Friday, August 25, 2017

Spotlight: Excerpt from THE DUCHESS DEAL by Tessa Dare (@tessadare)


MEET TESSA DARE

Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fourteen historical romance novels and five novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award (twice) and the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties.

CONNECT WITH TESSA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon





EXCERPT

“I’m sorry to impose on you this way, Your Grace,” the young woman said, keeping her gaze fixed on some chevron of the Persian carpet.

“I should hope you are.”

“But you see, I am quite desperate.”

“So I gather.”

“I need to be paid for my labor, and I need to be paid at once.”

Ash paused. “Your . . . your labor.”

“I’m a seamstress. I stitched this”—she swept her hands down the silk eyesore—“for Miss Worthing.”

For Miss Worthing.

Ah, this began to make sense. The white satin atrocity had been meant for Ash’s formerly intended bride. That, he could believe. Annabelle Worthing had always had dreadful taste—both in gowns and in prospective husbands.

“When your engagement ended, she never sent for the gown. She’d purchased the silk and lace and such, but she never paid for the labor. And that meant I went unpaid. I tried calling at her home, with no success. My letters to you both went unanswered. I thought that if I appeared like this”—she spread the skirts of the white gown—“I would be impossible to ignore.”

“You were correct on that score.” Even the good side of his face twisted. “Good Lord, it’s as though a draper’s shop exploded and you were the first casualty.”

“Miss Worthing wanted something fit for a duchess.”

“That gown,” he said, “is fit for a bawdy-house chandelier.”

“Well, your intended had . . . extravagant preferences.”

He leaned forward in his chair. “I can’t even take the whole thing in. It looks like unicorn vomit. Or the pelt of some snow beast rumored to menace the Himalayas.”

She tilted her gaze to the ceiling and gave a despairing sigh.

“What?” he said. “Don’t tell me you like it.”

“It doesn’t matter whether it suits my tastes, Your Grace. I take pride in my handiwork regardless, and this gown occupied months of it.”

Now that the shock of her revolting attire had worn off, Ash turned his attention to the young woman who’d been devoured by it.

She was a great improvement on the gown.

Complexion: cream. Lips: rose petals. Lashes: sable.

Backbone: steel.

“This embroidery alone . . . I worked for a week to make it perfect.” She skimmed a touch along the gown’s neckline.

Ash followed the path her fingertips traced. He couldn’t see embroidery. He was a man; he saw breasts. Slight, enticing breasts squeezed by that tortured bodice. He enjoyed them almost as much as he enjoyed the air of determination pushing them high.

He pulled his gaze upward, taking in her slender neck and upswept bounty of chestnut-brown hair. She wore it in the sort of prim, restrained coiffure that made a man’s fingers itch to pull the pins loose, one by one.

Take hold of yourself, Ashbury.

She couldn’t possibly be as pretty as she seemed. No doubt she benefited by contrast with the revolting gown. And he’d been living in solitude for some time. There was that, as well.

“Your Grace,” she said, “my coal bin is empty, the larder’s down to a few moldy potatoes, and my quarterly rent comes due today. The landlord has threatened to turn me out if I don’t pay the full amount. I need to collect my wages. Most urgently.” She held out her hand. “Two pounds, three shillings, if you please.”

Ash crossed his arms over his chest and stared at her. “Miss . . . ?”

“Gladstone. Emma Gladstone.”

“Miss Gladstone, you don’t seem to understand how this whole intruding-on-a-duke’s-solitude business works. You should be intimidated, if not terrified. Yet there’s an appalling lack of hand-wringing in your demeanor, and no trembling whatsoever. Are you certain you’re merely a seamstress?”

She lifted her hands, palms facing out for his view. Healed cuts and calluses showed on her fingertips. Persuasive evidence, Ash had to admit. Yet he remained unconvinced.

“Well, you can’t have been born to poverty. You’re far too self-possessed, and you appear to have all your teeth. I suppose you were orphaned at a tender age, in some particularly gruesome way.”

“No, Your Grace.”

“Are you being blackmailed?”

“No.” She drew out the word.

“Supporting a passel of abandoned children, whilst being blackmailed?”

“No.”

He snapped his fingers. “I have it. Your father is a scapegrace. In debtor’s prison. Or spending the rent money on gin and whores.”

“My father is a vicar. In Hertfordshire.”

Ash frowned. That was nonsensical. Vicars were gentlemen. “How does a gentleman’s daughter find herself working her fingers to nubs as a seamstress?”

At last, he saw a flash of uncertainty in her demeanor. She touched the spot behind her earlobe. “Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn.”


THE DUCHESS DEAL©2017 TESSA DARE


ADD TO GOODREADS
GENRE: Historical
SERIES: Girl Meets Duke #1
PAGE COUNT: 389
PUBLISHER: Avon
RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2017

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
  • They will be husband and wife by night only.
  • No lights, no kissing.
  • No questions about his battle scars.
  • Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
  • They will have dinner together every evening.
  • With conversation.
  • And unlimited teasing.
  • Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

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