The Isle of Wight is full of historic buildings, which is where she acquired her love of history, absorbing it like osmosis. She is the author of nine single-title Regency romances and is excited about her up-coming series charting the fortunes of the Forster dynasty.
When not writing she enjoys reading other people’s books, walking miles with her dog whilst plotting her next scene, and is on a one-woman mission to save the wine industry from the economic slump. Well, someone’s got to do it!
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Thanks for having me here and giving me the opportunity to introduce you to the Forsters, my Regency series being published by Carina Press.
In the first book in the series, Compromising the Marquess, Hal Forster, Marquess of Denby, more than meets his match in an impoverished gossip writer.
Hal’s sister, Flick, more properly known as Lady Felicity Forster - was twelve when she decided she was going to marry her handsome neighbour, Darius Grantley. Now, embarking on her second season, she's no nearer to achieving that ambition. Drastic action is called for if she's to make Darius fall in love with her.
Darius adores the lovely, high-spirited sister of the Marquess of Denby, but he's aware that Flick is far above him socially and he can't afford to keep her in the style to which she's accustomed. Winning the high-profile Cuthbert case being heard at the Old Bailey will earn him a promised appointment to King's Counsel and just enough income to prove a home for his well-born lady.
But the cards are stacked against Darius. Not only do the newspapers trumpet his clients' guilt, but a powerful peer bribes the witnesses and threatens Flick unless Darius sabotages his own case...
When Darius’s enemy threatens Flick, Darius knows he must act in her defense. He never gambles, but challenges his nemisis to a game. Here’s a snippet from that scene:
“Darius is playing Pallister at piquet.” Rob bounded up to his family in the crowded ballroom and delivered this astounding piece of news.
“What!” Flick shook her head. “He can’t possibly be. Darius doesn’t gamble.”
“He does today. The game’s drawn quite a crowd and it hasn’t even started yet.”
“We must stop him before it does.” Flick, alarm making her giddy, grasped Hal’s arm. “He’ll lose everything.”
“Too late to stop him,” Rob said. “They’re just about to sit down. Besides, no man would thank a woman for pulling him away from a game he’s voluntarily entered into.”
“This is all my fault!” Flick wailed.
“They’re not playing for money,” Rob said.
“Then what?” Hal asked.
“I’m not sure.” Rob scratched his chin. “They both signed some sort of document. No one knows what’s in it but they’re deadly serious about it.”
“I have to see.”
Hal tried to stop Flick but she was already heading for the gaming rooms. Hal and Rob rolled their eyes and went after her. She pushed her way to the front of the crowd, conscious of her brothers flanking her, thankful for their protective support. Darius, her beautiful, conscientious, intelligent Darius, was seated across from Pallister, his face completely devoid of emotion as he glanced at the cards in his hand. She tried to attract his attention but he was beyond her reach.
She glanced at her Hal, who looked as bemused as she felt. “Why is he doing this?” she asked.
“I have absolutely no idea,” he said.
They watched as the players cut the cards. Darius drew the lower card and was dealer.
“May the better player win,” Pallister said, picking up his hand.
“I haven’t any doubt that he will.”
“Why does Darius sound so confident?” Flick asked, sharing a glance between both brothers this time.
“He’s up to something,” Rob said musingly. “Take it from one who knows. I’ve seen that look on chess players’ faces too often to doubt it.”
The spectators had split into two camps. The Forsters stood at Darius’s shoulder, along with the majority of the audience. Many had lost heavily to Pallister over the years and would like to see him taken down a peg or two. Others, she imagined, simply felt for the underdog. None of them could doubt that they were watching something significant occur and didn’t wish to miss a moment of it.
Edward Armstrong and the odious Lord Peters were at the front of the group behind Pallister’s chair. Armstrong glanced across the room, saw her and actually had the audacity to wink. She pretended that he didn’t exist.
Flick didn’t know how she managed to remain standing, such was the fear coursing through her for her beloved Darius. She simply couldn’t fathom why such an intelligent man would do something so foolhardy. Darius never did anything without considering all the consequences first. His lack of spontaneity was one of the few things she occasionally took him to task for. The incident with Armstrong must have pushed him beyond his limits, and so it was her fault that he was behaving so rashly. They would never be able to marry now because he was bound to lose—even she had heard of Lord Pallister’s skill at cards—and he wouldn’t accept her dowry as a means of support.
She felt ready to scream with frustration. If only he would look in her direction perhaps she’d be able to convince him to stop before the game even began. Or at the very least, get some clue from his expression as to why he felt the need to challenge such a man in quite so public a manner. She’d give a great deal to know what the paper they were playing for contained. What she did know was that this was some sort of defining moment for Darius personally and had to do with a great deal more than just a reckless game of chance.
Flick quelled the desire to dash through the crowd and give Darius’s shoulders a good shake, unsure if she were more angry, frightened or plain dispirited by his lunacy. On the occasions when she’d tried to cajole him into acting spontaneously, this definitely wasn’t what she’d had in mind. His calm, emotionless expression scared her and she wanted him to know it. If he really loved her, perhaps that would bring him to his senses.
Flick blew air through her lips. Since he hadn’t so much as glanced in her direction, it was impossible for her to communicate that fear to him. She might just as well not be there for all the notice he took of her. Perdition, she wasn’t even sure he’d actually seen her.
Darius calmly discarded four cards and drew four replacements. Pallister, of course, only required two. God’s beard, Darius wasn’t even concentrating on his cards. Instead he kept looking steadily at Pallister. Flick wanted to scream that he’d hardly get any assistance from that quarter.
“What can he be thinking?” she whispered, clutching Hal’s hand. He gave it a reassuring squeeze but didn’t answer her.
They played the hand out and Pallister was ahead by fifteen points.
“My deal, I believe,” he said.
Darius said nothing but reduced the deficit at the end of the second hand. Pallister was now just ten points in the lead. Another hand saw them draw almost equal and had Flick squirming with excitement.
“Beginner’s luck,” Darius said, breaking the tense silence in the room.
Pallister, still looking full of confidence, inclined his head. “Lady luck can be a fickle bedfellow, but then I dare say you learned that much at your father’s knee.”
“The wretch!” Flick was consumed with the most violent rage. “Why would he say such a thing?”
“Shush.” Hal squeezed her hand a little harder. “It’s a good sign. He’s probably not as confident as he looks since the score is so close. He’s trying to discomfit Darius.”
“But Darius doesn’t look as though he even heard him,” Rob said approvingly. “Good for him.”
“This hand ought to see the game over with,” Hal said.
Flick wished she couldn’t hear so much strain in his voice. She’d dared herself to start hoping. Against all the odds, Darius was holding his own and didn’t appear to be worried. In fact he was the epitome of composure. If he could stand all this, so could she. She straightened her shoulders and willed her beloved to have good fortune in the deal.
“Shall I shuffle?” Darius asked.
“By all means, although you didn’t do so well at it last time.”
Darius took the cards and shuffled them so skilfully that everyone gasped, Flick louder than anyone.
“I appear to have got the hang of it,” Darius said affably, dealing so fast and professionally that the cards were a blur.
Excerpt from Beguiling the Barrister ©2013 by Wendy Soliman. All rights reserved.
Book two of The Forsters
Flick--more properly known as Lady Felicity Forster--was twelve when she decided she was going to marry her handsome neighbor Darius Grantley. Now, embarking on her second season, she's no nearer to that lofty ambition. She commits to making Darius fall in love with her, if only he'd take a break from pleading the case of the common criminal as a barrister at the Old Bailey.
Darius adores the lovely, high-spirited younger sister of the Marquess of Denby, but he's all too aware that Flick is far above him in social status, not to mention fortune. Winning the high-profile Cuthbert case will earn him a promised appointment to King's Counsel and just enough income to provide a home for his well-born lady.
But the cards are stacked against him. Not only do the newspapers trumpet his clients' guilt, but a powerful peer bribes the witnesses and threatens Flick unless Darius sabotages his own case...
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