Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Excerpt & Giveaway - - Not the Kind of Earl You Marry


I love discovering debut authors. It's a special treat to be there for an author's first published novel, then travel the journey with them as their career flourishes across the years - and books - to come. I've read an advance copy of Kate Pembrooke's Not the Kind of Earl You Marry (full review to come in July) and, having sampled her storytelling skills, I feel confident that her career is one that will definitely flourish. I hope you enjoy the sneak-peek excerpt from Not the Kind of Earl You Marry. I enthusiastically recommend putting this one on your summer reading radar. 

Note: Be sure to read all the way to the end for two terrific giveaway packages!

Not the Kind of Earl You Marry
by Kate Pembrooke
The Unconventional Ladies of Mayfair - Book 1
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: July 27, 2021


"The one woman in London who doesn’t want to marry him is now his fiancée.


William Atherton, Earl of Norwood, is as shocked as the rest of London to discover his betrothal via an announcement in the morning paper. Furious at what appears to be a shrewd marriage trap, William tracks down his alleged fiancée before her plans can affect his campaign for a coveted political post. But then William realizes an engagement, however fake, may benefit them both . . .

Miss Charlotte Hurst may be a wallflower, but she’s no shrinking violet. She would never attempt such an underhanded scheme, especially not with a man as haughty or sought-after as Norwood. Yet his suggestion to play along with the betrothal has its merits . . . and the longer they pretend, the more undeniably real their feelings become. But when the true culprit behind their engagement is revealed, can their newfound happiness survive the scandal?"


Excerpt
Not the Kind of Earl You Marry

Chapter One

 

London, 1817

The morning began tranquilly enough. Finished with her breakfast, Miss Charlotte Hurst reached for the neatly stacked pile of correspondence beside her plate, when the doors to the dining room unexpectedly flew open and the butler entered, his normally impassive face flushed, his mouth pinched into an uncharacteristic frown.

Standing just inside the doorway, Hopkins turned toward Charlotte’s brother, Phillip Hurst. “My lord, there’s a man who insists he must see you. I explained you don’t receive visitors before breakfast, but he said he couldn’t wait, that the matter was urgent.”

“Did he now?” Phillip cut a bite of ham before spearing it with his fork. “Did this man give you his name? Or explain the nature of this urgent business?”

“He gave his name, sir. He said it was—”

“Norwood.”

A tall, dark-haired gentleman strode into the room, finishing the butler’s sentence in a commanding, lord-of-the-manor voice.

 Startled, Charlotte dropped her correspondence, scattering the pages in an untidy disarray upon the table. Drat the man and his unheralded appearance.

“Don’t blame your servant, Hurst,” the gentleman said, coming to a halt beside Phillip’s chair. “He made it quite clear you don’t take visitors during meals. However, this cannot wait.”

Phillip laid down his fork. “You may go, Hopkins. I’ll attend to this.”

“Very well, sir.” With a nod, the butler departed.

“I can scarcely imagine any business between us that couldn’t wait, Norwood,” Phillip said.

“Can you not?” The man slapped a newspaper down on the table in front of Phillip. “Then read this. Perhaps it will jog your memory.”

Charlotte blinked, her interest sharpened. So this was the Earl of Norwood. She’d certainly heard of him, although they’d never been introduced. His social set and hers didn’t have much in common. Her brother knew him, since they were both peers in the House of Lords, but this hadn’t led to any sort of acquaintance between Charlotte and the earl.

Still, all of London knew Lord Norwood was a rising star in the world of English politics, and that among his greatest political assets, aside from his impressive family and social connections, were his poise and unflappability, though he seemed to have only a tenuous grip on those traits this morning. He was angry, that much was clear. Less obvious was how it concerned Phillip.

Her brother ignored the earl’s command. “Since Hopkins is usually allowed to usher in our guests, I must presume you have a singular reason for interrupting our meal in this irregular way.”

“I do.” If Lord Norwood noticed the hint of censure in Phillip’s voice, he gave no sign of it.

Phillip glanced at his unfinished breakfast, then picked up the paper and began to read. The earl’s gloved hand slapped softly against his thigh, producing a rhythmic tap, tap, tap that sounded unnaturally loud in the otherwise quiet room.

Since Charlotte remained an invisible entity—Lord Norwood had not yet spared a glance in her direction—she took the opportunity to study him. His manners left a great deal to be desired, but she couldn’t say the same for his looks. He was undeniably handsome with dark brown hair that showed a tendency to curl, and well-appointed features. His lips were firm and finely molded, his nose straight and patrician, and his slate-blue eyes, framed by dark lashes, had faint laugh lines at the corners. However, no hint of humor showed on his face at the moment. Instead, his gaze was stern and unwaveringly fastened on Phillip as he bent over the newspaper.

After a moment, Phillip pushed the paper aside. “I’m as mystified as you are. I’ve no idea how that came to be published.”

Lord Norwood gave her brother a hard, assessing stare. “Then perhaps she does,” the earl said tightly. His gaze swung for the first time to Charlotte, with a look so scorching she had to stifle the impulse to place more distance between them.

“If you think that, you’re barking up the wrong tree.” For some reason, Phillip looked amused rather than affronted by the earl’s angry insinuations. “However, Charlotte can speak for herself.” He slid the newspaper across the table to her. “Have a look at this.”

She hesitated, wishing the earl’s attention hadn’t shifted away from her brother. Lord Norwood glared at her as if she were an annoying insect he’d like to squash. For one defiant moment, she considered refusing, if for no other reason than she didn’t care for his rude, high-handed manner, but her curiosity surpassed this rebellious urge.

“If I must,” she said, deliberately keeping her tone cool and disinterested. She moved her neglected correspondence out of the way, then unhurriedly reached for the paper and drew it over, aware that her lack of haste was fanning the flames of the man’s wrath, and yet unable to behave otherwise. Her dislike of him had overruled any spirit of cooperation.

She read through the offending item, then once more, slowly this time, to make sure she hadn’t misunderstood. Cold tendrils of apprehension swirled through her, settling in a tight band around her chest as the implications of the brief paragraphs sank in. No wonder the man was so angry.

It was the announcement of her betrothal to the Earl of Norwood.

Shocked, she looked back at the earl, blinking stupidly. How had it come to be in the newspaper? It was false and utterly ridiculous. For heaven’s sake, she wasn’t even acquainted with the man. But true or false—it hardly mattered. This announcement could still ignite a firestorm of gossip that would upend her quiet, well-ordered life.

“Well?” Lord Norwood demanded.

The blood pounded in her ears at his accusatory tone. Her actions required no defense. On the contrary, if anyone had behaved indefensibly, it was the earl. Even now, apparently convinced of her guilt, he looked as if he’d like to leap over the table and shake a confession out of her.

“If by ‘well’ you mean to imply I have any knowledge of who published this”—she gestured toward the paper with a dismissive flick of her wrist—“disabuse yourself of the notion right now. I didn’t have anything to do with this, and I welcome it no more than you.”

A look of utter incredulity crossed Lord Norwood’s handsome face. “Forgive me if I sound conceited, Miss Hurst, but there are any number of young ladies who would more than welcome the chance to align themselves with my fortune and title, and—”

“And I assure you I’m not one of them,” she cut in coolly.

His lips pinched together for a second. “Furthermore, this wouldn’t be the first time a lady tried to entrap a gentleman by dubious methods.” He leaned forward and placed both hands on the table, his face so close to hers she could see the darker band that rimmed his blue eyes and smell the spicy scent of his shaving soap. “But make no mistake, I’ve not offered for you, nor shall I feel bound to honor a nonexistent engagement just because our betrothal announcement appeared in the Morning Post. It seems to me the only party who would benefit is you.”

They remained nearly nose-to-nose, Charlotte smarting from the sting of his last words. She searched her mind for a suitably scathing reply, but the perfect set-down eluded her. She settled for meeting his angry gaze with a defiant one of her own.

At last, he straightened and crossed his arms. “So, Miss Hurst? Do you still deny you had anything to do with this?”

It was his impossibly haughty expression, coupled with that presumptive I-know-you’re-guilty tone that loosened her tongue at last.

“I’ve already denied it,” she replied, “but you, with your colossal arrogance, have determined I must be guilty because of your faulty assumption that I’d welcome an alliance with you.” She paused and took a deep breath, determined to maintain control of her temper, especially since he seemed to have such a fragile grip on his. “However, nothing could be further from the truth. Most of society may put a premium on a man’s fortune and title when weighing his worthiness as a prospective husband, but I do not. I’m much more interested in the content of a man’s character than the contents of his purse.”

Her verbal slap hit the mark. The color rose on his face as he drew in a sharp breath.

“To put it plainly,” she continued. “I may not know you very well, but I’m completely sure you’re the last man I’d want to marry.” She shook her head. “No, not even the last man, because that implies a circumstance in which I’d agree to marry you, and I can say with great certainty you’re not a man I would ever choose to marry.”

He scowled at her in disbelief for a long, thunderous moment. Charlotte watched with a certain fascination as he struggled to control his emotions. A vein throbbed at his temple, his jaw tightened like a vise, and the muscles in his throat worked furiously, though no words slipped through his tightly clamped lips.

Once more she resisted the urge to put more space between them. Her rational side insisted his gentlemanly instincts would prevail over any murderous impulses he might presently harbor. And if not, surely Phillip’s phlegmatic nature wouldn’t prevent him from leaping to her defense if necessary.

After several seconds of glaring at her in strained silence, something in the depths of Lord Norwood’s stormy gaze shifted and the rigid lines of his shoulders relaxed ever so slightly. He’d become, once again, the unflappable aristocrat.

#

  

Eager to read William, Lord Norwood's response to Charlotte? To receive the rest of Chapter One, simply sign up for Kate Pembrooke's newsletter by clicking on the link below.



As mentioned in Kate's bio, she loves "puttering amongst her flowerbeds, taking beach vacations, and adding to her already extensive collection of cookbooks." So, tell me...

What flowers are you growing this summer? 

Do you have a favorite beach to visit? What types of books do you take there to read?

Do you have a collection? Tell us about it.

Thanks to the generosity of Kate Pembrooke and her publisher, Forever, we have two amazing giveaway packages today.

One randomly chosen person who comments before 11:00 PM, June 25 will receive a print copy of Not the Kind of Earl You Marry, a tote, an assortment of Forever romances, and the spa package shown below. 




A second randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, June 25 will receive a print copy of Not the Kind of Earl You Marry, a tote, and an assortment of Forever romances.

Pretty awesome, eh? Thank you to Kate and to Forever! 

*Both giveaways are U.S. only
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited




Kate Pembrooke is a lifelong reader whose path to becoming an author of Regency romance was forged when she first read Jane Austen's 
Pride and Prejudice. Kate lives with her family in the Midwest. She loves puttering amongst her flowerbeds, taking beach vacations, and adding to her already extensive collection of cookbooks.

Kate loves to meet readers. Here's where you can find her online:
 

28 comments:

  1. I too love debut authors - there's just something about first stories. I have different lilies at the moment. I don't get to the beach very often but Cocoa Beach, FL has been a favorite. And I'll read any type of book at any time lol. I use to collect playing cards but I still collect mugs and have a collection from vacations, authors, friends and family. And of course I have collections of books lol.

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  2. I always love discovering new authors and look forward to reading Kate's work! My favorite beach to visit is the local beach at a lake here in WI. The beach is for residents only and is well-cared for and we always run into a friend or two while we're there. It's my happy place during the summer.

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  3. I'm not a gardener, but I do love flowers. I got to go on a beach vacation last week - first in two years - didn't get a lot of reading done - early to bed after all the sun & fresh air. I also have a lot of cookbooks - used to pick them up when I traveled.

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  4. I really like finding new Authors and this book of Kate's sounds really good.

    I don't grow any flowers here as it's way to hot and everything that I do plant just dies.

    I only live about 10 miles from the beach here in Florida, but I haven't been there in years.

    I have a huge collection of Beanie Babies that I just can't seem to part with. I also have a huge collection of romance books.

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  5. Flowers brighten up the house and boost my mood. During the summer I plant colorful flowers in the barrels in the front. I enjoy taking books to the beach. All types are enjoyed. A beach which I would enjoy visiting is New Smyrna Beach, perfect for walking along the shore and relaxing. I rarely get to the beach as we are far from one. I collect small, decorative boxes.

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  6. Each Spring I try to grow flowers in pots and hope that they thrive. I plant geraniums and lavender. When I do go to the beach which I miss very much I take several types of books, historicals, and mysteries as well as romance. I would love to have a vacation at any beach but my favorite is Wildwood Beach. I collect cute thimbles.

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  7. I enjoyed reading the excerpt from Not the Kind Of Earl You Marry featuring the feisty, spirited Charlotte and arrogant William. I wonder who sent the engagement announcement to the newspaper.

    As for your questions:
    What flowers are you growing this summer?
    pansies, impatience, silvia, petunias and marigolds along with my perennials: flocks, bee balm, day lilies, hostas, cone flowers and tiger lilies...

    Do you have a favorite beach to visit? What types of books do you take there to read?

    I'm lucky most of my life I've lived near the water. In the summer, I live on a small lake, Johns Lake in central Wisconsin. My hometown, Two Rivers, WI has a beautiful beach, Nashotah Beach and Park on Lake Michigan. Most of the year I spend on Hutchinson Island (Stuart FL ). Bathtub Beach, Stuart Beach and Jensen Beach are all only minutes away!

    Do you have a collection? Tell us about it.

    I collect stuffed animals. My favorite is a leopard, Minerva, my great aunt Anna gave me when I was very little I think I was 3. I also collect signed books!

    Thanks for the chance to win your book and other books from Forever Publishing! The spa products are perfect pampering treats too!

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  9. I love how Not the Kind of Earl You Marry starts out! I looks like it'll be a super fun book!
    This summer my veggie garden is mostely an herb garden which is currently full of lavendar, basil, and oregano flowers. I haven't been to the beach in years but we used to go to Port Aransas and stay down the island away from town and the crowds. I'd probably take a couple of my many historical romances to read if we were to go this year. My biggest collection is my books! Thanks for the chance!

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  10. I planted some Headliner petunias this year that have a galaxy look. Love going to Myrtle Beach. We listened to books on the way down. Mainly Sarah Lessen for my girls.

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  11. I love Regency and Victorian historical romance novels. We cut some trees down last year and finally my daylilies have enough sun to bloom and it enjoy them very much.

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  12. This book sounds perfect for me!! My garden consists of lots of perennials - irises, lilies, and daylilies. I did plant snapdragons, zinnia, asters, pansies, and a few more. No plans for a summer get-away. Thanks for the chance.

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  13. Not the Kind of Earl You Marry sounds wonderful!! And I both love and hate finding a new author, because: "Hurray! A new author!" and "oh no! More books for my tbr pile!" I don't grow flowers; I fight a never-winning battle with the deer, rabbits, squirrels, and who knows what else to grow tomatoes, strawberries, and blueberries. And all I collect are books and dust bunnies. Were I anywhere near a beach, I'd probably want a nice, paperback romance - maybe a Jill Shalvis.

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  14. This sounds fantastic!

    My roses are just about done. The magnolia tree will continue to bloom. The dogwood is done.

    We usually go to the Delaware or Maryland beaches.

    I have a lot of heart-themed items, but I usually only bring them out in February. Santas at Christmas.

    Thanks for the chance.

    denise

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  15. Most of my garden flowers froze back with the bad snowstorm we had in Texas, so I'm appreciating the hydrangeas and petunias that made it thru. I'm not much of a beach person, but most older books would be fair game (wouldn't want to take a brand new book that could get water damaged!). One of my favorite collections is my thimble collection. Just about every one has a memory tied to it.

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  16. So excited to find a new author in romance!! Can’t wait to read this and looking forward to following her writing career.

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  17. I am growing daisies and impatience. Favorite beach as a kid was Jones Beach. Really do not collect anything. TY for the great contest.

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  18. I am growing daisies and impatience. Favorite beach as a kid was Jones Beach. Really do not collect anything. TY for the great contest.

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  19. What a good start to a book. Jump right in and start with a bang. I really like the style and the almost instant definition of these two characters' personalities.

    My peonies and Irises are gone by as are my tulips, daffodils, Lillies of the Valley, and bleeding heart. My day lilies are in bloom as are my snapdragons, Columbine, impatients, heather, gladiolas, geraniums, begonias, and vinca. There are others out there. My crepe myrtle trees haven't bloomed yet.

    We are not the type to go to big sandy beaches. I like sitting by mountain lakes our the rocky coast of New England. I actually take a little bit of everything to read. Mysteries, chic lit, romance, nonfiction, historical fiction all make the trip with me.
    I have multiple book collections. I have 40+ bookcases and they are all full with books waiting for space. I have a cookbook collection (and no time to cook.). I collect old books. I was a librarian, so my books are set up like they would be in a library. Nonfiction almost by the dewey decimal system and fiction by genre and author. I won't even guess how many books I have. I have many keepers. Those I finish. and don't keep are generally sent to the local VA hospital if I don't have friends that want to read them first. I also have a bookmark collection.

    Kate, best wishes for a most successful release of NOT THE KIND OF EARL YOU MARRY. I really enjoyed the excerpt here. I hope you have a long and enjoyable career in writing.

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  20. I love discovering new authors! Not the Kind of Earl You Marry sounds wonderful. My flowers that I'm growing are: shasta daisy's, wildflowers, 2 different colors of lantana and of course, beautiful day lilies. I also have a couple of pots periwinkles and I'm trying to grow some peppermint! Not a beach person. I collect chickens and roosters. Thanks for the chance to win!

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  21. I have been growing lavender and shasta daisies, the first for the romantic scent and the second for the innocent cheerfulness. It is hard to say what my favorite beach is, I do love the Oregon coast and the tide pools to be found there. I suppose one could say that I collect edible perennial plants for my garden. The idea of giving a plant a home and some care resulting in yearly abundance is vastly appealing.

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  22. This sounds like my kind of book! Thanks for sharing info and for the chance to win some goodies!

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  23. I don't have any collections, but love my peony bush and always have planted petunias, daisies, lilies, marigolds and of course impatients.

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  24. We plant vincas every year. They do well in this Georgia heat.

    When we want a beach trip we usually take the short drive to Tybee Island. It is really quiet, and it is only 25 minutes from Savannah, Ga.

    I collect books, teapots, and Christmas ornaments.

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  25. If you mean a collection of something other than books (we all know I have way too many of them)I have collected advertising tins. Recently in a move to try to downsize, I gave away about 70 of them. Then I opened a trunk and found about 25 more. I have some which are rare. But, I really need to get rid of things....my children will thank me when they do not have to hack their way through my house using a machete.

    This summer, I have a very large pot of several wild flowers for pollinators. The most successful are the coreopsis. They are bright and beautiful. I also have some begonias which are going wild, some pinks which are looking good, and some impatiens which seem very happy. We had a lot of rain earlier this year and evidently it fooled my flowers into thinking they were somewhere other than hot and dry Texas. Don't worry, they will find out by the end of July, I am sure.

    My favorite beach, wow....I have seen some beautiful ones. To be honest, I think I like the sand at the tip of Lake Michigan. I was a child there, and it was the most amazing place to me. It seemed the water went on forever, the sand was too hot to stand on, and the water was too, too cold. In short, as a child it thrilled me. I have seen The Pacific, The Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, but not a one of them made me as over the moon happy as the sand at Lake Michigan when I was a child.

    Of course that was so long ago, the dinosaurs and I were the only creatures on the beach.
    Hope everyone is well and happy and safe.

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  26. I love meeting debut authors, especially those writing historical romances...my favorite genre. I'm not a gardener but I do love flowers. The spacious lawns of the apartment bldg I live in are nicely decorated with flowerbeds here and there...easily seen from every apartment in the bldg. Love that.

    In addition to my huge collection of TBR books, I collect Swarovski Crystal Miniatures. I have about 20 miniatures right now.

    Don't travel much anymore due to health issues but living in Michigan, one is never more than 1 hour away from one of the Great Lakes. That said, my favorite lakes of the 5 are Lake Michigan (3 hours away from me) and Lake Superior about 7 hours away.

    Thanks for the giveaway. I look forward to reading your book. It is placed on my books-to-buy list.

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  27. I am growing roses. My favorite beach is Ft. Walton beach, and I take mystery books with me.

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  28. Thank you for the excerpt. I don't have a lot of flowers, but I planted a hydrangea, rhododendron and a peony.

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