Friday, October 1, 2021

Showcase- A Reckless Match by Kate Bateman

Kate Bateman, historical romance author extraordinaire is beginning a brand new Ruthless Rivals series and book one, A Reckless Match, is now available. Well don't just sit there!
Enjoy!

ISBN-13: 978-1250801562
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 09-28-2021
Length: 336
Ruthless Rivals #1
Buy It: Amazon/ B&N/ IndieBound

ADD TO: GOODREADS

Overview:

"Kate Bateman's writing sparkles." - USA Today bestselling author Laura Lee Guhrke

Meet the Davies and Montgomery families - two households locked in an ancient feud, destined to be on opposing sides forever. Until now...


CAN LIFELONG HATE

Madeline Montgomery grew up despising––and secretly loving––the roguish Gryffud “Gryff” Davies. Their families have been bitter rivals for hundreds of years, but even if her feelings once crossed the line between love and hate, she’s certain Gryff never felt the same. Now, she’s too busy saving her family from ruin to think about Gryff and the other “devilish” Davies siblings. Since he’s off being scandalous in London, it’s not like she’ll ever see him again...

TURN TO TRUE LOVE

As the new Earl of Powys, Gryff Davies planned on spending his post-war life enjoying the pleasures of London. But when an illegal duel forces him to retreat to his family’s Welsh castle, he realizes the only exciting thing in the dull countryside will be seeing the fiery Maddie Montgomery. Thoughts of his nemesis sustained Gryff throughout the war; but the girl he loved to tease has grown into a gorgeous, headstrong woman – who loathes him just as much as she ever did. Will secret tunnels, dangerous smugglers, and meddling from their feuding families be enough to make Maddie and Gryff realize that their animosity is really attraction...and maybe even love?

A Reckless Match is the first in a new regency romance series by Kate Bateman about two feuding families, and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.


Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1



The Spring Equinox, 21 March 1815

“Nobody’s coming.”

Madeline Montgomery squinted down the empty road as a thin bubble of hope—a foreign sensation of late—rose in her breast. She checked her silver pocket watch. She hadn’t mistaken the day. It was six minutes to noon on the spring equinox, and the road was deserted. There wasn’t a single, dastardly, devilish Davies in sight.

Galahad!” she whispered incredulously. “Nobody’s coming!

Her ancient gray mount twitched his ears, completely indifferent to the historic significance of the moment. Maddie sank onto the low stone parapet of the bridge. She hadn’t felt this optimistic for months, not since her father had made his shocking revelation about their “unfortunate financial situation.”

“It’s a miracle!”

Galahad began to crop the dandelions at his feet. Maddie lifted her face to the sun and pushed back the brim of her bonnet. She’d get even more freckles, but who cared? Experience had shown her how fragile life could be: She’d once been struck by lightning out of a blue sky just like this. It had been a freak accident, a one-in-a-million chance, the doctors said. But now an even more unlikely event was about to occur. Five hundred years of history was about to be swept aside. The proud and illustrious name of Montgomery—and, by extension, Maddie herself—was about to be saved!

By an unkept appointment.

Excitement tightened her chest. Sir Owain Davies, the old Earl of Powys, would never have given her father the satisfaction of ceding the land. Baiting each other had been their main source of amusement for over fifty years.

But Sir Owain had died last summer, and the new earl, his eldest son and heir, Gryffud, hadn’t set foot in his ancestral home since he’d returned from fighting Napoleon six months ago. He’d stayed in London, busy—according to the scandal sheets—setting the ladies’ hearts aflutter and enjoying every possible pleasure offered by the metropolis.

Not that Maddie had been keeping track of his whereabouts, of course. Gryff Llewellyn Davies was her nemesis, and had been since they were children.

An echo of his wicked laughter trickled through her memory, and she fanned herself with her hand, then untied the ribbons of her bonnet and tugged it off, along with her gloves. Her hair, always too heavy for its pins, surrendered to gravity and fell in a messy cloud around her shoulders.

If the thinly drawn references to Gryff’s exploits in the papers had caused an annoying, burning sensation in her chest, it was certainly not yearning, or jealousy, or anything else remotely emotional regarding the awful man. She didn’t give a fig what he did. Truly. He was an irresponsible rakehell who’d neglected his duties and the affairs of his estate for far too long. Indeed, his debauchery was about to work to her advantage. While he was enjoying himself in any number of disreputable ways, here she was, virtuously saving her family from ruin.

A small, anticipatory smile curved her lips. There was simply no way he’d remember to get back here in time to shake her hand. Hadn’t the Gazette reported his involvement in an illegal duel only last week? He’d probably been shot dead by some angry, cuckolded husband.

Maddie expelled her breath in a huff. No, she’d have heard if the wretch was dead. More likely, he was celebrating his undeserved victory with a glass of brandy and a thoroughly unsuitable companion.

She checked her watch again. “Three minutes to go.”

Galahad, intent on his dandelions, ignored her. She sent another glance up the deserted road, hardly daring to hope.

Neither of the other three Davies siblings could possibly be coming. Rhys and Carys were both with Gryff in London, and the youngest brother, Morgan, was away at sea.

As the blue steel hands of her pocket watch crept toward the number twelve, Maddie choked back a giddy feeling of euphoria. She glanced around at the peaceful green valley and repressed the urge to leap about and twirl like a madwoman. Neither Davies nor Montgomery had ever owned this piece of land outright, so its natural riches had remained untouched for centuries.

“There’s coal under here, Galahad. Maybe even gold! If we mine for it we’ll have money again and I won’t have to go anywhere near that awful Sir Mostyn—let alone marry the old letch!”

The horse wrinkled his whiskery nose and Maddie let out an incredulous laugh.

“And you know what’s even more amazing? I am finally going to get the upper hand over that insufferable Gryffud Davies!”

Galahad flattened his ears and bared his teeth, as he did every time her opponent’s name was mentioned. Maddie nodded approvingly.

“Do you think Father will let me write and tell him he’s forfeited the land? Just imagine the look on his face!” She sighed in anticipated rapture.

The symbolism of having this meeting on the spring equinox was not lost on her. Equinoxes only happened twice a year, when the tilt of the earth’s axis was inclined neither away from, nor toward, the sun. They represented equality. Day and night: twelve hours of each. A reminder that the Davies and Montgomery clans shared this strip of land between them, equally.

Her stomach gave an excited flip. Not after today! Today was the start of a glorious new—

A gust of wind snatched her bonnet from the low wall of the bridge. She made a desperate dive for it, missed, and the hat went sailing down into the river below.

“Oh, blast!”

Galahad lifted his head and snickered. And then his ears swiveled toward the rise in the road and Maddie turned to see what had caught his attention. She listened, praying it was nothing, but then she heard it too: the unmistakable drumbeat of approaching hooves, like distant thunder.

“No!” she groaned.

A lone horseman appeared on the crest of the hill, a plume of dust billowing in his wake. She shielded her eyes with her hand and squinted. Perhaps it was one of the village boys—?

But of course it wasn’t. That broad-shouldered silhouette was unmistakable. Horribly, infuriatingly familiar.

“Oh, bloody hell.”

Galahad’s whinny sounded a lot like a laugh. Disloyal creature.

It had been almost four years since she’d set eyes on Gryffud Davies, but nobody else in three counties looked that good on a horse, as if they’d been born in the saddle. And who else exuded such arrogant, effortless grace?

Maddie’s pulse began to pound at the prospect of a confrontation. Perhaps, if she was lucky, he’d have lost that unholy appeal, that teasing glimmer in his eyes that suggested she was the butt of some private joke. Gryff Davies always looked as if he couldn’t choose between strangling her or ravishing her. She’d never quite decided which would be worse.

Her stomach swirled with excited dread, but she smoothed her suddenly damp palms against her rumpled skirts and set her face into an expression of polite indifference.

He rode closer, and she cataloged the changes three years had wrought. It was worse than she’d feared; he was as sinfully good-looking as ever. Curling dark hair, straight nose, lips that always looked on the verge of curving up into a smile, but usually hovered in the region of a smirk whenever he was looking at her.

And those wicked, laughing green eyes, which never failed to turn her knees to water and her brain to mush. They still held that fatal combination of condescending amusement and smoldering intensity.

Maddie clenched her fists in her skirts and lifted her chin to a haughty angle, choosing to ignore the fact that her hair was doubtless a windblown mess, and her hat was floating off downriver. She didn’t care what Gryffud Davies thought of her.

He probably wouldn’t even recognize her. She hardly resembled the skinny, freckled eighteen-year-old she’d been when he’d left for war. Perhaps he’d mistake her for one of the village girls.

Please God.

He slowed his mount as he neared the bridge, his eyes raking her in a thorough, devastating inspection that dashed any hope of staying incognito. Maddie straightened her spine and glared at him.

Those lips of his widened in a smile of pure devilry.

“Well, well. Maddie Montgomery. Did you miss me, cariad?”



Chapter 2

Gryff gazed down at the gorgeous, angry woman on the bridge and felt his spirits soar. Madeline Montgomery, the infuriating, tart-mouthed thorn in his side, was glaring up at him with murder in her eyes. It was a marvelous sight.

Her delicate brows twitched in obvious displeasure. “Don’t call me that.”

“What? Cariad?”

“No, Maddie.” Her tone was decidedly prim. “My name is Madeline. Or better yet, Miss Montgomery.”

Cariad it is, then.”

A muscle ticked in her jaw, and he just knew she was grinding her teeth.

“Not that either. I’m not your darling.”

“Admit it. You missed me,” he teased. “You’ve been pining for a good fight ever since I left. Did none of the locals oblige you?”

Her bosom rose and fell in silent indignation and Gryff bit back a delighted chuckle. The world—so long off kilter thanks to the madness of war—settled into place like a dislocated shoulder clicking back into its socket.

“Of course I didn’t miss you.”

She muttered several more things under her breath; he definitely caught the words “insufferable ass” and “blockhead.” He bit his lip and tried not to laugh as a fierce sweep of exhilaration burst in his chest. The world beyond these valleys might be unrecognizable, thanks to Bonaparte’s limitless ambition, but some things never changed. Miss Montgomery’s antipathy toward him was blissfully undimmed.

What had changed—in the most delightful way—was her appearance. Years of playing cards had granted him the ability to mask his expression, but it was still an effort to conceal his shock at the changes that had occurred in his absence.

Three years ago he’d been an arrogant twenty-three-year-old, desperate for glory and adventure. She’d been a skinny tomboy with barely any feminine curves. That hadn’t stopped him from fancying her, of course. His youthful self had found her quick wit and unladylike temper utterly irresistible.

The fact that they were sworn enemies had only added to the charm; it was only natural that her flashing eyes and tempting lips should have been the stuff of his filthy, moon-drenched fantasies.

Despite what the gossip rags said, he wasn’t a rake, but he had ample experience of the female form. And while he’d spent countless hours wondering how she might have blossomed in his absence, the reality far outstripped his feverish imaginings. Maddie Montgomery was magnificent.

A pink blush stole across her cheeks as he inspected her, and he suppressed another chuckle.

Her face hadn’t changed much. The freckles that had peppered her nose and cheeks had faded, but he could still make out a few stubborn survivors. Not surprising, considering she still didn’t seem to be in the habit of wearing a hat. She’d scorned them at eighteen too.

Her hair was the same wild mass: riotous waves, the color of newly shelled horse chestnuts, shot through with a hint of rose-gold. Her lips were a luscious pink that made him think of the inside of seashells, and her eyes were that striking shade of not-quite-blue, not-quite-gray that pierced his soul.

But God help him, her body. She’d been a scrappy hoyden before, all elbows and knees. Now she was a goddess—albeit an enraged one. His fingers itched to trace the inward curve of her waist, the rounded perfection of her hips. It took everything he had not to vault from the saddle and touch her face to make sure that she was real. To seize her in his arms and kiss her until they were both breathless and panting and glad to be alive.

He shouldn’t be goading her, of course. It could only lead to trouble. But teasing her was a pleasure he’d missed out on for three long, miserable years. The memory of her face was something he’d fallen back on when times were particularly hard. Wounded, exhausted after battle, he’d often reminded himself to stay alive, if only to spite her. To tease her just one more time.


Copyright © 2021 by Kate Bateman





About the author:
Kate Bateman, (also writing as K. C. Bateman), is the #1 bestselling author of historical romances, including her RITA® nominated Renaissance romp, The Devil To Pay, the Bow Street Bachelors series (This Earl of Mine, To Catch an Earl, and The Princess and the Rogue), along with the novels in the Secrets & Spies series (To Steal a Heart, A Raven’s Heart, and A Counterfeit Heart). When not writing novels that feature feisty, intelligent heroines and sexy, snarky heroes you want to both strangle and kiss, Kate works as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several popular TV shows in the UK. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England. Follow her on Twitter to learn more.

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