Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spotlight on Romancing the Duke

Historical romance author Tessa Dare launched her new Castles Ever After series yesterday with the release of the first book in the series, Romancing the Duke.  We're happy to offer you a sneak peek into this delightful story, courtesy of HarperCollins publishers, as well as an opportunity to win a $50 gift card (details below).  

In the first in Tessa Dare's captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love . . .

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too.  The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off.  One by one by one.
  • Ugly duckling turned swan?
  • Abducted by handsome highwayman?
  • Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?
No, no, and... Heh.

Now Izzy's given up yearning for romance. She'll settle for a roof over her head.  What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who's never even been kissed?

This one.

A sneak peek of ROMANCING THE DUKE:

The driver pocketed her offering and touched his cap. “What was yer name again, miss?”
“Goodnight. Miss Izzy Goodnight.”
She waited to see if he would recognize it. Most of the literate people in England would, and a great many of their domestic servants, besides.
The driver only grunted. “Jes’ wanted to know it, in case someone comes around asking. If you’re never heard from again.”
Izzy laughed. She waited for him to laugh, too.
He didn’t.
Soon driver, team, and carriage were nothing more than the fading crunch of wheels on the road.
Izzy picked up her valise and walked through the barbican. A stone bridge carried her over what once had been a moat but now was only a slimy green trickle.
She’d done a bit of research in advance of her journey. There wasn’t much to read. Only that Gostley Castle had once been the seat of the Rothbury dukedom, in Norman times.
It didn’t look inhabited now. There was no glass in many of the windows. No lights in them, either. There should have been a portcullis that dropped to bar the entrance—but there was nothing there. No door, no gate.
She walked through the archway and into the central, open courtyard.
“Lord Archer?” Her voice died in the air. She tried again. “Lord Archer, are you here?” This time, her call got a respectable echo off the flagstones. But no answer.
She was alone.
Dizzied from her strange surroundings and weak with hunger, Izzy closed her eyes. She coerced air into her lungs.
You cannot faint. Only ninnies and consumptive ladies swoon, and you are neither.
It started to rain. Fat, heavy drops of summer rain—the kind that always struck her as vaguely lewd and debauched. Little potbellied drunkards, those summer raindrops, chortling on their way to earth and crashing open with glee.
She was getting wet, but the alternative—seeking shelter inside one of the darkened arches—was less appealing by far.
A rustling sound made her jump and wheel. Just a raven taking wing. She watched it fly over the castle wall and away.
She laughed a little. Really. It was too much. A vast, uninhabited castle, rain, and now ravens, too? Someone was playing her a cruel trick.
Then she glimpsed a man across the courtyard, standing in a darkened archway.
And if he was a trick, he wasn’t a cruel one.
There were things in nature that took their beauty from delicate structure and intricate symmetry. Flowers. Seashells. Butterfly wings. And then there were things that were beautiful for their wild power and their refusal to be tamed. Snowcapped mountains. Churning thunderclouds. Shaggy, sharp-toothed lions.
This man silhouetted before her? He belonged, quite solidly, in the latter category.
So did the wolf sitting at his heel.
It couldn’t be a wolf, she told herself. It had to be some sort of dog. Wolves had long been hunted to extinction. The last one in England died ages ago.
But then . . . she would have thought they’d stopped making men like this, too.
He shifted his weight, and a slant of weak light revealed the bottom half of his face. She glimpsed a wide, sensual slash of a mouth. A squared jaw, dark with whiskers. Overlong hair brushed his collar. Or it would have, if he had a collar. He wore only an open-necked linen shirt beneath his coat. Buckskin breeches hugged him from slim hips to muscled thighs . . . and from there, his legs disappeared into a pair of weathered, dusty Hessians.
Oh, dear. She did have such a weakness for a pair of well-traveled boots. They made her desperate to know everywhere they’d been.
Her heart beat faster. This didn’t help with her lightheadedness problem.
“Are you Lord Archer?” she asked.
“No.” The word was low, unforgiving.
The beast at his heel growled.
“Oh. I-is Lord Archer here?”
“Are you the caretaker?” she asked. “Are you expecting him soon?”
“No. And no.”
Was that amusement in his voice?
She swallowed hard. “I received a letter. From Lord Archer. He asked me to meet him here on this date regarding some business with the late Earl of Lynforth’s estate. Apparently he left me some sort of bequest.” She extended the letter with a shaking hand. “Here. Would you care to read it for yourself?”
That wide mouth quirked at one corner. “No.”
Izzy retracted the letter as calmly as she could manage and replaced it in her pocket.
He leaned one shoulder against the archway. “Aren’t we going to continue?”
“Continue what?”
“This game.” His voice was so low it seemed to crawl to her over the flagstones, then shiver up through the soles of her feet. “Am I a Russian prince? No. Is my favorite color yellow? No. Would I object if you were to come inside and remove every stitch of your damp clothing?” His voice did the impossible. It sank lower. “No.”
He was just making sport of her now.
Izzy clutched her valise to her chest. She didn’t want Snowdrop getting wet. “Do you treat all your visitors this way?”
Idiot. She cursed herself and braced for another low, mocking “no.”
He said, “Only the pretty ones.”
Oh, Lord. She ought to have guessed it earlier. The fatigue and hunger had done something to her brain. She could almost believe the castle, the ravens, the sudden appearance of a tall, dark, handsome man. But now he was flirting with her?
She had to be hallucinating.
The rain beat down, impatient to get from the clouds to the earth. Izzy watched drops pinging off the flagstones. Each one seemed to chisel a bit more strength from her knees.
The castle walls began to spin. Her vision went dark at the edges.
 “I . . . Forgive me, I . . .”
Her valise dropped to the ground.
The beast snarled at it.
The man moved out from the shadows.
And Izzy fainted dead away.

Could your “castle” use a pick-me-up? Enter to win a $50.00 BED BATH & BEYOND gift card below for a home improvement happy-ever-after of your own!


  1. Hi PJ and Andrea! I have been looking forward to Tessa's new series since I finished her last Spindle Cove book. I had a chance to get together with her at RWA/Atlanta and she is just as lovely and charming as all of her books!

    1. Welcome back! We've missed you!

    2. Thanks, PJ, I've missed you as well. It's been a difficult time and I'm just starting to get back into the swing of things.

  2. This sounds really good. I have to find out who the gentleman with the sensual mouth is now. Thanks for the chance to win.I rent here so no major undertakings for me.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    1. Carol, it's a wonderful book - full of charm, humor and emotion. Hope you enjoy it!

  3. Thanks for the sneak peek. Can always use a BB&B g.c. Love that store.

    1. Can always use a BB&B g.c. Love that store.

      Me too, Pat! I can do some serious damage in that store. *grin*

  4. Have lived here 30 years. Redid the kitchen in 1998. New flooring at front doorway before that. New flooring, tub, and vanity just after that.
    I am sure much, much more needs to be done (like replacing all of our original carpets), but every time we get the money, something else becomes the priority (like being at our nieces' weddings 2000+ miles away, replacing a car, shingling, widening the driveway for our kids' cars to fit, and now helping to pay for my MIL's nursing home care re her Alzheimer's).
    Loved the excerpt. I enjoy stories where the heroine faints, as it brings out a protectiveness in the hero.

    1. Laney, there always seems to be something out there ready to claim our dollars, doesn't there? I had my former house on the market for six years before it sold. I kept putting off upgrading because I was sure it would sell "any minute." Finally replaced the carpet with hardwood floors and remodeled the kitchen. The house sold within the year. Found myself wishing I had done the upgrades years earlier, not only to help the house sell but so that I could have enjoyed them longer! :)

  5. Oooh, a new Tessa Dare book, yay!! We renovated our bathroom 2 summers ago, literally gutting it and hubby building a wall. But, I still need to update it with shower curtain, wall decor, and maybe new towels. ;) I love the paint color we used. It's a peachy sand color; goes with everything, but we chose chocolate brown accents.

    1. It's a good one too, Deb. I enjoyed it a lot!

      I love the sound of your bathroom, Deb. That peachy sand color is one of my favorites and I bet the chocolate brown accents are gorgeous!

  6. I must admit I had to laugh as soon as I read the excerpt and then again when I saw what your question was!

    We moved into our "new home" that my husband built the day after our younger son was born 40 years ago and we were so excited to have a home of our own! Of course at the time we actually hadn't really finished it (no front or back steps but a piece of plywood to walk up to get into the house) but who cared - we were "home"!

    From the beginning there were things that we put off to do "someday" but who knew it wouldn't be until near the end of last year that we finally started! (Think yellow refrigerator with masking tape holding the shelves up.) We didn't mind because our sons were able to go to college and have families of their own with no debt to hold them back and who cared what color the appliances were anyway.

    To say the improvements we've been making is an improvement is being modest. We now have stainless steel appliances (and the stove doesn't have a big crack in the stove top!) and no more masking tape on the shelves in the frig! Up-dated both bathroom and lots of painting and priming but it's been worth every stoke! We've done it all ourselves with the exception of the kitchen floor which is now a wood floor (YEAH - No more Formica!) which we paid to have done.

    Kudos to my husband and the hours he's spent eery week-end after a long week working. Yes, we're suppose to be retired by now (or at least planned to be) but I've heard that 70 is the new 60 so we have 4 more years to go before we can just sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor!

    1. You may not be sitting back and relaxing yet, Jeanne but it sure sounds like you're enjoying the fruits of your labor. Kudos to you!

  7. First of all, let me say how much I enjoyed this book. The plot is somewhat different but absolutely adorable!

    When my husband and I retired and moved to Florida, we bought a beautiful home on the water with a pool and dock. However, it was a few years old and needed some updating. We peeled wallpaper off the walls, painted the whole place, changed out the tile on the floors and regrouted the tile on the counter tops taking out some tiles and adding ones with birds on them and a mosaic of a cluster of tropical birds to match in the center of the counter. We did so many other things to this house and it was a labor of love. A few years later, we decided that keeping up a house, yard, pool, boat, etc. was more than we wanted. However, with the work we had done, we were able to sell the place for nearly three times what we bought it for! We now live in a condo and life is good!

    1. Sounds like your hard work paid off, Connie! Like you, I'm in a condo now and loving it. A lot. :)

    2. Condos give us more free time to read! Win-Win! :-)

  8. I really want to repaint my living room and to replace the flooring in the kitchen and bathroom and replace the vanity in the bathroom

    1. I've been in my condo for nine months and like most of it just as it is but there are a few things I'd change. The kitchen floor is one. Maybe one of these days. Good luck with your improvements, Tabathia. Re-painting is easy, relatively inexpensive if you do it yourself and a great way to change the whole look of a room.

  9. Congratulations on the new release. I'd like to remodel my kitchen, so I keep watching HGTV to learn about any do-it-yourself tips. I think it's probably something best left to the professionals. :)

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  11. I just read my first Tessa Dare last year and loved it. This sounds like a wonderful series! We redid our bathroom soon after having my first child. Took out a porcelain bathtub and ceramic tiles, wall papered, new mirrors, the floor - the works. In hindsight I probably would have kept the tub and tiles and just had them cleaned up. My husband did most of the work and had someone help him with that extremely heavy tub - lot of work.

  12. Hi Tessa!!!
    The best home improvement was Fixing up a house my parents bought from the ground up!! Everything from the ripping out of the old carpet throughout the whole house of two floors and putting in new carpets to the re-tiling of the kitchen and the bathroom, ripping out the old bathroom and wall paper and placing in new tub, facets, and wall, to demolishing the wood panels off the walls and painting the original walls... painting the whole house!! It was a lot of work and a lot of money but the house is now looking even better than it used to when it was occupied by the previous home owner.

  13. A year after we bought our present home we ended up with a flooded basement. Since we had to fix a lot of the basement we decided to add a master bathroom and make a longer, larger front entrance way. Finally, we covered a upstairs porch and turned it into cabinets and desks for a children's library! It was a mess for a while but we loved the end results!

  14. I'd like to change the kitchen and back entrance.

  15. My whole house is a crisis! LOL! I guess we could start with an interior paint job!

  16. I n.e.e.d. a new castle!!! [P.S.] with BIG libray, please. ;) :P
    and... I can't wait to read your new book, new series... I first started reading you book, "One Dance With A Duke"... the rest was history!!

  17. I can't wait to read this book!

    My home is over 100 years old so there's always something to fix. LOL I'd love to revamp the kitchen.

    Marcy Shuler

  18. I can't wait to read this book! I've read Tessa Dare's previous series and I love castles so I know I will love this book!

  19. I recently had both of my bathrooms remodeled. One of them was turned into a laundry room so I won't have to take stairs to do my laundry done now.

    I love your books and this one sounds like another winner. Thanks for the giveaway!

  20. I'm absolutely LOVING this book! So hysterical and emotional and fun!! I can't wait to read the others in the series. Great job!! And yes, my castle could use a pick me up. :) Always.

  21. a couple of years ago I inherited my Dad's house - the kitchen was 50 yrs old & small - I had an addition added out the back of the house & a new larger kitchen created - what an experience, but I love how it ended up!

  22. I would love to be finished with our castle projects. We bought an 1898 victorian farm house in 1992. We are still working on it. It was structurally sound, but needed to be gutted and redone. The lath and plaster was in poor shape, there was no insulation, the wiring needed to be redone, and the yard cleaned up. The person who owned it for about a year before we got it did more damage with his remodeling work than 100 years did. We have gutted the rooms wired, insulated, sheet rocked, refinished and replaced the woodwork and worked on the windows. He had knocked off the old kitchen and replaced it with a California sunroom - vaulted ceilings, sky lights, 2 atrium doors. It looked like someone backed a bread truck up to the house. The fireplace was put in wrong and didn't draw properly (the wall and ceiling were black after only one season). The room was 20 x 24 ft. with the kitchen in one half (10 ft. wide) and an 8 inch drop down to the family room. Half the cabinets were on the sub flooring, the others on top of the parlay flooring. The kitchen sink cabinet was sitting caddy corner in the middle of the floor with no counter on either side. We spent the first 3 years working on all the things he did wrong. We have extended the family room and made the floor all one level. We also added on, widening the rooms and making a breakfast nook, entrance hall with closets, and a sunroom with a gazebo corner. It changed the blockiness of his addition and blended with the victorian look. We have landscaped, changed the garage and added to it and are working on the driveway. We have done most of the work ourselves and it has gotten old. We aren't working as fast as we used to plus many of the things we did 20 years ago, like painting, need to be done again. I would love to be done, but I don't think we ever will be.
    Thank you for the excerpt. It was delightful. ROMANCING THE DUKE is now firmly on my to get list.

  23. I'm renting now so no major renovations to do like I might when I owned, but there's always something I need from BBB, like new curtains, sheets, and now need an electric can opener since my old one just broke to help with hand problems.
    I'm just now starting Romancing the Duke, charmingly funny heroine, another good one from Tessa.

  24. I'm currently in the process of adding a library on-- then it will be a TRUE castle! :-)
    I just got Romancing the Duke today-- SQUEE! I can't wait to start it!