Thursday, November 2, 2017

#GIVEAWAY Showcase The Bride Who Got Lucky by Janna MacGregor

Meet Emma Cavensham an unladylike heiress and her White Knight Nicholas St. Mauer, #2 in The Cavensham Heiresses series. Read a bit about the book and the series then enter for a chance to win this wicked, witty historical romance. Details below.
Enjoy!


ISBN-13: 9781250116147
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
The Cavensham Heiresses #2
Release Date: 10-31-2017
Length: 368pp
Buy It: Amazon/B&N/Kobo/IndieBound/Audible
ADD TO: GOODREADS
Overview:
He would do anything to protect her. Even marry her…
The son of a cold-hearted duke, Nicholas St. Mauer isn’t one to involve himself in society…or open his own heart to anyone. But driven by honor, the reclusive Earl of Somerton feels obliged to keep a watchful eye on Lady Emma Cavensham. She possesses a penchant for passions unbecoming a woman that finds Nick in constant peril of losing his well-structured solitude. She even dared kiss Nick once—an utterly unladylike, and delightful, lapse…

Emma can’t deny the appeal of the earl’s attention, and occasional affection, but she has no need for a man. There are worse fates than spinsterhood, as Emma knows too well. She still mourns the loss of her dear friend Lena, and is determined to prove Lena’s husband responsible for her death before he lures another innocent woman into a brutal marriage. But as Emma pursues her prey, a compromising moment upends all her plans. Now, with gossip swirling and her reputation in tatters, Nick may be the only man brave enough to join in Emma’s cause. . .and fight for her heart

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The Bride Who Got Lucky US ONLY
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excerpt courtesy St. Martin's Press–– 
Chapter One

Fourteen years later
London
Lady Emma Cavensham opened her beaded reticule and checked it twice. The fifty pounds she’d saved from her pin money lay folded neatly inside. As the carriage accelerated through Mayfair, she exhaled the tension that had been building all night. In its place, pure unencumbered joy burst free like fireworks in the night sky over Vauxhall.
It had taken meticulous planning, but her efforts would pay off. Tonight, she’d purchase the rare first edition of Bentham’s Essays at the Black Falstaff Inn. She’d arrive within forty-five minutes, make the purchase, and return to Lady Dalton’s ball all within two hours. Moreover, she’d celebrate with a defiant glass of ale in the public taproom like any other person. Well, more specifically, like a man.
Why should it make any difference she was young, unmarried, and a female? Why should it make any difference she was a duke’s daughter? Even if society thought such action ruinous, she didn’t see the harm. Society’s strictures for appropriate behavior wouldn’t keep her from attaining her goal tonight.
No one, not even her cousin Claire, who had escorted her to Lady Dalton’s ball, had an inkling that she was on her way to meet Lord Paul Barstowe at an inn outside of London. After discovering he owned a rare copy of the coveted book, Emma had sent him a note earlier in the evening inviting him to the inn so she could make the acquisition. It was the perfect place to meet, as no one would recognize her.
Every piece of Emma’s brilliant plan fit perfectly together. She’d pat herself on the back if she could reach it. She’d have the adventure under her proverbial belt along with Bentham’s Essays and be back at the ball hopefully before Claire or anyone else knew she was missing. The groomsmen and driver who had picked her up from Lady Dalton’s would keep her secrets.
“Whoa!” The loud command came from the driving box. The sudden stop practically threw Emma to the floor as the ducal carriage with its team of four came to an abrupt halt.
Quickly, she peeked outside the window. At the intersection of the street perpendicular to their route, a carriage similar to hers had stopped. Odd place to leave a vehicle, and there was no one milling around it. Not a single groomsman or coachman to be found. It was as if someone had abandoned it.
“What is it, Russell?” she called to one of the Duke of Langham’s groomsmen.
Russell leaned down from the driving box. “I’m not certain, Lady Emma.”
“Can we go around it?”
“No, my lady,” he answered.
A man with a deep voice, one she didn’t recognize, started to speak. Russell turned his attention to the stranger. Disaster loomed if she stuck her head out the carriage window and someone discovered her alone. Tamping down the urge to peek, she strained to hear the conversation. The even cadence and the rhythm of the stranger’s words thrummed like a drumbeat, one that suddenly caused goose bumps to skate down her arms. Precious time was slipping through her fingers, and she couldn’t afford any delays.
“Russell—” Before she could say more, the carriage door sprang open and a tall man dressed in black entered. When he closed the door, the carriage lurched forward, continuing the path they’d taken earlier.
“Who are you?” Her heart beat so hard she feared it’d explode from her chest.
With his back to her, the stranger blew out the sole carriage lantern that lit the interior. Then with a stealthy grace, he sat on the bench opposite of her.
Trouble had found her.
“Why did you extinguish the light?” Her voice quavered, betraying her unease.
Hidden in the shadows, he resembled some type of phantom, one who had settled into position ready to attack. He didn’t waste a glance as he removed his hat and threw it on the bench next to him.
“Who are you?” she repeated as a hint of hysteria nipped at her reserve.
“Lady Emma,” the man chided. “The light is out to lessen the chance someone might recognize you.”
The stranger’s rich but dark whisper intrigued her. Who was this mystery man who had taken control of her carriage? Short-lived, her curiosity faded when they passed by a streetlight.
“Lord Somerton,” she hissed. The night she wanted to stay hidden, the elusive earl who rarely ever showed his face in society found her. This wasn’t bad luck. This was fate playing a cruel joke and then laughing hysterically.
There was no denying he was breathtakingly handsome with his turquoise eyes and lithe stature. However, she couldn’t be bothered with his looks or with him—not tonight. The earl’s best friend just happened to be Claire’s husband. Her parents would know of her adventure before the night was over.
Her goose was cooked.
“I’m at your service, Lady Emma,” he drawled.
“I didn’t ask for your service. What do you want?” With a deep breath, she subdued the petulance in her voice. She had to save the evening and her book. All she needed was a little charm. “Lord Somerton, I apologize for my manners. You’ve taken me by surprise.”
Instead of heading straight, the carriage barreled through a sharp right turn causing her to slide across the leather seat. Certain a tumble to the floor was in her future, she braced for the fall.
With a gentle strength, he grabbed her around the waist, causing her to gasp. As if she were a fragile porcelain doll, he settled her on the bench.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“There’s no need. I promised I’d bring you home safe and sound, and I plan on accomplishing it.” He pulled the curtain aside for a moment. When he released it, he leaned back against the squab.
“Who asked you to bring me home?” She dreaded the answer but asked anyway.
“Your cousin and her husband,” he offered.
She released the breath she’d been holding. It’d be difficult, but she could convince Claire not to tell her parents. The unknown was whether she could trust Claire’s husband Pembrooke and the enigma sitting across from her.
She would salvage her evening. Somerton’s presence was nothing more than a slight hindrance, much like an annoying gnat.
“My lord, I appreciate the escort, but I’ve other plans. Is there some place I could have the coachman drop you? White’s perhaps?” Lud, her calm demeanor was astounding.
“No, thank you.”
Bold action called for bold moves. If she told him her purpose, perhaps he’d leave her be. Surely, a man would understand the desire for a book. If he thought her a bluestocking, a woman who constantly had her nose in a book, it made little difference. She was going to capture her prize.
“I’m on my way to buy Bentham’s Essays, first edition. For over a year, I’ve been hunting for it.” In the darkness, she couldn’t see his expression, making it difficult to gage his response. If only he hadn’t extinguished the lantern.
“Have you thought of securing your book someplace else … more respectable? I’ve heard there are these shops called bookstores,” he teased.
She bit her lip to keep from lashing him with a verbal blistering. That would seal her doom. “Please, this is my only chance to make the purchase. I’ve sent inquiries to every bookstore within London to no avail. No one has it. Mr. Goodwin at Goodwin’s Book Emporium thought he had found a seller ready to part with their copy, but unfortunately, the seller changed his mind.”
“Goodwin?” he scoffed. “What the devil are you doing shopping at Goodwin’s? That’s not an acceptable shop for a young woman.”
Though she couldn’t see him, she sensed Somerton towered over her, his presence pushing her back into the squabs.
“Goodwin isn’t known for his selection of books.” He enunciated every word in a husky manner designed to frighten her. “His real business is selling information—he’s a snitch, and a very successful one at that.”
The impertinent Earl of Somerton would not intimidate her. She pulled herself forward to give him an appropriate setdown. Without warning, the carriage lurched, causing her forehead to bump his chin.
“Careful.” His hand cupped the back of her head as he pulled her close. His scent—clean, spicy, and male, one so different from the other men of the ton—wrapped itself around her like a binding. She didn’t move.
Neither did he.
“You can’t kidnap me,” she whispered and forced herself to lean back. He was so close, his breath brushed against her cheek like a kiss. Without thinking, she ran her fingers over his lips. She’d never noticed before, but his mouth was perfect. Perfectly kissable. She jerked her hand away and mumbled, “Pardon me.”
This was pure madness.
A streetlamp cast enough light that she saw his face clearly along with the dangerous flare in his eyes.
“I’m not your responsibility,” she demanded softly. “Please, I beg of you. Let me go.”
“For your assignation?” he whispered. “With Lord Paul Barstowe?”
“What? No.” She shook her head hoping she’d wake from this nightmare. “How do you know I’m meeting him to purchase the book?”
“One of the guests at Lady Dalton’s informed me after overhearing your plans.”
“Of all the rotten luck,” she muttered. She shouldn’t have told her friends Lena and Daphne in public, as there were too many ears at a ball. Determined, she’d persevere. “Come with me if you don’t believe I’m speaking the truth. Please, I need that book.”
Again, silence reigned between them except for the trotting of the horses’ hooves. Even that sound drifted to nothing as the carriage slowed to a halt. A glance outside confirmed they’d arrived at her home. Soft light flooded the carriage from the lanterns that surrounded the courtyard.
With her last chance looming before her, Emma swallowed her pride, nearly choking. Lacing her fingers together to keep from fidgeting, she stared into his eyes. “Please, my lord, I’m begging you. Come with me if you’re concerned for my safety. I’ll prove to you I only want the book.” She opened her reticule and pulled out the fifty pounds. “I’ll pay you. If this isn’t enough, I’ll get more.…”
He released a deep breath and studied his clasped hands.
Dare she hope she’d convinced him? Indeed, he seemed truly conflicted. She sat on the edge of the bench waiting for his agreement. To nudge him a little, she made her final plea. “Please?”
“I’m truly sorry.” He covered her hand with his and squeezed. “Let me escort you inside.”
His effort offered little comfort. For an eternity, she sat unable to move and stared at nothing. There was little doubt she’d face a harsh reprimand from her parents and some fitting punishment to accompany the lecture. Her heavy heart slid to the floor. It mattered little as she’d already been punished. Bentham’s Essays was again out of her reach.
“Lady Emma?” Somerton squeezed her hand again—his gentle touch still a betrayal. “Come.”
He helped her from the carriage and walked her to the door. As if she were being lead to the gallows, she held her head high masking her stinging disappointment.
“Good night,” Somerton whispered. “I apologize I’ve caused you such distress.” He bowed over her hand in farewell.
“My lord?” Her question caused his gaze to capture hers. The sincerity in his eyes stole her breath. Briefly, she turned away until her emotions were somewhat under control. “I can’t offer my thanks for your assistance. I’m sure you understand.” She turned and entered Langham Hall.
Intact, her pride was still stuck in her throat.
The next day
Banished.
She’d been eradicated like an infestation of kitchen vermin.
The only difference was her parents were dispatching Emma for her own good, and no one bothered to offer condescending explanations to mice.
As of tomorrow, she’d reside at Falmont, the family seat, for the remainder of the Season. Her father and mother had stood together united in their decision, a bulwark designed to protect her from last night’s indiscretion.
All because she desired a book.
The tome in question wasn’t a lewd collection of Elizabethan bawdy, or a frothy romance of thwarted lovers, or even a tirade by revolutionaries threatening to overrun the government.
It was a book of essays about individual freedom.
Hidden in the shade of the trees, Emma leaned her head back against her favorite bench in Langham Park and stared at the cloudless blue sky. Completely enclosed, the private park, famous for its groomed gardens and orangeries, surrounded her home and was her own private refuge. She could wander for hours to her heart’s content. The gardeners and other servants were always respectful of her privacy. Heaven knew she needed solitude today.
A plump red squirrel skidded into view with a cache of food stuffed in his cheeks. The creature examined her as if she was an intruder in his private garden before he swooshed his thick red tail and started to chatter.
She was receiving yet another proper scolding. He paused as if waiting for a response.
“After tomorrow, the park is all yours.” At least someone would benefit from her ostracism. “If you were a true gentleman, you’d cease your prattling rant.”
“Shall I slay the impertinent beast?” A low, sensual voice spoke softly in her ear. “Before I go into battle, I must ask, how does the lovely Lady Emma fare today?”
“As one would expect after being informed of my upcoming sojourn to the country.” A slight breeze caressed Emma’s face, but she refused to turn around. There was no mistaking that silken smooth voice. She didn’t need to see him to know it was the killjoy from last night. “Lord Somerton, imagine you finding me, again. Whatever are you doing here?”
“The duke and duchess asked if I would meet them today. Lord and Lady Pembrooke were in attendance,” he said. “They wanted to know how far you’d traveled before I caught you.”
“Oh, you mean my cousin Claire, the paragon of perfection, the Marchioness of Pembrooke, and her utterly flawless husband, the Marquess of Pembrooke, otherwise known as the happy couple.” She hadn’t intended to sound so sarcastic, but really, what could Somerton expect?
A blindfolded fox had a better chance of escaping the hounds than she had to escape him. The thought made her swallow hard. It was just so humiliating, and the fact he had found her made it worse. The traitor.
“I’m to be sent to Falmont tomorrow,” she said dully.
The squirrel sat on his haunches as if finding her situation riveting and cracked a nut.
“I’m sorry for my part in it.” He was close enough that his warm breath tickled her earlobe. If she wasn’t mistaken, his lips brushed her cheek.
Emma didn’t have a qualm of disgust for him, which he deserved—definitely. Instead, something strange and new formed inside her chest. A shiver skated down her spine that made her sit straighter. “Don’t apologize. I was aware of the consequences.”
His breath stroked her cheek. Emma clenched her eyes to concentrate on his smell. He had to be leaning adjacent to her. The scent of bay rum with undertones of saddle leather and male wafted toward her. She wanted to swim in it.
“I would hate for last evening to have a negative impact on your ties to Lady Pembrooke,” said Somerton. “She’s really quite fond of you.”
“Don’t worry.” She stood and faced him. “I consider Claire my sister, and sisters don’t hold grudges. At least that’s what my mother would say. You’ll discover that about my family if you keep our company. But if you and your friend, Pembrooke, think you’ll dictate my behavior—”
“Easy, Lady Emma.” He held his gloved hands in front of his chest as if to ward her off. “No one, least of all me, shall be giving you deportment lessons.”
Granted, he was handsome in his morning coat, but his tone reminded her of one that the Langham head groomsman always used to soothe a spooked horse. That was a first. Normally, men would walk away without a glance back if she made it clear how she expected to be treated.
Really, all of this was beyond the pale.
“With Pembrooke marrying your cousin, we’ll be in each other’s company a fair amount,” he said. “It’d be regrettable if you were uncomfortable with me.”
He’d lost the timbre of a groomsman only to replace it with a rich tone that would have charmed a howling banshee.
“In a twisted view of fate, I suppose I should thank you,” she added nonchalantly.
“I knew you possessed great intelligence,” he teased as he rounded the bench that separated them. “Never mind all your reading.”
His actions last night were honorable, and he’d treated her with respect. She couldn’t hold him accountable for her circumstances. Nevertheless, she couldn’t help but blame him.
“I’d much rather you stay here,” he offered. “London will be a dreary place without you.”
If she wasn’t mistaken, the rumble of his words and the slight hesitation hinted at his remorse. What a bouncer.Except for her friend Lena, she doubted anyone would notice her absence.
“London and the Season have little to offer.” In fact, she hated high society with a passion comparable to her disgust of Brussels sprouts. She’d had her fill of self-important fobs and fortune hunters examining her much like a hothouse peach.
“Were the duke and duchess harsh with your punishment?” His simple question floated like a piece of silk over her body.
“Yes, it was dreadful. I’m forbidden from saying good-bye to my friend, Lady Lena Eaton. We’d planned to attend Lady Farold’s ball tonight.” Even though she hated balls, Lena loved them and she loved Lena. For her friend, Emma suffered through the miserable affairs. “Since our debut, we’ve never missed attending together.”
The fact she couldn’t see Lena hurt more than the lecture or the bitter humiliation of being sent away. It was akin to being cut in two. She and Lena were inseparable.
Emma stopped the incessant twiddling of her fingers. “You’ll be happy to hear I’ve learned an important lesson from last evening. Never take your father’s carriage with the coat of arms adorned on the sides when you want to travel incognito. Hire a hackney.”
“I would have found you, whatever carriage you were in. You could have been ruined if word got out about last night.” His voice was light, but the threat was obvious. “Aren’t you concerned about making a match with some bold and gallant gentleman ready to sweep you off your feet?”
“Not in the least.” As a duke’s daughter, she was still a prime catch even at the advanced age of twenty-two. She had plenty of time to find a husband if she so desired. She just wasn’t at all certain she wanted one. At Falmont, she could read to her heart’s content without the interruption of insufferable social calls. However, without Lena by her side, she had many lonely nights ahead of her at the family’s ancestral home.
“To make up for my part in last night, I have something for you,” Somerton said.
“You shouldn’t be giving me anything.” Where had that come from? The paradox of her sudden concern for propriety was laughable.
He smiled and retrieved something from his morning coat inner pocket.
Tentatively, with her heart pounding in her ears, she accepted the package and unwrapped the paper. The earl was a magician. He’d found the book she wanted, the one she’d searched for last night. “Bentham’s Essays,” she whispered.
“First edition.”
“Where did you find it?” To her utmost regret, common sense barged into her thoughts. The book was rare and too expensive for her to receive as a gift—particularly from him. “Somerton, I can’t accept—”
“Nonsense. It’s from my library. I’ve read it. You’re more than welcome to it.” He stood close and peered down as she opened the cover.
Was he serious? This was a treasure.
“I’d like for you to have it.” He grinned at her, and his face transformed from slightly forbidding to irresistible. “Come now, my best friend and your cousin are married. That makes us practically—”
“Friends,” she finished for him.
Truly, he was unique from other men she’d met. He’d actually paid attention to the book she’d coveted. Discreetly, she raised her gaze and appraised him. Last night, his full bottom lip fascinated her. In the light of day, it was magnificent. The curve of his top lip deserved no less than a full evaluation. What would it feel like to touch lip to lip? How would he taste? There was only one way to find out.
She should offer a kiss for payment. Emma clasped the book tightly to her chest for courage. “I must pay you. You prefer fair exchanges, value for value, so to speak?”
He cocked an eyebrow.
“I’ll take it in exchange for a kiss.” The breathy softness in her voice surprised her. She was flirting! She’d never done anything like this before, but to leave for Falmont with the experience of her first kiss would make the trip tolerable.
The hint of laughter rumbling through his chest startled her. “A kiss?”
Before he could say another word, she stood on tiptoes and pressed her lips to his. Her face burned from the touch, and a pleasurable tingling slowly started in her toes and moved to her legs. It continued its upward path to her chest until he moved.
He pulled away, the shock evident on his face, and mumbled something.
Did he say she tasted sweet, or was it he’d make a fast retreat?
With her bad luck, why did she even try? He was the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen, and she’d just stolen a kiss. Stung, she turned away to hide her embarrassment. This whole encounter was horrifying, and she’d just made it doubly so. Whatever his response, it made little difference at this point. He found her kiss disgusting.
Suddenly, he spun her around, and the unmistakable warm softness of his lips met hers. His hands cupped her face. Gently, but firmly, he tilted her head and moved his mouth back and forth along the curve of her own. All thought drifted to oblivion. His kiss became everything, the only thing she craved.
An uncontrollable need to touch him in return caused her to twist her hands in his hair. Silky strands, a lighter gold than hers, slipped through her fingers. Her hands settled on his wide shoulders, and his muscles bunched under her tentative touch.
“Is this the first time you’ve been kissed?” His low voice mesmerized her. A ripple of excitement swept through her, but a sting of mortification soon replaced it.
Was it that obvious? “Yes.…”
“Good.” His tongue lightly pressed against her lips. Her willpower floated away, and with a sigh, she opened to him. It was heaven. He gentled his movements and enticed her tongue to play with his. This time it was deeper, wetter, and hotter. She could barely believe he was kissing her this way. Exploring her. Teaching her. His teeth grazed her lower lip as if feasting on it. She gripped tighter in an effort to get closer to him.
All too soon, the pleasure stopped.
Emma opened her eyes to discover his brilliant turquoise ones assessing her. His lips, full and wet, drew her attention and made it more difficult to calm the riot of emotions surging through her. However, it didn’t stop her from memorizing every feature. A square jaw line and sharply angled cheekbones framed his face. He resembled a Viking king with his tall build.
However, his most striking feature was his captivating blue-green eyes. Whenever his gaze captured hers, she understood the power he held. Women of the ton vied for his attention whenever he made a rare appearance at some society event, but it hadn’t escaped her notice that he preferred his own company. He never seemed to crave female companionship.
He blinked and shook his head gently, then stared as if she were a strange creature he’d discovered on a jungle expedition. “Last night when I intercepted your coach, you possessed a passion that I’d never seen in anyone before.”
“My family would refer to it as recklessness.”
“Perhaps from their vantage point. But from mine? It’s a thing of rare beauty.” He cleared his throat.
She responded as taught when receiving a polite compliment. “Thank you, Lord Somerton.”
“For the kiss or the book?”
Her gaze shot to his. The playfulness he’d exhibited when he first approached her on the bench had returned along with the sparkle in his blue eyes.
“Both,” she whispered.
“No thanks needed. The pleasure was all mine.” He extended his palm.
Unsure, she reached for his hand. Instead of the perfunctory bow over her clasped fingers, he shook hands, as a gentleman would take his leave of another.
Her heart skipped a beat at the gesture. His eyes were full of hope, and he smiled with a candor she’d never seen on his face before. Emma bit her lower lip to keep from laughing. It was a perfect way for them to part—equals, not adversaries.
“All of this for a book.” He bent and whispered into her ear. “It was your good fortune I stopped you last night. No telling what trouble you’d have found.”
Emma squared her shoulders. Under no circumstance would she suffer through another lecture from a squirrel or an English lord—particularly one she’d just kissed. “Thank you for your concern, but there was no need. I know how to handle awkward situations.”
Somerton glanced over his shoulder, then delivered another blinding smile. “I might have other books that will interest you.”
Was he trifling with her? The man had never taken any notice of her before, and she’d been out in society for four and a half years. Emma drew a shaky breath. “It would depend upon the subject matter.”
“Trust me, I have exquisite tastes.” His sensual drawl made her heart speed up again.
“As do I,” she replied. His voice was too exciting for her own good.
“Well…” Somerton glanced down at his boots as if he didn’t want to leave. “When you return to London, perhaps you’ll give me a tour of the park?”
The slight uncertainty in his voice surprised her. “That’d be lovely.”
“I enjoyed your company. Until the next time, sweet Emma.”
As the words drifted away, he was gone. She turned for one last glance at her park. How she’d miss its beauty during her banishment.
With a decisive swirl of his tail, the squirrel rotated his tufted ears and dropped an empty walnut shell. He darted to the nearby oak. There was nothing else to see.
Emma strolled to the house. It was time to pack every book and memoire she’d collected over the years for her trip to Falmont. She’d have more than ample time to read them again as she suffered through her expulsion. Bentham’s Essays and Angela Tarte’s Memoire of a Courtesan would travel with her in the carriage.
Books could take you on the grandest of adventures.
The Series

out now                available May 2018

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Meet Janna:
Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers. Janna is the author of The Cavensham Heiresses books (The Bad Luck Bride, The Bride Who Got Lucky).





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