Genre: Historical Romance set in a
Fantasy world/Erotic Romance
Publisher: Purple Sword Publications
Number of pages: 200
Word Count: 80k
Cover Artist: Traci Markou
Bethina Lydia Fortescue, the Lady Godwin, adored her king as no other for twenty years. But the king is dead, and as his mere mistress she is no longer welcome at court.
Sir Arthur Jeffries, newly appointed to Princess Meredith's Regency Council, needs help. He begs the legendary Lady Godwin to return to the palace as the princess' tutor, hopefully to lead the gawky teenager through the political and romantic minefield of suitors and hidden assassins invited to attend her Debutante Ball.
Bethina and Arthur fight the undeniable surge of attraction between them. Bethina cannot bring herself to put aside the love she had for her king, and now concern for his heir. Arthur knows that he will only be able to serve the princess if he continues his life of solitude. Now is no time to take a courtesan to bed.
Brought together as servants to Rushton's crown, but joined through a lifetime of bitter and shrewd experiences, Bethina and Arthur discover that when the princess finally takes a husband, and all the enemies of the land are vanquished, they will have only one thing left to live for: love.
The phantom caress of Freddie's touch conjured long buried memories. Ah, sweet agony. Exuberant in their youth, she and Freddie had explored all the possible sexual positions together. And now...
She fought against a tear. That was all in the past. Gone.
She closed her eyes so she might ignore the overly familiar oil landscape hung over her bed and the other tiny details that recalled the sweet and torrid memories. Her finger caught at a lace ribbon on the vanity top and pulled it across the polished wood surface. Her favorite clock ticked. Time passed. When would the hole in her heart heal? Anger at her weakness surged. She grabbed and held onto it.
"Stop being morbid, Beth. You've got a job to do." Her voice echoed in the vaulted room.
A knock sounded from the outer chamber. She still had an hour before she expected her first guest. The tweeny scurried to answer it.
"She's not quite decent, sir."
Bethina grinned. Leave it to the young ones to state the truth. She stood and turned to welcome whoever it might be, calling out, "Let them in, Laurel. I'm as decent as I'm going to get." It took but a few steps to enter the sitting room.
The girl curtsied and opened the door wider. Sir Arthur stood in the hall, his cap in his hand and eyes wide as he noticed the extravagance of her chamber.
Once again, that phantom emotion sprang to life. She couldn't possibly take another lover. Never. Action would help to stifle her misgivings.
"Come. Come." She gestured him into the room. "It's been far too long since these rooms saw a gentleman not bent on nefarious deeds."
The man blushed, his grey eyes darkened. "You think me harmless, Lady Godwin?"
"Hah!" She strode to the chaise, settled down and reached for the bell. The tweeny reappeared. "What would you like to drink, sir?"
Dressed in a suit of black silk from head to foot, the diplomat evoked an aura of quiet power. He had not moved since pausing inside her threshold. "I like to keep my wits when dining with my enemies and my friends."
Bethina pressed her lips together before ordering, "Small ale for two."
He remained still, his gaze boring into hers. "Do you possess a more modest gown, Lady Godwin?"
She chuckled and leaned forward just a touch. "Unlike you, Sir Arthur, it is not to my advantage to fade into background. A low cut bodice is far more effective in eliciting confidences than sitting near silent in a corner with a shawl up to my chin." Even as she grinned, her melancholy vanished. Thank goodness she had somebody to match wits with.
He coughed and appeared to decide she was not about to eat him for lunch. He stretched his long legs out as he settled in the high-backed chair opposite her perch. He continued to study her. What did he want?
"Now, why the early arrival for supper?"
He turned his attention to the appointments of the chamber; the heavy furniture, damask curtains, oil paintings. Every feminine furbelow Trudy could gather dotted all possible surfaces. Lace, china, clocks, jewelry. It appeared as the room of a very wealthy lady of the nobility. No guest could possibly guess at her sordid past.
"Hmm? Oh, yes. Sorry. I wondered if you required any more information before we go in for supper this evening?"
"No, I think not. Sometimes it is better to make your own judgments, true?"
He rubbed his palms together for a moment. "I would have to agree with that."
So, he was avoiding speaking his mind. Really, now was not the time to keep secrets from her.
Laurel appeared with their drinks, served and withdrew.
Perhaps if she taunted him.
Bethina ran one finger along the rim of her glass, collecting the drop of moisture sitting there and then licked it dry. "You really wanted to see what I had chosen to wear. Admit it. What would the famed mistress of King Frederyk do upon her return to court?" She sipped at her ale and decided the castle boasted a fine master brewer.
"Yes. I am taking a huge risk here. Should we misstep, I shall be back in the desert of Uiel and you in that house on the river."
"But you forget, Sir Arthur." She placed her glass on the small table at her right and drew a heart on the tabletop from the glass's condensation. "Not once in two decades was I dismissed from court. I am good at this."
He smiled and relaxed in his seat. "As am I."
She met his steady gaze. Good. His defenses were coming down. She took a deep breath, her breasts pressing against her tight bodice. His grey eyes widened. He swallowed. She followed his Adam's apple down his muscled neck and grinned in appreciation at his wide shoulders. The years had been kind to him. The blood beat in her ears . Her body stirred.
And suddenly it became clear. He desired her. As much as she wanted him.
"I didn't come here for a flirtation." Her protest sounded gravelly.
His cheeks blazed with color. "I did not invite you for such."
She waited, as he appeared to want to say more. In the end, they simply shared a nod each understood. The heat and lust would wait, for now. "I am here for Freddie's niece. She needs me."
He nodded. "Yes, she does. I think, though, that I will enjoy working alongside you."
The room filled with unspoken words. Heat. Hushed sighs beneath covers.
Top 10 Historical Figures
Well, I can't help it. The women who have grabbed the headlines throughout history are the ones who have greatly influenced my storylines when I disappear into A Land Far, Far Away. In no particular order we have:
Queen Elizabeth I--born of a woman who seduced the most powerful man in all of England, Queen Elizabeth I had to establish herself as the British monarch when the Tudor family stood on shaky ground, the royal coffers had been decimated and her armies were near extinct. What fortitude she must have had! A remarkable woman, no matter which historical tome you consult.
Marie Antoinette--Madame epitomized the glory of royalty, and at the same time became the poster child of overindulgence seen in the entitled nobility. She lived in possibly the most glorious palace ever constructed, was responsible for maintaining the beauty of the French court, while the country suffered from great poverty and the politicians seemed incapable of salvaging the economy in any meaningful way. Her grisly end at the guillotine is often recalled more often than her exuberant fashion. A livid example of how politics will always direct the destiny of anybody--no matter how much money they might think they have.
Anne Boleyn--She deposed Henry VIII's first well respected wife--Queen Catherine of Aragon--by virtue of her womanly wiles, and a very clever tongue. However, like other mythical characters, she was never able to grasp what she truly desired: a boy child for Henry. That meant the king was able to persuade his court that she must be a witch, or at least heretical. Yet, when history recalls Anne it is usually her early days as the belle of the ball, not her final pleadings for mercy.
Catherine Parr--Henry VIII's last wife. Young and plain, history pretty much relegated her to the shadows. After his dynamic life and court, I've always wondered what Catherine's real story must be, like a firework that fizzled before it ever ignited.
Madame du Berry--I can't help it. Whenever I recall the court of Louis XV I cannot help admire the amount of charisma King Louis' mistress must have owned. Born to a lowly seamstress, she spent her youth working in many unseemly jobs in an effort to climb from poverty. At last she snares the eye of the highest man in all the land, and grabs hold of his affection. In a time and place where she could have died a young woman bearing too many children to an uncaring husband, I respect the backbone she had in order to avoid such horrors. However, it did only postpone the inevitable. Her greed contributed to her execution during the Terror. It certainly wasn't her noble birth.
Queen Boadicea--a sword bearing, chariot riding warrior! The weaker sex? Hah!
Queen Guinevere--more a mythical character than one based in reality. Nevertheless, we have to cheer for a royal marriage built on true love. Long live Camelot!
Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine--the wife to King Henry II. She loved her king. She bore him many sons. She plotted to kill him. A woman of wit, intellect and a shrewd political mind, she embodies all that a pure political being is meant to be. Well aware of the power she wielded over the court and her family, she spent her life working to one end--to rule over as much of England and Europe as possible.
Queen Victoria-- You can call a monarchy nothing but a figurative means of ruling over a nation in the modern world. However, Queen Victoria pretty much created her own stamp on what it meant to be queen. Throughout her reign, she dictated new fashion from doilies to architecture, established new rules for polite society, set the ultimate example of what a family ought to live like, and created a true fad for marrying for love. That's not even to mention the changes to the British Empire that came about during her rule. Whether she intended to or not, she would touch the lives of virtually every person living in the English speaking world. Truly she left a living legacy behind.
Helen of Troy--She's got to be on this list. What other woman launched a thousand ships bent on destruction just because she was beautiful? Who else made multiple kings appear as utter fools?
Thanks for joining me on my Bewitched Book Blog Tour! S.D. Grady is celebrating the release of her latest novel "The King's Mistress."
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S.D. Grady is a lover of men, music, movies and fast machines. A beautiful gown stirs her blood as quickly as a NASCAR race. An author of historical and fantasy romance, she never hesitates to switch gears and plunge into the real world of sports commentary.
She lives in her house on the hill with her husband of 20 years and their cats. During work hours she runs a movie theatre and, when not writing, enjoys crocheting yet another colorful afghan. Several times a year you can find them at the track in their RV.
The S-Curves blog http://thescurves.blogspot.com/