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A slow-boil Regency Espionage Romance with a Thriller Ending – by Beverley Eikli

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A slow-boil Napoleonic Wars espionage romance with a thriller ending.

I’m an unashamed costume fanatic and I’ll confess that part of the inspiration for choosing this time period was so I could make a Georgian costume to wear at my book launches. When I stumbled upon a pair of russet silk curtains for a couple of dollars in a charity shop, I knew the time had come! I then found an original pattern for a 1780s polonaise from a Janet Arnold pattern book (drafted from original or extant gowns of the period) but then realised if I wanted authenticity I’d have to make the corset or stays to get the right body shape, together with panniers, chemise and petticoats.

It took a while, but you can see the result in the author picture below, and also on my webpage. I’ve now worn my costume for many History Through Costume Talks I’ve done for various Library and Community groups, in which I also talk about my eight Regency Romances laced with Intrigue – in particular The Reluctant Bride.

Ah, but I just loved my hero Angus. He’s so tormented by the death of his former mistress who blamed him for everything, so when he falls in love with Emily who looks so similar, he’s determined to do anything to win her heart and be the hero his former mistress did not consider him.

That’s when the lies and intrigue starts to creep into the story. What is the strange connection between the two women and, finally, is Emily the wounded woman who needs his love and protection he’s desperate to offer, or does she in fact hide a terrible secret?

Below is the blurb and below, an extract.

BLURB

Desperate circumstances following the death of her loving fiancé force Emily Micklen to marry taciturn soldier, Major Angus McCartney.

For years, brave, honourable Angus has loved Emily, though he remains haunted by the shocking death of his mysterious late French mistress who bore a strong resemblance to his new wife.

When Angus is sent to France on a mission to entrap the notorious French spy, Madame Fontenay, Angus discovers the real enemy is closer to home than he’d realised.

Excerpt

Angus is a returned war hero from the Napoleonic Wars.This scene occurs in Emily’s drawing room an hour after Angus has seen Emily taking a forbidden swim though he doesn’t recognise her at the time. He’s too preoccupied with his terrible duty: to inform Miss Emily Micklen of the death of her beloved fiancé, Jack Noble (an ironic surname, as it transpires).

Major Angus McCartney was out of his depth.

He glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. Only five minutes in this gloomy, oppressive parlour after the women had arrived and he was questioning his ability to complete his mission, a feeling he’d not experienced before Corunna four years before.

He’d been unprepared for the assault on his senses unleashed by the beautiful Miss Micklen. He shifted position once more, fingering the letters that belonged to her. For two years he’d carried the memory of the young woman before him as a confident, radiant creature in a white muslin ball gown with a powder-blue sash. Now her tragic, disbelieving gaze unleashed a flood of memory, for in her distress she bore no resemblance to the paragon of beauty at the Regimental Ball, a bright memory in an otherwise tormented year after he’d been invalided out of Spain. Clearly Miss Micklen did not remember him.

She’d remember him forever now: as the harbinger of doom, for as surely as if he’d pulled the trigger he’d just consigned her hopes and dreams to cinders.

She turned suddenly, catching him by surprise, and the painful, searing memory of the last time he’d confronted such grief tore through him.

Corunna again. As if presented on a platter, the image of the soldier’s woman he’d assisted flashed before his eyes, forcing him to draw a sustaining breath as he battled with the familiar self-reproach which threatened to unman him.

He reminded himself he was here to do good.

‘A skirmish near the barracks?’ the young woman whispered, resting her hands upon her crippled mother’s shoulders. ‘Last Wednesday?’

‘That is correct, ma’am.’

Mrs Micklen muttered some incoherent words, presumably of sympathy. Angus pitied them both: Miss Micklen digesting her sudden bereavement, and the mother for her affliction. The older woman sat hunched in her chair by the fire, unable to turn her head, her claw-like hands trembling in her lap.

He cleared his throat, wishing he’d taken more account of his acknowledged clumsiness with the fairer sex. He was not up to the task. He’d dismissed the cautions of his fellow officers, arrogantly thinking he’d be shirking his duty were he not the one to deliver the news. It was condolences he should be offering, and he had not the first idea how to appeal to a frail feminine heart.

Nor was he accustomed to the lies tripping off his tongue as he added, ‘A tragic mishap, ma’am, but Captain Noble acquitted himself with honour to the end.’

Miss Micklen’s gaze lanced him with its intensity. Tears glistened, held in check by her dark lashes. ‘I can’t believe it,’ she whispered, moving to draw aside the heavy green velvet curtain and stare at the dipping sun. ‘Jack told me he was on the Continent.’

Choosing not to refute Jack’s lie, he said carefully, ‘An altercation occurred between a group of infantry in which I was unwittingly involved. When Captain Noble came to my assistance he was struck a mortal blow to the head. I’m sorry, Miss Micklen.’

He wished he knew how to offer comfort. The beautiful Miss Micklen of the Christmas Regimental Ball had seemed all-powerful in her cocoon of happy confidence. Unobtainable as the stars in heaven, he’d thought as he’d watched her skirt the dance floor in the arms of the unworthy Jack Noble. For so long he’d carried Miss Micklen’s image close to his heart and this was the first time he’d been reminded of Jessamine.

God, how weary he was of war.

[End of Excerpt] 

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I’m wearing my 1780s polonaise which I made for my History Through Costume Talks.

Beverley Eikli Writes…Unconventional Historical Romance laced with Mystery & Intrigue…

Since my earliest memories of growing up in Mokhotlong, ‘the British Empire’s remotest Outpost’ in the  mountainous African kingdom of Lesotho I’ve loved adventure.

After Independence I emigrated with my family to Adelaide, Australia, where I did my schooling before getting a job as a journalist, writing fiction in the evenings and features for newspapers and magazines during the day.

In my twenties, the chance discovery of my grandfather’s pictorial diary led to  my visiting Botswana, the country where he and my father were born and brought up. My holiday resulted in an unexpected job offer to manage a safari lodge for two months in the beautiful Okavango Delta. There I met and – after a whirlwind courtship – married my handsome Norwegian bush pilot of now twenty years.

Not surprisingly, adventure spills onto the pages of the romances I write, regardless of whether they are set during The Regency, Georgian, Victorian periods, or the English Civil War or, more latterly, in my Colonial Lesotho and Botswana-set romances.

Adventure and intrigue are my stock-in-trade, usually coupled with a tension-filled, roller-coaster ending.

Just as I’ve been restless my whole life, working with my husband in airborne survey throughout Africa, Greenland, French Guyana, or enjoying the expat life in Solomon Islands or Japan, I’m restless with the types of story I like to write. I love change and I love to experiment.

Yes, they’re all historicals, and they feature women who must use their  cunning, intelligence or beauty to thwart the legal and social restrictions imposed on them by the society in which they live; but they’re also adventures and mysteries with suspense and intrigue.

I also write hotter historicals with unconventional domestic themes as Beverley Oakley.

I hope you enjoy them.

And it’s so fun hearing from readers. You can contact me here:

Website • Blog • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

The Reluctant Bride is available at: Amazon USAmazon UKKoboiBooksBarnes & NobleBook Depository


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