Meet Moment Monday: A Love for Lady Winter

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I was excited to join the fantastic authors of the Castle Keyvnor series to add my own Regency tale for Enchanted at Christmas.

In A Love for Lady Winter, Lady Winifred Gissing has accepted spinsterhood as her fate. You see, she sees ghosts, and being different has often meant she’s been rejected. So she’s content to keep her secrets to herself. But when she ventures to Cornwall with her aunt to attend a wedding at the infamous Castle Keyvnor, she meets Septimus Locke, Earl of Carwarren, and that encounter changes everything.

In this scene, Win has just arrived in Cornwall and goes for a walk on the heath near her aunt’s cottage. There she meets Septimus for the very first time.

She filled her lungs, taking in deep breaths of the bracing Cornish breeze. The air had a luxurious thickness to it, dense with water and a unique green, salty scent. As she walked, the ground rose slightly below her feet and then began a sharp descent near the tower.

She was curious about the structure. Had it been part of an ancient fortress meant to fend off seafaring invaders? An observatory for mapping the stars? Squinting into the waning light, she realized the facade was constructed, not of old stone, but new. They were of varying sizes and shapes, as if they’d been dug from the craggy ground beneath her feet. On closer inspection, she noted the tower wasn’t truly round either. More of a hexagon.

Through a misshapen portal, a set of stairs beckoned, sirenlike. Climb me. Explore the secrets inside. Win glanced back toward her aunt’s cottage. How long would it take to ascend and come back down? The biggest danger was getting caught up in staring out at the sea, watching the gulls circle and dive in the gloaming light.

She picked up her stride and headed for the stairs. But a few paces from the tower, the air began to change. Though the sky was clear and had been all day, a mist rolled across the ground. The chilly haze climbed, wending around her ankles, thickening with every step. By the time she reached the tower, she could make out little more than the patch of bricks before her eyes and a gap in the stones where an oil lamp had been left burning.

An object whizzed past her ear. A moment later the plink of metal sounded at her feet. Win bent to get a closer look.

“Don’t touch that!” A deep male voice boomed from above.

Win jerked back and nearly lost her balance. Planting a palm on the ground to steady herself, her fingers brushed a then metal cylinder. She snatched her hand back and got to her feet.

“I told you not to touch that.” An enormous black-clad figure swooped down in front of her, the long raven wings of his overcoat flapping in the mist. Crouching on his haunches, he snatched at the grass before rising to face her. “My calibrations will be ruined.”

With his back to the seaside, the man formed a tall, bulky broad-shouldered outline against the red-gold sky. “What are you?” He leaned closer. Close enough for Win to make out dark brows, the wide slash of a mouth, and eyes far lighter than the crow’s wing black of his hair. “A sea witch? Some vengeful fairy come to spite me?”

His words sliced through her like an iced blade, leaving a cold, stinging pain in the center of her chest. She’d been called a witch before. Each time the word had been spat like a curse because of her strange eyes and hair that lacked any hue. By people that didn’t even know she was far worse than just a colorless young woman.

She was an unnatural creature who saw specters too.

“Ah, I see. The lady is silent.” A lilt of amusement lightened his deep voice. “Have I frightened you? Or are you simply the sort of witch who prefers to keep her secrets?”

“I’m not a witch, and it’s only your manners that I find frightful.” Win shot him a glare she hoped he could see through the fog and lifted the edge of her traveling gown. She intended to get away from the odious man quickly and had no wish to trip and end up sprawled at his feet like a fool. “I do not lack the power of speech, as you see. Indeed, with a clear voice, I bid you good riddance. To you, your poorly constructed tower, and your metal trinket. Which, I might add, I never touched.”

The dull roar of the sea still called to her, but she turned her back on the water, and the odd man, and started toward her aunt’s cottage.

She should have curbed her curiosity and settled for a warm hearth and mulled wine.

A terrible thought struck. Win turned back to him. “Are you the ward of Cornelia Shaw?” It seemed unlikely. Aunt Elinor referred to him as a boy. But why did this man have permission to tarry on her aunt’s land?

“No.” The single word came as a low rumble carried on the breeze. “I’m the Carwarren.”

A gust whipped against Win’s face and when she turned to catch her breath, the dark-cloaked man—the Carwarren, whatever that was—drew closer.

“That tower is perfectly constructed. I designed the observatory myself. Every stone was laid with care and to my detailed mathematical calculations.”

Who cared about the details of his blasted edifice? All Win wished was get away from him and get warm. Perhaps if she humored his ego, he’d cease stalking her across the heath. “I’m sure it’s a fine tower—“


“A passable observatory for whatever it is you wish to observe.” Most inconveniently, her curiosity was piqued. “Are you an astronomer?” When she was a child, she and her sister would sometimes sneak up to the roof of Gissing Park and take turns gazing at the stars, tracing the constellations with their fingertips against the sky. They imagined one star was a kingdom where little girls ruled and cruelty was never ever allowed to win the day.

He turned his head, giving Win the opportunity to study the sharp angles of his profile. A dominant nose, full lips, a square jaw. Handsome, if one wished for strength in a man’s features. Glancing up at the sky, he flicked back his ankle-length overcoat and planted his hands on his hips. “The stars and all planetary bodies are worthy of close study, of course, but that’s not why I’ve built a staircase to the sky.”

She shouldn’t care. Whatever he studied mattered not a whit to her. Her overactive curiosity had got her into all manner of trouble as a child, and she felt the same frisson of excitement now as she had then. Every impulse told her to go. But there was a strange, unaccountable magnetism about the man. He gave off a compelling energy, one she most definitely needed to ignore.

Want to read more? You can grab a copy of Enchanted at Christmas now at

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Behind the Scenes of Rules for a Rogue

600RULES-FOR-THE-ROGUE_finalHEROINE’S SONG: I’d decided to call my RULES FOR A ROGUE heroine Ophelia before I heard the song “Ophelia” by The Lumineers. However, once I heard the song, I thought lots of the lyrics really fit, so I listened to it occasionally while writing the novel. In particular the line “Oh, Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind, girl, since the flood” really fits this story. My hero and heroine haven’t seen each other in years when the story begins, but they’ve never forgotten any of their time together.

600kitHERO’S LOOKS: From the moment I conceived this story, I had “cast” my hero with one particular actor. After seeing The Force Awakens, I couldn’t get villain actor, Adam Driver, out of my head. When I started working on writing Kit Ruthven, he immediately had longish dark hair, dark eyes, and a tall muscular frame, just like a certain actor. I even hired an artist to create a character sketch of Adam Driver cast as my hero, Kit.

decorum-cover-1881ETIQUETTE CRAZE: One big inspiration for this entire series was just how popular etiquette books were during the Victorian era. Ladies and gentlemen devoured books on etiquette, good manners, and getting on in “good society.” After years of studying the Victorian era, I suspect it was because the period really saw the rise of a strong working class. Society wasn’t only dominated by lords and noblewomen, but by robber barons, entrepreneurs, and million dollar American princesses. To prove that you were indeed worthy of participating in high society, you had to know how to play by their rules. Etiquette books were a quick and easy means of learning social niceties.

ALL IN: Rules for a Rogue starts off a three-book series, each featuring a member of the Ruthven family, but one aspect that was important to me was introducing all of the heroes and heroines of the following books. Thus, you get to know Kit’s sisters, Sophia and Clarissa, who will each get their happy ending soon. Plus, you get to meet the gentlemen who will be their heroes. Hopefully, readers won’t have too much trouble guessing which is which. ☺

PUBLISHING WORLD: One aspect of the Victorian era that I spent a good deal of time studying to start this series was the world of publishing. I think the modern publishing landscape is one of the most exciting times in book history ever, but the Victorian era saw a similar explosion in publishing. Paper pulp was cheaper, and thanks to a mandatory education act mid-century, there were more readers in Britain than ever before. In particular, I used a study of Blackwood Publishing, which was a Scottish enterprise started in 1804, to inform my creation of Ruthven Publishing.

Rules for a Rogue release and tour!

600RULES-FOR-THE-ROGUE_finalRules for a Rogue released on November 1st!

This story features one of my favorite heroines I’ve ever written, Ophelia Marsden. She’s complex and strong, yet still nursing the pain of a broken heart. When Kit Ruthven, the man who hurt her, returns from his free-wheeling London lifestyle and seems to want to make amends, can she trust him? Can she trust her heart?

Kit and Ophelia have a complicated past and an even more daunting future. Will love find a way?

I’m celebrating Rules for a Rogue‘s release with a blog tour via Author’s Pal fantastic author services. I hope you’ll join me along the way and enter to win a unique prize pack, with handpicked items that relate to the book. 02dcf-blogtourgiveaway

If you want to keep up with my tour or find out more about the giveaway, follow this link and visit any blog along the way.

To learn more about Kit and Ophelia’s love story and order the e-book for just $1.99, visit the book page here.

If you’ve had a chance to read the book, let me know what you think!