth has good transport connections and is not too far away from central London. This building came up and I knew it was right.”

On the club’s name, he re-told the story I’d heard when I’d visited the club. Originally, he’d intended to call the club Eastern Bloq, a homage to his origins, but the name had been shortened to the more striking Bloq.

We took a break from our interview and he showed me around. The club has four main areas. There’s a sizeable lounge bar with a dance floor; very well decked out with lush seating and a number of tables for diners. The club does a limited menu, but it’s not primarily an eating place. It has a laid back feel to it, and the music is generally smooth, shall we say, and it’s not so loud as to make conversation impossible without shouting. The drinks are priced reasonably for an establishment of this quality, although, for those with too much disposable income, I noticed a few very expensive bottles of wine and some top end spirits on the drinks menu.

A stairway from the main foyer climbs to a terraced seating area overlooking the lounge bar, housing an intimate and quiet corner in the otherwise hectic and noisy venue.

The third area is the main dance zone, and you can tell there’s been a heavy investment in the sound system, and just as importantly, in the sound insulation that allows the music to be as loud as it needs to be without making the rest of the club intolerable. It’s very impressive, as I saw on the night I was there as a clubber, and the lighting was equally attention-grabbing too.

I asked Aleksander how much it had cost him.

Without blinking, he told me the whole place had cost well over three quarters of a million. I’d suspected it might have been more, but he informed me that he could strike a good deal with his contractors! He said that he’d paid off the loans on his previous club within three years and that he’d been able to put a bit of money behind him before he bought the building that he then transformed into Bloq. Despite that, he adds that it will take him a little longer to clear the debt on his latest project.

“I also run an import\export business between the UK and Albania. There’s a demand for British luxury goods because of the more open economy out there, and we bring produce back from Albania that competes very well with its UK equivalents. This, with some property development we’re also involved in, has allowed us to reduce the debt burden significantly, just five years into the life of the club.”

As we returned to the lounge bar, he showed me the VIP room, that is available at an undisclosed fee to those of his clientele who preferred a more private and personal experience, but with access to all the club’s other facilities.

“It’s very popular for birthdays, anniversaries and the like, and we’re finding it increasingly being booked by commercial organisations for corporate entertainment.”

I tackled him about the drug scene, and how it affected the management of the club.

“Being completely honest, it’s nearly impossible to stop it altogether, but our security is second to none, and we pride ourselves on the fact that the club has no serious drug issues.”

Returning to the lounge area, I asked him where he thought he’d be in another five years.

“My ambition is to make Bloq one of the premier late night London Venues by 2017. I would like to think that we can accomplish it at this location, because it’s good for the local area, bringing employment and extra footfall for local businesses. After that, who knows. Paris, Rome, Madrid?”

Having spent a few hours with the man, and being given a glimpse of the small but impressive business empire he has built from nothing in a very short time, it’s hard not to believe him when he says that he can achieve this ambitious target, and it’s even harder to rule out the possibility that it may well happen.

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BLOQ_Tour

**Release Blitz & Review** Porn Money & Wannabe Mummy (The Debt & the Doormat #3) by Laura Barnard

Release Blitz

Porn Money and Wannabe Mummy 

Release date: 23rd March 

Hosted by Two Ordinary Girls and their Books 

 
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What is it about turning thirty that sends rational women into a tailspin?
 
Suddenly going from having all the time in the world, to cringing at the ticking of her biological clock, Poppy is drowning under the strain of trying to get pregnant.
 
With a dad in the throes of a mid-life crisis, a crazy mother-in-law and time racing towards Lilly’s wedding, will she be able to cope with it all…and give Ryan the baby they so desperately want?
 
Finally able to inherit her dad’s porn money, Jazz can’t wait to be rich! She can buy a house in Chelsea, go out partying with her old mates and start living how she deserves.
 
But with Ollie, Jemima and Meryl each clawing at their own little piece of her happiness, will she have to leave behind those closest to her in exchange for it?

The real question is, can Poppy and Jazz rescue their own lives before everything gets ruined, or will their own stubbornness destroy the lives they’ve created?

Author info



Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or ‘chick lit’ as its so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She’s a real fan of the power nap and of course READING!

She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

 

A few pages into chapter 1 and I find that I have laughed out loud at least three times already! Yes, I LOVE Laura Barnard‘s humour, and her Debt & the Doormat series is the best. The story opens with Christmas day at Poppy’s parents house; it’s a large family get together where her mum, Meryl, is already sloshed at 11am! Poppy’s mum is hilarious – cringeworthy, but hilarious. It’s a great opening from the onset.

 

The Debt & the Doormat series continues in a fun and natural way as we meet our favourite characters a little further on in their lives; Poppy is now married to Ryan and trying desperately for a baby, whilst Jazz is living with Ollie at his and Poppy’s parent’s house with their little Jemima. Whilst the pressure is on for Poppy, with no sign of a baby, the story is set up for some embarrassing doctors visits, all the while she is trying to keep it a secret from her family, which proves difficult when it’s rubbed in their face when super-bitch, sorry, sister-in-law, Grace is pregnant. Oh… and Ryan’s ex, Nicole! And, then there is Jazz, Poppy’s BFF, who inherits her father’s money of £20 million. Yes, £20 million!!! Of course, Jazz can throw her money around, party, go crazy, but will it be at the expense of her loved ones? It’s a great read for fans of the series to continue reading the antics of this crazy bunch, but it also can be read as a stand-alone for new fans.

 

With so many characters in the series, it amazes me how I remember them all, but they all have their own traits, and the storyline incorporates them all so well, with many sub-story lines happening with each of them. The art of Laura Barnard‘s writing lies where she draws all of these stories together; they generally connect with either Poppy, the ‘doormat’, taking pity on them and helping as many people out as possible, despite her own stresses, or with Jazz acting selfishly and pushing people away, with a lack of consideration of their feelings.

 

Porn Money & Wannabe Mummy is a wild, fast-paced ride with many twists and turns that will keep you guessing the outcome at every turn. It is the height of chick-lit fun, and I have always placed it next to Bridget Jones and Miranda. Therefore, if you are fans of these, you will also LOVE this series.

 

Aside from the chaos and the characters, another aspect I love about Porn Money & Wannabe Mummy is just how contemporary it is, e.g. there are references to how schools treat kids, and a fun mention of The Walking Dead! There are also some new characters to welcome; one being Aunt Beryl’s new fellow, Simon, who will leave you in stitches, and then there’s Rupert who is only briefly mentioned but I wouldn’t mind hearing more from him! This really is a gem of a series and shouldn’t be missed!

 

A copy of Porn Money & Wannabe Mummy was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

 

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

 

The series also includes The Debt & the Doormat and it’s sequel, The Baby and the Bride. Both books have been reviewed on this blog, and both received a brilliant 5* from us on Goodreads and Amazon! The Debt & the Doormat was one of my Top Reads of 2013! Check our reviews by clicking on the links below:-

the-debt-the-doormat_1The Debt & the Doormat

This first book is FREE on Amazon UK and Amazon US. Go grab a copy now!

The+Baby+%26+the+Bride_2The Baby & the Bride (incl. interview with Laura Barnard)

You can find The Baby & the Bride on Amazon UK and Amazon US for a small price.

You an also check out her subsequent releases, Tequila & Tea Bags, Dopey Women, and the festive short read, Sex, Snow & Mistletoe.

Tequila & Tea Bags

This stand-alone is available at AMAZON UK and AMAZON US for a small price.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US

 

Festive short available at Amazon UK and Amazon US

*Book Blitz* Five Seven Five: Volume 1 (The Boy with Words) by C.E. Wilson

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Five Seven FiveTitle: Five Seven Five: Volume One (The Boy with Words)

Author: C.E. Wilson

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release date: November 20th, 2015

Length: 204 pages

Buy Links: Amazon US & Amazon UK

Blurb: Take only what can be used. Take only what won’t be missed. The Creators are watching all of us.

White Frost lives in a world cloaked in darkness and ignorance. While most people in her society are content to live in fearful peace, White’s cousin brings her words from the mysterious Unknown. Strange collections of written words that tease her that there may be more to the world than candlelight and dank hallways.

But when tragedy strikes, White can no longer rely on the words to give her solace. She must discover what lies beyond the only world she’s ever known… no matter the cost.

Eventually, White finds her way to the skies and there she discovers that the tantalizing clues of her words are only pale reflections of the massive and wondrous world above. Colors she never thought possible. Blinding light. And an impossible being who may or may not be the Creator of it all.

But this information comes at a price White Frost is not sure she can pay.

White’s hunger for knowledge proves to be her greatest strength and weakness as she strives to learn more. But as she learns, she has to wonder – is there such a thing as too much information? And what will happen as it brings her closer to a being who could destroy everything she’s ever known?

Find out in Five Seven Five, the first book in a two part series entitled The Boy with Words.

Author Bio:

C E WilsonC.E. Wilson is currently living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, beautiful daughter, chubby beagle and two cats. They are all the loves of her life. When she’s not writing Young Adult novels, she enjoys writing short stories on DeviantArt. She loves to read and write anything involving giants and little people (also known as G/t) and she can’t decide what she loves more: horror movies or shoujo manga. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Education so she has a soft spot for older literature authors including John Milton, William Shakespeare, and stories such as Paradise Lost and Beowolf. On a side note, nothing helps her to write more than drinking good coffee loaded with lots of cream and watching The Twilight Zone.


https://www.facebook.com/cewilsonauthor

https://www.goodreads.com/CEWilson


@cewilson1

*Release Blitz* I Am Free by Regina Bartley

RELEASE BLTIZ

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TITLE: I Am Free

AUTHOR: Regina Bartley

STANDALONE

RELEASE DATE: Nov 10, 2015

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LIMITED TIME SALE, Grab a copy today for only $0.99!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1RKbjWs

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I belong.
I am me.
Don’t judge.
Just see.
Let me live.
Don’t hold me back.
I’m not fragile.
I won’t crack.
Just because,
You think you know.
You’ve cast me out.
And kept me low.
Please don’t hurt me.
Let me be.
For the first time,
I am free…

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about-the-author2

Regina is a contemporary romance writer from Kentucky. She lives there with her husband, kids, dog and cat. She can be found behind her computer, a good book, or watching sports. She loves to hear from her readers. You can find out what’s coming next if you follow her on:

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/AuthReginaBartley

 TWITTER: @regina_bartley

WEBSITE: http://www.reginabartley.com

**RELEASE BLITZ** ~ Sexual Sorcery: An Erotic Tale of Sex, Mystery and the Occult, in Victorian England by C M Fontana

Sexual Sorcery: An Erotic Tale of Sex, Mystery and the Occult, in Victorian England by C M Fontana

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An unwitting academic stumbles into the erotically-charged occult underworld of Victorian London. With a cast of characters including an investigator with a talent for seduction, a mesmerist collecting a harem of beautiful ladies, and a woman who believes she has had sex with Satan, Sexual Sorcery is a sizzling story of decadence, conspiracy and carnality.

When a collection of books go missing from the University’s collection, Fredrick Clifford travels to London in search of the likely culprit, an apparently respectable gentleman named Victor Braystone. But he soon finds that he is not the only one with an interest in Mr Braystone, and the manipulative Catherine Wolseley soon draws him into her own schemes.

As he, Miss Wolseley and their seductive accomplice begin to unravel Mr Braystone’s plots, Fredrick Clifford finds himself both confused and entrapped in a shocking world of of sex and duplicity. And as the trail leads him from the seductions of a London club to a Satanic altar in the wilds of the Welsh borders, he struggles to make sense of both the dark uncertainties of the occult, and of an unfamiliar realm of debauchery and sex.

Buy Links:

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1VaaXZC

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1OunW9F

Author Bio:

C M Fontana is a British erotic author, fusing plots of mystery, intrigue, and the supernatural with racy erotica. The first full-length novels, Sexual Sorcery, was published for Kindle in September 2015, with two novellas continuing the series released soon after.

Author Website: http://mysticerotica.com/

Author Twitter: @mystic_erotica

Excerpt

By Saturday morning, Fredrick had still not had time to visit the agency to advertise for a new domestic servant, and he was becoming heartily sick of bread and marmalade for breakfast – or, indeed, for any other meal that he could not reasonably eat out. It was also an irritation that he had to answer his own front door, and now he found himself greeted at his front step by a small grubby boy, in bare feet and ragged trousers, presenting him with a sealed envelope.

He took the letter, tipped the boy a coin, and closed the door.

The paper was expensive, that handwriting feminine. Inside, a note simply read:

Two o’clock. My carriage will collect you. We cannot have gaps in your education as a gentleman. Please be an attentive student. Such classes are not inexpensive.

And that was all. He assumed that it was from Miss Wolseley, and resigned himself to having to follow her cryptic instructions. In the meantime, he thought, he would finish his newspaper, and then visit the agency to and see if they could alleviate his domestic difficulties.

And so, soon after lunchtime, after a satisfactory visit to the agency he found on returning to his house a familiar carriage parked outside.

“My good man, am I late?”

“Not at all Sir,” the gruff coachman tipped his hat. “I’m early. Take your time, Sir. We aren’t due til ‘alf past.”

Fredrick re-emerged promptly at two o’clock, and climbed into the carriage, and sat back while it bounced and swerved through the city’s congested streets. Out of the window he saw gentrified houses, and, as the traffic moved slowly on the main roads, although the journey was barely two miles, it took over twenty minutes. He was relieved to find that they stopped in a fashionable West End street.

He stepped down from the carriage, and the coachman indicated the door across the road.

He crossed the street and rapped with the brass door knocker.

Promptly, the door was opened, and a short, grey haired maid opened the door.

“Fredrick Clifford,” he introduced himself. “I may be expected?”

“Of course,” the maid curtseyed, with a hint of an accent, perhaps Italian or French, and stepped back to let him in.

She took his coat, hat and cane, and then led him up the stairs, and into a well furnished sitting room. Tall windows let light flood into the room through lace curtains, the room was decked with a range of plushly upholstered chairs and settees, the largest of which, unusually, seemed to be the size of a single bed, but with ornate arms and a high back.

The maid motioned him to take a seat in a plush chair by the window. She assured him, “I will say that you have arrived,” and then withdrew.

As he waited, he looked around. The décor was, the more he considered the details, eccentric.

Not only were the chairs unusually deeply upholstered, and the main sofa far wider than was needed, but there were numerous sturdy hooks, which looked like they might have hung chandeliers before gas lighting was installed, both in the ceiling and also, inexplicably in the skirting board at the foot of the wall. There was also a faint but spicy scent in the air, which he suspected might be incense – an unusual scent to encounter outside of a High or Catholic church.

The door opened, and he turned to see a tall, graceful woman step into the room. She wore a red silk robe like a dressing gown, and around her neck an ornate necklace of black beads. Her brown hair hung loosely in flowing curls, cascading over her shoulders, and Fredrick’s eyes were drawn further down, to the sides of her firm breasts, indecently visible where the two sides of the robe met.

“I’m so sorry!” he instinctively stood up and turned his back on her, to stare fixedly out of the window.

“And why, Mr Clifford, are you sorry?” The voice was soft, the accent unmistakably continental.

“I am… that is to say…” He could barely hear her approach, her bare feet on the carpet. “Perhaps I should return when you are properly dressed.”

Her voice, now just over his shoulder, chided, “Mr Clifford, I was told that you were a gentleman.”

“Well, yes!” he replied, indignantly.

“And is it polite, when a lady enters a room, turn your back on her, and then proceed to criticise her choice of clothing.”

“Well, I… there is a question of what is appropriate!”

“Your lessons today,” she corrected him, “are to deal instead with the question of what is courteous – gentlemanly. You may be quite right about what is appropriate. But this afternoon, that is not our subject.”

To Frederick, what was gentlemanly and what was appropriate seemed intimately connected. But Miss Wolseley had, presumably, some purpose in sending him here.

“I apologise,” he conceded, turning to face her. It would be a shame to argue with such an attractive hostess.

She smiled and inclined her head. “Then shall we start again?”

Fredrick nodded.

The woman turned and walked softly back to the door. He watched her robe sway against her legs, and was impressed by her grace. She left the room, and shut the door after herself. Fredrick sat down again, and waited.

After a minute, the door opened again, and the woman returned.

Fredrick stood up, and stepped forwards to greet her. “Fredrick Clifford, Madam. At your service.”

She held out her hand, palm down, and he took it gently, and bowed slightly as he motioned to kiss it. He could not help, bending forward, but appreciate the gentle curve of her breasts, barely draped in thin red silk.

“Signorina Maria Cenci,” she replied with a hint of a curtsey. “Charmed to meet you, Sir.”

 

She motioned him across to the wide sofa, strewn with cushions, and when he sat she took a seat next to him. Her robe fell open at the knee, revealing her slender, pale calf, and Fredrick made an effort not to look too intently.

The door opened again, and the elderly maid entered, carrying a tray, which she set down on the table by the settee.

“Milk and sugar, Mr Clifford?” Signorina Cenci asked.

“Please, yes.”

“Tell me Mr Clifford, she asked, as she poured the tea and the maid withdrew, “how should a gentleman behave towards a lady?”

Fredrick considered for a moment, and then, taking the cup and saucer offered to him, replied: “A gentleman should always be respectful.”

“And why is that important?” she asked. And when Fredrick had no ready answer, she clarified, “Why should a gentleman be respectful to a lady, and not, perhaps, to a tree or stone?”

“Obviously, trees and stones don’t have feelings!”

“So when you say respectful, you mean that you should be aware of the lady’s feelings?”

“Quite so,” Fredrick said, taking another sip of tea and then setting the cup aside. “The male is the stronger sex. It is our duty to protect, both physically and mentally, the frailer gender. It shows us to be civilized human beings, and not savages.”

“And so,” Signorina Cenci asked, “you see that, if a man turns his back on a woman as she enters the room, she might be upset. In which case, the gentlemanly response is to greet her courteously, perhaps?”

“I see your point, Madam,” Fredrick acknowledged, not wanting to argue.

“But is it also gentlemanly,” she teased, “as you bend down to kiss her hand, to stare so intently at her breasts?”

Fredrick blushed, “I am so sorry, Madam, I didn’t intend to.”

She laughed, and stood. “Then shall we try again?”

“Of course, if you wish.”

She left her tea cup on the table, walked to the door, turned, paused, and then returned towards the sofa.

Fredrick stood, stepped forward, and took her hand when she offered it. This time, as he bent and motioned to kiss her hand, he kept his eyes fixed firmly on the floor.

Again Signorina Cenci laughed.

“Mr Clifford,” she smiled, placing her hand on his arm. “Do you really think that if a lady deliberately appears dressed like this – ” she raised her other hand to her neck and let her index finger slowly trace a line along the hem of the robe, down her chest, over the mound of her breast “ – that she does not want to be admired?”

“Really, Madam, I protest,” Fredrick sighed, “You say that I should not stare, and now you say that I should stare. What am I to do?”

“Mr Clifford, you are to be a gentleman. You are to behave with consideration for the lady’s feelings.” Seeing that he was still confused, she continued. “If you stare dumbly at my chest – “ she turned slightly, so that he could fully appreciate the silhouette of her breasts – “I might consider the stare to be aggressive, or I might worry that you are no longer capable of rational thought. You are still capable of thought, Sir?”

He raised his eyes from the curve of her robe, to look her in the eye again. “Yes, of course.”

“But if you ignore me entirely, I might think that I have failed to impress you, or that you consider me ugly. You do not consider me ugly, do you?”

“No! Of course not!”

“Then, Mr Clifford, please, stop trying to guess what the rules are. There is but one rule to being a gentleman. Consideration for the feelings of the other person. And so, consider my feelings, and act accordingly.”

“Very well,” Fredrick acquiesced.

“Then shall we try once more?”

She walked back to the door, and again turned to face him. She paused for a moment. “Are you ready, Sir?”

Fredrick nodded.

She ran her finger down the front of her robe, and deliberately opened the gap at her chest a little further, so that the sides of both breasts were quite bare. “Are you certain?”

Fredrick paused for just a second and then answered confidently: “Yes, Madam.”

Signora Cenci walked across the room, her hips swaying, and held out her hand, palm down.

 

Fredrick took her hand. As he bowed and raised it towards his mouth, he let his eyes glance over her soft flesh, and at the lowest point of his bow he glanced up to look her in the eye. Then he looked back towards her hand as he stood, and looked her in the eye again, keeping a lingering hold of her hand before releasing her.

“Mr Clifford!” she smiled, “Have you not been taught that it is too forward, even impertinent, to look a lady in the eye as you kiss her hand?”

“Signora Cenci,” he countered, “From the way that you adjusted your gown, I understood that you wanted me to be forward, even impertinent.”

“Bravo!” she clapped her hands three times and smiled. “Please sit, and explain to me your strategy.”

As they both sat down, he on her right, she on his left, he explained. “I trust that you wanted,” he glanced again at the curve of her breast, “to be appreciated, but with discretion. And I gathered that you would not mind a little impertinence. When I first looked up at your eyes, you could have looked away, but you did not. And so I inferred that a little more impertinence might be in order before I released your hand.”

“Perfect, Mr Clifford! You considered my feelings, and acted accordingly. One might almost say, appropriately?”

Fredrick smiled, “Yes, I think that you have proved that point.”

“Which is exactly why you are here,” she explained. She put her right hand behind her on the settee and turned her body towards him. “I am told that you are an intelligent, educated gentleman. But you have been taught to be a gentleman by following a set of rules. And now you find yourself in situations where the rules do not seem to work. Situations for which no rules have been written. Is this so?”

Fredrick nodded, “Increasing so, it seems.”

“And you are particularly unsure how to deal, in certain, unusual situations, with ladies?”

“I understand how to make polite conversation,” he admitted, “but there there are things, I find, that I do not really understand.”

“And that is why you have been sent to me,” Signora Cenci smiled. “Because if you are to be a gentleman in these situations, you will be more confident, yes?”

“I suppose so, yes.”

“And to be a gentleman you need only two things. You need to act with consideration or the other person. And you need to understand what the other person wants. You see?”

“Theoretically, I suppose.”

“At this moment, yes, quite theoretically. Because you do not know enough about what a woman wants, and so you cannot treat her…. appropriately. So we shall give you a basic understanding.”

She looked at him, saying nothing more.

He felt that he was expected to react in some way, but had no idea how.

“Mr Clifford,” she flicked her long hair over her shoulder, and then lowered her hand to her knee, where she parted her robe a little. “You are alone with a woman who has chosen to greet you in a quite indecorous outfit – so indecorous, that she has not even troubled to put on underwear, but instead has nothing between you and her but a single layer of very soft, very thin silk. And now she has sat mere inches from you, turned her body towards you, and is now waiting for you. Can you not imagine a gentlemanly reaction?”

He sat, confused, uncertain.

“To make this simple,” Signora Cenci coaxed, “you have two options. If you are not sure what I want, then you can construct some witty, sensitive line of conversation to draw me into disclosing my desires. Or you can take action, in such a way that my response will tell you more of what I want…. Do you feel able to engage in witty conversations at this moment?”

He shook his head, mutely.

“Then Mr Clifford, take action!”

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*Release Blitz* LETTING GO (The Garage Series #1) by Holly Renee

 

 

 

Title: Letting Go
Series: The Garage Series #1
Author: Holly Renee
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 Release Date: August 31, 2015

 

Blurb
When Kat was forced to leave the only home she had ever known due to her brother’s secrets, she wasn’t prepared for what was waiting for her in Tennessee or the choices it would force her to make.Kat instantly knew she didn’t like Blake Reagan. He was cocky, stubborn, and infuriating. What Kat didn’t understand was why she couldn’t stop thinking about him or the way he made her feel.

The last thing Blake expected was for Kat Archer to storm into his world and turn it upside down. He thought he had her pegged from the beginning, but she destroyed everything he thought he knew. Blake was willing to fight to push his way into Kat’s heart, but she put up a wall at every turn as she clung to her past.

If she stayed, she’d risk the only family she had left. If she left, she’d lose Blake and every piece of her heart that he’d managed to steal.

 

 

Purchase Links

 

AMAZON US / UK

 

Author Bio

Bookaholic, firm believer in grand gestures, and obsessed with happily ever afters.

Holly Renee is from the small town of Maryville, TN where she was born and raised. She currently lives with her husband and fur baby, Luna. (Yes. She was named after Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter.)

Holly Renee is the author of her debut novel Letting Go.

During the day, Holly spends her time as a nurse, but once her shift ends, she falls deep into her passion of reading and writing.

Author Links