Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Donna Thorland's The Dutch Girl

I'm delighted to be able to present you with a beautiful excerpt from Donna Thorland's The Dutch Girl. It's out now and I really recommend that you take a look. 
This is part of the March Mayhem promotion, so keep an eye open for the banner and the social media tweets! 

Manhattan and the Hudson River Valley, 1778. The British control Manhattan, the Rebels hold West Point, and the Dutch patroons reign in feudal splendor over their vast Hudson River Valley estates. But the roads are ruled by highwaymen. Gerrit Van Haren, the dispossessed heir of Harenwyck, is determined to reclaim his inheritance from his decadent brother, Andries, even if that means turning outlaw and joining forces with the invading British. Until, that is, he waylays the carriage of beautiful young finishing school teacher Anna Winters…Anna is a committed Rebel with a secret past and a dangerous mission to secure the Hudson Highlands for the Americans. Years ago, she was Annatje, the daughter of a tenant farmer who led an uprising against the corrupt landlords and paid with his life. Since then, Anna has vowed to see the patroon system swept aside along with British rule. But at Harenwyck she discovers that politics and virtue do not always align as she expects…and she must choose between two men with a shared past and conflicting visions of the future.From Penguin NAL. Available to preorder in paper, ebook, and large print editions:waxcreative-amazon-printwaxcreative-amazon-kindlewaxcreative-bn-printwaxcreative-bn-nookwaxcreative-powellswaxcreative-indieboundwaxcreative-bamwaxcreative-ibooks

Manhattan, 1778
The sampler above the fireplace was a beautiful lie. Everything about the silkwork picture was a fantasy, from the house and trees at the bottom to the inscription stitched at the top: With utmost care I’ve wrought this piece according to my skill. Anna Winters, daughter of Charles and Hannah Winters, in the fourteenth year of her age 1764.
The six girls stitching earnestly beneath it did not know. To them it was the standard of excellence to which they aspired. Their parents certainly did not know. For them, it was a symbol of the status they hoped to acquire for their daughters. A good dame school could teach a girl to sew, to spell, to darn, and to mend, but finishing academies like Anna’s offered more: a polite education for females, acquisition of the ornamental domestic and social skills that materially improved a provincial girl’s marriage prospects.
The picture was a lie, but Anna delivered on its promises. She taught the daughters of New York’s wealthy merchants embroidery, mathematics, geography, decorative painting, and drawing in charcoal and pastel. For extra tuition her charges could attend the Tuesday-morning dance class where Mr. Sodi taught the minuet, the louvre, and the allemande. For another fee they could study voice, composition, and the harpsichord with Mr. Biferi.
It was a complete education for ladies, and the finest available in New York, sufficient to make an American girl show to good effect in even a London drawing room, but Anna’s visitor was not impressed.
“Geography is an unusual discipline for a finishing school,” said her neatly attired guest, observing the scene in the parlor. Anna could not tell if she approved or not. Then she added, “But you offer an otherwise narrow curriculum, and a deceptive one”—her eyes moved from the silk picture on the wall to the girls stitching below it—“when life’s hardest lessons are sure to be learned outside these walls.”
Anna had heard similar sentiments from parents before, particularly those in the more volatile trades whose fortunes were at the mercy of the changing market, although something about this woman’s manner suggested that money was no obstacle.
“Education,” replied Anna smoothly, “is an investment in a woman’s future. It is a dowry that cannot be squandered by a spendthrift husband. It is an evergreen inheritance that can be passed to her children no matter the condition of her husband’s estate.”
“And if the times call for a woman who can do more than dance and sew?”
That was not one of the usual questions.
It forced Anna to turn and examine her visitor. They had been talking for a quarter of an hour. Anna had led her on a tour of the house, shown her the parlors and garden and a selection of her most advanced students’ works in progress, but somehow in that time Anna had failed to look at her guest closely.
The woman had given her name as Ashcroft. Anna had addressed her as “Miss,” and the woman had not corrected her. Miss Ashcroft was young, probably the same age as Anna, in her middle to late twenties; too young to have daughters old enough for finishing school, but not too young to be entrusted with the education of a sister or a niece.
From a short distance, Miss Ashcroft was pleasant-looking, but she wouldn’t turn heads on the street. Her linen gown was that shade of beige that blends into every background. Her straw hat was practical and plain. But the face beneath it . . . Anna was forced to take a closer look.
Miss Ashcroft was more than pleasant-looking. She had flawless skin, Cupid’s bow lips, and wide, dark brown eyes. The hair tucked into her plain straw hat was a rich chestnut. The body beneath the dun-colored linen was classically proportioned.
Miss Ashcroft was in fact beautiful, but it was not the sort of beauty that advertised. She wore no paint or powder, no rouge to color her cheeks. She did nothing to court attention, and everything to divert it away from her.
The simple costume struck Anna all at once as a disguise. Her heart skipped a beat. She had only ever known one woman capable of such artful subterfuge, and the Widow was dead. That dangerous lady had taken her secrets—and Anna’s—to the grave with her, and this enigmatic stranger could not possibly know the truth.
“We offer Latin and French to girls who will need it,” said Anna, putting the Widow and the treacherous past from her mind.
Miss Ashcroft turned her penetrating gaze on Anna, and their eyes met. “And what about Dutch?”
Anna’s heart raced. This woman knew. It did not matter how much she knew. When you lived beneath layers of secrets piled like blankets against the cold, losing a single covering meant you’d freeze to death. She pulled them close around her now and brazened it out as her late mentor, the woman who had shaped the path her life had taken, would have done.
“There is no demand for it,” Anna said. “The Dutch rarely marry outsiders, and they only speak their language amongst themselves.”
“But you speak it fluently,” said Miss Ashcroft.
Anna could feel all the color drain from her face. The girls went on stitching as though nothing had happened while Anna’s carefully constructed world fell down around her ears.
With it went all hope of safety. Anna Winters, English gentlewoman of disappointed hopes and modest means, mistress of Miss Winters’ Academy, did not speak Dutch, but Annatje Hoppe, fugitive from the law, the girl she had once been, did.
Donna Thorland

Friday, March 04, 2016

Newsletter March, 2016


March, and yes, it came in like a lion, as the saying goes. I heard on Friday that Samhain Publishing is closing, but then I heard different things. It's too early to tell. Whatever happens, I can promise you that my Samhain books, the Triple Countess series, the Secrets series, Richard and Rose, the Waterloo book and the Even Gods Fall In Love books will continue to be available. The books are still for sale at Samhain, and if I get my rights back, I'll turn them around and get them straight back up. That's a promise.I am plodding along, and writing. I'll always write, published or not, but it looks right now that it's either the big publishers or self-publishing, which is a shame. The admin, the promotion, the production parts of self-publishing all stop me from writing, which is what I really want to do.Ideally, I'd write historical romance, sprinkled with a few contemporary romances to leaven the mix. It's great to get away from the intensive research needed for the historical romance, and write in this world for a change but the thirst for the historical comes, and I can't resist it.I've done a new intro for my website, and tried to express what I want readers to feel. I want them to be taken back to a new place, but a place that existed in time, so they can feel the cobbles under their feet and hear the horses clattering past.I'll be releasing the STORM books soon. I loved writing them so much, and they're ready for a revamp. I've given them a light edit, cutting some of the graphic language in the sex scenes, and making them more romantic suspense, but they're still hot stuff!Later on this month, I'm travelling across the Atlantic for a little vacation before RT kicks off the second week of April. I am so psyched about this, I can't tell you because I'm not going alone! No, this time I'm sharing the madness with my husband. We're having a break in New Orleans first, then flying to Las Vegas, with a side visit to the Grand Canyon. So cool!So he gets to see the convention for himself. I wonder what he'll make of it?New Releases and Excerpt:The next release is  Dilemma in Yellow Silk, the next Emperors of London book, out on 12th April, but already up for pre-order. I'll tell you about it now, because I'll be on the road next month, and I don't know if I can get a newsletter out.
Ever ready to do the right thing, The Emperors of London act bravely—and when it comes to matters of the heart, impetuously…Dilemma in Yellow SilkDespite her cover as the daughter of the land steward for Lord Malton, Marcus Aurelius, spirited Viola Gates is tied by birth to the treacherous Jacobite legacy. Not that this keeps her from falling for the dashing Lord from afar. Despite his staid demeanor, Marcus is devastatingly handsome—and hopelessly beyond her reach. Then Viola’s father is mortally wounded and her secret identity revealed, sending her straight into danger’s path—and Marcus’s arms…For years, he’d only known her as a wild child, the tempting—and forbidden—daughter of his trusted steward. But when Viola’s life is threatened, Marcus must act as duty—and his barely contained passion—dictates. Ferrying the bold beauty on an eventful journey to safer quarters, he offers her the protection of his name. Their tempestuous union might succeed in vanquishing their enemies, but will the chivalrous lord and his unsuitable wife surrender to the power of love?“Lynne Connolly writes Georgian romances with a deft touch. Her characters amuse, entertain and reach into your heart.” —Desiree Holt“Plots, deviousness and passion galore…a truly enjoyable read.” –Fresh Fiction on Temptation Has Green Eyes


The first time she’d seen him dressed for a grand occasion had served to distance him completely from her. Without those glossy dark brown locks, and dressed in the finest London could provide, Marcus appeared a different person, one Viola didn’t know at all. So when he said he missed her, he probably meant the carefree days of his childhood.Viola could not pass this opportunity by. She turned her hand and curled her fingers between his. He clasped her hand warmly.She stared at that symbol of friendship, as if it weren’t her hand. “I missed you, too.”“You’ve grown up a beauty, Viola,” he said softly.She shook her head vigorously. “No. I’m ordinary. You’re—” She cut off her words, fearing she would give away more than she meant to.“Your hair is darker than mine, and it shines like a raven’s wing. Your eyes are fathoms deep.”His words made her laugh, but that was to prevent her heart cracking. Once she’d dreamed of a man saying such things to her. But now she knew better. She would never hear that in love. Friendship would have to serve. “My face is too narrow, and I’m too tall.”“You are only too tall for short men,” he said. “I’ll show you. Stand up.”His voice did not ring with command, as she knew it could. Nevertheless, she pushed against the floor and got to her feet, rounding the end of the stool to avoid stumbling. She wanted to put something between them, because her emotions rose until she was barely able to keep her features still.Their hands were still linked. “Satisfied?” She made to pull her hand away, but he only gripped it more firmly.“Not nearly.” He stood too, and then stepped over the bench so they were close.Far too close. In his simple traveling clothes he had the appearance of a gentleman rather than a great lord, but that did not fool her for a minute. She could not think that way. Must not, if she wanted to keep her peace of mind. This close, closer than he’d been for years, he devastated her senses.“See?” he said brightly. “You come up to my shoulder. Far too few ladies do that.”“It makes me stand out too much,” she grumbled. She was not freakishly tall, though. Lanky Annie, the woman in the village who took in sewing from the hall, she was oddly tall. Six feet, her father said.“Not at all. It makes you graceful.” He touched her chin, tilting her head up.This close, the little black pinpricks of beard under his skin were apparent. The way his eyes shaded darker at the edge, to the brilliant shade inside. She stared in wonder, reacquainting herself with him this close.Something else sparked in his eyes, passion and heat, passing from him to her and back again.“A kiss of friendship, Viola,” he murmured, and suited words to actions.Viola lifted her hands, grasping for purchase, and found his coat. She clutched it gratefully as her world spun, realigning into a new space.When he touched her lips with his tongue she opened for him, and he tasted her. Delicately at first, licking softly, like a cat at milk, but then stronger, he entered her mouth with a mastery that made her helpless under his onslaught.Nobody had ever kissed her like this.
You can buy Dilemma in Yellow Silk here:
Barnes and Noble
All Romance Ebooks
Kensington (Publisher)

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

What He Wants is What She Needs

This one comes out on March 14th, but you can pre-order it now.

What He Wants is What She Needs in the anthology

Seven Nights of Sin

Seven Nights of SinOrder the Book and read an extract:
One night, one tryst can change everything... Seven Sensuous stories by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Sabrina York, with bestselling and award-winning authors Maggi Andersen, Lynne Conolly, Eliza Lloyd, Suzi Love, Hildie McQueen, and Victoria Vane. Enter a world of passion and mystery where dashing heroes and dauntless heroines come together in a scorching conflagration that will will tip your world on its end.
LUSCIOUS by Sabrina York
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Victoria Vane
UNDER A SILVER MOON by Hildie Mcqueen
WHAT HE WANTS by Lynne Connolly
[su_divider divider_color="#990000" link_color="#990000"]


Annie let herself dream of something other than the business, her sons and their increased prosperity. She’d thrown herself into the challenge, subsuming all the passion in her nature into achieving it. Somewhere along the way it had become more than earning a living and keeping her family off the streets. It had grown to ambitions of creating quality items for people like her.
But that lay in the future, although this was one step toward it.
“Of course,” he said smoothly. “Though I would prefer to show it to you myself.” He lifted his hand, as if to touch her cheek, but held it a few inches away. What was she thinking when the urge to meet it took her? She wanted to close her eyes, lean her cheek into his palm and let him take control. Such impulses were foreign to her. To give someone else jurisdiction over her was unthinkable.
A knowing expression entered his eyes, warming and softening their expression. “Perhaps I should show you where I used to sleep in the house. Would you use the same room? Sleep in the same bed? We left it behind when we moved. It should still be there.” Snaking a hand around her waist, he drew her closer.
She didn’t pull away.
“Madam, I find you utterly bewitching. I am about to test a theory.”
His breath heated her skin as he brought his mouth down on hers.
His lips caressed hers, his tongue stroking her lips until she parted them and let him in. His hold on her tightened. Annie flung out her hands for balance, finding purchase on the silk of his waistcoat, roughened by gold threads that snagged against her gloves.
Her comfortable world exploded in heat and desire.
He delved deep, and she responded, her head going back until he dug one hand into her hair, holding her in place. His caresses thrilled her, took her to a place she’d never visited before, never dreamed existed.
Firmly and deeply, he explored her until she moaned into his mouth. A soft thud indicated her hat falling off, and landing—somewhere, she didn’t care where. His fingers rounded her skull, his other hand spread over her back, spanning the distance between her shoulder-blades. He took his time, caressing her with his tongue, building her arousal to a height she couldn’t define.
When he moved away, she pressed closer, urging him on because otherwise she’d have to stop and think.
Thinking was the last thing she wanted to do. Every tenet she had grown up with, every moral impulse her parents had instilled in her, every Sunday sermon she’d endured—all of it told her she shouldn’t do this. But inside, her body awoke, as if from a long sleep.
Why had nobody told her this lay in wait for her?
With a sound suspiciously like a chuckle, he moved away, only to return. He came at her from a different angle, drawing her closer to lay her head on his shoulder, while he kissed her and kissed her.
The initial overwhelming surge of passion settled and receded enough for her to think. The world surged in on her with a rush. When she pulled away he made a sound of protest and drew her back, but she insisted, pushing harder.
He released her quickly, so she had to grab the edge of his desk to retain her balance. She swallowed, staring at him. He spun around, then turned back to her. “I’m not apologizing.”
“No.” He was too arrogant for that. The aristocracy were all the same, demanding without paying the price. But even as she told herself that, the words rang hollow in her head. She was as much at fault as he. “Neither am I. But you should know everything I told you was true. I am a widow, searching for a way to expand my business. I want that house, but I don’t want a lover and I will not pay for the place with my body.”
He closed his eyes in a slow blink. “Are you sure?”
No, she wasn’t. She was far from sure. She couldn’t fit a lover into her life. She’d never had one before, so why should she not continue as she’d begun?
Her mind reeled, until she forced it back under control. “Perfectly sure.” Straightening, she located her hat, which had tumbled on to the desk, and plonked it back on her head. A curl tumbled down and with a most unladylike curse, she removed the hat and dropped it back on to the desk. The surface was covered with papers and cards, which scattered in all directions. “I’m afraid I made rather a mess—”
With a harsh laugh, he scrubbed a hand around the back of his neck, where she’d so recently touched. “It was worse before you started.”
Looking around, she found a mirror, a small, gilt-framed one on the wall by the largest bookshelf. Tilting her chin up she strode to it. Unfastening the strings of her cap, she dropped it on a nearby table. Then she plucked out a pin from her hair, using it to secure the curl. “Not perfect, but with my hat on nobody will notice.”
Silence from behind her. Turning around, she faced him, meeting his gaze. His eyes met hers, stark and honest. “How long is your hair?”
She gave a shaky laugh. “Too long. I should have it cut.”
“No, don’t do that.”
His response was so swift and vehemently expressed that it made her blink. “What are you talking about?”
“It’s beautiful.”
“Th-thank you. I think.” Her hair was somewhat—red. She’d tried to control it, and wore larger caps to cover most of it, but it sometimes shone through nevertheless.
“You should never powder.”
Had they gone this far? To exchange remarks so personal? They had missed out some important elements of acquaintanceship. “I can assure you sir, I rarely powder my hair.”
She shook his head, an expression of rueful sorrow curling his lips. “Madam, I’m sorry. You should not be so indescribably attractive.”
“Nobody has called me that before.” Her heartbeat quickened, then stilled back into its regular, steady rhythm. “I hate to call a lord a liar, though. Perhaps I should settle for outrageous flattery.” This time she kept her distance, at least two feet from him. Her heart was still throbbing double-time.
“You are lovely, you must know that,” he said bluntly.
She wanted to drag her hair back until it was completely hidden. “No.”
“Then the people around you are blind.” He leaned against the wall, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “Madam, I have a proposition for you.”