Authors and Books

Welcome to Authors and Books, a place where you will learn about new books on the market and the authors who write them!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Tweet! By Ritch Gaiti

“Tweet”: one quirky guy takes on big business in a very funny novel
“Tweet” relates a witty and sometimes absurd look into one man’s quest to fight back against big business. The entertaining book is a funny romp through the modern world that engulfs us: the powerless consumer, over-saturated advertising, incessant marketing and big business that has become deaf to the individual. “Tweet” mocks the overwhelming presence of commercialism into the average individual’s life--and his inability to avoid it.

Benhamish Allen’s review on Amazon: “Tweet seeks to answer our questions about change and does so on the border of being fantastically absurd while also humorous, one of my favorite combinations.”

Did you ever feel like you didn't count with big business or the government?  Glebe, the driving force in “Tweet”, just wanted to make a difference and he stumbled on a simple answer to a very pervasive problem. A midlife Jewish ex-adman, Glebe partners with Hartwick, a black homeless guy living in a refrigerator box in midtown Manhattan. Together, they embark on a journey that is totally plausible, definitely relevant, and very funny, as they become the voice of the people and take on everything that irks us.

They just asked people ‘if you could change one thing, what would that be?’ and the world opened up. And their target included everything from dumb advertising, to incessant telephone calls, the economy, and being lost in the automated phone jungle. They even take on the vestigial penny.  It could have stopped there but, through the power of today's weapons, Twitter and the web, it grew into the first worldwide boycott.  Glebe just wanted to make a difference - and he wound up changing the world.

“Tweet” is available as an ebook (ISBN 978-0-615-43704-0) and paperback (ISBN 978-0-983-38370-3).
Published by Sedona Editions, (

About the Author

Ritch Gaiti ( writes about of the world that we touch everyday--- making the things that frustrate us the most, suddenly understandable, fixable and funny. He has also written “Points: Women have them, men need them,” a tongue-in-cheek relationship book which can help you ‘be successful in this marriage and all of your future marriages’.

Gaiti has written screenplays and many articles for national magazines and has been featured on national radio and TV, including the Today Show. He is also a recognized artist of western art, exhibiting in several galleries and museums throughout the country. His portfolio can be viewed on <> .

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Reluctant Queen by Freda Lightfoot

History tells us that when Gabrielle de Estrées was sixteen years old she was so pretty and already in possession of a good figure, that at her mother’s instigation she was sold as mistress, to Henri III. The deal was negotiated through a third party, Montigny, and a sum of six thousand crowns agreed as payment to compensate her for the loss of her daughter. A most unnatural mother if ever there was one. Montigny, however, only remitted her two-thirds of that amount, retaining the balance for himself, and when this came to the king’s ears he lost all favour.
 Gabrielle, however, got the worst of the deal as she was passed on from lover to lover, including the Cardinal de Guise. He was her lover for more than a year, until May 1588 when he left for Paris to support his nephew, the Duke de Guise, in what became known as the Day of the Barricades.
For a time Gabrielle felt free, was passionately in love with the Duke de Bellegarde, Grand Equerry of France, Master of the King's Wardrobe and First Gentleman of his Chamber. Henri III, with whom Bellegarde was in high favour, is said to have supported his suit. Unfortunately, Gabrielle was a sprightly, spoiled little miss at this time and was also in love with the Duke de Longueville. Playing one off against the other she couldn’t quite make up her mind which would make the better husband.
She was considered to be a perfect beauty, and the courtiers waxed lyrical on the subject.
‘Blue eyes so brilliant as to dazzle one; a complexion of the composition of the Graces but in which the lilies surpassed the roses unless it were animated by some deep feeling… a mouth on which gaiety and love reposed, and which was perfectly furnished.’…‘fair hair like fine gold, caught up in a mass, or slightly crisped above the forehead.’… ‘the nose straight and regular, the mouth small, smiling and purplish, the cast of physiognomy engaging and tender. A charm was spread over every outline. Her eyes were blue, quick, soft and clear. She was wholly feminine in her tastes, her ambitions, and even her defects.’
Bellegarde was so besotted he foolishly boasted about her to his master, Henry of Navarre, who later became Henry IV of France. And the rest, as they say, is history…

The story of Gabrielle d’Estrées is one of love, betrayal, intrigue and tragedy. All she wants is to marry for love, and enjoy the respectability of a happy marriage. But in the court of sixteenth century France this is almost impossible to achieve. She was sold by her own mother to three different lovers before catching the eye of a king.
Henry has a weakness for beautiful women with fair hair and blue eyes, and once he sees Gabrielle, he knows he must have her. She bears him children and he promises to marry her, despite still being married to the exiled Queen Marguerite de Valois.
Is the love of a king enough to secure Gabrielle the happiness and respectability she craves, and a crown for her son as the next dauphin of France?

Here is a short extract from the opening pages of Reluctant Queen.

 Part One
‘My sweet one, I love you more than I can say. I do understand your concern, but no other woman is prettier or more charming than you. I cherish the day Madame de Tignonville, your dear mother, was chosen as companion and governess for my sister when she returned recently from Paris. Otherwise I might never have met you.’
Jeanne cast a sideways glance up at him from beneath her lashes, carefully studying his expression for evidence of his sincerity. This was the King of Navarre she was refusing, after all, not some young courtier with no manners or money to his name. Was that wise? Her caution lay not simply with regard to her virtue, virgin though she undoubtedly was, but with the sad fact that the King was not free as he possessed a wife already. But then Queen Margot remained in Paris, held captive by her brother Henri III and her mother Catherine de Medici. Even as Jeanne heeded her own mother’s wise advice not to yield too easily, she felt giddy with the possibilities of what heights she might reach by capturing the King’s heart. ‘Sire, I must guard my reputation. I am an innocent.’
‘Your innocence enchants me. I adore you.’
‘But how can you say that when you hardly know me?’
‘Your modesty does you great credit, but you are not so innocent as to fail to see how the very sight of you sets my pulses racing. I must have you. I need you by my side, day and night.’
Jeanne was instantly alarmed, a flush of pink flooding her soft cheeks. ‘Sire, you speak wild. I am a maiden. My mother would never consent.’
‘I am not asking your mother. Besides, how could she deny a King?’ he teased. ‘Ah, but I see I am rushing you, my little one. Will you grant me a kiss at least?’
Henry gazed into her blue eyes, entranced. He was all too aware that falling in love was as natural to him as eating the pigeon pie he loved so much, or drinking his favourite Gascon wine. He was quite unable to resist a beautiful woman, particularly one as young and delightful as this one. Her dark hair was so soft that he ached to stroke it, her childlike form so delicate his fingers itched to caress her budding young breasts. He had been pursuing the girl for some weeks now, ever since his sister Catherine had come home, yet she resisted him still.
Capturing her in his arms he attempted to steal a kiss, but at the last moment Jeanne averted her face. ‘What is it my lovely, do I repulse you?’
‘Of course not, Your Grace.’ She looked appalled by the very idea, which soothed his bruised ego somewhat. Nevertheless, Henry very reluctantly let her go.
‘Why then do you deny me? I am not an unkind man, a most generous one in fact, known for my good humour and equable temper. Nor would I ever force myself upon a woman. Ah, could it be that you have never been kissed before?’
The flush deepened and Henry laughed out loud. ‘That is the way of it, eh? An innocent indeed.’ The prospect of teaching this delightful child all about love making excited him more than he could express. What a diligent teacher he would be! ‘Perhaps, as our friendship develops, and if I am very good, you will permit me a little license?’
Soft lips pouted as she considered the matter, blue eyes bright with wounded pride. Jeanne felt confused and untutored in these matters, uncertain how to protect herself and yet not lose his interest completely. ‘I do not see how a maid of honour could dare to refuse a king anything, so I beg of you, Sire, not to presume upon me by asking.’ So saying, she sank into a curtsey and begged leave to depart. Chuckling with delight Henry granted her wish. Oh, but he would enjoy wooing this little one, and one way or another, he would win her.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

East End Angel by Carol Rivers



June 1941, Isle of Dogs, London. In the dark days following the Blitz, happiness visits young Pearl Jenkins as she celebrates her marriage to Jim Nesbitt. But what should be a joyful occasion is marred when a fight breaks out between Jim and Ricky Winters, an unwelcome visitor from Pearl's past. And to Pearl's horror, the new beau of her wayward younger sister Ruby. Increasingly uneasy at staying at home when other men are off fighting for their country, Jim enlists, leaving Pearl at home - alone, pregnant, and at Ricky's mercy...Together, Pearl and Ruby must bring up baby Cynthia while struggling to make ends meet and dodge the doodlebugs. And all the time, Pearl must hide the dark secret she harbours, one which would tear the two sisters apart as well as her marriage. Then tragedy strikes both on the home front and in the trenches and Pearl is forced to fight like never before to keep her family safe.


Pearl glanced at her husband and searched his face. She knew that the two men had always competed fiercely at sport and there had been no love lost between them. Jim had been a popular member amongst his team mates but not so Ricky, a loner. Jim had never possessed any of  Ricky’s smooth charm that seemed to set him apart from the others and had turned all the female heads.
‘You could say we were acquaintances, yes,’ Jim muttered coldly.
‘It’s been a long time,’ Ricky nodded. ‘Congratulations.’ His eloquent tone had Pearl’s heart banging against her ribs as his gaze travelled slowly towards her.
‘You two was much older than us,’ Ruby burst out, seemingly unaware of the tension. ‘I was only just left school when you rowed for the club, Ricky. Pearl, you must’ve been what - sixteen?’
Pearl nodded. ‘Yes, about that.’
‘We used to watch the boys in the gym, remember?’ Ruby giggled, nudging Pearl’s arm. ‘ Those other two girls liked a good gander through the window too. That Stella Burns and her mate. They was always throwing themselves at anything in trousers. Dunno what happened to her. Someone said she got - ’ Ruby looked embarrassed. ‘Anyway, that was a long time ago now, but how strange that me and Ricky met up at the pictures again? Remember that film Captain Fury we saw last year, Pearl? Well it was showing again a few weeks ago and Ricky was on a weekend’s leave with one of his mates. I was with Irene Naylor from work. Don’t know how he recognized me but it was that flashy gold band on his arm that caught my eye.’
Pearl had already noted the sub-lieutenant’s gold braid and it was clear that Jim had too.
‘So you’ve joined the reserves?’ Jim said icily.
‘The Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve,’ Ricky corrected in the same tone.
‘Yeah, the wavy navy,’ sneered Jim and Pearl cringed at the derogatory expression. She was not surprised when Ricky retorted, ‘And you, Jim? No uniform?’
‘You’d better help yourselves to something to eat before it’s all gone,’ Pearl suggested quickly, giving Ruby a little nudge.
‘Good idea,’ Ruby nodded as she slid her hand through Ricky’s arm. ‘And I want to introduce Ricky to Mum and Dad. Dunno if they’d remember him, but they might.’
But when they were alone, Jim turned on Pearl. ‘What did you do that for? I can speak up for meself.’
‘I didn’t do anything.’ Pearl was shaken. ‘And don’t bite me head off, Jim. I was only telling them about the food.’
‘They could see the grub clearly enough, couldn’t they? There’s enough to feed the five thousand. Didn’t you see he was having a go at me? And I certainly don’t need you to fight me battles.’
‘You started it, Jim,’ Pearl retaliated. ‘Saying about the wavy navy.’
‘Are you taking his side?’
Pearl went scarlet. ‘Course not. But I don’t want a row on me wedding day.’
‘Wedding or not,’ growled Jim, ‘I’m fed up with every Tom Dick and Harry thinking a man in civvies has no backbone. It’s people like Winters that get my goat. A bloody reservist, I ask you! They think they’re God’s gift to the country. And what the heck is he doing here anyway?’
Pearl shrugged dismissively. ‘I’ve no idea.’
‘You didn’t know she was seeing him?’
‘No, she never said.’ Pearl wondered why her sister had not told her about Ricky. They spoke about everything and had shared the same room since they were kids. They’d gone to the same school, had the same friends and only gone their separate ways when Pearl started her job in the council offices. Later Ruby had joined Brewer’s the wholesalers on the wharf. When war broke out, Brewer’s was requisitioned by the war office and Ruby had stayed on and joined the assembly line. Ruby was her best friend. They had no secrets, except it seemed, for Ricky...  

ISBN 978-1847398420 Available in paperback from Amazon and Kindle Ereader. Published by Simon & Schuster.
Authors website,

Sultana by Lisa Yarde

Sultana Blurb
In thirteenth-century Moorish Spain, the realm of Granada is in crisis. The union of Fatima, granddaughter of the Sultan of Granada, with the Sultan’s nephew Faraj has fractured the nation. A bitter civil war escalates and endangers both Fatima and Faraj’s lives. 
 All her life, Fatima has sheltered in lavish palaces where danger has never intruded, until now. A precocious child and the unwitting pawn of her family, she soon learns how her marriage may determine her future and the fate of Granada. Her husband Faraj has his own qualms about their union. At a young age, he witnessed the deaths of his parents and discovered how affluence and power offers little protection against indomitable enemies. Guilt and fears plague him. Determined to carve his own destiny, Faraj struggles to regain his lost inheritance and avenge his murdered family. 
 Throughout the rugged frontiers of southern Spain, the burgeoning Christian kingdoms in the north and the desert states of North Africa, Fatima and Faraj survive ruthless murderers and intrigues. They unite against common enemies bent on destroying the last Moorish dynasty. While Fatima and Faraj establish a powerful bond, the atmosphere of deceit creates opportunities for mistrust and tests their love.
Gharnatah, al-Andalus: Safar 677 AH (Granada, Andalusia: July AD 1278)

Fatima endured seven weeks of bitter silence, during which she received no word from Faraj. Her father shared the daily dispatches on the reclamation of the port at al-Jazirah al-Khadra and the defense against the Castillans. Still, no word arrived of her husband’s fate. She retreated into a shell of suffering, filled with self-recrimination. The remembrance of his final words offered little comfort in the emptiness of her bedchamber at night.
On the first cool day of the summer, Sultana Shams ed-Duna insisted she accompany her and the kadin Nur al-Sabah to the souk of Gharnatah. Her stepmother refused Fatima’s initial rebuff.
After prayers, the trio, in the company of Niranjan, the palace guard and some servants, took the route down the Sabika hill and across the bridge of the Hadarro River. The Qaysariyya marketplace spread across the dun-brown plain at the south of the city, extending from the foot of the Sabika hill to the red brick walls of Gharnatah. Jewish and Christian merchants plied their trade alongside their Moorish counterparts, the local goldsmiths, armories, shoemakers, blacksmiths and textile makers.
The Sultan’s guards jostled everyone and made a clear path for the women. Fatima shrank from the resentful gazes of those displaced by the guards’ rough handling. She kept close to Shams ed-Duna and Nur al-Sabah, who doggedly haggled with the market sellers, while their slaves idled alongside the narrow streets and alleyways. Merchants offered slaves from faraway lands, bartering away their lives as easily as the silk, leather goods, brocades, ivory and olive oil sold in the souk.
The stench of piss and offal in the streets vied with ambergris, musk and incense from a nearby stall. Fatima gripped her stomach, as a wave of dizziness overcame her.
The kadin frowned at her. “Are you unwell?”
“I hadn’t expected it to be so crowded, or smell so bad.”
“Look, it’s a symbol of the Nauar.” Shams pointed to a burnished copper wheel dangling from a tent post under a faded, blue awning. “I have not seen one since I left Fés el-Bali.”
Nur al-Sabah peered over her shoulder. “Hmm, the Gypsies. Is it true they foretell the future?”
Fatima shook her head. “What nonsense they must teach in Christian households. The Nauar speak only in riddles to confuse and delude the mind.”
Shams asked, “How can you be so certain? Have you ever been to one?”
Fatima replied, “I wouldn’t dare. Sorcery and divination is the work of the court astrologer. Ask him anything you would like. I’m sure Father wouldn’t object.”
Then, a heavily veiled woman followed by two eunuchs exited the shop. One of the slaves pressed two silver dirhams into the olive brown hand of a little girl with bulging, black eyes. She took the coins and disappeared into the tent. The other eunuch handed his mistress a silken kerchief. She dabbed at the corners of her eyes, before bustling through the marketplace, her slaves following.
“I’d like to go in.” Nur al-Sabah cupped the roundness of her belly jutting beneath the green silk robe. “The court astrologer has promised another girl, but I know the Sultan wants a son. Perhaps the Nauar might know for certain.”
Fatima sniffed at this and looked away. She did not resent Nur al-Sabah’s desire anymore. Still, her father did not need more sons. He already had her brother Muhammad and now Shams ed-Duna’s boy.
Shams ed-Duna tugged at her hand. “What harm could there be if you came with us, Fatima?”
She pulled away. “I forbid it!”
Shams ed-Duna chuckled and Nur al-Sabah rolled her eyes.
Fatima gritted her teeth together and then expelled a sighing breath. “Very well, I’ll indulge you both in this foolishness. Come, let us see this fraud.”
They crossed the street, avoiding refuse and excrement, while a cadre of the guards and their servants surrounded the stall. Niranjan held aside the low curtain hanging over the entryway. Fatima glanced at him briefly, but he averted his eyes from her. She entered first and asked the little girl with black eyes for the fortune-teller. She led them behind a cloth curtain and gestured to the lone seat at a table.
Behind it, a shriveled figure with lips drawn tight over her teeth peered at them in silence. A ring of seashells, all oddly shaped, dotted the edge of the table, with one black pebble in the center. Fatima grinned at this poor mockery of mystic symbolism, but Shams ed-Duna urged her forward.
The gypsy woman bowed her head. “Peace be with you.”
Fatima asked, “And with you. Are you the one who speaks of the future?”
“Do you wish to know the future, noble one?”
Ignoring Nur al-Sabah’s gasp, Fatima leaned forward. “Why do you call me ‘noble one’ when you do not know me?”
“It is what you are.” The woman turned to the girl hovering at her side. Whispering in some language other than Arabic, she waved the girl away. The child soon returned with a cup of fragrant tisane, which the woman offered to Fatima. “It cannot harm you.”
Fatima glared at her companions, both of whom nodded. She drank the brew, bitter to the tongue at first, but sweeter as she continued. She finished and handed the cup to the woman, who said, “If you could swirl the cup, noble one?”
Fatima ground her teeth together, but complied. She set the vessel down with an abrupt clank. A few of the leaves clung to the sides and bottom. Her gaze fixed on the woman who nodded. “We must wait for the leaves to settle.”
When Fatima groaned, Shams pressed a hand against her arm. “Be patient.”
After an interim, the gypsy asked, “What is it that you wish to know, noble one?”
Fatima countered, “Tell me what you see.”
The woman stared into the cup and after a brief interval, she pronounced, “The future of Gharnatah lies within you.”
Fatima smiled at her companions. “You see? An answer, if I can call it such, without any meaning. Just as I expected.” She stood and looked down her nose at the gypsy. “Can your leaves tell you anything about me?”
The woman stated, “Nothing you would believe, princess of Gharnatah.”
Nur al-Sabah pecked at her arm and whispered something, but Fatima stilled her and leaned toward the gypsy. “Why do you call me a princess?”
“It is what you are. As I have said, the future of Gharnatah lies within you. Already, you carry one of its heirs in your womb, your son, who shall become the Sultan of Gharnatah.”
Shams ed-Duna pressed her hand against Fatima’s shoulder, but she shrugged her stepmother off. “If you knew anything of me, you would know that no child of mine could ever be Sultan. It is treason to suggest it, when the Sultan already has an heir. Besides, I would know if I am with child.”
“I speak only of what I see, noble one. You are a princess of Gharnatah. You carry a son. One day, he shall become the Sultan. Such is the fate that awaits you, whether you would wish it or not.”

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Trencarrow Secret by Anita Davison

Trencarrow Secret by Anita Davison - out June 2011

Book Blurb
Isabel Hart is afraid of two things, the maze at Trencarrow where she got lost as a young child, and the lake where her brother David saved her from drowning in a boating accident.
With her twenty-first birthday and the announcement of her engagement imminent, Isabel decides it is time for her to face her demons and ventures into the maze. There she sees something which will alter her perceptions of herself and her family forever.
Isabel’s widowed aunt joins the house party, where her cousin confides she is in love with an enigmatic young man who surely cannot be what he pretends, for he is surely too dashing for homely Laura?
When Henry, Viscount Strachan and his mother arrives, ostensibly to use her ball as an arena for finding a wife, Isabel is determined not to like him.
As more secrets are revealed, Isabel doubts she has chosen the right man, although her future fiancé has more vested in this marriage than Isabel realizes and has no intention of letting her go easily.
Will Isabel be able to put her preconceptions of marriage behind her and take charge of her own life, or is her life destined to be controlled by others?
The long case clock in the entrance hall worked its way to chime the hour with a clunk and mechanical whine. Isabel slid her hand over the newel post, large as a man’s head at the bottom of the stairs; patting the carved wood three times to banish evil spirits, a childhood ritual her siblings raced each other to perform first.
The fragrance of lavender overlaid with the tang of vinegar permeated the hall; a combination used by the servants to bring life to rooms that had lain empty since winter.
A murmur of raised voices from behind the green baize door to the basement sent Isabel scurrying into the morning room. Crossing the marbled floor, she pushed through the casement door onto the terrace; the route to the outside with the quietest hinge.
A smoky mist rose from the meadows in a blue haze of early morning as her feet skimmed the stone steps onto cropped, spongy grass that leached dampness into her thin soles. Strutting fantails scattered at her approach with indignant squawks.
Tucked into a corner of the grounds, the maze sat behind a railed enclosure. Squat and menacing in geometric perfection, two stone lions stood sentry on either side of an entrance which gaped - black, beckoning.
The loamy earth and damp leaf smell propelled Isabel back to her sixth birthday, when she had become lost in a dark labyrinth of strange noises. No matter how much her siblings teased her since, she had never come near it again.
In two weeks, she would be twenty one; far too old to be frightened of a few hedges. Time to banish the monster forever. While the rest of the family slept off their fatigue of the previous day’s journey from London, this post-dawn silence offered a perfect opportunity. The lush green foliage looked anything but threatening now, and yet she still had to force herself over the threshold and onto the path. 
Her shoes crunched on fine gravel as Isabel crept to the end of the first corridor and turned left into a straight tunnel. The waxy leaves on an untrimmed hedge brushed her cheek as she rounded a corner. A shadow at the edge of her vision darted away in a scurrying of either claws or wings. Halting, she ran her hands down the sides of her skirt and fought the urge to turn back.
The statue of a boy on a stone plinth changed her mind. Sightless eyes gazed straight ahead, the folds of his breeches buckled below the knee. He looked smaller than she remembered, a French horn held in dimpled fingers, and a mass of short curls like thick worms carved in stone.
Reciting the route she had worked out a hundred times from her bedroom window, a burst of confidence sent her through the next gap into a small clearing where white colonial roses covered a wrought iron ornamental arch, its ivory blooms exuding a sweet, cloying fragrance.
Their unexpected beauty stilled the moment and Isabel paused, entranced. Had she got this far on that long-ago birthday, how different her childhood might have been without the insidious fears the maze always engendered. Her foot raised to move forward, a movement caught her eye. She turned, and sucked in her breath.
The scene before her made no sense.
Tall and imposing in his ubiquitous charcoal grey tailcoat, his dark hair touched by silver wings at the temples, Father stood with his arms wrapped tightly around her mother’s nurse.
Amelia clung to him, her head tilted to receive his kiss; her long, white fingers entwined in his hair. Fingers that messed the pristine order in a way he would never have tolerated in a hug from Isabel.
Pressed close, he held his broad hand spread across Amelia’s back, while with the other. . .
Isabel backed away, pressing against the hedge where sharp privet scratched the base of her neck. Like a small child caught in a misdemeanour, she waited as the seconds passed, each loaded with anticipation of her father’s voice raised to summon her back.
Apart from a low rustle and a murmur of wind, the maze remained still and silent.
Isabel bounced onto her toes and ran. Her heart pounded in rhythm with each step as she pleaded with the fates she had chosen the right path. The statue of the boy flashed past and giddy with relief at the sight of the entrance looming ahead, she burst between the hedges into bright sunlight.
Her skirt threatened to wrap around her ankles, but she reached the far side of the lawn without mishap. The arched wooden gate in the wall at the bottom of the garden stood open and hurtling through, she shouldered it shut. The click of the latch sounded over loud and the old wood cut into her shoulder through the fabric of her blouse.
Her hand clutched her chest to massage away a sharp pain. Her eyes snapped open, and she gasped. That’s where his hand lay, on Amelia’s. . . 
A lump formed in her throat and indignant tears welled.
Slowing to a walk, she propelled her feet along the pathway through an avenue of trees, whose overhead branches formed a canopy to shelter walkers from the sun.
Beneath a gnarled oak that had stood witness to the sighs and laugher of generations, she slumped down on the weather-beaten slats of a curved bench; a favourite spot for childish dreams and sulks.
Her unbound hair tugged by a breeze, she stared unseeing at quiet beauty that was Trencarrow Lake. Bulrushes grew in clusters at the shoreline on one side; an untidy row of birch trees bordered the other. A squat, blue boathouse on stilts reached over the surface like a painted toy on a carpet of water lilies.
Surrounded by parkland, the main house lay a quarter of a mile back from the coast, tucked behind a rise and protected from the worst of the west winds blowing in from the sea.
Each year carved its own memories of Marazion, where Isabel’s family spent their Cornish summers. Some were happy and sun-filled, re-lived best on cold winter evenings; while the demons of others ambushed her when she least expected. In spite of everything, Isabel loved it here.
A rush of dismay brought a choked sob to her throat, and her eyes filled again, blurring the landscape into a swirl of green.
How could Papa behave so? And with Amelia, of all people. How long had their liaison been going on? Since Mother became sick? Before? Had he brought Amelia into their house to care for Mother, when all the time . .?
An image of their bodies locked together invaded her head, and she bit her lip. The intimacy of Father’s touch convinced her this morning was not the first time they had been together in that way.
The rattle of a mower sounded in a distant field, and the tang of hay filled the air. Her thoughts swirled and tumbled, until anger replaced misery, and a headache threatened.
A startled blackbird burst from a nearby bush, and the branches overhead creaked and collided in a sudden gust of wind to spray her skirt with drops of water. 
 “What are you looking so miserable about?” Isabel jumped at the familiar voice.

The Reluctant Marquess by Maggi Andersen

A country-bred girl, Charity Barlow never expected to become a Marchioness. Nonetheless, she is determined to make her marriage of convenience into the ton work. Yet despite the strong attraction between them, and Charity’s bold attempts at intimacy, the rakish Lord Robert does not believe a husband should be in love with his wife. Can she ever make him love her?

The footman knocked on a solid oak door.
She stepped with trepidation into the room to be embraced by warmth. A fire blazed in the baronial fireplace where a liver-spotted spaniel lifted its head to study her. After a thump of a tail, its head sank to its paws again, lulled back to sleep by the heat. Above the fireplace, the painting of a hunting scene featured several dogs. Two tall china spaniels flanked the fireplace mantel. The heavy oak beams across the ceiling, and walls covered floor to ceiling in shelves of tomes made the room seem snug. Charity rushed over and crouched on the Oriental rug beside the animal, giving it a pat. The dog’s tail thumped harder. ‘You’re a nice fellow, aren’t you?’ Her stiff cold muscles loosened, and the icy pit at the base of her stomach began to thaw. Maybe she could be happy here. She loved dogs.
‘Welcome to Castle St. Malin.’
A man rose from behind a massive mahogany desk strewn with papers in the corner of the room. He crossed the room to greet her. He was not her godfather. She caught her breath. He was tall, his dark hair drawn back in a queue, and there was something of the marquess’ haughty demeanour about his handsome face, but she doubted he’d yet reached thirty.
‘Thank you.’ Charity could only stare at his attire, her gaze locked on his gold silk waistcoat as he bowed before her. He was in mourning, for black crepe graced the sleeve of his emerald green coat. With a sense of foreboding, she curtseyed on wobbly knees. ‘Where is the marquess, if you please?’ She looked around hoping her godfather might pop out of somewhere, but the room was otherwise empty.
‘I am the Marquess of St. Malin. My uncle passed away a short time ago.’
‘Oh. I’m so sorry.’ What she feared was true. Charity had an overwhelming desire to sit and glanced at the damask sofa.
He reacted immediately, taking her arm and escorting her to a chair. ‘Sit by the fire. You look cold and exhausted.’ He turned to the footman. ‘Bring a hot toddy for Miss Barlow.’
Charity sank down gratefully, her modest panniers settling around her.
‘I find the staff here poorly trained,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what my uncle was about.’
‘Why did you send a carriage for me?’ she asked, leaning back against the sofa cushions. ‘I wouldn’t have come had I known.’
‘I thought it best to sort the matter out here and now.’ He rested an elbow on a corner of the mantel and stirred the dog with a foot. ‘Shame on you, Felix. You might accord Miss Barlow a warm welcome.’ He looked at her. ‘My uncle’s dog; he’s mourning his master.’ He raised his brows. ‘Notice of my uncle’s passing appeared in The Daily Universal Register.’
‘We don’t get that newspaper in my village.’
‘You don’t? I wasn’t aware of you until the reading of the will. Then I learned of your parents’ death from my solicitor. I’m very sorry.’
‘Thank you. I’m sorry, too, about your uncle.’
‘My uncle fell ill only a few months ago. He rallied and then …’ The new marquess’ voice faded. He sighed and stared into the fire.
‘You must have been very fond of him,’ Charity said into the quiet pause that followed. Though, if she were honest, she felt surprise that the cool man she remembered could have provoked that level of affection.
He raised his eyes to meet hers and gave a bleak smile. ‘Yes, I was fond of him. He always had my interest at heart, you see.’ He sat in the oxblood leather chair opposite and rested his hands on his knees. ‘I am his acknowledged heir, and the legalities have been processed. I’ve inherited the title and the entailed properties. The rest of his fortune will pass to another family member should I fail to conform to the edicts of his will.’
'His will?’ Charity gripped her sweaty hands together, she couldn’t concentrate on anything the man said. Her mind whirled, filled with desperate thoughts. With her godfather dead, where would she go from here? Her heart raced as she envisioned riding off along the dark cliffs to join a theatre troupe, or become a tavern wench.
‘This must be difficult for you to take in, and I regret having to tell you tonight before you have rested. But I’m compelled to move quickly as you have no chaperone and have travelled here alone …’
She raised her chin. ‘There was no one to accompany me.’ She would not allow him to make her feel like a poor relation, even though she was quite definitely poor. And alone. She hated that more than anything. What had her godfather left her? She hoped it would allow her some measure of independence and wasn’t just a vase or the family portrait.
The footman entered, carrying a tray with a cup of steaming liquid. Charity took the drink and sipped it gratefully. It was warming and tasted of a spicy spirit. She found it hard to concentrate on his words, as her mind retreated into a fog and her eyes wandered around the room. She finished the drink, which had heated her insides, and allowed her head to loll back against the cushions. Her gaze rested on her host, thinking he would be handsome if he smiled. She was so tired, and the warmth of the fire made her drowsy. What was he saying?
‘It’s the best thing for both of us, don’t you agree?’
She shook her head to try and clear it. ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’
He frowned. ‘The will states we must marry. Straightaway, I’m afraid.’
‘I … What? I’m to m-marry you?’ Placing her cup down carefully on the table she struggled to her feet, fighting fatigue and the affects of whatever it was she’d just drunk. Smoothing her gown, she glanced at the door through which she intended to depart at any moment. ‘I have no intention …’
His lips pressed together in a thin line. ‘I know it’s perplexing. I didn’t intend to wed for some years. I certainly would have preferred to choose whom I married, as no doubt would you.’
Her jaw dropped. What kind of man was this? She had been raised to believe that marriage was a sacred institution. He made it sound so … inconsequential. She stared at him. ‘The will states I must marry you?’
‘Yes, that’s exactly what it states.’ He rose abruptly with a rustle of silk taffeta and moved closer to the fire. She wondered if he might be as nervous as she. ‘Unless I’m prepared to allow my uncle’s unentailed fortune go to a distant relative. Which I am not. As I have said.’ His careful tone suggested he thought her a simpleton. Under his unsympathetic gaze, she sank back down onto the sofa. ‘You are perfectly within your rights to refuse, but I see very few options open to you. As my wife, you will live in comfort. You may go to London to enjoy the Season. I shall give you a generous allowance for gowns and hats, and things a lady must have.’ His gaze wandered over her cream muslin gown, and she placed a hand on the lace that disguised the small patch near her knee. ‘What do you say?’
She tilted her head. ‘I shall receive an allowance? For gowns, and hats, and things a lady must have.’
‘Exactly,’ he said with a smile, obviously quite pleased with himself. ‘I see we understand each other perfectly. So … do you agree?’
What was wrong with this man? Slowly, Charity released a heavy sigh. She could barely contemplate such a thing as this, and yet he acted as though he’d solved all the problems of the world with fashion accessories. She had hoped for a small stipend, but marriage! And to a complete stranger. She couldn’t! Not for all the gowns and hats on earth. She straightened up in her chair and lifted her chin. Her words were clipped and precise, and she hoped beyond hope he would accept her decision gracefully. ‘I say no, Lord St. Malin.’
‘No? Really?’
‘Yes, really.’
‘How disappointing,’ he said quietly.
She gulped as his heavy-lidded eyes continued to study her from head to foot. She was uncomfortably aware that the mist had sent her hair into a riot of untidy curls, and she smoothed it away from her face with both hands as she glanced around the room. She tucked a muddy shoe out of sight beneath her gown and then forced herself to meet his gaze. Might he like anything of what he saw? Her father loved that she had inherited her mother’s tiny waist, and she thought her hands pretty. His lordship’s gaze strayed to her breasts and remained there rather long. She sucked in a breath as her heart beat faster. When their eyes met did she detect a gleam of approval? It only made her more nervous.

ISBN: 9781844718425

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