When a runaway heiress runs into trouble, she may end up exactly where she belongs…
Brainy and college-educated, American heiress Alexandra Atherton will do anything to avoid marriage to the English peer her mother has chosen for her–even abandon the life of privilege she’s always known. But as her escape goes horribly wrong, Alexandra must invent a new identity to gain the help of a handsome stranger.
Thomas Carlyle, the Earl of Longford, sweeps in and out of London disguised as a humble artist, earning just enough to keep his ancestral Cornwall estate afloat. When Alexandra crashes into his life, she awakens feelings and desires that he vows will stay buried. Despite himself, he needs this beautiful newcomer, for his sisters have run off another governess.
Alexandra is surprised to find she thrives in her new position at Longford’s home. But as she grows closer to Thomas and his sisters, and her relationship with the emotionally guarded earl unleashes their hidden passions, the truth Alexandra’s been forced to hide may end up coming between her and the only man she’s ever loved.
About the Book
by Syrie James
Dare to Defy Series
June 12, 2018
“One first-class ticket for Liverpool, please.” Alexandra Atherton managed a smile for the ticket agent behind the window.
“One way or return?”
“One way.” Alexandra anxiously made her way across the busy train station, hardly able to believe she was doing this: running away, dressed in her maid’s old clothes, bound for Liverpool and the steamship that would take her home.
Her escape, she knew, would cause something of a scandal. Over the past few years, whenever her name or one of her sisters’ names had cropped up in the press, it was always followed by “the American heiress,” or “the daughter of multimillionaire banking tycoon Colis Atherton.” As if they were not actual people in their own right.
Alexandra hated to feed the gossip, but after last night, what choice did she have?
She had left a note explaining where she’d gone and why, which her maid Fiona was to “accidentally discover” later that afternoon. By then, it would be too late for her mother to prevent Alexandra from sailing. She just prayed that upon her reaching Liverpool, a berth would be available aboard the Maritime.
The train platform was alive with the clamor of movement and conversation. Gentlemen in black frock coats and ladies in elaborate plumed hats darted to and fro, checking the printed timetables, studying the large clock hanging from the rafters, purchasing apples from a vendor and papers from the newsstand. As Alexandra wove through the crowd, she heard a high-pitched voice at her elbow:
“Got a penny for a poor orphan?”
She paused. Before her stood a raggedly dressed, dirty little girl. Alexandra’s heart went out to the creature, who gazed up at her with wide eyes, her hair all in a tangle.
Alexandra wondered how a penny could possibly be of any help to a child in such need. Withdrawing her coin purse from her reticule, she offered the child a shilling. “Here you go, little one.” Suddenly, more children in similarly dirty clothing appeared and crowded around her.
“Mine!” cried a boy.
“No, mine!” cried another.
A grubby fist flashed out and snatched the shilling from Alexandra’s grasp. She couldn’t tell if it was the first girl who took it or one of the boys; indeed, she wasn’t entirely sure what happened next. All Alexandra knew was that multitudes of small, filthy hands were striking at her as young voices erupted in raucous shouts. Her coin purse was suddenly wrenched from her grasp, and a second later her handbag was gone.
“Wait! Give it back!” Alexandra cried, as the flock of children fled. “Help! Stop those children! They’ve stolen my bag!”
No one made any move to help her. Alexandra pushed her way through the crowd, racing after the children, but the ragamuffin band vanished as quickly as it had appeared. At the end of the platform, she stopped to catch her breath. The whole incident, she saw now, had been cleverly played, the efforts of a pack of urchins who preyed on unsuspecting travelers.
She searched for a policeman (what did they call them here? Bobbies?), but realized that even if one materialized, she couldn’t report the theft. She was dressed as a servant, in the act of running away.
Alexandra stood rooted to the spot, overwhelmed by a crushing sense of horror and disappointment as the depths of her predicament became clear to her. Her handbag was gone. It had held all her money as well as her train ticket. She hadn’t been able to take anything else with her, and now had nothing left except the clothes on her back. Clearly, there would be no trip to Liverpool today, and no voyage to New York.
Tears stung Alexandra’s eyes as she made her way back through the train station. What should she do now?
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of RUNAWAY HEIRESS by Syrie James, we’re giving away one paperback copy of THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN by Syrie James. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 6/24/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Syrie James
Syrie James is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Nocturne; Dracula, My Love; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel 2008, Library Journal.) An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things 19th century. She lives in Los Angeles and is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America.
GENRE: Historical Fiction / Romance
Sarah Campbell is a rarity among women in her time. Raised by her Scottish father and the natives of a remote island in the South Pacific, Sarah and her father embark on a perilous journey to Scotland. Their crew betrays them and murders her father for the purpose of selling Sarah into slavery. She is rescued by an unlikely hero, Hassan Aziz, the most feared pirate on the Barbary Coast. She quickly discovers that she is unprepared for the complex world that is suddenly thrust upon her. Sarah must find a way to survive in a world that intrigues and terrifies her.
Sarah picked up the first picture in the stack and handed it to Hassan. “My friend, Temoe. She … beautiful, aye?”
Hassan frowned as he studied her drawing. If he had to guess, her friend looked as if she were Sarah’s age, perhaps a little older. She wore her hair cut to her shoulders with flowers tucked behind her ears, just as Sarah described, but she was not the Aphrodite goddess from his fantasies. Her flat nose and angular jaw gave her a slightly masculine quality. Dressed only in a cloth tied around her waist, her full breasts provided the only proof that she was a woman.
“She beautiful, aye?”
“Well, um.” Hassan didn’t know how to answer her. “Do all the women on your island look like this?”
“Aye. You not like?”
“I am certain that your friend is lovely. Honestly, it's hard to ascertain her beauty from this portrait.”
”Temoe have … um … many sweetheart.”
“I see.” Hassan grinned as he studied the expression on her face. “I imagine you had many sweethearts of your own.”
Sarah looked down at her lap as her trembling hand fidgeted with a lock of her hair. “No. I not beautiful.”
Hassan lifted his brow. “You must be joking.”
Sarah pointed to her friend’s nose. “Beautiful women have nose like Temoe.”
“Do you mean that men esteem women who have flat noses?”
“Um.” Hassan thought for a moment. “In other words, your people consider flat noses as a sign of beauty.”
Hassan wished he had a mirror to show Sarah just how exquisite she truly was. Then again, he wondered if it would make a difference considering that she measured beauty by the Polynesians’ standards. In this part of the world, Sarah would be regarded as the rarest of all beauties, for he had never seen her equal. Hassan caressed her cheek with the back of his finger and said, “I cannot speak for your countrymen, but I can speak for mine. They will esteem you as a lovely young woman.”
“Aye?” She looked at Hassan as if this was the first time someone had told her that she was beautiful.
Josanna Thompson is the author of A Maiden's Honor and The Woman from Eden series. She has lived in many different places in the United States, including the Southeast, the Midwest, California, and the Northeast. When she is not writing; she enjoys traveling, exploring, and scuba diving.
Josanna Thompson will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
BOOK BLURB: I'm the last single woman among my friends. Don't feel sorry for me. I'm fine with flying solo, especially with ski season right around the corner. You won't hear me complaining. Until my mother decides I need a date for my cousin's wedding ... and chooses the worst man in the world for me.
Landon Roberts is the human equivalent of a parka with every ski pass he's ever purchased hanging off of his zipper. Apparently my mother is the last person in Colorado to know about Landon's reputation.
To make things worse, his super hot brother Aiden's back in town. Still gorgeous and still not remotely interested in me.
I can survive this wedding disaster as long as I pretend my date is someone else.
As one of the stars of Aspen's rugby club, I don't need help meeting women. Tell that to my mother. She's picked out my date for the biggest wedding of the year.
Mae London is the local girl who broke every heart in the valley before she left for California. Now she's back and hotter than ever. Too bad she hates me.
Enlisting the help of my brother, I'm going to become the ideal man, and charm Mae right out of her bad opinion of me.
This wedding date will be perfect as long as I pretend to be someone else.
“Yes, Mother Dear?” I fold my hands and put on my wide-eyed innocent face.
“Save it for your revolving door of women.” She places her empty glass on the island counter. “Do you have a date for the wedding?”
“What wedding?” I ask because I’m sure there is more than one upcoming wedding on her radar.
“The London-Tierney wedding, of course. Unless you’ve had one concussion too many and can’t remember our conversation from five minutes ago.” She’s not even a little amused by me right now.
“Why would I have a date for a wedding I’m not going to?” Crossing my arms, I lean against the counter. Mom’s had too many glasses of rosé.
“You’ll be invited. Invitations will be sent out this week.”
“I think I’ll be out of town. Playing rugby.” There’s no way I’m missing one of the last tournaments of the season for some society wedding.
“I thought the season ended mid-September with Rugby Fest?” Aiden’s grin tells me he knows he just threw me under the bus.
“It does. Didn’t Mom say September was the wedding? I’m sure I’m busy every weekend.” I feel the solid ground of my excuse begin to slip out from under my feet.
“It’s Columbus Day. That’s mid October,” she adds like I’m an idiot, which apparently I am because I just blew my out. “And you have to go because I’ve already told Mrs. London you’ll be Mae’s date.”
“What?” I ask, my voice cracking.
“Why?” Aiden sets down his beer with too much force. The glass makes a loud cracking noise against the marble, but doesn’t break.
“Yeah, why?” I echo him. “If I have to attend, I can bring my own choice of dates. I’m not some sad sack who needs his mother to set him up. Not like Aiden. Make Aiden shave off the recluse disguise and take her. If either of us needs help with the opposite sex, it’s him, not me. I’m sure he doesn’t have any other options.”
I can’t believe she thinks this crazy idea is going to fly with me. Anger heats my neck as I try to process why she thinks I’ll go along with her plan.
GET IT FOR FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME!