Thursday, October 02, 2014

Blog Tour, Guest Blog & Contest: A Desperate Wager by Em Taylor

A Desperate Wager - Tour Banner  

Guest Blog post:
Arranged Marriages
by Em Taylor

When Lady Sarah and Nate, the Duke of Kirkbourne marry in A Desperate Wager it may not be an arranged marriage in the strictest meaning of the word but it is definitely brought about by the bride’s father.

Aware that his health is failing and that someone will have to look after his crippled daughter, the Earl of Brackingham does some research and picks the duke, whom he sees as an honourable man, to trick into marrying his daughter. Nate and Sarah’s fate is sealed.

This got me wondering who the people in my life would pick out for me to marry if I gave them the chance. My mother’s choice would be a nightmare. She always approved of my worst boyfriends and continued to invite one of them for dinner every week two years after we had split up. My sister never really approved of my boyfriends and the fact I am still single probably proved her right. As for my Dad, I’m pretty sure he’d have picked a chemistry teacher for me to marry. He never quite understood why all his children were appallingly bad at chemistry when he, himself, was a chemist. So yes, I suspect I would have ended up married to the nutty professor.

But are family the best people to choose? What about our friends? When I broke off a three year relationship everyone, and I mean everyone, turned around and said “Well I never liked him anyway.” I remember thinking “Why did no one say?” But of course, you don’t tell your friends that their partner or spouse is an idiot and totally not worth their time or effort. But if we could choose our friend’s partners we would probably do quite a good job of it. We know their likes and dislikes, their irritating foibles and their adorable bad habits, their interests, what sets them off in a bad mood and just how far you can take a joke with them.

In some ways that’s one of the joys of writing. Every romance novel is an arranged marriage even when you are planning their original meeting to be serendipitous. We choose the best man for our heroine, just as the Earl of Brackingham did for his daughter. Just as my dad would have done for me had he been given the chance. Even in fiction, it is a rare gift to put two people together and see love blossom.  

Your top 10 favorite events in history

  1. The first moon landing (I’m a geek at heart)
  2. The Scottish Industrial Revolution
  3. Women being given the vote (1919 in the UK)
  4. The abolition of slavery
  5. Invention of the steam engine
  6. The Act of Union (the agreement that made Scotland and England into the UK)
  7. The end of World War I
  8. The tearing down of the Berlin Wall
  9. The discovery of the vaccine against polio
  10. Sir Edmund Hillary climbing Everest
TITLE – A Desperate Wager AUTHOR – Em Taylor GENRE – Historical Regency Romance PUBLICATION DATE – 25 August 2014 LENGTH – 71,000 words COVER ARTIST – Samantha Holt

  A Desperate Wager - Book Cover  


Nathaniel Spencer, the Fourteenth Duke of Kirkbourne wakes up with an almighty hangover and a wager note in his pocket stating he has agreed to marry the Earl of Brackingham’s daughter. And he can’t even remember ever meeting the chit. Clearly his drinking has got out of hand.
Lady Sarah Steele is horrified when her father announces that the Duke of Kirkbourne has agreed to marry her and even more horrified that her father wagered her hand in a game of cards. Not only that, but the earl has not told the duke of the riding accident that left Sarah paralysed when she was sixteen. But he’s dying and she knows he wants to see her settled before the inevitable happens.
Despite Nate’s drinking and Sarah’s possible complicity in the earl’s plan, they agree to marry. But when accidents start to happen, the newly-weds must deal not only with the fact they are practically strangers, but they must find out who is trying to kill one or both of them. Nate’s drink problem and Sarah’s disability are only a couple of the hurdles they must face to find lasting love.


A Desperate Wager - Teaser  


Nathaniel Spencer, fourteenth Duke of Kirkbourne groaned and rolled over in bed. A tattoo beat a steady rhythm inside his skull, his stomach was bilious and the world spun at an alarming rate. Last night he had been in his cups—again. He knew he should take a more moderate attitude to alcohol but recently, staying sober had seemed somewhat pointless. Why stay sober if you were just going to end up dead at the side of the road—another silly young buck who had killed himself in a curricle race? Damn Crosby! Why had he made the damned challenge? Nathaniel, or Nate as he preferred to be called, would never forget Crosby’s lifeless eyes staring up at him, or the crack of the pistol as a bystander put his horses out of their misery. And he would never forgive himself for being the man whom Crosby was racing. Nate closed his eyes and willed his stomach to stop churning as he tried to recall the events of the night before. He had been at White’s for dinner and had moved to the card room. The brandy had been flowing, and Ormsby had suggested moving on to a less reputable gaming hell. He remembered the Earl of Brackingham tagging along for some reason that defied Nate. He had no issue with Brackingham, but the earl was at least twenty years the senior of everyone else in their party. He had been coughing somewhat alarmingly, Nate recalled. He hoped the old man was not spreading disease around. The last thing Nate needed was to be laid up in bed—his mother fussing around him and pouring vile-tasting concoctions down his throat. There was another thing that took many young, seemingly healthy lives—fever. Curricles and fever—good reasons to get absolutely foxed if ever he needed any. Brackingham! The name seemed to be prodding his tired and very painful brain—waiting for him to remember something significant from last night. He had a vague memory of playing vingt et un with him. There had been a ludicrous bet. Brackingham wagered his daughter’s hand and if Nate lost, he would have to marry the girl. Nate had been on a winning streak. Bravado and alcohol made him foolish. He had a three and a queen. He sat up as the king of diamonds flashed before his eyes. God, damn it. The king of diamonds took him to twenty-three. His head swum and he tamped down the urge to cast up his accounts. Twenty-three. But surely a wager like that was a joke. It had to be. Brackingham did not expect him to marry his chit of a daughter, did he? Had he even set eyes on the girl before? Again, some piece of information about the girl needled his brain. He had no recollection of dancing with her at balls. But then he hardly ever danced at balls. He had no plans to seek a leg-shackle on the marriage mart, so he steered clear and spent most of the evening in the card room. God, he hoped she was at least old enough to have had her come out and this was not some medieval plan to marry a thirteen-year-old off to him. Eighteen was quite young enough—too young in his rather jaded opinion. But no. He had no recollection of ever having set eyes on Lady… Lady what? He had no idea. He fished in the pocket of his waistcoat, which he still wore, having obviously been so foxed when he had returned that he had either shooed his valet away or he had arrived so late the valet had been asleep. There was a note. A wager. He hoped he owed the man a vast fortune instead. Marry Lady Sarah Steele. Dowry - £10,000. Meet Brackingham on 5th day of March to make arrangements. Today must be the fifth of March. Yesterday had definitely been the fourth. Christ, he had to see if this was a big joke or, if not, was there any way he could inveigle his way out of it. He had no plans to marry. None at all. And that was that.
A Desperate Wager - Author Photo


Em was born and brought up in the Central Belt of Scotland and still lives there. She was told as a child she had an over active imagination--as if that is a bad thing. She's traded her dreams of owning her own island, just like George in the Famous Five to hoping to meet her own Mr Darcy one day. But her imagination remains the same.




$20 Amazon Gift Certificate

Tour organized & hosted by: 1-MINIBUTTON

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Interview with Melinda Curtis author of The Christmas Promise

Please join me for my interview with Melinda Curtis author of The Christmas Promise. Be sure to read the excerpt from her book below as well.

Interview with Melinda Curtis


1) Why do you write romance?
I love a happily-ever-after.  I left The Amazing Spiderman 2 wanting to rewrite the ending.

2) What romance subgenres do you write in? Why?
I write sweet and steamy. I like both alpha and beta heroes.  Readers of sweet don’t tend to like alpha heroes, so those are my more sensitive guys.  Readers of steamy appreciate an alpha male who isn’t always politically correct with the ladies.  In either case, it takes a strong woman to show a person he’s a better man with love in his life.

3) Are you aware of any themes that run through your stories? If so, what are they?
Outsiders and fish-out-of-water. 

4) What would you like readers to take away from your stories?
To quote Huey Lewis: The Power of Love. My characters are changed by the end of the story.

5) What inspires your stories?
People.  We’re all so quirky.

6) Will you be attending any book or writing conferences this year? If yes, which

ones? Where and when?
I always attend the Romance Writers of America conference. In 2015, it’ll be in NY.

7) Do you have any book signings or author appearances coming soon? If yes, where and when?
I’m overbooked on writing deadlines this year. I’m a hermit.

8) What is your writing schedule?
I write a book for Harlequin Heartwarming every 4 months. During that time I’m also writing something for my indie series or a special project. For example, this year I was asked to participate in 2 different holiday novella sets – one for Harlequin, one for a group of sweet indie authors.

9) Do you have any other passions besides writing? If yes, what are they? Why?
I love DIY around the house. For Mother’s Day, Mr. Curtis bought me a spray rig. To-date, I’ve painted an exterior porch and fence.  I want to get good enough to refinish my kitchen cabinets. My mom was a painter, but I can’t paint a picture.

10) What is the best memory?
All the best memories have laughter.

11) What is your favorite comfort food?
Grilled cheese sandwich. Did you know Starbucks sells them now?  Sweet!

12) What relaxes you?
A cup of coffee.

13) What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
A glass of Jordan Chardonnay…heaven

14) What decade has been your favorite? Why?
This one.  My kids are young adults and all away at college. I’m not required to make a dinner that pleases 5.  Just me and Mr. Curtis.

15) What is your favorite way to promote?
Facebook.  Look for some great giveaways this fall.

16) Where is your favorite place to write? Why?
My office. I have a corner desk with lots of space. It’s always cluttered.

17) What is your favorite fairy tale? Why?
As a kid, I loved Snow White, mostly because of those 7 dwarves.  But as an adult, I love the way movies redo the Cinderella story.

18) What was your favorite vacation?
Maui. Hands down. So relaxing. Although my brother dragged us to the Big Island this year and it comes in a close second.

19) If you had another career, what was it?
Marketing consultant. I was a “fixer”. If your brand wasn’t selling, I could figure out why and turn things around…if it wasn’t too late.

20) If you didn’t write, what would you do instead?
Go back to being a marketing consultant, although babysitting grandma has a nice feel to it.

21) If you could have one wish, what would it be?
World peace. It used to be a cliché, but we should all be wishing for it.

22) If you could describe yourself in only one word, what would it be?
Wired. I can’t stand not being plugged in. I can’t stand not being caffeinated. I go at a pace that seems to exhaust everyone around me.

23) Who is your favorite American Idol contestant this year? Why?

24) Are you a cat or dog person? Do you have any pets and if so, please tell us about them.
Dog person. I got a puppy last year – a Shorkie (half Shitzu/half Yorkie). When we first got her, she yapped at everything because she was afraid of everything (she was only 3 pounds). I signed up with a dog trainer. Tally is now a confident 1-year old dog. She loves swimming in the pool, going to Home Depot, and fireworks. The fireworks surprise me (but they must sound like other yapping dogs)

25) What is the one thing you most want to do that you haven’t yet?
Cruise the Mediterranean. We’re doing that in 2015, but only because my brother has a bucket list and is dragging us there for 2 weeks.  LOL!

26) You state on your blog that you embrace midlife and plan to live to the fullest. How are you doing that?
Coffee and wine. My life right now is about transitions. I go-go-go at my desk, then need a little help easing into the evening.

27) Please tell us about your most recent release and where we can purchase it.

They used to call her the Bon-Bon Heiress…Tiffany Bonander (of Bon-Bon Chocolates) grew up in New York with a silver spoon, a heart of gold, and a lifelong supply of sweets.  But now her life is falling apart.  Recent changes in cocoa supply are threatening the quality of the family’s chocolate and sales are down.  Add to that Tiff’s penchant for falling in love quickly and breaking engagements at the last minute…Now they call her the Bon-Voyage Bride.  Can this socialite turn around a cocoa plantation in South America?

Jackson Hardaway is trekking through the Andes in Ecuador as a tribute to a fallen comrade.  This wounded warrior didn’t expect to meet a beautiful damsel in distress and her three fairy godmothers…er, trio of meddlesome nuns…on his journey.  But everything in Ecuador is bigger – the trees, the snakes, the attraction.  Is this love?  Or just another case made to label Tiff a runaway bride?  Find out in The Wedding Promise (part Runaway Bride/part Romancing the Stone).




It was raining.  Again.

Tiffany Bonander tried humming a few bars of White Christmas.  It was, after all, December 23.  Cheer was called for.

But the incessant beat of fat raindrops on the tangled foliage of the Ecuadorian rainforest and on her pink rain slicker, drowned out her cheer.

Or maybe she was just drowning under the pressure of heavy responsibilities.

Ankle-deep water rushed down the steep, muddy road toward Tiff and her precious cargo–thirty pounds of cocoa beans.  She couldn’t lose the beans.  They were the answer to all her troubles. 

Thunder boomed.  And boomed again.  The downpour increased to a deluge.

Tightening her grip on the wheelbarrow handles, Tiff tried to find purchase with her rain boots, tried to make it to the next rise before the road turned into a river.  Tried…and failed.   Somewhere above her the river had risen high enough to crest a bank.  Water surged toward her.

Tiff’s father claimed they’d abandoned this cocoa plantation years ago for drainage reasons.  He should have used the F-word: flood.

Tiff stumbled to her knees, and water rushed into her boots–cute, pink-flowered plastic ones which quickly filled with water and felt as heavy as cement shoes.  If not for her grip on the wheelbarrow, she might have been swept downhill.  Just last week, she’d heard about a woman who’d been carried away by the cresting river and smashed into a tree.  Smashed as in: to pieces.  Dead.

That would be worse than being broke and the laughing-stock of the civilized world.

This was karma, plain and simple.  She shouldn’t have jilted Chad at their engagement party or left Malcolm at the altar. 


Release information:

The Christmas Promise is available in the Sweet Christmas Kisses anthology (14 sweet holiday stories for 99¢ available now!).

Buy Links for Sweet Christmas Kisses:

28) Please give us your urls and your publisher’s url.


Twitter: @MelCurtisAuthor


29) Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers? Please do so here.

Special Offer:

Readers of the Writing Dreams blog will be emailed a FREE fun, sweet novella set within the Hollywood Rules world by signing up for Melinda’s book release email newsletter. Link:





Melinda Curtis is an award winning, USA Today recommended, Amazon best selling author.  She writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet and emotional romances for the Harlequin Heartwarming line (book 4 coming 3/2015). Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”.  Melinda also writes independently published, steamy and fun romances as Mel Curtis (a new novella out 10/22). Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood's Golden Age except a lot hotter.” 



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