Welcome to our tour stop on The Baron In Her Bed blog tour presented by Goddess Fish Promotions. There is an excerpt from this Regency Romance (and it happens to be my favorite scene) and there is a giveaway. Our review will post later today. Thanks for stopping by Reader Girls today.
A Baron in Her Bed (The Spies of Mayfair #1) by Maggi Anderson
Regency romance*Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 2012 by Knox Robinson Publishing Ltd.
London, 1816. A handsome baron. A faux betrothal. And Horatia's plan to join the London literary set takes a dangerous turn.
Now that the war with France has ended, Baron Guy Fortescue arrives in England to claim his inheritance, abandoned over thirty years ago when his father fled to France after killing a man in a duel. When Guy is set upon by footpads in London, a stranger, Lord Strathairn, rescues and befriends him. But while travelling to his country estate, Guy is again attacked. He escapes only to knock himself out on a tree branch.
Aspiring poet Horatia Cavendish has taken to riding her father's stallion, "The General", around the countryside of Digswell dressed as a groom. She has become bored of her country life and longs to escape to London to pursue her desire to become part of the London literary set. When she discovers Guy lying unconscious on the road, the two are forced to take shelter for the night in a hunting lodge. After Guy discovers her ruse, a friendship develops between them.
Guy suspects his relative, Eustace Fennimore is behind the attacks on his life. He has been ensconced in Rosecroft Hall during the family's exile and will become the heir should Guy die. Horatia refuses to believe her godfather, Eustace, is responsible. But when Guy proposes a faux betrothal to give him more time to discover the truth, she agrees. Secure in the knowledge that his daughter will finally wed, Horatia's father allows her to visit her blue-stocking aunt in London. But Horatia's time spent in London proves to be anything but a literary feast, for a dangerous foe plots Guy's demise. She is determined to keep alive her handsome fiance, who has proven more than willing to play the part of her lover even as he resists her attempts to save him.
She patted The General’s nose and fed him an apple. By the time the last of it had disappeared, she heard the clip of a horse’s hooves on the gravel drive. She peeped out of the barn door and saw the baron, tall in the saddle, riding towards the house.
Horatia stepped out and beckoned him. He caught sight of her and rode towards the stables then dismounted and led the horse inside.
“Sorry, my lord,” Horatia said, adopting Simon’s gruff voice. “We have no footman here. No under-groom neither. I’ll stable your horse.”
“Simon, good fellow,” he said warmly. “I came to thank you again. I am indebted to you.”
“No need for that, my lord,” she said. “Everything’s right and tight here as it happens.” She turned her back to lead his horse into one of the stalls. Seizing a brush, she bent and swept it over the horse’s flanks.
He came to rest an arm on the stall door. “I am relieved. If you had lost your job, I was going to ask you to work for me.”
She straightened to brush the horse’s back, confident of the poor light. “Mighty good of you, my lord. But not at all necessary.”
“Eh bien, merci encore.” He turned towards the door.
Relieved it had gone so well, Horatia stepped out from behind the horse. She looked up to see if he had gone and found him watching her with his arms folded.
The elation left her, and she took a deep, shaky breath.
“Did you really think you could go on fooling me?” A note of outrage lay beneath the humorous tone in his voice. “How many people around here have red hair like yours?”
“My hair’s not red,” she said, incensed. “It’s chestnut.”
“I wondered how far you would carry this ruse, Miss Cavendish.”
She backed into an empty stall as he strode towards her.
He followed her inside. Reaching over, he whipped off her hat, and her hair came loose and tumbled around her face. “So, what do you have to say in your defense?”
“Nothing, my lord.” Horatia lifted her chin, her heart pounding loud in her ears. She chewed her lip. She would have to brazen this out.
Annoyed blue eyes stared into hers. “I do not like to be toyed with. I thought there was something wrong with me.”
“Watching you bend over in those breeches. Zut! From the first, I felt a strong attraction to you. And then, when I saw you dressed as a woman, I understood.”
“You knew it was me at the dance?” She scowled. “And you deliberately teased me?”
“Don’t you think you deserved it?” He seized her shoulders and gave them a shake. “You tricked me. Why?”
She swallowed. “No trickery, my lord. I was dressed this way when I found you, if you recall. I needed to keep up the pretense.”
He shrugged. “But why do you dress like that?”
She couldn’t explain her restlessness to him and tossed her head. “I prefer to ride astride.”
He raised a brow. “You like a strong beast moving beneath you?”
She bristled at the insult. “I like to ride alone.” He made it sound as if she gained some sort of indecent enjoyment from the exercise. Her face heated. To ride astride was unfeminine, she knew, but that fact had never bothered her before.
“But to do so places you in peril.”
Horatia drew herself up. “I can handle myself as well as a man.”
“You believe that, do you?” His gaze flicked over her. What was he thinking? She quivered under his scrutiny.
I love Regency novels, ever since I read my first Georgette Heyer when a teenager. I wrote A Baron in Her Bed first as a novella, but the characters called to me, asking for their stories to be told in more depth, so I extended it into a full novel. Like Topsy, it grew from there, when, not satisfied with just one book, I decided on the series: The Spies of Mayfair. I love reading novels about spies and there’s some great authors writing them now, especially in the Regency era. It lends itself to this genre so well. A writer can embrace all the glamor of the Regency in their story, a unique and decorative period in history. There are some amazing real-life characters to choose from like the Prince of Wales and royalty, politicians and the famous men and women who made up such an opulent society, to weave in among the fictional characters. One might choose the backdrop of the wars, or political intrigue, or write about the manners or mores of the times, and set them in fabulous estates, palaces, and drawing rooms. I chose to write a mystery and intrigue set in the years after the Napoleonic Wars had ended.
My hero is half-French. Baron, Lord Fortescue is proud of his English heritage but feels far more French when he first arrives in England. Guy comes to England to claim his inherence, lost to him when his father escaped to France after killing a man in a duel when he was a young man. Guy grows up in France during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era. He reaches English shores when he’s thirty-five and is met with disaster. Visiting his London townhouse, he finds it has become unfashionable and shabby, and then is set upon by footpads. Things don’t improve, however. His relative, Eustace Fennimore, employed to take care of his countryseat in his father’s absence, has let the estate and the magnificent Rosecroft Hall become rundown. Even worse, someone is intent on murdering him, perhaps to prevent him from taking his rightful place as Baron Fortescue.
Feisty, redhead, Horatia Cavendish is bored. Stuck in the country with her father, a retired colonel, she has taken to riding his Arab stallion, The General about the countryside, wearing a groom’s clothes. She yearns to join her Aunt Emily, who is part of the London literary set, but her father refuses. while dressed in her groom’s attire, she comes across Guy, unconscious on the road, and must continue the ruse while she gets him to safety.
When the handsome blue-eyed Frenchman suggests a faux engagement to suit both their needs, her future begins to look far more interesting. Her dream of a life as a spinster poetess, in Byron’s company and those of London’s literary set, moves closer to reality. But that rosy future depends on Lord Fortescue’s help, and he is in great danger. Horatia rushes to help him, even though he orders her to stop. She has grown to like him a little too much, despite believing him to be a rake who will choose a bride from the Upper Ten Thousand.
A Baron in Her Bed is a romantic mystery. It introduces the flinty-eyed hero of my next novel in the series, John Haldane, the Earl of Strathairn. I hope you enjoy it.
About the author:
Maggi Andersen and her lawyer husband are empty nesters, living in the countryside outside Sydney with their cat and the demanding wildlife. Parrots demand seed, possums fruit, ducks swim in the stream at the bottom of the garden, and the neighbours chickens roam their yard providing wonderful eggs. She began writing adventure stories at age eight. Three children, a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree later, her novels are still filled with adventure and suspense, but are also passionate romances. Georgette Heyer among others, brought inspiration to her seductive Regencies and she also writes darker, Victorian novels, contemporary romantic suspense and young adult.
She supports the RSPCA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals) and animals often feature in her books.
Maggi will be awarding the winner's choice of a backlist eBook to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour, and a $30 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter. Follow the tour and comment to increase your chances of winning.
The tour dates can be found here.