As my rights return to me from my earlier novels, I am refreshing the stories, giving them great new covers and self-publishing them with the help of a writing buddy, Anne Marie Brear, who is herself a successful self-published author of great Victorian and contemporary novels. So far, my first book has proved a run-away success. It's hit the top #100 in the Amazon Regency kindle/books and Historicals.
Amazon Reviewer: 5 Stars "Could not put down!"
AMAZON (On sale at 99cents)
BARNES & NOBLE
Cover art by Erin Dameron-Hill
When a lady loses her memory, who better to rescue her than a seductive duke?
Viola, so named by her benefactor, Hugh, Duke of Vale, has lost her memory, along with her respectability, after being found unconscious near his estate dressed in a male servant’s clothes. She is a mystery unto herself, with her knowledge of books and Latin, and her skill at the pianoforte.
Thanks to the duke’s kindness, Viola has found a temporary home with his nanny in a cottage on his estate, while danger lurks in the shadows and darkens her dreams. She must leave beautiful Vale Park before Hugh marries Lady Felicity Beresford, the neighbor’s daughter; their marriage arranged when they were children. And before Viola and Hugh succumb to an impossible passion.
As the announcement of Hugh’s engagement draws near, he tries to accept the inevitable, he must marry a woman he doesn’t love. He is intrigued by Viola. Who is she and what has driven her to such an act? As the Bow Street Runners work to find the answers, Hugh grows more deeply and dangerously drawn to the mysterious lady.
Enjoy and excerpt:
She followed a meandering path around the cottage and down through a meadow of bright yellow buttercups to a river. The wide stretch of water flowed swiftly away through the meadows, its far side rimmed by forest.
A flock of swallows swooped overhead. The peace and beauty of her surroundings revived her. She bent to pick a wild rose. The pink flower had a delicate perfume, a surprise in such a hardy, prickly plant. She stood, pressing its petals to her nose, the scent a wistful hint from her past. Out of nowhere, a rush of fear made her tremble. She had seen these flowers before. Smelled that scent before. Her struggle to remember brought such anguish, she moaned.
At the sound of hoof beats, she swung round. A horse emerged from a copse of trees. The rider saw her and pulled on the reins cursing, as the horse reared. Viola jumped off the path and lost her footing, falling hard on her derriere in a patch of dew-laden grass. Two hounds bolted out of the bushes. One was upon her in an instant, nuzzling and licking her face.
“Oh, stop,” she cried with a laugh, attempting to push it away.
“Down, Henry!” His Grace growled from atop the tall chestnut, and the dog returned to his master’s side.
“What the devil are you doing out so early?” The duke leapt down. “Are you hurt?”
“Only my dignity, I’m afraid.”
He grasped her arm and pulled her to her feet as if she weighed no more than the fluffy head of a dandelion. His hands lingered on her back as if to steady her, but it seemed to have the reverse affect. She moved away her face hot and probably as pink as the rose she held. She dropped the flower and brushed down her skirt.
The duke’s gaze roamed over her sodden slippers and shabby dress with the new damp patch. He brought with him the bitter truth of her predicament, leaving her feeling grubby and foolish, and her brief delight in the morning ruined.
“I apologize for startling you. I never meet a soul on this path. What are you doing wandering around so early?”
“I thought it lovely, with the sleeping world awaking to a new day.” How flighty her words sounded. Did he think her a fool?
“Have you remembered something of your past?”
“No, nothing.” Perhaps he hoped this madwoman would disappear back to where she came from. Viola wrapped the shawl around herself more closely.
“Come, I’ll walk back with you.” He led his horse along the lane, his dogs following. The cottage appeared through the trees. “I assume you’re feeling better?”
“I am thank you. Nanny’s been wonderful. She is well versed in herbs. She gave me something that made me sleep like a baby!”
“Ah, yes. I well remember her potions. I’ll never forget some of the foul brews I was made to swallow as a child.” A devilish look came into his brown eyes, and a smile tugged at his mouth. “I’m sorry you had to endure them.”
Viola couldn’t help smiling back. “I suspect you aren’t sorry at all, Your Grace.”
His smile widened in approval. “One must not discourage Nanny, and I’m sure they are beneficial.” He continued walking. “We must make you well and quickly, Miss Viola. There may be a family somewhere worried about you.”
His words tumbled her back into reality. She trembled with frustration. If only she could remember. How long would it be before she outlived her welcome?