Reading material for my holiday

posted in: Uncategorized | 5

keep-calmI’m going on holiday soon, as I’m sure a lot of people are. I’m going to be away for a month, all of July. I’m traveling from New Zealand to Canada and then to America, ending up at the Romance of America conference in New York (see here for details about a book signing I’m attending).

If you’re a planner like me, you will already be planning what you are taking, clothes, toiletries, books and laptop etc. And don’t forget the present’s for family and friends and giveaways for conference! Given I have a restricted luggage allowance, I have to be careful with what I take. I have to make list after list and prioritize.

Thank goodness for my KINDLE! However, due to limited access or costly access to the internet, I’m trying to find all the books I want to read on holiday and ensure they are downloaded before I leave! I’ve created a huge list of must reads and then I’m going through and buying a few of them each week. Then on top of that there are the books that come through email or social media that are on special, such as my Kiwi and Aussi friend’s boxed set, Love Down Under (8 NZ and Australian Feel Good stories) 99c.

I like to ensure I have a good mix of genres, from historical (of course), contemporary, paranormal and non-romance books (I’m pretty partial to biographies and auto-biographies. That’s the nosiness in me which is why I don’t like 1st person POV.)

How do you decide what books or ebooks you take on holiday? Is it a tough decision, or do you have so many books on your TBR pile that it’s not a problem.

I do hope you’ll add my latest Regency historical release,  A TOUCH OF PASSION, book #3 in my USA Today bestselling Disgraced Lords series.

A Touch of Passion, book #3 Disgraced Lords series
A Touch of Passion, book #3 Disgraced Lords series

Here’s the blurb and a snippet from the book. To read the reviews and another excerpt visit my website.

In the latest Disgraced Lords novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans, a vivacious thrill seeker clashes with her dutiful defender—causing irresistible sparks to fly.

Independent and high-spirited, Lady Portia Flagstaff has never been afraid to take a risk, especially if it involves excitement and danger. But this time, being kidnapped and sold into an Arab harem is the outcome of one riskreviewertoppick2 too many. Now, in order to regain her freedom, she has to rely on the deliciously packaged Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, a man who despises her reckless ways—and stirs in her a thirst for passion.

After losing his mother and two siblings in a carriage accident years ago, Grayson Devlin promised Portia’s dying brother that he’d always watch over his wayward sister. But having to travel to Egypt to rescue the foolhardy girl has made his blood boil. Grayson already has his hands full trying to clear his best friend and fellow Libertine Scholar of a crime he didn’t commit. Worse still, his dashing rescue has unleashed an unforeseen and undesired consequence: marriage. Now it’s more than Portia he has to protect . . . it’s his battered heart.

Here is a snippet from A Touch of Passion

 

CYPRIANS’ BALL, LONDON, 1813

“I’m surprised Lord Blackwood has graced us with his presence. It’s common knowledge he’s enamored with the French ballerina Juliette Panache. I doubt he’s in the market for another mistress.”

“With his appetites, he no doubt has a stable of mistresses.”

“True. I heard he once pleasured ten women in one night.”

Lady Portia Flagstaff moved closer to the group of courtesans salivating over Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, as if he were a succulent feast to be devoured. Many years of experience allowed her to damp down her jealousy. She could hardly blame any woman for lusting after Lord Blackwood. She counted herself, along with most of England’s females, among his panting throng.

Being madly in love with Grayson was her penance for having being so mean to him when they were younger. She’d tried everything she knew to exile him from her thoughts, but it was hard to forget him when he was the talk of the ton.

Lord Blackwood had entered her life just before her tenth birthday. He had always been her elder brother Robert’s best friend, but the day he’d moved permanently into their home, she’d cried in her room for hours. Why did it have to be Grayson, a boy, who had survived his family’s carriage accident? She already had five brothers. How could life be so unfair?

Grayson’s sister, Lucinda, had been her friend, and she couldn’t understand why she’d died when Grayson hadn’t. Portia was too young and frightened to understand, so she’d blamed him.

Lucinda’s death was her first introduction to how precarious life could be. Almost dying from lung fever at sixteen had been her second lesson. From that moment on she’d made a vow to live her life to the fullest. She wanted no regrets when death finally came calling.

“They say he can outlast any man, and his lovers speak of his prowess with awe. He cares more about a woman’s pleasure than his own—rare indeed. His kind of loving is priceless. I’d even do him for free.” This statement was followed by a gaggle of giggles.

“I’m more interested in learning if he is truly hung like a stallion. If so, I’d love to explore the evidence.” More giggles.

“ ’Tis true. Claudette said she could barely walk for a week, but it was well worth the two days spent in his bed.” This statement was followed by a collective sigh.

All the while Portia was listening to the seasoned courtesans she kept her eyes trained on Lord Blackwood, simultaneously praying he didn’t see her and wishing that for once he did see her—as a woman. She knew Grayson looked upon her as a replacement baby sister when she definitely did not view him as a brother. She never pushed the issue because she was petrified of losing him from her life, but sometimes, watching from the shadows as he flirted and seduced, he broke her heart.

He’d find her presence here scandalous, as would most of society, an unmarried lady of two and twenty years unaccompanied at such a ball. Her five brothers would be angry, but they understood how confining the ton was for a woman of her intelligence. They encouraged her need for independence, respected it. However, Grayson compared her to the one woman he held in the highest regard, his dearly departed mother, and therefore he found Portia wanting.

Grayson had a distinct view of women, probably because his mother had died when he was young and he idealized her memory. Lady Blackwood had been considered a sweet, dutiful paragon of virtue, and no woman could live up to her reputation. Grayson’s women generally fell into two groups. There were women, beautiful and sensual, often in certain sexually paid employment, whom he wanted in his bed. Then there were the other women, who were demure and respectable. Women he considered as potential marriage material. Unfortunately, Portia fell into a third group, women whom he could not place in one of the previous two categories.

She was aware that if her identity became known, she’d be ruined. She’d thought her quest for knowledge was worth society’s scorn. However, as the evening progressed, it appeared that this had to be her worst venture yet.

“Oh, I say. Who’s the other handsome gent with Lord Blackwood? Perhaps we can entice the two men to play for the evening.”

Her heart skipped a beat, for she knew without looking who stood behind Lord Blackwood—her brother Robert. Where one went, the other followed. Dash it all. If Robert caught her, there would be hell to pay. He might understand her thirst for knowledge, but he’d not condone her being here, nor that she had come alone.

“That’s Lord Flagstaff, and let me tell you, he has no problem standing to attention.” The Cyprian glanced at her four companions. “I’m sure the two of them can keep us well pleasured tonight.” At the murmured assent, she added, “Are we all in agreement? We five shall entertain these two fine gentlemen.”

“Let’s have ourselves a private party,” tittered another. “I would die to be either of these gentlemen’s mistress.”

Portia’s gaze narrowed thoughtfully. How on earth . . . five with two? She had so much to learn. She’d come tonight purely as a voyeur; however, she had no intention of watching her brother make love to a woman, and there was no way she could watch Grayson with another woman. Her mother did say curiosity often led down a path one did not wish to follow.

It was all Rose’s fault. Her best friend had just taken her first lover, having been widowed two years ago. Rose positively glowed, and Portia wanted to learn more about the act that gave so much pleasure, especially since she’d not be indulging in the biblical sense anytime soon. She had no experience in carnal matters, yet she didn’t wish to die a virgin. She wanted to learn the secrets of conducting an affair. As she had no intention of marrying any man except Lord Blackwood, she could see herself ending up an old spinster, leaving at least one item unfulfilled on the list of things she wanted to experience before she died.

Several years ago, after recovering from her lung fever, she’d written a list of the things she wanted to have intimate knowledge of in this life. Making love and experiencing passion were on her list. Oh, she was not in any hurry to engage in a carnal affair, but she wanted to learn how to conduct one; she wished to be prepared should she decide the time was right. Who knows, she might even learn how to attract Grayson’s interest.

When she set her sights on something, she always followed through. Where better to watch and learn about sexual congress than at a Cyprians’ Ball? She just hadn’t counted on Lord Blackwood, or her brother, attending; she had been advised that the pair were otherwise engaged.

“It looks as though we’re in luck, ladies. He’s staring at us quite determinedly.”

Please don’t let him recognize me. If she did not want to be seen, why then did her blood fire with excitement merely because she was in the same room as the legendary rake?

Tonight, he outshone every other man. He presented an enticing image of true masculinity, his striking features on display despite the event being a masquerade ball, for he wore no mask. His fair hair curled thick, and glossy about his ruggedly handsome face, copper highlights glinting in the chandelier’s light. His black domino cloaklike garment, edged in gold, hugged his large frame as if it too wanted to touch every part of him.

She wasn’t the only woman tracking his movements through the crowd. His presence became the focus of a bevy of beauties all eager to attract his interest and purse. Some women did not even care about the money he could provide, for they were interested more in pleasure.

She reached up and straightened her turban, shoving a lock of her distinctive red hair back under it. Her face was completely concealed by a mask; although annoying to wear in the heat of the ballroom, it was a necessity for her under the circumstances.

A wicked thought flashed through her head. What would she do if Lord Blackwood were to find her charms appealing? Just then, from across the room, his gaze clashed with hers and flared with obvious interest. Or perhaps it was the whole group of women who caught his eye. There were many here far more beautiful than she.

How insulting that the one time she’d managed to attract his attention, she was dressed as a lady of ill repute. She knew her costume was just as scandalous as those of the other ladies. She’d wanted to blend in. The décolletage of the harem top and pants ensemble was lower than she’d ever worn, plus it left her midriff on display. The splits in her Turkish harem pants exposed flesh very few had ever seen.

Heat prickled over her skin as his eyes caressed and explored, inspecting the merchandise. The distance offered no protection. His penetrating stare stirred her senses. Want, need, and desire surged in her blood. His lean, chiseled features broke into a come-kiss-me smile, the look arrogant and knowing, as if no woman ever denied him anything. The handsome viscount commanded attention and was conceited enough to expect to be obeyed.

The effect of his smile caused her to her lose her breath and her courage. Reflexes screamed for her to flee, and she had the sudden urge to hide.

“Oh, look. He’s coming this way. Bosoms out, ladies.”

One of the courtesans sighed. “I know our code, but I could lose my heart to a man such as Lord Blackwood.”

“Don’t be daft. These arrogant aristocrats have no hearts. Lord Blackwood may be a magnificent lover, but he’s not interested in love, especially with the likes of us. Remember the tales? His last mistress was stupid enough to fall in love with him, and he left faster than he can get you to drop your pantaloons.”

Their words hardly surprised her. Grayson was no different from any of the other wealthy lords she knew. Women had a place in their beds, either for pleasure or to provide an heir. Both positions rarely involved the heart.

To her horror, she noted the men were almost upon them. Move. Her feet would not obey her command. He prowled closer, his smile growing more knowing as she stood still like an obedient puppy waiting desperately to be patted. Thank goodness she wore a mask.

Attending this ball had been a terrible idea.

Portia managed to tear her eyes from his hypnotic stare and back away. Turning quickly, she slipped through the frolicking throng and after several minutes found herself in one of the many side corridors, shutting the door firmly behind her. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the cool wood panels trying to catch her breath. It was beating so fast, as if she were a frightened canary. That was too close for comfort.

She needed a place to hide until it was safe for her to slip away for home without her brother or Grayson being any the wiser. She was sure it would not be long before the men were otherwise engaged. Portia rubbed her chest again. Images of Grayson with those women would not leave her in peace. They heightened the throbbing at her temples. She would not cry. She had only herself to blame for being in this pickle.

Suddenly the door she’d just swept through opened and a man stepped into the corridor, closing the door quietly behind him. A fresh hint of ginger and sandalwood scent caused her to flare her nostrils. She knew without looking who it was.

“What the blazes do you think you’re doing here?” Portia winced at the familiar sound of Grayson’s voice.

Whatever you decide to read on holiday, I hope you have a safe and happy break. What’s is the ONE book you just HAVE to read on holiday this year. Mine is While You Were Spying by Shana Galen.

Follow Bronwen Evans:

USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans (Bron to her friends) grew up loving books. She’s always indulged her love for story-telling, and is constantly gobbling up movies, books and theater. Her head is filled with characters and stories, particularly lovers in angst. Being able to write her characters’ stories is never work, it’s a dream come true. Is it any wonder she’s a proud romance writer. She writes both historical and contemporary, sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes. Her debut Regency romance, Invitation to Ruin won the RomCon Readers Crown Best Historical 2012 and was an RT Reviewers’ Choice Nominee Best First Historical 2011. Her long novella, To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield, was a Top 5 Finalist in the Kindle Book Review Indie Romance Book of the Year 2012 and the RomCon Readers Crown Best Historical 2013. Bron lives in New Zealand with her Cavoodle Brandy. When not ensconced in her study writing her characters’ thrilling journeys to their happy ever after, Bron can be found on the golf course. www.bronwenevans.com

Latest posts from

5 Responses

  1. Lovely excerpt and I love this cover. Looking forward to seeing you at RWA!

  2. Barbara Monajem

    Sigh. I’m going to miss seeing so many friends at RWA. I just can’t fit it in this year.
    On to more cheerful matters: Aren’t e-books wonderful? They make travel so much easier. My suitcase used to be heavy due to paperbacks–because the one thing that would ruin a holiday would be to run out of reading material!
    Looks like my vacation reads will include A Touch of Passion — it’s on my Kindle now. 🙂

  3. Have a great journey, Bronwen, and I’ll see you in NYC.

  4. love the excerpt!

    Denise