Scarlett Wynn’s tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues—and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other—if she can resist the attraction that draws them together . . .
As Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal no matter the cost. But Scarlett’s fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. But when the pair learn both mysteries they’re trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger—and lead them to search their hearts like never before . . .
DUCHESS IF YOU DARE - The Story Behind the Story
by Anabelle Bryant
What do you get when you cross Little Women with The Justice League?
The Maidens of Mayhem, of course.
This elite group of women is a force to be reckoned with although they don’t have magical powers or fly around London. They possess fierce human skills and extraordinary talents so you wouldn’t want to ignite their temper or get caught while breaking the law.
Publishers Weekly recently called the Maidens of Mayhem, “crime-fighting and wrong-righting heroines who are part Robin Hood and part Batman”. Even more than that, they are strongminded women who believe everyone deserves to be respected and protected no matter what level of society they come from.
The idea for this new historical romance series came together as I watched Captain Marvel with my husband and son. Captain Marvel is strong, beautiful, and capable of saving the world. Only a fool would glance at her pretty face and underestimate her power.
Yet even now in 2021, women are still fighting to be respected and have their voices heard. Imagine how frustrating it was as a woman in 1817. While society pressured females to accept their roles in a more passive way back then, I believe there were many women of the time who wanted freedom to make decisions, start a business, manage their own money – to be independent and responsible, and in control.
Naturally, not everyone in the Regency era belonged to the upper class or aristocracy. So, who helped women in need? Who took their ideas seriously? What was their daily life like with no support from society?
These questions contributed to my concept for the Maidens of Mayhem. I wanted to shine a light on the female spirit and how women are resilient, emotionally strong, creative thinkers – back then and present day. I also wanted to write about life outside the ballroom, to show parts of London usually not depicted positively, and the challenges that existed for women. I touched on this condition in my BASTARDS OF LONDON stories, but that series was more focused on consequences for men.
Writing DUCHESS IF YOU DARE was freeing and exciting. Scarlett is a woman in control of her own life until she meets the Duke of Aylesford and matters become complicated. Perhaps she’s not in as much control as she once believed. Perhaps her heart is the one thing she can’t command to listen. She struggles with the choice between freedom and love until she realizes one doesn’t exclude the other. I hope you’ll read her story and discover all the emotion and excitement in her journey.
Duchess If You Dare excerpt
In this scene, Scarlett and Aylesford are in a dark alley together keeping watch on a private gaming hell. Their conversation eventually turns personal and the duke is both surprised and impressed after hearing Scarlett reveal her tragic past.
“And still, you seek to make London a better place at the cost of your time and safety.”
She didn’t reply to this comment. She’d never shared so much of her personal history with anyone before, never mind a nob. Still, there was so much to tell, she’d only offered a thimble’s worth. Nevertheless, she wasn’t inclined to offer more.
“I haven’t any connections to the underworld, this culture alive and thriving in London away from Mayfair where I suspect the man with the ruby ring conducts business.” Aylesford filled the silence. He moved closer and didn’t stop until he stood directly before her. With her shoulders against the bricks, she had nowhere to escape though she was profoundly aware of his attention. “And you need access to some of society’s more exclusive events so you might discover this nobleman who entices women away from the brothel never to be heard from again.”
“But isn’t the man you mention one and the same?” She shook her head and raised her eyes to match his. “Aren’t we both seeking the same person?”
“Of course. Perhaps. Maybe,” he murmured, the air between them fraught with a strange combination of disguised emotion and unspoken words. “Maybe not.”
They stood that way a minute longer and the mood changed. Precarious questions hung in the quiet. Their breathing paired in tandem. She relaxed by degree. The gaming hell was forgotten. When he placed his gloved palm on the wall at her back, she knew what he meant to do and despite her brain screaming an objection, her heart began to flutter a faster beat. A rush of anticipation swept through her. This was foolish. As foolish as throwing a knife blindfolded and having it bounce back and slice into one’s brow. As foolish as she’d ever behaved. And yet still she didn’t object.
He was going to kiss her and bloody hell, she wanted that kiss.
Duchess If You Dare is about being brave and facing fears. When is a time when you had to be your most brave?
One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, March 5 will receive Anabelle Bryant's generous prize package below.
*Must be 18
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
I had to be my bravest when I went in for surgery for breast cancer and then followed up with rounds of radiation. When you need to be brave, stay positive!!ReplyDelete
I am so looking forward to reading this book as I have always enjoyed Anabelle Bryant's books. Would love to be your winner as well. Thanks for your giveaway!
Thank you for reading and your kind words. I admire your bravery and attitude to stay positive! I believe wellness is directly connected to a belief in oneself. Stay well. Anabelle
I would say going back to work at 65 after not working while raising my kids. I had worked 15 years before having children and mostly my job was obsolete.ReplyDelete
Wow - yes! Returning to the workforce is a challenge requiring bravery, not to mention some days raising kids too! Anabelle
I had to be brave and have the strength when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery, radiation and chemo. This onslaught made me determined to become stronger than ever.ReplyDelete
I admire your strength, courage, bravery and positivity. Good for you. I hope you are doing well. Anabelle
Being brave was necessary when I was diagnosed with RA. I had experienced excruciating pain and discomfort for a good while. I finally located a specialist but it took ages to determine which medication would be effective and help with the suffering I had to endure.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry to hear how much pain you have experienced and I hope the medication is helping. Physical pain can wear down even the strongest attitude. I hope you're feeling better. Anabelle
I have to say my bravest was back when my 2 daughters were in grade school we walked to school and back every day and once day in June before school got out we stayed after school to watch a game then the girls and I walked home on the way home we ran into 4 Coyotes the girls at that time was 6 and 7 years old I had them right by me the Coyotes one came by us about 6 feet then I stomp my foot and yelled get out of here then the Coyotes ran I was scared but the girls were laughing. I was scared one of them would try and grab one of my girls.ReplyDelete
Love the review it sounds very good thanks Penney
Wow! Coyotes! A good mother always protects her children. I can't imagine what having a showdown with 4 coyotes was like - but it must have been scary! You were brave! Anabelle
I think we're all being Brave right now, living during this pandemic. New challenges pop-up everyday and we have all been bravely facing them. From making decisions about in-person vs. virtual school, to getting together with family over the holidays or not and so many more. My family has had to make a lot of tough decisions during this time that some of our family and friends do not agree with but we have bravely stood by our choices and convictions, even in the face of their ridicule. It's been a tough year, I am so looking forward to things getting back to "normal".ReplyDelete
Your comment is so perfectly said and very true. Every day seems like a different kind of challenge where we all have to be brave and push through it. I'm also looking forward to a more "normal" way of life again. Anabelle
The time that I had to be the most brave was when I found out that my Dad was gravely ill and could die at any minute. I lived in Ohio at the time, and flew back to England not knowing if my Dad had passed whilst I was in the air. I was fortunate to make it the day before he died and was able to hug and kiss him, hold his hand and tell him how much I loved him, even though he was unconscious I think that he heard me because a few tears seeped from his eyes.ReplyDelete
What a beautiful little story. My Dad died recently from Covid--I was not allowed to go to the hospital to say goodbye. Wish now that it had been different.Delete
Susan in AZ
Susan, I'm very sorry for your loss. I've lost both of my parents now. I lost my Dad 20 years ago, so I'm very fortunate that I was able to spend a little time with him.Delete
Brave was when, at age 31, I moved 3000 miles across the country despite knowing nobody in my new town, for a job I wasn't sure I would like. Did it anyway. 30 years later, I'm still here.ReplyDelete
Susan in AZ
Brave indeed! But it must have been the right choice because you're still there. :) Anabelle
Your post is very touching and I believe your Dad knew you were there for him. Thank you for sharing your very brave story. Anabelle
Thank you, Anabelle. I think he knew that I was there, too. My Dad died on my birthday, and I've never been able to enjoy the day since.Delete
I understand why your birthday feels bittersweet because it carries with it the marking of your father's passing, but I hope someday soon you can enjoy your birthday again. Your father would want you to be happy. The two days are intertwined but I hope they come to be filled with happy memories. Anabelle
Enjoyed the excerpt.ReplyDelete
Testifying before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee for a bill which was introduced on my behalf was one of the bravest things I had to do.
Wow!! I would have been nervous. Good for you. That was very brave and you should be proud of yourself. Anabelle
Once our son was diagnosed with Autism, I had to be his advocate which was difficult for me being an introvert. I was determined to be my son's voice and fight for the services he needed. I even spoke in front of his school's faculty a few years ago, describing my son's journey. It was a very scary experience, but so glad that I did it!ReplyDelete
Yay! I'm cheering you on. My son is also on the spectrum and I am his advocate. One year I even gave hell to the school district - so you GO!! Sending you hugs!
I learned to drive after I was 50, I had to buy my first car with a credit card and I moved to a city I had never been. I had periods when I felt I could not even move.ReplyDelete
I hope everyone is taking care and staying well.
Wow - you did show bravery. Not just by what you did, by overcoming the days when you felt low. Good for you. Stay safe and stay happy.
I've never had to be very physically brave (other than getting shots or being up really high some places), but I've had to be emotionally brave when first my Mom and later my Dad seemed to be at end of life, and then when they passed - felt like a shock tho mostly knew it was probably coming. Sometimes I've felt very nervous and had to pull it together to get something done - I sometimes have anxiety attacks.ReplyDelete
I'm so sorry. Anxiety and stress do require bravery to overcome and I think being emotionally brave is far more difficult than being physically brave. Take care and stay safe.
When my husband went in for by pass surgery in January, and all the complications that he has had since then.ReplyDelete
I hope your husband is feeling much better by now. Bravery in the face of the unknown is very difficult when considering health issues.
When I decided to ask my husband to move out!ReplyDelete
You were brave and smart to make changes for a better life. :) Good for you!
We have some amazing women here. I'm very proud of our brave little group. <3ReplyDelete
What a lovely and brave group you have here. I'm enjoying all these wonderful comments telling about bravery!
When I had a heart attack at age 44 with four kids aged 7, 10, 13, & 15 who brought home the importance of lessening the stress in my life and especially from my job as a teacher. It was a difficult time and I had to make a number of life changes.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you've made the life changes to be strong and healthy. Stress is so damaging on several levels. I am also a teacher and the job is not as easy as some people think. I hope you have peaceful days ahead.
One brave time was when I traveled halfway across the country for a temporary job and decided to stay. But the most brave time was when my husband and I decided to have kids. Becoming a parent was scary but worthwhile.ReplyDelete
I can definitely relate to that. I only have one child but when he was young, I was always overwhelmed. I second guessed every decision. I think parenting requires the most bravery of all.
The stories these ladies have posted show just how much we often underestimate ourselves. When necessary, we just do what has to be done. As for me, there have been incidences along the way. I joined the Peace Corps right out of college.. I had never been more than a few hours from home my whole life and got on a plane to the other side of the world for 3 years. My husband and I have faced his diagnosis of cancer two separate times, one just a few months ago. The first time it was a rare cancer with a 20% survival rate to 5 years. That was in 1991. It was serious and the surgery was terrifying. He never let it slow him down. My personal challenge now is dealing with an autoimmune disease that is destroying my nerves. Treatments have stopped working well and we are trying something else. I know I will likely end up in a wheel chair, if not paralyzed. But until that time, I will press on and live my life to the fullest, doing as much as I can.ReplyDelete
My husband and I look at these roadblocks as something to be dealt with and to not let them prevent us from living as full a life as possible. We refuse to let fear of what might be prevent us from living what can be .
Wow. You and your husband are wonderful examples of bravery in many ways. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. Take care and stay brave!
I guess I've lived a charmed life because I don't recall any situation in my life where I needed to be especially brave to face whatever crisis was in my way. Just never felt anything was that threatening, I guess.ReplyDelete
That's good to hear. Stay safe and take care. :) Thanks for stopping by.