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Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Indecent Proposal...with Shana Galen and Giveaway

An Indecent Proposal on Christmas Eve - Shana Galen

Shana Galen is the national bestselling author of numerous fast-paced, adventurous Regency historical romances, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne's Bride. Her books are published all over the world and have been featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston's inner city.

Now she writes full time. She’s happily married to an incredibly supportive man she calls Ultimate Sportsfan, and she has a beautiful little girl she calls Little Galen.

Places to find Shana:

Today’s theme is An Indecent Proposal on Christmas Eve. What a perfect theme for former courtesan Juliette, once known as the Duchess of Dalliance, and Will, the Duke of Pelham. These two damaged people met in my book When You Give a Duke a Diamond. They were thrown together after a mysterious murder and the theft of extremely valuable diamonds. What they found was each other.

When You Give a Duke an Indecent Proposal on Christmas Eve: A Jewels of the Ton Holiday Story
by Shana Galen

Christmas Eve, Rothingham Manor, Yorkshire

“Your Grace, have you considered all of the ramifications of this scheme?” Richards asked in his dry, monotone voice.

Juliette refrained from rolling her eyes. Duchesses did not roll their eyes, or so Will had told her several weeks ago. She had responded by noting that duchesses also did not tickle dukes, and then proceeded to tickle him until his sober expression broke and he laughed despite himself. “It is not a scheme, Richards,” she told the butler. “It is a gift, and I want it to remain a surprise.”

“I fail to see the distinction in this case, Your Grace.”

Juliette pointed to the cart coming up the curved drive to the manor. “You will see the distinction soon enough.” She watched the cart rumble over the snow-packed drive. On either side of the drive, snow banks were piled high and the lovely grounds were covered with a layer of ghostly white. The sun shone brilliantly today, and she was perfectly comfortable in a fur pelisse and gloves, standing on the steps of the gray stone house built by the first Duke of Pelham when he was still the Marquess of Rothingham. Now it was home to the sixth duke and duchess, and Juliette admired the view of the wild Yorkshire moors. They too were blanketed in a layer of sparkling white.

“I believe that is the crofter and one of his children,” Richard said.

“Yes, Mr. Martin and his daughter Beatrice. They call her Bea.” Juliette started down the steps, careful of any lingering patches of ice. Richards followed.

“It appears, Your Grace,” Richards noted with some alarm, “Miss Bea is holding a sack that wriggles.”

“You are most observant, Richards. That wriggling package is the scheme you refer to.”

“Of course.”

Juliette did not wait until the cart had stopped before she ran to intercept Mr. Martin and his sweet daughter. “Is that him?” she gestured to the burlap sack Bea held.

The child beamed. She wasn’t shy by any means, but her excitement today was palpable. “Look, Your Great! Look what I have!”

“It’s Your Grace,” her father corrected. Juliette waved a hand, not caring a whit for titles. She watched as Bea opened the sack and a velvet brown nose poked out, followed by a white and brown head, and then a wriggling white and brown body. Before the puppy could escape the struggling child completely, Juliette reached up and took him into her arms.

“Your Grace, he’ll shed on you,” Mr. Martin remarked.

The puppy licked her nose, and Juliette laughed. “I don’t mind. Oh, he’s darling!” she said, rubbing the pointer’s soft brown ears. The puppy licked her again.

“That dog is sorely lacking in manners,” Richards said, his face dour.

“Of course he has no manners, Richards,” Juliette said with a laugh. “He’s a puppy, and how can you look at a puppy with a frown? Here.” She deposited the wriggling ball of fur into his arms.

“But Your Grace!” Richards squeaked.

“I do not mind the fur, but I just remembered he is to be a secret, and I would not wish the duke to see the dog hair and ask questions. So you must take him, Richards.”

“I, Your Grace? But I what should I do with an undisciplined dog?”

Juliette rolled her eyes. Richards was too much. She could not resist. “Take him to the stables. The grooms can feed him and keep him warm until I have a moment to retrieve him. Mr. Martin and Miss Bea, you must be frozen. Please come inside. We have wassail and Christmas cakes.”

“Oh, yes!” Bea cheered at the same time her father said, “We could not impose.”

Juliette smiled and offered a hand to Bea. “The matter has been decided, Mr. Martin.”

A groom approached to tend the horse and cart, and Juliette led the father and daughter toward the house. As they neared the steps, she heard a high pitched scream and turned to see Richards holding the puppy out over the snow. A stream of urine flowed from the dog. The butler had a look of utter shock on his face, and the front of his coat was dark with wetness.

“Oops,” Juliette murmured and hurried her charges inside.

***

When William Henry Charles Arthur Cavington, Viscount Southerby, Marquess of Rothingham, and sixth Duke of Pelham returned, his wife was nowhere to be found. This annoyed him. He had told her he would return at four precisely, and it was now one minute after four. He knew she was not nearly as punctual as he—no one was—but he had bloody well missed her today and had been anticipating seeing her smiling face.

He’d gone out riding with his cousins because it had been over a year since they had last visited the manor, and he felt he owed them a tour. Actually, Pelham felt he was owed solitary time in his library with a fire, a glass of brandy, and a book, but Juliette had said that while she was not a proponent of rules, at Christmastime when family came to visit, perhaps it was bets to follow some of the social customs.

And so he had entertained his three cousins for the past few days, and now he was tired of them and wanted his bed. And his wife.

He wanted his wife in his bed.

Where the devil was she?

His cousins retired to their rooms to change for dinner, and Pelham sought out Richards in the butler’s quarters. “Where is my wife?”

“Your Grace?” The butler had a strange look on his face and was brushing at his clothing.

“My wife. The duchess. Where is she?”

“Why, Your Grace?”

Pelham scowled. “Because I wish to see her. What does it matter?”

“I do not know where she is, Your Grace. Shall I search for her?”

“No. I’ll see her at dinner.” He moved to start up the stairs again and change, but then he turned back to Richards. “Are you well, Richards?”

“Yes, Your Grace!” The butler all but jumped when he answered. “I’m perfectly well.

“Hmm.” The man had an odd look on his face.

The afternoon passed with tedious slowness. He finally glimpsed Juliette as her maid Rosie put the finishing touches on her mistress’s golden updo. The maid saw him before her mistress, and she gave him a conspiratorial wink. Pelham was not used to being winked at. He could not remember ever having been winked at before, but he was relieved to know all was ready before he escorted his wife to dinner with his cousins and the events of the evening commenced.

He offered his arm, and Juliette took it. As he led her out of their suite, he could not help but notice how lovely she looked. Her gown was scarlet and gold and quite festive looking with some sort of holiday flower pinned to the bodice. At her neck and ears, diamonds glittered. Her eyes, a pale blue, shone with anticipation. On the stairs, she leaned close to him and whispered, “I must speak with you alone after dinner.”

“I’ll come to your room when we retire, as always.”

“No.” She shook her head. “I need to see you before that. Meet me in the stables.”

They’d reached the base of the stairs, and he took her arm and pulled her into a small parlor before his cousins, waiting in the drawing room, could spot them. Like the rest of the house, the room was festooned with pine boughs and holly. It smelled clean and fresh, and he’d heard more than one of the servants remark how happy they were to have a duchess in residence. Neither Will nor his father had ever bothered with holiday decorations. “The stables? It is snowing outside. You are not going to the stables.” He gestured to her delicate gown and slippers.

“Let me worry about that. You realize you are standing under mistletoe.”

“I…what?”

Before he could look up, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his mouth to hers. Pelham had the presence of mind to consider that someone might walk in, but his reservations only lasted for a few moments. Her kisses were too sweet. “If you come to the stables,” she murmured against his mouth, “you will not be sorry.”

“There are warm beds for that sort of thing,” he said, closing his arms around her waist and pulling her against him. He loved the way her body felt pressed against his own. She was so soft and feminine, and the gown was thin enough that when he was touching her this way, it left little to the imagination. “You will freeze in the stables.”

“Will,” she said, nipping at his lips. “A bed won’t do for what I have in mind.” She stepped back, and he felt suddenly cold and incomplete. A part of him was missing when she wasn’t touching him.

“The stables at half past ten,” she said with a smile. “Do not be late.”

Dinner seemed interminable with his wife across from him, close but untouchable. Every time he looked at her, which was quite frequently, he was reminded of her proposal that he meet her in the stables. He could think of many, many things he could do to keep her warm in the stables. Indecent and highly pleasurable acts. Acts not suited for dinner conversation with his three cousins.

Finally, the clock chimed half-past. Juliette had already retired, saying she was weary, and now Pelham excused himself as well. He left his cousins and their chess game and made his way out into the cold night. The moon was full, casting plenty of light on the path to the stables, and his feet crunched on the hard snow.

In the moonlight it looked silver. He stuffed his hands in his pockets to keep them warm and watched his breath puff into the black sky. One or two stars shone particularly brightly on this eve of Christmas, and he wondered what that fabled star of so long ago might have looked like. Had it lit up the sky with its brilliance?

Pelham reached the stables and pushed open the door. “Juliette,” he said softly, aware some of the grooms might be sleeping in the lofts nearby.

He heard a giggle, and then she whispered. “I’m here!” She giggled again. Puzzled now, Will made his way along the line of stalls, each housing a horse with a warm blanket and fresh straw to keep the animal comfortable. Finally he reached the last stall and there he found Juliette sitting on the hay with something wriggling in her arms.

“What the devil?”

She turned and held the puppy out to him, and he took a step back. There had been no dogs at Rothingham Manor since his father had killed his own dog, Hunter, when Pelham had been but six. The act was meant to teach Pelham a lesson about punctuality, but it had only served to teach the boy to guard his heart, lest he love something else that might be taken from him. Juliette had understood. Her own beloved Brownie had disappeared after she displeased her former husband. She never knew what happened to her dog, but she feared the worst as her husband had been a cruel, abusive man.

“Where did you find that?” he asked coldly.

“If by that you mean this adorable puppy, I did not find him. He has been waiting here to meet you.”

Pelham shook his head, stepping back warily when she stood. The puppy reached up and licked her nose, and she giggled again.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“Hold out your arms.”

He shook his head. “No.” If he took the dog, it might lick him. And if it licked him, he might start to think it was endearing. He might start to like it. Will stared at the creature uneasily.

“Will.” Juliette’s voice was soft. He looked into her eyes and saw there the understanding he needed. “It will be alright. I promise.”

He could believe her. He knew he could trust her. Everything was well when she was with him.

“Hold out your arms.”

He did, and she placed the small, warm puppy in them. He took a deep breath and looked down into the dog’s large brown eyes. They looked back up at him, blinked, and then the dog licked him.

“Ack!”

Juliette laughed again. “Happy Christmas, Will.”

His gaze shot to her face. “This is mine?”

“Yes. Richards said he is lacking in manners, so we will have to teach him, but he is yours. Happy Christmas.” She stepped close and kissed him. “I love you.”

Will did not know what to say. He’d never received a gift like this, a gift given not out of obligation or to teach him responsibility, but a gift given out of love. His throat felt oddly blocked, and he had to clear it. “I have something for you as well.”

“I should hope so.” She grinned.

“It is in your room. I put Rosie in charge of it.”

“Let’s go see!” And she pulled him out of the stables with all the excitement of a small child.

***

Juliette could not imagine what Will might have given her. It was probably jewelry. He was not very inventive, she reminded herself, but the fact that he had remembered to get her a gift and kept it secret was something. She could not believe Rosie had given her no indication of the secret gift.

They scampered inside, Will pulling the dog out from under his coat when they reached the warmth of the house. He yipped, and Juliette said, “Shh! You don’t want everyone to come running, now do you? Then we’ll never see my surprise.”

“We will still see it,” Will said, pulling her toward the steps.

“I don’t want to wait.”

With a smile, he followed her up the stairs. He was still carrying the puppy, and he looked adorable with the little ball of fur in his arms. Will’s tousled brown hair and dark blue eyes made her heart beat faster. She knew just what she wanted to do once she reached the privacy of her bedroom. She’d been wanting to loosen his cravat and see his eyes darken with desire all night.

They reached her bedroom, and the door swung open. Rosie stood in the frame, smiling. “Good night, Your Grace,” she said and departed, taking a moment to coo over the puppy.

Usually the maid at least inquired if Juliette wanted help with her toilette. Juliette shrugged and looked back at Will. “Go in,” he said. She did, and she saw it immediately.

Juliette stopped and gasped. “Will! How? When?”

“I have my methods.”

The portrait of the two of them hung above the fireplace in her room, where once a portrait of Will’s horrible father had hung. She’s made him take all of them down, but he had been slow to replace them. This spot had been bare for some time. And now it would be filled with an image of the two of them. In the portrait, he looked down at her with love. And she…

“Will, that doesn’t look like me. The artist has made me much too beautiful.”

“No,” Will said, taking her in his arms. “He didn’t paint you beautifully enough. I love you, Juliette.”

The puppy wriggled between them, and Juliette rose on tiptoe to kiss Will’s lips. “I love you, too.”

The puppy whined, and they both laughed. “And we haven’t forgotten you…” She looked up at Will.

“Lucky,” he said, naming the dog. It was his now, like it or not. She had a feeling he liked it.

“A very good name. We love you too, Lucky.” She gave the dog a pat, and he reached up and licked Will’s chin. Will looked like he might protest, but then he broke into a grin. “Happy Christmas, my duchess.”


First in the Jewels of the Ton series

He had a perfectly orderly life...

William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that's the way he likes it. But he's in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossip papers link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn't begin to describe what happens next...

Until she came along...

Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It's disruptive to have the duke who is the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William's darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide...

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Indiebound |
Click for more info.

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**Don't forget to head over to Not Another Romance Blog to check out author, Mia Marlowe story.


Good Luck and Happy Holidays =)
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91 comments :

  1. i really enjoyed The rogue Pirate's bride and i 'lm ordering the others of the series( got one already) so i can enjoy it fully, i love your writing style

    thank you a lot!
    happy holiday

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  2. I can't wait to read When You Give a Duke a Diamond. My kind of read. :)

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  3. Thank you for sharing... what's your favorite Christmas ornament?

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    1. Girlygirlhoosier52, I like the ones my daughter has made. She made a snowflakes this year with lots of glitter and stickers. It's just so precious.

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  5. Thank you for the holiday story! :) I can't wait to read this series. While stand-alone books can be great, I find I get more enjoyment from the stories when they are part of series, beit trilogies or multiple sets that span multiple generations. Nothing better, IMO, in getting to re-visit old friends you made in the previous books!! :)

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    1. I think rafflecopter doesn't like me, keep getting the "aw shucks" comment. Oh well :(

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    2. Ada, it's fun to revisit those old friends when writing the books too!

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    3. And sorry you're having trouble, Miss_Spell! Thanks for trying.

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  6. I love your work, Shana. You really know how to make your audience swoon over your heroes! :)

    Thank you for the opportunity to win!

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    1. Thanks, Emily Elizabeth :-) Love your avatar! We're big Clifford fans.

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  7. I loved When You Give a Duke a Diamond. It's nice to see Pelham did show a lot of thought with his duchess's gift. Still impatiently waiting for the next one in the series.

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    1. It will be out in March, Ora! I'm giving away advance copies on my website and Facebook. Thanks!

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  8. Ah Shana, I love the short with Will & Juliette. I think I really love your last book the best. I can't wait to read the next one. The anticipation.

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  9. Congrts on your new release Shana, love the cover especially read gown :)

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    1. Thanks, Eli! I can't wait for everyone to read it.

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  10. Thank you for the story! Love it! Congrats again on your new release!

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    1. Thanks, May! March will be here quickly.

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  11. The puppy was adorable :D thank you for such a delightful read this morning. Also congrats on the new release! The cover is very lovely :D

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    1. Thanks, Lily. I have to credit my friend Gayle for giving me the idea to have them exchange puppies, since both lost dogs.

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  12. I just read your short story above and I think I would love to read it. Oh my, it's such a beautiful cover book, posters should be done of those beautiful covers. Thank you for your giveaway of your book. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thanks, Nicole. I actually DID give away a couple of posters of the cover. They were so pretty it was hard not to keep them.

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  13. Thanks for the great short. Can't wait to read When You Give a Duke a Diamond. The blurb sounds intriguing. I like the both Will and Juliette put so much thought into their gifts.

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    1. You're welcome, Erin. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  15. I just finished The Rogue Pirates Bride and this great short story. I really want to read When You Give a Duke a Diamond and am looking forward to If You Give a Rake a Ruby.

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    1. Thanks, Ann. I have to say The Rogue Pirate's Bride is one of my favorites. It was really fun to write.

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  16. That was such a cute Christmas story of Pelham and Juliette. I can't wait to read When You Give a Duke a Diamond.

    Shana, did you have a memorable Christmas gift that may have inspired this short story?

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    1. Armenia, if you read the book, you'll see why they gave these gifts, in particular. I don't know that I've ever had a particularly memorable gift, but I do remember Christmas as a really special time. I know my mom worked hard to make it that way.

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  17. That was adorable~! Thanks for the story. Haven been wanting to read When you Give a Duke a Diamond for some time now. I should really get at it. But I can't wait for the nest installment of Lord and Lady Spy~!

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    1. Thanks, Kipha! True Spies will be out in September!

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  18. Love your books Shana. I have read a lot of them but I have gotten behind on my reading. My TBR pile is getting scary :) I hope to read your newest books soon. Congrats on the new release.
    Happy Holidays,
    Lori

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    1. Lori, if your TBR pile is anything like mine, I understand completely! Thanks for stopping by and good luck with the giveaway.

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  19. I have always enjoyed your books and always look forward to your new ones. I haven't gotten this one yet but definitely on my tbr list!!

    josiehink122026(at)gmail(dot)com

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  20. Thank you for the sweet story. Reading a good romance is one of my favorite ways to de-stress.

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    1. Cheryl, I'm actually glad this went up today. I needed something light and fun to talk about.

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  21. Can't wait to read, looks like a good one.

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    1. Thanks! Good luck with the giveaway, Em.

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  22. Loved the story Shana, I'm so glad Juliette knew what Will really needed......Can't wait to read all the Jewels of the Ton Series. How many books will be in the series?

    joylynne66(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Joy, I have three planned. There might be a novella as well. Right now I'm just trying to get a good start on the last book.

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  23. I absolutely WANT this book! And I adore the cover!

    BrittanyG@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks, Brittany. Good luck with the giveaway.

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  24. Thanks for the story and the chance to win!

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  25. i loved the story and I can't wait to read the new series.

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  26. Hi, Shana! I love your books, and really enjoyed your short story. I am looking forward to reading When You Give A Duke A Diamond. Thanks for the giveaway!

    kscathy AT yahoo DOT com

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cathy. Good luck!

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  27. Hi Shana, I'm a great lover of your books. I've had many an enjoyable few hours while reading them and I thank you.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Carol, that's such a sweet thing to say. Thanks!

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  28. Hi Shana! I have several of your books and I love them! I can't wait to read your next one. Merry Christmas!

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  29. I really enjoyed your story today. I haven't read any of your books yet. I'm a big historical book fan, it's what I started reading when I was younger. How did you get started writing in the historical genre?

    luvfuzzzeeefaces at yahoo dot com

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    1. Julianne, I started off as a reader. I loved historicals, especially Julie Garwood and Marsha Canham. I read all their books and started writing one of my own to keep entertained. I just kept on writing...

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  30. howdy shana :)
    i love and collected all ur books ^^
    thx u for this giveaway..

    -nurma-
    chikojubilee at gmail dot com

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    1. Wow! Thank you. Good luck with the giveaway, Nurma.

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  31. Sweet story, makes me want to read their obstacles to HEA in When You Give a Duke a Diamond.
    bituin76 at hotmail dot com

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    1. Jan, it's hard to write a story about two characters in a book when I know some people reading it will have read the book and others haven't yet. Glad I struck a good balance.

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  32. Thank you for the wonderful story. It made baking cookies go by much faster.

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    1. And you're going to share some of those cookies, right? :-)

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  33. You're a new author to me and this looks like a lovely read! Love the premise and excerpt...thanks for sharing! I'll go check out your other books! happy holidays!
    ivegotmail8889(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, pc. Good luck with the giveaway and hope you give my books a try.

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  34. Hi Shana!

    I loved An Indecent Proposal on Christmas Eve but then I've loved your stories ever since I first read When Dashing Met Danger so I wasn't surprised!

    I've read all your books but always wondered which one did you enjoy the most writing and was it the characters in them or the story itself that makes it your favorite? The other part of my question is did you ever write a secondary character into a story and just know you had to write another book that they either appeared in or was one of the main characters because even though you didn't plan to they became one of your favorite to write?

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    1. Jeanne, great questions. The one I enjoyed writing the most was BLACKTHORNE'S BRIDE. It was just really easy to write for some reason. And when I wrote WHEN DASHING MET DANGER, I knew I had to write a book for Freddie. I just fell in love with him. And he is still my favorite hero ever. Bastien from THE ROGUE PIRATE'S BRIDE is probably my second favorite hero.

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  35. What a great couple. I'll have to find the book (if I don't win it) and read it.

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    1. Good luck with the giveaway. If you don't win, it's only 99 cents in e-book until December 26.

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  36. I loved the S.S. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  37. When You Give A Duke A Diamond is sitting here on my TBR pile just smiling at me. :)

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    1. Leah, it's saying, "Read me! Read me!" Thanks for stopping by :-)

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  38. I liked your short story and I loved WHEN YOU GIVE A DUKE A DIAMOND. Can't wait to read about the other two "diamonds"!

    Have a wonderful Christmas!

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    1. Thanks, Joy! You have a wonderful Christmas, too!

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  39. I loved the short story. How appropriate that she got him a puppy. I can't wait to read the next 2 books! Merry Christmas!

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    1. Thanks, Patricia. Merry Christmas to you too.

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  40. A Duke and a Courtesan? I'm curious to read how they get together.
    sallans d at yahoo dot com

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    1. Very carefully, Di! It was definitely a journey.

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  41. What a great short story. Gotta read more of this series soon!

    Thanks so much!

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    1. If You Give a Rake a Ruby will be out in March :-)

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  42. I have not read any of your books but I have put you on my Christmas list. So if Santa is willing I am able.

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    1. Thanks, thelcyn! Hope Santa was good to you!

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  43. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your short! It's the first of your work that I've read, I'm looking forward to reading your series! Happy Christmas!
    smoofrog at gmail dot com

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    1. Thank you, Tonda. I had a great holiday, and I hope you did too!

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