Monday, October 8, 2012

A Duchess Monday Featuring Author Jane Feather

Happy Monday, readers! 

Today I'm pulling out a favorite historical romance author of mine and sharing an older story by her from 2008. She's topped the New York Times best-selling list many times and has received reviews that knock your socks off!

Jane feather became one of my favorite authors with her title Almost A Bride published back in 2005 and soon after I discovered the wonders of The Book Depository her title, To Wed A Wicked Prince, was the very first book I ordered. From there it's all been downhill! I have every title she owns much to my husband astonishment at how many books I CAN order and DO read. lol 

So for today I will offer up an extended snippet from To Wed A Wicked Prince. It's an oldie but it surely is a goodie!

Happy reading!

To Wed A Wicked Prince
Jane Feather

Available Now

Back of the Book:
Livia Lacey came to the house she inherited in London's Cavendish Square with her two friends, Lady Cornelia Dagenham and Lady Aurelia Farnham, to experience the excitement of city life. With Cornelia now happily married, Livia and Aurelia are on their own. But dashing Prince Alex Prokov, a newcomer to London, seems enchanted by Liv the moment they meet. Disarmed by the prince's determined pursuit of her, his exuberant joy of living, and the desires he awakens in her, Liv agrees to marry him.
But while night is a time for passionate embraces, Liv discovers that her irresistible husband can be as autocratic as he is extravagantly generous. While Alex balks at Liv's independent ways, he refuses to explain his own comings and goings. When Liv learns one of Alex's secrets she only loves him more. But when she learns the other secret, will she feel wickedly betrayed?

Extended Snippet Reading:
It was a beautiful morning for a ride, Livia reflected as she left the house, drawing on her gloves as she stood on the top step. Her heart sank a little when she saw the horse awaiting her in the street. The livery stable had sent her the piebald gelding again. He was a dull, plodding ride at the best of times and, even with the utmost modesty, Livia knew she was a better than good horse-woman and the mount didn’t do her justice. But she couldn’t afford to keep her own horse in London, so beggars couldn’t be choosers, she told herself resolutely as she descended the steps.
The livery stable had sent an elderly groom with the horse and he gave her a leg up into the saddle. “Where to, ma’am?”
“Hyde Park…the Stanhope Gate,” Livia said, settling into the saddle, feeling the gelding’s broad back shift beneath her.
The groom mounted his own cob and whistled through his teeth. Immediately both horses started forward. Livia guided her stolid mount through the thronged streets. Not even the rowdy chaos of Piccadilly disturbed the animal’s placidity. Ideal for a nervous rider, she reflected, but dull as ditch water for one who liked a mount with some spirit.
She couldn’t help the stab of envy when she saw Lilly Devries waiting with her groom just inside the entrance to Hyde Park. Lilly’s mount was a lively gray mare with fine lines and a dainty high-stepping movement. But then, Lilly’s husband possessed a considerable fortune.
“Good morning, Livia. Isn’t it a delicious day?” Lilly bubbled with customary enthusiasm as her friend joined her. “How was the Clarington ball last night? I was sick at not being able to go, but Hector insisted we dine with his parents…such a bore, I can’t tell you.” She turned her horse onto the tan, the broad band of sandy soil running alongside the paved coach path around the park. Her horse pranced delicately along beside the broad-backed piebald gelding.
Livia chatted idly about the ball, surprised that for some reason she avoided all mention of the Russian. Lilly would have been all ears, as always fascinated by any tidbit of gossip. There was no reason Livia shouldn’t mention her encounter with Prince Prokov, although she wouldn’t tell anyone except Ellie and Nell about Bellingham’s involuntary swim in the fountain, and yet she found herself reluctant to say anything about it.
“Oh, look, there’s Colonel Melton,” Lilly said suddenly, breaking into Livia’s desultory account. “In the party coming towards us.”
Livia looked up. A party of three horsemen trotted down the tan towards them, two of them in the scarlet coats of dragoons, the other in civilian riding dress. Prince Prokov was the other. A little prickle of excitement ran up the back of her neck.
“Good morning, ladies.” Colonel Melton called a greeting, sweeping off his plumed hat in a gallant flourish. “Well met, indeed. Lady Devries, Lady Livia. You know Lord Talgarth, of course.” He gestured to the other guardsman, who bowed with a similar flourish. “And are you acquainted with Prince Prokov?”
“I don’t believe so,” Lilly said with a warm smile, her eyes appraising the newcomer with sharp interest. “It’s a pleasure, sir.”
He bowed and murmured a greeting before turning to Livia. His brilliant blue gaze held her own as he said, “I had the honor of meeting Lady Livia last night…how delightful to renew our acquaintance so soon, ma’am.”
“Indeed, sir,” Livia responded with a neutral smile. But the air had taken on that champagne fizz again and the prickles on the nape of her neck intensified. It was those damnable eyes, she thought. No one had the right to such a dazzling purity of color.
“May we ride with you?” The colonel was turning his horse alongside Lilly even as he asked the polite question. “Tell me, Lady Devries, why you haven’t been seen about town for so long. Devries shouldn’t keep you all to himself…the dog. And I shall tell him so.”
Lilly laughed and entered the light bantering flirtation with practiced skill, saying over her shoulder, “Lord Talgarth, there’s room for three on the path. I’m sure the prince wishes to further his acquaintance with Lady Livia.” She gave Livia an archly conspiratorial smile as she said this.
Livia did her best to ignore the smile, but she couldn’t ignore the prince, who had turned his horse to ride beside her. “What a magnificent animal,” she said involuntarily as the black tossed his head and set the reins jingling.
“A Cossack horse,” he told her. “I brought him with me.” He cast a somewhat disparaging eye over her own mount. “Forgive me, but I don’t think much of that beast.”
Livia gave a rueful shrug. “A livery stable animal…what can you expect?”
“Ah…indeed.” He nodded his comprehension and seemed to dismiss the subject. “How delightfully serendipitous that we should meet in this way. I was intending to call upon you later this morning.”
“And now you’ve been saved the trouble?” Livia questioned with a quirk of her eyebrows.
“I would never consider it a trouble, ma’am,” he responded. “A delight, certainly.”
“You flatter me, sir.” Livia couldn’t think of a more original response.
“Never,” he said. He lowered his voice and murmured, “I think you must know that I will go to any lengths to spend time in your company.” His eyes were full of laughter, his soft voice a throb of invitation.
“With or without the assistance of a well-placed fountain,” she said, trying to ignore the invitation but failing lamentably.
“That’s better,” he said as softly as before. “You are quite beautiful when your eyes laugh.”
Livia lost all desire to laugh. She stared at him and then stated, “I have no interest in meaningless and extravagant compliments, Prince Prokov. They may do very well in Russia, but I for one equate restraint with sincerity.”
“And why should you imagine I am not sincere?” he asked, apparently unsnubbed.
“You don’t know me at all,” she said. “And in this country we don’t go around making intimate declarations to strangers.”
“Well, you’ll become accustomed to my ways,” he returned with a cheerful smile. “And you may even come to like them. Shall we canter, if that beast of yours can be encouraged to do so?”
He leaned sideways and gave her horse a smart cut on the flank with his whip. The animal jumped as if it had been stung and lumbered off down the tan in an ungainly resemblance to a canter. Livia was too occupied trying to adapt her seat to the rollicking gait to give vent to her outrage as the prince cantered elegantly beside her. They soon outstripped their companions and once they were out of sight, Alex drew rein and his horse slowed to a walk. Livia’s mount, however, continued at the same pace and it took her several tries before she could convince him to slow down.
“How dare you do that?” she demanded furiously, once she had the animal in hand again. “You took me totally by surprise.”
“I wished to be private with you,” he said, as if it were the most ordinary and reasonable excuse for striking her mount. “And you were in no danger, surprised or not, my dear girl. You can handle a much livelier animal than that plodder.”
“That may be true, but you still had no right to do that,” she insisted, even as her anger melted away. There was something irresistible about this man’s personality. He swept all objections and obstacles before him. If she’d felt bullied in any way, it would have been different, but somehow she didn’t.
“Then forgive me?” he asked, reaching out to touch her gloved hand. “Come, don’t be angry with me, Livia.” He gave her a cajoling smile. “Besides, you know that animal wouldn’t have speeded up for any less encouragement than I gave him. Am I forgiven?”
Livia said nothing to that. She glanced over her shoulder and instead observed neutrally, “We seem to have lost the groom in that headlong race.”
“Hardly headlong.”
She shrugged. “Hardly decorous either. I must go back to Lady Devries before she sends out a search party.” She turned her horse and raised her whip in pointed farewell. “Good day, Prince Prokov.”
“Allow me to escort you to your friend. It seems the least I can do to make amends,” he said, falling in smoothly beside her. “And I would be honored if you would allow me to escort you home. A mere groom, a livery stables groom at that, is hardly adequate escort for a ride through the London streets. Your mount might become startled and bolt with you.”
It was too much. Livia went into a peal of laughter. Alex watched her appreciatively, but this time wisdom told him to hold his tongue on further intimate compliments. He was rewarded by her tacit consent to his company back to the others.
“Wherever have you been?” Lilly asked with a note of reproof. “You should never gallop in the park, Livia.”
“Lady Livia’s horse ran away with her,” the prince said solemnly. “She was unable to hold him. I went to her assistance.”
“Really,” Lilly said, regarding her friend’s mount rather doubtfully. “He doesn’t look as if he had it in him.”
“He doesn’t,” Livia said. “The prince thinks he’s being amusing.” She gave him a cool smile. “An unfortunate misapprehension. I think perhaps he does not understand English humor.”
“Oh, touché,” he murmured, raising a hand in a fencer’s gesture that acknowledged a hit.
“Well, no harm done,” Colonel Melton said heartily. “Shall we ride on?”
“No, I must return to Cavendish Square,” Livia said. “Lady Farnham returned from the country this morning and I must keep her company.”
“Then let us go at once,” Alex said. “You must not keep the lady waiting another minute.” He reached for her bridle to turn the horse on the path. Livia’s whip flashed and stung the back of his gloved hand.
He withdrew the hand with a barely stifled gasp and met the blaze of her glare. “Thank you for the offer, sir,” she said with deceptive sweetness. “So very kind of you, but I’m very much afraid I have to decline. Do please remain with your friends.” She offered her farewells, then turned back to the Stanhope Gate, the groom at her heels.
Alex gave her a minute or two, then made his own excuses and rode after her. He caught up with her before she reached the gate and fell in beside her. She didn’t acknowledge his presence, and after a long silence he said, “That was a grave error on my part. Will you forgive me that too?”
She turned to look at him as they reached Piccadilly. “Just who do you think you are?” The question sounded more puzzled than indignant. “I barely know you and yet you are behaving with me as if you have some kind of right…as if we’d known each other from the cradle or something.”
He gave an elaborate mock shudder. “Oh, no…not the innocent intimacy of childhood friends…that wouldn’t suit me at all.”
“It wouldn’t suit me either,” Livia found herself responding. And now why was she was chatting with him as naturally as if they had known each other for months and he had never infuriated her for a minute? She shook her head in irritation, firmly closed her mouth, and didn’t open it again until they reached Cavendish Square.
Thank you for stopping in with me today. It's always great to see readers enjoyed the snippets I put up. Hopefully it helps you find new reads or authors to add onto your own list for reading. Another title by Jane feather that recently found its way onto my to-be-read pile is her recent release titled An Unsuitable Bride: part of Ms. Feather's Blackwater Brides series. I absolutely fell in love with the cover and since Amazon offers up Whispersync for Voice for this title I think I'm going to give that a try since I've already purchased the book. If you have tried Whispersync for Voice for any title what are your thoughts? Did you enjoy the option or do you prefer to just read the book yourself?


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