I’m so pleased to welcome one of my favorite people in the world to the Jaunty Quills. She’s Manda Collins and she writes smart, sexy historical romance with a strong dash of suspense – pretty much all of my fave writing things wrapped up in one great package. Manda has a new book out, and she’s here to tell us all about it:
Hello, Jaunties! I’m so pleased to be celebrating the release of GOOD DUKES WEAR BLACK, Book 3 of the Lords of Anarchy trilogy, with ya’all! My thanks to the lovely and talented Vanessa Kelly for inviting me!
As a special treat, I’m sharing an exclusive snippet from Trent and Ophelia’s story with you here today. This hasn’t been posted anywhere else, and I hope you’ll enjoy it! But first, the description:
A writer for the Ladies Gazette, Miss Ophelia Dauntry’s passion is her pen. So when she sees a fellow writer kidnapped before her eyes—and the trail of evidence leads to the Lords of Anarchy—Ophelia vows to find her friend and take down the notorious London driving club in her column. But before she can argue her case, she needs the inside scoop from its newest leader: Piers Hamilton, the Duke of Trent.
Headstrong, handsome Trent joined the Lords of Anarchy after a decade in the British Army. He’s made it his business to tame the misbehavior within the driving club—and the infuriatingly attractive Ophelia is only getting in his way. The deeper she digs into the case, the more she puts her own life at risk. Can Trent convince Ophelia to trust him to seek justice…and find protection, and passion, in his arms?
Now, for the excerpt. In this scene, Miss Ophelia Dauntry and the Duke of Trent are, in the company of their friends the Earl and Countess of Mainwaring and the Lisles, discussing her plans to attend a ball later that evening.
“Don’t tell me you mean to attend a ball after the drama of the past couple of days,” Trent said with a frown. “You suffered quite a serious blow to the head yesterday.”
Ophelia frowned at his high handed tone. Just because they were working together did not mean he had the right to make decisions for her.
“And now I am feeling much better,” she said coolly. “Besides which, my sister is betrothed to the Marquess of Kinston so my mother is expecting me to attend whether I feel up to it or not. And I most certainly do feel up to it.”
He looked as if he would like to say more, but perhaps seeing the mulish set of her jaw, kept silent.
“I can promise to look after her,” Leonora exchanging a sly look with her husband, who winked. “Unless, of course, you mean to attend too, Trent.”
“He must attend,” Freddy said guilelessly. “For I mean to keep you busy dancing, my dear. You will have no time to watch over Ophelia.”
“I’m sitting right here, you know,” Ophelia said rolling her eyes. “And I have no need of a keeper. At least not the last time I checked.”
Trent muttered something under his breath, but when she scowled at him, he shrugged as if to say “Who, me?”
Annoyed with all of them, she stood. “I believe I’ll walk home. It is a fair enough afternoon and my house is only a few streets away.”
“Of course I’ll take you,” Trent said looking offended. “As I said, you’ve had an eventful couple of days. And as I am going in that direction anyway it will be no inconvenience.”
It would serve him right if she refused, Ophelia thought stubbornly. But it was true that she was tired. And if she were going to attend a ball that evening she’d do better to conserve her energy. “Very well,” she said.
“We’ll see you there tonight,” Hermione said as she and Leonora ushered their friend into the hallway and toward the front entrance.
Trent made to follow Ophelia, but was stayed by Freddy’s hand on his arm.
“What’s going on here?” his friend asked with a speaking look in the direction of the departing ladies. “I was unaware that you and Ophelia were more than speaking acquaintances.”
“Certainly not close enough to ride about town together in your curricle for two days in a row,” Mainwaring added his eye bright with mischief.
“Don’t be daft,” Trent said with a frown. “We are only working together to find the her friend because George Grayson is a member of the Lords of Anarchy. Nothing more than that.”
“But it would be easy enough for you look for Maggie Grayson on your own, surely?” Freddy asked, pinning him with his blue gaze. “Especially considering that you don’t know what’s in store when you find her. Shouldn’t you leave Ophelia to her own devices for safety’s sake if nothing else?”
At the suggestion he was endangering Ophelia in some way, Trent stiffened. “Now see here, Lisle,” he said with a voice that sounded threatening even to his own ears. “I am doing my utmost to see that she remains safe. If I were to leave her to her own devices as you so helpfully suggest, then she would be god knows where poking her nose into the devil knows that. That lady is as stubborn as a mule and the only reason she is still safe is because I’ve ensured that she doesn’t take the sort of risks she’d doubtless undertake if she were allowed to go about unchecked.”
There was an eerie silence in the hallway for a moment as Trent realized his mistake.
Damn. Double damn.
“That was some speech, old fellow,” Mainwaring said diffidently picking a bit of link from his sleeve. “I believe you’ve made our point.”
“You are both asses,” Trent said turning his back on his oldest friends and stalking down the stairs toward the entry hall.
“You don’t suppose I was too hard on him?” he heard Freddy said from above. “I sometimes can go a bit too far.”
“Not a bit of it,” Mainwaring replied. “How else were we learn the truth of things. It’s not as if he’ll tell us he’s head over ears on his own.”
Grateful that Ophelia and her married friends were already outside, Trent collected his hat and coat and stomped out the door.
PS. That’s Toast, Manda’s furry buddy, enjoying his copy of GOOD DUKES WEAR BLACK.
Manda also has a special giveaway today – a GOOD DUKES WEAR BLACK tee shirt and a copy of the book. Zounds! For a chance to win, just tell us what you like your heroes to wear. Do riding boots and breeches on a manly man make you swoon, or are you more of a low-slung jeans and a tight tee shirt kind of gal? One reader who comments will win Manda’s prize! And for more info about Manda and her books, please visit her website.