Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Excerpt from STORM (The Deverells - book two)

Hi everyone! Tomorrow is release day for STORM, the second installment in a Victorian family saga which began earlier this year with TRUE STORY. I hope you'll take the opportunity to catch up on the story, if you haven't already. Here is a little teaser from STORM to whet your appetite!

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            It was evident that Storm Deverell lived alone. Several old newspapers— some yellowed with age and edged with a scalloped pattern of mice teeth— sat folded up on the arm of a tattered and patched chair, which was the only cushioned seat in the house. Every shirt drying on that wooden rack had seen better days. Clearly, he had no one to sew new ones or repair those he had. And he cooked for himself with a skilled, casual ease that proved he did it often.

            "I had a housekeeper once," he told her, perhaps noticing her critical gaze taking in the shambles. "But she had to split her time between me and my father, and he's always been more demanding than me. Now he's getting married again and she'll be needed there more often, so I asked Reverend Coles to find me a handy woman."

            She wondered why he had no wife of his own to take care of the house for him. He looked... healthy enough to manage a wife. Of course, it was hardly a question she could ask. One of them at least ought to have manners.
            He kept a clean shirt in his hand and disappeared into the scullery. She heard water splashing from a pump.
            "What made you come so far from London?" he shouted.
            "It was Reverend Coles' idea." She sighed, looking around at the mess again. "He made the west country sound so appealing in his letters."
            "You've experience as a housekeeper?"
            She could lie, of course. The state of his house suggested this man wouldn't know a good housekeeper if he met one. But she decided to be honest. After all, this was a new beginning, a new life.
            "I have not," she said, anxiously gripping her teacup.
            "What about references? You must have some."
            "I'm afraid not."
            "None at all?" Deverell exclaimed, emerging from the other room, still in the process of tugging the clean shirt over his shoulders and exposing a tanned slab of naked torso at the same time. "But you can cook?"
            She averted her gaze at once, her heartbeat suddenly leaping up into her throat, making it very difficult to swallow. "Yes. No." Oh, what was she saying? "I'm an abysmal cook... but not for want of trying."
            "I see. What about sewing?"
            "Not a stitch."
            "What about laundry?"
            "I'm sure I can learn."
             "Lighting fires? Cleaning windows?"
            Still avoiding his gaze, she tucked that persistent stray curl back under her bonnet brim again. "How hard can it be?" How did she explain that when one lived a nocturnal life, clean windows were unimportant? And fires were for the wealthy who could afford coal— unless they scrambled for it in the Thames where it sometimes fell from barges.
            There followed another short silence and then he said, "At least you've got a pretty face. We seldom see the like of you in these parts."
            She gripped her cup of tea in both hands and took a hearty gulp.
            Don't look up. Don't look...Oh, has he got the damnable shirt on yet?
            Then he added, "Those lips alone might be worth the twenty-five pounds a year salary I promised."
            Alas, she had to look. What else was a woman supposed to do when a man said such a thing to her? And in front of her son too. Had he no propriety?
            Not that Flynn was listening. A quick glance reassured her that the boy was too busy eating bacon and playing with the man's dog.
            Her new employer tipped his head to one side, hands paused in the motion of tucking the shirt into his well-worn riding breeches. "Did I speak amiss? You look all...peevish."
            "Sir, it is not the sort of comment one should make to one's housekeeper."
            He shrugged, only drawing her attention to his wide shoulders again. "You'll have to forgive me, if I'm too straightforward. I'm a country fellow, Duchess. I don't complicate matters. I tend to say what I think, as soon as the thought comes to me."
            "I'm sure that causes you many trials and tribulations then."
            "Once in a while," he admitted frankly, with a quick grin. "Mostly I manage to avoid trouble."
            "Yes. Men generally do. After they've caused it."
            He laughed. "Back to that again, are we?"
            "I beg your pardon?"
            "The inadequacies of men and how we are to blame for all the world's problems. And all because I was honest and said you were bonny, when I might have kept it to myself?"
            "I wish you had kept it to yourself," she muttered.
            "Can't you take a compliment, Mrs. Kelly?"
            "We have scarce been introduced, sir." He had better not think she was that sort of woman. "I wonder what you could mean by it." Kate had been told she was fair of face before, but no good ever came from it, and the men who tried to flatter her had only one intent. If anything, her face was a disadvantage when she sought to make an honest living.
            "I meant no harm by speaking the thought aloud, but don't fret." He held up his hands in mock surrender. "I shan't worry you with another, now that I know you're not of a mind to receive any graciously." He said all this in a calm voice, more amused than angry. His eyes narrowed, crinkling at the corners, which explained the thin white lines in his sun-browned face. He must puzzle over a lot of riddles, she thought. "But 'tis a pity if you can't appreciate your own good looks," he added. "I know my face is as scratched up as a pair of old boots, but I value it all the same. It's well lived in and still has its uses. At least it has the required number of features and mostly in the expected order."
            Old boots, indeed! Her gaze drifted from his damp, ruffled hair to his thick arms, firm chest and the fluttering tail of his shirt as he continued tucking it sloppily into his breeches. She closed her lips tightly, gritting her teeth.
            Now she knew how Eve felt in Eden, with only one man as far as the eye could see. And oh, what the eye could see!

(copyright Jayne Fresina 2015)

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Hope you are intrigued enough to read on ;)

Storm (The Deverells - Book Two) - available from all good online book sellers on September 30th, 2015.
UK Amazon
US Amazon


Friday, August 28, 2015

A STORM is coming on September 30th!

Storm - The Deverells Book two will hit the internet on September 30th (print version available a few weeks later). Don't forget to catch up on the first installment True Story if you haven't already!

About the hero, Storm Deverell -

He's nice.
            He's the eldest son of Victorian England's most notorious rogue, but Storm Deverell just wants to keep life simple. Unlike the other members of his wild tribe, he steers clear of scandal and leads an honest, hard-working existence on a Cornish farm.
            Of course, it hasn't always been that way. In the days of youthful rebellion, that hot Deverell temper earned Storm a bad reputation. But now he keeps his anger tamed so well nobody would ever know it's still there.
            All things considered, Storm has everything he wants, whenever he wants it, in his uncomplicated world. And even if life is a little quiet sometimes, at least it's predictable.
            Until a strange woman arrives to shatter his unchallenged bachelor tranquility.
            Stubborn, proudly independent and apparently immune to his infamous charm, Katherine Kelly is a disruption, a sharp-tongued, haughty madam, and the last thing he needs moving in as his neighbor.
            One touch of her smooth hands tells him she knows nothing about managing a farm. One glance at her rose-embroidered stockings warns him she'll cause a commotion.
            Good thing he's not looking for trouble these days.
And the heroine, Katherine Kelly -
She's naughty.
            Escaping a seedy, gas-lit world of deception and villainy with a spinet full of stolen banknotes and snuff boxes, Kate is seeking a new beginning and a better future for her son. She's come a long way to find sanctuary and fresh air, so that frustratingly calm, self-satisfied, straight-talking farmer in the next valley will not spoil it for her. Clearly he's ruled the roost around here far too long, a local legend in his own mind. So what if Deverell believes a woman can't survive without a man? Surviving is something this single mother knows how to do.  
            One touch of his rough hands tells her he's dangerous. One glance into his blue eyes warns her he'll be a distraction.
            Good thing she's not looking for trouble these days.
            But these two headstrong, accidental neighbors will soon learn that trouble can find them without being sought. Because what's "nice" can also be naughty, and what's naughty.... is usually a Deverell.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May I introduce Mrs. Olivia Monday?

TRUE STORY Character Profile

Name: Olivia Westcott Ollerenshaw Pemberton Monday

Age: Eight and Twenty

Marital status: Thrice Widowed (although it's none of your business)

Place of Birth: Chiswick

Olivia is the only daughter of a stern, practical, hard-working solicitor. At the age of eight she lost her mother to consumption, but this has not induced much sympathy from her remaining relatives. Her maternal grandmother — a wealthy lady of property and consequence—wants nothing to do with her. Her father does not show his emotions and her Great Aunt Jane Westcott is more interested in the maintenance of good posture and polite manners, than she is in expressing one's feelings...

            "Straighten your spine, girl! You will develop a most unbecoming slouch if my nephew doesn't put you in a backboard immediately. Who will you ever find to marry, child, if you don't improve your posture, take up some feminine pursuits and learn to hold a sensible conversation? What gentleman of any worth would look at such a sulky, sullen, willful creature with a fascination for wicked pranks? You won't be fit for polite society."

          This lecture came about because Olivia had sculpted a piece of parsnip to look like a finger, coated the end of it in raspberry jam, and then placed it on the pianoforte keys, to be discovered when the instrument was opened.

          "You are a horrid, unseemly child with a dark and devious imagination, Olivia Westcott. I cannot think what will become of you."

          To which she replied, "I shall marry Mr. True Deverell, shan't I? People say he's not fit for polite society either. But he's rich as Croesus and I hear he knows his way under a woman's petticoats."

          This bold declaration had shocked everyone present into silence. These things — and men—weren't meant for drawing room conversation in mixed company, and the adults were probably wondering where she'd even heard his name. But Olivia was not the sort of girl who listened quietly and contentedly to sweet fairy tales. "Once upon a time" made her want to spit nails. Once upon what time? When? What on earth did that even mean, for pity's sake? How could anyone take such a feeble, flimsy narrative seriously?

          No indeed, Olivia preferred darkly gothic yarns and bloodthirsty horror stories not meant for the ears of little girls. Should that mean eavesdropping at keyholes to get her entertainment, so be it. Even if she didn't fully understand what she heard.

          In any case, on that long-ago occasion, the mention of his name had got her sent up to bed immediately, saving her from a very dull evening. As she ascended the stairs, she overheard the adults discussing her.

          "One must make allowances for the poor child, growing up motherless."

          "Allowances? Where would we be if we made allowances for bad behavior? Another sliding of standards! No, no, that girl was impertinent long before she lost her mother, who was herself a stubborn creature with a distressingly romantic view of life and her head in the clouds. What my nephew saw in her I'll never know. A difficult woman."

            So Olivia grew up trying to hide her naughty, dark imagination and that wicked streak of mischief. She's also tried to forget that fascination for True Deverell, a man of notoriety and scandal.

            "A man like that uses women for only one thing," her stepbrother had exclaimed once, when he looked over her shoulder to catch her reading a lascivious piece about Deverell in the newspaper. "But the scoundrel would never look twice at you, Livy, so you are quite safe."

          And that, she mused, was precisely where men like True Deverell went wrong, because they didn't see her coming and then they tripped over her.

             One day, sure enough, the "mutton-head" fellow is headed in her direction and he's not looking where he's going.

            He needs a secretary to help write his memoirs and so he puts the word out for a one who is plain and has a neat hand.

            He may get more than he bargains for.

 Copyright Jayne Fresina 2015

 TRUE STORY (The Deverells-- Book One) is now available from TE Publishing at all good online stores. Print version soon to be available. 




Friday, April 24, 2015

Exclusive Excerpt - from TRUE STORY (The Deverells - Book One)

April 29th is the release date for the first book in my new series, a saga that follows several generations of a scandalous and very unusual family through the eras of Georgian, Regency and Victorian England. And the progress won't always be in a straight line!

As a voracious reader and lover of family sagas myself, I wanted to write a series that would take readers on the kind of journey I've always enjoyed -- one that winds around a cast of quirky characters with faults and fallibilities, who sometimes make you shake your head, sometimes cause a little smoke from the ears, even occasionally a groan of despair. But then they make you laugh a lot, and ultimately they are forgiven and loved because you're on their side and you can't help yourself. Sort of like any real family.

In any case, that's my plan. ;)


Olivia Monday, an impoverished widow, has taken a position as "secretary" to an eccentric, scandalous rake - a divorced man with a brood of eight children and at least two gun-shot wounds. For six months, against the advice of her remaining family members, she agrees to live in his remote Cornish castle and put pen to paper on his behalf.

Despite everything she's heard about him, she's unafraid. Olivia welcomes the distraction this unusual post will provide— as well as the large fee— because the alternative of relying on relatives to put a roof over her head is intolerable.

True Deverell has decided it's time to set the record straight. He means to dictate his memoirs to this little widow who, according to the instructions he sent to his solicitor, should merely be plain and have a neat hand. Those are his only requirements. He doesn't want any distractions, has endured his fill of scandal and intends now to leave the "True Story" on paper so that perhaps, one day, people will forgive his mistakes.

But when Mrs. Olivia Monday arrives on his doorstep in her leaky boots and crumpled bonnet, True realizes that perhaps his story isn't over yet.


            The young man stared in surprise, one hand on the door handle. He bore some resemblance to his father, but his face was softer, more spoiled, as yet unmarked by life and experience.
            "Sir!" he exclaimed, "There's a stray, odd-looking female skulking about in the hall."
            She hastily gathered her wits. "I was not skulking." Scrambling for an explanation, she added, "I was looking for...anybody." Since there had been no other sign of life when she came downstairs, Olivia went searching and followed the sound of raised male voices to this door.
            Her new employer suddenly appeared beside the younger man, leaping into view— with considerable vitality for that hour of the morning. His eyes raked over her and then flared brightly, as if they were matches and she a piece of flint. "Ah, Mrs. Monday. Finally you rise. May I introduce my son. Damon, this is Mrs. Olivia Monday, a parson's widow from Chiswick, and my new secretary."
            The young man scowled. "What on earth do you want with a female secretary?" His tone oozed suspicion as he looked Olivia up and down again.
            "I'm dictating my memoirs, dear boy."
            "What else would I want her for? Look at that pinched face, ready to disapprove. Hardly ornamental, is she? Not to be confused with a chorus girl from the Drury Lane Theatre."
            "Your memoirs," his son repeated yet again.
             "Quite so. I am writing my life story so that when I am dead I shall leave behind me the True gospel, by which you may lead your life. After all, when I am swept up by the Grim Reaper, who will there be left to guide you with wisdom? Even I —fine male specimen that I am—cannot live forever."
            Damon gave his father another skeptical glance and then swept by Olivia with a low grunt, "Something to look forward to then."
            The boy strode away down the hall with no further word to his father, who now left the door open, suggesting he expected her to enter. If she waited for a polite invitation, Olivia supposed her limbs might grow cobwebs, so she followed him into the room.
            "I feel your gaze burning holes in my back," he muttered. "Your faun-like eyes hold a particularly intense quality, Mrs. Monday. You have questions to ask?"
            "No, sir. None." She would watch her tongue today. However he behaved this morning, she would not comment on it. Who did she think she was— Great Aunt Jane? It was none of her business what he did or said or thought. As long as he paid her.
            He swung around and propped the seat of his riding breeches against the front of his desk, arms and ankles crossed. "Your lips, madam, are so tightly stitched together, I fear they have something to withhold, but I would rather you keep nothing inside. A woman's thoughts, when not allowed air, are like thorns buried in the skin. They become infected if they are not plucked out the moment they stick there. So we shall be honest and straightforward with each other, Mrs. Monday, if you please."
            "Shall we?" Ha! After the way he deceived her last night? She held her tongue, but only just.
            "You will never get anything from me but the truth, however unpalatable. But then, I am a man. I don't have the deceitful tendencies common in the female sex."
            She remained silent, knowing full well he wanted to prod her into an argument again. He reminded her of one of those very large dogs with too much energy— the sort that left muddy paw prints on a lady's gown and occasionally knocked her down with his cheeky enthusiasm. A dog whose undisciplined behavior was usually dismissed airily by its owner as "high spirits".
            "What did you think of my son, Mrs. Monday? Too handsome for his own good, eh?"
            Her answer was a tight, "Yes." For anyone's good, she suspected.
            "You saw the family resemblance. People do say he takes after me the most of all my cubs."
            "I'm afraid so." Oh, dear, she couldn't stop herself. Under no circumstances should she let this friction between their personalities become one of those sparks he'd warned her about, but there she was again, being scornful, when a simple "Yes" would have been sufficient.
            "We have not impressed the parson's widow with our Deverell charm, I see. You disapprove of us."
            Olivia's fingers began to hurt in their tense knot.
            "Hmph. I suppose I should be glad of that," he added. "Wouldn't want you trying to seduce me, panting after me with your tongue hanging out."
            "I didn't think that was one of the requirements of my position here." Why the devil couldn't she stay silent?
            He laughed lazily. "So what do you think of me? Go on, Mrs. Monday, describe me— as I seem through your large eyes —in three words."
            "I'd rather not." She'd said enough already, more than she'd meant to.
            "Can't you think of any?" he challenged. "Don't disappoint me today by suddenly being shy with your opinions."
            Olivia struggled for a moment, searching for words that were honest but wouldn't get her into trouble. "Large...loud... lively."
            "Restless." The word that came to mind was 'potent', but that could mean too many other things and he would define it in some way to embarrass her, no doubt.
            "Why was your plain little face so shocked just now?" he demanded. "No doubt you think my son disrespectful and you wonder why I would allow it."
            Had her expression been so obvious? "If you knew that, why ask me?"
            He walked around his desk to his chair. "Damon is sixteen. I don't waste my breath on correcting the inevitable." Pausing a moment, he gave her an odd look for which she had no apt description. Then he added, "Of course, you're not long out of that age yourself."
            She almost laughed. "I am eight and twenty, Mr. Deverell."
            "Really? I would never have guessed. I suppose it's because you're so small and nondescript."
            "And I certainly never spoke in such a tone to my father, at any age."
            He stared at her for a moment, then cleared his throat and ran fingers through his hair. "So I am a bad parent." She caught a slight smirk play over his lips as he dropped into his chair and swung his booted feet up on the desk. "I thought I'd get that particular criticism out of those terse lips eventually."
            Olivia hastily replied, "I know nothing of being a parent. I am here only to write for you."
            She'd never seen a man sit with his boots up on a desk before.
            Such a pose was something one might expect from a naughty child but not a grown man.  When he used his riding crop to scratch down inside one boot, Olivia didn't know where to look. The casual impropriety of the gesture seemed quite unconscious on his part, as if no one had ever troubled him with what was, or was not, the "done thing".
            "I've seen you before somewhere, woman," he muttered suddenly.
            "Where on earth would I have seen you? I don't usually forget a face."
            "Well, it was a long time ago. And to be frank, I don't believe you saw my face. I didn't see yours either."
            At once his gaze re-established that playful twinkle. "Now, I am intrigued. What parts of me did you see?"
            She felt the urge to laugh, but held it strictly down. "Mostly your big feet. When I was eighteen, I often assisted at my father's office. You tripped over me there one day when you had an appointment with Mr. Chalke."
            "I did?"
            "You trampled some important papers, stepped over me, and never apologized."
            "Ah. How much do you want?" He reached into his desk as if to hand over some bank notes or gold sovereigns there and then.
            "What can you mean, sir?"
            "I know how women hold bloody grudges. I suppose you've let that fester away for years and now you came here to make me pay. So how much does a lady charge for the inconvenience of being stepped over?"     
            She couldn't tell whether he was serious, or merely teasing her again.
            "I don't do well with apologies," he added. "So I'd take the money, if I was you."
            "Sir, I had entirely forgotten the incident until now."
            Just after three o'clock in the afternoon, Tuesday, March 12th, in the year 1832.
            He wore a long, midnight blue coat, beautifully made; buff colored gloves, grimy at the finger tips; and top boots of very rich looking leather. He had smelled of tobacco, brandy and spice. Of adventure, and daring, and everything forbidden. For those few moments her heart, like an over-wound pocket watch, had stopped...
            Olivia bit her lip, turned away and stared out of the nearest window. A pointless exercise since there was nothing to see but that colorless cloud of fog. And, of course, his reflection. She was unable to escape the man. Again, Olivia thought of last night in the kitchen, when he let her mistake him for the handyman Jameson, and she had been struck by the overwhelming strength of his presence. Like the first time they collided with each other, she felt a connection, which was quite ridiculous in light of who he was.
            She wished it had been possible to forget their first encounter, but now fate had brought them together a second time. It was a jolly good thing Great Aunt Jane was no longer alive.
            "You are a girl with a dark and devious imagination, Olivia Westcott. I cannot think what will become of you."
            "I shall marry Mr. True Deverell, shan't I? People say he's not fit for polite society either..."
            "I see something through my window amuses you, Mrs. Monday."
            She straightened her lips. "Your son returns to school today, sir?" she asked, changing the subject.
            "Yes." He sighed gustily. "The brat could do very well there if he only applied himself more to his studies. But he thinks he can do without school. Arrogant chit."
            "He seems very...confident. I'm sure you and your wife are proud."
            Behind her, Deverell exhaled a taut huff. "He's not one of my wife's litter. Damon is the younger of my two sons by a mistress, Emma Gibson. When she died I brought both boys to live with me."
            "Oh." Only a man with Deverell's excessive wealth and audacity would launch his illegitimate children into the world without even trying to mask the truth, without shame or apology for not marrying their mother.
            She turned away from the window and faced him boldly. "It is a curious name— Damon. I do not think I ever heard it before."
            "Greek. Loyal friend to Pythias, for whom he was ready to sacrifice himself."
            "You are a student of Greek mythology, Mr. Deverell?"
            He smiled at her, head tipped back against the leather chair. "I am a student of life, Mrs. Monday."
            "Stories. I love people's stories. Don't you?"
            His smile was pleasantly crooked. Olivia could see how some might find it alluring. Even infectious. "I never really considered—"
            "For instance, yours, Mrs. Monday." His eyes simmered, like cool winter sunlight on ripples of icy water. "I would wager it's most interesting."
            "A young, sensible woman like you, abandoning respectability to put yourself under my roof. What could have driven you here to me? What secrets lurk behind those big, round eyes of yours?"
            "Oh, my story is very dull." She touched the back of her neck where a small curl of hair had begun to tickle. Her skin seemed more awake than usual, feeling and reacting to every tiny draft, any little contact.
            "Well, let's see...Olivia," he muttered thoughtfully. "I like unusual names. I made sure to give all my children names that were uncommon, unexpected." He paused. "The name Olivia was first coined by Shakespeare, you know. Your parents must have enjoyed the playwright's work."
            She walked away from the window and stood before Deverell's desk, trying not to see his boots and long, firm thighs stretched out. He smelled of leather, hay, sea water and wet sand. Had he been out riding already? She waited for him to invite her to sit, but no such offer was forthcoming. He continued to stare at her in a quietly amused way, now tapping the riding crop on the outside of his boot.
            Before he could ask her another question, she said brightly, "Damon is your youngest child?"
            "No. Rush is fourteen and the last of Lady Charlotte's litter." To her relief, he finally swung his feet down to the carpet where they should be. "There is also Bryn, my adopted son who also just turned fourteen. They are both at school together in Exeter. I thought it best not to send all my boys to the same schools, but those two are inseparable. You will meet them in the term holidays." He paused. "Should you stay, of course."
            Olivia refused to reassure him, yet again, that she honored her commitments. Instead she said, "And there is only one daughter?"
            "Yes." He looked away, staring at the bookcase. "Bloody women."
            She took a breath and plowed bravely forward. "Shall we get started, Mr. Deverell? My term of employment has begun already, and we haven't written a word."
            His gaze snapped back to her. "We can't begin work until we know each other, Mrs. Monday."
            "Know each other?"
            "We need to...sniff one another out."
            She did not. Like. The sound. Of that.
            "Would you agree to embark on a long, intimate journey with someone about whom you knew nothing?" he added, making his face solemn in an utterly unconvincing way.
            "I'm not sure what sort of intimate journey you—"
            "The journey of my life story, Mrs. Monday. I will be confessing all my deepest, darkest sins to you, commending my secrets to your hands. But how do I know I can trust you, since you keep hiding your fingers from me?"
            She gasped. "I do not."
            He pointed with the riding crop to where she kept her hands tightly clasped in a knot before her. "Show me."
            Olivia slowly unwound her fingers and slyly wiped her palms on her skirt before she turned them for his examination. He leaned forward, his gaze sternly perusing her hands.
            "I am adept at the art of palmistry, you know," he warned.
            "I do not believe in that nonsense."
            "Then you needn't be worried. Keep your hands still, woman, and let me study the lines."
            "They are still."
            "You're waving them about all over the place." He used this as an excuse to grab her left hand, and Olivia felt her pulse quicken. His grip was very strong, crushing her fingers.
            She tried— she really tried. But it was no good. Unable to bear his scrutiny, she pulled her fingers away from his grip and put both hands behind her back.
            "Mrs. Monday, you are being truculent again."
            "I am not, sir," she exclaimed breathlessly. "I gave you long enough to study them. They are quite innocent and capable."
            "Hmm. The former, I have yet to ascertain. The latter I will agree with, although what exactly they are capable of remains to be seen." He grinned in that lopsided way. "I confess I can't wait to discover it for myself."
            He was testing her, she sensed. Trying his boundaries.
            "You had better behave, sir, or you just might find out."
            She knew she should never have said it, but there it was. He drew out the worst in her, it seemed.
            Rather than be put off by this remark, his eyes gleamed polished silver. "Shall I be spanked and sent to a corner?"
            "If that's necessary, sir."
            "You'd have to catch me first. I'm very fast."
            Olivia arched an eyebrow. Perhaps, despite his love of tales, he'd never heard the fable of the tortoise and the hare.
            "But only when I don't want to be caught," he added slyly.
            "I'll bear that in mind then, sir."
            He fell back into his chair, making it creak loudly. "Shakespeare's Olivia, if I recall correctly, declares herself in mourning for seven years— until she falls stupidly in love with Cesario, simply because he has a habit of saying exactly what he thinks, not coating his words with honey for the lady."
            "But it turns out that Cesario is a woman living in disguise as a man. So there is a lesson for you, Mrs. Monday."
            "Never to fall in love with a woman dressed as a man?"
            He laughed. "Or...first impressions can be misleading. People are not always what they appear to be, or... what they want you to believe."
            Olivia suddenly felt as if he had somehow stripped her naked with the sharp edge of his steel-grey gaze.
            It was, by no means, as unpleasant a sensation as it should be, but every pore on her body felt the wicked caress of that blade, whispering over the surface of her skin.

TRUE STORY - coming on April 29th, 2015.
Copyright Jayne Fresina 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

HIS VOW by Alexandra O'Hurley - sizzling new release!

After a brief hiatus from writing, she's BAACKKK! Alexandra O'Hurley, a good friend of mine, has a new release out and I'm excited to feature HIS VOW on my blog today. If you're in the mood for a steamy, time-travel romance (with a touch of Voodoo!) please check this book out.

I’ll return for you. I vow it.

When Cami DuBois winds up on a Manassas battlefield, she stumbles across Confederate re-enactors too deep in character. One of the men looks at Cami and she feels an instant connection, a familiarity she can't ignore and a lust she doesn't want to. Until he vanishes before her.

Left in limbo, Christophe Sinclair is bound by his vow. Promising to return to his love after the end of the Civil War, he’s overjoyed to have his Camille back—and to truly have her in his arms again is his singular focus.

Christophe’s tie to Cami is strong, one that might defy the rules of space and time.

If the Voodoo Gods allow it.
“Is it polite to point a weapon at a lady?” Jasmine smiled widely as she spoke.

Slightly lowering his weapon, the man eyed her closely. “What’re you doing out here? There are a few thousand men converging for battle. You need to seek refuge.”

“Jasmine, they’re just re-enactors. Leave them be,” Cami said, feeling uneasy.

The leader’s eyes swung to Cami after the last syllables dropped from her lips. His dark stare roamed over her, and a look of utter shock took over as his jaw slackened and his eyes widened. His uniform made her nose wrinkle as she glanced over him once more. He was quite handsome, even with the silly goatee and handlebar moustache he wore, although his overgrown beard was filling in around that from lack of upkeep. Make that stunningly handsome, even with all that facial hair and the rebel costume. He was all male, and her body reacted to his steely glare, even with her misgivings. There was a light in his eyes that pierced through her very soul and made her crave to grow closer, touch him, and crawl into his embrace.

His eyes raked over her from head to toe and back again, and she felt heat flooding her in response. Her nipples pebbled against the thin cotton dress she wore. Her body swelled, even with the cool air around her, and she felt a throbbing in her pussy. Cami wanted to jump up and run into his arms.

Am I insane?

“Camille? What’re you doing here?”

A chill moved down her spine. No one had called her Camille in years, not even her own parents. It was usually reserved for when she was in serious trouble as a child. Hearing it now made her uncomfortable, especially considering her emotional reaction to him. “Do I know you?”

“Camille, it’s me, Christophe. Has the war changed me so much?” He stepped closer to her, the air getting colder as he approached.

The war? Was he so deep into character that he couldn’t get out of it? Or was he simply crazy? “Christophe, I’ve never met you before. I don’t know who you are.”

“Ma Belle, it’s me. Your love. How’d you get here?” Christophe moved another few steps closer, a smile stretching his handsome face. Her heart began to beat harder again as his gaze locked with her own and she felt drawn into his enchantment. “I don’t know how you got here, but I’ve missed you so.”

He walked to her and pulled her close with one arm, lowering his gun away with the other. His embrace was ice cold, yet it warmed her through and through. Cami sighed as she melted into him, her brain fuzzy. She tried to rationalize what was happening, but her thoughts were drowned out by the emotional response of being in his embrace again.

Again? She’d never met this man, let alone been in his arms.
Do you want to read more? Find HIS VOW at these buy links: 
Amazon  * All Romance  * Bookstrand  * Smashwords
Do you want to  know more about Alexandra O'Hurley's work, check out these links:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Please Welcome -- Shana Galen

Well, HOPEFULLY the new season isn't too far off. Now we've put January and February behind us, I know I am more than ready for a positive change of weather, longer days, sunshine and some sprouting flowers! How about you?

Today, I'm thrilled to have the lovely Shana Galen here to bring us some of that sunshine with her merry smile, her stunning new cover and a jolly chat about the sometimes upside down, inside out world in which we writers live and write.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please help me welcome Shana, and don't forget to leave a comment for her below!

Where Am I?
by Shana Galen
Have you ever packed for a trip somewhere with weather quite different from yours, and despite checking the weather in your destination, you still packed for your current location? I do this all the time. I attend several writing conferences a year, and many of them are across the country from my home base in Houston, Texas.

I remember the year I attended a conference in Chicago in April. In Houston, April is warm, temperatures in the 80s. In Chicago, the weather was in the 50s. Despite knowing logically that the 50s is colder than the 80s, most of the clothes I packed were sundresses and sandals. I froze the first day I arrived and tried not to venture out of the hotel where I was staying. It’s hard to imagine 50-degrees when you’re living in 80-degrees.

The converse is also true. A few years ago my family and I went to Disneyworld in December. Orlando and Houston have similar weather, but that week Houston was in the 30s and Orlando was unseasonably hot with temps in the 80s and low 90s. I still packed jeans and coats and sweaters and then was too hot as I walked around Disney.

I run into this problem a lot when I’m writing. It’s very common for me to be scheduled to write a Christmas novella set in England in the middle of a sweltering Houston summer. How do I do it? I use my imagination. A lot.

Most authors who write historical fiction have to use their imaginations. We can read first-hand accounts of life in London or Paris, and even if we’ve been to the cities on vacation, the London of 2015 is not the London of 1820. At most, we hope for a glimmer of what was to spur our imagination.

Another element of setting I pay attention to is location. My most recent release, EARLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN, is set in London. It’s filled with descriptions of busy streets, street hawkers, jostling crowds, and of course, that ever-present London fog. But not all of London was the same. Part of the book is set in the wealthy area of Mayfair, while the rest of the book is set in the slums of Seven Dials. I really wanted to juxtapose the two settings, because even though they are geographically close, they are miles apart in setting. Mayfair had open spaces, clean (by the standards of the day) streets, posh houses, and was considerably quieter than other areas of London. I once read that the really rich had straw put on the streets in front of their houses so the sounds of carriages passing would be muted.
Seven Dials was dark and filthy with rubbish in the street and walks. Unkempt children ran free. Gin houses were prevalent, which meant drunk men and women were commonplace, as were prostitutes and thieves—not that there was much to steal in Seven Dials. I read an account from a physician who attended a sick person in one of the London rookeries, and he mentioned the room where the family lived was so dark, even in the middle of the day, he had to bring extra lamps with him to see.

Quite a contrast from those whitewashed mansions in Mayfair!

 My next book, WHILE YOU WERE SPYING, will be out in April, and while it takes place in England during the early 1800s, it’s set in the Hampshire and Yorkshire countryside. Not only was the country quite different from the city, Hampshire and Yorkshire have very different landscapes as well.

 It’s no wonder I sometimes look up from writing about a rainstorm in the chilly Hampshire countryside to be momentarily confused at the hot sun outside my window, with its view of the sprawling city.

 Readers what sorts of settings do you enjoy? London? New York? Small towns? Exotic locations? One person who comments will win a copy of EARLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN (open internationally).


Earls Just Want to Have Fun--on sale now!

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Deverells

This year I am working on a new series that I'm very excited about. It's a Victorian family saga, full of scandal, lust and intrigue. It begins, in book one, with the family patriarch, whose name I won't tell you here, but you'll find out soon enough. Suffice to say, he names himself after the one and only creature that has ever shown him any tenderness.

I have had so much fun writing this one. I think I can quite safely say he is not like any other hero I've written or read. He might be too much for you, but he is impossible to rein in, so I'm not going to apologize for it!

Instead, let this stand as warning to you -- in the words of my heroine, Olivia Westcott Ollerenshaw Pemberton Monday:

A properly raised young woman of good family should avoid the company of such a gentleman. In fact, many people refused to call him a gentleman at all. No one seemed to know for sure where he came from, although there was a general consensus as to where he'd end up.

Hmm. Maybe she should take her own advice!

As for our dark hero, he can't take himself too seriously, even when he's trying to. He knows there is a certain legend built up around him, but he's afraid the reality must be a bit of a disappointment when compared to the fantasy.

In his opinion,

Women build things up in their minds and see only what they want to see. When they find his tastes a little too "uncivilized", and they have their eyes opened to reality, it is he who is at fault. It is he who has broken their hearts and abused them, destroyed their innocence. As if he has proven to them that the Beast never would change for Beauty. A hard truth they cannot bear to believe.
Well, maybe he's right. As a woman (last time I checked), and an avid reader of romance myself, I always hope for a happy ending and the frog to become a prince. (Unless he's a really cute frog - note to self - frequently in real life they are better looking than princes).
Lets face it, whatever our gender, life can be pretty grim without that Happily Ever After. But the hero of this book doesn't believe in them. After the start he had in life, its a miracle he's still alive and thriving. Maybe that's enough. Even though he's a gambling man, "Love" is surely against the odds.
Will Olivia, a woman with more than a few dark secrets of her own, feel the same way? Does she want a prince? Or a cute frog (Yay). She doesn't believe in fairytales - with her past she can't afford to. Nor does she gamble. Can't afford to do that either.
So how is she going to deal the cards against this player?
Wait and see...