Take a sneak peek at my upcoming release!
Nov 22, 2022 10:44 am
I hope you are doing well. As promised, this week you're getting a sneak peek into Taming His Wicked Duchess. If you don't like reading sneak peeks, just scroll down to some awesome book recommendations and a Christmas giveaway!
I sent out ARC copies of this book this morning. So if you signed up for an ARC but didn't get an email from book funnel, please, check you spam folders. If it's still not there, let me know!
I just uploaded the paperbacks onto Amazon and Barnes and Noble (they're not ready yet). But I wanted to share a pretty image of what that paperback looks like!
This book will be available on various retailers for a few days before going into Kindle Unlimited! So no matter where you prefer to read, chances are, you'll get to pick up this book.
Dane ran panting into the winding, narrow alley. Sweat trickled down his forehead, his clothes clung to his body, and his cuts stung. His left knee radiated sharp pain, and he was certain his shoulder was dislocated, but he couldn’t afford to stop. He had to keep running.
This was not how he imagined his evening ending. Not even close.
He was supposed to be at Lord Norfolk’s musicale, drinking wine and having boring, trifling conversations, while listening to Norfolk’s young sisters perform.
At the time, it seemed like torture. Now? He would rather be bored.
The alley narrowed even further, and he had to twist sideways to fit through. A few more steps and he’d be out. Perhaps he could summon his trusty mount, Midnight, and gallop away into the misty night toward freedom.
The moment Dane poked his head out, he reared back. No, not freedom. Everywhere he looked, redcoats—the King’s personal militia—were scouring the area, spread out, looking for him. Damn.
He was definitely not going to make it to the end of the musicale. He had left his wife sitting and whispering with her friends, without even saying a word.
Normally, his wife wouldn’t have noticed his absence, he was certain. They had a deal, after all. They arrived at social functions together and then went their separate ways. Except, at the end of the night, they were always supposed to leave together. And if he failed to return by the end of the musicale, he was certain there would be hell to pay.
He looked down at his torn, dirty, bloody clothing. He could not show up anywhere in his Shadows uniform and especially, not in a state like this.
His evening attire waited for him under the seat of his carriage that still stood by Lord Norfolk’s townhouse, but in order to change into it, he’d need to soak in a bath for an hour or two, not to mention bandaging his injuries.
He turned back and tiptoed his way into an adjoining alley. He needed to think.
There was no way he was trapped. He knew these streets like the back of his hand. But so did his pursuers. And there were more of them.
He had been following a group of bandits who were operating slave ships for quite some time now. Bandits, who had mistakenly abducted the Earl of Payne, thinking that he was one of the Shadows. In doing so, they had declared war between themselves and the Shadows.
Recently, Dane found out that one of the men behind the abduction was part of an elite secret Society, the Brotherhood of the Crimson Fist.
Ever since finding this out, he had been looking for a connection between the Brotherhood and these thugs and was hoping to uncover the leaders behind these atrocious groups.
So when he had received a note from his trusted source that the bandits had arranged a meeting with one of the Brotherhood’s members by the docks, he immediately ran to follow them.
He planned to gather the information and maybe follow them back to their leader. Where had it all gone wrong?
He wiped his forehead with his sleeve and continued down another path. The voices sounded fainter. Perhaps he had finally left them behind. He couldn’t be certain, though. So he didn’t slow his steps.
It wasn’t the time to lower his guard. It was never the time to lower his guard.
Out on the streets, he was vulnerable. What he needed to do was hide out somewhere until dawn. Dane knew the area and recalled an old, abandoned factory nearby. If he could just get there, he’d be able to find shelter for the night. In the light of dawn, perhaps he would manage to escape.
He poked his head out of another alley.
No. Not safe either. The bandits were out there, laughing loudly, their daggers bared. No doubt in anticipation of catching him.
He looked around the dirty alley, then reached his hand out and groped at the wall. It was made of bricks. Scalable. He tried to hook the toe of his boot on the brick. Yes! He could definitely scale this wall. He tried to raise his right hand and flinched. Perhaps not with a dislocated shoulder. But what choice did he really have?
He looked down at the scroll peeking out from his leather satchel tied to his waist.
In hindsight, this was when things went wrong.
Everything was going fine and according to plan, until the thug Dane had been following was handed a scroll—the scroll that, according to another man, contained all the names of people on the Brotherhood’s roster.
That’s when Dane became too eager. The thought of bringing down the criminal society like this had him too excited. He had waited for the bandits to part ways, but in his haste, he hadn’t noticed that the man with the scroll was being watched.
He should have known this sounded too good to be true.
It was a setup.
The moment he showed himself, three more thugs jumped out, accosting him, and when he ran, he got surrounded by King’s men. It was a miracle he even managed to slip away, and with the scroll, no less!
So, here he was, in a dirty alley, with a dislocated shoulder, wounded knee, and a scroll peeking out of his leather satchel about to scale the wall up to the roof.
Well, if he was going to survive, he needed another miracle or two.
Dane shook the thought from his head. He untied the leather satchel from his waist, brought it to his lips, and bit on the strap. He didn’t want to lose the satchel halfway up, nor risk discovery with an involuntary scream of pain. A satchel between his teeth would prevent both. The bitter taste of leather touched his tongue, and he grimaced. He would have to endure it, nonetheless. With his right arm close to his body, he raised his left arm, gripped one of the bricks with his fingers, and started scaling the wall.
His feet rested comfortably on the footholds, easily supporting his weight, although his knee burned. His left arm was strong enough to lift him, even if his right arm was useless in his endeavor. He crushed his body closer to the wall, gritted his teeth, and ground them against the leather strap.
No, he wouldn’t scream, and he wouldn’t fall.
Right foot up, left foot, then up went the arm. With his body pressed against the wall, he reached for a stone above his head and then straightened. Right foot up, left one, then up he went again, repeating the motions. So far, so good.
Dane ground his teeth deeper into the strap of the satchel as he made his final leap onto the roof of the building. He bore his weight on his left arm and plopped torso-first onto the roof. His legs followed.
He rolled onto the roof and then straightened and dusted his clothing. Taking the satchel into his hand, he looked around.
Here, on the roof, it was safer. His pursuers rarely looked up.
Still, he crouched as he made his way toward the abandoned mill, jumping from roof to roof. He reached the factory in a few minutes without being discovered.
It was slightly taller than the building Dane was currently on, and the gap between the buildings was wider than he was used to.
Dane approached the end of the building farthest from the factory to create momentum for his jump.
If I die, I suppose this is as good a place as any.
Dane ran with all his might before pushing off with his feet and jumping as high and far as he could. He hit the roof of the factory and rolled a few times as the momentum carried him farther.
Dane finally plopped onto the roof, lying on his back, watching the dark sky.
His left hand immediately went to cradle his right shoulder, and he bit his lower lip to keep himself from screaming. The pain was terrible.
At least I am still alive.
But he was in for a good deal of agony on the morrow. Once the thrill of the chase wore off and he was back in his bed, he would feel the entire might of this night’s injuries. And that’s before the confrontation with his wife, who was certain to berate him for leaving her alone at dinner.
He grimaced and spat onto the roof. “I should have stayed at the bloody musicale.”
Dane sat up with a groan and looked out onto the street. Everything seemed quiet, except for the light wind carrying the leaves and litter. However, quiet didn’t mean that it was safe to leave. People were still out there, searching for him.
Dane crouched on top of the roof as he looked for the trapdoor he knew was there. It was difficult to see in the dark, and to make matters worse, droplets of mild rain started drumming against his head and shoulders.
Great. All he needed was to get soaked and die of pneumonia. As if his troubles weren’t dire enough.
Aha! The trapdoor!
Dane unlocked the door and slowly made his way down. At least he’d be sheltered from the rain.
He landed on the floor with a loud oomph. His feet hitting the floor made a hollow sound, and the disturbed air surrounded him with a circle of dry dust. Dane coughed into his sleeve.
The factory looked empty. He could definitely hide here until dawn. Then he would be likely to make it home without being followed, although not unnoticed.
Or he could call for Midnight. He’d left her not far from the factory. Close enough that she might hear his call and take him away from this ghastly place.
Unless the thugs got to her first.
Dane’s heart constricted from the painful thought. No, Midnight was a clever girl. She wouldn’t give up without a fight. But staying all night at this place was no longer an option. He needed to get to his mare.
Dane slowly made his way toward the exit. He stepped into a large hallway and froze in place. Something was wrong. It seemed like the air itself stilled, unmoving, waiting for something to happen. He felt as though someone was watching him. A feeling that he’d had for the past few weeks every time he went outside, maybe months.
Dane suddenly understood how the stags might feel when they heard the rustle in the leaves and their ears perked up, their hair standing on end in anticipation of the attack. Now he was the one being hunted.
Dane looked around the sparse room. It was empty save for the rubble lying on the floor and half a dozen columns propping up the ceiling. The columns were wide enough to hide a full-grown man. Which meant there were half a dozen places an enemy could have hidden. That, plus the dark corners of the vast room, left Dane feeling completely unprotected.
Who would have hidden in a place like this? Did they anticipate his arrival or did they follow him on the ground as he was leaping from roof to roof?
Dane reached for his baldric, more out of habit than out of practicality, because he knew there was nothing there. He’d lost his sword and dagger a few miles from here. He had one more dagger in his boot, but at the moment, he was reluctant to crouch before the unseen enemy.
So he did the only thing he could do and took a few steps forward. Let the enemy think he didn’t anticipate an attack. Let the enemy show themselves first.
He’d passed one column when a movement caught his eye from the left. He turned and ducked just in time before the blow could reach his face.
He deflected one heavy blow after another from the tall and broad assailant, at least a head taller than himself, and at least a few stones heavier. Dane’s strength was depleted, his muscles ached, and his bones hurt but the attacker kept pounding on.
This is it. This is the end. The dark thoughts crossed his mind unwelcome.
“What do you want from me?” Dane gritted as the assailant thrust him against the column, his forearm on his throat.
“From you? Nofin!” The man laughed loudly, his voice booming in the empty building. “But your head will get me a nice sum from the king.”
“The king?” Dane croaked. There was a buzzing in his ears and clouding in his eyes.
The attacker sounded far away when he spoke next. “Two thousand pounds for a traitor’s head.”
The word had no meaning. Dane’s strength had left him and the thoughts were making no sense to him when something glinted in the dark.
Then a force propelled Dane’s attacker against him before letting go.
What the devil?
The thug was suddenly on the floor, rolling around with something dark, akin to a demon or a shadow.
Dane’s eyes lit up with relief. Not just a shadow.
One of the Shadows!
The Shadow had disengaged from the thug at that moment and jumped up onto his feet. He threw a glance toward Dane as if to make certain he was still alive.
Well, he was. Although he was frozen in shock and in relief.
A fellow Shadow!
Who would have thought anyone would be out tonight? The Shadows were under distinct orders from their unseen leader, Erebus, to stay inactive. And although Dane had understood the precautions before, now he realized the severity of Erebus’s orders.
There was a price on Shadows’ heads from the king!
And yet, someone else was out there besides him. Someone else had disobeyed the orders and was now fighting to save him.
The Shadow and the thug were locked in a deathly fight a few feet away. Dane didn’t want to intervene. Not yet. He needed to gather his strength and only attack once he had a perfect chance. He didn’t want to interfere prematurely and cause more harm than good.
Besides, the Shadow was fighting skillfully and lithely. He was shorter than Dane and more agile.
Was it St. John? He fit the general build of the Shadow, and he was a few years younger than Dane, thus more light-footed. And if that was him indeed, then Dane didn’t mind leaving the fight to him. That man owed Dane a favor or two. Not that St. John knew.
The thug threw the Shadow against the column and went in to strangle him, much like he’d done with Dane moments before. Only the Shadow was quicker, and he slipped away from the thug’s grip at the last moment, sliding to the floor.
The moment the thug turned, Dane pounced on him with a punch to the face. Blood streamed out of the thug’s nose as he gagged helplessly. He raised his hand to cover his bleeding nose, only to realize he was still holding on to something.
Dane squinted at the object in the thug’s hands. He was holding the Shadow’s mask!
Dane punched the thug again, and as he slid down the column, his eyes glassy, Dane turned sharply and met the Shadow’s eyes. The mask was off, and the handkerchief was pulled down, tucked under his chin.
No… not his. Hers.
Dane’s eyes widened in recognition and shock. The Shadow was not St. John at all. He wasn’t even a man.
She was a lady!
And not just any lady. A lady Dane knew. A lady he’d wed.
I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek! Be sure to pre-order the book, now!
On another note, we have a giveaway going on in our Brazen Belles group! 3 lucky people will win all books in this promo (Link below). All you have to do to enter is be part of the Brazen Belles group on Facebook, and comment under this post: https://www.facebook.com/groups/brazenbelles/permalink/5531540570234564
And of course, I have a bunch of books to recommend you.
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Until she finds the same man seated across from her at the Duke of Averell’s dinner table.
Wounded bodies mend; wounded hearts take longer.
Three warriors return from the Napoleonic wars with damaged bodies, ugly memories, and regrets to futures they are ill prepared to face. But love can heal the most damaged heart bringing with it hope for better days
He inherited her home.
Why does he think he inherited her?
And some free reads!